Tuesday 27 April 2010

Towards perfection ? the Focke Wulf (Tank) Ta 152 (Reschke, Cescotti, Keil, Aufhammer) - last edit March 2016

Fighter ace Walter Nowotny taking a close look at one of the Höhenjäger test beds. The Fw 190 V32 ‘GH+KV’ was designed as a DB 603 S-1 powered high altitude fighter and was one of Tank’s many projects powered by the big 445-litre DB 603 engine-even though the official view favoured the Junkers 213. Note the four-bladed propeller and pressurized cockpit. This machine would later be re-built as a Ta 152 prototype.

The Ta 152 had its origins in the long and complex list of experimental Fw 190 sub-types testing power plants, injection methods, supercharging, and aerodynamic properties in the high altitude fighter programme. There were two principal design avenues. The first of these was the Ta 152 C – essentially a FW-190D with the Daimler-Benz DB-603LA engine and 30 mm Mk.108 cannon - and the Ta 152 H high-altitude fighter, powered by the Junkers Jumo 213 E and featuring the long-spanned high aspect ratio wing.

There were many technical challenges to overcome in designing a fighter that would likely see combat at altitudes about one-third higher than either the Bf 109 or Fw 190 types already in production. But unlike the BV 155, a highly experimental, flying test-bed, in the end Tank's design simply joined a powerful engine, already proven in the Fw 190 D, to an existing airframe tweaked to perform at higher altitudes and slender high aspect ratio wings. The result was an aircraft faster and more manoeuvrable than the P-51 and the P-47.. The H model of the Ta 152 credited with a maximum speed of 472 mph at 41,000 ft, came close to the limits of what was possible using a piston engine.

The first Ta 152 series aircraft to leave the production line at Cottbus were a batch of 20 pre-production Ta 152 H-0s, which were delivered in October and November 1944 to Erprobungskommando Ta 152, commanded by Hptm. Bruno Stolle and based at Rechlin. This unit was responsible for service testing the new fighter although the pressure of events and the soundness of the design led Stolle to recommend a rapid introduction into service.

 It was not until late January 1945 that the first Jagdwaffe service pilots set eyes on the new Ta 152 fighter as related by JG 301 pilot Willi Reschke ;

“ On 23 January 1945 on orders from the OKL (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe) Jagdgruppe III./JG 301 was temporarily taken off operations and designated an Einsatzerprobungsverband, a combat test unit. We were to re-equip with the Ta 152 – something we’d long given up hoping for. In the early hours of 27 January we pilots were taken by truck to the Neuhausen aircraft plant near Cottbus with orders to ferry the new Höhenjäger to Alteno. Arriving at the airfield we were confronted with our first sight of the Ta 152 H-1, which with its enormous wingspan and lengthened engine cowl hardly looked like a fighter aircraft at all. With feelings of unease we walked around the machines drawn up in three rows (twelve aircraft in total). Technicians were on hand to answer our queries. After a talk on the technical aspects of the machines that lasted barely 30 minutes, we took the aircraft on charge.. I got airborne at 11:08..”

This is the only known photo of operational Ta 152s pictured here after their arrival at Alteno on 27 January 1945. Note that although the Ta 152s were attached to the GeschwaderStab and only delivered to III./JG 301 they are displaying a horizontal bar - probably yellow – over the rear fuselage bands. The second aircraft in the line-up may or may not be 'Yellow 1'.

Roderich Cescotti – a former He 177 pilot – served as Technical Officer with JG 301;

I flew a number of sorties on 4 and 7 April 1945 in the Ta 152 H-0 and H-1. The Jumo 213E’s three-stage supercharger and the long wingspan meant that the aircraft was highly manoeuvrable at both low and high altitudes up to 14,000 metres, an unheard of performance for a service machine at the time. We were clearly superior to the RAF Tempest as I witnessed when three Ta 152s of the Stab engaged the British machines on 14 April 1945 in a dogfight over Neustadt-Glewe…”

