Saturday, 4 July 2020

Wilde Sau JG 300/301/302 ‘Ring of Fire’ from Eduard

... due this month from Eduard is a ‘Limited Edition’ wilde Sau 'Dual Combo' Bf 109 kit with 10 markings options for JG 300/301/302 night fighters. Some of the schemes selected by Eduard are based on the profile artworks prepared by Anders Hjortsberg for a two-part 2014 feature I compiled for ‘Model Aircraft’ magazine. More markings options are due in a separate decal package coming in August. The kit includes parts to replicate the exhaust stack ‘whistles’ and flame shrouds fitted to wilde Sau Bf 109 Gustavs. Also included are Brassin wheels, masks and a wilde Sau lapel badge. Check out July’s ‘Eduard Info’ for another wilde Sau ‘history’ feature which takes a slightly more ‘technical’ look at wild boar night fighter operations.

Friday, 3 July 2020

new Luftwaffe books from Casemate Publishing

..translated by this blogger..

Special offer on Casemate Illustrated series  - link below - and more many offers in the Casemate Summer 2020 catalogue on Casemate, Kagero, Helion, Stackpole and RZM titles (..including £20 off the Unternhemen Ilse title ..)

Thursday, 2 July 2020

"..Mit 96 nochmal die Messerschmitt Bf 109 G.." Erich Brunotte 13./JG 51

Just a few weeks ago former Jagdflieger Erich Brunotte flew again in a Bf 109 after a 74-year break. He went up in the Hangar 10 (Usedom, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) Bf 109 G-12 Schulflugzeug ( a Merlin-engined Buchon) ..aged 96 years old.  Note the Luftwaffe pilot insignia on his jacket - swastika covered up..

Erich Brunotte was born on June 2, 1923 so he has just turned 97 years old.. From his early teenage years he turned to the aviation world and passed his A, B and C glider licenses between 1940 and 1941. On June 3rd, 1941, he entered the Luftwaffe to be trained as a fighter pilot. Between July 1942 and April 1943, he received various assignments on the eastern front, flying sorties with a Nauaufklärungsgruppe - short-range recce unit. In August 1944 he was posted to 13. Staffel of JG 51 "Mölders" and often flew as wingman to Heinz Marquardt. Some sources credit him with as many as 33 victories. According to his own account  - see video below from the 14-minute mark -  Erich Brunotte flew his last sortie on May 3, 1945 from Flensburg in northern Germany at the controls of Focke Wulf 190 D-9 "Weisse 11". A single click to view here - a double click to go to Erich's youtube channel.

Also on this blog;

JG 54 ace Hugo Broch flies the Spitfire

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

more Lela Presse news - latest 'Avions' issue - 80th anniversary of the Battle for France and more new Luftwaffe titles

" ..Incompetent leaders, a government in paralysis, tens of thousands dead, a total rout, does that sound familiar? No, I'm not talking about the coronavirus pandemic! Come on, try harder: France ridiculed by Germany, a trial exonerating those responsible of any wrongdoing, and finally, the hero who stood up to the invader, condemned to death. Still not ringing any bells ? No, I'm not talking about Dr. Didier Raoult but about General de Gaulle! Eighty years ago, this great man - from every point of view - restored some honour to a country swept away in little more than a month by the armies of the Third Reich. As our sister magazine Batailles Aériennes has devoted more than ten of its issues to compiling a detailed picture of the air battles of May-June 1940, we have chosen to cover the 80th anniversary of this campaign in a different and original way. In the manner of Jean-Jacques Annaud's film "Stalingrad", you will be able to follow the journey of some of the most notable participants from both sides. Whether it is the men (Leblanc and Schmidt), the units (I./JG 20) or aircraft types (the CAO-200), the conclusion is always the same: it is the best prepared camp that will always emerge victorious from the confrontation. On reflection, you may not be wrong, dear reader: there is indeed a relationship between the events of 1940 and those of 2020 ...

 I would like to make it clear right away that I am not the author of the introduction to the article devoted to the ace Christian Leblanc! It is the sole responsibility of its author, whom I would like to take this opportunity to thank for the confidence he has shown in the AVIONS team for so many years. If the confinement has postponed the publication of your magazine by two months, it has not stopped  or put too much of a brake on our activity .We have just published two books dedicated to types sporting French roundels : "Armée de l'Air Vampire and Mistral" (Vol. 1) and "The SA 330 Puma" (Vol 1), as well as a very interesting 'special issue' dedicated to the French jets in Israeli service;  " Ouragan, Mystère et Super-Mystère à l’étoile de David ". 

