Monday, 30 December 2019
Jagdflieger Lederkombi Pilot Josef Sepp Wurmheller, Frankreich, Feldflugplatz, vermutlich 13. November 1942
Sunday, 22 December 2019
new and forthcoming series from this ambitious UK publisher..."Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe " and "Eagles of the Luftwaffe"
First volume in the "Secret Projects.." series is a new history of the Blohm and Voss BV 155, which according to author Dan Sharp, "..sheds new light on the development of the type based entirely on primary source research. The book has photos of the last surviving example of the type in the world. And it's in remarkably good condition!.."
According to Dan's Twitter feed ..".. NASM's BV 155 V2 at Silver Hill is in deep storage and inaccessible to the public - so the team at NASM sent someone in for me to get pictures. The Me 155 started out being essentially a 109 with new wings/undercarriage but what ended up as the BV 155 shared few components with the 109 series..."
There has been nothing on the Blohm and Voss BV 155 since the Monogram Close-Up of 1990 by Thomas H Hitchcock (that I'm aware of).
Mortons' Luftwaffe series are here
Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Interview extract with Adolf Galland via Colin Heaton on history.net
Even here apparently he wasn't particularly highly rated as a pilot -at least one of his pilots says he always tried to avoid flying with him..(personal account via Jean-Louis Roba published in the now-defunct 'Histoire de Guerre' magazine)
Below; an entry from the superb Stankey/De Zeng Luftwaffe officers database resource which can be found here; I wonder if the single victory mentioned is in fact the 'victory' that cost him his fighter pilot career. Note that after the NAG he went to various training Geschwader.
GALLAND, Dr. Fritz. (DOB:21.05.10 in Recklingshausen). 26.05.42 Oblt., 2./JG 3. 13.06.42 Oblt., in 2./JG 3. 01.07.42 promo to Hptm.(d.R./Fl.). 10.08.42 in 7./JG 5. 10.43 appt Staka 2.(H)/Aufkl.Gr. 14 (to 11.43)? c.15.11.43 appt Staka 1./NAGr. 11 (and 01.44). 07.44 Hptm., appt Staka 3./JG 104 (to 02.08.44). 03.08.44 trf to JGr. 10 and then appt Staka in JG 111. 23.09.44 Hptm., appt Staka 1./JG 104(to 28.04.45). Older brother of Adolf Galland. Credited with one victory.
Thursday, 12 December 2019
The Jet Night Fighters: Kurt Welter & the Story of the Messerschmitt Me 262 Night Fighters by Andreas Zapf. A look at the Me 262 B twin-seater "nightfighters", Herbert Altner 10./ NJG 11, Jägerblatt 1/1998
One year on from his huge 500+ page German-language history of the German jet night fighters, Andreas Zapf has produced an English adaptation from this volume. While this 113-page monograph, printed via Amazon's 'Print-on-Demand' service, includes a mission-by-mission diary of Mosquito raids to Berlin and the deployment of the Me 262 in these interceptions and combats as per the original German-language tome, this new title focuses more especially on the man and the 'myth' leading the Me 262 jet night fighters of 10./NJG 11 - Kurt Welter.
According to the back-cover blurb, " ..most of the Luftwaffe’s aces are well known and their lives – pre-war, war, and post-war – are usually well documented. Equally well documented are their wartime careers and their claims and confirmed victories. Kurt Welter, recipient of the RK mit Eichenlaub is one of the 'exceptions' to the rule". Welter's position as commanding officer of “Kommando Welter” and 10./NJG 11 (along with the passage of time and the Internet) have transformed Welter into both 'legend' and myth. The units he commanded were the only ones to take the Messerschmitt Me 262 into nocturnal combat. But that is also where the “urban legend” of Kurt Welter starts - most 'successful jet fighter pilot in history' or 'bare-faced overclaimer'?
As Andreas puts it, 'the truth lies somewhere in between'. This new book provides the first 'fully documented' account of Welter's career, along with the story of the units he commanded. Not that there is much material to document. Welter's unit struggled to maintain operational effectiveness - aircraft were lost in accidents or unserviceable all too frequently and piecemeal deliveries could hardly keep up. But since so little is really known about the man and these jet night fighter units, Andreas does a fine job of bringing all the threads of the story together in one place for an English-language readership.
