Friday, 30 March 2012

Shot down by German flak ! 01 March 1945 Heinz 'Esau' Ewald II./JG 52 - "Wo wir sind ist immer oben"

..super Bf 109 G-10 built by Paulo (RATM) Neves. This is Hasegawa´s 1/32 Bf109 G-10 built mostly out-of-the-box with the exception of G-FACTOR landing gear, Quickboost central cannon and REVI 16 gunsight, evergreen, copper wire and streched sprue finished in the markings Lt. Heinz 'Esau' Ewald's 'white 3'.

To accompany Paulo's build, a small translated extract from Ewald's out-of-print memoir "Wo wir sind ist immer oben "  - I'm not sure whether this was a self-published volume or whether it was produced by the Traditionsgemeinschaft JG 52 (Falk Klinnert) but if anyone has a spare copy I'd love to hear from them ! Thanks to David Williams for the text extract !

                                         Ltn Heinz Ewald (left) and Gerd Hauter

 Shot down by German flak - 01 March 1945 !

Veszprem - Alarm ! scramble !- Eduard 'Edi' Pitzl, Gerd Hauter, Anton Kellmeier and myself, Heinz Ewald, get airborne. Over Stulhweissenburg we come under fire from Russian and then German anti-aircraft artillery. Something's up!
"Achtung", I call over the radio " viele Indianer vor uns !  Frage Victor? "  - " lots of bandits up ahead of us, do you copy?"  For heaven's sake Esau, I think to myself, there's at least twenty silver birds, dark American stars on the wings and fuselage, right in our path. "Esau to Edi, take your wingman and climb for altitude and don't attack until you have height advantage - we'll split up now, copy. I get a 'Roger' back - Roger! Esau, I say to myself, no doubt some of these 'Boys' (sic) will try and get in behind us and " reise- resise machen ". My wingman Paul Slodczyk was already covering me and we now climbed in a north-westerly direction in order to get into a position to dive down on the Amis. While we were straining for height I called up 'Jumbo' our controller and reported contact with a large group of Americans in the hope that they might be able to launch another Schwarm but we were out of luck - it was just the four of us against more than twenty of them...combat against superior numbers had become our daily bread and so it would be today. The Amis were now over Lake Balaton at around 3,000 metres. They were getting closer to our field. They were visibly not too concerned about us, which I was glad about. I had cut off their retreat and was now about 2,000 metres higher up and almost directly over the top of them. At the same time as I called out " Pauke, Pauke" I threw my kite over onto its wingtip and dove down into the attack!  Almost simultaneously Edi Pitzl dove down and opened up on the Mustang flying on the left flank of their formation - a hit; the silver bird spun away out of control streaming smoke and a chute billowed out. I confirmed his victory and congratulated him just as 'my' 'Sibervogel' loomed large in my sight! Closing rapidly from astern I opened up - my first salvo streaked wide as the Mustang pilot threw his stick forward just as I squeezed the firing button!  My wingman also over-shot. Couldn't be helped! My "Me" (sic) was now half-way over on its back pulling hard into a tight curve. This was no firing position but I was managing to stay on my opponent's tail. Suddenly a volley of tracers split the air ahead of us - another mad Ami was letting go with all he'd got right into our circle. It turned out that this Texas 'cowboy' - who no doubt practised his sharp shooting on whiskey glasses in the saloon bar - must have scored some hits as a short while later my engine started to cough and misfire. Meanwhile the Mustang pilot was pulling a tighter and tighter turn still with two Messerschmitt 'boys' on his tail, juddering on the edge of the stall and streaming contrails from their wingtips. I gave him another salvo and then another and saw a couple of lightning flashes on his machine. Then suddenly he pulled up and in a fraction of a second I pulled back hard on the stick, my Me shuddered, and I got off two more short bursts. The Mustang's controls had been damaged - he went into a gentle turn and now all my rounds were walking into his fuselage and wings. As I broke off- almost ramming my wingman - there was an explosion in the Mustang's engine, pieces of cowling and metal skinning whirled off into the slipstream and he streamed a trail of thick dark smoke. "Esau - Abschuss!"   But now the other Americans were circling at a watchful distance - like laughing hyenas. Up to now - apart from the Texas shooter - they had - thank God - not got involved in the fight......"

