Wednesday, 5 October 2022

..150th issue of leading German aviation magazine "Klassiker der Luftfahrt" - Luftwaffe in Greece


"...  In the winter of 1999, when the editorial teams of the aviation group of Motor Presse Stuttgart decided to put the history articles from FLUG REVUE into a special issue, probably no one realised that 23 years later this magazine would become a permanent fixture in the German market. Today you are holding the 150th issue of the magazine for aviation history in your hands. 150 issues of emotion, detailed aircraft reports, news, glimpses behind closed hangar doors and the best photography. The latest warbirds and historic aircraft, completed restorations, hitherto unknown photographs from the  WW II era, as well as reports and photos from events and airshows around the world. The classic of aviation reliably provides you with the latest news and historical background... in this issue [..] exciting and previously unpublished colour photos taken by a German soldier stationed near Athens. We publish these rare photographs in our gallery.." 

 Colour image on the front cover of the 150th issue of 'Klassiker der Luftfahrt' - Bf 110s of the Sonderkommando Junck (4./ZG 76) seen in Athens during a stop-over en route to Iraq..

Note the air intake and the enlarged 'tropicalised' radiators, indicating that the machines visible here are Bf 110 E sub-types.  Given the absence of white spinner and nose these machines may have not originally been on the strength of ZG 76 - the third machine from the camera does not have the Haifischmaul (shark mouth) either.  (Thanks to GP for the pointer!)

Also on this blog;

PDF extract of the latest issue of 'Klassiker der Luftfahrt' on the publisher's website here

Monday, 3 October 2022

Kommandeur Hptm. Anton Hackl, Fw 190 A-6 III./JG 11


...just sold for 109 euros, a well-known image of  Hptm.Anton Hackl at the controls of his Fw 190 A-6 of III./JG 11. Note the 'Drache' (dragon) Wappenschild under the cockpit. His mechanics are hiding his Kommandeur 'chevron triangle'. March 1944, Oldenburg.

page 225 'Jagdflugzeug 190' , Rodeike

Sunday, 2 October 2022

'Bastard Flugzeuge' - Erla Bf 109 G-10 JG 300


From 1942 production of the Me 109 Gustav took place at three main plants - Erla-Maschinenwerke in Leipzig, Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke and Messerschmitt GmbH in Regensburg – and ran to a total of 16 series in 82 different designs. A rationalisation 'programme' had become absolutely necessary as well over 1,000 changes had been incorporated into the drawings. (quoted in Schmoll, 'Me 109 - Produktion und Einsatz') As a result major difficulties had arisen during repairs and the replacement of parts. In addition to the new DB engines with their larger superchargers and power boosting (the 'stop-gap' AS and the 605 D) a range of actions were introduced to improve 'commonality'. At the same time changes to the fuselage structure were introduced primarily to reduce drag and increase speed; eg the engine cowl covers were thickened by some 70 mm which enabled the elimination of the typical MG cowl ‘bulges’, the canopy was streamlined aerodynamically and pilot visibility improved (simplified canopy framing and mountings). Increased stability in the takeoff and landing runs was possible through bigger wheels, a lengthened tail wheel and a larger fin and rudder, the so-called ‘aufgestocktes Seitenleitwerk’. And so on. 

Conceived as part of this 'programme', the G-10 was a 'new' light, fast fighter, powered by the DB 605 D adapted for B4 fuel with MW 50 power boosting. (Subsequent versions used C-3 fuel with MW 50). The Methanol/Water Sondernotleistung (special emergency power) injection was an aid to more effective combustion or 'wet' power. Author Schmoll states that the G-10 was the "..fastest variant of the Bf 109-series to see service, capable of 700 km/h at 7,500 m.." Intended to enter series production alongside the K-4 - bringing the Gustav-series up to K-series standard -  deliveries of the G-10 actually started later than the K-4.

 Distinguishing features include the refined 'elliptical' cowl shape over the MG 131s as seen on the G-6/AS. Independent of the engine variant fitted, Erla G-10 production (WNr in the 150-152 000 and 490-491 000 range) is (easily) identifiable by the asymetric cowl shape (designated 'Type 110' by Mermet) with the 'elliptical' or curved MG breech bulge only featuring on the starboard side.  The 'Type 100' cowling  with the Ballungen (elipse, plural) on both sides featured on WNF and Mtt Regensburg production and those airframes recycled from G-6s  (eg, WNr. 130 000, 610 000 and 613 000). The DB 605 D featured a larger oil tank and a relocated oil filler hatch as one of the key ID features - due to the greater volume of oil (60 iso 45 litres) an oil cooler of larger surface area  (wider and shallower) was present. Even though the small "chin" bulges were not  a feature of the 'Type 110' cowl or required by the DB 605 D engine, these are present on the 'Type 100' cowl - probably in an attempt to increase 'commonality' with other variants then in series production.  (see diagram below, from Mermet, 'Bf 109 G-1 to K-4, a guide to engines and fittings')

