Sunday, 28 August 2011

Heinkel He 111s of KG 53

He 111 of 6./KG 53 taxies out for takeoff in Ödheim during the spring of 1940. Lt. Heinz Eicke at the controls, later Kapitän of 9 and 12./KG 53

He 111 belonging to 6./KG 53 airborne from Ödheim in early 1940. Flugzeugführer (pilot) Rascher at the controls

Above; He 111 A1+BP of 6./KG 53 seen here in an elaborate 'Sandsackbox' hide during August 1940 in Vendeville (south of Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais) at the height of the Battle of Britain. Below; "A1+BP" again, a photo taken on 30 August 1940 in Vendeville. Beobachter (observer) Lt. Walter Spellig points to a hit in the forward fuselage glazing.

Below; He 111 of 6./KG 53 based in Vendeville seen returning from a sortie on 30 August 1940

Stab./KG 53 Geschwaderkommodore Oberstlt. Fritz Pockrandt 1944/45 in Bad Zwischenahn

More KG 53 He 111s from Michael Meyer's Ebay sales here

Seine bridgehead 22 August 1944 - the Jagdwaffe vs. US anti-aircraft artillery at Mantes

During the last days of August 1944 the Luftwaffe fought one of its most desperate and least successful 'battles' – and possibly therefore one of the least well-known. With German forces falling back from Normandy in headlong flight and disarray as the neck of the Falaise pocket was closing shut (21 August), the focus of the fighting in France switched to the crossing of the Seine at the gates of Paris. The US 79th Infantry Division made the initial crossing of the Seine River at Mantes-Gassicourt on 20 August, establishing a small bridgehead on the east bank of the River. They were followed by the 30th Infantry Division who made an uneventful crossing and started the expansion and exploitation of the area, while rapidly pursuing the German Army in what was commonly known as the “rat-race”. The Germans of course attempted to mount desperate rearguard actions over the period 21-30 August 1944. The fighting around Mantes is notable for the first encounters of American ground forces with the Tiger II tank, as elements of 3./ sPz. Abt 503 had refitted with the King Tiger after Normandy. In the air the rump of the Luftwaffe – most notably Gruppen of JG 1, JG 2, JG 11, JG 53, JG 76 and JG 26 - flew hundreds of sorties against the bridgeheads and the pontoon bridges themselves, sustaining very high losses to American anti-aircraft artillery. The Mantes bridgehead actions were also significant for being one of the rare occasions on which the Luftwaffe utilized  21 cm Werfer rocket launchers against ground targets..

The Werfgranate was a make-shift adaptation of the 210mm Nebelwerfer artillery rocket system slung under the wings of Bf 109 and Fw 190 fighters to bombard closely packed bomber formations from a safe distance astern in an effort to break them up. The weapon comprised a pair of open-tube Ofenrohre, the rockets weighing 110 kg of which 41 kg was explosive warhead and 18 kg solid fuel propellant - the tubes had a huge impact on the aircraft aerodynamics. They were never intended to be a pin-point application as was the case with Allied air launched rockets. This did not stop the Jagdwaffe from using them at very low altitudes against the pontoon bridges that had been thrown over the Seine..

Of course the Luftwaffe had already started to evacuate a number of major air bases in and around Paris and by 17 August 1944 when Luftflotte 3 was ordered to withdraw to Reims, most of its forces had been bled white by incessant Allied bombing. The Luftwaffe had been able to offer little help to beleaguered German ground forces escaping the Falaise pocket and had concentrated most of its efforts on attempting to hamper Allied tank spearheads pushing on towards Paris between Dreux and Chartres. Don Caldwell in his “JG 26 Top Guns..” mentions Werfer attacks on 17 August by II./JG 26. However the Shermans claimed by George-Peter Eder were apparently brewed up as a (highly improbable) result of Spitfires being brought down in their proximity. Eder’s Abschussmeldung (victory report) reproduced in Frappé's " La Luftwaffe face au débarquement ";

“ On 17 August 1944 I was airborne at 11:00 with II./JG 26 as the Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 26 to strafe Allied tank concentrations between Chartres and Dreux. At 11:53 I attacked two Spitfire IXs orbiting over a group of tanks and was able to open up at distances of between 60 to 50 metres. After my first burst I saw a plume of smoke from one Spitfire which then went down over its starboard wing and impacted the ground between two Sherman tanks which as a result of the Spitfire exploding also went up in flames. I saw pieces fly off the second Spitfire which also plunged straight down onto a third tank which exploded under the impact ..”