Three P-51s chased Ewald's G-10/U4  (WNr. 610964) as far as Veszprem. At the controls of his lame and smoking "Me" Ewald's thoughts turned to comrade and 99-victory RK-holder Ltn Fönnekold who had been finished off by P-51s as he had tried to carry out an emergency landing in Hungary. He let down to low altitude hoping that the P-51s would be scared off by the flak - his manoeuvre resulted in his Messerschmitt coming under fire from the airfield defences!  With his aircraft taking hits and suddenly feeling nose-heavy Ewald had just enough altitude to bail out over the side of the cockpit, immediately tugging on the ripcord. Even in his chute he came under fire - German troops disembarking from a train in the vicinity of the airfield  opening up on what they thought was a Russian pilot swinging under his chute, as he was later told by eye witnesses. He came down some four kilometres from the airfield in a hard landing. Even spread-eagled on the ground, Ewald's ordeal was not over - he was approached by Hungarian workers shouting " Ruski kaputt !"  " Man Esau - die wollen dich umbringen !"  I drew my service revolver and started firing wildly over their heads..."   As his comrade Sachsenberg put it; " you poor little sod Esau - first shot down by your own flak, then shot at by German troops, even our Hungarian allies were looking to knock your block off with their pickaxes!.."
During this combat Uffz. Paul Slodzyk's Bf 109 G-14/U4 (WNr. 512613) was shot down in flames south-west of Veszprem while Fj Uffz. Helmut Rudzinski managed to force land his G-6 (WNr. 442047) at Plattensee. Fw Eduard Pitzl successfully bailed out of his G-10 (WNr. 610955) over Lovas. 

Ltn. Heinz Ewald, Veszprem, December 1944

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Luftwaffe modelling - Franck Oudin Zoukei Moura Ta 152

I expect you are all familiar with the work of master Swiss modeller Franck Oudin, especially as Franck's work is regularly published in Tamiya Model Magazine and elsewhere. Here is his recently completed Zoukei Moura Ta 152 covered elsewhere on this blog.

" Hello Neil, here are some views of my Ta 152H-0. I hope that you like it, cheers Franck ."

Click on the images for a closer view. More on the Zoukei Moura Ta 152 elsewhere on this blog

Monday, 26 March 2012

Uffz. Karl-Heinz Kabus, JG 11 Eastern Front, spring 1945

Here's something I prepared for one of the Kagero Fw 190 monographs  - an account by Uffz. Karl-Heinz Kabus who recorded his reminiscences of sorties on the Eastern Front, spring 1945, while based at Strausberg near Berlin. Only a brief paragraph or two was retained in the book.

Kabus was a young FW 190 pilot serving with 3. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 11. With the war long since lost, his report paints a vivid picture of the hopeless final months for the defenders of Berlin and details some of the senseless sorties ordered as the Russians drew ever closer. (Translation copyright Neil Page, 2007)

".. On 3 February 1945 we moved once again, this time from Finow to Strausberg. Here our accomodation was good and the purpose-built barracks were still largely undamaged. We were able able to settle in for what would be a comparatively lengthy stay. Our proximity to Berlin gave rise to expectations of being able to renew contact with my parents and possibly even see them again after a long period away from home. The only way of getting to Berlin officially was through the ‘Läusetrick’ - the lice ploy - an official movement order only available to those who were sent to Berlin for 'de-lousing'. The small village of Hermersdorf bei Müncheberg also lay en route and it was here that my grand-parents, uncles and aunts lived. I'd spent most of my childhood holidays here......

Back to the events of February 1945. We were in the air on most days. February 8 was no exception. This was the first occasion on which I had flown a Jabo sortie in my FW 190 although this was to become our principal mission over the coming weeks. We chiefly carried 250-kg bombs or occasionally 500-kg cannisters which were jettisoned over enemy troop and vehicle concentrations around Zellin, Mohrin, Soldin as well as Pyritz (to the east of the Oder) and eventually over the Russian bridgehead and pontoon bridges around Göritz south of Küstrin. We fighter pilots would henceforth be employed primarily as Jagdbombenflieger - fighter bombers...

Uffz. Karl-Heinz Kabus at readiness, spring 1945, Strausberg near Berlin

" ...The Russian bridgehead in the vicinity of Göritz was a real headache. Soviet combat engineers had thrown a pontoon bridge across the river. This structure was the only crossing in the area capable of bearing the weight of the Soviet 'Stalin' heavy tank. We were tasked with attacking the bridge with bombs and cannon fire and putting it out of commission. During the first weeks of March we flew time and again against this target - and registered very little in the way of success. We had been trained as fighter pilots after all. We weren't bomber pilots - we must have hit everything in proximity to the bridge except for the bridge itself. Dive bombers based in Fürstenwalde were eventually charged with taking care of it. The day following an attack - or the day after at the latest - any damage would have been made good. Further up the Oder, the Soviets had stationed so-called 'pontoon groups'. Destroyed sections of a crossing were simply repaired again by floating 'bridge' sections downstream on the current and lashing them onto the remaining pontoon elements. It was enough to make you despair....

Where possible I took advantage of the return flight home from these Oder sorties to overfly Hermersdorf and to check whether everything was okay with my family. Apart from streams of refugees moving through the locality I discovered nothing untoward. We also saw lengthy columns of refugees moving east of the Oder. In many instances Russian tanks and combat vehicles had infiltrated the trains of horse-drawn carts, making it impossible for us to attack them from the air......

Opposite the aerodrome at Strausberg there was a cluster of large farm buildings - barns, stables, cowsheds and other buildings for animals. Many refugees from the eastern areas of the Reich were living here. Where possible we had struck up conversations with these people - what we heard of their terrible experiences as they fled the headlong Soviet advance gave us more than enough reasons to climb back up into our 'crates' day after day despite the hopelessness of the situation. The only thought at that time was to hold up the Russians at the Oder for as long as possible - the longer we could do this the further westwards the refugees could go....

