Born in Silesia in October 1917, Horst Carganico was already a pilot with Jagdgeschwader 1 at the outbreak of WWII and would see his first combat action against the RAF whilst flying from Luftwaffe bases in Norway. Despite this, it would be on the Eastern Front where Carganico would have his greatest success as a fighter pilot, taking an active part in Operation Barbarossa and claiming at least 20 aerial victories by the end of September 1941. In the six weeks from the beginning of April 1942, he would go on a scoring run which would see him claiming a further 23 victories, but as Soviet fighter effectiveness began to improve steadily during the year, he would not have everything his own way. On two separate occasions, he would be brought down over Soviet territory following combat with the VVS (Soviet Air Force), luckily managing to evade capture and return to his unit both times.
Carganico was known for adding his personal ‘Mickey Mouse’ emblem to the majority of the Messerschmitt fighters he flew, including the rather elaborate example which adorned this II./JG.5 machine, which surely made this one of the most distinctive fighters on the Eastern Front. He would survive the savage fighting in the East only to be killed in May 1944 whilst engaged in combat with USAAF fighters over Saint-Dizier – attempting a forced landing in his damaged aircraft, the fighter struck high tension cables and crashed. Carganico posted an impressive combat record of 60 confirmed victories from a total mission count of around 600 sorties, mainly on the Eastern Front.