Wednesday 23 February 2011

Pierre Clostermann interview French TV documentary (Tempest JF*E, JG 26 Fw 190 Dora )

Pierre Clostermann filmed at Hendon in 1975/76 with a Tempest painted as his 3. Squadron machine JF*E for a French TV documentary. The aircraft is in fact NV 778, a machine built post-war. In this video extract Clostermann tells us how good the best Luftwaffe pilots were, especially those veterans of Spain and the early campaigns, and relates an account of the combat in which he was shot down on 21 April 1945.  He introduces his remarks by stating that the Luftwaffe made its pilots fly until they got shot down, without any rest and thus they acquired hugely superior levels of competence and experience and "had to be avoided in the air like the plague". He was himself shot down twice, 12 May 1943 and 21 April 1945. Towards the end of the clip Clostermann relates what it was to suddenly realise that one of these superior pilots was in front of you as on April, 21st, 1945 - sheer terror and fear and the realisation that you had no hope of escaping. The German ace they came up against that day fought alone against Clostermann and the 7 pilots of his squadron, the German pilot according to Clostermann downing three of them, including Clostermann himself. Unfortunately not identified by Donald Caldwell in his JG 26 War Diary - only two 3. Sqd Tempests being lost that day-  this German pilot - had he existed - would almost certainly have been a JG 26 Fw 190 Dora pilot...The interviewer asks Clostermann who the German pilot was... (my translation);

 ".. I never knew. He could have killed me because, just as my engine stopped, I saw the shell exploding, zipping past the canopy just above where the crosses are ..[Clostermann turns back and points out the victory markings in front of the canopy.]. But that day, I wasn't flying my own aircraft, because every time I had to fly a plane that was not mine, usually because of technical problems, I got into a bit of a mess. I saw the shell, I felt the impact and when the engine stopped, I thought "That's it, I'm finished." And I was too low to bail out. I curved into a turn and the German passed above me, I saw the pilot very well because he rolled onto his back above me, very slowly, I saw him 10 metres above me while he was looking at me. I saw he trying desperately to slow down. He was perhaps wary that I could get a shot at him because he was faster than me. He swept away, I put the aircraft down... It was near Dümmer Lake, it was marshy and the aircraft was covered in mud and I scrambled out of the cockpit as fast as possible. I unbuckled my parachute, I slid out onto the wing, I fell, I saw him coming back and thought "He's gonna open up at me! It's unbelievable, he won't do it." I'd never do that. And as luck would have it, he didn't.."

Note the inscription under the Tempest cockpit, 'Le Grand Charles' - this inscription, Clostermann's hommage to Charles de Gaulle, was in fact only painted on SN 222. None of Clostermann's other Tempests were photographed with this inscription despite what you can read just about anywhere on the internet, includng the Hawker Tempest site!

However - according to the most authoritative recent account (Avions No. 151 special issue to commemorate Clostermann's passing) Clostermann had bellied in on the 20th after combat with two Fw 190 Doras and flak damage. After downing one Dora north of Bremen, JF*E had been hit by heavy ground fire and the pilot had taken some splinters in his calf but managed to put down at Hopsten. In the ensuing crash landing Clostermann dislocated his shoulder and hit his head on the gunsight and did not return to his squadron until early May. According to 122 Tempest Wing's war diary for the 20th, " a good day, the 'mad Frenchie' got another two Fw 190s.."

Kärcher 'ovens' - heating and de-icing equipment fitted in the Junkers Ju 88 G-1

Well-known photo (see Merrick) of Ju 88 G-1 WNr.714053 burnt out on an airfield near Braunschweig. Click on the B&W thumbnail below to go to a full-size black and white photo of this machine on Visible under the wing separated by about 150 cm are the transmitting and receiving antennae of the FuG101a Feinhöhenmesser radio altimeter.

These pictures - and more specifically the apertures visible on the wing upper surfaces - were the subject of an interesting discussion on Thanks to Peter Achs, Christoph Vernaleken and Friedarr for assistance with the following on the work of Dr. Alfred Kärcher. The name is more usually associated with high-pressure cleaning hoses, but during WWII Kärcher build and designed cockpit heating and wing de-icing systems mounted internally as well as much larger mobile hot-air blowers for de-icing aircraft.

