Thursday, 23 March 2023

Oberfähnrich Wolfgang Rose 4./JG 26 - 'Ehrenbuch JG 26'


   The JG 26 'Ehrenbuch' is a large volume containing brief biographical details and portraits of every pilot who flew with JG 26. Read in conjunction with the "Gedenkblätter für die gefallenen Angehörigen des Geschwaders" ('memorial cards' for the fallen members of the Geschwader   - genitive case ending on Geschwader, not a plural!) it is possible to build up a picture of these young Nachwuchs ('new growth') who flew and fought for literally only a handful of sorties before being shot down and killed.
Born on 28 September 1924 in Stollberg (district Erzgebirgskreis, southwest of Chemnitz), Wolfgang Rose arrived at JG 26 on 30 April 1944 aged 19 years old. He had entered the Luftwaffe in November 1942 directly from school and became an Oberfähnrich on 1 March 1944. A tall thin lad, well-liked, he was a keen airman and as might be expected 'einsatzfreudig'  or 'keen to see action'. He was posted from his operational training unit 4./ Jagdgruppe West to 4. Staffel and flew just 7 combat sorties (Feindflüge) before he was shot down and killed on 27 June 1944. The Ehrenbuch gives a very short account of his death - his Staffel was landing after a sortie when they were surprised by Allied fighters.  At the controls of his Fw 190 A-7 'black 15' (WNr. 431159) Rose had already set up to land but 'saw the danger' and attempted to pull up and go around. He failed to detect the P-47 or P-51 that slipped in behind him. He was hit and shot down. He crashed to his death 1 km east of  Ennencourt and was buried at the German cemetery in Beauvais. Rose was credited with a single Abschuss - a so-called  'wirksamer Beschuss'  ('effective fire'). A note in his memorial card attests to his 'strong' ideological and political outlook ('seine weltanschauliche und politische Einstellung war gefestigt '). His rank of Ofhr. has been crossed out and 'Leutnant' added - presumably posthumously along with the award of the EK I in December 1944.

An interesting account from a JG 26 Nachwuchs who survived is Heinz Gomann's " Und über uns der Himmel - Fliegergeschichten vom Jagdgeschwader 26 " - flying stories from JG 26. (Vowinckel Verlag, 1996).  Gomann provides an apt description of the non-existent combat value of an inexperienced fighter pilot during his first missions at this stage of the war;

"..The Staffel takes off to counter incoming Spitfires. I stay close to my Rottenführer. Suddenly everything starts to turn like crazy. I have no idea why. After landing, they tell me that we were caught up in dogfights with the Spitfires. I didn't see any. Apparently that's what happens to everyone at the beginning (...)…"

Also on this blog;

Saturday, 18 March 2023

JG 11 Fw 190 'low-viz' camouflage schemes

On page 38 of his book 'Frontal durch die Bomberpulks' Fritz Engau (I./JG 11) writes;

"...When I arrived at I./JG 11 in early 1944 a number of our Fw 190s, including the Kommandeur's machine, had been sprayed in a light grey scheme overall, toning down the usual mottle finish, while on all our machines the Haken- and Balkenkreuze were only barely visible ('schwach erkennbar')...It has often been imagined that this unusual finish served as 'camouflage' (in 'English' in the German text) so that our opponents would find it harder to pick us out as German machines in the air..[..] You could hardly disguise the distinctive form of the Fw 190 or the Bf 109 in the air. In addition all JG 11 fighters displayed a yellow fuselage band which was highly visible. Ultimately the reasons for adopting the finish were obscure and it can be supposed with a certain degree of certainty they probably had more to do with  testing of colours/paint finishes- than any other consideration. Certainly at the time the subject was not one we pilots discussed....."

The images below are just two from a series that appear in the outstanding Jochen Prien Jagdfliegerverbände series (Volume 13, 1944 - Defending the West) depicting III./JG 11 Fw 190s with over-painted crosses. Note on the 'overhead' photo the wing crosses are just visible...

Also on this blog;

JG 11 Gustavs defending the Reich 1943, Jochen Prien's Jagdfliegerverbände series

'Frontal durch die Bomberpulks' Fritz Engau (I./JG 11)

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Bf 109 G-6/AS " Red 2 " - a view of the rudder scoreboard kill markings


A blog exclusive  - a  (very low res) view of the rudder scoreboard kill markings on Friedrich-Karl Müller's 1./NJGr 10 Moskito hunter "Red 2" during the late summer/autumn of 1944 and (above) amended profile artwork from Anders!

