Saturday 28 April 2012

Maj. Helmut Wick & Oblt. Erich Leie Stab JG 2

More on Helmut Wick on this blog

Above; Wick's successor was Wilhelm Balthasar. Balthasar's preferred wingman was Oblt. Erich Leie of the Stab. JG 2. Leie was awarded the RK during August 1941 for 21 "victories" most of which had been won with the Geschwaderstab. Here he is seen in the cockpit of an "Emil" belonging to the Stabsschwarm  as indicated by the horizontal bar surmounted by a small rectangle.

Friday 27 April 2012

Luftwaffe modelling - Do 217 M-1 night recce unit Aufklärungsgruppe Nacht (Italeri Do 217)

You may have seen Rolf Blattner's superb Do 217 M from the 1:72 Italeri Do 217 kit on britmodeller. Rolf has been in touch to let the Luftwaffe blog know a DB 603 resin update set to enable modellers to go to town on the Italeri Do 217 and produce a really accurate 'M' sub-type is now available from his original master via Without doubt this new set can be thoroughly recommended to all enthusiasts looking to add an example to their collection of what KG 100 pilot Roderich Cescotti describes in his memoir "Langstreckenflug" as "the best Luftwaffe bomber of the war ".

The Do 217 M was a direct development of the Do 217 K. The 217 M V-1 was constructed using a 217 E-2 as a basis for the conversion and first flight took place in July 1942. Planned as a medium day and night bomber the usual variety and number of sub-variants was envisaged, including dive-, torpedo-, night-, high altitude- and carrier-plane for "stand-off" weapons.

The variant differed essentially with the installation of the Daimler-Benz DB 603 with four-bladed prop replacing the BMW 801 radials, engines which were desperately needed for the Fw 190 fighter programme. The inline V12 cylinder DB 603 A yielded over 1700 hp but suffered several problems with pistons, piston rings, main bearings and vibrations in concert with the four bladed props of the unit. Instead of the planned 1000 bombers only around 500 of the type had been produced when bomber production was curtailed in early 1944.

 Rolf's superb model is finished as Do 217 M-1, coded "K7 + HK" of 1.Gruppe / 2.Staffel Aufklärungsgruppe Nacht, Kastrup, Danmark, winter 1945. The Do 217 M-1’s of the specialist night recce unit Aufklärungsgruppe Nacht were equipped with camera equipment (Rüstsatz 6) in the rear bomb bay and flash bombs in the front bay, flying night recce in the region of the North Sea and the Baltic from airfields in Danmark through the winter of 1945.  

Wednesday 25 April 2012

First Bf 109s in Spain - Günther Lützow Legion Condor Bf 109 A

From Heiko Fuchs Ebay sales a nice series depicting various scenes of the Legion Condor arriving in Spain - a view of the 24 troop transports carrying some 6,500 men seen off Cadiz in late 1936. Assigned the type number '6' the first Bf 109s shipped to Spain were 'A' models - which had no provision for an engine-mounted cannon - and were coded 6-3 to 6-18 , an initial batch of 16 aircraft. 'Altertum' (first pic below) was Günther Lützow's 6-10 (Bf 109 A-E, SAM Modeller's Datafile, Lynn Ritger). Lützow first flew the Bf 109 on 14 December 1936. These first Messerschmitts in Spain suffered a variety of  teething problems - mostly with their Jumo 210 engines. In addition they had fixed pitch two-bladed wooden propellers and the manually cocked machine-guns were prone to jamming.

Although impressed with the machine's performance - "gegen die Messerschmitt wirkt die He 51 wie ein verblühtes Mädchen" - Lützow commented on the type's teething problems; " I have been here in Seville two weeks and there is just one problem after another. Mostly minor niggles - first the tail wheel, then the water pump, then the undercarriage. Repairs take time and the hours add up. While doing some circuits, my Jumo quit and I had to make an emergency landing, fortunately without breaking anything..."  (quoted in Trautloft, " Als Jagdflieger in Spanien..") The B model featured among other improvements a Hamilton variable pitch metal propeller and the type soon proved superior to most Republican fighters and at least equal to the 1-16 - " the undercarriage is also retractable -like the new Heinkel transports - and like that of the Russian fighters which have been giving us such a hard time.."

