Thursday 30 April 2015

Wander Zirkus Ubben Kanonenboote Bf 109 G-6 Gunboats on Sicily 1943

nice side view of a line-up of G-6 Trop gunboats of III./ JG 77 on Sicily, May 1943. Note Herz-As 'Ace of Hearts' emblem on forward on the image to view large.

Above; Bf 109 G-6 W.Nr. 15 ... "Gelbe 15", "Wander Zirkus Ubben", Lt. Kurt Ubben, 9./JG 77, probably Chilivani, 1943. Reverse of photo is dated May 1943.  Currently on offer here

Junkers Ju 88, 3Z+ER, KG 77, Besatzung nach der Notlandung - Ebay photo find #109

 KG 77 Junkers Ju 88, 3Z+ER crash-landed near Dubrovnik, 8 February 1942..

Above; crew seen examining the wreckage following their crash-landing.." a view from inside the fuselage.."

" Dear Herr Deicke!

In order to save you unnecessary worry I must inform you that over the next few days you will not receive any mail from your son.  Returning from a combat sortie your son's crew had to carry out an emergency landing most probably because of bad weather. Despite communications difficulties we have received a telegram informing us that the crew are at an Italian field hospital at Ragusa in Croatia and that they are all safe and well. From this we must assume that the crew were able to bale out and have escaped injury. As soon as I know more I will of course let you know..."

Fritz Deicke crew at an Italian field hospital during February 1942 and flight surgeon's authorisation for three weeks convalescence dated 8 March 1942..

Photo set currently on offer here

Saturday 25 April 2015

Claes Sundin - new profile book Luftwaffe Attack Aircraft- published on 5 May

announcing a new profile book from Claes Sundin...

    " I would like to inform you that my new profile book - Luftwaffe Attack Aircraft - is now printed and will be sent out to customers on May the 5th..

 This book follows the same layout of my previous four profile books;

 - I have included 90 additional artworks
 - all the 124 profiles feature a short text, dealing with topics like: unit history, the mission flown or the crew that flew the machine.
 - Included in the book you will also find a chapter about Luftwaffe Attack missions and a description of the five aircraft types included.
 - 85% of the profiles are newly created for this book and the remainder have been previously published but are here updated to my latest standards.

 Definitely my best work to date. cheers,  Claes "

 To read more about Claes' stunning new profile book, see photos from the printing of the book and place an order, go to

Thursday 23 April 2015

Aces of the Luftwaffe - Peter Jacobs (Frontline books, 2014) - Luftwaffe book review

..Interest in the subject of Luftwaffe "aces" appears never-ending. Presumably any decent military publisher needs at least one such title in his catalogue. Pen and Sword imprint Frontline has recently added this volume from ex-RAF Phantom and Tornado F3 air defence navigator Peter Jacobs,  the latest to chronicle the life and times of the Luftwaffe's fighter pilots in action. A 2014 Frontline Books release, Jacobs' 'Aces of the Luftwaffe' is a comprehensive and reasonably informative summary of all those be-medalled Jagdflieger on all fronts. With his background you would expect Jacobs to have a keen understanding of air warfare and his descriptions of air combat are well done. However neither the cover nor the title quite convey what this book actually deals with. Mostly it is a pretty dry history of the Luftwaffe in combat from its furtive foundation in March 1935 to its demise with the German collapse in 1945. It focuses only intermittently on the careers and individual experiences of the top German fighter aces - there are no biographies-  preferring to concentrate almost entirely on the broad historical context. Here's a good idea of the type of treatment here; the following paragraph excerpt covers the 7 July 1944 Oschersleben mission, the raid that saw IV (Sturm)./ JG 3 "blitz" the 445th BG..

Given that we know everything there is to know about Hartmann and all the other leading aces there are a number of things I always look for in a book like this - personal accounts, re-evaluation of some of the over-claimers scores etc etc. Firstly, I failed to find any discussion in Jacob's book of how the German Experten amassed their incredible individual tallies of aerial victories. He records - as if we didn't already know -  that 15 Luftwaffe fighter pilots achieved over 200 kills, with the 22 year old Erich Hartmann shooting down 352 enemy aircraft and surviving the war! Amazing - and he remains the most successful fighter pilot of all time. A further 91 Experten scored over 100 kills. By comparison the top British ace scored 47 and the top US ace 40. . Jacobs does not directly answer why this was so. Some indirect answers do emerge; the Luftwaffe operated for most of the war in a target rich environment with good (or better) equipment and more experienced pilots. Although the author doesn't say this, what drove many Jagdflieger - especially early on in the war - appears to have been an almost over-riding concern for the Abschussliste - the system of points and then decorations awarded for a certain number of 'victories'-  which was ultimately no more than personal ambition and the need for recognition. Combat may have been relentless in some theatres, but at least it was regularly punctuated by trips to Berlin to collect the latest medal upgrade..