At least one of Eder’s witnesses- Fw. Hasenclever of 7.Staffel - was killed in combat the following day.
By the third week of August the Jagdwaffe had less than 150 serviceable fighters in France – attrition among its relatively inexperienced crews had been murderous and would become more so as the last crews were thrown into the ground battle; few if any had been trained for the ground-attack role.

One of the heaviest days fighting over the Mantes bridges across the Seine was 22 August 1944 – nearly all the fighter Gruppen of the Jagdwaffe still present on the western Front participated in the actions in and around the Mantes bridgehead during the day with as many as 100 sorties being flown on this date alone. Weather conditions were mostly poor, forcing the pilots down to low altitude and making them relatively easy targets for American AAA protecting the pontoon bridges that had been thrown across the Seine. The Werfer gave the Fw 190s something of a ‘stand-off’ range although accuracy suffered accordingly and there were no recorded hits on the bridges. Typically the heavily laden Fw 190s were escorted to their targets by the lighter Bf 109s and after the rockets were discharged the bridgehead area was strafed and machine-gunned with attacks continuing until dusk on this and subsequent days. At Magnanville the 456th Anti-Aircraft recorded the day’s attacks;

at 11:35 8 Bf 109s carried out a dive-bombing attack from 3,000 feet launching rockets. Three were claimed shot down.

at 12h22-12h45 a further attack by 20-30 Bf 109s

at 16:100 four Fw 190s launched rockets at battery ‘A’ dug in at Rosny-sur-Seine; two were claimed shot down.

At 20:00 a further attack by Bf 109s; one claimed shot down and its pilot captured.

The Fw 190s of I./JG 11 under their new Kommandeur Hptm. Walter Matoni had only just returned to France days previously and by 20 August had already lost two of their four Staffelkapitänen, Oblt. Herbert Christmann 1./JG11 and Lt. Rudolf Schmid of 4./JG 11. On 22 August they were airborne from their base at Dammartin north-east of Paris on four occasions through the day on 22 August for no apparent losses. That evening Erich Hondt, Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 11 wrote to his parents;

“ I have just returned from a Schlachtflug – ground-attack sortie. Four self-propelled anti-aircraft trucks and one flak position wiped out. My, you should have seen the confusion on the ground! My Staffel followed me in and took care of the rest! As usual my crate took the lion’s share of hits; I counted eight hits on my machine and had to turn back. Because of the petrol fumes from the hit in the fuel tank I was almost drunk when I got back. But not before getting tangled up with five Amis. I managed to hide in a one-man-cloud ( sic “ Ein-Mann-Wolke”) before finding my way home unscathed. That was my third sortie today and I stood in for the Kommandeur and achieved a good result. It was through sheer luck that I caught sight of the American flak position and immediately attacked; our infantry can be grateful for that. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to fly the fourth sortie of the day as I’d already spent three hours in the air. Things are difficult here and we really have to push ourselves. Many dear comrades, including once again my closest friends, have failed to return. So far though my Staffel has sustained the fewest losses and for that I am very pilots are just returning now from another combat sortie. Everyone is back, but they’ve taken hits. One of them has had to carry out a belly landing on the airfield..” (Prien, page 1141)

Above; belly-landed Fw 190 A-8 WNr. 173053 flown by Gefr. Paul Dorlöchter of 3./JG 11, downed by US anti-aircraft fire in the vicinity of Mantes, 24 August 1944

II./JG 53 under Hptm. Meimberg at Achery, close to La Fère, south-east of Amiens, was also heavily involved over Mantes on 22 August, its Bf 109s flying their first sorties against the bridgehead at 08:00, most probably as escort for the rocket-launching Fw 190s of I./JG 26. A second sortie in collaboration with III./JG 76 was flown at mid-day, with one Bf 109 shot down over the town by battery ‘D’ of the 313th US Infantry. Around 20 Bf 109s were intercepted by P-47s of the 379th FS over Gassicourt and in the resulting dogfight Oblt. Karl Paashaus, Staffelführer of 8./JG 53, claimed his 26th victory. Three more pilots of this Staffel, Uffzn Milcarek, Wigge and Weihrauch all claimed Thunderbolts shot down. A third and fourth sortie were flown later in the day with upwards of 25 Bf 109s airborne from Achery at 18:45 to escort Fw 190 rocket launchers. On their return they were caught on their approach by P-38s and in a matter of moments no fewer than ten Bf 109s went down. Oblt. Julius Schwarz, Meimberg’s wingman recalled;