The pilots of III./JG 301 were eager to fly the new fighter in combat. A first combat sortie was flown on 8 February but did not result in contact with the enemy. The nearby city of Dresden had been pounded to destruction during the night and early morning of 14 February 1945 by RAF Bomber Command and the US 8th Air Force but III./JG 301 had been forced to stay on the ground even though the explosions detonating in the city could be heard on the field at Alteno. On 18 February the Stabstaffel shifted to Sachau, west of Berlin in order to exploit the possibilities for combat over the Hauptstadt and on 21 February encountered US bombers for the first time. During the ensuing combats, Oberfeldwebel Josef Keil flying "Green 3" claimed a B-17 shot down at 16:30 over Berlin. On 1 March Keil flew a sortie in the Kommodore's "Green 1" and claimed a P-51 over the same sector.

The first combat sortie flown by a mixed force of Ta 152 Hs and Fw 190 As of III./JG 301 had taken place on 2 March 1945. That day a powerful 8th Air Force formation of some 1200 bombers screened by over 700 fighters was dispatched to Böhlen, Magdeburg and Ruhland. Airborne from Sachau behind Verbandsführer (formation leader) Oberleutnant Stahl, some twelve Ta 152s climbed away southwards and prepared to do battle with the Mustang escort screening the bombers heading for the Bohlen chemical plant near Leuna. The sortie ended in disaster when the Ta 152s were engaged. Willi Reschke reported;

We reached grid square ‘Heinrich-Caesar’ now flying at an altitude of more than 8,000 meters and closed to formate with a Gruppe of Bf 109s that were wearing yellow and red fuselage bands. We could barely believe our eyes when, moments later, the first tracers split the air around us as Uffz. ’Bubi’ Blum’s Ta 152 came under attack. The 109s had opened up on us ! We could hardly return fire on Kameraden from our own Jagdgeschwader and the sortie ended in a complete debacle ”.

While the agility and superior performance of the Ta 152 allowed them to evade all of the "attackers", the chance to join combat with the P-51s was lost. In the event this sortie was one of the last to see large numbers of German fighters in the air in defence of the Reich. Thereafter most sorties flown were Jabo or Tiefangriffe, ground strafing on both Eastern and Western Fronts..

10 April 1945. It was already after 19:00 that evening when four Ta 152 H-1s of the Stab, led by the Kommodore, climbed away from Sachau on a patrol over the Braunschweig (Brunswick) area. 'Jupp' Keil takes up the story;

" We had reached an altitude of 10,000 meters when I sighted a group of Thunderbolts below us heading in the direction of the setting sun. They hadn't seen us. I immediately tightened up on Oberstleutnant Aufhammer's machine and with hand gestures - in order not to betray our presence by breaking radio silence - pointed out the enemy machines below us. The Kommodore initially appeared not to have understod what I was trying to tell him, forcing me to edge in even closer to him. This time he got the message. However his reaction was not at all what I expected. Gesticulating just as vigorously as I had, the 'boss' made it quite plain that if I wanted to go down after the P-47s then I was on my own. I quickly made my mind up and throwing my "Green 3" into a dive, plummeted earthwards at high speed to come in behind the P-47s ... I had been spotted, since the enemy fighters immediately went into a defensive circle. Closing at a great rate of knots I managed to line one of them up in the sight and squeezed off a brief burst from my three cannon. It appeared that my salvo had struck home. Before the P-47s had the chance to react, I had pulled the stick back and eased up into a long climbing curve to altitude. Two minutes later I had caught up my Kameraden with another probable kill to add to my tally..."

The final victims falling to the guns of the Ta 152 were Russian Yak-9s during the final days of battle around Berlin on April 30, 1945. Most Ta 152 Hs, however, were destroyed on the ground by Allied air attacks while awaiting delivery. A few Ta 152 Hs were allocated to the Mistel program. According to some sources, approximately 150 Ta 152 H-1 fighters were manufactured between January 1, 1945 and the arrival of Soviet forces at the Cottbus assembly plant although there is little firm information on numbers produced. Dietmar Harmann has listed Werknummern from 150-001 to 150-040 and 150-167 to 150-169 for a total of 43 aircraft. There is no information on WNr. -041 to -166. Some claim all 169 machines were constructed.

