Sunday, 17 March 2019

Bf 110 Zerstörergeschwader 76 -ebay photo find #311

Gruppenkommandeur Walter Grabmann of II. Gruppe of the Zerstörergeschwader 76 ("Haifischgruppe") alongside a sharkmouth Bf 110, seen here shortly after his return from captivity (POW on 18 May 1940) on the field at Sovet, near Dinant and Ciney, Belgium, 1940

Tim de Craene's Ebay sales are here

Ju 88 KG 51, KG 30, Ju 87 Stukageschwader 2 - Ebay photo find #310

nice set of KG 51 Ju 88s with (presumably) yellow cowls and yellow rudders.

5 altes orig Foto Negative negativ Front Ostfront Flugzeuge Flieger Junkers Ju 88 Feldflugplatz Flugzeuge über einem Feldflugplatz. Nachlass eines KG 51 Edelweiss Angehöriger.

on offer here 

Why did the Germans not use their Luftwaffe to try to stop the Normandy invasion? Quora opinion piece by Huang Kun

Reading the latest volume of Erik Mombeeck's history of JG 2 covering the period Jan-September 1944. Every sortie - or so it seems- was a massacre for both the 'old hands' and the 'new growth'. Pilots and aircraft shot down almost at will by superior numbers of US fighters. In the months and weeks prior to D-Day the Allied bombing and interdiction campaign over France reached its height ..

  ".. anything and everything that could be bombed was bombed -and systematically; factories, rail hubs, bridges, airfields and infrastructure. Our high command threw everything it could against the bombers without consideration for losses. We were scrambled up to three times per day and losses were such that the number of pilots available shrank alarmingly. A shortage of serviceable fighters was equally as apparent..I was airborne for my third sortie on 11 May - a Hauptmann had been assigned as my wingman. He was not at all enthused at the prospect - it was no doubt his last chance to display courage in the face of the enemy. He was ordered to stick with me whatever happened. We sighted the 'Pulks' south-west of Paris and immediately lined up for a frontal pass  to avoid being caught by the escorts.."

 Lt. Hans Santler,  Staffelkapitän 4./JG 2

Reposted from

Why did the Germans not use their Luftwaffe to try to stop the Normandy invasion?
Quora opinion piece by Huang Kun (edited and additional material N. Page)

By 6 June 1944, the Luftwaffe, to all intents and purposes, had already been rendered ineffective thanks to a new strategy instituted by Lt. Gen. Spaatz, who became the new commander of US Strategic Air Forces in Europe (USSTAF) in Jan 1944. He brought Maj. Gen. Doolittle along with him as the new commander of Eighth Air Force, replacing Maj. Gen. Eaker.

Maj. Gen. Doolittle and Lt. Gen. Spaatz.

Spaatz's goal was to destroy the Luftwaffe as much as possible before D-Day. He and Doolittle would deliberately use the bombers as bait. Once the Luftwaffe's planes were detected, the escorting fighters were instructed to stop chaperoning the bombers and go after the enemy fighters instead. It marked a key change in strategy in Europe's air war. To lure the Jagdwaffe into combat against the bombers, Spaatz and Doolittle targeted German oil supplies, a critical resource in German war machinery. Once the Luftwaffe took the bait, the US fighters would wait for them on top. German air power would be destroyed by attrition.

There was an interesting anecdote which reflected this new strategic direction USSTAF was taking. One day, the new Eighth Air Force commander Doolittle was visiting his subordinate commander, Maj. Gen. Kepner. At the 8th Fighter Command, Doolittle noticed a slogan on the wall. It read: "The first duty of Eighth Air Force fighters is to bring the bombers back alive." Doolittle was not pleased. Kepner said the sign was already there when he got there. Doolittle told him to take it down and that it was wrong. A new sign then went up: "The first duty of Eighth Air Force fighters is to destroy German fighters."

P51s belonging to 8th Fighter Command

Hence, the US fighters were no longer constrained to holding close formation with bombers. Instead, they would fly ahead, look for German fighters, and attack them where they found them. By the end of January, the fighter escorts had spread out into formations 25 miles wide with a squadron out front, sweeping the route for enemy aircraft. Soon entire groups of fighters were ranging 50 miles ahead to catch the German planes on the ground or as they were forming up to attack the bombers.