There is no discussion in Jacob's book of the veracity of the leading aces claims totals, no discussion of 'over-claiming' per se - in fact the word doesn't even appear anywhere in the text- just the usual platitudes regarding the inherent reliability of the Luftwaffe's claims verification system "...which generated a lot of paperwork". Of the high Luftwaffe scorers there were doubtless some who over inflated their tallies. Thus Michulec in 'Luftwaffe Fighter Aces in the West' (Greenhill) refers to Helmut Wick - JG 2 Kommodore for a brief period during the Battle of Britain- as the 'greatest liar in the Luftwaffe'. While JG 2 may have been one of the Luftwaffe's leading fighter units, over-claiming was endemic in this unit as detailed on this blog here for the summer of 1941. By the same token, many claims were probably made in good faith and yet were entirely without any real foundation. In the heat of combat the ability to attribute specific losses to specific claimants, and thus tally up a score, becomes increasingly problematic. Indeed, it has never been clear who shot down Wick himself and as Andy Saunder's research has demonstrated 'friendly fire' is a not insignificant factor in air combat. Trying to work out "who got who" and who really "got the most" is pretty much a futile task.

 Given the above, in my view any list of  Luftwaffe aces should be open to constant re-evaluation and interpretation.  Jacobs' lists of aces and their 'victory totals' appeared to have been compiled directly from a host of previously published secondary sources. 'New' writers are presumably not aware that researchers like Ring occasionally added false names and victories into their lists to detect those using their material - for example the Foreman 'Nightfighter claims..' book contains a number of such entries. I always check Walther Dahl's 'score' in books like this - just to see if the author has read any recent 'research' ie the Lorant/Goyat JG 300 history. Here he has not - Dahl is still credited with 128 victories, a fanciful total which fails to stand up to any sort of examination. Recent Russian 'research' baldly states that Hartmann's actual score was probably no more than 80 enemy aircraft downed. Read more about this on this blog here. Even if authors like Jacobs give Khazanov's findings no credence whatsoever my feeling is that they should be at least discussed in a title like this.

Some of the author's statements I find slightly worrying. Writing about the end of the campaign in the West, Jacobs asserts; " for two months the Luftwaffe apparently stood idly by, while the RAF continued their rearmament apace.."  No mention of the huge losses in men and material - some 600-800 aircraft and over 2,000 flying personnel - sustained by the Luftwaffe in subjugating France and the Low Countries. No indication that facilities and infrastructure along the Channel coast were in ruins. The Luftwaffe was in dire need of the two-month pause prior to the assault on Britain.

 There are no personal accounts in Jacob's book. A discussion of the impact of the succession of honours and a comparison with the British system of duplicate awards (bars) would have been interesting and Jacobs is well placed to conduct it. But he does not. . .

To conclude, this book is a reasonably competent albeit dull history of the fighter arm of the Luftwaffe.. Of course I'm probably being a little unfair here - after all I've been reading about the Luftwaffe for a few years, so would always be struggling to find anything much new here. Jacob's bibliography doesn't extend beyond Osprey, Price, Spick, Goss and Caldwell (who seems only to have lent him a few JG 26 portrait photos) although he does name-check Prien. But then fails to list any of his works in the bibliography. He struggles with German terminology; I contacted the publisher with a spelling correction when I saw a mock-up of the original cover.  Ultimately Jacobs' book could have been so much more, so much better and so much more interesting. Recommended only if new to the subject I think. 

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Scenes from 6./ KG 53 - Ritterkreuz award to 6./KG 53 pilot Ofw. Waldemar Teige - Ofw. Heinz Gossow

...above, taken on the occasion of the presentation of the Ritterkreuz to 6./KG 53 pilot Ofw. Waldemar Teige on 10 June 1942 at Krowje Selo on the Eastern Front. Seen left, Generaloberst Keller is handing over the award to Teige which was for 12 Luftsiege (probably night-fighting) and around 240 combat sorties. Teige's aircraft - He 111 H-6 A1+AC -was hit by anti-aircraft fire during an attack on the rail station at Ostaschkow near Dno on 3 October 1942. Teige brought the aircraft back over German lines, enabling the crew to bale out successfully. However his own chute caught up on the aircraft's tail and he plunged to his death. Far right is Oblt. Walter Spellig.

below; He 111 H "A1+AP" flown by Staffelkapitän 6./ KG 53 Hptm Andreas Zahn returning from a sortie during 1941

More scenes from 6./ KG 53. Michael Meyer's current Ebay sales are here

Feting the 2000th sortie of 6./ KG 53 He 111 H in Krowjw Selo in Rußland during the summer of 1943. The sortie was flown by Ofw. Heinz Gossow and crew. - this is the same Heinz Gossow who went on to fly in the Defence of the Reich with JG 301. Below, Staffelkapitän Hptm Heinz Zöller is seen congratulating Ofw. Gossow. Zöllner was Kapitän of 6. Staffel from 11.6.1943 to 26.9.1943 and awarded the RK on 5 April 1944. He wa KIA on 5.11.1944.

