Saturday 30 March 2019

Fw 190 Dora 9s of II./JG 301 pictured at readiness during spring 1945

From a photo print in my collection prepared from the original negative by J-Y Lorant. Dora 9s of II./JG 301 pictured at readiness during spring 1945 in Stendal. Note the yellow-red fuselage bands of the machines in the background. A II. Gruppe bar is just visible on the aircraft on the right, which appears to be 'red 3' or possibly 'red 5' of 8. Staffel - click on the image below to see a much larger view.. The auxiliary tank on the aircraft closest to the camera is slung on the refined ETC 504 rack.

On 2 March 1945 the 8th AF launched a full-strength raid against synthetic fuel plants - JGs 300 and 301 both managed to commit all four Gruppen for what would prove to be the last time for a total of  nearly 200 machines airborne. The II./JG 301 Doras suffered devastating losses running into P-51s north of Magdeburg and for just one B-17 claim no fewer than eight II. Gruppe pilots were KIA (Caldwell p423) including Lt. Walter Kropp of 8. Staffel at the controls of  'red 1'..

Cyber-hobby/ Dragon Bf-109 E-3, Eduard Fw 190 A-3

This is the Cyber-hobby/ Dragon Bf-109E-3 by Rod Bettencourt. Rod riveted and stressed the skin on this project and used HGW seatbelts, a Yaha instrument panel along with some minor scratch building in the cockpit. Finish is with Model Master paints..

A couple of neat Eduard kit builds courtesy of Paul ('Rogue') on BM. These are Paul's first two builds after  a 33-year break in his modelling 'career' and his first airbrushed mottle finish.

"..For my second build I decided to continue the Luftwaffe theme with another aircraft I have never attempted before. This is the new Eduard kit in the markings of Karl Willius of 3./ JG 26, Saint-Omer, France during August 1942. By 1944 he was accredited with 50 kills and subsequently killed in combat. It is OOB and finished with Vallejo Air Acrylics, Flory Grime Wash, AK pigments and Humbrol Clear Satin..."

Tamiya 1/72 scale Bf 109 G-6

Tamiya have released their brand-new 1/72 scale  kit of the Bf 109 G-6. It includes some neat construction sequencing and details;

-the cockpit is inserted after left and right fuselage halves have been put together. It has an accurate interior with streamlined assembly.

- the canopy can be assembled open or closed.

- the landing gear struts have a solid attachment point for accurate attachment angle and position.

- features optional drop tank parts.

- 2 marking options: JG 51 (with distinctive eye marking on the Beule) and JG 54.

See Brett Green's review elsewhere for more on this fine-looking kit. The only issue of course will be cost -  for example the 48th scale Tamiya G-6 retails for £39.99 in the UK - or roughly twice the cost of an Eduard Gustav !

A single click to view the video here - a 20-second overview of the 72nd scale Tamiya Gustav

..and the 48th scale Tamiya Gustav by Matthias Becker for a forthcoming issue of Jet & Prop. IMHO the nose 'looks' a touch too short and 'bulged' with that slight hump. Or maybe I've been looking at those 'slimline' AZ Gustav kits for too long...

Friday 29 March 2019

Eduard Focke Wulf 190 A-8 new release 1:48 Profipack

...The A-8/R2 featured in the Limited Edition Reichsverteidigung combo boxing but now the new Eduard 1/48 FW 190 A-8 is least in Germany for Germany's biggest model show of the year which takes place this weekend.

 "... Going through the sprues of all the "new tool" Butcher Birds now I think we now have everything in one box or the other for all versions from the A-2 to A-9? I guess the new A-8 kit will have the wings with the standard 20mm outboard guns...which were missing on the A8/R2 that came with the Reichverteidigung Pack. So now also the A-6 and A-7 are possible. Here is the new box art...very nice IMHO. Does anybody know anything about the 5 decal options already? Eduard's web page is not showing the kit seems though that some German dealers got the delivery earlier than expected..." anj4de on BM

"...The kit arrived today. Here are some pics of what I found to be the "new" bits of this release. The wings now have the standard 20mm outboard cannons and related details. Small PE parts are included for an option, I think it's the cover plate that on the R2 version has the shell exausts for the 30mm MK108. See pics...