Welter's career via the wilde Sau, JG 300 to NJG 11 and the Me 262 night fighters is fully discussed. His key witness is 'Jorg' Cypionka, 'Moskito-hunter' of 10./JG 300 and NJG 11. Welter's claims list is dissected over some twelve pages - the first 'claim' for the Me 262 at night (November 27, 1944) as proposed by Jurleit in his 'Strahljäger im Einsatz' is dismissed for lack of evidence- while just about every known photo of Welter and aircraft associated with him is reproduced along with log-book extracts from those who flew with him. Andreas also documents as fully as he can the lives of the handful of pilots assigned to fly the Me 262 in 10./ NJG 11 and provides a solid background of missions and claims based on the the little hard evidence that can be found in the archives. Also featured is some interesting information on the handful of twin-seaters that were delivered, again based on log-book extracts. Aside from some slightly strange formatting and editing decisions, probably due to the limitations of 'print-on-demand' (too many italics, including German city names and a mission diary written in the present tense) this is a recommended addition to my Luftwaffe library and can be ordered in softback for the price of a few pints via amazon print-on-demand. Go do it!
Chat with Andreas Zapf on this blog here
The night of 27-28 March 1945 saw the first sorties of the Me 262 B-1a/U1, the world's first twin-seater jet 'night fighter'. The Me 262 B-1a/U1 was adapted and built in the last months of the war from the Messerschmitt Me 262 two-seater training aircraft by DLH in Berlin-Staaken. The history of the development of the aircraft and its employment by the so-called Kommando Welter against the fast Mosquitos of Bomber Command - a machine which was all but "invincible" - is briefly described here.
Early in the Me 262 programme the need for a twin-seat derivative had been identified for training and familiarisation purposes - the new tricycle-undercarriage jet fighter configuration led directly to the trainer Schulflugzeug development, the Me 262 B offshoot. Blohm and Voss was the company brought in to work on the conversion. All Me 262 Bs were 'rebuilds' of single-seat or intended single-seat airframes. Contrary to what can still be read in articles on the type, there was no new-build Me 262 B production. However it was not a question of simply fitting a radar and operator into a two-seater. All 'night-fighter' two-seater Me 262s featured a number of 'structural' enhancements, most notably in an attempt to improve the comparatively poor endurance of the type. In the end twin drop tanks were the 'ad-hoc' solution to the endurance issue - these were presumably jettisoned before contact with the enemy.
In comparison to its daylight operational role as bomber destroyer, the concept of the Me 262 as a 'night fighter' was developed rather late on - at the end of summer 1944. However the type of mission to be flown by the Me 262 at night was from the outset clearly identified - the interception of the fast De Havilland Mosquito bomber, pathfinder and reconnaissance aircraft. Ranging across the Reich at will and with relative impunity by late 1944 in large numbers, Pathfinder and Light Night Striking Force Mosquitos were a far more 'important' target than four-engine bombers. LNSF Mosquitos raided Berlin some 170 times, at one period on 36 consecutive nights. Oblt. Fritz Krause, Staffelkapitän in the experimental 1./NJGr10 at Berlin-Werneuchen commanded by Hauptmann Friedrich Karl Müller whose main task was Moskito 'hunting' recalled;
"... We had to meet the two quite different uses of the Mosquito. Firstly, there was the nightly raid to bomb Berlin and secondly their use as pathfinders at high altitude in the Ruhr. Night after night, thirty to forty Mosquitoes flew to Berlin and dropped bombs and the psychological stress on the Berliners was considerable. Flak and searchlights were moved to Berlin without having any considerable or lasting effect. The Mosquitoes flew at altitudes above 30,000 ft and after crossing the Elbe lost height to fly over Berlin at the highest possible speed to avoid the concentrated flak. The direction of the flights across Berlin was different with each operation."
The 28 December 1944 issue of "Flight" reported;
" ..Maintaining the offensive against Berlin is one of the main tasks of the LNSF of Mosquitos and it is now common for fifty to sixty Mosquitos to attack Berlin by night. They are so serious a menace that Berlin is now defended by special anti-Mosquito guns which fire predicted flak to twice the height four-engine bombers fly. The Germans have also deployed jet-propelled aircraft but with indifferent success.."