 In addition we have just published three new volumes in our series of histories of famous German units; 

"Jagdgeschwader 54:  Eagles of the Green Hearts" (Vol. 2), 

"Stukageschwader 2 'Immelmann'" (Vol. 2) and "Lehrgeschwader 1, the Griffon Wing" ..." ..

 Christophe Cony...editor-in-chief Avions at Lela Presse

Sunday, 28 June 2020

The life and times of Finnish fighter ace Veikko Karu by Jukka Juutinen

by Jukka Juutinen

In his original post on Kari Stenman’s book “Mersu” blog author Neil Page made mention of the case involving Veikko Karu and his post-war criminal conviction. For non-Finnish speakers not familiar with the background of the comment (that was originally due to my instigation), a more comprehensive explanation is perhaps appropriate.

To people used to a more complete treatment of fighter aces, their lives and personalities, it may come as a great surprise to find that the Finnish historiography on Finnish fighter aces tends to be of "Battler Britain" heroic style with perfect heroes having perfect lives. To date, not a single ace biography meeting the basic requirements for a serious historical study has been published in Finland. Most have no proper referencing and even feature dialogue that cannot be verified with any trustworthy source (Franz Kurowski-style).

As most Finnish AF history enthusiasts know, Kari Stenman has written numerous key books on the topic. One of these books is “Lentävät ritarit” (Flying Knights), a book with short biographies on all FAF Mannerheim Cross awardees. One of the awardees was Veikko Karu. Veikko Karu was a very brave and courageous soldier with an  impeccable service record. However, in the early 1960s he was convicted of killing his wife and disposing of her corpse by incinerating it. He received a sentence of 10 years in prison.

This incident has never been mentioned in any of Stenman’s books or articles, nor in any standard literature on Finnish fighter aces. The topic is still a sore one in some Finnish circles, as I discovered to my great astonishment last year. I wrote a book review for the prestigious Finnish military journal Sotilasaikakauslehti who published it in their April 2018 issue. I made a mention of the Karu case in the review. Some time after the review was published, I received a phone call from a person of military background. While neutral in tone, one got the feeling that my text had angered some people who feel that any such negative publicity is akin to “defaming the veterans”. I wonder does similar atmosphere exist in the U.S. or U.K.?

As for the crime Karu committed, the latest information (although coming from several sources, the intel is based on hearsay, though I am inclined to believe it is true) suggests that Veikko Karu’s only crime was the disposition of his wife’s corpse after discovering that one of his sons had actually killed her. That son was apparently mentally “slow” and Karu believed that he could not cope with imprisonment and decided to take the blame instead. He did his time and after release continued his life. Apparently, his closest family knew the truth but decided to keep it to themselves.

If it is indeed true that Karu took the blame for his son’s crime, one has to wonder why to tiptoe about it? After all, what can be a higher demonstration of highest character of a war hero than to make a huge sacrifice for his own family in civilian life as well?

Summary of video interview by Jukka Juutinen.

The interview begins with the question when did Karu first see an aeroplane. Karu responds that he was about 10 years old. Then Karu explains that his original plan was to study electric engineering after his Abitur as his family (he uses the expression “we had”) owned an automobile dealership representing e.g. General Motors. The firm had an auto repair shop with some 10 mechanics. I.e. Karu intended to become employed by that firm. At that time aeroplanes and “their droning” did not much interest Karu.

In 1936 he had his Abitur exam and then entered AF Reserve Officer’s Course. He states that he was very lucky as there were over 1000 applicants and only 30 were approved. He then describes the selection process. At the first stage over one half were rejected on the basis of application papers.

Then he notes that when he for the first time climbed onboard an aeroplane and took controls, he made up his mind: this was to be his life career. Then he had struggle to get approval from his mother who at first resisted his plans. Veikko was his mother’s “support and security” as he had a significant share in running the auto business already. He then says “That much I can confess you that had my mother not given in, I would have given up my flying career”. “I am eternally grateful for her approval.” “Flying has been everything for me in my life.”