Below; pilots of 2./JG 300 including Uffz. Hans Dahmen (right) on the cowl of a recently delivered Erla G-10 in late 1944 - note the absence of lower cowl 'chin' bulges. The fairing in front of the windscreen is rectangular and not the 'scallop-shaped' elliptical fairing on the starboard side of the cowl/fuselage.  As the Russians arrived at the Oder during January 1945, I.Gruppe moved from Borkheide to Liegnitz in the 'East'..

Below; late-war Erla Bf 109 G-10 in overall dark green as seen in service with I./JG 300. (Anders Hjortsberg artwork) A good view of the rectangular cowl section (just in front of the windscreen) being removed with what may be an Erla WNr. (?50719) visible.....

On the starboard side of the 'Type 110 cowl' the hatch for the cold weather starter is repositioned much higher up on the cowl (appears lower near the exhaust stack on the G-14). Other features of the G-10 include the tall tail with trim tabs and enlarged fairings on the wing to accomodate the bigger main wheels - and of course the 'Vollsichthaube', the 'clear vision' canopy minus the heavy framing. Note the absence of an antenna mast - replaced by the under-wing whip aerial - another 'streamlining' measure on late-war Bf 109 production.  

There are really no hard and fast rules with late-war 109s of course -  early Regensburg G-10 production featured the original G-6 wing with the smaller main wheels and upper wing 'tear-drop' bulges and according to some (eg Wolowski) early Erla G-10s - possibly as many as fifty examples - received the AS engine with the bigger deep radiators and lower cowling bumps. These were from the first production batch, WNr. 490 000. These may have been designated G-10/AS  (see JfV Teil 13/IV pages 27 and 28). Erla referred to them as 'Bastard Flugzeuge'.

The concept of a G-10/AS usually provokes a comment or two. The 'true' 109-experts will deny that the Bf 109 G-10/AS even existed. Several units nonetheless reported Bf 109 G-10/AS machines in their loss returns - in particular JG 300 - and, as far as is known, mostly in the Erla 490 000 WerkNr. range.. 

17 Dec 44 - Lt. Köhler, Otto  - 10./JG 300 Bf 109 G-10/ASM, WNr. 490291 'White 1', combat with P-51, 100%.

24 Dec 44 - Lt. Kampf, Werner - 10./JG 300 Bf 109 G-10/ASM WNr. 490299 ''white 11', combat bei Erfurt, 100%

(Some would say DB 605 AS powered Bf 109 G-10s were simply designated as Bf 109 G-10)

According to Mermet's first book around 4,500 G-10s were built, of which 3,500 were either re-cycled Gustav airframes, or Gustav airframes that received the 605 D engine while in production!  Figures that proved to be wildly inaccurate...

Schmoll quotes the following figures for G-10 production;

Erla - 1,534  G-10 (November 44- Feb 45, including 916 G-10/R6 with the Patin PKS 12 Kurssteuerung 'automatic pilot')

Mtt Regensburg - 116 G-10  (October 44 -Jan 45)

WNF -  approx 360 G-10/U4  (Mk 108 30mm cannon +MGs, only built by WNF during January -Feb 45)

A further 518 G-10s were constructed during March 1945 by Erla and WNF before production ended.

Below; Me 109 G-10/U4 of II./JG 52, WNr probably in the 611 000 range (WNF production) at Neubiberg after surrender. An enlargement from the negative via James V.Crow collection. Click for a full-screen view.

AZ 'Erla' Bf 109 G-10 by Jan Pavlik

Below; Bf 109 G-10 W.Nr. unknown. Note port side 'elliptical bulge'.  "Yellow 11" is a machine that belonged to III./JG 4 seen after Jüterbog-Damm (?) fell to the Soviets in late April 1945. Large wheel bulges, small tail wheel, JG 4 crest on cowl. III. Gruppe Balken, yellow rudder ...

Incidentally, Vladimir Sandtner's 109 - extensively photographed at Falconara, Italy after the pilot deserted during April 1945 - is NOT a G-10, although identified as such by many including Ritger in his "Messerschmitt 109 F-K Variants". Aside from the fact that the Allied Intelligence report states "G-14"  the starboard view shows the repositioned cws aperture. More on this blog at the link...

also on this blog;

Saturday, 1 October 2022

..the ultimate Luftwaffe fighters book from JaPo!