“ We were quickly caught up in a violent combat – I took hits in the cockpit and my windshield shattered in my face, the shards of plexiglass inflicting deep lacerations. I was instantly blinded and groped desperately to extract myself from the cockpit. Moments later my fall was arrested as my chute caught at the top of a tree and impact with the ground was hard, resulting in a broken leg. As luck would have it, first aid arrived moments later. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Verdun before being transferred to Metz, followed by long months of convalescence. I was fortunate in one respect – the first aid that I had received at the site enabled the doctors to save the sight in one of my eyes..”

Three pilots of 7. Staffel were killed; Uffz. Lehmann crashed at the controls of his “white 14”, Gefr. Michaelis came down five km south of the airfield in his “white 5” and Uffz. Wucherpfennig in his “white 12” was brought down west of Achery towards Fargniers. The final victim of this aerial clash was the victorious Oblt. Karl Paashaus, killed having baled out of his “red 1” north of Achery – his comrades reported that he had been machine-gunned by an American fighter as he swung down under his parachute. Meimberg paid tribute to Paashaus in his memoir ‘Feindberührung’;
“ Paashaus was buried with military honours and I recall the ceremony even today. Paashaus was a first class officer and an excellent Staffel leader. He wasn’t always the easiest subordinate to manage and was not known to mince his words. As I stood in front of his grave I spoke some very private and heartfelt words and felt very alone…”

III./JG 76 under Hptm. Egon Albrecht had only arrived in France the previous day, 21 August, following the unit’s five-week conversion onto the Bf 109. With around 40 Bf 109 G-14s, they were based in the vicinity of Chalons-sur-Marne on the satellite field at the village of Athis and their first sorties against the Mantes bridgehead were flown on 22 August resulting in disastrous losses. At least four Bf 109s were shot down by ground fire, including “black 22 “ flown by Ofhr. Grab of the Stab III./JG 76, Lt Naumann and Uffz. Dunker’s 11. Staffel “yellow 9” and “yellow 15” and “blue 7” of 12. Staffel flown by Fw. Guttmann. Guttmann had succeeded in extricating himself from his doomed fighter but his parachute caught on the tailplane and carried him to his death. Naumann’s G-14s was excavated during September 2001 – no human remains were recovered although items were found at the crash site indicating that the pilot was still in the cockpit when the aircraft impacted the ground. Later during the afternoon of 22 August 1944, the Bf 109 G-14s of 9. Staffel were caught getting airborne from Athis on another rocket-launcher escort sortie - a squadron of P-51s claimed no fewer than eight Bf 109s shot down. Uffz. Kurt Renner of 9./JG 76 recalled;

“ was some time after mid-day when I took off with my Staffel to escort rocket-launching fighters attacking the Seine bridges. Enemy fighters were reported approaching the field as we were getting airborne. I had barely reached a height of 800 feet when suddenly there was a terrible hammering noise behind me and the engine started to smoke. Visibility in the cockpit was quickly nil, while up in front of me flames erupted from the cowl. I was far too low to bale out and as luck would have it I was able to put down rather haphazardly in a field. With my aircraft now well ablaze I scrambled clear of the cockpit. At that moment a Mustang roared low overhead, I managed to make it to the cover of a thicket. I could see a church in the distance and starting running towards it. As I reached the first houses a woman came out and seeing what a state I was in led me into her house to give me first aid. She treated my burns with olive oil and made contact with the German authorities so that an ambulance could come and collect me. It may well be thanks to her that I am alive today…”

Gruppenkommandeur III./ JG 76 Htpm. Egon Albrecht, a decorated Zerstörer pilot, would be shot down and killed by P-38s only three days later.

