Sunday 23 September 2018

Stuka Geschwader Immelmann Lela Presse, Axis fighter aircraft by Claes Sundin - New Luftwaffe books

Today I bought and purchased the new and forthcoming Stuka Geschwader Immelmann history being published by Lela Presse in their 'Unit history' series at the end of October. Postage is free on all pre-publication orders and 'Avions' subscribers also get a nice discount on the cover price as usual. Volume I is nearly 300 pages, 600 photos and some thirty Dekker artworks and covers the pre-war period up to Kursk in mid-1943. The photos and artwork are very exciting - a PDF extract can be viewed on the publisher's website here and ordering could not be more straight forward.

An 'exclusive' look at one of Thierry Dekker's artworks appearing in the book courtesy of the artist - Ju 87 D-3 of 6./ St.G. 2 seen in April 1942. Click on the low-res image to view large

".. The second Luftwaffe dive bombing Geschwader, St. G. 2, was long known as 'Hans-Ulrich Rudel's unit' even as early as 1945. If this aviator left his mark on the unit, St.G. 2 cannot be reduced to the exploits of a single pilot, even an exceptional one. It was of course one of the few units to fly from the first to the last day of the Second World War, operating until the end on the (in)famous Ju 87 Stuka, through its different variants (from A to G). While H-U Rudel was the most decorated German pilot, St. G. 2 had more than a hundred Knights of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuzträger) in its ranks, many of whom fell in action. Feared by its opponents on the Eastern front, St. G. 2 would specialize in the final months of the war in the destruction of armoured vehicles..."

AXIS FIGHTER AIRCRAFT is the latest book of artwork and text from Claes Sundin ( CENTURA PUBLISHING) and is another superlative visual feast. Not only does Claes work hard to beautifully present his fantastic artworks but he takes the trouble to write extensive and detailed captions that put the machine illustrated in the context both of the war situation in the air and on the ground while detailing the successes as well as the setbacks experienced by each named pilot.

Claes writes ;

"... This is my 14th profile book, and of those, this is my 11th self-produced and published book. With my own publishing company, Centura Publishing, my personal goal is to produce books of unequalled quality, a way to present the most interesting of profile subjects and to produce the kind of books that I, as a WW2 buff, would personally find interesting. As the publisher I will guarantee the highest possible paper and print quality, all to satisfy the many WW II profile enthusiasts out there.

This book is about a lesser-known subject area, both in terms of the history of the Second World War in general and specifically the nationalities and nations that were allied to or collaborated with the Axis powers.  I hope that the reader will discover new interesting profile subjects and learn more about the nations involved, the units and their pilots. These are little known areas even to fellow WW II air war enthusiasts but at the same time represent historically a more important area of aviation history than most historians have acknowledged hitherto..."

To order directly from Claes at the Centura Publishing site go here

Wednesday 19 September 2018

new AIMS releases - the home of Luftwaffe modelling on the net!

 Just received news from John MacIllmurray of some new AIMS releases - 3 new Luftwaffe products and another 6 on the way - here is the breakdown - you can see them in more detail at the AIMS website

1/ 72 Ju 88 P-1 conversion available now
1/32 Ju 88 P-1 conversion available now
1/48 Bf 110 G-2 and G-4 update set for Eduard kits available now

1/72nd Ju 88 P-1 conversion set

1/48 Bf 109 F/G/K hatches and latches coming soon
1/32 Bf 109 F/G/K hatches and latches coming soon
1/32 Bf 109 G-6 and G-10 Revell Oleo leg housing update set - coming soon
1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 decal sheet covering late war Bf 109's

Two subjects from the late-war Bf 109 decal set, visit John's site (link below) to see the other subjects on this attractive looking sheet. Note 'Defence of the Reich bands' not on the 48th or 32nd scale sheets

You can read more about the Luftwaffe modelling accessories and decal sheets created by John at AIMs on this blog here. It goes without saying that 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!

 As you can see I have used his decals and some of his resin products on my own models and can happily vouch for their accuracy, ease-of-use and keen pricing -yes, I buy them too!