Then he is asked that was the AF cadet school the only way to become an airman. Karu responds that it would have been possible to become a civilian pilot for Aero (Finnish airliner), but he adds that driving Aero’s aeroplanes is akin to driving a bus and “it is not flying until you get a plane under you and can do whatever you want”.

He then describes when he was caught stunting over his then girlfriend’s home. His CO first held a loud sermon over the incident but then added that such stunting is what makes a pilot and the case is closed for good. Then Karu describes his first aerial combat on 20.2.1940. He describes how he climbed to 7000 metres without an oxygen mask. He shot down/at 2 enemy aircraft and then had dive vertically to get away. He was so weary that he wonders how he got back to home base.

The Continuation War began with Fokker D.XXI for him. Then he was ordered to begin training night fighter pilots. That was when the friendly fire incident occurred. He was flying at night at about midnight when he spotted a black shape flying over a field. He asked on radio whether own aircraft were in their air. Negative was the response. He radioed “I’ll go after it.”

He then pursued the black form and says that he recognized it as a He 111. He notes that also Soviets were known to use (captured) He 111s. He kept asking on the radio that are there friendlies in the air. “Negative”. He then radioed that hurry up, the frontline is approaching, what should I do. He asked for permission to shoot. He shot one engine on fire. The aircraft kept going on. Then he asked can he shoot the other engine. “Posotie”. Then he shot that too on fire and then the aircraft turned away from the enemy lines. Right at that moment he hear on the radio “It is friendly!”.

Some 10 to 20 km before reaching the base the aircraft blew up in the air and debris hit Karu’s plane too. He flew back to base, he jumped into a car and drove to the crash site. He heard shouts “Wasser! Wasser!”. There were still two airmen alive. Afterwards Karu requested that he be informed at once when the Germans are buried. The Germans were buried in Helsinki and Karu acquired a wreath for the grave. The Germans were very adamant that Karu was not responsible, it was their own fault.

When Fuhrer’s wreath was lowered, a gun salute was fired. Karu says that Germans fired only such salute when something very important was happening. “I was wondering that what is this ceremony. Then a German whispered it was my turn. When I lowered my wreath, didn’t those cursed Germans just fire a gun salute! I felt that I now should sink under the ground, so pissed up I was. When I got back, I asked the German that why the hell did they do that? The German responded “Don’t you realize that we did this to emphasize that shooting down the plane was not your fault.”

Then the interviewer cites from the official Mannerheim Cross award document. Then Karu describes how he was shot down. He and one another spotted a Russian truck column. Karu attacked and on the first run set 9 of the 10 trucks on fire. Then he made a mistake: he did not leave that one alone and attacked again. And so the flak got him.

Then he describes how he was able to escape from the enemy territory. He says he was extremely lucky. He was able to cross an old barbed fire fence over a fallen pine tree. He was able to steal a rifle by knocking out a Russian who had come out of a bunker for urges of nature. He was then able to cross a minefield probably due to thick snow over the area, or “the guy up in the sky helped”. Then he faced a problem when the Finns guarding the line did not originally believe he was Finnish.

At the end Karu sends his greetings to his comrades, who after his long absence (which is presumably a reference to his incarceration) welcomed him with heartwarming comradeship.