Elsewhere a report from Battery ‘C’ of the 463rd Anti-Aircraft at Dennemont on one of the huge ‘loops’ that characterized the Seine in this locality reported;

“ around 15 enemy aircraft appeared at low altitude all guns blazing; two were hit and crashed in flames, one at Sandrancourt and the other at St-Cyr-en-Athies. Only one pilot was seen to bale out..”
These were most probably the heavily laden Fw 190s of I./JG 26, flying against the bridgehead from an air strip close to Vitry-en-Artois – it was this Gruppe that III./JG 76 was planned to escort to the target area. According to Bruno Renoult in his “ air battles over the Mantes bridgehead, August 1944” (article in 39-45 Magazine Sept 2002) the pilot seen to bale out at low level was likely to have been Uffz. Hans Sandoz of 2./JG 26 who succeeded in jumping clear of his blazing Fw 190 “black 4” only for his chute to fail to deploy correctly at the low altitude.. Lt. Fred Heckmann of 3./JG 26 claimed an “Auster” at 12:35 on the same sortie.

For the single day of 22 August the 463rd Anti-Aircraft dug in along the banks of the Seine claimed 11 Bf 109s and 3 Fw 190s over the course of 7 separate air attacks, the 456th AAA no fewer than 10 Bf 109s and 5 Fw 190s, although there is a good chance that the two US anti-aircraft units were firing at the same aircraft – even so 22 August 1944 was certainly one of the most intense of the war for the US AAA batteries along the Seine. Colonel J.B. Fraser of the 23th AAA Group later wrote;

“ when I think of the splendid work done (…) during the period when we were establishing a bridgehead across the Seine, probably never before has a Group Commander had the privilege of commanding organizations that have achieved what you have achieved; 94 enemy planes destroyed and 47 more probably destroyed…(..) we have established an all time record of 43 planes destroyed during the two days of 21 and 22 August 1944….”

Certainly the Luftwaffe failed spectacularly to hamper the progress of US forces across the Seine, with more than 20 crash sites being identified post-war within a 10 km radius of Mantes, with others further out. Paris was liberated on 25 August, although French histories lay the emphasis on the resistance insurrection and strike that took place with the Americans at the gates of the city. In total some 30 Jagdwaffe pilots were lost and at least 10 killed during the five-day air-ground battle for the Mantes bridges during the latter days of August 1944, with another 20 falling to combat with US fighters in the vicinity during the same period.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

KG 51 Ju 88 photo album on Ebay

According to the seller this album belonged to a member of II./KG 51 and mostly features images taken in Russia.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Aerojournal 22 - Barbarossa, Nachtjagd

A few corrections to the captions in the 'Nachtjagd' article published by CJE (Chris Ehrengardt) in his latest Aérojournal issue 22 (June-July 2011)

Firstly, top page 14, a Focke-Wulf 190 presuming to be the : « Fw 190 A-8 'white 9' flown by Feldwebel Günther Migge of 1.NJGr. 10 …under the boars head is the inscription Kognak Pumpe..».

It's not. CJE has actually published a heavy pixelated image of  Fw 190 A-6 « Ederle » (little boar), an aircraft which also served with NJGr. 10, but which is clearly not the Fw 190 A-8 assigned to Günther Migge. Migge's Neptun radar equipped A-8 'white 9' is reproduced in good quality (although low res) on the image for a fast loading full screen view...

Note the clear view of  "white 14" in the background  - there is a discussion in an oldish thread on-going at as to whether this is "white 11" or not !

Lower picture on page 19 of his article, CJE publishes a poor quality pic of Fw 190 A-6 WNr. 550453 flown by Hauptmann Friedrich-Karl « Nasen » Müller which he captions as being 'probably'  « blue 3», since Müller flew in the Geschwaderstab of JG 300. From the Lorant/Goyat history of JG 300 we know for a certainty - as per Müller's flight log - that the aircraft of the Geschwaderstab of JG 300 had green Kennziffer or numbers in 1943. These aircraft were moreover based at Bonn-Hangelar and not at Rheine as CJE claims in his caption. Müller's 190 is seen here in October 1943 displaying sixteen night victory markings on the rudder. Note that the pilot's head armour has been removed as a weight-saving measure.