Friday 14 September 2018

2./JG 2 Schwarm Focke Wulf Fw 190 victory stick - ebay photo find #265 - EDIT (new 'Dans le ciel de France' Erik Mombeeck)

courtesy Oliver Rogge is this nice JG 2 grouping - these pilots are enjoying the spring sunshine in front of their (presumably) new Fw 190 A fighters while admiring their Abschuß-Stöcke or 'victory sticks'. Note too a (red? or US ?) star is clearly visible at the top of the victory stick in the lower image. One of the pipe-smoking pilots is wearing a French-style beret! This appears to be Fw. Karl Schweikart of 2./JG 2 who can be seen smoking and wearing a beret in a number of pictures. During April/May 1942 2./JG 2 was based on the Channel coast at Le Havre (Octeville). All the pilots are wearing life jackets.

below;  ".. a little souvenir of my aerial victory, loyally yours, on the Channel front, 21 May 1941,

 So 'Günther' in the image below - serving on the Channel front- would appear to be the pilot leaning on the victory stick above and admiring his victories (including the 'star') in the photo at bottom.

I can find no ID for an Unteroffizier pilot fitting the description named Günther; (either Vorname or Nachname) returning a victory in May 1941 with JG 2 .  One possible candidate I suppose;

Günther Behrendt, 4./JG 2, Spitfire, 16h35, 1st    (but this victory is dated 24 June 1941)

Of course the Fw 190 did not enter service with JG 2 until much later on. The first loss was September 1941 with JG 26.  However thanks to suggestions from several correspondents I did find this 

A letter from Uffz. Günther Keil addressed to his family in late July 1941;

"..I have some surprising news for you. I am being sent back to the Channel  - either to Galland or to the 'Richthofen'. The transfer is going ahead at any time. According to orders from the higher-ups, each Gruppe must designate a pilot with at least three victories and who has previously taken part in engagements over England. Of course, no one was willing to go, but it looks like I am fated to do so. I am obviously very moved at having to leave my comrades with whom I have shared so many joys and sorrows for almost a year during the battles over England and Russia..."

'Günther' is therefore presumably Fw Günther Keil. Keil had claimed a number of victories flying in combat over England and then Russia with 8./JG 3 - hence the 'red star' at the top of his victory stick.. Keil returned his 5th victory on 14 April 1942 with 2./JG 2.  2./JG 2 were in Le Bourget during the last week of May 1942 converting onto their new Fw 190 As before returning to Triqueville. Stk. was Hptm. Siegfried Bethke.

Keil was KIA on 20 June 1942 in heavy fighting with large numbers of Spitfires over the Channel, only a short while therefore after these photos were taken. There are two accounts of the combats that took place that day in Erik Mombeeck's 'Dans le Ciel de France' Vol II (1942). In a letter to the family his Staffel comrade Karl Schweikart wrote;

Günther must have told you that since he has been with us he has returned four victories and so had seven Abschüsse  - but he was not the sort of pilot who was 'Abschußgeil' - desperate to return victories - as we say...on the morning of the 20th he was happy and good-humoured, but he did say to me, 'Karl, if the Tommies come over today then I'm going to get one..' Well they did come...we sighted a large formation of Spitfires over the Channel and set out after them..Günther was leading.."

Thursday 13 September 2018

Die 'Starfighter Affäre' - Der Spiegel magazine 5/1966

..just posted on my 'Jet and Prop' blog, the story of one of the most infamous crashes of the whole 'Starfighter Affäre' - the day the entire aerobatic Schwarm of Waffenschule 10 was lost at Nörvenich on 19 June 1962 practising for the commissioning ceremony of the new JBG 31 and the introduction into Bundeswehr-Luftwaffe service of the F-104 Gustav.

In " Der Tod war schneller " I have translated for the first time in English an interview with Luftwaffeninspekteur and former KG pilot Werner Panitzski as published in Der Spiegel magazine 5/1966. It is of course a story that involves familiar names such as Krupinski, Rall, Steinhoff, Josten, Hrabak, Kammhuber etc etc..
Der Tod war schneller

Monday 10 September 2018

latest issue of "Avions" No.225 - Lela Presse

..has arrived and is very well done too. A 'Luftwaffe Special' issue of sorts. Contents include;

- Sharks in the Blitzkrieg: ZG 76 in May-June 1940 (full story). By Jean-Louis Roba.
- Hans Philipp, "The Krasnogvardeysk Eagle" (end). By Philippe Saintes, with the participation of Christophe Cony.
- The last fight of Hauptmann Bretnütz (complete story). By Mikhail Timine.
- Manfred von Richthofen, the Ace of the First World War (end) 3rd part: the demise of the Red Baron. By David Méchin and Christophe Cony.
- Fernaufklärer over France during the "Phoney War" (Part 1). By Pierre Brouez.

