Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Skies Above the Reich is a solitaire game depicting a Staffel of Bf 109s struggling to deter and destroy the relentless daylight raids over Germany during World War Two. The player’s individual aircraft, each represented by a stickered block, must confront the mighty “combat box” formation of the United States Army Air Force, a deadly terrain of B-17 Flying Fortresses. The game is a broad strokes depiction that presents the arc of the desperate air war. Stretching from late 1942 to early 1945, Skies Above the Reich follows that trajectory in a series of missions strung together to make a campaign. Each mission will take a half hour or more to play, while a campaign can last anywhere between 6 to 60 missions.
GMT games site and game play resources here
youtube reviewer blastpop plays the game here. A single click to view
Tuesday, 7 August 2018
Above; Vitry-en-Artois 1943
Naumann joined JG 26 in 1938 and was a long-time Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 26. He was badly injured on 23 June 1944, shot down by anti-aircraft fire south-west of Caen. Awarded the RK on 9 November 1944 as Kommandeur II./JG 6 - insgesamt 34 Luftsiege im Westen - 34 victories in the West including 7 bombers in around 350 combat missions. Ended the war with JG 7.
His 1st victory, a Spitfire (n.b.) off Folkestone on 12 August 1940. A 2nd, a Spitfire 10 km SE of Southend on 3 September 1940. A 3rd, a Hurricane W of Boulogne on 21 June 1941. A 4th, a Spitfire on 3 July 1941, no location. His 5th, a Spitfire on 21 August, 1941, no location. His 10th victory, a Spitfire northeast of Rue on 13 February, 1943. Another victory, B-17 # 41-24399 "Man O War" of 91st BG, 323BS, flown by 2/Lt Keene C. Mc Cammon on 30 July 1943. Eight were KIA, 2 POW. On 26 July 1943 he shot down a twin engine Boston III RAF No. 88 Sqdn as Stfkpt 6./JG 26.
Appointed Kommandeur II./JG 26 from March 1944. He was shot down on 23 June 1944 by British anti-aircraft fire and had to bale out but both his legs struck the rear of his FW 190 A-8, WNr. 730425, "black 30" resulting in severe injuries. He had at least 27 victories with JG 26. He was replaced by Hptm Emil Lang. He returned to combat operations as Kommandeur II./JG 6 and returned a double victory on 12 September 1944; both P-38s in the Düren-Zülpich area. A P-38 E of Cologne on 4 October 1944. He led II/JG-6 on the Volkel airfield raid on 1 January 1945. Deceased 22 March, 2010 Fürstenfelbruck (P. Bastin).
Sunday, 29 July 2018
1./JG 20 was established primarily from elements of JG 2 in Döberitz on 15 July 1939. The unit was subsequently re-designated 7./JG 51 in mid-1940. Oblt. Walter Oesau was the first Staffelkapitän. The Staffel 'Pfeil und Bogen' emblem can be seen on the cowl of the Emil in the image above.. which may or may not be Oesau's 'white 1'...or 'white 13'.
Below; tail of Oesau's WNr. 1432 'white 1' with 10 Abschuss markings dating this image to mid-July 1940 - each kill is dated and the aircraft type noted. The 'kill' marking closest to the rudder hinge line is marked 'Defiant' - Oesau claimed a 141 Sqd Defiant shot down on 19 July 1940. Oesau was awarded the Ritterkreuz during August 1940, the fifth Jagdwaffe pilot to achieve the award..the second image shows the tail of his 'white 13' much later in the Battle of Britain..
Messerschmitt Bf 109 E4 7./JG 51 'White 13' Walter Oesau WNr 1432 during late August-September 1940
Also on this blog
Walter Oesau and JG 20 in the French campaign
Kommodore Oesau's last sortie May 1944 JG 1 Bf 109 G-6/AS
the aces of JG 2 victory claims and credits during 1941
Maj. Walter Oesau JG 2 100th Luftsieg October 1941 Channel Front Aces
Luftwaffe over Malta - new series from Lela Presse, Air Battles over the Baltic 1941 - Mikhail Timin
A quick appraisal of the latest in the Lela Presse Batailles Aeriennes (Air Battles) quarterly series - part 1 of 'Luftwaffe over Malta'. Written and compiled by a friend of this blog, Pol Glineur, who has authored a number of French-language articles and monographs. As another friend of mine recently put it, it's a shame there is no English-language publisher producing similar quality magazines. Recommended at 12 euros for 96 A-4 softback pages, 180 + photos and Thierry Dekker's superb profile artwork. Don't let the French text put you off. Very colourful, beautifully laid out, maps, log-book extracts, rare photos. It seems amazing that just across the Channel you can pick up something as good as this on a news stand. For the rest of us there's Sylvie's excellent mail order service at
Exclusive artwork presentation courtesy of Thierry Dekker.