And there were a number of practical reasons for the concentration on the Mosquitos. Probably one of the most significant was the fact that the cruising speed of a Lancaster bomber was only marginally above the stalling speed of an Me 262. The Me 262 Jumo jet engines were of course still just as difficult to manage as they were in the day 'fighter' Me 262 A. And at this stage of the war Ju 88G-6 night fighters and the He 219 were entering service in numbers and enjoyed a higher speed advantage over the bombers than earlier 'conventional' night-fighters..
The notion that the 262 was a night-time four-engine bomber killer is still widely shared. Brand new and evocative Airfix box-top artwork (below) depicts a Messerschmitt Me 262 B-1a and a burning Halifax over a heavily bombed city. The Halifax is clearly portrayed as the latest victim of a prowling ‘Red 12’ from the Luftwaffe’s 10./Nachtjagdgeschwader 11. The November 2018 issue of AMW magazine includes the following;
" in the closing stages of WWII the Me 262 was pressed into service as a stop-gap night fighter, a small number of twin seat airframes joining the single-seaters in the battle against Allied bombers.
This is simply not the case.
While Welter himself may have attempted one or two night-time four-engine bomber interceptions by his own account, not one Kdo Welter or 10./NJG 11 Me 262 pilot recorded so much as a single encounter with an RAF heavy bomber that is verifiable (see Zapf, page 41 for discussion of the 'events' of the night of January 13/14, 1945). Ultimately, this was not their mission! (Note that the Airfix box-top artwork for their new-tool Me 262 twin seater is very similar to the artwork produced by Hobbyboss et al...)
The experimental Me 262 'night hunting' unit 'Kommando Welter' was formed at Rechlin-Larz on 2nd November 1944. Initially only single seat Me 262 As were available and so equipped. It can thus be assumed that a majority of the 'night fighter' Me 262 sorties and resulting 'kills' were conducted with single seat aircraft flying without radar.
Indeed Welter himself, and various other pilots who joined the unit through November and December, flew 'Wilde Sau' type missions. Welter claimed his first victory - somewhat doubtfully- on November 27, according to Jurleit. 'Kommando Welter' was redesignated 10./NJG 11 on 25th January 1945 with a typical Staffel-strength establishment of 12 Me 262s. As discussed above and highlighted in the new book by author Andreas Zapf, evidence of sorties flown and 'victories' claimed is both fragmentary and highly contradictory. Suffice to say most books and websites dealing uncritically with Luftwaffe aces attribute quite arbitrarily a large number of Mosquito downings to Welter..
While the Me 262 As were strictly focused on Mosquito targets this is not to say that Welter had not attempted to down bombers in his single-seater Me 262 - he apparently had on at least two occasions - and only narrowly avoided crashing into them. He quickly came to the conclusion - and the OKL agreed - that Me 262s were marginal as "night-fighters" and were to be deployed as so-called 'golden bullets', turned over exclusively to anti-Mosquito duties, additionally deployed to combat high-flying US PR types by day.
To be clear, orders from above limited the 'night fighter' Me 262 to specifically engage Mosquitos at night, and PR aircraft during the day under VFR conditions (as in the case of K-H Becker's F-5 Lightning Aufklärerjagd Abschuss). The majority of the 'night fighter' Me 262 kills were conducted with single seat aircraft flying without radar. Two seat aircraft with radar surely presented quite different interception opportunities to exploit. The Me 262 night fighter pilots were briefed explicitly not to engage heavy bombers.
Given equipment limitations and the difficulties that the GCI controllers were having with the speed disparity, even between Mosquitos and the Me 262, the chances of running a successful interception between a heavy bomber and a jet were next to zero. Even against Mosquitos Kommando Welter pilots had to plan their attack very carefully since the jets were considerably quicker. K-H Becker described the problem;
"..I had caught a Mosquito illuminated in the search lights at about 8,500m, in a good position for an attack. However, because I had not managed to manoeuvre my Me 262 into the proper position, the rapid closing speed forced me to break off before I could finish my attack..."