Just how good was the Ta 152 ?

With its scintillating performance, numbers of high performance Allied fighters fell to its guns in the final weeks of the war. The only recorded encounter with P-51s - other than Keil's claim above - is the incident noted by Kurt Tank himself, who had a narrow escape while flying one of his Ta 152Hs towards the end of 1944. Flying from Langenhagen near Hannover to attend a meeting at the Focke-Wulf plant in Cottbus his Ta 152 was apparently jumped by four Mustangs. According to his own account Tank activated his MW 50 boost, opened the throttle wide, and so the story goes, quickly left the Mustangs far behind in a cloud of blue smoke. It is of course worth pointing out that no one apparently witnessed this incident, either German or American. Respected 8th Fighter Command historian Danny Morris could not locate any USAAF report on it, and such an incident would surely have warranted such a report.

The successful combats against RAF Tempests referred to above by Cescotti took place at low altitude, and according to Reschke's account the Tempest pilot made several mistakes (relative to the Ta) which he was able to capitalise on. It is worth pointing out again that the Ta pilot knew exactly what to expect from the Tempest, while the Ta 152 was frankly an unknown quantity to the Tempest pilot. Then of course there is Walter Loos statement that he never downed an enemy aircraft while flying the Ta 152 in direct contradiction to Reschke's account as related in interview to Jean-Yves Lorant.

Until enemy pilots had some reasonable knowlege about the strengths and weaknesses of the Ta, combat reports of its "superiority" are questionable at best. While there may have been no more than 55 operational Ta 152's, there were never more than about 24 serviceable at one time. And they flew comparitively few sorties, perhaps a total of 500 or so, quite likely fewer. Until an aircraft has been in combat long enough for the enemy to have a reasonable idea of what they are facing, there is always an advantage to flying a new high performance fighter - it's an unknown quantity and the enemy pilots do not know what to expect from it. And although ultimately designed for high altitude combat, very few missions of this sort were ever flown.

....and as postscript, a brief note on Jerry Crandall's all-red Ta 152 "story.."

 Crandall posting on britmodeller; "...Both Oberstleutnant Auffhammer and Generalmajor a.D. Roderich Cescotti were highly regarded officers and command pilots and had no reason to make up a story regarding the short flight of the orange-red Ta 152. The complete story is told in our Ta 152 book and in volume 1 Dora book. The flight is recorded in Cescotti's Flugbuch documenting the date, time and destination plus indicating he flew his "Green 1" Dora 9 as escort. During one of our interviews Cescotti was very adamant about the exact color of the Ta 152 as technical officer he oversaw the mixing of color and painting of the Ta 152. I even took varying shades of orange-red painted on 1/72 Ta 152 models and he had no hesitation picking the color. During the 25 minute flight he explained he flew all around his boss's aircraft above, below and along side this unusually colorful machine. In the meeting with the Focke-Wulf engineers, Auffhammer made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was very unhappy with the nagging technical problems and slow delivery of the promised Ta 152s. The discussion became so heated Cescotti felt uncomfortable and quietly slipped away. When asked about Willi Reshke's comments about the this flight Cescotti replied; "We regarded Willi very highly for his dedication and ability we needed more like him, however looking at his Flugbuch he was not present that day we took the orange-red Ta 152 to Rechlin..."