The Ju 88 G-1 was equipped in many instances with at least three Kärcher-Heizgeräte. These were essentially petrol heaters, more colloquially known as Kärcher "ovens" and could be mounted in the rear fuselage or more likely one in each wing close to the wing leading edge between the engines and fuselage. A supply of air via the intakes located close to the wing root was heated and then re-distributed around the airframe for heating and de-icing (see schematic drawing below). Not every G-1 had Kärcher fittings in both wings - some G-1s have only one wing-root intake or even none where there were no wing heaters present. A good indicator that the 'ovens' could be fitted in a Ju 88 G wing was the presence or otherwise of the rounded 'exit' in the top of the wing in the vicinity of the engine as clearly seen in the colour image above. The Kärcher heater  was powered by the aircraft's own fuel supply. A certain number of earlier 'G' machines did not feature the Kärcher heaters, for example the well-known 2Z+EH assigned to the Gkr. I./NJG 6 Hptm. Gerhard Friedrich and illustrated on Pages 79-82 of Stipdonk/Meyer 'die Deutsche Luftwaffe' Teil 3.  Aircraft such as these - with no provision for fitting Kärcher heaters - would necessarily have featured BMW 801 engines with Lufterhitzer or air heaters - along with their characteristic cowl bulges- since these would be the only source of heated air for de-icing on the aircraft. G-1s with Kärcher wing heaters are likely to have the 'smooth'-cowled BMW 801s not fitted with engine air heaters.

Below; Kärcher heaters of the type mounted inside the wings of the Ju 88 G-1 and a schematic view of the associated plumbing.

Reference is made to the Kärcher heater in the Air Intelligence report of the 7./NJG 2 G-1 that landed at Woodbridge, Suffolk on 13 July 1944.

 "...De-icing of the main and tailplanes is by hot air. This is normally supplied through a muff fitted around the exhaust stubs, but in this aircraft it could not be traced. There was, however, provision for a petrol-fired heater (Kärcher Ofen) and a switch in the cockpit indicated that air could be supplied from this heater to either wings or fuselage. In this particular case the heater was not installed but there was an air intake in the leading-edge of the port mainplane between the engine nacelle and fuselage, with an exit slightly further outboard on the wing upper surface. The piping has not yet been traced out, but presumably it will lead to the heater position.."

Monday 21 February 2011

Henschel Hs 126 and Bf 109 Nahaufklärer NAG reconnaissance Jassy, Rumania 1944

Currently on sale at Thomas Zeh's ebay shop here  are a nice selection of Henschel Hs 126 and Bf 109 G short-range recce Nahaufklärer on the airfields of  Uman, Zilistea and Jassy in Rumania during March-May 1944. Time and location noted on the original negative reel. Click on the pics for a larger image.

Luftwaffe pilot training in France JG 101

Selection of images currently on sale from seller lasiodora2010 depicting machines of operational training units 1./Ergänzungsgruppe West and JG 101 during 1943 in south western France close to the Pyrenees (Pau, Lourdes, Ossun, Carbes). Jagdgruppe West and JG 101 were in action against a raid by 8th Air Force B-24s on Bergerac, Cognac, and other airfields in south-western France on 5 March 1944.  Lt. Chuck Yeager of the 357th FG was shot down by a Fw 190 on this raid near one of these airfields, evaded capture and reached Spain. Yeager's victor was attacked by "Obie" O'Brien, shortly after Yeager went down (Obie claimed a damaged, later upgraded to probably destroyed). Merle Olmsted identified the pilot as Uffz. Irmfried Klotz, who bailed out but was killed when his parachute failed to deploy.

 Below; a Fw. Vogt at the controls of an Ar 96 over Pau during 1943

How the 'celebrated' Junkers Ju 290 "Alles Kaputt" went to America - Watsons Whizzers, KG 200, Revell Ju 290 A-7 'Spy version'

It is perhaps not generally realised that the Luftwaffe did actually put into service a number of four-engine bomber types. One of these of course was the Junkers Ju 290, one of the Luftwaffe’s largest and most formidable aircraft.  However the Ju 290 served primarily in the reconnaissance and transport roles, peforming most of its combat service flying long-range reconnaissance missions with FAGR 5. Formed at Achmer during May 1943, FAGR 5 was established by the Fliegerführer Atlantik on behalf of the Befehlshaber der U-boote as a long range maritime recon group to scout out and locate Allied Atlantic convoys and then shadow them until U-boats could be assembled and close in for the kill. It was intended that the unit would have a complement of some forty Ju 290's - which it never attained. Ju 290s of the unit were equipped with FuG 200 Hohentwiel radar and the Neptun 216, (later 217) rear warning radar to defend against approaching Allied fighters.These Ju 290s were potentially capable of reaching the US - but whether Luftwaffe aircraft did carry out such flights during WWII is doubtful. Nonetheless there was at least one well documented transatlantic flight flown by a Luftwaffe four-engine bomber- albeit post-war. This was the transatlantic ferry performed by ‘Alles Kaputt’, a Junkers Ju 290, which set a transatlantic speed record in the process.