The decals look good as always. Kölle Alaf red 19 can be build in both options, with and without red fuselage band. The JG5 "Eismeer" crest is included in three different versions. I also like the JG 4 version even though my skills will most likely not allow to mask and paint the fuselage band, the very thin piping left and right would be very challenging.

I guess that's it...really. Again you will get a huge amount of spare parts and with aftermarket decals this boxing allows everything from a A-5 heavy to an A-9 since I believe the bigger front armor ring of the A-9 would not be visible in 1/48..."

Leading profile artist Thierry Dekker 'retires'

 If you are a regular reader of aviation magazines and books - especially those published by Lela Presse - Thierry Dekker's name will not be unknown to you. I knew Thierry before he had his first digital profile published - he worked with an airbrush for Replic magazine when he first started out before producing his first digital profiles in around 2002 if I recall correctly.  Thierry Dekker became and still is one of the leading self-taught 'profile artists' in the digital environment - he was one artist who knew just how important a quality illustrator able to produce to deadlines was for an editor...

But now he's decided to drop down a gear, step off the treadmill and adopt a more relaxed mode - retirement! Anyone who has seen the fantastic selection of B-26 Marauders he has produced for the latest issue of 'Avions' magazine (not to mention Hellcats, Fiats and Kawasakis) will immediately understand what a 'loss' this will be. By way of tribute the magazine has reproduced certain of his artworks in 'Avions' issue No. 228 very large. Never fear though - there are apparently plenty more artworks in the pipeline from Thierry - including more Luftwaffe subjects in the Lela Presse 'Units' series among others.

Although we've never met we have worked together on many publications including his self-published 'Profile Hanger', for which Thierry asked me to write the English text, a request which I was more than happy to meet. 'Profile Hangar' adopted a similar 'landscape' format to Erik Mombeeck's 'Luftwaffe Gallery' - which Thierry also designed and illustrated up until recently - but which unfortunately did not meet with quite the same level of success, despite the stunning artwork throughout.

We wish you a happy retirement, Thierry, preferably without the health concerns that sometimes arise from "old age"....(with thanks to Philippe Bellarini for the photo taken in 2012 in Toulouse)

'Profile Hangar' covered ten different aircraft types, including the P-51, P-40, P-47, Hurricane, Spitfire, Typhoon, Curtiss H-75, Fw 190, Spad XIII and Hellcat. The book features fifty-nine profile artworks, of which forty-seven depict nose art, backed up by over sixty photos.

You can still find Thierry's 'Profile Hangar' if you look hard enough  - here's an 'unbiased' review on the Osprey Modelling news blog

Sunday 24 March 2019

Aces of JG 53, funeral ceremony Kommodore NJG 6 Mjr. Heinrich Wohlers - ebay photo find #312

A line-up of notable aces of JG 53 in front of a Stab JG 53 Emil in Etaples, France, November 1940.

Second left, Oblt. Kurt Brändle (Kapitän 4./JG 53) and alongside him moving to the right,  Hptm. Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke (Kommandeur III./JG 53)  Maj. Günther von Maltzahn (Kommodore from 9 October 1940) and Hptm. Heinz Bretnütz (Kdr. II./JG 53). Third from the right is Obfw. Stefan Litjens and alongside him to the right is Lt. Erich Schmidt and Oblt. Franz Götz (Kapitän 9./JG 53).

Flugzeug Me 110 Nachtjäger , NJG 6 , Beerdigung Mj. Wohlers in Echterdingen

Funeral ceremony Kommodore NJG 6 Mjr. Heinrich Wohlers in Echterdingen during March 1944. Note the three coffins  - as well as BF Ofw. Kleilein, Wohlers was carrying a passenger on what was a transfer flight..

