Sunday, 17 September 2017

Henschel Hs 123 LG 2 auf Feldflugplatz Polen, Frankreich

a neat selection currently on offer from dw-auction here depicting Hs 123 of LG 2 and other types on various field strips in Poland and France. Above;  " for your 4 o'clock tea-time "

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Dornier Do 217 E and K of KG 2 - ebay photo find #218

The primary Kampfgeschwader in the West during 1943-4 operating the 'D' 'K' and even 'M' variants of the Dornier Do 217 bomber- for a short period simultaneously -was KG 2. Here courtesy of seller Oliver Rogge - who identifies these as KG 40 machines - 'D' and 'K' variants of the Do 217 seen together in 'Nachtbomber' finish preparing for a sortie probably from their base in northern France. Another image showing '10.Staffel' painted on a prop blade is another indicator that these machines are on the strength of KG 2. Kommandeur of IV. Gruppe during early 1943 was Hptm Helmut Powolny, possibly seen in the bottom image walking across the tarmac at Melun-Villaroche north of Paris..

new-tool Airfix Me 262 -should the wing slats be open or closed ?

It appears that the new-tool Airfix Me 262 in 72nd scale is finally here with Airfix taking orders on the website. It looks like it will be a nice kit although I've read one or two gripes about the apparent lack of options such as slats and flaps. I'm sure there will be lots of aftermarket; flaps, vac canopy, resin engines, wheels and so on. And just in time too. The Revell Me 262 is getting very long in the tooth nowadays - the last one I built I had to smash-mold a new canopy. The Academy 262 tooling was also first released way back - in 2007 to be exact! It is reasonably detailed but as with a number of Academy WWII kits the basic outline shapes are a bit off; the fuselage is rather fat and wide with an overly bulbous nose. The Academy glazing is, for example, far too wide for the Revell kit. The canopy in the last Revell 262 I attempted was un-useable but it can't be replaced with an Academy canopy (which also happens to be a tad 'flattened-out' at the top..). We certainly have no lack of aftermarket decal options for the 262 already!

Below; Airfix at Nuremburg - IMPS Deutschland photo

As far as the discussion about 'poseable' slats is concerned, see below - the 'famous' Transit films 262 walkaround sequence in the 'Wings of the Luftwaffe' video series clearly shows that the slats are deployed on the ground. They can be pushed in and pulled out - and could be left out. Whether this was because they had a tendency to stick or not I don't know.  The sequence goes on to show the technician working on the inboard slats, pushing them in and then letting them slide back out...

Note that the Me 262's slats are not 'sprung' or have any actuators - they simply slide in and out on rails. In the clip below the technician is pulling them out and pushing them in - whereupon they 'slide' open of their own accord. Once landed and parked-up good practice says they should be closed up before leaving the aircraft for any length of time. You really don't want anything getting into the gap or into the mechanism. Checking the freedom of movement of free-floating slats as they open and close is part of good pre- and post-flight inspection on types thus equipped. Other points to consider;  because the Me-262 has a tricycle undercarriage the wing is more horizontal to the ground compared to, say, the Bf 109, so that it is more likely that gravity will cause the Me 262's slats to drop out on their rails. You're less likely to see this on a Bf-109 because gravity will be acting with the coefficient of friction to keep them in. And they could be locked in.

Note that the slats are lockable. "North American F-86 SabreJet Day Fighters", (Warbird Tech Vol. 3, Hughes and Dranem) - North American engineers actually used the slat locks from a complete 262 wing when they were putting together the slats on the XP-86. "…Finally an entire Me-262 wing was flown in from Wright Field. North American engineers disassembled the slats and modified the slat track mechanism to fit the XP-86 wing. The engineers also used the slat lock and control switch from the Me-262. Although not perfect, it was at least a start and the slat worked. "

So if you have a man in a black overall walking around your 262 model it would be entirely reasonable to have the slats open on one side and closed on the other. In other words when modelling the Me 262, wing slats could be deployed in any manner you see fit. Note though that in the air aerodynamic forces keep the slats in and they will deploy as the airflow is not sufficient to keep them in and the wing is losing lift. See this discussion here on

Also on this blog; Revell Me 262 in 72nd scale;