He illustrates here the preferred Me 262 target - an aircraft already illuminated by searchlights. The 'Wilde Sau' also enjoyed a running commentary from fighter controllers on the ground, similar to their daytime colleagues.
The twin-seater Me 262 B-1a/U1 with FuG 218, as first delivered to 10./ NJG 11 on 22 March 1945 was ultimately the final development of the Me 262 night fighter to see action for a handful of examples (see the account of Altner in Smith and Creek 2003; p. 464 and Williams 2006; p. 187). However the specialised twin-seaters deployed on operator-guided and radar-assisted interception of Mosquitoes required experienced pilots and radar operators of which hardly any were assigned to 10./ NJG 11. The first two seat, radar equipped, night fighters were conversions undertaken by the Deutsche Lufthansa workshops at Berlin-Staaken. Herbert Altner collected the first on 22nd March (".. our first red 8" ) but it was destroyed by bombing at a stop over at Lübeck and never made it to the unit. According to his own recollections Altner repeated this operation on two more occasions, ferrying three two-seaters in total (Jurleit, page 89) which saw service with 10./NJG 11 flying a handful of sorties;
" ... I could manage the over-loaded machine quite well - but with two crew, heavy weapons, radar and Hirschgeweihantenne (antler radar aerials) there was a huge difference in handling compared to the single-seater....das war doch ein gewaltiger Unterschied zum Einsitzer.."
However according to 10./NJG 11 pilot Jorg Czypionka only two of the 12 ME 262s seen in the 'flight-line' photos of 10./NJG 11 published hitherto were in fact fitted out with radar - the rest were used in a role similar to Wilde Sau, flown VFR. Cypionka returned just a single victory in the 262 in a single seat machine.
Whether it was the unwieldy and 'interim' Me 262 B1a/U1 with its handling difficulties and lack of Schräge Musik oblique guns or the Me 262 A, the 'night fighters' still had the same simple throttle management issues encountered on the 'day fighter' Me 262 to contend with. Piston-engine fighter pilots could cut the throttle and advance it at will and were well used to jamming the throttle back and forth to tighten turns and adjust closure speed. Two Me 262 night-time losses are testament to the missing ingredient of simple throttle management! Welter destroyed the first "red 4" by slamming the throttles forward and on the night of 27-28 March 1945 at the controls of 'red 11' Lt. Herbert Altner -directed by radio operator Reinhard Lommatzsch onto a single Mosquito- throttled back the engines causing both to flame-out. Altner recalled, " Beide Öfen nahmen übel..both 'ovens' took this badly and unable to restart them our speed dropped off and the nose began to fall away...there was nothing for it but to get out as fast as possible.." (Jurleit, page 90)
The machine went into a nose dive. Unable to restart at least one engine again, Altner gave the order to jump. After jettisoning the canopy, Altner stood on his seat and jumped clear and landed safely with his parachute. Radio operator Reinhard Lommatzsch had less luck, colliding with the tail unit and fell to the ground without deploying his parachute.
Attempting to 'manoeuvre' into a firing position Altner had reacted as he had been trained in piston- engined fighters, i.e., he chopped the throttles, causing an immediate flame-out. Both of these night-fighting Me 262s were lost for no other reason than the pilots disobeyed the basic instruction ; 'set the throttles and then do not touch them". The Jumos were simply too 'touchy' for anything else.
The night of 27-28 March 1945 is an important one in the story of the Me 262 B on a number of counts. Some 80 Mosquitos headed for Berlin and six Messerschmitt Me 262s were scrambled to intercept them. These were the first sorties of the Messerschmitt Me 262 B-1a/U1.
Four of the Mosquitos were lost - two over the Netherlands, two more west of Berlin where they fell victim to two of the Me 262s. Lt. Jorg Cypionka and Fw. Karl-Heinz Becker were the successful pilots.
Altner with radar operator Fw. Hans Fryba went on to shoot down a Mosquito of 305 Squadron (flown by Sqn.Ldr. Hanbury) on the night of 3-4 April 1945. The two claimed on 19/20 April cannot be matched with any British losses. Post-war Altner claimed to have been the first Luftwaffe pilot to have flown the two seat version on night fighting operations ..