Heinrich Wohlers was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of IV./NJG 6 on 13 January 1943. By the end of May, he had nine victories to his credit. In June and July, Wohlers was detached to 3./NJG 1. During his period with the unit he recorded seven victories, including his 10th victory, a RAF Lancaster four-engine bomber shot down near Broich on the night of 16/17 June, two RAF four-engine bombers shot down over Holland on the night of 22/23 June (12-13) and a further two RAF four-engine bombers shot down on the night of 29 June (15-16). On 1 August 1943, IV./NJG 4 was redesignated I./NJG 6. Wohlers retained command of the newly redesignated unit. By the end of 1943, Wohlers had increased his victory total to 28, including three RAF four-engine bombers shot down on the night of 10/11 August (18-20) and a further three on the night of 27/28 August (22-24).

On 11 November 1943 Wohlers was promoted to the rank of Major and awarded the Ritterkreuz on 31 December for 28 victories. Major Wohlers was appointed Kommodore of NJG 6 on 2 February 1944. His final 'tally' was 29..

 According to the now long-inactive site Wohlers was killed on 15 March 1944 during a transfer flight from Schleissheim to Echterdingen. He crashed in fog while attempting to land on one engine in Echterdingen in his Bf 110 G-4 (W.Nr. 5353). According to the handwritten remark on the reverse of the image offered on ebay (below) the funeral took place on 14 March 1944.....

Saturday 23 March 2019

Building the Focke Wulf Fw 190 - Model Aircraft magazine Extra!

new from Model Aircraft magazine

"....The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is generally viewed as a far superior fighter than the much more famous Messerschmitt Bf 109 - and for good reason. This highly adaptable aircraft served in an enormous variety of roles, including fighter, night-fighter, fighter-bomber/ ground attack, reconnaissance and torpedo bomber throughout much of the Second World War. It initially appeared as an interim fighter designed to complement the Bf 109 and the first production model, the Fw 190A-1 was deployed on occupation duties in France in the summer of 1941, from where it could threaten the British Isles. The sheer number and variety of model kits of the Fw 190 makes this one of the most popular aircraft in various scales. This new book in the Model Aircraft Extra series from MA Publications brings you a guide to modelling some of the variants of this aircraft using some of the best model kits currently available, and some of the best model makers around. 13 build projects will be included, in a ‘how-to’ format, and herald the start of a fantastic modelling guide series from MA Publications, the new name in scale modelling..."

go to
and seen on Jay Blakemore's FB page, possibly a contributor to the volume..

".. Apparently my Fw 190 post goes against FB standards and has been removed. So I apologise to all those of you who have been offended by my models .."

6./JG 300 Uffz. Paul Lixfeld's 'yellow 12'  "Muschi" by Jay Blakemore

message to Jay - perhaps FB know what that lovely German word "Muschi" as seen on Lixfeld's machine really means ..just don't put the word into google if easily offended! Back in late 1944 I'm assuming 'Muschi' was just as slightly risqué as it is today  - possibly even indecent and liable to shock, especially by being sexually suggestive. Just the sort of thing you'd expect a 19-year old fighter pilot to have on his mind - that or alcohol. Of course Lixfeld may have simply liked cats -after all it was not uncommon for Luftwaffe fighter pilots to immortalise their pets on their aircraft, even cats eg 'Pikus'. Try the link below for a photo compilation of Luftwaffe pets...

