Monday, 29 February 2016

III./JG 2 in France - 30 December 1942, first frontal attack - Channel Front ace Uffz. Friedrich May - daily Ebay photo find #160

Below; magnificent Adlerkopf 'eagle's head' marking on this III./ JG 2 Fw 190. Lt. Ambrosius Passer of 9./JG 2 opening the bubbly to celebrate his second victory, a recce Spitfire south of Dieppe on 2 June 1942 cf. Mombeek's 'Dans le Ciel de France' Volume 3 - 1942

Above; Friedrich May as an Uffz. in 8./JG 2 posing in front of his 15-kill rudder scoreboard - note the twin Balken representing US bombers. May returned his first victory on 10 June 1942 when he claimed a Boston at 14:10. His victim was AL283 of 107 Sqdn. His 6th was a B-17 on 30 December 1942 during a raid by 1st Bomb Wing B-17s attacking the U-boat pens at Lorient. He was KIA on 20 October 1943 in the vicinity of Rouen in combat with Spitfires (Fw 190 A-6 470047) as an Ofw. with 3./JG 2. With at least 21 victories on his scoreboard May was awarded a posthumous DKiG. (Mombeek 'Dans le Ciel de France' Volume 4, page 188)

The 8th USAF's raid on the U-boat pens at Lorient on Wednesday 30 December 1942 - the 27th mission of this fledgling force- was significant in the story of the Fw 190-equipped III./ JG 2. Kommandeur Mayer and his Stab along with nine Fw 190s from 7. Staffel were airborne from Vannes to counter the incursion. Mayer was determined to carry out a new tactic that he had been considering over the previous weeks - the frontal attack, hitting the B-17s where their defensive fire was at its weakest.  In the subsequent combat Lt. Georg-Peter Eder of 7./ JG 2 returned his first Viermot victory in his first encounter with the four-engine bombers;

".. today the fine weather - absent since Christmas - put in a welcome reappearance. The comrades from the other side were bound to take advantage to make their last visit of the year. At around 10:00 we were informed that bombers were forming up over England and by 10:30 they had set out on a south-westerly heading. The order quickly came through to go to cockpit readiness and we waited for the order to get airborne which could reach us at any moment...(..)
....once in the air the Kommandeur set course for Lorient and we climbed for altitude in wide circles. A constant stream of detail regarding the position of the enemy aircraft came over the radio. They were approaching Lorient from the sea. Then we saw the swarms far off in the distance. The Kommandeur called over the radio;  " tighten up the formation, stay calm, we are attacking from the front " As we closed up the enemy formation grew rapidly larger. The Kommandeur took us into a slight turn to bring us in head-on. Gunsights were switched on and cannon electrically cocked. " Stay calm, do not open fire "; the calm voice of the Kommandeur came through the earphones. By now the bombers were looming large in the windshield.
" Now !"
Just time to unleash a burst of fire before sweeping over a B-17 and then a steeply banked turn to come in from the rear. All over my machine I could hear cracking and popping but I clung on to my prey, closing to within 150 metres. His port inboard engine was already ablaze but he maintained his position in the formation. Hundreds of tracer rounds seemed to be drawn to my canopy. My fire was unceasing. By now the Fortress was burning from one end to the other. Then in an instant it appeared to tip over and started going down, plunging some 8,000 metres into the Atlantic. No time for a breather, the bombers were approaching their target. Bombs gone! They appeared to fall harmlessly into the ocean. As the B-17s headed back out to sea we continued to harass them - like flies buzzing around a large beast. And we knew where to bite. Then another hit in my port wing - I could see that this one had caused some damage. Off to my right I could see Erich Hohagen firing burst after burst and taking hits that did not appear to bother him in the slightest. The Kommandeur ordered us to re-assemble over Belle Ile and in a matter of minutes we were back over Vannes where we landed on our last drops of fuel. As I taxied back to the 7.Staffel dispersal I saw the Fw 190 of Lt. Philipp - the Adjutant - alongside mine. It was in a sorry state, riddled from front to back. In the cockpit a beaming Philipp waved at me, a broad grin on his face. Back in the ops building we animatedly discussed the combat, each successful pilot writing up his victory report and checking for witnesses. Eight bombers downed for two pilots missing. 
'..For our first formation frontal attack that was a good result .. declared the Kommandeur......"