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

New and forthcoming Luftwaffe books - JG 54

from Thierry Dekker;

 " Bonjour, luck would have it I am currently working on the same subject for two different publishers - the famous Eastern Front Jagdgeschwader JG 54. I have just completed some sixty new JG 54 artworks, 32 of these to appear in Erik Mombeeck's « Luftwaffe Gallery Special » n°3 and 30 in a new volume in the Lela Presse "Units" series compiled by Philippe Saintes and entitled 'Eagles of the Green Heart' - only two of these profile artworks will appear in both volumes! Of course the approach adopted by these two volumes is totally different, aside from the fact that one is published in English and one in French ..I've sent through an example of one of my artworks - as you know JG 54 was known for the original and unusual schemes applied to its machines! "

Thierry Dekker's artwork blog is here

And the blurb for Philippe Saintes' volume as written by this blog author for the Lela Presse web-site;

    Part one of a new French-language history of Jagdgeschwader 54, one of the best-known fighter units of the Luftwaffe. Philippe Saintes’ new history of this unit is illustrated with hundreds of photos (mostly rare and/or previously unpublished) and relates the struggles, successes and reverses of JG 54 during the first half of the Second World War when its pilots flew the Bf 109 exclusively. From first deployment against Poland in 1939 to the bloody duels with the Soviet air forces in the skies of Leningrad, including the combats on the Western Front during 1940, JG 54 (the 'Green Hearts') left its mark in European skies. Based on numerous first-hand accounts and documents (victory reports, stories taken from war diaries, loss lists) compiled over many years, the author reconstructs the history of this famous unit, which even today has remained largely unknown despite the presence in its ranks of many famous aces. 380 pages, more than 850 photos and 30 color profiles.

Jagdgeschwader 54 - the Eagles of the Green Heart. Volume 1. Publication 20/12/2017 Author: Philippe SAINTES Edition: Units history 05 ISBN: Published in DECEMBER 2017. FREE SHIPPING on pre-orders up until October 2017! Pre-orders by cheque (French bank account – to be cashed on publication). For overseas orders payment is also possible by bank transfer, bank or credit card but in this instance payment will be debited on placement of the order.

Generalleutnant Hans Seidemann and the Yak-3 - "Unbekannte Pflicht" Walter Wolfrum on the Bf 109 with Peter Cronauer (296 Verlag)

In June 1941, the Wehrmacht swept into Russia. Apparently caught by surprise, large numbers of out-moded machines in Russia's Air Force, the VVS, were destroyed on the ground and in the air. Alexander Yakovlev moved his design and manufacturing facilities east of the Ural Mountains and began production of the Yak-9 in 1942. Eventually some 16,800 Yak-9 models were built, more than any other aircraft in the Soviet Air Force. The Yak-9 was designed for mass production and durability. Due to shortages in Russia, it incorporated a minimum of scarce strategic materials. They were designed to outnumber the enemy, not for technical superiority. While not necessarily out-classing the Fw 190 or even the increasingly obsolescent Bf 109 in its early incarnations, Yakovlev's piston-engined fighters were good fighters in numbers, durable, maneuverable, fast, light, capable of absorbing a lot of battle damage and still getting home. The 'T' -tank-destroyer- variant armed with a 37mm cannon packed decent firepower. And appearing during the summer of 1944 the Yak 3 was one of the lightest, fastest most agile fighters of WW II  - " perhaps only the Spitfire could rival this machine for manoeuvrability "  according to Yefim Gordon and Dimitri Khazanov.

".. the Yak 3 conferred a considerable advantage - the effect of surprise. Its silhouette was essentially the same as that of the previous versions of the Yak fighter, but its performance simply didn't compare. It could out-climb and out-turn the Fw 190 and caused some panic among the Luftwaffe pilots who had difficulty comprehending just what had suddenly happened to them.."