From the archives of Michael Meyer and Paul Stipdonk this new photo book from JaPo comprises 508 pages and features over 1,000 images. Detailed photo captions in German/English, profile artworks by Anders Hjortsberg -  physical edition due imminently. Having been involved in the compilation of this volume (a 'one off' stand-alone) this blogger has had the pdf for a while - some 10 years in the making!

Due before the end of 2022, see the publisher's website for more info here

Sunday, 25 September 2022

GFM Rommel an der Kanalküste, Vendeville, January 1944


..some screen grabs from Wochenschau film footage showing Rommel (CO Heeresgruppe B ) and entourage visiting a fighter Gruppe somewhere in northern France  some time ahead of the Allied D-Day landings...

..given that GFM Rommel is accompanied (right) by Kommodore Obstlt. Priller (JG 26) it would not be unreasonable to assume that this must be Abbeville and JG 26 (III./Gruppe flew 109s) some time in the weeks leading up to D-Day. 

This would appear not to be the case. The original PK Berichter caption states 'bei Lille' and is dated January 4, 1944. On this date JG 26 had no Messerschmitt Gruppe in France, III./JG 26 being based at Mönchengladbach under Lw.-Befh. Mitte, while I./JG 3 was based at Denain and Vendeville (Lille). On January 9, 1944 I./JG 3 and III./JG 26 swapped bases with III./JG 26 returning to its Geschwader. Therefore when the photos and the Wochenschau-film were taken on or before January 4 the only Bf 109 Gruppe at Vendeville was I./JG 3. 

 In the picture below a badge on the cowling of the Gustav - the JG 3 Udet badge - appears to have been over-painted. Pilot and ground crew stand to attention as the party walks down the taxiway. The G-6 in the background (left) is 'white 15'  (..of I./JG 3. Note absence of Gruppe Balken aft of the fuselage cross) 

..Rommel's party makes its way into a hangar - where Priller shows Rommel (one of ) his  Fw 190 A-8  'Jutta' - not a 'black 13' as the Kommodore chevron is just visible. Note also the area of the pilot's hand-hold on the windscreen coaming  which appears to have either been damaged or 'cut-out' - or maybe a fault on the film. I have no idea what this is, although  regular blog reader Stephen F. suggested that it might be some sort of improved gun sight....

Also on this blog;

Priller's 'Jutta' - Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-8 'Black 13'

Friday, 23 September 2022

Deutsche Kunstflugstaffel aerobatic display team July 1939


The Deutsche Kunstflugstaffel - which loosely translates as German aerobatic display team - had originally been established unofficially in I./ LG 2 with a 'Kette' of three Bücker 133 'Jungmeister' biplanes. According to Kommandeur Hptm. Hans Trübenbach: 

"It was initially a distraction. Several of my pilots liked aerobatics and and we started with a formation of three aircraft. I led the Kette and my wingmen were the Oberleutnante Gerhard Homuth and Georg Graner. Our first performance took place in Arlon, Belgium on 10 May 1938.." 

Belgian pilot Emile Witmeur participated in the air show and wrote the following account;

'..There is no airfield at Arlon. For the occasion, some meadows have been marked out (...) a grassy rectangle bordered by red flags marks the landing strip, barely three hundred metres long. It is a short runway. A Belgian fighter plane lands outside the marked out area and noses over. The primitive conditions [do not deter] the Germans in their Jungmeister biplanes. Here they come. They are landing in echelon, wingtip to wingtip. They land in about fifty metres. They have machines with brakes (...) Hans Trübenbach explains things to curious onlookers. He expresses himself quite well in our language. Then the display - lined up wingtip to wingtip, facing the crowd, about fifty metres away, they run up their engines without wheel chocks, standing on their brakes. Opening throttles wide, the fuselages rise up to the horizontal. Brakes are released and the Jungmeister power off towards the crowd, getting airborne in thirty metres, passing directly on their backs in a half roll in tight formation. This has never been seen before. They stay wheels up for most of their performance, flying all the classic figures - inverted. A specially adapted fuel supply is fitted to their aircraft to allow them to fly for long periods on their backs. After a very spectacular 'split', we witness a festival of acrobatics, tight crosses and thrills. Trübenbach finishes his act with a double barrel roll twenty metres above the ground before landing. After that, the rest of the display programme was very tame.." 

 According to Trübenbach the 'Kunstflug-Kette' was expanded to Staffel-size that summer, apparently on the suggestion of the Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe. The second Kette was led by the  Staffelkapitan 3./LG 2 Hptm. Wille. Future aces such  as Erwin Clausen, Herman Staege, Josef Heinzeller and Herbert Ihlefeld also flew in the Kunstflugstaffel.  