Bf 109 Modellers Datafile author Lynn Ritger commenting on this photo series at hyperscale;  " I have often wondered where and when the Spanish Emils received their overall RLM  63 Lichtgrau uppersurfaces... well, this sequence ('beim bemalen ' - lit. being painted up) provides some evidence that they were repainted after delivery. Not sure what airbase this is at, but this view shows three Emils on the ramp, having just been sprayed in 63; the fuselage octane triangle has been applied to the center one before the masking was even taken off the canopy! "

Lower image is a nice view of the J.88 Zylinder Hut - top hat - emblem

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Der Reichsmarschall bei Oberst Galland JG 26 (Audembert, Kanalfront, Bf 109 F WNr 6750)

Auf einem Feldflugplatz im Westen  - ' at an airfield in the West', cover feature in Der Adler 01-1942.
Goering's visit to JG 26 at Audembert on the Kanalfront, 5 December 1941 to announce Galland's appointment as General der Jagdflieger. At the time Galland was the most 'successful' Jagdflieger on the Kanalfront with 95 victory claims according to the 'Der Adler' feature. This new view (above) of the ceremony is currently on offer at Heino Fuchs Ebay sales

The aircraft is one of Galland's Friedrichs, WNr. 6750? with its non-standard armament configuration - note the 20 mm MG FF cannon protruding from the wing leading edge in the view above. Supposedly only one of Galland's F-2s had the wing-mounted cannon. (designated F-6/U in Caldwell/Michulec). Rudder marking featured '69' + 25 additional bars.

Dornier Do 217 M - the Luftwaffe's best bomber

Currently at koelsch333's Ebay sales courtesy of Marco is this nice set of Do 217s including what may be an M-4 GB+CV on the compass-swinging platform at Rechlin according to the caption. The 'M' series was the DB 603 in-line engined variant and Rechlin log books from December 1942 to May 1943 included frequent references to an 'M-4' apparently used for de-icing and cabin heating tests as well as high-altitude testing of the DB 603s.  The 'N' variant was also tested with DB 603 engines at Rechlin as seen in the final image in this series. 

Tuesday 17 April 2012

The last flight of Lt. Paul Kaschuba and 'Black 13' - the story behind the photo (Me 410 II./ZG 26 Flak 43) Zerstörer defending the Reich, Reichsverteidigung

Recent issues of Flugzeug Classic magazine have been packed with Luftwaffe features, photos and artwork and are highly recommended to readers of the Luftwaffe blog. The April issue (No 4, 2012) has a fascinating piece compiled by Gerhard Kaschuba, nephew of Lt. Paul Kaschuba, who attempts a reconstruction of his Uncle's last flight on 12 May 1944 at the controls of Me 410 W.Nr 10241 'Black 13' of II./ ZG 26  - Kaschuba was shot down in the vicinity of Plauen during an attack against US 8th AF bombers. Gerhard Kaschuba believes that this well-known photo taken from the 388th BG B-17 'Lady Godiva' during the raid depicts 'Black 13' on 12 May 1944, the date the aircraft and its pilot were lost.
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 .."

(Close-up view of 'black 13' from the larger photo courtesy of Peter Kassak for the Luftwaffe blog..)

Up to April 1944 this aircraft (pic above via Eddie Nielinger-Creek ) was flown under operational conditions by Erprobungskommando 25 under Hptm. Horst Geyer. The aircraft - originally built as a Me 210 during August 1943 in Augsburg - mounted a Flak 43 (3.7 cm)  heavy cannon in the nose and was fitted with a ZFR  (Zielfernrohr) telescopic sight. Lt. Paul Kaschuba joined the Zerstörerstaffel of Erprobungskommando 25 on 2 May 1943 and between May 1943 and January 1944 flew at least 25 operational combat sorties with this unit, receiving the Frontflugspange in Bronze  - 25 flights being the requirement for the bronze fighter pilot's combat clasp, awarded to Kaschuba on 19 January 1944. Unfortunately the pilot's Flugbuch has not survived although author Kaschuba has attempted to reconstruct some of the detail of  his Uncle's brief combat career.