(Joseph Risso, 11 victories, in "Normandie Niemen" by Jean-Charles Stasi)

 The Fw 190s and Bf 109s were hard-pressed to keep up with the Yak -3 and Jagdwaffe pilots were expressly forbidden from engaging the  Yak 3 below certain altitudes. If it had one weakness the wooden Yak 3 offered little protection to its pilot, the undercarriage locking mechanism was prone to failure and its outstanding manoeuverability and light structural strength resulted in several accidents. Even so, 7-victory ace Francois de Geoffre chose not to open his French-language memoir of flying and fighting with the Normandie Niemen with a description of this supreme dogfighter's air combat capabilities - his sortie flown on 23 September 1944 was a successful low-level high speed strafing of Gumbinnen rail station - the first incursion deep into German territory by the Regiment;

 " ...pushing the throttle wide open, and tucked in alongside side each other, our flight of four Yak-3s accelerated down the track and were rapidly airborne. We didn't climb but stayed low. At more than 500 km/h our deadly excursion through West Prussia was underway - 40 minutes of hurdling trees, roads, and villages, leaving our ear-shattering calling cards - the awesome fireworks of four cannon and eight machine guns.."

Flying Legends 2010, Nico Charpentier pictures, Yak-3 flown by British aerobatics champion Mark Jeffries, powered by a  V-12 1400 hp Allison engine, a rebuild by the 'original' factory in Russia following the discovery of the 'original' jigs. The original Klimov engines are not available however. Mark said;

 " ..I start the display at 400 mph, maximum speed is 500 mph, although I haven't had it up to 500 mph yet ! Instructions to Luftwaffe pilots were - do not engage below 4,000 metres, the sort of heights at which the Yak 3 normally operated. It is lighter and just as powerful so will out-turn any contemporary. In a dogfight it will just get on your tail and shoot you down.."

Walter Wolfrum's memoir was entitled "Unbekannte Pflicht" co-written with Peter Cronauer and published by 296 Verlag. He recalled a confrontation with  General Hans Seidemann  Kommandierender General of VIII. Fliegerkorps (Generalleutnant from 1 January 1944) not over the qualities of the Yak-3 but over the type's very existence!

" ....In the meantime I replayed that last dogfight in my head. No, they could not have been Yak-9s. What had just put me through the wringer looked very similar to a Yak-9, but evidently was in another class in terms of performance - and also in another class to the Bf 109. Could have I perhaps have encountered two of the mythical Yak-3A fighters, about which I had heard some terrible stories in the mess (Kasino) ? Supposedly we were near Schweidnitz, where our Corps commander, General Hans Seidemann, had set up his headquarters. This was a good opportunity to meet the jovial commander, whose champagne I had drunk on many occasions, and report to him directly. Seidemann had to be informed about the new Yak. We had to adapt our tactics to meet this new threat. I asked my (driver) to take me to him.  On arrival I was immediately summoned  into the Schweidnitzer officers' mess to meet him and his Staff. Admittedly, the anaesthetic of the artillery doctor who had just sown up my head wound was still working; it had a very long lasting effect. Nevertheless, I believed that I started to present a militarily correct account of my recent combat experiences, when Seidemann, after the first sentences, spluttered;

"..Have you all gone mad? You and your Jak-3! There is no Jak-3! And certainly not in this section of the front! It is a fairy tale ("ein Ammenmärchen"), how often do I have to explain this?!? "

Although I thought I knew him quite well, the General who had so often praised me for my 'extraordinary achievements in the air war' and who had visited me in hospital after my last serious wound, now gave me a terrible bawling out in front of his approvingly grinning staff officers ('machte mich zur Minna'). In unrestrained fashion the 42-year-old worked himself into a frenzy -  we let ourselves be driven mad by the enemy propaganda, and had the audacity to spread it further, he roared. We were seeing ghosts and over-reacting. All that remained now was to charge me with cowardice before the enemy and make an example of me in front of my comrades..

I wanted to blurt out a reply, but the effects of the cognac and seething with anger brought forth no more than a slurring. A few hours ago, I had just escaped with my life and for our gentlemen with the 'raspberry trouser seams' it was simply not true, that which could not be true. Although outwardly unmoved, my mood grew ever darker. I let Seidemann's never-ending tirade go over my head. In order not to succumb to the temptation to utter a retort, I turned on my heels and walked out, leaving him and his entourage standing there....