Friday 22 March 2019

Forthcoming - The Messerschmitt Me 210/410 story, Jan Forsgren, Fonthill

now available to pre-order from Fonthill is a new book from Jan Forsgren on the type. According to the Fonthill site the book is due in July;

"..In 1938, the Reichsluftfahrtsministerium (German Air Ministry, RLM), issued a requirement for a new twin-engine heavy fighter to replace the Me 110. This type of combat aeroplane was known as Zerstörer (Destroyer). The first prototype flew in September 1939. The Me 210 proved very difficult to fly, having numerous deficiencies. It was said to be deadlier to its crews than the enemy. Nevertheless, the Luftwaffe ordered the Me 210 into production. Operational trials began in late 1941, but it was eventually acknowledged that the aircraft had to be redesigned in order to be accepted into Luftwaffe service. The whole Me 210 debacle proved a huge scandal. A redesigned variant, the Me 410 began to reach Luftwaffe units in mid-1943. Even if the Me 210 and Me 410 were similar in appearance, the latter had to be re-worked to erase the extremely poor reputation garnered by the Me 210. The Me 410 proved a quite successful aeroplane, being used as a heavy fighter and for reconnaissance duties. Its closest Allied equivalent was the British DH 98 Mosquito. More than 1,500 Me 210/410s were built in Germany and Hungary, with only two Me 410s surviving today..."

" Hi Neil ..I've just submitted the last edit before paging to Fonthill for the Me 210/410 book. The release date is provisional, but I hope it will be released later this year - July according to the Fonthill site. At around 270 pages my book will feature a general history of the Me 210/410, as well as the Ar 240, including details on development, combat, variants, units, foreign operators (Hungary and to a much lesser extent Japan), foreign evaluation, production, preservation and much information on individual aircraft..."

Jan Forsgren very graciously granted me a fantastic interview on the publication of his Ju 52 book on this blog here

recent 210/410 images from expired ebay auctions (not in the book!)

Verbandsflug KG 51 Hornisse...

Regia Aeronautica in the Battle of Britain Corpo Aereo Italiano - Operation Cinzano 11 November 1940,

" 11 November 1940 - today we have brought down more enemy aircraft than on any previous day. Among them for the first time were at least eight Italian machines. The PM chuckled with joy when I reported this information to him..."

 John Colville, Churchill's private secretary.

Hoping to participate in the 'invasion' of Britain the Italians dispatched a hastily assembled expeditionary force of some 200 aircraft to the Channel coast. The so-called Corpo Aereo Italiano transferred to Belgium (Ursel) between 27 September and 19 October 1940 and would 'participate' in the tail end of the Battle of Britain; the Cant. Z 1007 of 172 Squadriglia RST (Ricognizione Strategica Terrestre, above) was one of five sent to Belgium, while the Fiat CR.42 Falco fighters of 18 Gruppo seen setting out from Milan for Belgium on 6 October 1940 (below) were part of a contingent of some fifty of the type.  The transfer from Italy was something of a fiasco - as a result of poor weather, lack of fuel or technical faults no fewer than 19 Fiat BR.20 bombers had to make emergency landings while a further four bombers and three Fiat G.50s were posted missing! After stops in Munich and Brussels the Italian detachment finally reached Ursel on 19 October!

While a comparatively strong force on paper  it took a mere handful of familiarisation flights for the realisation to dawn that the Fiat fighters- the CR. 42 in particular - were totally unsuited to 'winter' conditions in north-west Europe. Many of the aircraft had no seat armour nor functioning radio equipment, pitot tube heating was insufficient to prevent them freezing and the Fiat CR. 42 Falco biplane fighters with their open cockpits were hardly suited to missions over the UK in winter.  Among other items the pilots had to procure lifebelts from the Luftwaffe. The Italians were operating from Belgium as the Luftwaffe leadership had refused to allow them to operate from their airfields in northern France, which considerably hampered their radius of action (the endurance of the CR.42 was 775 km and the Fiat G.50 445 km), allowing them barely ten minutes over southern England. In addition, of the 200+ Italian pilots only five had received instrument or blind flying training.

 Regia Aeronautica Fiat G. 50 seen in Belgium during the Battle of Britain. 