(translation N. Page, extracted from  'Dans le ciel de France' Volume 3, pages 200-201)

Also on this blog;

Scenes from III./ JG 2 at Théville

Georg-Peter Eder account of Rouen raid 28 March 1943

Oblt. 'Sepp' Wurmheller Staffelkapitän 9./ JG 2 Fw 190 A-6 and A-5 ' yellow 2 ' 

Josef “Sepp” Wurmheller I./JG 2 over Dieppe 19 August 1942

JG 51 F/G, Smolensk March 1942 - daily Ebay photo find #159

F-4 according to the seller, Stab III./JG 51 F/G Smolensk, March 1942. Click to view large

Currently on offer here

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Do 217 - daily Ebay photo find #158

Click to view large. Currently on offer here

Sunday, 21 February 2016

the first Arado Ar 234 to fall - Hptm. Josef Regler of 9./KG 76 F1+MT - *new* Arado Ar 234 Valiant Wings Airframe Album

This is Libor Jekl's superlative build of the 72nd scale Dragon kit in the markings of Hptm. Josef Regler, Staffelkapitän 9./KG 76. Regler was shot down near Selgersdorf,  north of Aachen, at the controls of F1+MT (W.Nr. 141073) on 22 February 1945, probably by Lt. David B. Fox (P-47 366. FS ). Regler survived the crash-landing and returned to German lines. The Arado (20% damaged) was captured by Ninth US Army troops attacking across the Rur river in Operation Grenade late on 23 February - three Germans and a truck who were attempting to siphon fuel were also captured. This was the first Arado Ar 234 to fall into Allied hands - captured Ar 234s were rare until the capitulation and their condition generally poor. The well-known image published in “Profile 215- Arado Ar 234 Blitz" (see below) written by Richard P. Bateson dates the event to 24 February 1945, which is not the date of the downing, but rather the date an American Technical Intelligence team made their investigation..

Pierre Clostermann in “The Big Show” gives an account on page 190-191 of the 1974 edition; “..Another poisonous day. Snow, wind. Visibility nil; flying was quite impossible. However, G.C.C. maintained two sections of Tempests at immediate readiness - one from 486 and one from 56 - together with a section of Spit XIV's from 41 Squadron. These three sections had been taking it in turns with no hope of flying, since dawn. At about 1500 hours the weather cleared slightly, and the 6 Spits were scrambled. In this appalling cold they had a job getting heir engines started and we looked at them through our windows, jeering. In the end one pair took off, followed at least three minutes later by the rest. A quarter of an hour later these last four came back and landed, not having been able to join-up in the clouds. They told us, however, that the first two had jumped a German jet-aircraft. We got the remainder of the story that evening in the bar, when the pilots of 41 were distinctly pleased with themselves and let nobody forget it. Flying Officer Johnny Reid D.F.C., shortly after he had scrambled and as he was patrolling Nijmegen bridge at 10,000 feet, had spotted one of the very latest and rarest Luftwaffe planes - an Arado 234 - sneaking into our lines at ground level. Diving straight down, flat out, ignoring the risk of his wings coming off, Johnny succeeded in catching the bastard in a turn, fired at him point plank and gently landed him in flames less than 100 yards from Broadhursts H.Q. at Eindhoven. We were told that the A.O.C. was delighted, as a group of American journalists had witnessed the operation, and it was the first Arado 234 to be destroyed for certain..." 

 Subsequent research established that on 22 February 1945 at 17:35 hrs, northeast of Aachen, Lt. David B. Fox of the 366th FG claimed an Me-262, 10 m NE of Aachen. The OpRep is #328, and can be found on USAF HRA (Maxwell) microfilm B0331 frames 0225-8; his encounter report is on A0794 at frame 0200. What Fox shot down was in fact Ar 234 F1+MT. It crash landed at Selgersdorf (north of Düren) on the banks of the River Rur (or Roer in English-language texts), was recovered by US Technical Intelligence a couple of days later when US troops overran the crash site and taken back to RAE Farnborough. Nick Beale wrote a two-page feature for Aviation News in the UK (see below) in the late 1980s on the confusion and erroneous information surrounding the discovery and subsequent identification of Regler's aircraft. For a long time sources had said the machine was at "Segelsdorf" (no such place AFAIK) and confused the crash date with the date of capture - which, along with the Me 262 misidentification, prevented people making a match with Fox's claim.

Text extract via Art-Maquettes

Hauptmann Regler was KIA on 21 March 1945 after a mission to Antwerpen, his Ar 234 B-2, F1+ET, Werk.Nr. 140598 crashing in Osterbeck. The reason is unknown.( Source: Manfred Griehl "Strahlflugzeug Arado Ar 234 Blitz" )

..below, Aviation News article header- dated 30 September 1988- showing F1+MT of 9./KG 76 - an American Technical Intelligence team recorded that the aircraft was " completely camouflaged a mottled sky-blue with grey..with the upper surfaces a green/brown-green splinter finish.." The aircraft was dismantled for transport back to the UK while still under German fire..