Low level strafing of enemy airdromes by fighters from the 8th Fighter Command accounted for a multitude of Luftwaffe machines.

The bombing of German synthetic oil plants also compelled the Luftwaffe to stay closer to home in a defensive mode and, as such, required them to come up and fight the P-38s and P-51s, which themselves were tough opponents.

In this view 3 combat boxes are falling into trail to bomb the target. You can see one Combat box in the distance and another closer. The picture was taken from the 3rd combat box of a combat “Wing”.

 Thunderbolt dispatching a ME-110.

In Feb 1944, USSTAF launched a series of concentrated attacks during the "Big Week" of February, which dealt the Luftwaffe a serious blow from which it never fully recovered. The Luftwaffe in western Europe wrote off 34 percent of its fighter strength in January, another 56 percent in February, after Spaatz and Doolittle came onboard.

New Luftwaffe pilots had only rudimentary training and were being told by the older pilots, "..Your job is to protect me.." It was a matter of survival. In early 1944 Galland reported;

"..The ratio in which we fight today is 1 to 7. The standard of the Americans is extraordinarily high. The day fighters have lost more than 1000 aircraft during the last four months, among them our best officers. These gaps cannot be filled. Things have gone so far that the danger of a collapse of our arm exists..." (Overy Richard. Why the Allies Won p.124)

Even though production of Bf-109 and Fw-190 fighters continued and even increased, production was dispersed and eventually driven underground. As the RAF continued to destroy city centres (and therefore rail hubs and junctions) bottlenecks and delays built up. With the bombing of German oil supplies, many of the newly manufactured German fighters would sit idle for lack of fuel. Nor could the Germans replace the losses of their veteran pilots.  There were so many Bf 109s shot down on one sortie flown on 31 July 1944 against 15th AF B-24s and P-51s in defence of the Ploesti oilfields (22 JG 53 and JG 77 Bf 109s) that it was said - with a certain gallows humour - on the next sortie the JaFü should organise a bus and dispatch it to the same grid square as the fighters to retrieve all those that had been forced to bail out. (Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77, Jochen Prien p.2110).

As the war dragged on, new German pilots  went into combat with barely 50 hours of flying time. By early 1945 veterans on occasion bailed out of airworthy fighters rather than join the unequal combat - during the first half of 1944 pilots were still facing a possible courts martial for landing accidents and similar (see Lorant's JG 300 history for more on this). American fighters strafed and shot up everything that moved - even enemy pilots hanging under parachutes and crash-landed Bf 109s;

 " Für die 'Alten' war dies nicht neu; nur die 'Neuen' waren entsetzt '

according to Erich Sommavilla in Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77  (' ..this was nothing new for the old hands, but the new pilots were enraged..' Jochen Prien p.2110).

The losses sustained by the Luftwaffe in the spring of 1944 were of critical importance. Within a few months, the Allies had seized air superiority from the Germans and held it for the rest of the war.

Attrition of Luftwaffe aces in the West and the Reich prior to D-Day - from McFarland and Newton 'To Command the Sky - the battle for air superiority over Germany 1942-44 '

On D-Day, the Allied invasion force was strung out for miles along the Normandy coast, presenting the greatest target for German planes. But the Luftwaffe was unable to mount opposition of any significance. The Luftwaffe in France could only launch 80-90 fighter sorties on the first day of the Normandy invasion and another 175 that night with no significant effect. The Allies had absolute air supremacy on D-Day. As Allied forces moved inland, air bases would be established and the perimeter of the war in the west would be rolled back towards Germany.

Hardly any Luftwaffe aircraft appeared over the beaches on D-Day

As a side note, it was said that when Spaatz and Doolittle proposed their new strategy to demolish the Luftwaffe before D-Day, British Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory, the Allied air chief for Overlord, disagreed vigorously. He wanted to hold back the fighters for training and to use them in a "big air battle" he anticipated would happen on D-Day. He didn't want Spaatz and Doolittle to waste the Allied precious fighters away in some dogfights faraway in Germany.