From February 1941, 7./JG 26 under Hpt Joachim Müncheberg operated with success against Malta from bases in Sicily -despite never having a full complement of machines startklar at any one time. Following the end of the Balkans campaign III./JG 27 flew from Greece to Sicily to reinforce the units of X. Fliegerkorps assaulting Malta and more specifically, Müncheberg's Staffel. Their first sorties were flown from Gela - a field strip on Sicily's south coast - on 6 May 1941. By the end of May they had already departed Sicily for Germany and preparations for Barbarossa.
Below; Kommandeur III./JG 27 Hptm. Max Dobislav alongside 'schwarze 5', a Bf 109 E-7 of 8./JG 27 Wnr. 5578 which has been prepared for a Jaboeinsatz against Malta loaded with a 250 kg bomb. Dobislav returned his 9th victory (Hurricane) on 15 May over Malta. Gela, Sicily, May 1941
Air Battles Over the Baltic 1941: The Air War on 22 June 1941 - The Battle for Stalin's Baltic Region
by Mikhail Timin
Distributed by Casemate the first in a new book series devoted to the Eastern Front air war is just published by Helion. "Air Battles over the Baltic 1941: The Air War on 22 June 1941 - The Battle for Stalin's Baltic Region" by Mikhail Timin in fact deals with only one day of the air battles in the East and then covers only a small sector of this huge front - but what a book! Mikhail Timin is one of the most notable Russian authors on the Eastern Front air war and his deep research is based on Soviet archival data. The author's comments in his Introduction are somewhat critical of Western authors attempts at covering the Eastern Front air war accusing " some opportunistic authors in recent years (..of publishing..) works of pseudo-research, in which disreputable attempts have been made to misrepresent the achievements of the pilots and commanders of the air forces of the Red Army... .....". Just about every book written by Western authors dealing with the opening rounds of Barbarossa ('the Great Patriotic War') has of course relied heavily on German sources and Mikhail Timin disputes some of this body of literature in his writings. While this reviewer readily admits his own shortcomings in knowledge on Russia/Red Army historiography I have to say that Timin appears to set the record straight in this impressive work. The first half of the work comprises a long introduction assessing the preparedness or otherwise of the opposing forces detailing the composition and the capabilities of both German and Soviet aviation and including biographies of commanders and formations of the Baltic special military district and Luftwaffe Air Corps as well as describing the principal opposing aircraft types. It is evident that Soviet re-equipment with modern types was proceeding apace months before the invasion. Timin moves on to cover the massive German infringements of Soviet territorial borders in the months leading up to the launch of Barbarossa. The events of 22 Jun 1941 kick off on page 209 with an account from the CO of JG 54 Trautloft and comprise a detailed reconstruction of the three major waves of air raids on Baltic airfields. Amazingly there were few significant 'air battles' on this first day of the war - the author details those Soviet bomber regiments airborne to attack German units being recalled since retaliatory actions were not initially authorised. In addition there was to be no battle for air superiority - Soviet air force strength was deliberately 'husbanded' to be concentrated against German ground and Panzer forces. Note that no German or Soviet terminology is used, aside from rank - the English 'squadrons' 'wings' 'headquarters officer' appears throughout, which may or may not be helpful. Some of the authenticity and flavour of a work like this is lost in my opinion, especially when it would be a simple matter to compile and add a glossary to the book. It is probably true too that the average reader can more easily reverse the English terms back into German than can do this back into Russian. I did find the translation just a tad clunky and long-winded in places; "headquarters section " tactical number yellow 11", "insignia denoting his victories" etc. Elsewhere the photo and artwork sections are good, the profile artworks and maps particularly so. While the photo pages (300 photos) are integrated into the main pagination, the 48-page profile artwork/maps section is paginated separately. Even so there are 'only' 448 pages in the book - not the 528 advertised in various places. There are additionally a few pages -situation and airfield maps - in the original Russian and the page reproductions from Signal magazine are from the French edition! I have to comment on the lovely thick glossy paper stock too. All in all, an outstanding addition to your WW II air war library.
Monday, 23 July 2018
Above; public domain via wiki commons. Messerschmitt Me 410 A-3 Wk.Nr. 10259, RAF serial TF 209.
Below; Some nice detail and aerial shots of this same machine (presumably) at No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight at Collyweston, Northamptonshire (UK). This aircraft was formerly F6+OK of 2(F)./122. The crew, Fw. Hans Beyer and Uffz. Helmut Hein, got lost on the return leg to Perugia and landed by mistake at Monte Corvino, Italy, on 27 November 1943. It arrived for testing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough (UK), on 14 April 1944, and was also evaluated by the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down. TF209 flew with the Fighter Interception Unit at Wittering from August 1944 until March 1946 when it was transferred to No. 6 Maintenance Unit at Brize Norton.
