Wednesday, 25 April 2012

First Bf 109s in Spain - Günther Lützow Legion Condor Bf 109 A

From Heiko Fuchs Ebay sales a nice series depicting various scenes of the Legion Condor arriving in Spain - a view of the 24 troop transports carrying some 6,500 men seen off Cadiz in late 1936. Assigned the type number '6' the first Bf 109s shipped to Spain were 'A' models - which had no provision for an engine-mounted cannon - and were coded 6-3 to 6-18 , an initial batch of 16 aircraft. 'Altertum' (first pic below) was Günther Lützow's 6-10 (Bf 109 A-E, SAM Modeller's Datafile, Lynn Ritger). Lützow first flew the Bf 109 on 14 December 1936. These first Messerschmitts in Spain suffered a variety of  teething problems - mostly with their Jumo 210 engines. In addition they had fixed pitch two-bladed wooden propellers and the manually cocked machine-guns were prone to jamming.

Although impressed with the machine's performance - "gegen die Messerschmitt wirkt die He 51 wie ein verblühtes Mädchen" - Lützow commented on the type's teething problems; " I have been here in Seville two weeks and there is just one problem after another. Mostly minor niggles - first the tail wheel, then the water pump, then the undercarriage. Repairs take time and the hours add up. While doing some circuits, my Jumo quit and I had to make an emergency landing, fortunately without breaking anything..."  (quoted in Trautloft, " Als Jagdflieger in Spanien..") The B model featured among other improvements a Hamilton variable pitch metal propeller and the type soon proved superior to most Republican fighters and at least equal to the 1-16 - " the undercarriage is also retractable -like the new Heinkel transports - and like that of the Russian fighters which have been giving us such a hard time.."

Bf 109 Modellers Datafile author Lynn Ritger commenting on this photo series at hyperscale;  " I have often wondered where and when the Spanish Emils received their overall RLM  63 Lichtgrau uppersurfaces... well, this sequence ('beim bemalen ' - lit. being painted up) provides some evidence that they were repainted after delivery. Not sure what airbase this is at, but this view shows three Emils on the ramp, having just been sprayed in 63; the fuselage octane triangle has been applied to the center one before the masking was even taken off the canopy! "

Lower image is a nice view of the J.88 Zylinder Hut - top hat - emblem