Friday, 30 July 2010

The Focke Wulf 190 Sturmbock over Oschersleben 7 July 1944



'Black 13' (above) has been identified as Walter Dahl's aircraft by many authors. In my 2001 'Sturmgruppen 1944' article (SAM, March 2001) I suggested that it was more likely that this machine was the Sturmbock assigned to the Staffelkapitän of 11. Staffel JG 3 Werner Gerth, who also featured in the Oschersleben newsreel footage.


In late April 1944, IV./JG 3 converted from the Bf-109 to the Fw-190 to expand upon the successes achieved by von Kornatzki’s Sturmstaffel 1 and assume the role of the first Sturmgruppe in the Luftwaffe. Over the months prior to being designated as the first of the specialised Sturmgruppen, IV./JG 3 had already posted an impressive combat performance in the defence of the Reich. Based at Salzwedel alongside the Sturmstaffel, its pilot roster included eager young Jagdflieger such as Hans Weik, Willi Unger and Hans Iffland. Between February and April 1944, Weik, flying his usual Bf 109 G-6 'White 7' as Staffelkapitän 10./JG 3, had shot down some 23 Viermots. Willi Unger did not make his first combat flight until late March 1944 but during April shot down eight heavy bombers. Hans Iffland had some sixteen heavy bomber 'kills' during this period, including one of the 13 heavy bombers claimed by the unit on the 6 March Berlin raid, one of the costliest ever mounted by the 8th USAAF. During May 1944 these pilots converted on to the heavily armed and armoured bomber destroyer variant of the Fw-190A-8/R2 specifically produced for the role. Many of the surviving pilots from Sturmstaffel 1 were incorporated into IV./JG 3 as 11. Staffel.

In late May 1944, all 68 pilots of the unit were assembled to hear the Gruppenkommandeur, Hauptman Wilhelm Moritz read out the Sturmgruppe Oath: “We swear to fight in defense of the Reich true to the principles and rules of engagement of the Sturmgruppe. We know that, as pilots of the Sturmgruppe, we are called upon in a special way to protect and defend to the utmost of our ability the population of our homeland. We undertake that, on every mission resulting in contact with four-engine bombers, we shall press home the attack to the shortest range and - if unsuccessful in shooting down the enemy by gunfire - we will destroy him by ramming.” This oath was largely superfluous since the Fw 190's 30mm cannon could bring down a bomber with only a handful of shells at close enough range.

IV/JG 3's first successful mission in its new role came on 7 July 1944, when 1,100 8th US Air Force heavy bombers escorted by 750 fighters were dispatched to bomb aircraft factories in the Leipzig area and the synthetic oil plants at Boehlen, Leuna-Merseburg and Lutzgendorf. Escorted by two Bf-109 Gruppen from JG 300, IV.(Sturm)/JG3 operating in concert with the Fw 190s of II./JG300 led by their Kommodore JG 300 Walther Dahl- attacked a formation of 492nd BG B-24s that were caught without fighter cover in the vicinity of Oschersleben. Altogether that day more than twenty five B-24s were shot down, including 12 of 18 launched by the 492nd Bomb Group. Although losses sustained by the defenders were not exactly negligeable, the sortie was judged a success. As a result, II/JG 300 was immediately ordered to convert to the Sturmgruppe role, while Major Kornatzki was instructed to set up a third Sturmgruppe, II.(Sturm)/JG 4.

The success of the Sturmgruppe IV./JG 3 and II./JG 300 in downing a squadron of heavy bombers over Oschersleben on 7 July 1944 was widely reported in the German media with radio, press and cinema newsreel coverage. Some screenshots of the newsreel footage depicting the Focke Wulf 190 Sturmböcke of IV./JG 3 performing a flypast at Illesheim are presented here.

In the air the only identifiable aircraft is 'Black 9'. Note the JG 3 'winged U' emblem under the cockpit on this machine and not on the engine cowl. The canopy 'Scheuklappen' or 'blinkers' are clearly visible as is the IV. Gruppe wavy line on the white rear fuselage band..