11 November 1940 was a hard day for the forces of the Regia Aeronautica stationed in Belgium on the North Sea coast. The Italians had planned a raid over the UK under the code name 'Cinzano' - a bombing raid on Harwich  by ten Fiat BR. 20s escorted by 40 Fiat CR.42s and G.50s and a diversionary attack on London by the five Canz Z. 1007 bombers in concert with the Luftwaffe. However everything that could go wrong, did go wrong...the G.50s turned for home unable to locate the bombers, the bombers, late for their rendezvous, arrived unescorted over Harwich and the RAF was able to claim eight Italian machines shot down - in reality three BR 20M bombers and three CR.42 biplanes were lost. Falco coded '95-13' flown by Sergente Pietro Salvadori  put down on the beach at Orford Ness in Suffolk with an over-heating engine as a result of a ruptured oil line - the aircraft today displayed at the RAF Museum, Hendon. The Italians claimed nine Hurricanes shot down in the engagement - the RAF reported three Hurricanes damaged..M.llo Giuseppe Ruzzin was credited with a Hurricane shot down for his fifth victory following his four confirmed in Spain. To compound the mission's lack of success and running short of fuel, no fewer than nineteen Falcos made emergency landings along the Belgian coast with ten of these machines subsequently written off.

The second and final confrontation with RAF fighters for the CAI took place on 23 November - 12 Spitfires of 603 Sqn intercepted 23 Fiat CR.42s on a 'free-hunt' over the south Kent coast in the vicinity of Folkestone. After attempting to chase some Hurricanes the twenty-four Fiat G.50s of 20 Gruppo flying the mission had already turned for home. According to Luigino Caliaro (in 'Avions' 227) the Fiat pilots threw their maneuverable biplanes into the combat with alacrity and claimed five Spitfires shot down in the space of just a few minutes - the Spitfires made claims for nine Fiats. In reality two Fiats were shot down and three made forced landings in Belgium for one Spitfire damaged. With winter setting in the Falcos and Freccias made just one more sortie over southern England (28 November) without encountering the RAF. During December the Fiat CR 42s were recalled from Belgium to be sent to Africa and departed a snow-bound Ursel on 10 January 1941...

Below; Fiat BR.20M 242-3/MM22267 lost on 11 November 1940.

Further reading;

Luigino Caliaro's multi-part series on the Fiat CR. 42 in 'Avions' magazine. The latest issue No. 228 discusses CR.42 operations in the Med, Greece and East Africa
PDF extracts for all Lela Presse publications on their web site 

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Air War Archive- Focke Wulf Fw 190 - The early years - operations in the West compiled by Chris Goss (Frontline, Pen & Sword) New Luftwaffe book review

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". 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.

