Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) Pik-As was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. It operated in Western Europe and in the Mediterranean. Jagdgeschwader 53 - or as it was better known, the "Pik As" (Ace of Spades) Geschwader - was one of the oldest German fighter units of World War II with its origins going back to 1937. JG53 flew the various models of Bf-109 throughout the second world war.
The Geschwader commenced its wartime operations with a high proportion of its personnel experienced ex Condor Legion pilots. Including Oblt. Werner Mölders ; Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 53 based at Wiesbaden. On 14 May 1940 JG 53 claimed some 43 on that one day. The Battle of France thus saw the Geschwader score heavily during May and June 1940, with some 275 claims against Armee de l'Air and Royal Air Force forces, Mölders claiming 25 kills thus far, and Lt. Friedrich-Karl "Tutti" Müller with 8 kills. Geschwaderkommodore of JG 53 during the spring and summer of 1940 was Major Hans-Jürgen von Cramon-Taubadel. While JG 53 was making a reputation for itself during the Battle of Britain, according to RAF Air Ministry intelligence summary no 60, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring was informed that Major Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel's wife was Jewish. Göring then ordered the whole of Stab/JG 53 to remove the "Pik As" emblem from their planes, and replace it with a red stripe around the engine cowling as punishment. All of Stab./JG 53's planes immediately were stripped of their "Pik As" insignia, and soon after the whole of the Stab./JG 53 had also stripped the swastikas off the tails of their planes in protest. During this phase of the Battle of Britain, Stab.JG 53's planes were easily recognizable because of the red band and the absence of a swastika on the tail of their Bf-109's. On 30 September Major Günther Freiherr von Maltzahn became Kommodore and the Stab.JG53 was allowed to paint the "Pik As" back on their Bf-109's, removing the red band from their cowlings.
The Geschwader was one of the most effective during the Battle, claiming 258 kills for 51 pilots killed or POW, with Hpt. Hans Karl Meyer the top scorer with 21 kills, Hpt. Bretnutz 18 and Lt Schmidt 17 claims. JG 53 claimed its 500th victory in November 1940.