Walther Dahl visiting the men of IV./JG 3 at Illesheim some time in the week following the famed 'Oschersleben air battle'

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Eduard weekend edition Fw 190 Sturmbock





To coincide with the release of their new 'weekend' edition of their Fw 190 Sturmbock kit the Eduard July 2010 newsletter contains an informative and well written piece by Jan Zdiarsky on the history of Sturmbock or 'bomber destroyer' variant of the Focke Wulf 190 heavy fighter with particular reference to IV.(Sturm)/JG3 and II.(Sturm)/JG4. Download currently available from the Eduard homepage. Alternatively you can visit the 'label' links at the bottom of this post for more on the Fw 190 Sturmbock with photos exclusive to this site.

Eduard homepage





Here is the reference photo that Eduard presumably used in preparing their profile above. I first published this shot in my March 2001 SAM 'Sturmgruppen 1944' article. Note this 6. Staffel pilot's named mispelled in the Eduard caption above - he was Fw. Adalbert KOCH and is seen seated on the engine cowl in the photo below. Note that his Sturmbock was in fact 'Yellow 15' and not 'yellow 5'. The open machine gun cowl cover indicates that there were no cowl MG 131s. The inscription 'Titti Wau Wau' (his baby daughter's first 'words') appears on the armour plate below the cockpit. The armoured glass canopy panes were soon dispensed with by the pilots as ice tended to form between them and the canopy at high altitude..

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Bf109 G-6 of Hptm Gerhard Barkhorn JG52



Some confusion on a couple of forums recently as to the identity of Gerd Barkhorn's Bf 109G-6s. This post is probably not about to change that unfortunately. 'Avions' magazine recently devoted a splendid 14 pages to Barkhorn's aircraft and career with profile artwork from Thierry Dekker and a full victory list in issue No. 176 (July-August 2010). First thing to note is that the machine depicted in the lower profile (above) may not be a G-6 as captioned, but a G-5. Note in particular the lack of a windshield air intake correctly illustrated. Other pictures from a Bundesarchiv sequence clearly show the WNr. for this machine as 15909 - assigned to a G-5 batch. However other sources have 15909 as a 'stock' G-6 pointing out that WNr. 15919, one of Hermann Graf's white-tailed machines from JGr.50 and only ten later off the line was also a 'G-6'. Just to confuse the issue as pointed out by Mansur Mustafin all G-5s were constructed by Erla and they were spread among their G-6 production.
Note that this aircraft is lacking the canopy air intake/silica pellets that would also help to identity this as a G-5 variant. The figure '5' appears in-between (and not inside or on) the chevron. We do know that all Erla built G-6s are virtually identical to the G-5's coming off the same lines, except for the silica gel pellets, and head armour which apparently differed on the G-5.


To conclude ...

"This aircraft has been very often mistakenly labeled as a G-5 but this machine is obviously not lacking the pressure bulkhead and silica tablets. Plus the fresh air door on the side. The G-5s were often issued to home defence units when the high altitude pressurized aircraft was needed. Most Eastern front air battles were flown at low and medium altitude."






The more commonly seen 'double chevron 5' with the '5' on the inner chevron is illustrated by 'Avions' on the following article page view with photographs of the machine on the right hand page view. This aircraft is a G-6, the 'Tropical' variant featuring the cockpit fuselage side umbrella holders as here.



