Tuesday 18 April 2017

Bf 109 F-4 'white 1' Oblt. Erwin Clausen, Stkp. 1./JG 77 -ebay photo find #217

The Bf 109 F-4 'white 1' flown by Oblt. Erwin Clausen, Stkp. 1./JG 77 from about mid-June 1942 with 57 victories. He claimed an I-16 on 14-Jun-42 for his 57th.

Early 1940 4./JG 77 Emil with black skeleton emblem and eagle crest ahead of the cockpit. Possibly StaKa 4./JG 77 Helmut Henz  - note the initials 'LF' ahead of the emblem in the lower two images, Henz's personal emblem. II./JG 77 departed Norway in the fall of 1940..

Thursday 13 April 2017

Wings of Fire Messerschmitt Me 163 - the Me 163 B V18 (VA+SP) speed record July 1944 - Valiant Wings Airframe album

Test pilot Heini Dittmar chats with leading aviatrix Hanna Reitsch (in fur coat) some time  (Franks in the latest Valiant Wings 'Airframe album' devoted to the Komet says 19 April 1944) prior to his record-breaking flight on 6 July 1944  at the controls of this Me 163 B V18 (VA+SP) powered by the new twin- chamber "cruiser" rocket motor which enabled the craft to achieve 1130 km/h or 702 mph, an 'unofficial' world speed record..

With only very limited endurance (seven and a half minutes of powered flight) the Me 163 was never more than a dedicated point defense interceptor. Various attempts were made to improve the short flight time. The aircraft in these screen captures (excerpts from the rocket.aero video "Wings of Fire" posted on youtube and similar stills published in 'Warbirds Photo Album' Vol. 6) was an otherwise standard  'B' airframe 'VA+SP' which in the early summer of 1944 was fitted with  a more advanced version of the 509 A rocket engine, the 509 B, which featured two separate combustion chambers of differing sizes, one above the other, for greater efficiency. The main combustion chamber or Hauptofen of the 509 B engine used for the V6 and V 18 utilised the same cube-shaped frame occupying the same location as the A-series' engine, with the lower Marschofen "cruise chamber" housed within the retractable tailwheel's appropriately widened ventral tail fairing beneath the exhaust thrust tube. There is a decent image showing this in the new Valiant Wings Airframe Album devoted to the Komet or alternatively on the walterwerke.co.uk page here. On 6 July 1944, the Me 163 B V18 (VA+SP) was flight tested for the first time. This test almost ended catastrophically but the power boost provided by the second 'cruise' motor broke the world speed record (unofficially). William Green's 1971 book "Rocket Fighter" details the 'world record' flight as having taken place on 6 July 1944. His text is  unequivocal  that the pilot who flew Komet V 18 that day out over the Baltic with "both rocket chambers functioning" was Rudolph Opitz. The pilot in these screen grabs is obviously Dittmar and not Opitz, although it should be stressed that these shots may not show the 6 July flight.  Dittmar had just spent the best part of two years in hospital, recuperating following a 1942 'crash' landing. The record-breaking flight began normally enough, but the rate of climb began to increase rapidly with the pilot soon finding himself exceeding the critical Mach number of the aircraft at above 16,000 feet.  Dittmar cut power to the motor, causing a steep dive from which he only just managed to recover. It was later determined that the V 18 had reached a speed of 1130 km/h or 702 miles an hour. Upon landing back at Peenemunde it was found that the aircraft had almost completely lost its rudder. (photo in Green's account - Ransom and Camann's Classic title (2002) shows the same illustration of the V 18's rudder on Volume 1, Page 97, but, state that this occurred on a flight of 23rd December 1943, also flown by Heini Dittmar, and although this airframe was later used for assisted take-off rocket tests, they state this did not begin until 7th July 1944).

 Below; the presumably still unmodified VA+SP getting airborne with  Dittmar at the controls - unfortunately the 'Wings of Fire' commentary makes no mention whatsover of this developmental avenue. The overall single colour scheme may be RLM 76 or possibly RLM 63, close to Grau 02 but lighter..

The 509 B and 509 C rocket motors' main combustion chambers were supported by the "thrust tube" exactly as the 509 A motor's single chamber had been. They were tuned for "high power" for takeoff and climb. The added, smaller volume "lower" chamber on the two later models - dubbed Marschofen - with approximately 400 kg (880 lb) of thrust at its top performance level, was intended for more efficient, lower power cruise flight. These HWK 109–509 B and C motors could potentially improve endurance by as much as 50%. Two  Me 163 Bs, models V6 and V18 (above), were experimentally fitted with the lower-thrust B-version of the new twin-chamber engine.

Below; screen captures showing PK+QP in use by Erprobungskommando 16 at Bad Zwischenahn. Captures from youtube footage taken from the rocket.aero DVD "Wings of Fire. More info here

The DVD includes footage of PK+QP landing, resting on its left wing tip during much of the landing and seen smoking from the engine and turbine after landing. It is then taken away on a Scheuch-Schlepper with inflatable bags. More on PK+QP at Rob de Brie's Me 163 Komet site

Pierre Giustiniani build of the Meng 32nd scale Komet for a forthcoming 'Wingmasters' feature..