Above; Ju 290 Stammkennzeichnen PI+PS after the addition of US insignia in München Riem, July 1945

 Ju 290 A-4 (V7) Werk-Nr. 0165 - displaying its KG 200 Verbandskennzeichen A3+HB and equipped with mounting points for ETC 2000 racks for the carriage of FX 1400, Hs 293, and Hs 294 guided missiles - was surrendered to USAAF personnel by 1./ KG 200 Staffelkapitän Hptm. Heinz Braun on 8 May 1945 when he flew the aircraft into München-Riem from Königgrätz in Czechoslovakia with several dozen female Luftwaffe auxiliaries on board. As the only airworthy example of this giant Luftwaffe bomber secured by Colonel Harold E. Watson’s ATI team (Air Technical Intelligence or “Watson’s Whizzers”) it was decided to fly the aircraft back to ATI HQ at Wright Field Ohio. Hptm. Braun, who had flown both a captured B-17 and B-24 with KG 200, agreed to serve as pilot-instructor to the American team and also provided insight into the aircraft’s capabilities and performance and servicing requirements. He would co-pilot the aircraft to Roth near Nuremburg, then on to Belgium and then France where it was prepared for the transatlantic flight. Prior to its first flight under new ownership -and at the request of the Americans- Braun had sought out BMW mechanics from holding camps of German POWs to replace two of the machines’s BMW engines after metal filings had been found in the oil systems – probably the result of wear rather than sabotage. American radio equipment and a radio compass and other instruments were fitted.

Original print available at here

Original print available at

During testing prior to the transatlantic flight another engine change proved necessary and resulted in a flight back to Munich in a C-47 to retrieve a recently manufactured example! However the new BMW engine was too bulky to be loaded onto the American transport and in the end had to be sent to France by road, a journey that took several days, although the engine change itself required barely two hours. By this stage the aircraft was under round-the-clock guard to prevent sabotage. This was not enough to prevent the pilfering of the autopilot control panel. And despite the close attentions of its new crew it was not until the aircraft had arrived in Ohio that a so-called ‘Selbstzerstöranlage’ was located in the wing near a fuel tank – a small explosive device for destroying the aircraft to prevent it falling into the wrong hands!

Above;  seen at Paris -Orly in July prior to the US flight. The fairing above the cockpit housed an American radio compass antenna.

The Ju 290 took off for the US from Orly, Paris on 28 July 1945 with Watson at the controls, heading out on the ‘southern’ route for the Azores. In the end the German crew, including pilot Braun, was left behind and did not go to America as some sources claim. According to American calculations at an average speed of 300 km/h and an altitude of 3,000 metres, the Ju 290 possessed an endurance of some 16 to 18 hours and a range of around 4,800 kilometres! This performance was made possible by a 3,800 litre supplementary fuel tank in the fuselage, installed for long-range sorties. Watson’s co-pilot Captain Fred McIntosh wrote an account of the flight published in Sweeting's 'Hitler's Squadron'. The first leg of the journey –some 3,700 km - took nine hours and 10 minutes and due to cloud cover over the island of Santa Maria, required an instrument approach on arriving in the Azores. USAAF Gen. Arnold who was also on the island on his way home from the Potsdam conference was given a tour of the aeroplane. On 30 July the Ju 290 was airborne for the next leg of the journey to Bermuda at its heaviest ever flight weight– but although taking off behind Arnold’s C-54, the Ju 290 arrived in the US some 30 mins ahead of Arnold’s aircraft such was its impressive performance. The final leg of the journey took place on 31 July 1945;

" ..The weather out of Bermuda was fine but the closer we got to Dayton, Ohio the lower the ceilings and visibility was close to VFR minimums. Watson was the only crew member having experience with low frequency beacons and Adcock ranges, and, happily, in the Dayton area. We eventually touched down on Wright Field on our first approach after a flight of only six hours and thirty minutes. The plane was assigned Foreign Evaluation no. 3400 and German markings were reapplied because of upcoming air shows.." (McIntosh)

above; one of an amazing set of colour slides -including German aircraft displayed at Wright Patterson AF Base, Dayton, Ohio, 13-21 October 1945. Source is here

The captured aircraft, with its Hakenkreuze reapplied and displaying the inscription ‘Alles Kaputt’ which had been added in Europe. The Stammkennzeichen PI+PS is over-painted. The aircraft was a frequent performer at air shows at Freeman Field and Wright Field prior to being scrapped in December 1946. The Revell 1/72nd scale Junkers Ju 290 A-7 'Spy version' kit features the 'Alles Kaputt' inscription as a decal.