So Crandall's evidence for the red/orange Ta 152 is the recollections (and signed 2001 statement) of Obslt. Auffhammer and Hptm. Cescotti, one stating that he flew it, the other that he escorted it. How much weight one gives to that evidence, or to Willi Reschke's subsequent rebuttal, is, I guess, up to the individual. Personally I discount it totally and utterly. Given the only barely superficial resemblance of the Ta 152 to a Fw 190 D, viewed at any distance, the 'precaution' of painting it overall -red seems overly elaborate in the extreme! But it's impossible to disprove something that didn't occur and for which the only 'evidence' has been 'produced' by the 'participants' themselves. Of course it's difficult to state that without inferring that some-one involved with the story and the artwork is "lying" and that would be a step too far. Possibly. Nor is it something that Cescotti and Aufhammer could simply have been mistaken about. As I say the more you think about it, it still seems a ridiculous way of protecting a Ta 152 on a 25 minute flight. No, I prefer to think that this was two elderly German gents way of simply having a little fun with this "Ami" colors 'expert'...the idea that they even 'picked-out' the 'right' shade of red, well, I'm not the only Luftwaffe enthusiast to find that quite hilarious!  And why suddenly should this artwork/profile be taken at face value for Crandall when he of all people would discount it without photographic evidence. A leading Luftwaffe author of my acquaintance - published by Crandall's Eagle Editions -laughed out loud when he first heard the story and saw the 'artwork'...oh and the new Kagero monograph on the Focke Wulf Ta 152 doesn't even mention the story, far less 'illustrate' it...so kudos to them!

Also on this blog; Walter Loos successful Ta 152 pilot JG 301 and Sturmjäger JG 300 - the case of the 'smoking' log book here

Monday 26 April 2010

more Focke Wulf 190 aces (Wurmheller, Bretschneider, Priller, Bär, Linz, Weik, Migge)


Wurmheller's III./JG 2 'yellow 2' Fw 190 A-5 from the Eduard A-5 'Heavy fighter' kit in 72nd

Revell Fw 190 A finished as Klaus Bretschneider's 'Red 1' from September 1944 when Bretschneider was Staffelkapitän of 5.(Sturm)/JG 300, decals from the Aeromaster 'Rammjäger' set. I've added plastic card 'armour plate' to the cockpit sides, faired in the upper cowl MGs and fabricated some 30 mm cannon in the outboard wing stations from sprue! Bretschneider did in fact 'ram' a B-17 in this aircraft. However this was an unintentional act - a collision - since he was able to land 'Red 1' safely - full story in the Jean-Yves Lorant's JG 300 history.


Staffelkapitän 2./JG11 Erich Hondt’s A-5 WNr 410 266 ‘schwarze 13' (see model pic below). The numeral was black with a red outline. It displayed the so-called Schwarmführerstreifen or red diagonal stripes of a Schwarm leader along the fuselage sides appearing as a 'Vee' from above. The aircraft did not have a yellow Rumpfband. Two reasons; Hondt wrote a letter describing this machine and its colourful finish which was published in a German-language book. The pilot was then shot down and the aircraft lost on 8 October 1943, well before fuselage bands were introduced. See Peter Rodeike in Jet & Prop 3/12. Hondt’s A-5 was in addition fitted with the U12 Rüstsatz which consisted of underwing gondolas each containing a pair of MG 151 cannon, one of the few armament Rüstsätze to reach operational status

Revell A-8 in the markings of Hans Weik, IV.(Sturm)/JG3 ace (36 vics.
Weik was WIA as Staffelkapitän of 10./JG 3 on 18 July 1944 at the controls of this Fw 190A-8/R2 (W.Nr. 680 747) "White 7". The wounds were serious enough to keep Weik from any further front line duties. On 27 July, Oberleutnant Weik was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 36 victories. In April 1945, Weik was transferred to III./ EJG 2 at Lechfeld to train on the Me 262 jet fighter.

Günther Migge's NJGr.10 "Kognakpumpe" 'White 9' Neptun radar equipped Fw 190 night fighter in 72nd scale. The 'cognac pump' inscription under the boar's head emblem was probably a reference to the nerve-jangling experience of flying a single-engine fighter at night

Italeri A-8 in the markings of JG 5 ace Lt. Rudi Linz, Kapitän of 12./JG 5 who was shot down and KIA on 9 Feb 1945 at the controls of Fw 190 A-8 WNr. 732183 'Blue 4'. Posthumously awarded the RK. The port side of this a/c featured a large green heart emblem under the cockpit..