....Perhaps they did actually believe what they were claiming - that we still had the best machines. But those days were long gone. In the hands of an experienced pilot the Bf 109 could still be dangerous. But how many experienced pilots did we still have left? And by early 1945 the 109 was starting to get long in the tooth. It's development had reached its high point with the agile 'Friedrich'. Since then every planned upgrade and improvement was actually a step backwards. During the summer of 1944 I flew the G-6, in 1945 I flew the G-14, the G-10 and finally the K-4. The fuselage was strengthened, armament was increased and each time the engine had to be up-rated  to compensate. But the DB engine had reached the end of its development potential. The latest variant, the DB 605 was essentially the same DB 601 that had powered the 109 at the outbreak of the war. While the engine had been overhauled it was very vulnerable and breakdowns and failures piled up. When we flew for just three or four minutes at full-throttle and with emergency power, the engine was finished. The average engine life under front conditions was in any case only around 40 hours....In addition, we had not made any decisive progress in the armament. The 30 mm cannon MK 108, which fired through the propeller hub of the Me 109, was on paper an absolutely lethal gun and appeared mainly suited to combating the ubiquitous Il-2, but the weapon tended to jam easily. It fired shells weighing 480 grams at a muzzle velocity of only 550 meters per second and at a rate of 660 rounds per minute. One could almost observe the trajectory of these heavy, slow projectiles falling away without ever reaching their target - unless you were at very close range. I preferred the old MG 151/20, despite its smaller caliber. You could shoot much more accurately with it .."

Monday, 21 August 2017

Oblt. Erwin Leykauf "Blue 1" Staffelkapitän 12./JG 54

Signed photo of Oblt. Erwin Leykauf  offered for sale on Ebay here. Leykauf is seen climbing down from his Bf 109 G-4 'Blue 1' of 12./JG 54 some time during April-May 1943 either in northern France or Belgium. Leykauf had been appointed Staffelkapitän in April 1943 and a few months later moved to 11./JG 54 in the newly established IV./JG 54. Leykauf survived the war with 33 confirmed victories, 27 of which were scored over the Russian front. In May 1940, he joined 2./JG 21 and shortly after on May 10, he scored his first victory. I./JG21 was re-designated III./JG 54 and Leykauf was posted to 7. Staffel with whom he flew during the Battle of Britain scoring 4 victories.

 Below; Bf 109 G-6 with Gondelwaffen "Blue 12" and 'Blue 1' of  12./JG 54 seen in May 1943. Source: film compiled by Erwin Leykauf via

Also on this blog;
Film diary of a Jagdstaffel July 1941 - Erwin Leykauf 8./JG 54

Robert Jung 3./JG 300 "Auf verlorenem Posten" - the story of a young fighter pilot in the Defence of the Reich

Robert Jung was an enthusiastic 17-year old young glider pilot when he was accepted for fighter pilot training in the Luftwaffe during 1942. After attending the Luftkriegsschule (War College) and then being accepted for Jagdfliegerausbildung (fighter pilot training) he was posted in August 1944 as a youthful  Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (officer candidate) to the leading 'all-weather' Reich Defence Geschwader JG 300 "..inständig hoffend nicht zu spät zu kommen " - eager to arrive at the front before it was too late. Although he had been instrument-trained, perhaps fortunately for Jung wilde Sau operations were by now a distant memory for the pilots of JG 300. But just twenty fours later his youthful illusions about life in a front-line fighter unit had been shattered - the war was irretrievably lost and while the sense of duty remained, every sortie was a fight for survival against hopeless odds. Jung recalls that the JG 300 pilots invariably "..prayed for clouds.." (page 19). The historian of JG 300, Jean-Yves Lorant recalled Jung as a very amiable man but with a somewhat fallible memory;

".. He visited me in Paris in 1993. His recollections of life in I./JG 300 were very fragmentary. I even had to identify for him some of the various instruments that can be seen in the Bf 109 cockpit photo in his book. He also failed to recognise his Staffel comrade Bert Wendler in the 3. Staffel photos that I was able to show him such was his memory. Although in the end I did put the two of them back in contact. Jung knew his memory was poor and that was why I was asked to compile the brief history of JG 300 that appears in his book of war-time recollections that he self-published in 1993. His replies to my questions were on occasion rather disconcerting. The book itself is probably not really worth reading as history - Jung changed some names and left others, fortunately..."