In the end, the Allied supreme commander, US Gen. Eisenhower, settled the priorities with consideration for British sensitivities. Spaatz got most, but not all, of what he wanted. However, it was enough for Spaatz and Doolittle to implement their air strategy and do their job. The great air battle over the beaches predicted by Leigh-Mallory did not happen on D-Day, of course, because the Luftwaffe had been pretty much decimated by then. Leigh-Mallory was thinking defensively, while Spaatz and Doolittle were thinking that the best defense was to have a good offense.

Years after the war, Doolittle commented, "It is generally conceded that the air war against Germany was won during the phase of our operations between the beginning of February 1944 and D-Day." Had Eisenhower backed Leigh-Mallory and denied Spaatz and Doolittle instead, the outcome of D-Day might have been a little different with the Luftwaffe probably pretty much alive on that day.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

latest volume in JG 2 history from Erik Mombeeck - the death of Egon Mayer 2 March 1944. New Luftwaffe books

Published at the same time as his JG 5 Luftwaffe Gallery is volume 5 of Erik Mombeeck's day-by-day chronicle of JG 2: "Dans le Ciel de France - Histoire de la JG 2 "Richthofen". This latest volume covers in detail the history of the "Richthofen" from 1 January 1944 until its definitive withdrawal from French territory in late August. This period was marked by heavy, bitter and deadly combat as the Allies softened up the defenders ahead of the landings in Normandy. Heavily outnumbered, the tenacity of the Luftwaffe pilots was no longer sufficient to defend the skies of occupied France. Losses on both sides were considerable - none more so than in JG 2. In the space of just a few months the Geschwader lost two Kommodoren and two Kommandeure, who together had posted combined victory claims around the 400 mark. The chapter covering JG 2's defensive battles on the D-Day landing front reveals that the "Richthofen" were particularly active there from 6 June 1944. 200 pages, 184 photos, most of them previously unpublished.

With Vol 5 this series is now 1000 pages long. And virtually all there is in English on this unit is an Osprey! Apart from Vol I of this series, the only volume already published in English.

2 March 1944 was a particularly 'black day' for the Geschwader - airborne with his Geschwaderstab from Cormeilles, north-east of Lisieux, Normandy, Kommodore Mayer - the 'ace of aces' in the West - was vectored over the Ardennes against a USAAF daylight raid aimed at Frankfurt am Main. Having suffered the recent loss of his long-time wingmen Gruppenadjutant Hptm. Fritz Edelmann (KIA 30 January) and Ofw. Rudolf Alf (hospitalised 21 January), Mayer's 'new' Schwarm was far less experienced. All four Fw 190s missed the rendezvous with II. Gruppe airborne from Creil, north of Paris and III. Gruppe who had overnighted at St. Trond in Belgium. Continuing north-eastwards Mayer appears to have subsequently lost the other three Fw 190s of his Schwarm and, as an 'isolated Fw 190', he was easily picked off by 365th FG P-47 Thunderbolts near Montmédy (1st victory for Maj. Robert L. Goffey). He was the third Kommodore of the Richthofener to be shot down and killed after Wick and Balthasar. His award of the 'Swords' was announced on the day of his death. Egon Mayer had filed claims for some 102 enemy aircraft, all in the West,  including 26 four-engine bombers, 51 Spitfires and 12 P-47 fighters. Mayer's funeral was held at Beaumont with great pomp and ceremony. In his guard of honour were Huppertz and Wurmheller - both would soon know a similar fate. Mayer is buried in the war cemetery of St. Desiré de Lisieux.


" My copy of the Luftwaffe Gallery JG 5 book has just arrived and it is as you would expect from Erik - full of interesting photos, informative narrative and quality colour profiles. The LuGa series is up there along with the Luftwaffe in Focus series as being a must have..."

 " Hucks216 " on the "12 o'clock high" forum

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Fw 190 JG 1, JG 300 -ebay photo find #311

A Fieseler-built A-7 or A-8, 19 victory markings on the rudder, all victims in the West...but who did it 'belong' to? IIRC this must be Rüdiger von Kirchmayr's machine (.. one of them..) He was Staffelkapitän 5./JG 1 during April-May 1944. Kirchmayr made three claims (vics 17-19) on the ill-fated 29 April 1944 raid. He moved to the Stabsstaffel II./JG 1 in July 1944.