Westfeldzug Storch, JG 2 emblem

currently on offer here from koelsch333 Ebay sales and posted here courtesy Marco

Nicely camouflaged Fi 156 C Storch "CG+BF" possibly belonging to JG 2 (note emblem under windscreen, thank you Tomas!). The seller identifies this as being from a 30 I.D photo group from the French campaign Westfeldzug - the camouflage finish appears to be 70/71 splinter with 02 overspray. In the JG 2 history similar types were used to scout out forward landing fields ahead of the advance.
Below expired ebay auction via Tomas Prusa on Facebook

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Horten Ho 229 V-3 at Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center (nr. Washington DC) - Zoukei-Mura 1/32nd Horten Ho 229 build review

some great pictures via Cynrik de Decker of the Horten Ho 229 V-3 at Udvar Hazy (nr. Washington DC), in restoration last week. Thanks to Cynrik for these great images; click on the images to view large

" ..Surrendered in 1945 in incomplete condition. A year later, at Freeman Field, the Americans estimated it would take 15 000 man hours to put the flying wing in the air. However, in this condition, it remains one of the most iconic aviation relics I ever saw..."

 The Horten Ho 229 being restored at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (photo credit Cynrik de Decker)

The Horten was essentially a pair of Jumos mounted in a tubular centre section framework enclosing the cockpit with wings attached.  Essentially a flying wing,  NASM's example is the V-3 prototype. Only one of the prototypes flew, and it crashed, but the Horten brothers had proven the basic concept with smaller, but similarly-shaped gliders, so it was probably only a matter of time and resources before the Ho 229 jet-powered variant was perfected for combat. American forces captured the V-3 in the closing days of the war and shipped her back to the US for evaluation. The aircraft is based upon a steel frame, but the exterior cladding is mostly plywood, which is in quite poor condition with significant de-lamination in places.

Below; three views of the fuselage centre section of the Horten as reproduced on the Zoukei Mura Horten Ho 229 kit built by Paul Higgins

"..ZM state in the instruction manual that the frame design gave the structure good strength, in part this is because of the triangular nature of the framework and also because this framework points towards the centre in order to disperse the load..."

Much of the aircraft structure is fabricated from wood; again this is very evident on Paul's build of the Zoukei Mura kit

 ".. my only slight query would be on the instruction sheet's suggestion that the internals should be RLM 02 or pale green, when, with a little additional searching on the internet, they would have seen images of the real thing and the fact it is clearly wooden inside.."

"..This kit has indeed been a revelation to me. By far and away, it is the best produced model I have built. As an example, the Trumpeter '262' is also a fine kit with great detail, but with some kits you have to have a little bit of a struggle somewhere along the line. However, I did not encounter anything like the expected difficulty I had envisaged and I am seriously impressed with Zoukei-Mura's production and construction qualities. I can highly recommend this model to those of you thinking of buying one. For the full build article proceed over to Go to the 'Discussion Forums' section and when you have your menu down the left side of your screen, select Plastic Pics, then do a search using this title: Zoukei-Mura Horten Ho 229. You'll see Parts 1-8...."   Paul Higgins

Monday 13 April 2015

Focke Wulf Fw 190s JG 1, JG 2 and JG 6 on Ebay - Ebay photo find # 108

A selection of current and recent Ebay sales, Fw 190s of various Jagdgeschwader. Click on the images for a full screen view without leaving this site.

Fw 190 A-8 W.Nr. 171 524 "Gelbe 12", possibly II./JG 6, Reims-Harpy, September 1944

Currently listed on Ebay here

 A selection of II./JG 1 machines Woensdrecht Holland, 1943. Below 'Black 9' and crane.

A-2/3 "Yellow 4" of  III./JG 2 machine at readiness. Ground crews taking a break.

Below, rare in flight view of a Fw 190 A-8. Seller had originally offered this for 330 euros here  See my Fw 190 'Aircraft in Profile' feature article in Scale Aircraft Modelling November 2003.