A new release of the nicely done 72nd scale AZ Model Bf 109 G-6, this time in the G-6/AS variant with the refined cowl, tall tail and enlarged supercharger is due imminently. Back in May 2014 we built the 'JG 3 Limited Edition' G-6 boxing of this kit here and I was very happy with the way my model turned out. AZ Model's G-6 series also won 'Model of the Year 2015' in the small scale category in the German 'Modellfan' magazine.
As far as I am aware this will be the first G-6/AS variant released anywhere in kit form ..certainly in 72nd scale and long overdue it is too! The first boxing comprises decals for three Höhenjäger - high altitude fighter - machines in the rather rare Hellgrau-über-alles finish, featuring aircraft from JG 3 and JG 1 including Kommodore Oesau's 'Green 13'.
The second boxing features Bf 109 G-6/AS 'Red 2'; this is the 1./NJGr 10 Moskito hunter flown by Friedrich-Karl Müller during July-August 1944 and first illustrated on this blog here by Anders Hjortsberg.
See my 2014 'wilde Sau und Moskito-Jagd' article in Model Aircraft magazine for reference photos of this machine.
Note that in this edition of the kit it will also be possible to build 'Green 5', the overall black Bf 109 G-6/AS of 2./Erg.JG 2, the Ergänzungsnachtjagdstaffel (night fighter replacement training unit). Reference photos and a history of this aircraft are also featured on this blog here
Oberst Walter Oesau of the Geschwaderstab JG 1 was one of the leading Luftwaffe fighter aces and commanders when he was shot down and killed on 11 May 1944. As Jochen Prien comments in his history of Jagdgeschwader 1 (page 926) Oesau's death in combat has been portrayed by many different enthusiasts and writers who have produced a variety of often purely speculative accounts. Steve Blake - the historian of the 354th FG - published his in Aérojournal No.5. It is probably one of the more reliable. What is known is that Oesau was airborne from Paderborn with his wingman Lt. Rudolf Schnappauf during the early evening of 11 May 1944 to intercept Allied bombers raiding north-eastern Belgium and Luxembourg. According to various US accounts he was bounced by up to five escorting P-38s of the 474th FG -or maybe 354th FG P-51s- and chased from high altitude down to the deck. Robert Skawran in his account notes that Oesau was on his own by this stage - Schnappauf had been wounded at the start of the encounter and his machine had sustained damage. Ordered to break off, he had dropped away. The Lightnings took it in turns to put in firing passes; two machines attacking, others waiting at a slightly higher altitude to take over. The fight had lasted almost 20 minutes when Oesau's Bf 109 was hit and crippled. Oesau attempted to make an emergency landing and was shot down a couple of feet above the ground. Oesau's body was found in the vicinity of his wrecked 109 with several bullet wounds, presumed shot dead before his aircraft hit the ground.
In his latest Jagdfliegerverbände volume (Reichsverteidigung 13/I), Jochen Prien quotes the KTB of I./ Jagdkorps;
" ..On 11 May in Planquadrat 05 Ost S/PM-PN (the grid square covering the area around Malmédy) Oberst Oesau was attacked by five enemy fighters. His machine was seen to plunge earthwards before appearing to level out for an emergency landing. The subsequent impact with the ground threw Oesau from the cockpit and his lifeless body was found near the burnt-out machine.." (page 438)
Prien also makes the point (see note 203, page 68 Reichsverteidigung 13/I) that is is almost incomprehensible that one of the leading fighter Verbandsführer (formation leaders) of the Luftwaffe would be airborne on his own with only his Kaczmarek against the Viermotorigen (four-engine bombers) where his leadership skills and experience would be virtually worthless - "..seine Führungsfähigkeiten überhaupt nicht zum Tragen kommen konnten." - and where he would be 'easy meat' for the massed escorts. Why was his Stabsschwarm not based with one of the Gruppen of his Geschwader so that he could lead them in combat?
Oesau was flying Bf 109 G-6/AS, WNr. 20601, "Green 13" - the still capture from the US gun camera footage shows a Bf 109 G-6/AS marked Green 13, painted in RLM 76 and a red RVT band. More on the various accounts at the following link..