The picture of the Fw 190 on page 9 of CJE's article has been published many times previously  - it is not an aircraft belonging to JG 300 or NJGr. 10. It is certainly not a machine belonging to 2./JG 300, which was a Bf 109 G equipped Staffel. Nor was Deelen home to any units of JG 300, even if the occasional Wild boar of JG 300 might have put down here prior to flying back to their home base.

The image on page 10 is the well-known photo of a Bf 109 G of I./JG 302 in front of the terminal at Malmi - once again not a photo of a I./JG 300 Gustav, since this Staffel never operated in Finland. Nor did the 'pathfinders'of Horst Bengsch as mentioned on page 13 provide navigational assistance for JG 300.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Casemate Publishing - autumn/Fall catalogue 2011, Mrazek Airborne Combat Stackpole

A reminder that the latest Casemate catalogue can be downloaded as a pdf file from the Casemate web site. Casemate are distributors for a range of publishers producing exciting works that will be of interest to readers of this blog; Heimdal, Kagero, Stackpole, Histoire et Collections, Bernard and Graefe to cite just a few. See Casemate's publisher list here.

Latest from Stackpole is James Mrazek's "Airborne combat " (below) a history of fighting gliders in WWII. Mrazek has previously written about the German 'prise de main' of the key Belgian fort at Eben Emael during May 1940 and in this inexpensive 500-page softback, Mrazek presents details of all WWII combat gliders through accounts of all the significant operations of the war including Crete, Sicily, Normandy, Arnhem and 'Varsity',  the crossing of the Rhine. Eben Emael proved that the glider could be used with devasting tactical surprise. Once again though this was a field in which the Germans were some considerable way ahead of the Americans. By 1942 German glider effort had reached a pinnacle of technical achievement that even the US with its huge technical resources could not attain. The US neither produced a glider anywhere as large as the Me 321 Gigant nor attained the excellence in innovation and design reached by the Germans. Mrazek's accounts of elite glider troops in action are nicely illustrated with rare images and first-hand accounts and include chapters on Soviet and Japanese gliders.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Eastern Front night-fighters - Wittgenstein, Fischer, Bertram (1)

Current reading is Claire Rose Knott's nicely done bio of Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn Wittgenstein ('Princes of Darkness'). At the same time I've come across Gebhard Aders 1977 article for Modell Fan magazine devoted to Wittgenstein, an interesting source that author Knott appears not to have seen. Wittgenstein scored many of his victories in the East and was particularly active during the summer 1943 Kursk offensive. 

The first Luftwaffe night fighters on the Eastern Front were the so-called Nachtjagdschwärme Ost. Their organisation was piece-meal - venerable Heinkel He 111s drawn from the Eastern Front Kampfgeschwader with neither search radar -as was usually the case in the west- nor controlled by any kind of ground control as later existed in the shape of the Nachtjagdzüge - the night fighter trains. There were no fleets of four-engine bombers to contend with in the air either - operations over the front in the early stages of the war in the East consisted of hunting and engaging the small Russian aircraft, mostly U2 and R5 biplanes, that operated by night supplying mines and shells to partisan groups located behind the front lines. The He 111 were of course large and ponderous aircraft which were hardly suited to this form of aerial interdiction but there were no other available aircraft. The He 111 as flown by aces such as Gunther Bertram enjoyed some successes on nights when the moon was full. 

" My first victim had only just got airborne. Closing from astern, I swept alongside and past it, presenting my Bordfunker with the opportunity to unleash a long salvo from his MG. Given that the Russians only managed speeds of between 150-180 kph, while I had to maintain the speed of our cumbersome He 111 at 230 kph at least, achieving a downing was always very much down to good fortune.."

Following re-equipment with the Ju 88 the Nachtjagd Ost was put on a more organised footing. NJG 100 was formed at Brjansk from IV./NJG 5 which had shifted to the Russian Front in early 1943. Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn Wittgenstein was appointed Kommandeur of I./NJG 100 during the summer of 1943. By this stage of the war in the East the Soviets were creating serious difficulties for the Germans in the air. At night the Red Air force specialised in harassment sorties with elderly biplanes - the Polykarpov PO-2, known to the Germans as the 'Nähmaschine' (sewing machine) or 'UvD' (Unteroffizier von Dienst, or Duty NCO), did little damage in night raids, but was an immense nuisance. Its pilots would switch off their engines and glide in from altitude during their bombing run; their small bombs thus often fell without warning. More often than not though their engines were fitted with silencers which made their engine sounds virtually inaudible from the ground at heights above 800 feet.