While most of the interior details were scratch-built, Libor also used some Eduard etch on his Dragon kit. Decals came partially from an Aeromaster sheet and some markings were sprayed on. Built for the forthcoming Valiant Wings "Airframe Album" on the type, just announced and due in early April. Thanks to Libor and Mark for permission to repost these images..

via the Valiant Wings FB page

And our next book is......Airframe Album No 9- The Arado Ar 234- A Detailed Guide To The Luftwaffe's Jet Bomber. A must-have if you are tackling Fly's new 1/32 scale offering. Not up on our site yet but will be next week. However if you are at the Huddersfield show you can pre-order. Here's the cover, again expertly created by Seweryn Fleischer

Arado Ar 234 B Blitz, NASM Udvar-Hazy Center pics by Cynrik de Decker

"Britain's greatest pilot" Capain Eric 'Winkle' Brown has passed away aged 97 years

Neil Hanna photo via the Edinburgh Evening news

"... An Edinburgh-born aviator who was dubbed the world’s greatest test pilot has died at the age of 97. Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown, from Leith, a veteran of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm holds the world record for flying the greatest number of different aircraft and also piloted Britain’s first supersonic flight..."

 Read more here

 Eric 'Winkle' Brown must rate as one of aviation's leading test pilots of all time, a man who was there at the forefront of the development of aircraft from biplanes to supersonic jets. With his love for danger -   as a teenager he enjoyed earning some spare cash as a wall-of-death motorcycle rider- and having a father who had been a WW I fighter pilot - Brown's love affair with flight began in 1936 when he was taken up on an aerobatic joy-ride by German WW I ace Ernst Udet who made him promise " to learn to speak German and learn to fly.. it was a pivotal point in my life ".

 'Winkle' Brown had many subsequent dealings with Germany and the Germans, from his own early imprisonment in Munich on the outbreak of WW II to his interrogation of Luftwaffe chief Goering, test flying the Luftwaffe's jet and rocket aircraft to 'liberating' Belsen concentration camp and interrogating the notorious camp Kommandant Franz Kramer and Kramer's 'deputy' Irma Grese " the most evil person I've ever met ". Brown's war started as a Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot flying Martlets (Wildcats) deployed on HMS Audacity which had a terrifyingly short flight deck and carried six aircraft..

Audacity (above) was a 'flat-topped former German 'banana boat' converted for Atlantic convoy escort duties protecting against bomber attack from the "Focke Wulf Kurier" (sic) or Condor, the most heavily armed German aircraft in the sky.." Audacity was torpedoed and sunk and Brown and twenty-four of his ship-mates were left for dead- only Brown and one other survived. Audacity's captain had already noted Brown's competence at carrier landings and reported this fact to his superiors, which marked Brown for some highly dangerous test flying ...

 Brown was the first man to land a twin-engine aircraft (a Mosquito) on a carrier and as a result became the chief naval test pilot at RAE Farnborough for the Fleet Air Arm.

He flew a world record 2,400 carrier landings, probably flew more types of aircraft than any other pilot, was the only Allied pilot to fly the rocket-powered Me 163 and also flew the Me 262.

Post-war he was the first man to land a jet on a carrier.

'Winkle' Brown was a test pilot as aerodynamics moved from biplanes to supersonic fighters - indeed supersonic flight was the 'holy grail' of aviation during this period. Brown was tasked with ascertaining why Geoffrey de Havilland died at the controls of the tail-less DH 108 Swallow as it was attempting a new world air speed record.

What he did as a pilot very few - if any - have equalled. not only for the 487 types flown (!). From interrogating Goering, flying as a young lad with WW1's second highest scoring ace Udet and going on to test fly the Luftwaffe's most advanced ending his flying career on the Buccaneer nuclear strike bomber. A towering figure in aviation, notable not only for his huge service to his own country, but also to the US and during the reconstruction of Germany. Hals und Beinbruch, Captain, we'll miss you. Blue skies, Sir! RIP

Flakabt.182 Blumental-Berlin, KG 26 Heinkel He 111 Mäandertarnung - daily Ebay photo find # 157

Flakabt.182 Blumental-Berlin schwere 8,8 cm Flak in Stellung, 1940, and below live-firing training exercise

Currently on offer here

KG 26 He 111 torpedo bomber (?)  in Salon (Provence), southern France, spring 1943. Superb Mäandertarnung camo scheme. Also on this blog here

On offer here

Saturday, 20 February 2016

32nd scale Revell Bf 109 G-6 by Mike "Spikelhund" and Bf 109 G-10 built by Andy Dyck in the markings of Lt. Friedrich-Wilhelm Schenk, Staffelführer of 2./JG 300

amazing build and finish of a couple of Revell 1/32 Bf 109s, the G-6 by Mike "Spikelhund" and the G-10 in the markings of 'Timo' Schenk by Andy Dyck posted on and reproduced here with permission, probably two of the best I've seen. Exquisite detail, paint and finish!