Article sources;

" Flying the Junkers Ju 290  A-4", Captain Fred McIntosh in Sweeting
" Die großen Dessauer", Ott/Kössler
" Wie die berühmte Junkers Ju 290 "Alles Kaputt" nach Amerika kam ", Knepscher, Jet & Prop

Saturday 19 February 2011

Tamiya Me 262 & Aires resin Jumo KG 51 Edelweiß

Beautiful build and finish by Honza K. of the Tamiya Me 262 with the Aires resin Jumo 004 in the markings of a KG 51 Blitzbomber WNr. 170096 9K+BH of 1./KG 51 based in Rheine in September 1944. It was planned that the deployment of the world's first operational jet bomber unit KG 51 would be in time to counter the Normandy invasion and that the Me 262 would be available in numbers. However preparations on the German side were about two months too late. The first jets arrived in Lechfeld in June 1944 where the pilots of I./KG 51 underwent immediate conversion training, although only the best pilots could be deployed to France. The dispatch of the first ground echelon of I./KG51 in July from southern Germany was chaotic and took place while most of the pilots were still undergoing their training. The first bombing sorties flown by the Einsatzkommando I./KG 51 (otherwise known as Kommando Schenk) were hit-and-miss affairs against US troop concentrations along the banks of the river Seine from 25 August 1944. There were no sorties flown in July as most sources claim. With no bomb sight worthy of the name and reduced to dropping their ordnance haphazardly from altitude to avoid flak and fighters the unit achieved virtually nothing with the Me 262  -  pilots complained that the jets were too fast to allow them to identify targets on the ground as detailed in Jan Horn's new history of KG 51 which is reviewed here. In fact it is doubtful if the Allies were even aware of the top-secret new jet’s arrival in France. Falling back from France into Holland the jets were next in action against the bridges at Nijmegen during the Market Garden operation during September 1944. Model pictures first posted by Honza on britmodeller and reproduced here with his kind permission.

Captured Junkers Ju 188 (Etienne du Plessis photostream on flickr)

Captured Junkers Ju 188.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Michael Meyer's Ebay shop (2) - aces of JG 53, Gela, Sicily, spring 1942 (Tonne, Crinius)

current sales at Michael Meyer's Ebay shop

Pilots of 3./JG 53 at readiness (Bereitschaft) at Gela/Sicily early in 1942. Seen from the left are Lt. Hans Roehrig (RK on 2 October 1942, 75 Luftsiege in total, KIA on 13 July 1943 in combat with Spitfires over Syracuse/Catania), Spieß Hauptfeldwebel Eckhard, Uffz. Franz Hagedorn, a 37-victory ace, killed in action on 10 September 1942, Fw Fritz Gammel, a nineteen victory ace, KIA on 23 August 1942 and Ofw. Heinrich Leschert who achieved 21 or 23 victories. Leschert's first victory was a 'Wellington' over France on 14 May 1940. Leschert's last victim was shot down on 10 August 1942 but the Mig 3 he hit disintegrated, the debris bringing down Leschert's Bf 109 G which crashed before he had time to bail out. He was 28 years old. Last in the line is Wilhelm Crinius, a future Eichenlaub (Oakleaves) winner who would achieve 114 Luftsiege (victories).

3./JG 53 Gela/Sizilien im Frühjahr 1942. Seen above from the left are Werkmeister Ofw. Krüger, Staffelkapitän Oblt. Wolfgang Tonne, awarded the Ritterkreuz on 6 September 1942 and the Oakleaves less than three weeks later on 24.9.1942. In total credited with 122 victories, although following his 122nd on 20 April 1943 Tonne was killed in a crash while attempting to land at Tunis-Protville off a steep turn with landing gear extended. Alongside him is Oblt. Karl Leonhard, an ace with 23 victories who survived the war and Lt. Walter Seiz, who tallied 14 victories before becoming a POW on 24 August 1944. Below; Oblt. Karl Leonhard.

Fw Wilhelm Crinius of 3./JG 53 seen below in late September 1942 in Stalino wearing an EK 2 (Iron Cross 2nd Class) to represent his recently awarded RK. He received both the RK and the EL on the same day, 23 September 1942, the only Jagdwaffe pilot to receive the two awards simultaneously. He was pictured here shortly before departing for Germany to receive both awards from AH.

Below left; Lt. Wilhelm Crinius. Photographed in early 1943 as a POW (in Kriegsgefangenschaft) in Monte Vista. Of his 114 victories, 100 of these were achieved between 9 June 1942 and 23 September 1942 ! Following combat with Spitfires on 13 January 1943 he was forced to make an emergency landing near La Calle and was taken captive the following day. Second from left is Stabsarzt Röpel.

Postwar Crinius worked in private industry, serving as a director in the German branch of the Dutch Concern Philips. On 18 June 1989, as a pensioner, Crinius ran for the European Parliament in Hesse as candidate for the right-wing German People's Union.  He died on 26 April 1997 in Stuhr-Fahrenhorst, Lower Saxony

Bf 109 F seen in Molodetschno or Sobolewo in June/July 1941flown by the Gruppenadjutant of the Stab III./JG 53 with 4 Abschußbalken (victory markings) on the rudder. In the foreground is Uffz. Herrmann Spengler Flugzeugführer (pilot) in 5./JG 52, posted missing on 11 August 1941, credited with a single victory.

Also on this blog - video of JG 53 on Sicily