Saturday 30 June 2012

Bomber Command memorial - Green Park, London

Located close to Buckingham Palace, the Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled on Friday 29 June - we visited today, although it was difficult to get close due to the crowds in Green Park.

While the merits or otherwise of the bombing campaign have become a subject of controversy, what has not is the fact that 55,576 Bomber Command aircrew died fighting a battle in a war. Many of those have no known graves. Their bravery and commitment should have been acknowledged a long time ago. The aircrew were not responsible for the tactics or the targets. And while criticism tends to focus primarily on Dresden, operationally that raid was no different to any other. A number of factors though made it exceptional - the Nazi authorities had left the city defenceless and for the attackers everything went to plan - from Bomber Command's point of view the raid ran almost flawlessly. If this had been the case every time a major city was raided there would have been dozens of Dresdens. " the time of Dresden Jews were still being gassed in February 1945 and the Gestapo was still shooting people - if Dresden shortened the war by one day, then it was worth it.."  (Bomber Command veteran on ITV's "Bomber Command" documentary.)
Perhaps Harris should have been subjected to a greater level of control by his military and political masters. But by late 1944/early 1945 Churchill already had an eye on post war elections and was ready to disassociate himself from the strategic air offensive, despite being one of its principal architects. He thus set in motion a grave injustice that has never really been put right. This memorial at last marks the sacrifice of the men of Bomber Command.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Luftwaffe modelling - new Bachem 349 Natter in 1:72 from, test shots of Revell Heinkel He 219 in 1:32 scale

First in a new line of plastic injection molded kits with etch details, Bachem Natter in 1:72, first test shot build by Libor.

"...this is the first Hauler injection molded aircraft kit. I built the very first test shot without having at hand the etched parts and decals that are not yet available (the gun sight came from spare box). Therefore I built a "generic" example as found after the war. The kit is on sale now.."

Download the latest Hauler newsletter for sprue shots etc

The first test shots of the forthcoming Revell Heinkel He 219 have been released. See more at Revell's home page with some sprue shots at the Deutscher Plastik Modellbau Verband site. Parts count will be over 350 according to Scale Model News.

Good Heinkel He 219 reference and images - including an in-depth look at Ron Ferguson's He 219 research paper to be published in hardback book form by Red Kite - can be found here

Around the forums;

From the rather tricky Italeri 1:48 th Ju 87 kit this is Roman's  lovely B 2. Visit Roman's forum here World of scale modelling forum

Jan's Supermodel Bv 138 Seedrache and Heinkel He 115

" It took me 3 months to make a presentable model of my "Seedrache", but here it is. Decals by Revell (Italeri) and Xtradecal. Long range reconnaissance and transport flying boat, belonging to 2.Staffel KüstenFlieger Gruppe 406, WNr.0310158, 1942-1943, based on the catapult launching ship Bussard, Northern Norwegian coast, Trondheim. Crashed during landing on 13.06 1943 near Ilsvikøra, Trondheim, after being damaged by Beaufighters near the Shetlands..."

Sunday 17 June 2012

Moskito hunting in the Luftwaffe (2) (Bf 109 nightfighters -wilde Sau)

The following is a translation of an article - with some additional material - that appeared in the late 70s in the French magazine 'Le Fana de L'Aviation' written by 'Le Fana' staff writer Jean-Yves Lorant. Translation copyright retained. ..

The De Havilland 98 Mosquito - of wooden construction and aerodynamically pure lines - was the scourge of the Luftwaffe fighter force during the last two years of the war. Powered by two Rolls Royce Merlins, capable of out-running the latest Luftwaffe fighters and hauling a bomb load of 1,800 kg - even a lone Mosquito could send entire city populations to the air raid shelters and proved a real thorn in the night defences of the Reich. From the summer of 1943 special units were formed to combat the Mosquito menace - Hermann Graf's JGr. 50 enjoyed a spectacular lack of success against the fast British twins. The Wilde Sau units, JG 300, 301, and JG 302 claimed no more than a dozen Mosquitos shot down during the first half of 1944 - but then these specialist night-fighters were largely turned over to the day fighter role during May 1944 under the pressure of the US Air force bombing offensive. Luftwaffe commanders were to place their hopes in the formation of a specialist anti-Moskito night fighting unit during the summer of 1944 - NJG 11 flying the latest high-altitude and high speed models of the Bf 109. On paper at least, these G-14/AS and G-10 variants possessed a turn of speed which enabled them to catch a Mosquito - provided they were loitering at high altitude along one of the many 'corridors' through which the Mosquitos penetrated German air space. We recently met and interviewed two former NJG 11 pilots. Their accounts shed new light on this little-known aspect of the night air battles over the Reich ...