"..On 6 May I flew with my mechanic Karl Braun in good old 'Red 12' from the motorway near Reinfeld to Schleswig-Jagel where the Luftwaffe's last two Me 262 B-1a/U1s were surrendered to the RAF. That was the end of the war for me and I had done my duty. I remember with pride that I had flown the world's first operational jet aircraft, and to have been the first Luftwaffe pilot to have flown the two seater version on night-fighting operations...."
Below; biography of Herbert Altner on the occasion of his 80th birthday as published in Jägerblatt 1/1998. Surprisingly enough there isn't/wasn't a single decent bio or image of Altner ( "Mister 262") on the internet. Altner was born 2 March 1918 in Nauenhof near Leipzig, entered the Luftwaffe as radio operator in April 1937 but dreamt of becoming a pilot. He was accepted for flying training in June 1939. He trained as a night-fighter pilot and joined 5./NJG 3 in November 1941, returning his first victory during the night of 18/19 August 1942 on his 36th combat sortie. (Halifax W1226 of No. 35 Sqn). On the night of 19 July 1944 he and his 8./NJG 5 crew accounted for five Lancasters in 33 minutes.
Neat view of a twin-seater, probably 'red 8', being inspected by RAF personnel - note the single colour wing upper surface scheme, probably Grün 82. The fuselage features a heavy mottle of 81/82 according to Ron Belling who re-sprayed 'red 8' in South Africa for the Saxonwold museum and then wrote about it for William Green's 'Air International' back in 1975. In his 1989 book Belling had in fact 'changed his mind' about these colours opting for 81/83. These machines were painted for ground concealment...
More from David E. Brown;
" There are enough images of these 10./ NJG 11 machines to ascertain that their camouflage schemes were probably a field/unit modification of the original scheme. Indeed, no two of the unit's Me 262 Bs wore the same camouflage scheme/colours, and one must think that perhaps the RLM was also involved possibly evaluating the effectiveness of the various patterns and colours.
'Red 10' was initially built as a standard single-seat A-1a at Leipheim, and probably completed in mid-January 1945. It was then forwarded to the Deutsche Lufthansa workshops at Staaken for conversion to a twin-seater. The first acceptance flight following conversion was made by Fw. Poppe of the DLH on 17 February 1945. He may have also flown it to Schleswig-Jagel on the same date. It is also recorded as being flown by Poller of the DLH at Staaken on 17 March 1945 for 27 minutes. It was then accepted by 10./NJG 11 on 30 March 1945.
I have a Blohm & Voss document from September 1944 that records the minutes of a meeting about the Me 262 B conversion and it is stated that the aircraft were to be finished in upper surface colours of 81 and 82. If memory serves, undersides were to be finished in 65, not 76. The extant photos of it following capture in May 1945 reveal very light-coloured upper surfaces (fuselage and wings), that most probably was a lightened version of 76. A scattered wavy pattern of a darker colour is noticeable on the wings and fuselage upper surfaces (excepting the tailplane) that is thought to be 83 (Dunkelgrün). This colour would offer some modest concealment when on the ground. Colours 81 (Braunviolet) and 82 (Hellgrün) cannot be ruled out though perhaps less likely for the latter. The tail has a different pattern that I think could be a lighter application of 76 allowing patches of the original 81/82 scheme to poke through. Undersides were painted overall black. The aircraft’s werknummer was applied to both sides of the fin, above the horizontal stabilizers...."
For a build of the Trumpeter 32nd scale Me 262 B and an in-depth discussion on colours see the SAAF forum
Se also Michael Ullman's article on hyperscale; a discussion on exactly what were the colours 81/82/83?
More on the establishment of Kommando Welter on this blog
Scalenews.de has a comprehensive walkaround of the SAAF Saxonwold Museum Me 262 B-1a/U1
Saturday, 30 November 2019
new Luftwaffe books and recent additions to the bookshelf - Jagdfliegerverbände 13/IV, Eagles over the Sea, Luftwaffe in Africa
After helping out with a bit of 'research', Mr. Robert Forsyth was kind enough to send me a copy of his latest Osprey title.