Sunday, 22 July 2018
more Luftwaffe pets! Dackel Staffel JG 5, Felix Brandis, 'Struppi' 9./JG 54, Bello and Bungi, unit pets - I./JG26 Gottfried Dietze
In a recent post on the past-times enjoyed by members of the Luftwaffe I unfortunately omitted to mention the very close relationships that many airmen and ground crews enjoyed with their animals, mascots and pets. Dogs, cats, monkeys, foxes, jackdaws - all these and more feature heavily in the recollections and anecdotes of Luftwaffe personnel. Dogs in particular were given the freedom to roam the Staffel dispersal and as part of the 'community' in the field were always there to meet and greet their masters following sorties. Many aircraft and units also unsurprisingly sported a range of animal emblems - foxes, wolves, lions as well as cats and dogs. Indeed photo albums were always likely to feature unit canines and felines..
Bello and Bungi, unit pets - I./JG26 Gottfried Dietze
KG 26 lion cub in Russia . The above on Michael Meyer's current sales here
2./ KG 40 Heinkel He 177 crew of pilot Hptm. Stolle (centre) after their 'successful' combat with a 422 NFS P-61 Black Widow during the night of 14/15 August 1944. The Alsatians 'Max' and 'Moritz' also flew sorties.
This incident was the subject of an article in Jet & Prop magazine (issue 6/97) entitled " Schwarze Witwe contra Greif " (‘Black Widow versus Griffon’) written and compiled by Michael Balss. More on this blog here
Below; another He 177 'pet'
Some seventy five years after the event Karl-Fritz Schlossstein recalled the dachshund emblems sported by the aircraft of 1.(Z)/JG 77, the future Zerstörerstaffel of JG 5;
".. the Staffel mascots were three dachshunds , "Bamse", "Herdla" and "Lockheed" brought back from leave by Lt. Dieterichs. "Lockheed" was named after the first victory returned by the Staffel while "Herdla" was named after the airfield. " Bamse " (Norwegian for "bear" ) was named for his thick coat. From that period on, the Staffel was known as the "Dachshund Staffel" - the unit’s Bf 110s sported on the forward fuselage an emblem comprising a dachshund holding a Rata in its mouth... "
The exceptional longevity of the dachshund emblem (from spring 1941 to spring 1944) and the fact that the unit adopted the " Dackel Staffel " nickname was proof of the unit’s attachment to its dogs.
Below; In the summer of 1941, Lt. Felix Brandis was one of the leading pilots of 1. ( Z) / JG 77. He was unlucky enough to crash two aircraft before being killed on 2 February 1942 while attempting an emergency landing in a snowstorm. His Bordfunker, Fw. H. Baus, survived the crash.
Oblt. Viktor Bauer (9./JG 3) with tame Jackdaw - June 1942.
Kdr. I / JG 26 Hptm. Johannes Seifert with fox
" Als Geschenk des Berliner Zoos wird "Simba" schon bald zum Gruppenmaskottchen und erlangt schliesslich mit seinen beiden 'Dompteuren' ('Max' und 'Moritz'; d.h. von Werra und Sannemann) nationale Berühmtheit.." quoted in Heinz Sannemann - ein Jagdfliegerleben
Waldemar 'Hein' Wübke of 9./JG 54 in the cockpit of his 'yellow 5' and his G-2 a few years later. Same hound?
From III./JG 3 in Esperstedt during November 1944. Karl-Heinz Langer with puppy
Ofw. Fritz Gromotka 9./JG 27 (left) in Kalamaki, late February 1944.
JG 51 Emil
The first Focke Wulf 190 Doras entered service with III. Gruppe of JG 54 "Grünherz" during October 1944 at Achmer and Hesepe. While the first service machines undoubtedly piqued the interest of their pilots, according to Fw. Fritz Ungar of 9./ JG 54 pictured in the cockpit of "White 2" (above) the sole reason for this picture series -first published in Jean-Yves Lorant's 'Le Focke Wulf 190' (Docavia, 1980) and then later in Axel Urbanke's "Focke Wulf 190 Dora im Einsatz"- was to record the Staffel fox terrier mascot 'Struppi' for posterity. There is unfortunately no complete view of either of the aircraft.
"Struppi" perched on the forward fuselage between the twin MG 131s - note the highly polished finish for an extra turn of speed - anything up to 20 km/h according to the pilots. The pilot in the picture is Feldwebel Paul Drutschmann who would be shot down and captured unharmed on the Dutch-Belgian border during Bodenplatte on 01/01/1945
Another view of 'Struppi' - enjoying the attention of the mechanics of 9./JG 54 perched on the horizontal stabiliser of "White 3", the eighth series production machine (Wnr. 210008).