Avions 176 is available at the Lela Presse website

The Bundesarchiv picture search facility is
here

Click on any of the the images to see a larger view.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

SG2 Fw190 camouflage and markings - Luftwaffe colour




According to their 'About' page Critical Past.com is one of the "largest online collections of historic, royalty-free film footage and still images in the world" - here are some stills from footage in their archive taken at Ansbach or Herzogenaurach of two SG 2 Fw 190s being examined by eager GIs.
The stills appear to show a FW 190 F-8 (note the underwing racks on 'chevron green 2') and a Fw 190 A-8 (MG151 in outboard wing stations) - "Green 2" is Wnr. 588453 and the machine is finished in Darkgreen (82), Grauviolett (75) and Light blue (76). The second machine "yellow 8" appears to be finished in dark green (82) and braunviolett (81). The yellow nose band identifies these aircraft as being from I./SG 2 under Luftflotte 4 command, possibly the only Fw190 units with the yellow nose band. The other Gruppen of SG2 were under Luftflotte 6 and thus had no yellow nose band. Even so these machines appear to be displaying a II. Gruppe bar aft of the fuselage Balkenkreuz.








Friday, 16 July 2010

latest issue of Jet & Prop 4/10 -airfields München-Neubiberg Riem Brunnthal

A very interesting article in the latest Jet & Prop (4/10) by Norbert Loy and Matthias Hundt deals with story of the satellite field at Brunnthal built to accomodate Luftwaffe aircraft as an 'Ausweichs' or diversionary field, offering an alternative to the regular fields at München-Neubiberg and München-Riem which were on the end of almost constant Allied air attacks as the Americans pushed further and further into southern Germany during 1945. A so-called 'Schattenplatz' or 'shadow' field was constructed between the town of Brunnthal and the Hofoldinger forest bounded on one side by the Munich-Salzburg Autobahn. There were two takeoff and landing strips constructed, although one of these was the A8 Autobahn itself. Aircraft including Me 262s were hidden along the forest perimeter in specially cut-out boxes and it is reported that animals were used to tow the aircraft into position on the airfield because of fuel shortages - not the usual oxen or horses, but two elephants from the Munich zoo. However the elephants didn't perform that war service for long - they were not susceptible to obeying commands and at least one aircraft lost its wings as the elephant stomped into the forest ! The authors have contacted American veterans and local eyewitnesses in the course of preparing a book manuscript dealing more fully with the story of the Brunnthal airfield


Wars end in Bavaria. Allied troops moving along the Munich-Salzberg Autobahn towards Salzberg pass abandoned Luftwaffe jets including this Me 262 'White F' coded 9K+FH on the strength of KG 51 and probably re-assigned to JV44



Jet & Prop back issues are available at the VDM Verlag Heinz Nickel homepage.

Do 217 KG 2

Dornier Do 217 M of III./KG 2 'U5+ET' in Nachteinsatz Tarnung or 'night sortie camouflage' (via Petrick/Jet&Prop 04/09)



Jet & Prop back issues are available at the VDM Verlag Heinz Nickel homepage.

Die Deutsche Luftwaffe - Zerstörer- und Nachtjagdverbände book series by Stipdonk & Meyer




German authors Paul Stipdonk and Michael Meyer have recently published Volume 4 in their "Die Deutsche Luftwaffe - Zerstörer- und Nachtjagdverbände" series through VDM Heinz Nickel, Zweibrücken, Germany. As the title suggests these books are primarily concerned with Luftwaffe Zerstörer (‘destroyer’ or heavy fighters) and Nachtjagd (nightfighting) operations and are essentially photo journals with German and English captions. The authors have released one book per year over the past four years with each volume featuring around 400-500 images over 200 pages in an A4 soft-back format. Most of the photos in each volume are previously unpublished and well printed. They are captioned in German and English except for the latest, Volume 4, which is German-language only. There is also a small section of period colour shots, but the vast majority of shots are in black and white. In general photo quality is good and when not it is generally to illustrate a rarity. For instance, volume 2 includes for the first time anywhere pictures of the Z Staffel of KG30 and a new ZG 1 emblem on a Bf109E. Text throughout is minimal, but listings of unit leaders and changes in unit reporting structures are given.
Volume One covers...
Erg.Zerstörergruppe
Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
Zerstörergeschwader 1
Nachtjagdschule 1
Liaison and HQ Staff for the above units




Volume Two covers...
Stab Zerstörerschule 1
Stab Zerstörervorschule 1
IV./(NJ)/JG 2
11./NJG 2
Stab NJG 2
Stab ZG 2
Stab Zerst.Sch 2
Stab NJG 3
Stab NJG 4