The Revell & Academy Fw 190s side by side in the colours of Heinz Bär's 'Red 13' (JG 1) and Staffelführer JG 11 Erich Hondt. (Note how horrible the Academy kit is with its barn-door type wing & hopelessly oversized ailerons. The rudder and engine cowl are also under-sized. In fact the front end bears no relation to the actual aircraft - easily Academy's worst 72nd scale kit)

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Messerschmitt Aufklärer - Recce Bf 109s

Oblt. Heimo Emmerstorfer climbing into the cockpit of his ‘White 14’. Note the cowl bulges, the MG 131 machine gun barrel and the over-painted data plate to the right of the supercharger intake – evidence that this unique camouflage scheme was field-applied. The pictures were taken in the early summer of 1944. (All pictures via Jean-Yves Lorant)

During mid-1943 a number of tactical reconnaissance Gruppen were established in southern Germany. These Nahaufklärungsgruppen (NAG or NAGr) were equipped with various models of the latest 109 Gustav sub-types and tasked with fast, high altitude recce sorties over the battlefield beyond the reach of Allied fighters. Powered by the latest up-rated and often power-boosted variants of the DB 605 engine and mostly unarmed, these reconnaissance Gustavs – fitted with Rustsätze comprising the RB 12.5/7 or RB 32/7 camera installations prior to the appearance of the dedicated G-8 recce variant - were deployed to the hot spots of the European theatre.

One such unit was I./NAG 12 established at Herzogenaurach in southern Germany during the spring of 1943. The fifteen aircraft of this unit’s 2. Staffel were deployed to the Balkans in the autumn of 1943 and were initially based on the field of Berat (southwest of Tirana) from where they flew sorties alone or in Rotte strength (two machines). The Staffel operated a mix of Gustav variants, having on strength at various stages the G-4, G-5, G-6, G-8 – a dedicated reconnaissance variant - and G-10 sub-types. The unit later deployed to Sarajevo and flew sorties from this base during early 1944 over US-held airfields and ports in Italy.

Oberleutnant Heimo Emmerstorfer

One known and surviving pilot of I. Gruppe NAG 12 was Technical Officer Oblt. Heimo Emmerstorfer, who spent three weeks flying sorties with 2. Staffel during the spring of 1944. His album contained the fascinating photos published here forwarded by Jean-Yves Lorant. Emmerstorfer’s flight log reveals that as a recce pilot he flew 217 combat sorties over 1134 flight hours and – in addition to the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class - was awarded the Luftwaffe honour goblet, the Reconnaissance Combat Pilot Clasp in Gold, the Wound Badge in black and the German Cross in Gold.

Emmerstorfer never saw combat with Allied fighters at high altitude though the high flying German recce 109s were a thorn in the Americans’ side as a number of strafing attacks on Sarajevo mounted by US fighters bore witness. Emmerstorfer himself was almost caught on the ground on one occasion during 1944. Taxiing out to lead off a Rotte, Emmerstorfer lined up on the strip to get airborne – all take offs were flown in a northerly direction aiming for a gap between the mountains surrounding the town. Suddenly, eight P-47s swept in through this same gap low over the trees directly towards the two 109s just as Emmerstorfer was opening up the throttle to launch into his take off run. Exhorting his Rotte comrade to throw open the throttle - “Alfred, Pulle rein! Amis!” - the 109s hurtled down the runway, travelling so fast that the strafing P-47s were unable to lower their noses and draw a bead. The Messerschmitts disappeared between the mountains narrowly escaping the salvos of fire from the airfield flak defences. Emmerstorfer was forced to return early to the field with a single flak hit in the radiator – the US fighters having flown just one strafing pass.