On 8 October 1943 Paul Kaschuba claimed a 2nd Bomb Division B-24 shot down for which he received the EK II and on 10 October 1943 was himself shot down during the raid on Münster while flying a Bf 110. During early 1944 he was assigned to fly the Flak 43-equipped Me 410. Ground and air firing tests of the heavy cannon were carried out at Erprobungsstelle Travemünde and in April 1944 two Flak 43-equipped Me 410s were assigned from the Ekdo. 25 to II./ ZG 26 at Königsberg/Neumark along with the crew of Lt. Paul Kaschuba and Fw. Karl Bredemeier. During this period the Me 410s of II./ ZG 26 were equipped with the BK 5 heavy cannon as seen in the photos here. 12 May 1944, -the first day of an all-out American air offensive against German oil and synthetic fuel production plants and installations - would be Paul Kaschuba's first and last sortie with II./ZG 26. Author Gerhard Kaschuba tracked down some of the Me 410 crews that flew on this mission and relates their accounts. Crew members interviewed include Fritz Buchholz, Walter Fritz and Richard Wilde of 6. Staffel ZG 26- a brief extract from the rare personal recollections of one of these veterans drawn from Gerhard Kaschuba's feature follows ;

Richard Wilde; " the Kommandeur Hptm. Günther Weyl brought us in behind the B-17s on a wide curving right-hand turn with a slight height advantage allowing for accurate firing. During our closing approach my right neighbour caught fire and peeled away with a half-roll. I managed seven or eight firing rounds with the heavy cannon with no problems. Even the smaller cannon worked well that day. I could see the impacts of my firing on the right inboard engine of the B-17 I was attacking but I took numerous hits as we closed in. I could hear the impacts and see their effects on the port wing. My radio operator Karl Lapsie reported that very hot oil was coming into his compartment, burning his legs. As I continued my attack oily smoke started to fill the cabin and when I unleashed my last cannon shell, flames erupted in the cockpit. We were right  alongside the B-17's huge tail fin when I rolled the aircraft away to port, jettisoning the canopy at the same time.."

Further reading;

Gerd Kaschuba's original article now translated and comprehensively enlarged with new accounts and photos appears in this blog writer's "Luftwaffe Fighters -combat on all Fronts" (Mortons, 2021) in collaboration with Gerd Kaschuba.

Messerschmitt Me 210/410 Hornisse - an illustrated Production History (Classic)
Flugzeug Classic magazine April 2012 "Der letzte Flug des Leutnant Paul Kaschuba"
Me 410 in Combat - Kagero
Luftwaffe Viermot Aces  1942-45 (Osprey, R. Forsyth)

scribble pattern camouflage schemes of JG 5 and JG 77

Deployed as far apart as the frozen wastes of the Artic circle and the sun-baked deserts of North Africa, Luftwaffe units had to improvise new camouflage schemes for their aircraft when operating over such diverse territories. One of these schemes was a scribble pattern adopted by various Staffeln of I./JG 77 and III./JG 5 operating over such disparate landscapes…enabling the aircraft to ‘melt’ into the terrain when over-flying the huge open spaces -whether of ice or sand – yet taking into account the  darker shapes of the various features of those landscapes.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 "Black 14" of 8./JG 5. Here the disc aft of the fuselage Balkenkreuz was an indication that this machine is on the strength of III. Gruppe of JG 5, whereas its use would ordinarily indicate a IV. Gruppe machine. The usual marking for a III. Gruppe aircraft would have been a wavy or vertical bar.
Currently on blackzebraelefant's Ebay sales

Below; Bf 109 G-2 "Black 2" belonging to 2./JG 77 most probably photographed at Matmata (central Tunisia) in early 1943. Note the white spinner, wingtips and wide theatre fuselage band around the rear fuselage aft of the Balkenkreuz. Behind the fuselage band is the "top hat" (Zylinderhut) emblem previously seen on the aircraft of I.(J)/LG 2 (the Gruppe having been redesignated I./JG 77 in January 1942) and before that on the Bf109s of the Legion Condor’s 2.J/88.


Tuesday 10 April 2012

Hptm. Hansgeorg Bätscher I./KG 100 - bombing Moscow

He 111 H 6N + AB of the Stab I./KG 100 photographed on the occasion of the 500th Feindflug (combat sortie) flown by the Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Hansgeorg Bätscher on 30 July 1943 in Stalino or Kirowograd. Bätscher was awarded the RK on 21 December 1942 and the Oakleaves on 24.3.1944.