Volume Three features the following units..
13(Z)JG5
NJG5
NJG6
EKdo 25 Zerstörer Staffel
Stab & I ZG26

Volume 4 deals with the remaining Gruppen of ZG26

My only gripe with these books is the indifferent quality of the English captions - in fact volume 4 doesn’t include any translations at all due to cost-cutting measures by the publisher. I subsequently contacted the authors to offer English translations for the rest of the series and the new book series devoted to Jagdwaffe fighters. Even without English captions this latest volume is still very good and more than maintains the standards set by this great series. Even better if you can manage the German. Even if you can't, some of the images are worth the purchase price alone - the NJG 4 Ju88 with an enormous Haifischmaul (sharkmouth) or the selection of ‘new’ ZG 26 Me410A-1/U4 images with the crews seen gazing rather dubiously at the BK5 cannon installation. You can almost hear them saying "What the ...!" The cover of next year's Volume 5 is advertised at the back of the book and features a superb Ju88G in flight & a "with English captions" banner. ( edit - May 2011  - just finished translating the captions concerned...)





This series of books deserves a place on the bookshelf of every serious Luftwaffe modeller and aficionado. Volume 4 can be ordered direct from co-author Paul Stipdonk. Please Paypal € 37,- per copy inc. postage for the UK (and EU-Europe) and € 43,- for mailing to USA (and non EU-Europe) to Paul's Paypal mail address which is; pstipdonk at hotmail.com (obviously replacing 'at' with @ and leaving no spaces). Any queries also go to this address. Please mention that you saw it here ! Alternatively available at the VDM Verlag Heinz Nickel homepage. My thanks to Paul for permission to reproduce the page views accompanying this review which first appeared on aeroscale.co.uk (hence their watermark)



Image lower left (above) shows StaKa 5./ZG26 Theodor Rossiwall's '3U+AN' in early 1941 complete with yellow Balkans theatre markings - see previous blog post

Bf 110 Zerstörer aces ZG 26 'Horst Wessel' (1)




Major Wilhelm Spies Gruppenkommandeur I./ZG 26 achieved 11 aerial victories in the east. Spies was honoured with a posthumous Oakleaves and promotion to Major after being KIA on 27 January 1942. Issue 10 of 'Der Adler' dated 10 May 1942 announced his death and published this view of him in the cockpit of his Zerstörer, wearing the Ritterkreuz awarded on 14 June 1941. Shot down during a close support mission near Sukhinichi on the Eastern Front, he had some 20 kills to his credit at the time of his death. He had flown with the Condor Legion in Spain and was the first member of the original Zerstörer arm to be awarded the Oak Leaves.

3U+AB, the machine of Hptm. Wilhelm Spies, Gruppenkommandeur of I./ZG26, with twenty one victory bars on the fin. The letter 'A' is in the Gruppenstab colour of green, outlined in white. Note the protective cover over the Bordfunker's machine gun.







Bf110 C coded 3U+AA flown by Geschwaderkommodore ZG 26 Oberstleutnant Johannes Schalk displaying a full set of pre-war style Kommodore markings in Geschwaderstab colours (possibly blue). Awarded the RK in Spetember 1940 Schalk led ZG 26 during the opening months of Barbarossa before moving to NJG 3. Like Spies he had achieved some 20 kills. (signed Schalk pic courtesy of Lacy Sutton)
Gruppenkommandeur III./ZG 26 Schalk and his Bordfunker Uffz. Hans Scheuplein had been one of the most succesful Zerstörer crews over France with five kills between them and the pair were credited with a further six over England.