The Bf 109 G-6 W.Nr. 412 369 "Gelbe 6" in the markings of 6./JG 53 as seen in January 1944 was completed with Eagle Cal decals, Barracuda intake, exhausts, cooling scoops and oil cooler housing, AlleyCat cowl bulges, spinner and prop, Maketar masks for national markings, Brassin gun pods and an Eduard fabric harness. Paints are Gunze, Tamiya, Vallejo and Citadel, Mike also used the AMMO PLW for the panel lines and some weathering. Final flat coat with AK ultra matte. Click to view large!

Below; Andy Dyck's build of Revell`s fantastic 109 in 1/32. Andy said " I added some parts, like exhaust pipes from Barracuda studios, decals from Barracuda studios, and seat belts from HGW (Lasercut). The whole model was completly riveted with the HobbyBoss rivet tool. The figure in the leather suit is also from Barracuda..."

"Red 5" was a G-10 flown by Lt. Friedrich-Wilhelm “Timo” Schenk, Staffelführer of 2./JG 300. Rare photos of this machine feature in Jean-Yves Lorant's two volume JG 300 history 'Bataille dans le Ciel d'Allemagne' published by Docavia. While the inscription on the fuselage 'Timo-Schenko' is a neat piece of word-play, it must have taken a certain amount of courage for Schenk to fly strafing sorties on the Oder front over Russian spearheads with his machine displaying the name of the Russian military commander leading the assault on Berlin during the Endkampf.  And while no pictures show the blue-white-blue fuselage bands, 'Red 5' almost certainly displayed them. I was fortunate enough to correspond with 'Timo' a few years ago via Jean-Yves Lorant.

vom Timo, October 2002
" Liegnitz - February 1945. The Russians had crossed the Oder near Steinau. Our exhausted and over-extended ground troops were in desperate need of close air support.. When the weather allowed, we flew uninterrupted sorties, up to eight a day for some of us. The fields and roads between the villages were teeming with thousands of people, women, children, the elderly, all attempting to flee the Soviet invasion in the bitter cold. Most of the columns of refugees were heading for Dresden. Viewed from the sky these caravans of civilians clogging the roads painted a picture of unspeakable suffering. The Russians were everywhere. We flew strafing attacks with variable results. Going into action at low level against ground targets, tanks, vehicles and infantrymen, was far from easy..". 

While he may have survived the Oder front, 'Timo' had lived through more than his fair share of tragedy - he lost his father aged 46 in a motor vehicle accident- when Timo was just 13 years old- and then lost his mother also aged 46 from illness when Timo was 19 years old. After JG 300 and on the back of a Verbandsführerlehrgang des Generals der Jagdflieger unit leaders' training course, Timo Schenk was subsequently posted to III./ JG 7 where, after a mere handful of training flights, he flew an R4M rocket-toting Me 262 for the last few months of the war - and still vividly recalls launching salvoes of rockets against RAF Lancasters raiding what was left of Germany by day, claiming one Lancaster shot down on 31 March 1945, followed by a B-24 four days later. Post-war he flew commercial airliners for Lufthansa. Today he is still going strong at 93 years of age...

a collection of "classic" German-language Luftwaffe books for sale - Siegfried Radtke's KG 54 Chronik " Von der Ju 52 zur Me 262 " (Schild Verlag)

..well-known ebayer Rich Carrick has a nice selection of German language titles on offer in a 'private' sale. Thanks to Rich I have just acquired Siegfried Radtke's KG 54 Chronik " Von der Ju 52 zur Me 262 " (Schild Verlag).