Einsatz in der Reichsverteidigung und im Westen 1.1. bis 31.12.1944
The latest huge tome in Jochen Prien's stupendous JfV series arrived a while ago, and is the fourth volume covering the Jagdverbände in the West during 1944. Indispensable for anyone interested in the period. I've already used it to back-up some of my own writing. In fact no-one writing or commenting on the Jagdwaffe, either pilots or machines or campaigns, can afford not to consult this series of books. Pages 1-50 of this volume provide an appraisal of the organisation of the day fighter units in the newly established 'Luftflotte Reich' along with a comprehensive description and assessment of the various fighter types in service during 1944 before coverage of the Gruppen of JG 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. For modellers, these volumes provide a fantastic source for 'new' photos. Highlights in this volume for me were the views of the Fw 190 A-8 flown by the Gkr. III./JG 2 Huppertz, KIA on 8 June. 508 pages.
And I have just noticed that Rogge has some volumes from the series for sale on Ebay currently here. A copy of JfV 13/III is being offered with 20 euros off list price (slight knocks to the cover).
In the Casemate Illustrated series, by Jean-Louis Roba.
Features first person accounts, artworks, 128 pages, 200 photos, nice thick glossy paper and glossy card cover.
Title: The Messerschmitt 210/410 Story
Author: Jan Forsgren
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Review by Robin Buckland
"....This new book from author Jan Forsgren tells the interesting story of the Me 210 and 410. While the two aircraft looked similar at first glance, the differences were clearly important.
It starts with the need to find a successor to the Me 110 as a 'Zerstorer', or Heavy Fighter. I learnt that the first prototype had a twin tail arrangement, similar to the Me 110 as did a competing Arado design which is also included. This was quickly changed to a single, tall tail design. It goes on to tell us about both the good and bad points of the design. In the case of the 210 the bad outweighed the good, and despite it entering production the design suffered continual problems that caused too many accidents, often fatal for their crews. All the same, they were supplied to the Hungarian air arm. The story is well illustrated with archive photos and a number of individual accounts from aircrew who flew them, as well as their combat history. Production was eventually cancelled and the type needed redesign.
There is short piece on an Me 310 design, but that didn't proceed, but the Me 410 did. A lengthened fuselage, alteration to the main wing and other updates are explained and the revised design did go into production and active service with the Luftwaffe. The 410 was used as a heavy fighter, intercepting the American bomber formations, as well as a light bomber, nightfighter and a reconnaissance variant. The armament combinations are interesting for having two remote control gun barbettes on each side of the fuselage and variants were also fitted with heavy 37mm and 50mm nose mounted guns.
I have always liked the look of the Me 410 design, perhaps influenced by an old Frog model kit that I built when I was young. This is a marvellous history of the type and the archive photos will interest many modellers as well as aviation historians I think. An excellent follow up to the author's earlier book on the Ju 52. A would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in Luftwaffe aircraft of WW2......"
Lawrence Paterson's 'Eagles over the Sea' is an elegant and earnest account of Luftwaffe maritime operations during WWII. This first volume is part one of a planned two volume set and covers the period 1939-1942. Opening with a two chapter account of the early years of German naval aviation going back to WWI and the inter-war period leading to the creation of the Luftwaffe, the author focuses on the Legion Condor's seaplane Staffel as a key moment in the development of German maritime aviation. In Spain the seaplanes in the AS 88 were deployed in ad-hoc fashion on offensive actions. Martin Harlinghausen was a key figure on torpedo-carrying He 59 seaplane missions that sank a number of British vessels in particular. He would go on to command X.Fliegerkorps in the Mediterranean. The first signs of the inter-service rivalry that bedevilled German air-sea operations became apparent. Offensive actions were the domain of the Luftwaffe while the Kriegsmarine essentially were limited to maritime reconnaissance.
The Germans in fact never developed a naval air arm. As is well known they never managed to build an aircraft carrier ..or at least put one into service. They did develop a coastal aviation service for rescue, recce and mine-laying and adapted four-engine civilian transport aircraft to the long-range anti-shipping and strike role. Offensive actions were always the domain of the Luftwaffe and Goering fought tooth and nail with Raeder to maintain the status quo. Early offensive actions were particularly hit-and-miss due to the unreliability of German air-dropped torpedoes -as the author points out resources for the development of the weapon were a constant source of friction between the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. Even Hitler himself had to get involved to arbitrate in the dispute, finally assigning the weapon exclusively to the Luftwaffe in 1942.