As a Staffelkapitän in II./ZG 26 Theodor Rossiwall was one of the most successful Zerstörer pilots of the Battle of Britain with some five credited victories. Rossiwall claimed some 19 aircraft shot down in over 400 missions. Among these were 2 victories claimed in the Spanish Civil War. He is one of the few Zerstörer pilots to have published a memoir 'Fliegerlegende';

" ..The Me 110 was at least equal if not superior to enemy types such as the PZL, the Morane, Hurricane and Spitfire. Even the improved Spitfires that appeared during the autumn of 1940 could be met on equal terms in combat due to the greater combat experience of the Luftwaffe Zerstörer crews and the greater weight of fire that could be brought to bear in the combat zone..."



In the image below Staffelkapitän 5./ZG 26 Oblt. Thodor Rossiwall is seen at the controls of his Bf 110 E '3U+AN' over Hungary in February 1941. Following deployment over England during the Battle of Britain 5./ZG 26 moved to Memmingen, southern Germany during November 1940 before shifting to Debrecen Hungary during January 1941 and then Rumania and Bulgaria for the Balkans offensive. Promoted in the interim to Hauptmann, Rossiwell flew his first sortie against Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941 before particpating in the campaigns against Greece, Crete and Russia. His RK was awarded on 6 August 1941. After his 10th victory he retrained as a nightfighter before being appointed Staffelkapitän 6./NJG4 on 5 April 1942 and Kommandeur II./NJG 4 on 1 October 1942. He achieved two victories at night before being appointed Kommodore of the re-formed ZG 76 in August 1943 and achieved three Viermot Abschüße. He was seriously injured in a takeoff accident on 24 January 1944 at Fürth. For more on Rossiwall see Paul Stipdonk's 'Die Deutsche Luftwaffe' - Zerstörer-und Nachtjagdverbände Teil 4 available at the VDM Verlag Heinz Nickel homepage.




The following I. and II. Gruppe ZG 26 victory list for 1940 researched/posted by Larry Hickey on the
12 o clock high forum

I./ZG26 (9 "aces"): 1) Hptm. Wilhelm Makrocki Stab I. 9 vict. RK 6.10.40; 2) Oblt. Wilhelm Spies, 1 Staffel 9 vict. RK 14.6.41; 3) Lt. Walter Manhart 3 Staffel 7 vict No RK (see note below); 4) Oblt. Hans-Jürgen Kirchoff 3 Staffel 7 vict No RK; 5) Oblt. Günther Specht Stab I. 6 vict RK 8.4.44; 6) Oblt. Johannes Kogler 1 Staffel 5 vict No RK; 7) Lt. Werner Thierfelder, Stab I. 5 vict RK 10.10.41; 8) Oblt. Johannes Kiel 3 Staffel 5 vict RK 18.3.42; 9) Oblt. Edward Meyer 1 Staffel 5 vict RK 20.12.41.

II./ZG26 (6 "aces"): 1) Lt. Walter Manhart 6 Staffel 13 vict NO RK (see note below); 2) Oblt. Theodor Rossiwall 5 Staffel 7 vict RK 6.8.41; 3) Obfw. Karl Herzog 6 Staffel 6 vict. No RK; 4) Oblt. Walter Henken Stab II. 5 vict. No RK; 5) Obfw. Kurt Rochel 5 Staffel 5 vict No RK; 6) Oblt. Arthur Niebuhr 4 Staffel 5 vict No RK.

Notes. 1) Only one member of I. or II./ZG26 received the RK during 1940, Makrocki, the I. Gr. Kdr.
2) Manhart served in both 3 and 6 Staffeln of ZG26 during 1940, so he appears on both lists.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Der Adler 26 May 1942 (issue 11) - Bv 141 and Dornier Do 217 enter Luftwaffe service



" Two of the new Blohm and Voss Bv 141 aircraft, conceived to fulfill 'Sonderaufgaben' (special duties) for the Luftwaffe and which have already proved their value in numerous sorties over front-line areas.."