Some knowledgeable enthusiasts have suggested that this may be Lt. Otto Bach's aircraft (Staffelführer 7./JG 1). But see the Prien/Rodeike JG 1 history Band 3. Bach was KIA on 26 November 1944 clipping trees and crashing to his death in 'yellow 15' during a low-level tree-top chase by Mustangs in the vicinity of  Rochau near Stendal (Baumberührung beim Tiefflug..) He 'may' have returned 25 victories - Jochen Prien writes;  " ..the exact number of victories returned by Bach is unknown. We do know that his total on 29 May 1944 was sixteen, that he had been awarded the DK in Gold and was in line to receive the RK. However it is not known how and when -between 29 May and the date of his death- he could have returned nine additional victories, since he made no claims during the period of the 'invasion' in Normandy and that following this period II./JG 1 was removed from the front for rest and refit.."

From an expired ebay auction

Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-8, W.Nr 171501 that probably belonged to II./JG 300. It features a three-colour fuselage band. The Kennziffer is barely visible here but according to John Manrho who apparently owns the 'original' this was 'yellow 7'. It was produced by Focke Wulf in Cottbus around July to August 1944.

Below; Fw 190 A-7 W.Nr. 340281 from JG 300 reported burnt out at Ainring, 12 May 1945. The dark grey around the forward part of the cowl is an indicator of late-war JG 300 Fw 190s. Source: Michael Balss's loss list.

..and another superb model from Jiří Lenert

Bf 110 units in the Battle of Britain by John Vasco - Wingleader

Having been very enthusiastic recently about the new Wingleader magazine with its lovely landscape format on thick glossy paper, I was equally as pleased with my copy of John Vasco's Bf 110 units in the Battle of Britain ( Vol I) . This really is a lovely piece of work. With one picture per page I thought it looked very impressive and  I'm surprised nobody has really done it before.. it really maximises the quality of each image and is great for those all-important details...

Subtitled "Modeller's photographic archive " Volume II - now available to pre-order - is another Wingleader production in A-4 landscape format with, in many instances, a single photo per page. Regular blog readers will recall that John Vasco featured in the first of my author interview series and I quite distinctly recall him saying that he had no more book never say never I guess.

I asked John about his new Wingleader titles..

" ...I am pleased with Part 1 of the Bf 110 in the Battle of Britain book. Part 2 is with the publishers at the moment, and once final proofing/corrections are done, it should hopefully be out around April-May time -certainly before the middle of the year.

How did the books come about ? I had continued to gather Bf 110 photos and in conversation with Simon Parry I said I could probably do a Bf 110 volume. I then went through what I had and advised them of the likely total of photos, and matters moved on to considering two volumes. So it was a venture to capture every Staffel during the BoB, with the caveat that not every recce unit might feature, as some might only have had one or two Bf 110s, or photos simply did not exist for the period in question. Fernando came in for the profiles...

The landscape format allows for the photos to feature the aircraft larger, rather than smaller had the format been in portrait style. It works well, and I am pleased with the outcome. Volume 2 will be every bit as good as volume 1, with the odd surprise for good measure...

Piotr, the artist who did the cover for Volume 1, has also done the cover for Volume 2. Equally as good!..."

Volume II is currently available to pre-order from the Wingleader site - as a special edition Vol II will have 128 pages. Order both Vol I and II together and get free postage in the UK.

Also on this blog; 

The story behind the Luftwaffe book - John Vasco's 'Bombsights over England -Erprobungsgruppe 210 in the Battle of Britain' here

Z./KG 30 Junkers Ju 88 C Zerstörer 'heavy fighter' -ebay photo find #309

"..notgelandeter Junkers Ju 88 im Raum Narvik, Norwegen, 1940 " according to the seller...

the first examples of the Ju 88 C Zerstörer 'heavy fighter' variant of the Ju 88 A bomber were deployed in the semi-autonomous Staffel (Z)./KG 30 being based in Norway from April 1940..

Tim de Craene's ebay sales are here