The chapter turning 'Turning North and West' focuses on the invasion of Denmark and Norway, launched on 9 April 1940. Five Do 26 seaplanes (V-1 to V-5) were brought together in the so-called Transozeanstaffel incorporated in 9./KGzbV 108. Among the pilots flying these machines were the 'cream' of the Lufthansa fleet : Rudolf « Miesi » Mayr, the Graf Schack von Wittenau, and later night fighter ace Ernst-Wilhelm Modrow among others. The Staffel was tasked with transporting troops, munitions and mail with particular responsibility for re-supplying the Narvik area which saw hard fighting between the Allies and General Eduard Dietl's Gebirgsjäger. Deploying civilian machines flown by 'civilian' pilots highlights the lack of preparedness for waging a war of aggression in the supposedly 'invincible' Luftwaffe.
'The End of the Beginning' covers the Atlantic battle ground (page 268). Against a background of conflict between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe over the direction of maritime units, Goering largely got his own way. Development and testing of air-dropped torpedoes was one area where the conflict had resulted in no progress whereas the Fleet Air Arm had shown the efficacy of Britain's torpedo bombers - why was the venerable Swordfish biplane such an outstanding machine? Because slow and stable were the prerequisites for an air-dropped torpedo launch. With no progress on torpedo development the Kriegsmarine was ordered to turn over the technology to the Luftwaffe in April 1942 and the Germans were forced to make official representations to the Japanese to share their technology.
Harlinghausen's X. Fliegerkorps moved to the Mediterranean as part of Luftwaffe initiatives in support of Italy's failing war in North Africa. Harlinghausen himself took part in one of KG 26's first raids on the Suez canal. Due to bad weather and the distances involved the raid in January 1941 was a disaster with ten He 111s lost. Harlinghausen's He 111 ran out of fuel and put down in the desert.
As naval actions go none are more well-known than the sinking of the Bismarck. Apparently the battleship was not as bereft of air-cover as is sometimes imagined. Ju 88s of KGr. 606 overflew the scene of Bismark's last stand. The battleship itself carried four Ar 196 float planes which it was unable to launch as the catapult had been disabled.
In 'Blue Water, Grey Steel - the Mediterranean and Eastern Fronts' the author details KG 30's raids on Malta, quoting from Herrmann's biography. Herrmann's attack on Piraeus during Operation Marita and the sinking of the SS Clan Fraser is a well-known action but the author brings us a fresh appraisal and in 'Torpedo Los - the Arctic and Malta Convoys' there is more on the Arctic convoys especially the 'famous' PQ 17'. The Arctic route was the only way the Allies had of assisting the Soviet Union. Knight's Cross winner Gerd Stamp's recollections feature in the author's account of Lehrgeschwader 1's operations against the Malta convoys (page 399). Other units covered include KG 26 in Norway (page 346), the 17 December trials with Fw 200 as torpedo carriers and 8./KG 100 operations over the Black Sea, Sevastopol (page 406).
Volume I ends with an appendix covering the aircraft types and with 'Torch', the Allied invasion of Vichy North-West Africa about to begin.
Author Paterson is of course a noted author of German naval operations. AFAIK this is his first book covering the Luftwaffe. The style of his work is very much in the vein of Hooten and Williamson - very readable and full of detail. The bibliography indicates that he has a good grasp of German-language primary and secondary sources, always a good indicator in my book of the seriousness and reliability of a book dealing with WWII German subjects and I look forward to Volume II of his history of Luftwaffe maritime operations.
The latest monograph from Philippe Saintes is Part II of the 'Derives et Victoires' series published by Lela Presse - profile artworks, 96 pages, 185 photos - a bargain from the Lela Presse website where you can download a pdf extract of the title.