”Ylipäällikkö on pvm:llä 6.11.42 nimittänyt Vapaudenristin 2. luokan Mannerheim-ristin ritariksi kapteeni Veikko Johannes Karun. Kapteeni Karu on johtanut erittäin tarmokkaasti ja ansiokkaasti hävittäjälaivuetta. Itse taitavana ja aina taisteluihin valmiina sekä rauhallista harkintaa osoittaen on hän esimerkillään kannustanut alaisensa ohjaajat erinomaisiin tuloksiin. Hänen henkilökohtaisella tilillään on useita ilmavoittoja, jotka hän on suurimmaksi osaksi saanut meririntamalla taistelussa vihollisen lentoveneitä vastaan. Hänen johtamansa partiot ovat menestyksellisesti toimineet erikoisesti vihollisen keveitä merivoimia vastaan upottaen lukuisia aluksia. Kerran hyökkäsi kapteeni Karu partioineen kolmea vihollisen moottoritorpeedovenettä vastaan. Alukset syttyivät vuorotellen tuleen, räjähtivät ja upposivat. Taistelun aikana oli vihollisen ilmatorjuntatuli hyvin kiivasta ja sai kapteeni Karu omaan koneeseensa useita räjähtäviä luodinosumia, mutta jatkoi siitä huolimatta taistelua loppuun saakka. Kapteeni Karun tuhotessa erään toisen kerran rintaman takana toistakymmentä autoa, sai hänen koneensa ilmatorjuntatulesta niin pahoja osumia, että hänen oli tehtävä pakkolasku vihollisen puolelle. Pelastettuaan koneesta kaikki tärkeät paperit ja kartat lähti hän pyrkimään omalle puolelle ja onnistuikin siinä kahakoituaan kiivaasti vihollisen kanssa. Kapteeni Karu on suorittanut kaikkiaan 146 sotalentoa ja on hänen johtamansa osasto upottanut 22 vihollisalusta sekä ampunut alas lukuisia viholliskoneita.” Translation: The Supreme Commander has awarded Captain Veikko Johannes Karu on the date 6.11.1941 the Mannerheim Cross of the 2. Class of the Cross of Freedom.” [literally it says “has nominated as a knight of the…]. Captain Karu has led with great vigour and merit a fighter squadron. Displaying great skill, readiness for combat and calm thinking he has encouraged his subordinate pilots to great results through his personal example. His personal victory list has several victories, most of which have been cored over the seafront against enemy flying boats. Patrols led by him have successfully engaged especially enemy’s light naval forces sinking numerous vessels. On one occasion Karu and his patrol attacked 3 enemy torpeedo [intentional error as in original text!] boats. One by one the vessels caught fire, exploded and sank. Duringt the fight the enemy AA fire was very heavy and Captain Karu’s plane received several hits by HE bullets, but still he kept fighting on till the end. On another occasion, Kaptain Karu destroyed behing enemy lines over a 10 enemy vehicles, his plane took so severe hits that he had to force-land on the enemy side. After saving all important papers [documents] and maps from the plane he began his journey to own side [of the front] and succeeded in doing so despite heavy skirmishes with the enemy. Captain Karu has performed 146 combat missions all in all, and the unit under his command has sank 22 enemy vessels and shot down numerous enemy aircraft.”

'Yellow 14' Bf 109 G-6/AS of III./ JG 1 -Wochenschau 28 June 1944

These Bf 109 G-6/AS fighters of  III./ JG 1 were featured on the Wochenschau footage shown in German cinemas on 28 June 1944. Taxiing out -most probably at Paderborn - is 'Yellow 14' with 'Yellow 9' behind to the right of the image. Finish is the usual three greys with red RVT band around the rear fuselage. Note the over-painted remnants of a Stammkennzeichen under the Kennziffer fuselage numeral. Note too the unusual position of the short III. Gruppe bar. Just visible under the fuselage is the FuG 16 ZY aerial..

Artwork is from the 'Reich Defence' boxing of the AZ model G-6/AS

The first reported loss of the new G-6/AS variant in III./ JG 1 occurred on 8 May1944 - Fw. Felix Karenitz of 8.Staffel by shot down by P-47s. He baled out but failed to operate the ripcord of his chute. Below; a close-up from the same Wochenschau footage showing Ofw. Friedrich Zander of 7./ JG 1 in the cockpit of his G-6/AS..

Saturday, 27 June 2020

More ‘symbols of command’ - eBay photo find #333

Oberleutnant Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld as Staffelkapitän 5./NJG 2. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 25 January 1942 and the Ritterkreuz on 16 April 1942 after he had shot down 4 RAF bombers in the night of 26 -27 March 1942, his score standing at 21 victories. Promoted to Hauptmann, Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld was made Gruppenkommandeur I./ NJG 3 on 15 October 1942..

Galland’s ‘famous’ 5819 - a rare view showing the auxiliary tank. These images taken from a sequence depicting Galland arriving in Berlin at Staaken according to the seller, presumably on a Dienstreise  (lit. 'business trip' )  More from this sequence on this blog

Above;  summer 1944 , Kommodore JG 52 Hrabak.

Also on this blog;

Hrabak and Hartman toast Hartmann's 300th

 Below; distinctive camo finish on this III./JG 3 machine presumably transferred to the Stab, note twin emblems under the cockpit, probably Luetzow...

Thanks to Sinisa, Marc, Chris, Michel, George, Franck at the ‘Messerschmitt Bf 109’ FB pages for commentary and detective work...