Tuesday, 28 May 2013

KG 4 Heinkel He 111 Wintertarnung Ostfront - Ebay Luftwaffe photo find

KG 4 General Wever (Geschwaderkennung 5 J) He 111 deployed on low-level ground strafing and bombing sorties on the northern sector of the Eastern Front during late 1941. From an album currently available on ebay.de (link below)

On 17 November 1941 Lt. Rudolph was forced to carry out an emergency landing after attacking troop concentrations east of Tichwin (Leningrad sector)

".. we were airborne from Dno at 09h45 in Rotte formation with He 111 5J+DK flown by Leutnant Mueller. We attacked the village at low altitude at 10h53 and observed the detonations of the 12 SD 50 bombs in and among the houses - we could see Russian soldiers running for cover. During our bomb run we came under heavy defensive fire from the north-eastern corner of the village, the first salvoes hitting the starboard engine and the tail fin. The exact number of hits could not be ascertained. The damage to the starboard engine was of some consequence; the spinner and pitch control were shot away and oil and coolant loss considerable. The hits to the tail quickly rendered lateral stability difficult and the aircraft threatened to veer out of control.. We were still some 12 km from German lines and the only way to get home was with carefully manipulation of the throttle controls - applying power until we were at 180 km/h and then easing off the power until we started to lose altitude. We crossed our front lines at a height of 150 metres but could not immediately see a large enough area to risk a belly landing. We continued further westwards until our observer could identify an area free of trees for a crash landing. By now the starboard engine was smoking and the danger of a fire breaking out was considerable - I had been unable to shut it down as I would have been unable to keep the aircraft in the air. We were still travelling at quite high speed when we hit the ground and I was thrown forward and struck my head heavily on the control column, briefly losing consciousness. Fortunately a 20 cm thick blanket of snow cushioned the impact somewhat. The aircraft sustained some 50% damages. The crew fired off signal flares which attracted the attention of our CO Hptm. Boltze who was able to put down nearby and get airborne again with myself, my crew and some of our equipment on board..."

(from Grundelach's Kampfgeschwader General Wever 4)