Allocated to 10./NJG 3 as D5+EV, 360043 took of from Chritiansand, Norway, on the evening of 9 May 1943, for a night fighter patrol, operated by Oberleutnant Heinrich Schmitt (Pilot),[N 2] Oberfeldwebel Paul Rosenberger (Gunner and Wireless Op) and Oberfeldwebel Erich Kantwill (Flight Engineer). Recieving orders to shoot down an unarmed British civilian Mosquito, which was en route to neutral Sweden, Schmitt decided to ignore the order and defect to Britain. Rosenberger was in on the act, but Kantwill wasn’t, and had to be held at gunpoint![N 3]
While the aircraft was traversing Planquadrat 88/41, German radio stations received a message that 360043 would have to ditch due to an engine fire. After dropping below radar, and dumping three liferafts - to reinforce the illusion that the aircraft had ditched - Schmitt set course for the coast of Scotland, making landfall north of Aberdeen. At this point, the aircraft circled continually once it passed over Peterhead, knowing that it would eventually be picked up by the radar station at Hillhead and Spitfires would be sent to investigate. They escorted the Ju 88 to the airfield at Dyce, after Schmitt waggled the wings, fired off flares and lowered the undercarriage to indicate he wanted to surrender. Surrounded by Military Police immediately after landing, in an area which had been cleared of casual observers,[N 4] the aircraft's FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC radar unit was soon removed for evaluation.
Repainted in RAF markings, and allocated RAF serial PJ876, the aircraft was extensively used for radio and radar investigation flights from Farnborough and Hatford Bridge. Restored to non-flying exhibition standard at RAF St Athan in 1975, and included in the station's historic aircraft collection, the aircraft was displayed at the RAF Museum in Hendon, it was subsequently transferred to the Cosford site, following closure of the Hendon Battle of Britain Hall in 2016.
- Bruce Robertson's book of British Military Aircraft Serials incorrectly describes this aircraft as a Ju 88C-6
- Son of Gustav Stresemann, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It has been alleged in 1974, by the BILD am MONTAG newspaper, that Schmitt had been a secret agent since 1940, and regularly sent secret information to Britain via his father, who passed it via relay stations in Switzerland and Portugal. The newspaper also alleged that Schmitt had flown to the UK once before, using a Dornier Do 217, on the night of 20-21 May 1941, to deliver a sealed package to a British High Command representative at Lincoln.
- It is understood Rosenberger and Schmitt were already spies for the Brits. Possibly the order to shoot down the unarmed Mossie was the last straw for them.
- This led to speculation that the Ju 88 was expected.
- Brown, Eric Melrose. Wings of the Luftwaffe. The Crowood Press Ltd - New edition (14 Feb 1998). ISBN 1853104132. Page 104
- Brown, Eric Melrose. Page 110