Feldwebel Fritz Gniffke  ".. I was born on 28 Decmber 1920 in Danzig and spent a year as an instructor at the A/B 9 flying school in Grottkau where I acquired a little night flying experience. In August 1943 I was posted to the wilde Sau night fighter training school at Altenburg where I achieved the three blind flying Scheine -'licences'- qualifying me for night ops on the Fw 190 and Bf 109. It was while I was undergoing this training that I learnt that new single-engine night fighting Staffeln were being set up and that recruits were being sought from the ranks of flying instructors and other experienced airmen. On 10 September 1943 I received my first operational posting - to 6. Staffel JG 302 stationed in Husum. There we were told that being able to pinpoint English bombers over cities on fire didn't require any super human qualities - their silhouettes were readily visible and in any event the searchlight batteries would assist us. On clear nights lighting conditions were similar to those that might be encountered by day. I'm afraid all this left me rather sceptical. On 23 September 1943 I was airborne at 21:53 for my first combat mission at the controls of Fw 190 A-4 "Yellow 9" - as luck would have it the sortie proved to be a complete fiasco.. The controllers ordered us to orbit for thirty minutes but when the call came through for all 'wilde Sau' to proceed to Mannheim - the actual objective of the British bombers - I was much too far to the south. By the time I arrived over the city I could see several fires blazing on the ground while the searchlights continued to sweep the skies - but there was no sign of any English the end I managed to put down at Lippstadt at 23:03 after narrowly avoiding a collision with a Bf 110 in the knees were trembling as I climbed down from the cockpit and made my way over to the control room to find a telephone and report that I had landed safely. It was pouring with rain.."  (to be continued)

Below; Fritz Gniffke -seen here on the left- with his 6./ JG 302 Bf 109 G-6 'N Yellow 7' in which he claimed a B-24 on a day sortie, 11 April 1944  (note; not 12 April as I previously captioned this image, apologies!)

This image has appeared in a number of books (eg Brett Green's 'Augsburgs Last Eagles' by Eagle Editions) - but is not always correctly captioned. 'White 11' of I./NJG 11 was regularly flown by Fw. Fritz Gniffke and this scan is via Lorant/Gniffke. The aircraft is a G-10 with Erla canopy and exhaust flame dampers, rare for a G-10. The pilot head armour appears to have been retained which in itself was also unusual for a 109 Moskito hunter. Camouflage was the standard grey scheme. Gniffke flew sorties in this aircraft up until 14 January 1945 - picture was taken on 27 September 1944 at Bonn Hangelar.

Elsewhere on this blog, part 1 of my 'Moskito hunting' pieces  - Kurt Welter's 10./ NJG 11

Saturday 16 June 2012

Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 May 1941 - Johannes Kaufmann " Meine Flugberichte "