Since Anders Hjortsberg's original profile artwork was first published over ten years ago (!!) on this blog,  Müller's Bf 109 G-6/AS "Red 2" can be found all over the net (..stolen by Laird at the asisbiz site needless to say..), has been the subject of model kits and even featured on kit box artwork. With one area of 'speculation'  - the rudder.  The original images made available to this blog did not show the rudder kill markings yet we assumed they were there since all of Müller's aircraft were reputed to feature a rudder scoreboard. And although this is only a poor quality (photo) copy it was well worth waiting for too - the Hakenkreuz is very unusually for a late war 109 painted right across the hinge line. The owner of the photo stated when he sent me this poor quality copy that the swastika was 'oversized' for better 'visibility' and this was why it encroached on the rudder. This is evidently not the case  - the Hakenkreuz is not over-sized but it is strangely positioned as Ander's revised artwork below indicates. Still unusual - but not as unusual as it might have been!

Note the last but one bar in the bottom row is Müller's 24th victory returned on 23 August 1944 - his first and probably only Mosquito. The word 'Mosquito' (with English spelling) appears in the black stripe. Müller made six combat sorties in "Red 2" verifiable from his log book, before the machine was repainted in the ace's preferred 'Green 3' as Müller went to the 'new' Stab I./NJG 11 some time in September-October 1944 -according to his erster Wart. It may be that 'Red 2' had already become 'Green 3' by the time the above image was captured. Müller's 25th was claimed on 12 September (last victory bar above) and his 26th three months later on 4 December 1944.

When Hans Dittes restored his 'Black 2', a number of pictures of what was reported to be the original rudder from Müller's Bf 109 K-4 'Green 3' were published. Here the swastika must have been 'restored' to the fin as the rows of bars are neatly aligned ...and note the (German) spelling of 'Moskito'...

To conclude, a couple of links on this blog covering both this and another similar aircraft; 

 Bf 109 G-6/AS 'Red 2', 1./NJGr 10 Moskito hunter flown by Friedrich-Karl Müller during July-August 1944 - pictures and artwork here

'Green 5', the overall black Bf 109 G-6/AS of 2./Erg.JG 2, the Ergänzungsnachtjagdstaffel (night fighter auxiliary training unit) featured on this blog here

My 'history' feature on wilde Sau ace Friedrich-Karl Müller of JG 300 and NJG 11 complete with rare photos and first person accounts is available to read in the free 76-page November 2019 issue of Eduard INFO - download it here

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

'A fighter pilot's bold feat' - Siegfried Lemke claims March 19, 1944


During January 1944 I./JG 2 was hastily dispatched to the Mediterranean Front, deployed to counter  15th USAAF bombing raids. Following the Allied landings at Anzio Italy, the Gruppe was scrambled on 27 January over the Toulon-Hyeres region in the south of France against an incoming fighter sweep by 52nd FG Spitfires airborne from Calvi in northern Corsica. Four of these were claimed, three of them by Fj-Ofw. Lemke, 1./JG 2 Staffelführer.

On 25 February 1944, I. and 4./JG 2 moved from the south of France to the banks of Lake Trasimeno in northern Italy. Lemke distinguished himself during his unit's short two month stay in northern Italy, being credited with eighteen victories. He was awarded the Ehrenpokal in March 1944, the DKiG in April followed by the Ritterkreuz in June.

On 19 March Lemke - by now with the rank of Leutnant - repeated his feat of 27 January. According to an article in an issue of Frontzeitung "Luftflotte Süd" the date March 19, 1944 is an odyssey in itself in the career of the ace of 1./JG 2. His exploits - including the downing of three more 52nd FG Spitfires - featured in a PK war correspondent's report. Lemke came down at sea, spent some time in his dinghy, then elected to swim ashore - spending five or six hours in the water - at least! En route he swam past his one of downed US opponents who was in his dinghy. Lemke carried on swimming and reached the shore. He then walked to the nearest fishing village and apparently passed out from fatigue,. When he came to, he commandeered a boat, rowed back out to sea to rescue the US aviator still in his dinghy.. (!!) 