During the first half of 1943 Wittgenstein flew two Ju 88 C-6s with IV./NJG 5. These aircraft are particularly interesting for the modeller. Ju 88 C-6 C9+AE was equipped with FuG 212 radar, the lower fuselage Bodenwanne gondola and Schräge Muzik mounted in line astern and is generally reckoned to be one of the first Ju 88s so-equipped. C9+DE lacked all these features and was apparently flown on clear bright nights as an Expreßjäger or 'fast-hunter'. Wittgenstein scored the majority of his victories over Kursk in this machine. The image below is taken from Aders article and depicts AE with yellow fuselage Eastern theatre band, black lower surfaces and mottled dark grey finish (probably 74/75)

Simon Schatz's superlative artwork from Claire's book can be seen at Simon's blog

I./ NJG 100 Staffelkapitän and later Kommandeur August Fischer published his memoir - entitled " Bis der Wind umsprang " in 1961 (Engelbert Verlag of Balve). This is not a particularly rare book as Luftwaffe memoirs go - but remains almost entirely unexploited eg Claire Rose Knott in her 'Princes of Darkness'. Fischer flew with Wittgenstein in NJG 100 and mentions him throughout the text. A translated extract appears here..

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Heinkel He 111 walkaround - bomb bay, cockpit, undercarriage views

Having looked at the new Revell He 111 P 1:32 kit here these internal views might come in handy. As usual click on the image to see a larger view

Friday, 12 August 2011

were Luftwaffe pilots sanctioned to bale out to avoid the P-51s in the air battles over Germany?

  In a post over on, Jay Stout author of  'The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe' mentions that from the details given in USAF encounter reports, Luftwaffe pilots, once cornered, often abandoned their fighters even before they were fired on. Late in the war this certainly was not a bad idea from a practical perspective as it was much easier to produce a new aircraft than it was to produce a new pilot. But was this practice officially sanctioned or encouraged by the Luftwaffe leadership? From the history of JG 300, the leading Geschwader in the defence of the Reich, there is some insight into this practice, although only detailed specifically in relation to one sortie during 1945.

On 2 March 1945 a powerful American 8th Air Force formation of some 1,232 four-engine bombers protected by 723 fighters headed for fuel plants and tank factories at Böhlen, Magdeburg and Ruhland. The Gruppen of JG 300 were airborne from Borkheide, Löbnitz, Jüterbog and Reinsdorf between 09:05 and 09:40.  Over the target area weather conditions forced some 660 Fortresses of the 1st and 3rd Air Divisions to divert to their secondary targets, Chemnitz and Dresden. Shortly after 10:00, east of Dessau, numerous German fighters were sighted converging to mount an attack on the B-17s of the 3rd Air Division. The 42 Mustangs of the 353rd FG, escorting the two leading groups of the 3rd AD, were able to fend off some of the Bf 109s but were unable to prevent II./JG 300 from closing with the bombers. Led by Ofw. Rudi Zwesken, the Sturmjäger flew a massed formation pass against two boxes of B-17s at 7,000 meters altitude between Wittenberg and Jüterbog. Unhindered by enemy fighters, the 31 Focke-Wulf 190 A-8s and A-9s closed on the Boeings with a slight height advantage, peeling away under the bombers following their firing passes, some of them having exhausted their munitions. Three B-17s were shot down, three more were eventually listed as missing.

Ofw. Rudi Zwesken, Verbandsführer 6. Staffel, knocked down two Boeing B-17s in less than five minutes. He lined-up on a third but broke off after exhausting his munitions. Over the radio he instructed his wingmen to avoid combat with American fighters. Although no more than hearsay, at this stage of the war  Zwesken followed one golden rule during this late war period which he often repeated to his young comrades  - “better to be a live parachutist than a dead pilot”. On this sortie he followed his own advice. As he saw Mustangs slide in behind his fighter, he baled out of his Fw 190 A-8 before the P-51s had the chance to open fire and plummeted several thousand metres before pulling the ripcord. Two of his 6. Staffel pilots took similar action. Abandoning a still intact fighter aircraft a year previously would have rendered its pilot liable to an immediate court martial charge. But during the last months of the war in the Defence of the Reich the circumstances behind a bale-out no longer warranted any form of investigation. Thus Ofw. Rudi Zwesken, Uffz. Erich Weisbrod and Fw. Ewald Preiß (6. Staffel) did not have to explain away their actions. And of course in Zwesken's case there were practical considerations - he had no ammo left after flying a firing pass against three B-17s, claiming two of them shot down. In fact this sortie would see the last II./JG 300 victories achieved against 8th Air Force four-engine bombers.