Me 110 E "S9+.L" of 3./SKG 210 over Cambrai, northern France, in April 1941

" ..on Saturday 10 May we arrived in Brussels after a long train journey and the following morning travelled on to Lille. From there we were bussed on to our new airfield at Merville driving through the bucolic countryside of northern France - of the war there was nothing to be seen.. Our group, freshly posted to SKG 210, comprised young Zerstörer crews just out of the 'destroyer' training school and included my radio operator Gefr. Schmidt and myself. Our Geschwader CO was Major Storp, Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Stricker and our Staffelkapitän Oblt. Forgatsch. The principal mission of our Geschwader was all-weather precision bombing sorties by day and night with the Bf 110. The Me 210 - after which our unit was named- was not yet available. On Tuesday 13 May we flew our first orientation flights, followed by navigation and practise bombing training sorties - the latter were flown against shipwrecks off the Channel coast. These were the sort of sorties that we weren't taught at the Zerstörer training school at Schleissheim. Another deficiency in our training programme that we were to make good as quickly as we could was night flying in the Bf 110. On 18 May 1941 we took off at 23:15 from Merville heading out over the Channel coast. We climbed to 3,000 metres and once through the cloud deck visibility in the light of the moon was good. We had to maintain strict radio silence and had no ground navigation aids. Course, height and speed had to be scrupulously maintained in order to find our way safely back home.. While we had to keep a keen watch  out for English night fighters there were no untoward events on this flight. Shortly after crossing back over the coast we let down through the clouds and once in the vicinity of the airfield requested the very sparse airfield lighting be switched on, which was just of sufficient help to line up for an  approach and touch down. This was our first night sortie 'at the front' and as such was of particular significance for us. Our daytime navigation flights took us to Le Bourget, Calais, Chateaudun and Paderborn. In the view of our Staffelkapitän we quickly reached a point where we could be declared 'einsatzreif' - ready for combat - and awaited our first 'Feindflug' ...some combat sorties were planned but always cancelled, sometimes at the last moment, without us ever knowing why. It was around this period though that the Fuehrer's Deputy, Rudolf Hess, flew to Great Britain in his Bf 110 and there was much rumour and speculation in our personal conversations. Those wishing for a speedy end to the war and peace kept their own counsel though.."

extract from Johannes Kaufmann - 'Meine Flugberichte'

images of 3./SKG 210 Bf 110s from Michael Meyer's current Ebay sales

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Sting of the Wasp!..Me 110 E ZG 1 - Wespengeschwader Bf 110s Johannes Kaufmann's " Meine Flugberichte "

Me 110 E belonging to 3./ZG 1 in Bjelgorod photographed on 5 June 1942. Sitzbereitschaft or cockpit readiness for the pilot Uffz Lußki and his BF Uffz Karl-Fritz Schröder

M. Meyer's Ebay sales

From Der Adler - article entitled 'the Sting of the Wasp'

“..Feared by the Soviets, the Messerschmitt Zerstörer 110 continues to demonstrate its superb all-round versatility and hard-hitting fire power in virtually all of the hot-spots on the Eastern Front as our forces fight the hard defensive battles of the Russian winter. This is especially true when the Me 110s strike at enemy airfields and heavily defended pin-point targets in the interior. Whether strafing enemy columns moving forward or destroying prepared positions with bombing raids and hitting railway locomotives and supply depots with great destructive effect, our Zerstörergeschwader are deployed with great success..”

New Year's greetings card from the Wespengeschwader on the Eastern Front

and, below, the cover of  Johannes Kaufmann's " Meine Flugberichte " (lit. My flight reports..'My flight log..). Kaufmann ended the war flying Bf 109s with JG 4 but during 1942 was a ZG 1 Zerstörer pilot. The jacket photo shows Kaufmann with a wreath to mark his 100th combat sortie being interviewed by a PK reporter. Brief extracts from his book are featured in the Classic Pubs Zerstörer volumes - unfortunately Kaufmann's is one of the dullest Luftwaffe 'memoirs' ever written...note the prominent (cockpit air) intake on the nose, an identifying feature of the 'E'/'F' sub-types..

R4M rocket-toting Fw 190 Dora - Doras and rockets at Schongau

Close-up views of a R4M rocket-toting Fw 190 Dora-9 filmed by a US 101 Div. cameraman in the winter of 1945-6 at Schongau according to the poster on youtube.. Still extracts from this footage were previously exploited in Vol II of the Eagle Editions Fw 190 Dora volume, although were first described in the David Wadman/Brown Experten Decals No.3 book published way back in 1995.

The film was shot on 02 May 1945 according to Crandall. The machine is identified in that publication as Fieseler-built Dora-9 'white 52', possibly 'chevron white 52' of 1./JG 101 and it is suggested that this unit/field served possibly as a satellite field/unit for the aircraft of the Verbandsführerschule General der Jagdflieger based 30 miles away at Bad Wörishofen.. The camouflage and markings infer an aircraft from the 600601-600680 Werknummer series. Note the lower cowling is painted in yellow. There are 13 white-tipped rockets on each wooden underwing rack.