During late 1944 and early 1945, the sixteen Bf 109s of 2./NAG 12 were deployed to Hungary and flew constant sorties from Tapolca as the Russians completed their encirclement of Budapest, threatening the Reich’s last oil fields in southern Hungary. This huge Kesselschlacht (literally ‘cauldron battle’) lasted some six weeks and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 recce Aufklärer were in almost constant action. By May 1945 the Staffel had flown some 2,000 sorties. Emmerstorfer himself made his last flight in a Bf 109 on 9 May 1945 - one day after WW II ended. Determined to avoid Russian captivity he was airborne from Ziri, west of Ljubljana – just ahead of the Russians who occupied the field that evening. He flew west in the direction of Austria and reached his hometown of Hoersching without incident. However with American columns on the roads he elected to continue westwards. Finally at 19:35 he belly landed at Haibach on the Danube River and made his way to his parents house on foot.

Emmerstorfer is here seen climbing down from ‘White 14’. This image affords an excellent view of the head armour glazing and details of the antenna. The mast is mounted on the rear of the canopy. The zig-zag stripe effect has been airbrushed on free-hand and has a very irregular edge.

Sunday 18 April 2010

'Deutsche Flieger auf Sizilien' - JG 53 in Sicily (Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke)

The Jagd element of this Wochenschau newsreel was shot with JG 53 flying the Bf109 F from Sicily and features the Kommodore Günther Freiherr von Maltzahn and Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke Kommandeur III./JG53. The pilot with the moustache is Oblt. Otto Bohner Kapitän of 6. Staffel. There is an excellent set of colour photos of Bohner and his F-4 'Yellow 1' (complete with dog in cockpit) in Prien's Jagdgescwader 53 A History of the "PIK AS" Geschwader Volume One March 1937-May 1942. By mid 1942, the Axis air forces ranged against the island were at their maximum strength: some 520 Luftwaffe and 300 Regia Aeronautica aircraft. The main adversaries for the defenders were the 140 or so Messerschmitt Bf 109 Friedrichss of Jagdgeschwader 53 'Pik As' and II/JG 3 'Udet' and the 80 Macchi C.202s of the 4th and 51st Stormo. Bombers units included the Junkers Ju 88s of II./Lehrgeschwader 1[13], II and III./Kampfgeschwader 77[14], I./Kampfgeschwader 54[15], Kgr.606, and Kgr. 806.

More JG 53 aces pictured on Sicily on this blog here

Just one click to view

Friday 16 April 2010

Wolfgang Schnaufer's Bf110G

Heinz Schnaufer's Bf 110G Schleswig, Germany. 19 June 1945. Informal group portrait of a Halifax crew of No. 462 Squadron standing next to an ME110 Identified are, left to right: Flight Lieutenant M. Langworthy (pilot), Flight Sergeant Mitchell (gunner), Ray (bomb aimer), Flying Officer Ivan Campbell (navigator), Flight Sergeant Ted Casey RAF (engineer), unidentified (gunner), Warrant Officer Mick O'Brien (wireless operator). The ME110 tail fin bears 121 emblems made up of small roundels next to an aircraft and a date, representing the number of Allied aircraft destroyed by the pilot, Major Wolfgang Schnaufer. This a/c is presumably 3C+BA

A summary of the a/c flown by Schnaufer

G9+EZ (with this registration he flew from January 1944 to the end of March 1944) and later G9+DF (code later changed when Schnaufer became Kommandeur, and he flew with this registration from April to June 1944) Werknummer 720260, equipped with FuG220
G9+EF, equipped with FuG220
G9+EC, equipped with FuG202. He flew this machine through April and May 1943.
3C+BA, equipped with FuG218

On the page 57 of " Die Deutsche Luftwaffe Zerstörer- und Nachtjagdverbände teil 1" by Michael Meyer and Paul Stipdonk, there are 3 nice photos of an Bf 110G. Photos are from collection of Fritz Rumpelhardt, Schnaufers radio operator. According to the captions they date from early summer 1943. Unfortunately the call sign of the plane is not shown, neither the tail fin, but:

• the spinners are in a solid, dark colour, a similar shade as the blades (black or black green?)
• it has 4 x MG 17 on the nose with 2 x 20 mm guns as standard
• it has an additional M1 pod of 2 x MG151/20 under the belly
• and FuG 202 radar arrays on the nose with vertical dipoles
• twin machine gun MG81Z? for the radio operator, G-4 type canopy and no "Schräge Musik"
• uncovered exhaust, early type

An RLM report of 16 June 1944 indicated Schnaufer's dislike of the MK108, and that he was using only MG 151/20s for his forward armament at that time. Schnaufer would have had the new FuG 220 radar array, with a single FuG 202 antenna in the centre during early 1944. After the RAF began jamming the FuG 202 frequency in July 1943, Schnaufer would have been among the first to receive the new radar which was immune to RAF jamming.