Excellent value at 12 euros, see a PDF extract and order on the publisher's website here

JG 54 Gustav 'white 1' Feldwebel - ebay photo find #264

on offer here

Fotoabzug = "repro" - ebay photo find 263

.. it is me or are there a lot of 'repros' appearing for sale on ebay at the moment... ironically I notice even certain 'well-known' repositories of on-line images are adopting 'privacy' mode to prevent unscrupulous ebay sellers from copying and then offering 'their' treasures for sale in repro format.

" Sehr schöner Fotoabzug einer Zerstörermaschine vom Typ Bf 110 des ZG 1 oder SKG 210, aufgenommen 1943/44 in Italien. Sehr schön sind das Staffelabzeichen in Form einer Wespe und viele Details zu sehen..."

So while the repro above appears to be quite nice ....there are plenty of others being offered out there of more mediocre quality.

Below; poor quality copy/repro of a photo of the Friedrich flown by the Kommandeur of III./JG 3 August 1941 currently on offer at 85 euros here - yes I've seen the nice sharp original photo and it's not this!

To quote a recent correspondent;

  " ..I'm sending you a copy of something that is really starting to irritate me on eBay: the same photos sold by our usual Ukrainians and a ridiculous German calling himself H******en in more than mediocre quality. These people will apparently stop at nothing to earn a few Euros, to the point of selling unspeakable crap. The original was very clear, as you will see...Not only is the well drying up, but it would appear that all and sundry are pouring their garbage into it. You're going to tell me "nothing new under the sun" and you wouldn't be wrong..."

Friday 7 September 2018

Stabsschwarm JG 51 Russland Feldflugplatz - ebay photo find #262

courtesy Oliver Rogge

Unusual marking on this Stabsschwarm JG 51 machine Russland Feldflugplatz. Note the emblem on the cowl cover under the port wing.

Me 109 F-2 "schwarze 1" assigned to the Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 51 Lt. Erwin Fleig

on offer here

More on Erwin Fleig on this blog;

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Jagdflugzeug Fw 190 und Klaus Mietusch vom J.G.26 im 2.WK - ebay photo find #261

Bf 109 G-6 with retrofitted Erla-Haube W.Nr. unknown "schwarze 22", Gruppenkommandeur Klaus Mietusch, Stab III./JG 26. See also Jochen Prien et al. 2017, JFV 13/III, p. 107 for  a selection of images depicting Mietusch climbing from 'schwarze 20'  'simulating' a return from a successful sortie and taken by a PK reporter on the occasion of Mietusch's RK award, 26 March 1944.

more on offer here

Also on this blog;

More unknown pilots and aces of JG 26   here

Above;  Klaus Mietusch, Gruppenkommandeur III./JG 26 - click on the image to view at full size - and below with members of his Stabsschwarm. He had joined 7./JG 26 in September 1939 and from September 1941 was Staffelkapitän. On 5 July 1943 he was appointed Kdr. of III./JG 26. His victory over a USAAF B-17 four-engine heavy bomber on 25 July 1943 was the first of 16 four-engine bombers that he was to claim. His 50th victory was a B-17 shot down over Cambrai on 20 October 1943. During the course of the 8 March 1944 raid on Berlin Mietusch claimed a B-17 Herausschuss for his 60th victory. Awarded the RK after 63 vics. Mietusch was KIA on 17 September 1944 over Arnhem (72 victories)

Sunday 2 September 2018

"Me 109 - Produktion und Einsatz", "Regensburg - Die Katastrophe vom 17.August 1943" (MZ Verlag) - Peter Schmoll

If you are spending £15 on the new MMP Bf 109 Gustav (150 pages, A-4 softback) then the recent 310-page German-language A-4 hardback from Peter Schmoll 'Me 109 - Produktion und Einsatz' is well worth considering  (especially as it is available at virtually the same price via amazon re-sellers).
Taking my cue from MMP I've filmed a quick 40 second video presentation - a single click to view here.