This is the first of two volumes in this photo series by Chris Goss that will be devoted to the 'work-horse' of the Luftwaffe - the Fw 190. The book comprises a 12 page Preface, Introduction and Glossary and 172 pages of well-captioned photographs. Some of these are pilot portraits or group personnel images but the majority cover the aircraft. Subtitled 'The Early Years - Operations in the West' there are seven 'chapter' headings. After 'Training' chapter 2 is entitled 'The Pembrey 190' and comprises some 22 pages of images of Oblt. Faber's JG 2 machine- both inside and out. The circumstances surrounding this aircraft and how and why the pilot put down in south-Wales are described in an introductory text describing the event itself. Some pages have a single image, others feature two photos - some are a little dark and blurry - while the images showing the machine being tested by the RAF over five pages are clear and sharp. Chapter 3 is simply entitled 'Jagdgeschwader 2' and obviously covers all the aces, Wurmheller, Hahn, Schnell, Mayer etc and their machines - or more especially their rudder scoreboards. There are four pages of images of Bruno Stolle Staffelkapitän 8./JG 2 preparing for a sortie in his 'white 24'. Stolle took over from Egon Mayer as Kommandeur III./JG 2 in June 1943 - at the height of what was the 'Focke Wulf summer' over the Channel Front. While the Focke Wulfs of III./JG 2 racked up large numbers of Spitfire 'kills' a new adversary was increasingly appearing in the skies of France - massed formations of heavily defended four-engine bombers that the Jagdflieger would find a much more difficult proposition. One of the 'unidentified' 8./JG 2 pilots on page 54 is Uffz. Friedrich May. May returned his first victory on 10 June 1942 when he claimed a Boston. His 6th was a B-17 on 30 December 1942 during a raid by 1st Bomb Wing B-17s on the U-boat pens at Lorient. He was KIA on 20 October 1943 in the vicinity of Rouen in combat with Spitfires (Fw 190 A-6 470047) as an Ofw. with 3./JG 2. With at least 21 victories on his scoreboard May was awarded a posthumous DKiG. On page 73 there is a nice photo of Fähnrich Heinz Liebick of 9./JG 2 who had his Fw 190 shot-up on the ground on 17 March 1944 at Chartres by marauding P-51s but recovered from his injuries and went on to make two claims on 5 and 11 July 1944. There are a mere 25 pages in Chapter 4 devoted to 'Other Jagdgeschwader in north-west Europe' which is mostly JG 26 and JG 5. This chapter also includes views of the Melsbroeck 'blue 6' (sic) over a number of pages from 1944.  Chapter 5 entitled 'Jabo' features around fifty pages devoted to the Jabo Staffeln of JG 2 and JG 26. Content here is heavily weighted towards the Schnellkampfgeschwader and includes the well-known West Malling and Manston machines in detail. These units featured heavily in the Luftwaffe's so-called 'tip and run' campaign against southern England and London during 1942-43. On 20 January 1943 during a massed daylight raid on London Lt. Hermann Hoch flying Fw 190 A-4 WNr. 2409 'black 2 +'  was hit by anti-aircraft fire as he approached the south coast and brought down near Capel. As he crash-landed he hit the top of a hill, somersaulted some 200 yards ploughing through a coppice before coming to rest. Although injured (!) the pilot was able to evacuate the aircraft and set off the demolition charge. Unfortunately the author does not tell us what became of the pilot - but there is not much left of his aircraft ! The last two chapters cover over thirty pages those Fw 190 units performing short-range recce, with good coverage of Nahaufklärungsgruppe 13, while there is a small section on the Fw 190 in the Mediterranean. As the author explains in his Foreword many of these images come from Alfred Price's archive and have been specially scanned for this series. However it does not appear that they have been 'tidied-up' in any way and some are reproduced a little too large and might be a little indistinct as a consequence. But if you are looking to add a good quality and inexpensive Fw 190 title to your library then this is it. Volume 2 should be equally as good. Thanks to Pen and Sword for the review copy. The title is currently available from the Pen and Sword web site with a nice discount. Note also the cover image currently shown there (and above) differs from the actual cover which features Faber's Fw 190 at Pembrey..

Images shown below feature in Chris Goss's latest title in the Air War Archive series;

Above; Fw 190 A-2/3 "gelbe 11" (probably WNr. 2187) of 9./ JG 2 features the stylised eagle wing with an Adlerkopf (eagle's head) on the cowling. Note the small bulge on the gun cowling, a feature of Arado-built Fw 190s. "Yellow 11" was the usual aircraft of Ofw. Fritz Hartmann - the rudder featured at least eight Abschussbalken by the time Hartmann handed the machine over to 8. Staffel later that year where his victory markings were removed. See also the photos on p176 in Erik Mombeek's superlative " In the skies of France " (Vol 3)

Fw 190 A-5 of 2./Nahaufklärungsgruppe 13. This unit was equipped with the Bf 109 G and Fw 190 A, and commanded by Oberleutnant Walter Erhard was sent to Cuers a few weeks before the Allied Landings in Normandy..

below; Uffz. Paul Ebbinghaus of 3./ Schnellkampfgeschwader 10, shot down and killed by friendly fire near Beauvais on 8 May 1943