" While the enemy has sought to turn the world's attention away from its military defeats by publishing increasingly fanatastical figures for armaments production in the United States, Germany has continued to strengthen its armed forces without fanfare. Our aeronautical industries have developed a range of new types, details of which - as has been the case with the new Fw 190 single seat fighter - are only brought to wider attention once series production is well underway and success in frontline service largely achieved. Alongside the world's fastest fighter aircraft the German Luftwaffe has achieved an important increase in its fighting capability with the introduction of the new Dornier Do 217 dive bomber and the Mehrzweckeflugzeug (multi-role aircraft) BV 141 .."


"..Seen here shortly after getting airborne and gear not yet retracted the world's first asymmetrical aircraft, the Bv 141 has been conceived to fulfil a variety of 'special' roles for the Luftwaffe. Powered by a BMW twin-row radial engine, the aircraft has exceptional performance in the climb, is extremely manoeuvrable and very fast..."


Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger



My review of the Forsyth/Creek Classic Pubs title devoted to the He162

The story of the so-called Volksjäger (the 'People's Fighter') project is told here in perhaps the most comprehensive work yet to appear on the type in English. The He 162 was a last throw of the dice by the Nazi leadership in mid-to-late 1944. Powered by a single BMW turbojet, the He 162 achieved notoriety by going from drawing board to prototype flight in just three months, often at considerable human cost. Robert Forsyth and Eddie J. Creek offer a unique insight into the workings of the Nazi production system in the late-war period through many rare photographs, facsimile documents, detailed text and colour artworks. Development and deployment of the He 162 were compressed into the most restricted time frame possible - with almost inevitable consequences. No aircraft can go from drawing board to combat service without a prolonged period of developmental testing - the fact that the He 162 did so, in no way attests to any inherent brillance in the design or conception of the type. There was virtually no factory flight testing - this was to be carried out at unit level and this book exploits author Erik Mombeeck's considerable research into the history of the only fighter unit to have flown the type in combat Jagdgeschwader 1. The discussion surrounding the He 162's supposed combat successes also relies heavily on research carried by Rick Chapman in 1989 and I have to say that I think the authors conclusions, based on pilot reports and a translation of some German text to be erroneous.
Of particular interest though is a detailed photographic overview of the famous JG 1 line-up at Leck, the text documenting the mix of resignation and relief felt by the men of the last Luftwaffe Jagdgeschwader who had managed to fall back to Schleswig Holstein and who were able to surrender to the British. Much of this passage is drawn from my own translation of Eric Mombeek's forthcoming history of JG 4 (Vol II), e.g. this extract from the JG 4 War diary for Sunday 06 May 1945;


"Our aircraft, vehicles and other equipment is lined up as if for one last parade. The sight is an impressive one and will certainly give the British food for thought. We are proud to show off more than one hundred of our aircraft like this - from the ultra -modern Me262 and He162 that have flown only limited numbers of combat sorties - to the Bf109 and Fw190 fighters that have returned victories in thousands of successful air battles. All will pass into enemy hands. This afternoon several light tanks and trucks bring RAF ground forces onto the airfield. Oberst Nordmann then the Kommodore and Kommandeure have to go before the Colonel commanding the RAF forces. To our great surprise they receive a handshake by way of greeting! However we are airmen together - we remain sceptical as to what may follow the courtesies that our extended to us: what will happen when the other occupation forces arrive? The first orders are to draw up an inventory of all our matériel. All weapons must be handed in apart from the officers side-arms."

Was the type a 'dazzling success' as previous authors have referred to it. Hardly.. In my view the authors go too far here in referring to the He 162 as '"an unprecedented aeronautical achievement". Quoted in French aviation magazine 'Le Fana' in 1997, French He 162 test pilot Raphael Lombaert (briefly quoted in the Classic book) states that the He162 was 'anything but a success' & only 'dazzled' in the brevity of the conception process. The a/c itself as depicted by Lombaert was "pedestrian and dangerous". This was not a machine of sparkling performance by any stretch of the imagination. The most basic of fighter manoeuvres could in the He162 become "terribly vicious". Although not discussed in the Classic book, French He162s were never flown post-war for longer than 15 minutes due to concerns over the rate of fuel consumption and the horrendous noise from the jet engine right next to the pilot's head! Many died in crashes directly resulting from short-comings in the design. We can perhaps only agree with Lombaert when he states "whenever I see this a/c now preserved in museums I cannot help but spare a thought for all those that fell victim to this machine, truly a tool of desperation ..".