In military terms our sorties were of less and less value by the day. The skies were initially relatively empty of aircraft but gradually we encountered more and more aeroplanes bearing the Soviet red star and our losses mounted accordingly. Many pilots only made it back to Strausberg with difficulty and then ended up crashing on the approach. One such was my Staffel comrade Leutnant Kalich, who smashed into the ground at the controls of his machine on 4 February 1945.

On 27 March I flew one of the more noteworthy sorties of this period. By now Küstrin had been cut off and had to be supplied from the air. A large formation was tasked with crossing the Oder at 2,000 to 3,000 metres altitude before letting down over the Warthe and flying back up to Küstrin at very low altitude to jettison the supply cannisters that were being transported. It would be our job to escort this formation as far as the Oder. Once there we were to swing onto a heading that would take us as far as Küstrin. Arriving over the town we were instructed to fire off rockets and signal flares in a gigantic display of fireworks and deliberately attempt to draw the attention of the Russian flak batteries, allowing the low flying re-supply ships to come in unmolested. I don't recall that the mission was a great success. The transport planes flew too low which meant that the cannisters shattered when they hit the ground or else they flew too high and the containers came down outside of the area still held by our comrades and fell into Russian hands.

The sortie I flew on 27 March 1945 very nearly ended in disaster. As I threw my machine into a high speed dive one of my engine cowling panels flew off in the slipstream. I attempted to pull out of the dive - yanking hard on the stick- but to no avail. It was as if the control column had suddenly been encased in concrete and it resisted all attempts to budge it. It was only in the nick of time that I remembered that there was a small switch that would enable me to re-trim the tailplane - I quickly selected 'schwanzlastig' - tail heavy. Moments later - as the little electric motor whirred into action - the stick started to move back of its own accord. I don't recall what happened next as I had 'blacked-out'. When I came too the nose of my 190 was pointing skywards. That was enough for one day I thought and headed home - my crate was subsequently declared unserviceable.

Attacks on the bridges at Göritz continued without respite - we were no longer hauling bombs at this stage but flying escort cover for the Schlachtflieger. On 14 April 1945 we flew cover for so-called 'Mistel' combination aircraft - explosive-laden Ju88s 'flown' from a Me 109 or Fw 190, radio-guided into a ground target from the smaller 'piggy-back' fighter. After releasing the Ju 88, the Me 109 or Fw 190 returned home alone. Even the deployment of these contraptions was not enough to prevent the Soviets launching their next offensive on 16 April 1945. Early that morning we awoke to the sounds of rumbling coming from the east which were nothing like we had heard before. What in the past was mostly sporadic now increased in intensity and grew ever louder. Russian artillery was laying down a barrage of untold ferocity as a precursor to the final assault on Berlin.

We were soon ordered to go to cockpit readiness and it wasn't long before we were airborne. The first sorties were 'freie Jagd' - free hunt - missions. As the aircraft returned they were quickly replenished with fuel and munitions with their pilots remaining at cockpit readiness until ordered up again. Formation takeoffs differed considerably from our usual practise. The first Staffel - on the northern perimeter of the field close to the barracks - launched into their takeoff runs directly from the dispersal area, on a 170° heading across the field, while 2. Staffel - on the eastern side of the aerodrome - was ordered up on the firing of a signal flare. 1. Staffel were soon roaring over our dispersal on the southern side of the field, while 2. Staffel were kicking up more dust and dirt as they took off towards us. Then it was our turn. Our takeoff runs were made in a north-easterly direction across the field. Visibility was almost nil as a huge cloud of exhaust gases and dust hung over the airfield. The fact there were no incidents getting airborne in this fashion bordered on the miraculous. The Staffeln quickly formed up east of the field and that day I found myself alongside the machines of the Stab, among which was presumably the Gruppenkommandeur. It wasn't long before large enemy formations - twin-engine Boston bombers - loomed up out of the haze. The Stab flight headed towards them. The Bostons salvoed their pay loads and swung onto an easterly heading. We curved around onto their heading and closed in from astern. At a height of 2,500 metres and somewhere north of Letschin, targets were selected and we prepared to attack - there were no orders. I opened up from close range and quickly accounted for one of the enemy machines while more firing passes were flown against the other machines. With our magazines empty we had to break off and turn for home. That evening we were again airborne in Schwarm- and Rotte size formations heading east. Once again we came across Russian machines - IL-2 bombers - in the vicinity of Letschin.

Once again I was able to shoot down another Russian and return home safely. It was the same story on 18 April. On the return flight I took a quick detour via Hermersdorf. From afar I could see the church and some of the farmsteads burning. Russian tanks were positioned on the roads that led into the village from the east - there were large numbers of them on the road that led to Wulkow. I was forced to turn back by heavy ground fire.. On the evening of 18 April we moved from Strausberg to Berlin-Gatow..."