13 September 1944 was a day of huge American aerial activity over Germany - well over 1,000 US bombers and hundreds of fighters were launched at various targets. It was 10:35 when the green flare signalling the order to take off rose into the sky over the airfield at Esperstedt. The Messerschmitt 109s of I./JG 300 took off behind the Bf 109 G 14/AS “double chevron” of Ritterkreuzträger Hptm. Gerd Stamp. Barely twenty aircraft, the last of Stamp’s machines that were combat ready. This small formation was vectored over the Halle-Leipzig sector where combat was engaged at about 11:40 with a small force of 357th FG Mustangs. At about 12:15 the Bf 109s of I./JG 300 closed on several boxes of B-17s between Eisenach and Coburg. Oblt. Manfred Dieterle, Kapitän of 2. Staffel, saw several strikes impact against a B-17 which veered out of formation trailing a thick plume of black smoke in its wake. At 12:50, Dieterle landed back at Esperstedt in his “Red 7”. After Gfr. Hans Dahmen (2. Staffel) and Fhr. Otto Leisner (1. Staffel) had each claimed a Boeing destroyed, the German pilots once again clashed with Mustangs of the 357th FG, now joined by P-51s of the 55th FG. After his Schwarm had been scattered, Jung's G-14 was chased by four Mustangs. In the dogfight that followed, one of the P 51s flew in front of him - a short burst from his three guns resulted only in the jamming of the engine-mounted cannon. Managing to get into a good position for a second time, Robert Jung unleashed a burst from his cowl machine guns and saw his rounds explode against a P-51’s wing, which appeared to catch fire. The Mustang rolled slowly inverted and went down vertically. Despite the proximity of the ground, Jung did not have time to observe his victim crash. He himself had taken hits fired by one of his pursuers and had to attempt a dead stick landing, putting his “Yellow 3” down gear up in a field. The Bf 109 G 14/AS flipped over as it struck the ground. The concussed pilot was pulled clear of the aircraft and transported to the nearest hospital. If a victory claim was filed, then it was not confirmed.

What happened to Jung subsequently is unclear, as is the date of his return to the unit. It appears that his next sortie may not have been flown until March 1945. We know for certain that he flew on 24 March 1945 -  the Allies mounted the vast 'Varsity' operation to cross the Rhine on this date. Jung was shot down for a second time - but the landing site he gives, after bailing out, is some 120 km from the catastrophic combats that took place that day which saw I./JG 300 set upon by 353rd FG P-51s near Göttingen. Jung's 3.Staffel comrade and ace Mustang-Töter Fw Alfred Büthe was shot down and killed. Büthe managed to bail out  - in agony, his legs riddled with rounds fired by pursuing Mustangs - but died of his injuries later that day in hospital. His comrade Ofw Hans Fenten looked on helplessly as he lay in the next bed...

The aerial encounters of 24 March 1945 were some of the last to pit JG 300 against fighters of the 8th Air Force. As bomber interception missions progressively tailed off in favour of ground attack sorties, the pilots of JG 300 would clash with increasing frequency with the tactical air forces — 9th Air Force, 1st Tactical Air Force (P) and 2nd Tactical Air Force — which were supporting the advancing Allied ground armies

For the historian of JG 300, Jean-Yves Lorant, "..Jung's book is still of interest for its sense of 'atmosphere' and 'feeling'. A shame his memory was so poor - had other veterans recalled as little then there is no way that I could have contemplated writing a history of JG 300! According to Bert Wendler who was very reliable and had a detailed Flugbuch and memories of his 3. Staffel comrades, Jung flew no more than a handful of sorties 7 or 8 at the most. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of Jung  - he never did lend me the only photo he had of himself in Lederkombi as a Fj-Uffz in I./JG 300. Maybe he thought he wouldn't get it back or maybe he simply forgot to send it to me - whatever, I didn't press the matter. His wife told me she thought he had never got the original back from the camera/photo-shop that was supposed to be making copies. By the way the cover of his book was a composition painted by Richard Goyat depicting a I./JG 300 G-10 being pursued by a 357th FG P-51 on 14 January 1945..note the blue/white/blue fuselage bands introduced in JG 300 in late December 1944. Post-war he enjoyed a successful business career, eventually founding his own marketing company which he sold in 1988 .."