Below; Fw 190s of 6. and 7. Staffeln at Löbnitz in early 1945. Note the blue/white/blue Reichsverteidigung or Reich's defence bands which appeared on II./JG 300 Fw 190s during December 1944. An analysis of wrecks retrieved in Czechoslovakia indicates that the blue/white/blue bands were adopted between the raids of 14 and 21 December 1944.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Fw 190 & Bf 109 Emil - Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection Luftwaffe Day August 2011

"...Saturday, August 6, 2011 was a historic day in aviation history as the worlds only flying original Focke-Wulf 190 flew in formation with one of only two airworthy Messerschmitt Bf-109 E-3s. The Focke-Wulf 190A-5 features its original BMW motor and was restored to the exact condition it was in during its service in World War Two. This was the first time these two aircraft were in the sky together since WWII. Both of these aircraft belong to Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington, home of the flying warbirds.." 

A single click to view these great videos here

The full story of Fw 190 A-5 WNr. 1227 'white A' is here

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Fw 190 profile artwork Paint Simmers Workshop

A sample of some of the excellent work produced by  'Jesters Ink' from the Paint Simmers Workshop

Note the colour photo of the Fw 190 horizontal stabiliser retrieved from a JG 1 wreck in France reproduced at the link above is taken from this blog..more here

Fw 190 A-4 'brown 8' of 3./JG 54 on the Russian Front in the field applied two-tone green upper surface 'splinter' scheme favoured by this unit during the spring/summer 1943. From Fw 190 Aircraft in Detail SAM 24/09 Nov 2002 article by Neil Page

Walter Loos successful Ta 152 pilot JG 301 and Sturmjäger JG 300 - the case of the 'smoking' log book. Fw 190 Defence of the Reich

It is very difficult to do an accurate write up on Walter Loos' war time career- the basic stuff you can get off Wikipedia, although even that short entry contains a certain amount of dubious information. After flying training he was sent to III./Jagdgeschwader 3 in January 1944. He achieved his first victory in the huge aerial battle over Berlin on 6 March 1944, when he claimed a USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress shot down. Later he was transferred to IV. (Sturm)/JG 3 and was apparently posted to Jagdgeschwader 300 in June 1944 and flew as Walther Dahl's wingman in the Geschwaderstab from July 1944 to early December 1944. On 29 September was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold, an award that was usually the precursor to the RK. In early December 1944 Loos was posted to undertake instructing duties with Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost. Loos then returned to combat duty in early 1945 with JG 301.With this unit he flew the FW Ta 152 for the first time at Soltau-Hannover. And according to photocopies of his Flugbuch in circulation, Loos  claimed four victories over Russian Yaks around Berlin in the last days of the war flying the Ta 152. On 20 April 1945 Walter Loos was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 36 victories. Walter Loos flew 66 combat missions and is credited with 38 confirmed victories and 8 unconfirmed. 30 aircraft were claimed on the Western Front, including 22 four-engined bombers. He himself was shot down nine times.
One of the leading authorities on Loos' units, JG 300 and JG 301, is French historian J-Y Lorant who interviewed many former pilots and personnel of both Geschwader during the 70's and 80's. Re-examining the documentary sources that he has collected over the decades for JG 301 a few years ago he concluded that there was some discrepancies concerning 'claims' and 'victories' obtained at the controls of the revolutionary late war Ta 152. This is perhaps not at all surprising given the chaos and confusion at war's end. For the record Reschke in his 'history' of JG 301 states that on 24 April 1945 engagements with Yak 9's during the final throes of the Battle of Berlin resulted in four Yak 9's being shot down. In poor visibility, two were claimed by himself and two by Obfw. Walter Loos (in "Green 4"). The Stabsschwarm lost Hptm. Hermann Stahl and his Ta152 that day. However the point of this is that when interviewed in the late 1970's Walter Loos stated that he had no victories - not a single enemy fighter claim - while flying the Ta 152. In the context of the combats that supposedly took place on 24 April 1945 this is a startling piece of info - at least for readers of Reschke's account. However Loo's claim is apparently supported by reference to the personal diary of Fhr. Ludwig Bracht written during March-April 1945 and the letters of Uffz. Rudi Driebe. Incidentally other thus-far-unpublished JG 301 documentary sources indicate that Stahl was shot down and killed on 11 April 1945. Ofw. Josef Keil was flying as his wingman that day. And despite Jeff Ethell's account in his Monogram Close Up - Archie Hagedorn never flew the Ta 152 in combat. The 'problem' with Loos may lie with versions of his Flugbuch that are in circulation - a version of the final page of his logbook that has circulated only shows flights 860 to 880 and also shows amendments in the form of sections pasted over each other. However there does apparently exist an 'untainted' copy although I have not personally seen it. As to his Ta 152 claims, they can only be described as 'unsubstantiated'.