1. Staffel JG2 "Richthofen" French campaign, Battle of Britain (ace Werner Machold)

A superb JG 2 veteran's album Ebay.de

Emils of 1. Staffel JG 2 undergoing maintenance in the field, most probably during the Westfeldzug. note the 'Bonzo' dog emblem on the cowl of the machine in the background

Unknown personal emblem on 'White 9' of 1. Staffel

Above - Werner Machold's second Abschuss being painted on the tail of his Emil during the French campaign. This 1.Staffel ace was one of the most successful JG2 pilots of the campaign in the West and is seen here (below) posing alongside his impressive rudder scoreboard. He achieved his twentieth victory during the latter stages of the Battle of Britain.

Two Rotten of 1. Staffel in formation apparently over Mardyck on the Channel coast

A line-up of 1. Staffel Bf109 Emils at Mardyck on the Channel coast, probably during the Battle of Britain. Note the Bonzo dog emblem on the engine cowls

Thursday 15 April 2010

Kurt Gabler's JG 300 Bf 109 G-6 'natural metal' Mosquito chaser

Judging by the number of models posted on hyperscale and elsewhere, Kurt Gabler's Bf 109 G-6/R3 is a bit of a hit with modellers. Usually described as having a 'unique bare metal' finish Gabler's "Red 8" of 8./JG 300 is invariably depicted as an uncamouflaged metal machine, aside from a white tail and wingtips, red fuselage band, spinner spiral and decorated rudder.

(Click on the images for a clearer and larger image taken from a quality reproduction from the original negatives courtesy of Jean-Yves Lorant, author of the two volume history of JG 300. And if you have arrived here from Google after searching for JG 300 you can access all my JG 300 posts here)

First off jg300.de got it wrong when it came to this machine, as the webmaster Burkhardt Otto so often gets its wrong when dealing with photos obtained third or fourth hand. In case you're wondering what I'm talking about the jg300.de site STILL captions these images as being of 'black 8' assigned to Rudi Winter - despite the rudder scoreboard. And this despite the fact that Winter was KIA in action in August 1944 with just a handful of claims to his credit. (2 I think..), despite the fact that -unlike Jean-Yves Lorant -he never actually met or corresponded with Gabler!

 Kurt Gabler was a wilde Sau ace and achieved some 17 victories as per the rudder tally on this machine returned in only 23 combat sorties as recorded in his flight log. A couple of pages from Gabler's logbook were in actual fact reproduced in Volume II of the JG 300 history (Lorant/Goyat) in order to "assist" the webmaster of jg300.de correct the information on his pages. I assume he hasn't updated those pages as he doesn't speak/read English particularly well..

Gabler was WIA during the Arnhem operation, late September 1944 as Staffelkapitän 11./JG300 and sidelined for the rest of the war. Rudi Winter was KIA in action much earlier than that and with only a couple of victories as I've said. Rudi Winter was a non-entity, Kurt Gabler Staffelkapitän..