An essential reference work to all students of Luftwaffe World War II airpower and kudos to the authors & designer for putting it all together in this superb package.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Blohm and Voss BV 222

Trondheim, Norway, 27 August 1945. The war in Europe has ended after the suicide of Adolf Hitler in May, but in this photo, taken three months later, there are many interesting details. A German officer with service cap goes up the catwalk , perhaps it is the pilot of this Blohm und Voss BV 222. Behind him , head down, a German soldier also in uniform. In the background is another German military uniform , perhaps the Navy. Is this Bv 222 carrying a U.S. flag on the fuselage about to leave for the U.S? According to the Lela Presse 'Luftwaffe Seaplanes' book (Vol. 2) the Americans tested the BV 222 V-2 on 15 and 20 August 1945 after the British "loaned" it to them but testing was curtailed by technical problems with the engines. This magnificent aircraft was destroyed or rather 'scuttled' on 15 October 1945, still in Trondheim. Note that the caption indicates that this photo is "CONFIDENTIAL "and can not be used for publication.

Heinkel He 45 Condor Legion colour

Screen grabs from a Spanish TV docu depicting refuelling and formation flight of a Condor Legion Heinkel He 45 ..






Thanks to TJ's hangar

Sunday, 11 July 2010

the Battle of Britain - first raids on Channel convoys by KG 2

Adapted and extracted with permission from Ulf Balke's history of KG 2 "Der Luftkreig in Europa 1939- 41 "

Following the rapid end of the Westfeldzug - the campaign in the West - on 22 June 1940, there was a halt in operations that the Luftwaffe would put to use to make good losses in personnel and aircraft. It was widely believed on the German side that 'peace' negociations were on-going with the British. The OKW was at the same time considering how a continuation of the war against the British might be prosecuted - the campaign in the West contained no plans for the invasion of the British Isles, indeed, the Westfeldzug had been widely expected to require a much lengthier time frame than the six weeks actually necessary to over-run France. On 2 July the OKW issued a directive for the continued prosecution of the war against England, the "Kriegführung gegen England"; under certain conditions -of which the most important was "the securing of aerial superiority over England "- the preparation of "possible scenarios for a landing attempt in England may become necessary". The time frame for such considerations "is to remain open".
As a result of such deliberations the air units of Luftflotten 2 and 3 received their first orders for the preparation of attacks against British shipping in the English Channel. The first phase of what would become known as the Battle of Britain would thus comprise attacks on Channel convoys bringing much needed coal, raw materials, machinery and foodstuffs to Britain - the so-called Geleitzugbekämpfung. The bulk of the attacks were in the south in the Straits of Dover and in the outer Thames Estuary. Elsewhere German reconnaissance aircraft were sent out along the east coast while other nuisance raids took place in the north. During this phase, London remained untouched.

The attacks on Channel convoys would it was hoped, draw out the British fighters from their bases. This way the Luftwaffe could analyse the strength of the RAF and determine the speed and the efficiency with which the RAF could deploy its squadrons. A battlegroup consisting of KG 2, II./StG 1, IV(Stuka)./LG 1 and other units such as Rubensdörffer's Erpr.Gr.210 and the fighters of I. -III./ JG51 under Oberst Osterkamp were concentrated into a shipping strike force under the Geschwaderkommodore of KG 2, Oberst Johannes Fink, who was given the title Kanalkampfführer or Leader of the Channel Battle. Fink based his mobile Gefechtsstand in Wissant, a small village on the coast just south of Cap Griz Nez on the Channel coast between Calais and Boulogne opposite Dover and Folkestone. His first act was to order the Gruppen of KG2 to deploy nearer to the coast at the airfields of Signy le Petit, and Epinoy north-west of Cambrai.