On a recent road trip to Belgium I secured a copy of a long sought after title " La chasse de jour allemande en Roumanie" (Luftwaffe Day fighters in Romania) which covers in depth the air battles for Romanian oil from the establishment of JG 4 to 'Tidal Wave' to the combats of April-July 1944 fought by JG 77 and JG 52 to the Russian arrival in Bucharest in August 1944..it is only a slim soft-back and 25 years old but is packed with first-person accounts and rare images..
..and a box full of Jägerblatt magazines - plenty of material for future blog posts!
..and, after his hassles with various publishers, Christer's latest volume in the Black Cross-Red Star series is entitled "Stalingrad to Kuban" ;
" ..masterfully combines the combat experiences of both Soviet and German aviators into a coherent narrative...an indispensable reference.." Highly recommended..
Monday, 25 November 2019
In the leafy south-east Berlin suburb of Karlshorst in an incongruous building at the end of Zwieseler Straße, World War Two in Europe officially came to an end with the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht.
Zwieseler Straße 4 in Berlin-Karlshorst: Deutsch-Russisches Museum am 66. Jahrestag der bedingungslosen Kapitulation der Wehrmacht.
Nowadays, thanks to the Soviets, it is a museum, one of the best in the city, telling the story of the 'Great Patriotic War' against Nazi Germany, the capture of the city by the Soviet Army and the impact of all that on its hapless citizens. One of the main attractions of the museum is the 'surrender room' - preserved today as it was then. The room is almost exactly as it was on 8 May 1945, save for the carpet allegedly pilfered from the ruins of the Reichskanzlei on Vossstrasse. Much of the furniture is not original however.
After the signing of the official surrender document at Rheims on 7 May 1945, insisted on by General Eisenhower, who stated that if the Germans did not surrender unconditionally, then bombing of Germany would resume, Stalin was furious. How could the Allies force the Germans to sign a document of surrender with no Soviet participation, after what the Soviet people had been through? Given that the Soviets suffered the largest human and material losses of any country that took part in WW2, the absence of Soviet representatives at the surrender table was not acceptable. That night, everyone was packed into aircraft and flown to Berlin. Signing the Wehrmacht surrender in Berlin was Keitel.
From Zhukov's diary;
"The first to enter, slowly and feigning composure, was Generalfeldmarschall [Wilhelm] Keitel, Hitler's closest associate. Keitel was followed by Generaloberst [Hans-Jurgen] Stumpff. he was a short man whose eyes were full of impotent rage. With him entered Generaladmiral [Hans-Georg] von Friedeburg who looked prematurely old. The Germans were asked to take their seats at a separate table close to the door through which they had entered. The Generalfeldmarschall slowly sat down and pinned his eyes on us, sitting at the Presaedium table. Stumpff and von Friedeburg sat down beside Keitel. The officers accompanying them stood behind their chairs."
The tall figure behind Keitel (to the right) in Luftwaffe uniform is his 'English translator' - credited with around 10 victories Karl Boehm-Tettelbach was a former Kommodore of ZG 26. His account of the events of that day can be seen in Guido Knopp's 1980s ZDF series 'Der verdammte Krieg' which is available to watch on youtube. Post-war Boehm-Tettelbach went on to work with Pan Am and served as station manager at Nuremberg airport. His memoir published in 1981 was entitled Als Flieger in der Hexenküche.
Saturday, 23 November 2019
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4 Kanonenboot 3./JG 27, JG 26 Priller 'black 13' Fw 190 A-8 - Ebay photo find #324
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4 Kanonenboot der 3. Staffel/JG 27 in Fels-am-Wagram Frühjahr 1944. Maschine trägt eine grüne RV-Bauchbinde. Geschwader-Abzeichen mit Schriftzug "Staffel Marseille". - Bf 109 G-4 of 3./JG 27 - note the 'Staffel Marseille' inscription around the Geschwader cowl emblem
Another view of one of Priller's 'black 13' A-8s on the 'Invasionsfront' and below, Fw 190 F-8 of II./SG 4 in July 1944..
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" My copy of the Luftwaffe Gallery JG 5 book has just arrived and it is as you would expect from Erik - full of interesting photos, informative narrative and quality colour profiles. The LuGa series is up there along with the Luftwaffe in Focus series as being a must have..."
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