Out yesterday the May 2017 issue of 'Aeroplane Monthly' publishes the first of a new Bott/Kightly feature entitled 'Briefing File' - the first of these looks at the Komet's rocket motor. Posted by Ian Bott at the Aviation Enthusiast Book Club on FB.

Russ Snadden 'Black 6' - blue skies

I read on the Black 6 FB page that Russ Snadden passed away in early March. I never met him but remember that I was thrilled when he contacted me back in 2006 to talk about the JG 300 history (Jean-Yves Lorant, Richard Goyat) which had I translated into English from the original German/French text. Which I was very happy to do of course. I think all who visit this blog will be forever grateful to Russ and his team for their magnificent restoration of "Black 6". Thanks to him many of us here would never have had the chance to see a genuine Bf 109 in the air.

".. 'Black 6' is the bitter sweet story of the efforts of (mainly) one man, Russ Snadden and his small team at RAF Benson - against the indifference and even antagonism of the MOD/RAF hierarchy - to restore Bf 109 G-2 'Gustav' 'Black 6' back to flight. Incredibly against such odds he prevailed and for a short while Black 6's distinctive DB 605 engine note thrilled all who were lucky enough to hear it (Below; a photo taken at the VIP 'Roll out' at Benson in 1991). ..The MOD meanwhile  were not really interested in supporting this restoration even when it was successfully flying again. Following a landing accident it was grounded and put on static display at Hendon. In the meantime a few lumps of rusty metal were found on the Goodwin Sands and the decision was taken to spend a small fortune in recovering what turned out to be a Dornier Do 17 of unknown provenance in an open ended restoration project of very little interest to anyone. For a fraction of the same expenditure 'Black 6' could still be flying..."   Ian Waudby

FW 190 A "Schwarze 12", 'black 5' der 2./JG 51 in Wjasma im Winter 1942/43 - ebay photo find #215

on offer here 

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Staffelkapitän 1./JG 51 Douglas Pitcairn's Emil, Lt. Heinrich Höfemeier JG 51 ace, Erwin Leibold JG 26 ace, JG 51 Wintertarnung, III./JG 2 , I./JG 52 Emil Calais 1940 - ebay photo find #214

Leibold JG 26, JG 51 Wintertarnung, III./JG 2 , I./JG 52 Emil Calais 1940

Below; three views of JG 51 ace Lt. Heinrich Höfemeier via Manuel Rauh's ebay sales here

Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Höfemeier was assigned to 1./JG 51 on 22 March 1941. On 22 June, Höfemeier claimed four Russian SB-2 twin-engined bombers shot down for his first victories on the opening day of Barbarossa. On 13 October, Höfemeier claimed three Russian Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft shot down to record his 20th through 22nd victories. By the end of 1941 had 25 victories to his credit. He was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz on 19 March 1942 for 30 victories and the Ritterkreuz on 5 April 1942 for 41 aerial victories and 12 aircraft destroyed on the ground. By January 1943, Höfemeier had 70 victories to his credit and had been promoted to the rank of Leutnant. On 20 March 1943, Höfemeier was transferred to Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost to undertake a spell of instructing. Höfemeier returned to frontline duty as Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 51 on 2 May 1943. On 10 June he claimed three Il-2 Sturmoviks shot down (71-73). Höfemeier recorded 14 victories in July, including his 80th on 13 July. Höfemeier was shot down and killed in Fw 190 A-4 “Brown 5” (W.Nr. 145 667) by Russian Flak over Karatschew on 7 August 1943. He was credited with 96 victories in some 490 sorties. Below; another view of Höfemeier's Friedrich 'white 6'

Early yellow-cowled JG 51 Friedrich in northern France

A fine image from Manuel Rauh's latest sales - a line-up of 1./JG 51 Emils in northern France during the late summer of 1940, 'white 1' is presumably Staffelkapitän Douglas Pitcairn's machine. On 5 August 1940 Hptm. Pitcairn was injured in Bf 109 E "White 1" after colliding on take-off with Bf 109 E-4 "white 8" (W.Nr. 6266) of Feldwebel Willi Gasthaus also of 1./JG 51 at Pihen, south-west of Calais ('white 8' is just visible in the background below). Pitcairn's aircraft was 100% damaged while that of Gasthaus, who was unharmed, suffered less than 10% damage. There are two photographs of him as well as two of the above accident in the JG 51 photo-history by Stipdonk and Meyer. Note how the hellblau fuselage sides are now overpainted..Heinz Bär flew 'white 13' with the 'chamois' and Mickey Maus emblem. Recalls the photo series in the Karl Ries book!

on offer here

Below;  prominent wild Boar emblem on this I./JG 52 Emil, also northern France during 1940

Below; three images via Michael Meyer's latest sales here depicting the FW 190 A assigned to the 11-victory ace in the Stab I./JG 26 Ofw. Erwin Leibold seen during 1942