Another 'problem' with Loos's Flugbuch is that Loos does not appear to have flown with JG 300 after 4 December 1944. This is problematic because Loos figures prominently as a witness in many of Kommodore Dahl's claims from late 1944 to early 45, when Dahl was supposedly still flying with Stab/JG 300. Evidence perhaps that many of Dahl's claims during this period were bogus, or he flew alone and had no witnesses! Considering the questionable nature of some of Dahl's "victories", such as on 5 December 1944, it would seem that the former was more likely. On 5 December for example, Dahl listed Loos as a witness, but Loos' last flight with JG 300 was the day prior, 4 December, before he was posted out as a flight instructor. His logbook shows no flights on 5 December 1944 and indeed, none between 4 December and 16 December 1944.

Of course most Flugbücher contain errors and omissions. It is not my intention to 'slander' Loos. Not only was he there, he has earned his place in aviation history as a rare front-line pilot to fly combat sorties at the controls of the Ta 152. As a small tribute - despite the factual errors therein - I offer a previously untranslated wartime newspaper report which was reproduced in a 1988 issue of Jägerblatt;

" War reporter Walter Henkels spent 11 April 1944 with the Sturmgruppe Udet  - the date of Walter Loos 21st birthday and recorded his impressions under the title 'Pauke-Pauke '.......... 

"..Feldwebel Walter loos is 21 years old today. Reason enough to open up a bottle of Oppenheimer Goldberg. Because in Oppenheim am Rhein, his home town, they know about fine vintages and you are only 21 once! But he won't be telling his comrades about this important day - because the Staffelkapitän has ordered that no one flies on their birthday and the weather forecast already seems to suggest that there will be a sortie today. The sky is the only invitation on offer today ...barely an hour has past before news of an incoming raid is announced. The Gruppen get airborne, form up and then climb to meet the enemy as ordered. Below them through the morning haze lies their land, where their parents, wives and children live among the bombed out towns and cities. Have Feldwebel Loos parents not been bombed-out in Oppenheim? A voice through the headset,  " Four-engine bomber formation to our left.." Feldwebel Loos has seen them too, glinting in the sunlight, bomber Pulks drawn up in tight formation. Nobody will mention that their hearts are now beating a little faster or talk of that feeling in the pit of their stomachs or that their knees have started to tremble. But Feldwebel Loos can not forget that today is his birthday - today will be his lucky day. Suddenly, but as expected, the Kommodore's voice comes over the radio " Pauke, Pauke " The order for the Sturm attack .. the combat lasts just seconds, fractions of a second and just one word "him or me". The Fortress IIs loom up in the windshield like giants. It may be  - since he no longer recalls exactly - that he shouted the hunter's cry 'Horrido' into the throat mike. Nor does he know how he managed to fight off the "Mustang" with which he was caught up in a wild dogfight at 8,000 metres altitude. Soaked in sweat, limbs still trembling, he climbs down from his trusty Fw 190. " My birthday was a day of good fortune" he smiled inwardly as he was congratulated by his comrades and his Staffelkapitän. And the bottle of Oppenheimer that he had brought back from home for this very purpose - well, that was opened after all..."