In general terms the Germans were not very good at aircraft salvage. On the offensive during the early stages of the war the Luftwaffe was 'created' to support short sharp campaigns - a tactical air force operating close to the front helped maximise sortie rates but did not require a large salvage organisation. The Luftwaffe's logistics and support operations were designed accordingly. Front-line units only had limited means to repair and rebuild aircraft; damaged aircraft had usually to be entrained for rear area repair facilities which meant that they were out of action for a correspondingly lengthier time frame. In his book 'Unflinching Zeal' Robin Higham indicates that during 1940 the RAF salvaged and repaired some 44% of aircraft 'shot down' compared with just 8% retrieved by the Bergungskommandos (salvage detachments) of the Luftwaffe. As the tide of war turned, aircraft serviceability rates in the Luftwaffe plummeted. Many aircraft - only slightly damaged or requiring only relatively minor interventions - simply had to be written off. In addition large numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft fell in inaccessible areas - such as the UK or North Africa (see below). On top of this, Luftwaffe losses through accidents and non-combat causes were huge...by way of example over one thousand aircraft were lost in the month of February 1944 alone....some 50% of these were accidents caused by inadequate training. (Boog quoted in Isby p361).
James S. Corum writing in " Why Air Forces Fail " states that Luftwaffe serviceability and maintenance rates were considerably lower than that of the Allies; 50-60% compared to 70-80%. As the tide of war turned against the Germans " the Luftwaffe's weak repair system ensured the loss of thousands of aircraft.." (Corum p210). The Luftwaffe did not have the resources or a logistics system in place to repair and put aircraft back into service. As much as one third of the Luftwaffe's losses during 1943-44 was the result of aircraft simply being abandoned. Many airfields over-run by the Allies - for example in North Africa - were little more than dumps..
Below; in the UK 49 Maintenance Unit salvage party retrieving Otto Zauner's II./ JG 53 Emil during late November 1940. More than 90 Bf 109 Emils made successful force landings in the UK during 1940, although some seven of these were partially or wholly destroyed by fire and a number were stripped and appraised at Farnborough.
Oblt. Gunther Bode's Stab I./ JG 27 Emil on display at Stanhay's garage in Ashford, Kent during 1940
In late August 1943 PK photographer Engelmann was in Vannes, France to take pictures of Oblt. Josef Wurmheller posing alongside his new Fieseler-manufactured Fw 190 A-6 (WNr. 530314) "Yellow 2". Of the dozen or so images he captured here are some of the better ones. Note the last four numerals of the Werknummer above the swastika on the tail fin and the 78 victory bars on the yellow rudder scoreboard - his 78th was a Spitfire shot down during the evening of 22 August 1943.
Note that it is quite tricky keeping tabs on Wurmheller's tally from his rudder scoreboards - below, his previous mount Fw 190 A-5 WNr. 7334, also "Yellow 2", which had been destroyed in a taxiing accident on 29 July 1943 at Vannes nearly one month previously, featured a rudder scoreboard showing a total of 80 victories!
Wurmheller was seriously injured on 23 September 1943 during a bombing raid on the airfield at Vannes. Airborne to counter a 1st BD raid on Nantes the Staffelkapitän of 9./ JG 2 landed back at Vannes just as the airfield came under attack from another wave of bombers. Wurmheller scrambled down from the cockpit of his machine just moments before it was obliterated by a direct hit. 'Sepp' was seriously wounded by shrapnel.
9./ JG 2 mechanic Ogfr. Willi Kittel reported;
" .. although our field at Vannes was being bombed, Oblt. Wurmheller was forced to carry out an emergency landing. He put down without any difficulty. Barely moments after leaving the cockpit he was hit in the head by shrapnel. As I was his first mechanic and quite close to him, it was natural that I drove straight out to him and was the first on the scene. He was lying unconscious on the ground. We loaded him into our ambulance and took off at top speed for the hospital in Vannes. When he returned to the Staffel two months later he had an enormous scar on the side of his head that ran down to his neck...."
Mombeeck, " Dans le Ciel de France", Vol 4, p186
Erik Mombeeck has done a fantastic job on his 4 hardback volumes devoted to JG 2. The latest tome in the series covers 1943 and the increasingly ferocious large-scale combats against USAF B-17s over France.
Lovely shots of a 3./ KG 26 He 111 torpedo bomber carrying two LT F5b torpedoes and seen taxiing out for a sortie from Salon (Provence), southern France, spring 1943 according to the original album caption. Superb Mäandertarnung camo scheme. Note the yellow wingtips, rear fuselage band and the spinner ring. Thanks to Tomas Prusa for the pointer. Click on the images to view large
Taxiing out for a combat sortie; "Jakel und Lerche als Kutscher" - 'Kutscher', lit. 'coach driver', a slang word for pilot
More JG 54 Friedrichs from the Finnish wartime photo archive - these high-res downloadable photographs from the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive can be viewed, used and downloaded by anyone. I have re-sized these particular images so that they load easily on this blog; click on the image here to view large. When you publish a photograph from the archive, you should mention "SA-kuva" as the source. (This means "Finnish Armed Forces photograph" in Finnish.) Please note that you can only conduct searches in Finnish - only 160,000 images to search through!
These images of I./ JG 54 machines were photographed at Petäjärvi during August 1942..