Bätscher (above, second from the left) was a veteran of the night bombing assault launched against Moscow during the summer of 1941 on Hitler's express directive (No. 33) " in retaliation for Soviet attacks against Budapest and Helsinki..". New bomber units - KG 4, KG 28 and KGr. 100 - had arrived from the West to strengthen the attack force. The first Luftwaffe raid against the political and military centre of the Soviet Union was flown on the night of 21/22 July 1941 by 195 bombers. Moscow was heavily defended by anti-aircraft batteries and ringed by belts of searchlights, " doch dann wurde Moskau zu einem feuerspeienden Vulkan " (Balke p 86) - an ordeal for the crews that compared with operating over London at the height of the Blitz. According to Bätscher "the night raids against Moscow were some of the most demanding sorties that I ever flew on the Eastern Front. The anti-aircraft fire was extremely intense and very accurate.." (Bergstrom, Barbarossa).
 Ofw.Broich a crew member with 3./KG 2 described his first night over Moscow (Balke in Der Luftkreig in Europa, page 334 ) ;

"Nachtangriff auf die Stadt Moskau, bombing altitude 3,000 metres. Those were our orders. Our Do 17s  had not been blacked up for night operations, and we were not particularly happy about that. There was a perceptible feeling of unease among the crew since this was so different from our normal missions. Our flight to the target seemed very long, no doubt because we were chasing the dawn, the first glimmers of which could be seen in the sky. As we approached Moscow we could see that the attack was already underway up ahead of us. As we dropped the first of our bombs over our designated target zone a searchlight caught us. Almost instantly up to thirty more latched onto us while the first flak shells exploded close by. We jettisoned the rest of our bombs and began our running battle with the flak..our pilot Uffz. Heimann tried everything to get loose - wild turns, changes of height, throttling back the engine, while flight engineer Hans started to throw newspapers and leaflets overboard - as was the practise over England- but all to no avail. Peter got us out of there by throwing the machine into a steep dive and we plunged headlong towards a less heavily defended sector of the city .."

At a cost of seven bombers, just over one hundred tons of high explosives and incendiaries were dropped. Subsequent raids were flown with ever diminishing numbers of aircraft and the Luftwaffe's 'offensive' against Moscow rapidly petered out as Soviet defences continued to strengthen and difficulties grew elsewhere on the front..

Bätscher flew more bomber sorties than any other Kampfflieger in the Luftwaffe, some 650 and finished the war at the controls of the Arado Ar 234.

Below; two views of a I./KG 100 He 111 undergoing an engine change, Kirowograd Sept./October 1943

Monday 9 April 2012

Pre-war scenes from Wiesbaden (Do 17, He 51, Hs 123, Bf 108)

Pre-war scenes from Wiesbaden (Do 17, He 51, Hs 123, Bf 108). A small sample from another nice set of images currently on offer from koelsch333 Ebay sales and shown here courtesy of Marco.

Sunday 8 April 2012

new Luftwaffe books - translated extract from Roderich Cescotti's 'Langstreckenflug' ( KG 100, Dornier Do 217 M-11, Henschel Hs 293)

  A translated extract from pages 179-180 of Roderich Cescotti's recently published memoir 'Langstreckenflug' with permission of the publisher Kurt Braatz of Editions 296. Cescotti describes KG 100 operations mounted against French resistance 'partisans' during June and July 1944 and relates an account of a Henschel HS 293 glide bomb sortie flown against Allied shipping off the Normandy coast.


" ...The fate met by Oblt. Heinrich Kirchhoff and his crew was particularly cruel. Returning from a combat sortie their Do 217 was hit by our own Luftwaffe anti-aircraft fire and they were forced to bail out over Marmande between Bordeaux and Toulouse, where they were taken captive by French resistance partisans and shot out of hand. By this stage the “French underground” were starting to represent a considerable danger for us. The quarters used by our various Staffeln, by the Geschwader and Gruppe Staffs were widely spread throughout Toulouse and the surrounding area, and the only means of staying in touch was by telephone network or vehicle. We soon had to forbid personnel from going out on their own as it had become too dangerous. Any activities in the city had to be carried in groups of men no smaller than three, each armed with his service pistol. With their liberation so close at hand all the pent-up hatred and sheer malice that the French felt towards us was now given expression....

On 19 June I received my first mission orders to bomb French resistance fighters - Bandbekämpfung – anti-partisan bombing. At 05:30 that morning we were airborne from Toulouse Francazal to fly a combined operation with Wehrmacht ground forces against a Maquis encampment located in the Pyrenees, dropping 500 kg bombs for no visible results. Less than one month later on 15 July at the request of our hard-pressed troops we bombed a village – dropping a ton of incendiaries on two barns and a farmstead, as well as pouring fire from our onboard armament into buildings. The targets were obliterated. This was what was meant by Terroristenbekämpfung – anti-terrorist operations. On our return I noted “ some shrapnel damage in the fuselage” which meant that we had come under fire – but what did this mean in reality. That both sides had sunk to a level of warfare that could do nothing but bring shame on those practising it. Time and again shot-down crews were being murdered in cold blood or simply disappearing never to be seen again. “Terror” on both sides escalated right up to the deployment on the German side of the radio-guided Hs 293 missile against ground targets..

