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.

Jagdfliegerverbände Teil 13 / IV

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
ISBN: 978-1-78155-731-0

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 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 indispensable reference.." Highly recommended..

Monday 25 November 2019

8 May 1945 - the end of the war in Europe. Berlin-Karlshorst: Deutsch-Russisches Museum

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.

Zwieseler Straße 4, Berlin-Karlshorst, 357-462

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

He 177 KG 1 - recent ebay photo finds #325

above; Heinkel 177 A-3 "Kurfürst-Luise" der I./KG 1, Frühjahr 1944. On offer here

'prise de guerre' Toulouse

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..

From the 'original negative' the same seller has this nice view from II./JG 5 seen in February 1944 on offer - Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 Gustavs including ' black 4' flown by Oblt Theo Weißenberger taxying out past Hptm Horst Carganico's "Mickey-Mouse. Weißenberger replaced Carganico as Kommandeur I./JG 5 after the latter was killed in an accident just prior to the 'invasion' in France, June 1944. This and similar views have been published in Erik Mombeeck's JG 5 histories, including his latest 'Luftwaffe Gallery' devoted to JG 5.
This seller's current ebay sales are here

" 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..."

 " Hucks216 " on the "12 o'clock high" forum

Monday 4 November 2019

Focke Wulf Fw 190 startklar zum Feindflug ! Schlachtgeschwader 77 -ebay photo find #323

Fw 190s of SG 77  preparing for a sortie via seller Marco Meyer

on offer here