A feat that borders on the miraculous and I'm guessing that  Shores and co. left this episode out of their 'Mediterranean air war' account because there is probably no way of verifying any of it..

Lemke was subsequently 'interviewed' by a war correspondent and this rare personal account has been translated by Nick Beale - see link below.  " - Leutnant Lemke tells how after three victories in one day, he was shot down over the sea, swam ashore and still took an enemy pilot captive .."

Lemke's claims for March 19, 1944
34th claim
5km W of Moltalto di Castro

35th and 36th claims
19.3.44/0953 and 1002
20km W of Tarquinia/20km W of Moltalto di Castro

Two Spitfires from 52nd FG lost this date, while a third was damaged: EF703/VF-Q of Lt. Robert C Boyd, EE858/VF-E of Capt. Eugene C Steinbrenner and Lt. Charles E DeVoe was WIA (damaged)

The full story of the deployment of I./JG 2 over Italy during early 1944 is told by Nick Beale on his Ghost Bombers site here

Lemke's own account of his March 19 feats as told to a war reporter translated by Nick Beale here

Also on this blog; 

Siegfrie Lemke's award of the Ritterkreuz, June 1944

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

KG 3 Ju 88 crew photo album -ebay photo find # 360

From the estate of Luftwaffe Ju 88 crewman Hans Burkhardt from Görlitz (born 14 December 1916)
April to October 1937 labour service with the RAD-Abteilung 1/105 in Sagan, Silesia.
Rekrutenzeit/recruit period/boot camp with the 1st / Infantry Regiment 30 in Görlitz from 14 November 1938.
With this unit, as part of the 18th Infantry Division, deployment in the Polish campaign.
In 1940 to the Luftwaffe; October 1940 to May 1941 at the Große Kampffliegerschule Thorn.
May 1941 to February 1942 with 11./ Kampfgeschwader 3 at Chièvres, Belgium.
February 1942 transferred to 2./KG 3 KG.3 on the Eastern Front as an observer-gunner Beobachter-Bordschütze.
He served in the Junkers Ju 88-A crew of pilot Helmut Rösner (DK holder).
March 1943 transferred from Zaporozhye to Creil, France, for special England operations.
Spring 1943 to IV./KG.3 at Istres airfield, southern France for operations over Africa.
Here he was awarded the Ehrenpokal (honour goblet) on 30 April 1943. He was also proposed for the DK (German Cross).
In 1944, he was posted as a crew instructor ("Lehrbesatzung Rösner") to Lüneburg airbase.
November 1944 until end of war with the 3./TG 20 (Transportfliegergruppe) in Fornebu, Norway.
He made a total of 176 combat flights in the East, 11 over England, and 3 in Africa.
He survived the war and escaped from French captivity on 31 July 1946.

 On offer from crains militaria here

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Strange (postwar) deaths of the aces - Zwesken, Engfer, Tanzer, Quast


As everyone knows Marseille died on 30 September 1942  'undefeated' after bailing out of a new Gustav and failing to open his chute after (presumably) striking the tailplane.  And we also recently highlighted the death of Gustav Francsi who drowned trying to rescue his wife from the sea. 

Another (German) web site recently posted a report on another strange death of a Luftwaffe ace -   former Ofw. ace of II./JG 300 Rudolf Zwesken, Zwesken committed suicide on 26 February 1946. In a copy of Zwesken's farewell note posted on - apparently written by him but typed up by the Halle Kripo - Zwesken states that his lover Isolde had died during the abortion of what would have presumably been 'his' child. In his 'distress' he had therefore killed himself by sticking his head in her gas oven. However his mistress did not die so there is obviously more to this story. After all, under what circumstances does a man commit suicide because his wife is pregnant? We can 'guess' but prefer not to spell it out here - I'm sure you can work it out. 

Surely an even more 'bizarre' death though is that of  former 9./JG 3 ace Siegfried Engfer. Engfer had passed 50 victories on 18 September 1942 during the 'drive' for Stalingrad to earn the Ritterkreuz, the same day as his close friend in 8. Staffel Fw.Heinz Kemethmüller. After being seriously injured (Lungenschuß) Engfer (seen left as an Oberleutnant) never returned to the front and survived the war. In April 1946 he boarded a train in Vienna heading for Prague - but never arrived. He presumably left -or jumped from- the train during the journey, probably hoping to cross the 'border' undetected to locate his family in the Eastern territories occupied by the Russians. He was never heard of again. Report from the November 1965 issue of Jägerblatt.