The legendary 109 was the 'standard fighter' of the German Air Force during the early years of WWII. According to the author the type " ensured air supremacy on all fronts with its superior flight performance".  The first half of Schmoll's book provides a detailed variant overview with rather more extensive handbook reproductions than those published in the MMP volume. As the war continued, demands on the both aircraft and production increased steadily. In order to compensate for losses, the RLM decided to concentrate series production of the Me 109 at three main plants - Erla-Maschinenwerke in Leipzig, Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke and Messerschmitt GmbH Regensburg. By July 1943 twenty five Me 109s were coming off the Messerschmitt Regensburg production lines daily - up from just one aircraft per day just two years earlier. Regensburg was the most efficient and productive aircraft production centre in Germany..(below; view of the Endmontagehalle  - final assembly hall  - Messerschmitt Regensburg)

 The history of Me 109 'production' and 'operations' is illustrated through a selection of rare and previously unpublished reports from the factories and the field entitled 'Streng Geheim' - among the themes covered are; the Me 109 as night fighter with JG 300, the development of power boost systems ('Sondernotleistung mit MW 50 und GM-1'), production of the wooden tail assembly and associated problems ('Die Me 109 bekommt ein Holzleitwerk und die damit verbundenen Probleme') , development of the Erla Haube canopy, deployment of the twin-seat G- 12 as recce machine ('Einsatz des Doppelsitzers Me 109 G-12 als Aufklärer bei der Nahaufklärungsgruppe 3'), shortcomings in the G-10 variant ('Technische Mängel an der Me 109 G-10'), technical problems encountered with the DB 605 D in the K-4 in service with JG 3  ('Technische Probleme am DB 605 D der Me 109 K-4 beim JG 3 Udet ') etc etc

The biggest cuts in production resulted from the devastating air raids by the USAAF on the three main production centres during 1943/44. Regensburg's role in the production of the Me 109 had been no secret to the Allies - for example a large number of 109s had been captured in North Africa - somewhat 'unbelievably' all these machines carried data plates with production/manufacturer details  -  " unglaublich es klingt, auf den Typenschildern war das Herstellerwerk abzulesen. So rückte Messerschmitt-Regensburg bei der USAAF in der Zielliste immer weiter nach oben, bis es schließlich mit an der Spitze stand.." The USAAF raid of 17 August 1943 on Regensburg resulted in a production standstill that lasted some four weeks although the factory still managed 241 machines for the month.

Below; three brand-new G-6/trop leaving the Endmontagehalle at Regensburg-Prüfening during June 1943, a scene that was repeated every three hours..according to Schmoll the USAF raid on Regensburg of 17 August 1943 (75th anniversary last month) resulted in a loss of production of just 450 Me 109s..

To make up production shortfalls foreign and forced labour, prisoners of war and women were deployed in production during the course of the war. Production quality was necessarily affected. Factory engineers report on sabotage and the problems associated with it. Schmoll also looks at production by concentration camp prisoners and details how production of the Me 109 was 'farmed out' to the concentration camp Flossenbürg - the SS hiring out its 'labour force' for large fees. More than 3000 concentration camp prisoners worked there in armaments production. ('Der Einsatz von Kriegsgefangenen, Zwangsarbeitern und KZ-Insassen in der Flugzeugproduktion')

In the second 'Einsatz' half of the book - "Operation of the Me 109" - former Me 109 pilots have their say. They belonged to a young elite at that time and suffered enormous and bloody losses. Given the material superiority of the Allies on all fronts, every mission was a potential rendezvous with death. Their fascinating accounts of success, injuries, deprivation and death " will get under the skin of every reader and testify to the senselessness of wars to this day " according to the publisher's blurb..headings in this section include Einflieger (factory test pilot) Karl Elsner's recollections 'Vom Fronteinsatz zum Einflugbetrieb bei den Erla-Werken und den WNF', Eberhard Burath's account of flying with JG 51 on the Eastern Front and the 'end' in East Prussia (' Einsatz beim Jagdgeschwader 51 „Mölders“ an der Ostfront 1944 und dem bitteren Ende 1945 in Ostpreußen') etc etc.