The R4M was the only air-to-air rocket to see service with the Luftwaffe and its effectiveness was successfully demonstrated by the Me 262. Its warhead contained a high-explosive charge weighing some 440 grams  (R=Rakete, 4= kg weight, M=Minenkopf). During February 1945 an entire Staffel of Dora-9s had been assigned to test unit JGr. 10 at Parchim to trial the R4M rockets under operational conditions and when this unit was disbanded during April 1945 the surviving aircraft went to at least two other units, JG 26 and possibly JG 301 - although Crandall quotes Cescotti, TO of JG 301, who asserts that no such transfer to JG 301 was realised. Luftwaffe fighters arriving in Norway at the end of the war included a number of Doras belonging to II./JG 26 mounting R4M rockets.

Note too the "52" in small black figures (partly covered by snow) on the wing leading edge. Similar leading-edge markings were seen on aircraft serving with the Verbandsführerschule General der Jagdflieger. The pilots seat is on the ground behind the wing. The aircraft featured a blown canopy - the plexiglas is shattered here..note the absence of a spinner spiral, another feature of Verbandsführerschule aircraft.

Friday 1 June 2012

Luftwaffe modelling - Junkers Ju 88 'Experten' and 'Bomber' 72nd scale decal sheets from AIMS (John McIllmurray)

Those modellers looking for inspiration and a suitable colour scheme and markings for the new Revell Ju 88 A-4 have John McIllmurray and AIMs to thank for two timely new Ju 88 decal sheets in 1:72 scale. As far as I can tell the colourful Revell box-art scheme is conjecture, while the second option in the kit is a rather bland Sandbraun LG 1 aircraft, so the new AIMs Ju 88 'Bomber' and  Ju 88 'Experten' sheets are recommended if you wish to build a rather more 'accurate' & 'named' Ju 88 based on some in-depth research. On the 'Experten' sheet John gives us the option of building loco Experte Lt. Udo Cordes  9.(Eis)/ KG 3 machine- including rudder markings for 81 locos and two aircraft destroyed -  and the A-4 of 4./KG 3 Staffelkapitän Oblt. Kohnke, one of the first bomber 'ace in a day' crews after their exploits in May 1940 over France. The Kohnke rudder score also features an additional four Russian fighters. Kohnke was wounded in action on 27 September 1942 while serving as Kommandeur of II./KG 54. You get no fewer than ten individual Ju 88 markings on each sheet - other aces on the 'Experten' sheet include Knud Gmelin of V./KG 40 (and ZG 1) and a trio of G-6 Nachtjagd aces, Samrau, Briegleb and Oblt. Herbert Koch of 1./ NJG 3. The Ju 88 'Bomber' sheets also features some nice subjects - a white Russian Front KG 76 A-4, the A-4 of II./KG 77's Kommandeur Hptm. Heinrich Paepcke who was lost over Malta on 17 October 1942 and a very nice Ju 88 S-3 of KG 66 in a squiggle scheme.

As you can see here all markings options on these sheets are presented via a series of accurate and well-drawn fully referenced colour side view profiles and detailed text. John even provides a critique of the Kagero photos on which a number of these options are based - the photo captions of the Kagero Ju 88 monographs being the weak point of these particular references. Other interesting subjects are drawn from AirDoc, Luftwaffe in Focus and the Stipdonk/Meyer volumes. The painting guide also features a generic upper and lower surface view of the RLM 70/71 splinter pattern so that you don't have go hunting through a pile of references. The decals by 'Fantasy Printshop' are thin, perfectly in register and have minimal carrier film and will of course require a certain amount of care to apply. I fully intend to select one of these options for my own build as it nears completion so stay tuned for more on these superb sheets. These sheets and much more for the Ju 88 fan are available directly from John at
John is an enthusiast (and very skilled) modeller himself and provides us lesser mortals with a fantastic product at a reasonable price so please do support him!