As you know a number of aces flew post-war and rejoined the Bundesluftwaffe during the 1950s -  Steinhoff, Hartmann, Obleser, Körner, Krupinski, Dahmer to cite just a few. But Waldemar Radener (JG 26, 37 victories) was killed in a training plane in southern Germany in January 1957, Kurt Tanzer (JG 51) crashed in a T-33 fighter over the Balearic Islands in '60. 84-victory ace and former 4./JG 52 RK-holder Werner Quast perished in July 1962 in a helicopter accident - at the time he was a Fluglehrer (instructor) with the Heeresfliegerwaffenschule (army combat aviation - German equivalent of the Army Air Corps training school). Heinz Bär died testing a light aircraft of course. Rudolf Rademacher (JG 54, 97 victories) survived the war only to be killed in a glider crash at Lüneburg on 13 June 1953. 

Numerous former aces died in road traffic accidents. Gerhard Michalski was killed in 1946 in a car crash as was his fellow 'Pik As' Herbert Kaminski who died on 16 July 1971 in a car accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Gerhard Barkhorn died tragically from his injuries following a pile-up on the Cologne motorway in 1983. His wife died at the scene. Theo Weissenberger, a 'speed freak', killed himself in 1950 during a car race at the Nürburgring. And finally, George Seckel -an ace in JG 77 who flew with Müncheberg in North Africa and was later Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 77 with around 34 victory claims - bred and exhibited poodles at dog shows postwar. As he was driving to display his poodles at a show on 23 September 1972 he was hit by another vehicle on the motorway and died at the scene. His wife survived her crash injuries, but several of Seckel's dogs escaped the wreckage unhurt - only to be mown down by passing vehicles.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Jägerblatt April 1962 issue - obituary Gustav Francsi I./NJG 100


Cover of the April 1962 issue of Jägerblatt above - well-known image of He 219 A-016, WNr. 190066, RL+AF, serving with NJGr. 10 at Werneuchen during the summer of 1944 engaged in radar trials. 

The April 1962 issue of  Jägerblatt featured an 'appreciation' of  'Nachtjagd' Ost Experte Gustav Francsi. Francsi drowned on 6 October 1961 in the sea in Spain after jumping in - fully clothed- to try and rescue his wife from an undertow. Strange coincidence with Hans Forke's death (BF to Ludwig Meister) - Forke also drowned during the 60s attempting a sea rescue  - in his case his daughter and nephew. Francsi was born on 4 November 1914 in Gierswalde. Francsi was awarded the RK in late October 1944 under Kommandeur Hptm. August Fischer in I./NJG 100 and was the leading night fighter ace in the East with  around  50 night-time vics (55-60 'claims', the majority of which were not officially 'confirmed' - sources conflict as to his victory tally). According to Obermaier he flew as a bomber pilot in Norway - this appears to be incorrect. Rather Francsi served as a flight engineer (BM) with KG 40 before training as a pilot during 1941.  His success on the Eastern Front  in NJG 100 - the only Nachtjagd unit to be based permanently in the East - was a result of close collaboration with the rail-mounted mobile radar units. At least  one source claims that Francsi had moved to Kdo Bonow and flew the Arado Ar 234 during April 1945 although his last four claims with NJG 100 were on the nights of 17-18 April and 24-25 April..

"..another name is added to the long list of great fighter pilots [..] suddenly taken from us in tragic accidents...[..] Gustav Francsi died as he had lived - selfless, courageous and loyal. When the history of the German night fighter arm is finally written, then the name of Gustav Francsi will certainly be at the forefront..."

With the recent publication of the last but one volume of Theo Boiten's 'Nachtjagd Combat Archive' ('Eastern Front and Mediterranean', Wingleader - a 'must buy' for Luftwaffe enthusiasts) read the full story of Francsi's career in I./NJG 100 on the Eastern Front. 

Also in Jägerblatt, April 1962 (issue No. 4, Vol XI)  Heinz J. Nowarra's  "Heinkel He 219 - eine vergebene Chance" ( '..a missed opportunity') and Hans Ring's comments on Walther Dahl's 'Rammjäger' ..