The final section of the book looks at how restored Me 109s are operated today at the Flugmuseum Messerschmitt in Manching with a long account by Walter Eichhorn describing a typical flight  -

" once the wheels are off the ground then and only then is the experience a pleasure...(...)..unlike other airshow pilots there is no chance of waving to the crowd on flying a landing approach - I'd need three hands in the cockpit ! "

The 300+ pages are illustrated with 250 rare and partly unpublished reports, photos and documents and provide the reader with " an intensive impression of what was happening at that time ". Luftwaffe blog verdict - Peter Schmoll's book is a much more interesting and satisfying work than the other recent Me 109 title considered here.

Below; Jet and Prop review published January 2018

Peter Schmoll talks about his latest work compiled for the 75th anniversary of the Regensburg-Schweinfurt raid . "Regensburg - die Katastrophe vom 17 August 1943" - a single click to view

Lt. Willi Kohlstrunk KG 3 and JG 2 - double amputee and Fw 190 D-9 pilot

I recently came across an obituary for this I./JG 2 pilot in Jägerblatt 1/1998. A quick 'search' revealed nothing further - just some scraps of information from a thread posted in 2010 on the TOCH forum - he was a Do 17 pilot, he had survived a crash on 20 December 1940 and flew with JG 2 in 1945. Information on him was fragmentary to say the least..

Willi Kohlstrunk was born on 24 August 1918 in Meißen, a town just north of Dresden. He joined KG 3 during the Battle of Britain (August 1940) as a Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier after qualifying from LKS 2 Berlin-Werder. He flew day and night sorties over England, III./KG 3 being based in St. Trond, Belgium. During a mission against London on 20 December 1940 his Dornier Do 17 Z WNr. 2645 was hit by anti-aircraft fire, knocking out an engine. Turning for home Kohlstrunk was unable to maintain his altitude and the aircraft gradually lost height in the cloud deck. Weather conditions were poor and the second engine started to run roughly. The bomber emerged from the cloud base at roof-top height over Belgium and the pilot elected to carry out a belly landing on the airfield - having flown 'blind' from England the crew had arrived over St. Trond, north of Liège (Lüttich). The landing proved to be catastrophic as the machine careered into a raised embankment - this was  'unintentional contact with the ground' according to the loss details..

Fl.Pl. St. Trond, Absturz um 14.25 Uhr infolge unfreiwilliger Bodenberührung. Bruch 70 %.

Kohlstrunk, Lt. 9./KG 3 Wound Badge, Bomber Operational Clasp WIC 20 December, 1940; crashed his Dornier at St Trond airfield. 1940-12-20, 9./KG 3, Do 17 Z-3, 2645,

FF Kohlstrunk, Willi, verletzt
Bo Wenzlawiak, Hans, verletzt
BF Gutzeit, Artur, verletzt
BS Hoppe, Herbert, tot

Injuries among the crew were severe. Gunner Herbert Hoppe was killed. Pilot Kohlstrunk had both his legs broken. While his left leg healed, it was four months later in April 1941 that Kohlstrunk's right leg had to be amputated below the knee. He eventually returned to second-line duties at LKS 2 during 1942 with a prosthetic limb. As the war situation deteriorated sharply during 1944 Kohlstrunk volunteered for fighter pilot training and in late 1944, now with the rank of Oberleutnant, he joined JG 2 'Richthofen' operating in the Reichsverteidigung in the Rhein-Main area. He flew sorties from January 1945 with I./JG 2 from Großostheim airfield in a Fw 190 D-9 marked 'winkel balken'. He flew eight combat sorties between 18 and 23 March 1945. Attacking US road traffic on the Oppenheim-Gross Gerau road (south of Mainz) on 23 March 1945, his machine came under attack from 354th FG P-51s and was set on fire. Kohlstrunk managed to jump clear of his burning Dora but collided with the tail fin, losing his prosthetic limb and badly injuring his right knee in the process. His injuries required another long hospital stay and were such that a second amputation of the right leg - this time above the knee - became necessary. Post-war this former youth athletics champion (3,000m) returned to his home town Meißen in the Soviet zone of occupation, eschewing crutches but necessarily walking with a very heavy limp. He eventually found employment in the West  - a large industrial concern in Frankfurt am Main. He died on 8 October 1997 aged 79 years after a long illness - 'Ich habe meine Pflicht getan'    He had always done his duty.

(additional information via Jägerblatt 1/1998)