Uffz. Siegfried Radtke was a Beobachter in 9./KG 54. Flying out of Decimomannu, Sardinia, Radtke and his crew were injured on 5 June 1943 when they were forced to bale out of Ju 88 B3+CT WNr 142481 in darkness after a long night sortie over North Africa which saw them returning on one engine before finally running out of fuel. Radtke himself appears in the photo at the top of page 186. On page 216 he describes a bombing sortie flown by his crew in Ju 88 B3+IT on the night of 26-27 July 1944 from Soesterberg over Giberville south-east of Caen in Normandy. Attacked by night fighters and then hit by anti-aircraft fire over the target area, the port wing of the Junkers was quickly ablaze. Although the blaze took hold and burned vigorously the port wing tanks were full, so, according to the author. " there was little danger of an explosion..". The crew elected to fly on and put down at the nearest 'friendly' airfield which was Le Culot where they carried out a successful belly landing at 03:00. The aircraft (which appears as 'JT' in Radtke's loss lists, W.Nr unknown) sustained 60% damages..

" seconds we had scrambled clear of the machine and with the fire brigade and ambulance in attendance our "IT" disappeared under a mountain of foam. Suddenly all the lights on the airfield were extinguished. There was a sound of engines. Our 'colleagues from the other side' had arrived on the scene - too late! Then we heard voices calling out; " ..where is the crew? " By the light of a pocket lamp (torch) we were met by the Kommodore of KG 30, Obstl. Freiherr von Gravenreuth. Later back in the ops building he said ; " Mensch ..goddamn boys you were lucky there! Two nights ago another Ju 88 came in ablaze, attempted what you've just done ..and exploded 100 meters above the field! " We swallowed hard and toasted our Geburtstag ('birthday'). Later we set out  by train via Brussels and Rotterdam and eventually arrived back at Soesterberg where we were warmly welcomed home.."

Rich has a lot of other nice and often hard-to-find Luftwaffe books for sale too; Kock's NJG 6 book and Peter Achs' Fw 191 title to mention just a couple.. You can contact Rich via the Luftwaffe Research Group or the Luftwaffe SIG on Facebook. Visit these sites to see the full range of books available in Rich's private sale..

A blog post devoted to rare Luftwaffe books on Ebay

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Angriff ! Me 410 of 5./ZG 26 attacking B-17s, 12 May 1944

Friday 12 May 1944 was a significant day in the war waged by the USAAF over the Reich with some 886 bombers escorted by over 980 fighters attacking the five most important synthetic fuel plants and refineries in central Germany and the Czech 'Protectorate' - Leuna, Merseburg, Böhlen, Zeitz and Brüx. Up to this point fuel production plants had only been attacked on an occasional basis, eg Pölitz on 11 April 1944. Hence forward such targets would become the top priority of the daylight bombing campaign. The KTB of  I. Jagdkorps recorded "sehr gutes Abwehrwetter "  - very good weather for defensive ops in the Reichsverteidigung. Some 16 day fighter and two Zerstörer Gruppen were deployed; some 470 fighters airborne in total - the largest total of fighters ever put up by the Luftwaffe over Germany- resulting in some of the biggest air battles seen up to that stage of the war over the Reich. At around 14:30 between Gotha and Plauen  - as they were withdrawing - a formation of unescorted B-17s came under attack from the Me 410s of II./ ZG 26 as these rare pictures currently on offer from Michael Meyer illustrate (see link below).

Angriff auf B-17 - Me 410s of II./ZG 26 seen closing on and attacking a formation of B-17s on 12 May 1944 over central southern Germany. Pctures taken by Ofw. Dudszus.

At the controls of Me 410 W.Nr 10241 'Black 13' of II./ ZG 26 Lt. Paul Kaschuba was shot down by the bombers defensive fire. This well-known photo of 'Black 13'  (below) was taken from the 388th BG B-17 'Lady Godiva' during the raid ..

1st Lt. Manuel Head, pilot of 562nd BS B-17 'Lady Godiva' reported; " As I recall the 388th BG was attacked from the rear - I saw nothing of the combat with the exception of this Me 410 peeling away just off my starboard wing. I well remember my exclamation, 'what the hell is he doing here?!' and in a fraction of a second he was gone. Victor Labruno took the pic from the right hand window of the radio compartment. Eugene Crossin in the upper turret told me later that his tracers poured into the belly of the Me 410 and a 'kill' was subsequently credited  to him.."

The good weather and few defenders over the target areas meant that the bombardiers had a very good day and the five fuel plants - crucial to Germany's war effort - were heavily bombed;  fuel production at Brüx was halted while production capacity at Leuna and Böhlen was reduced by 50 % over the following two weeks. Over 25,000 tons of fuel went up in flames, an outcome described by Don Caldwell as "the worst single day of the war for Germany".

Michael Meyer's Ebay sales are here

More on the last flight of II./ ZG 26 Me 410 "Black 13" on this blog here