I am unable to state exactly how many such operations were carried out by KG 100 as my duties were principally on the technical side. This meant that I was back in Germany for a few days during this period securing all that we needed for our aircraft. Nor was I in Toulouse on 20 July 1944 when news of the attempt on Hitler’s life came through – I was at the controls of the Geschwaderstab’s Ju 52 en route from Giebelstadt to Lüneburg..obviously we discussed Stauffenberg and his action in my immediate entourage and were agreed that this was a lost opportunity that should and could have been better exploited. It was not until after the war that we realised the fundamental weakness of Stauffenberg’s plan – that the prinicpal organiser of the plot was also its chief protagonist. No one believed in the much-heralded Endsieg or final victory – or at least no-one I knew.

t When, on the evening of 7 August 1944 I took off from Toulouse Blagnac on my first ‘normal’ combat sortie – that is, against regular Allied combatants- for almost a year, the Allies were well-established in northern France, having already taken St. Malo and Brest and encircled the principal U-boot bases of Lorient and St. Nazaire. Our target was the Bay of Avranches, objective of the German counter thrust across the base of the Cotentin peninsula through which the flow of Allied resources were pouring. .. . I was at the controls of one of only 37 examples of the M-11 variant of the Dornier Do 217 that had been produced – in my view the best Luftwaffe bomber to enter service prior to 1945. The Do 217 M-11 was powered by two DB 603 in-line engines and had a wing span some five metres greater than that of conventional Dornier Do 217 variants. This and the 3,500 hp developed by the power plants gave the type excellent performance – it was fast, superior in the climb and handled well with no vices whatever the situation. Under the fuselage hung an Hs 293 and my observer Carl Hintermayr had the latest long-range guidance system at his disposal , a FuG 203 c ‘Kehl IV’ which was used for guiding both the Henschel glide bomb and the Fritz X stand-off bomb. We flew north-north-east across France through clear night skies. We could see the battle zone from afar, pencil shafts of light probing the sky, searchlights marking out a flak belt that had been established around the Allied landing zone. At an altitude of 4,000 metres we had no difficulty picking out the bay of Avranches, literally teeming with shipping of all types. There was no way that we would be hauling the Hs 293 back to Toulouse. I started to let down through the flak belt so that we could get a clearer picture of what was going on. There, directly ahead of us, a huge silhouette, but I had to break off before Hintermayr could get a clear fix on his screen. We came around for a second try. Now everything was set. The dark silhouette was some two or three kilometres ahead of us. We sped directly towards it, holding the aircraft on course, as straight as a die, to make my observer’s task of guiding the missile onto the target as easy as possible. Then, a barely perceptible hissing, a diffuse glow of light from under our belly and a red point of light shot away from the aircraft into the darkness ahead of us – the Hs 293 had been launched. I held my course and height although by now we were coming under heavy flak fire. Only seconds to go until a huge explosion ahead of us. Suddenly, the red light at the rear of the bomb was snuffed out, extinguished – we had lost the missile! There was no way of directing it any further. Full of rage and disappointment I continued towards our target determined at least to let him have a burst from the twin MGs in our nose, but the ship – a destroyer – was by now on full alert and was firing back. I hauled the Dornier into a hard climb out of the danger zone, curving into a tight turn southwards and home. We were starting to feel a little safer when suddenly tracers flashed past our ears – at that moment our radio operator reported at least two twin-engine machines on our tail! ...."

Translation by Neil Page

Video depicting a Henschel Hs 293 being loaded under a Luftwaffe bomber. The Henschel Hs 293 was an anti-ship guided missile: a radio-controlled 'glider bomb' with a rocket engine slung underneath it, designed by Herbert A. Wagner. The weapon consisted of a modified standard 500 kg SZ bomb with a thin metal shell equipped with a rocket engine  a pair of wings, and an 18-channel radio receiver, getting its signals from a Kehl transmitting set. The rocket provided for only a short burst of speed making range dependent on the height of launch.
KG 100 mounted more Hs 293 sorties against the Allied advance out of Normandy, specifically targeting road infrastructure. Between the 2nd and 6th of August 1944 the weapon was used to attack bridges over the River See and River Selume at the southern end of the Cherbourg peninsula - Patton's forces were pouring through these bottlenecks. Again the attacks were made at night, but only slight damage was done to the bridge at Pontaubault for the loss of at least five aircraft..