On July 7, 1939, the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire organised an air show at Evere (Brussels) to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary in style. The French and the British, among others, were present, but many in Belgium were counting on the presence of the Deutsche Kunstflugstaffel. In the event this would be the last peace-time international air show meet - it was a show marred by a fatal accident. According to Trübenbach;

"...We opened the show with a tight Staffelkeil formation  at a height of 50 metres right past the Royal Gallery while the middle Kette flew a slow formation roll. Then the Staffel climbed to 1,000 metres and dived in line astern to pull up into a loop near the ground, forming a 'wheel' with the no. 1 joining up behind the No. 9 ...[..]  it was then that Hauptmann Joachim Wille, who was leading the second Kette, split off to do a  spectacular 'special trick'  - eine Sondernummer- which he had planned and practised on his own. He was to do a barrel roll on the landing approach, cut the throttle and touch down directly on the runway. But the wind was quite blustery that day in Evere. Coming in on his approach and on his back at that stage, he was caught in a gust and pushed down between two hangars. In factions of a second he must have tried to 'pull up' instead of  'pushing down' . Wille's No. 7 crashed on its back on the edge of the runway. The pilot died from his injuries at the scene.." 

Despite the crash the show continued. The French aerobatic display were next up while the RAF flew its large (for the time)  and impressive Wellington bombers. Belgian Aé. Mi. pilot 1st Sergeant Denys Rolin, attending the show with his mother, turned to her and remarked how dreadful the accident was. To which his mother replied; " Ce n'est qu'un Boche!", a reaction perhaps to be expected from a Belgian woman who had not forgotten the German invasion and occupation of the Great War. Joachim Wille was to receive  posthumously the  Order of Leopold awarded by the Belgian King (Leopold III) that evening. His body was repatriated in a Ju 52 a few days later. Two months later the German invasion of Poland was launched while the Kunstflugstaffel was officially disbanded 'for the duration of the war'.

Also on this blog;

Saturday, 17 September 2022

" The Luftwaffe in Belgium " by Jean-Louis Roba and Peter Taghon, Lela Presse - new Luftwaffe book


Part I of a new two-volume work 'The Luftwaffe in Belgium' authored by Jean-Louis Roba and Peter Taghon is currently at the printers and due on September 30 from Lela Presse. Pre-order from the publisher now, free postage on orders up to publication date. (link below)

From the publisher's blurb;

From September 1939 and throughout the 'Phoney War', the airspace of neutral Belgium was criss-crossed by the aircraft of the combatants taking advantage of the weakness of the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire. German reconnaissance aircraft were able to identify future invasion routes and on May 10, 1940, the Wehrmacht invaded. Up to the end of that month,air combats raged in this major strategic aerial battleground. With the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force trapped in the Dunkirk/La Panne pocket, aerial engagements became less frequent and the Luftwaffe quickly established itself in the country, rebuilding airfields and military installations.

After the armistice with the French, Belgian skies saw little daylight combat, either during the 'Battle of Britain' or the 'Non-Stop Offensive' in 1941, being 'protected' by the distance from RAF fighter bases. At most, shipping and ports became targets for British aircraft. On the other hand, Belgium was (like the Netherlands) on one of the direct routes used by Bomber Command on their night-time raids on the Ruhr factories. Hence the rapid establishment in the country of night fighter units (Nachtjagd) that were to acquire a name for themselves - such as the 'infamous' 'Ghosts of Saint-Trond', feared by RAF crews.

The period 1939-1942 in Belgian skies was one of contrasts - bloody combat during the offensive in the West followed by a relative calm only disturbed by the growing strength of Bomber Command. The few intrusions of the American 'heavies' in 1942 remained relatively insignificant although they heralded a growing threat.

However, 1943, the key year of the Second World War, was marked by increasing incursions into Belgian airspace by US 8th AF 'Viermots'. On April 6, 1943, the population discovered the murderous power of the 'Flying Fortresses' during the bloody bombing of Mortsel. On that occasion, the local weakness of the Tagjagd (day fighters) was exposed. In spite of regular calls for fighters to be based in the vicinity or temporary transfers of parts of the Jagdeschwader, the German fighters (supported by the Flak) could only with difficulty contain the assaults of the USAAF. During the first quarter of 1944, with US escorts capable of overflying the territory of the Reich, the day fighter defences of the Belgian defensive line all but collapsed and the aerial combats in the Belgian skies turned more often than not into bloody reverses for a still present but numerically dominated Tagjagd.

Go to a pdf extract on the publisher's website here