Monday 30 November 2015

Hs 123 in the East, III./ JG 77 Emil on Crete - daily Ebay photo find #137

..somewhere on the Russian Front according to the seller but more likely Poland if this is a combat aircraft apparently operating from an unprepared field strip close to the front. The Stammkenzeichen does also suggest an unknown FFS (pilot training school).

From Edgar Alcidi's current Ebay sales here

See all Hs 123 photos on this blog at this link

Below;  despite the Schlacht triangle marking of II./ LG 2 this Emil belongs to III./ JG 77 - note the wolf's head badge on the cowling. Seen at Malemes, Crete 1941, note three Abschußbalken on the rudder. The name 'Seidel' below the cockpit probably recalls Ofw. Albert ' Harry' Seidel who had been KIA on 15 March near Kent/Dungeness in aerial combat with 615 Sq. Hurricanes. His machine was WNr.3725 "schwarze L" of 5.(S)/LG 2.. Original picture source, Michael Payne via Omert in "More Emils, More markings", Aviation News 7-20 May 1983, also in Prien JG 77 Vol 1. Bottom, Von Werra in front of a JG 53 Friedrich
Darius Werner's latest auctions are here

Friday 27 November 2015

Nachtjagd War Diaries - more Ebay madness

Currently on offer here - only two hours left! Grab a bargain -not! Two volumes of Boiten's Nachtjagd War diaries - pilot accounts by this blog author - currently at £139 and £129 !

Reprinted edition still available via publisher Wing Leader at £40 per volume here

More on the books and a lengthy extract from one of my translated pilot accounts on this blog here

Also on this blog, a look at some of the rarer titles in this field and an idea of what they go for if you get dragged into the Ebay madness !

Henschel Hs 129 Mäander-Tarnung, JG 54 Emil in snakeskin camo finish, Beute Wellington, FW 190 A-3 5./JG 1 FLUGPLATZ KATWIJK NEDERLAND 1942 - daily Ebay photo find #136

Nice HS 129 Dosenöffner (can-opener) with belly-mounted Waffenträger (MG 101 cannon) and Mäander-Tarnung squiggle camouflage finish.

Below; Henschel Hs 129 B of 5.(Pz)/Schlachtgeschwader 1 and burnt-out wreck of Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant, Tunis, Tunisia, May 1943. Postcard size repro of photo from NARA collection.

More good Hs 129 shots on this blog here

On offer here

Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-3s of  II./JG 1 seen during 1942 in Holland, probably Katwjik airfield

On offer here

More JG 1 Fw 190s on this blog here

BF 109 F-4 JG 3, Uman, Russia during 1942 - note two Abschüßbalken on the rudder

Above; 7.Staffel JG 54 Emil somewhere in Russia during 1941.

Below;  bombing-up a ZG 26 Bf 110 E somewhere in North Africa

 Vilacoublay, Paris 1941

Manuel Rauh's current offers are here

Thursday 26 November 2015

Aircraft salvage and repair in the Luftwaffe - James S. Corum in " Why Air Forces Fail " (1)

In general terms the Germans were not very good at aircraft salvage. On the offensive during the early stages of the war the Luftwaffe was 'created' to support short sharp campaigns - a tactical air force operating close to the front  helped maximise sortie rates but did not require a large salvage organisation. The Luftwaffe's logistics and support operations were designed accordingly. Front-line units only had limited means to repair and rebuild aircraft; damaged aircraft had usually to be entrained for rear area repair facilities which meant that they were out of action for a correspondingly lengthier time frame. In his book 'Unflinching Zeal' Robin Higham indicates that during 1940 the RAF salvaged and repaired some 44% of aircraft 'shot down' compared with just 8% retrieved by the Bergungskommandos (salvage detachments) of the Luftwaffe. As the tide of war turned, aircraft serviceability rates in the Luftwaffe plummeted. Many aircraft  - only slightly damaged or requiring only relatively minor interventions - simply had to be written off. In addition large numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft fell in inaccessible areas - such as the UK or North Africa (see below). On top of this, Luftwaffe losses through accidents and non-combat causes were way of example over one thousand aircraft were lost in the month of February 1944 alone....some 50% of these were accidents caused by inadequate training. (Boog quoted in Isby p361).

 James S. Corum writing in " Why Air Forces Fail " states that Luftwaffe serviceability and maintenance rates were considerably lower than that of the Allies; 50-60% compared to 70-80%. As the tide of war turned against the Germans " the Luftwaffe's weak repair system ensured the loss of thousands of aircraft.." (Corum p210). The Luftwaffe did not have the resources or a logistics system in place to repair and put aircraft back into service. As much as one third of the Luftwaffe's losses during 1943-44 was the result of aircraft simply being abandoned. Many airfields over-run by the Allies - for example in North Africa - were little more than dumps..

Below; in the UK 49 Maintenance Unit salvage party retrieving Otto Zauner's II./ JG 53 Emil during late November 1940. More than 90 Bf 109 Emils made successful force landings in the UK during 1940, although some seven of these were partially or wholly destroyed by fire and a number were stripped and appraised at Farnborough.

Oblt. Gunther Bode's Stab I./ JG 27 Emil on display at Stanhay's garage in Ashford, Kent during 1940

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Oblt. 'Sepp' Wurmheller Staffelkapitän 9./ JG 2 Fw 190 A-6 and A-5 ' yellow 2 '

In late August 1943 PK photographer Engelmann was in Vannes, France to take pictures of Oblt. Josef Wurmheller posing alongside his new Fieseler-manufactured Fw 190 A-6 (WNr. 530314) "Yellow 2". Of the dozen or so images he captured here are some of the better ones. Note the last four numerals of the Werknummer above the swastika on the tail fin and the 78 victory bars on the yellow rudder scoreboard - his 78th was a Spitfire shot down during the evening of 22 August 1943.

 Note that it is quite tricky keeping tabs on Wurmheller's tally from his rudder scoreboards - below, his previous mount Fw 190 A-5 WNr. 7334, also "Yellow 2", which had been destroyed in a taxiing accident on 29 July 1943 at Vannes nearly one month previously, featured a rudder scoreboard showing a total of 80 victories!

Wurmheller was seriously injured on 23 September 1943 during a bombing raid on the airfield at Vannes. Airborne to counter a 1st BD raid on Nantes the Staffelkapitän of 9./ JG 2 landed back at Vannes just as the airfield came under attack from another wave of bombers. Wurmheller scrambled down from the cockpit of his machine just moments before it was obliterated by a direct hit. 'Sepp' was seriously wounded by shrapnel.

9./ JG 2 mechanic Ogfr. Willi Kittel reported;

" .. although our field at Vannes was being bombed, Oblt. Wurmheller was forced to carry out an emergency landing. He put down without any difficulty. Barely moments after leaving the cockpit he was hit in the head by shrapnel. As I was his first mechanic and quite close to him, it was natural that I drove straight out to him and was the first on the scene. He was lying unconscious on the ground. We loaded him into our ambulance and took off at top speed for the hospital in Vannes. When he returned to the Staffel two months later he had an enormous scar on the side of his head that ran down to his neck...."

Mombeeck, " Dans le Ciel de France", Vol 4, p186

Erik Mombeeck has done a fantastic job on his 4 hardback volumes devoted to JG 2. The latest tome in the series covers 1943 and the increasingly ferocious large-scale combats against USAF B-17s over France.

More at

Also on this blog Wurmheller at Dieppe, August 1942