The first mission against a Channel convoy off England was flown on the afternoon of Thursday 4 July 1940 by 18 Dornier Do 17s of II./KG2 escorted by some thirty Bf109s. The raid was countered by Hurricanes, apaprently of No. 79 Sq. Four KG 2 crewmen were wounded and two Do 17s damaged in the running battle that developed while a 2,000 GRT cargo ship was claimed 'probably sunk'. Ofw. Wolff of 6./KG 2 reported;

" This is it - we are flying the first sortie against England! Escorted by fighters we are to attack a convoy steaming off Dover close to the British coast. We are airborne at 14:30 after 4. and 5. Staffeln. We crossed the Channel at an altitude of 2,000 metres - the sky is partially covered which will hinder our bomb run and escape. We fly several passes but lose the formation when entering and flying through a cloud bank. I attach myself to the first Kette I sight. Suddenly three Hurricanes hove into view, diving down on us. The clatter of our guns is matched only by the crashing and banging of their shells as they slam into our cockpit and fuselage. I draw my neck into my shoulders and duck instinctively and close up tighter to the lead machine of our formation. The attack goes on relentlessly. Our Beobachter (observer) Oblt. Dörwaldt and Bordfunker (radio operator) Uffz. Krehl are wounded. They bleed heavily from gun shot wounds to the head and thigh. Our starboard engine is hit and oil pressure rapidly falls away. Luckily for us our escort then arrives on the scene, so there are no further attacks on us from the British fighters. I manage to nurse our shot-up Do 17 back to the nearest airfield and attempt a landing - it is St. Omer. The tail wheel has been shot away and it impossible to feather the starboard engine. Once safely down we count over one hundred bullet strikes on the airframe, including four the size of a fist that must have been caused by tracers. The rudder controls have been shot away, the radio operators position has taken four shells and the cockpit is awash with blood ( 'eine Blutlache' ). Although we had fired off red flares as we over-flew the field there was no-one there to meet us as we rolled to a stand at the end of the runway. When help eventually arrived I was in a blind rage, cursing and swearing at anyone in my way. I have never been so livid. Our two badly injured crewmen were taken to hospital and we went with them. In the end Krehl's wounds proved to be skin grazes. Later that evening a truck came for us. According to reports filed by our fighters two ships had been sunk and three enemy fighters shot down by our Me 109s.. "

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bf 109 aces in the West Fritz Karch Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 2


signed ace photo courtesy Lacy Sutton

Fritz Karch was born on 17th January 1920 in Munich.

In Sept 1942 he was a Feldwebel with 6./JG 2 on the Channel Front.

During the Tunisian Campaign he scored his first 3 victories beginning on 28th November 1942 with a Spitfire.

In January 1943 he was promoted Leutnant. He became Staffelführer of 6./JG 2. During July 1943 he claimed at least two B-17s shot down over France including B-17 42-29928 on 4 July 1943 near La Coulonche during a raid on Le Mans (381st BG, 533 BS)

OKL fighter claims
10.7.1943 - Ltn Fritz KARCH - 6 / JG 2 - B-17 -15 km N.W. Evreux - 2500 m. - 08.12 (heure) - Film : C/2027/1 Anek : Nr __"

On 17 August 1943 over Dieppe he achieved his 10th victory and his 15th on 31st December 1943.
In January 1944 he had raised his total to 20 and by August to 30. In March 1944 he was named Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 2. He shot down two P-47s in December 1944 and by January 1945 his total had increased to 40.

On 2 January 1945 he was promoted to Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 2. He achieved his final victory on 28th March 1945, a P-51.

Awarded the Knight's Cross on 20 April 1945, he ended the war with a total of 47 victories, 21 of which were four-engined bombers

This brief biography was taken from Ernst Obermaier's Die Ritterkreuzträger

Below; Karch at the controls of Hs 123 "S13+A46" in Gutenfeld 1940 where he served as a Fluglehrer or instructor Sch/FAR 53...