As for the supposedly 'bare-metal' finish on Kurt Gabler's 'red 8', let us just say that extensive areas of the airframe have been sanded back either to the natural metal or the primer. However 'bare metal' is probably not the right phrase to describe this finish - this was a standard camouflaged machine with a 'stripped-down' (sanded) finish for an extra turn of speed - there are still large areas of paint over the airframe ! Exactly how much is difficult to say looking at the photos - certainly the wing roots and even the leading edges of the (starboard) wing appear to have paint on them. Gabler never actually stated that his machine had been stripped back to the metal, nor do the authors of the JG300 book - I believe that this was merely an assumption from the publisher/profile artist (Tullis) based on the photos - obviously a great 'subject' for a decal sheet and it certainly makes for a striking looking model! For what its worth, there is another interpretation altogether in the French edition of Lorant's JG 300 book illustrated by Claes Sundin which shows the aircraft in a primer-type finish, far from the shiny, glittering metal that most modellers love to portray this aircraft in. (See link below) Note the close-up of the tail and rudder in the photo above - if that is 'metallic' then it has a rather dull 'alloy' look to it - it doesn't appear to be 'shiny' metal. A handful of machines like this with a 'sanded-down' finish were deployed by JG 300 principally in an effort to try and catch RAF Mosquitoes, a type that the Jagdwaffe found almost impossible to shoot down. Gabler got one in June 1944, a downing he describes in the book...

Claes Sundin's interpretation is here

Friday 9 April 2010

Hans Philipp JG 54 Bf 109 F-4

Bf 109 F-4 Doppelwinkel of the Gruppenstab I./JG54. Pilot likely to be Hans Philipp, photo dates from May 1942 (thanks to ouijdat)

and two lovely views of JG 54 Kommodore Trautloft's white-washed Bf109 F-4 in early 1942.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Hermann Graf and his JGr. Ost Focke Wulf 190s -reference for the new Eduard Fw 190 A-5 72nd scale - (last edit October 20160

Hermann Graf flew at least two colourful Fw 190 As during his time with JGr.Ost - these were a Fw 190 A-4 WNr 634 as well as a Fw 190 A-5 WNr 2594, both of which can be ascertained from photos. However there seems to be confusion about which aircraft is which in published sources, most claiming that the aircraft had been repainted several times although I somehow doubt the complicated pattern of decorations and emblems invited frequent redecoration of the two aircraft in the short period Graf had the posting to JGr. Ost. This incidentally was only from the beginning of February 1943 to late May '43 or some days into June, since he reported back to Wiesbaden-Erbenheim on 11 June 1943 for his next assignment – four months on two aircraft. According to what can be concluded from the images studied the Fw 190 A-4 was the aircraft with a yellow engine cowling decorated with the tulip pattern while the Fw 190 A-5 had a standard camouflage on the cowling and a similar tulip decoration. There were also other small differences in markings between the two a/c.

At some point one of these aircraft was fitted with the 'high altitude ram intakes' and it is difficult to say which one exactly. The 'tulip decoration' seems to have had white outlines on red flames. The main wheels were of the 'eight-hole' type as was common with earlier Fw 190 As. All the images here appear to show the A-5 WNr. 2594. Click on the images for a closer view. References inlcude Ebay auctions, Le Focke Wulf 190 by Lorant and Frappé (Docavia) and the November 2000 issue of Le Fana de l'Aviation.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Bf109G-6 Heinrich Bartels IV./JG 27 (2)

Pictures of Bartel's 'Kanonboot' machine - taken at the time of his 70th victory - are well known, but when building my model I was still unable to ascertain what the upper wing camo might have looked like, or whether the aircraft had white wingtips - until I discovered the lower image in the Japanese Luftwaffe Warbirds Photo Album series (Vol I). Time for a bit of a re-spray...

Friday 2 April 2010

Adolf Galland's Emil WNr. 5819 and Friedrich

 Lovely sharp images of WNr. 5819 which Galland flew on many occasions during late 1940 until around March 1941. Sixty victory markings on the rudder which are also featured on the rudder of his brand-new Friedrich in the last image. This a/c may be Bf 109 F-0 also equipped with the TZR telescopic sight visible in the Emil cockpit. Click on the images for a larger view.

Note how clean the aircraft is - looks like the technician with the oily rag seated on the wing is busy wiping off any exhaust staining - as required by service regs. Note also the double fuselage hatches for the GM-1 boost equipment, the telescopic sight, the lack of upper head armour (which would cost Galland dear), the stenciling on the flaps, and the sheen of the paint on the wing.