Sunday 20 December 2020

Fw 190 Schlachtgeschwader 1 and 2, Ritterkreuz, Anapa, Kuban -ebay photo find #342


First image below. Seen on the right, Oblt. Ernst Beutelspacher awarded the RK during May 1944 as Staffelfuehrer 6./SG 2 after some 500 combat sorties. Second photo marked ‘Anapa, June 1943’ when this unit - presumably at that time still part of II./Sch.G. 1- transferred to reinforce 17. Armee’s defense with some 25 Fw 190 A-5 fighter bombers, most likely withdrawn from the region for the Kursk offensive. Second image from the bottom, ‘..celebrating the 2000th Feindflug, October 1943..’ Beutelspacher was KIA over Romania a few months after the award of his RK. Portrait photo bottom.

Friday 18 December 2020

Fw 200 C-4/U1 Fliegerstaffel des Führers Wintertarnung - ebay photo find #341

CE+IB WNr. 0137  was a machine from the Fliegerstaffel des Führers  more colloquially known as the 'FdF' ..Für den Führer ('for the Führer'). Note the emblem applied to the forward fuselage slightly ahead of the canopy - an eagle's head in a circular frame comprising a garland of oakleaves and the initials 'FdF' within the bottom curve of the frame.

The origin of the Fliegerstaffel des Führers dates back to February 1933 when Adolf Hitler directed Lufthansa Flugkapitän Hans Baur, who was already the Führer’s personal pilot, to establish a Regierungsflugdienst (Government Flight Service) at Berlin-Tempelhof with 2 Ju 52/3m  transports. In 1934, and now with 4 Ju 52s on hand, it was officially designated Flugbereitschaft RLM but informally referred to as the Regierungsstaffel. By 31 December 1936 the Regierungsstaffel had grown to 13 Ju 52s, two of which were reserved for Hitler’s use, 3 for General Göring’s use and 7 of the remainder assigned to Hess, Himmler, Rippentrop and several other high officials. The first Fw 200 Condor was delivered to the Staffel in July 1939 and a specially outfitted Condor (D-2600 “Immelmann III”) for Hitler’s use was delivered on 19 October 1939. Through its existence from 1933 to 1945 the Staffel’s sole function was to operate as a private passenger airline for Hitler and the highest ranking personages of the National Socialist regime and foreign heads of state on official visits to the Führer. At no time during its existence did the Staffel belong to the Luftwaffe. Instead, it came directly under the Reichskanzlei and the Führer’s personal military staff. The aircrew personnel and other senior officials were former Deutsche Lufthansa (DLH) employees who held honorary rank in the SS and wore high-ranking SS uniforms. The remaining personnel were a mixture of DLH civilians and after the war began a smattering of carefully selected Luftwaffe personnel. During the early war years Hans Baur created a Staffel emblem that consisted of an eagle’s head with a surrounding oak wreath or crown and the inscription “F.d.F.” The Regierungsstaffel was renamed Fliegerstaffel des Führers on or about 1 September 1939.

F.d F  Fw 200 C-4/U1 code CE+IB WNr.0137

Thursday 17 December 2020

Jagdflieger Mölders und Beerenbrock, Dieter Pekrun StG 2 -ebay photo find #340


Believe it or not, this image of JG 51 Jagdflieger Mölders und Beerenbrock apparently dating from 1941 and offered for sale by a well-known Ebay repro photo seller went for nearly 500 euros!

Kommodore Mölders with Oblt. Walter Stengel, Staffelkapitän 6./JG 51


..newspaper account published in a March 1942 issue of the NS Leipziger Tageszeitung written by Schlachtflieger ace Oblt. Dieter Pekrun relating his shooting-down (by Spitfires!) while piloting a Stab I./StG 2 Stuka on the third day of the Westfeldzug, 12 May 1940 - Pekrun managed to bail out and came down in a field of 'irate' cows at Geetbets, Belgium - behind  the lines. With his BS dead, Pekrun evaded the various search efforts mounted to locate him and returned home some 24 hours after being presumed MIA. Pekrun was awarded the RK in June 1941.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

'The Secret Horsepower Race' by Calum Douglas - book review by Jukka Juutinen


by Jukka Juutinen

There are some books that deserve to be recommended without any doubt; books that are that good. Calum Douglas’s “Secret Horsepower Race” deserves such praise. I have been interested in WW II-era piston aero engines for over 25 years. The path has been a rocky one with plenty of books that are simply unreliable and poor. I would say that there are relatively few really excellent books on WW II-era piston aircraft engines available in English. Thus far the best of these by a long way has been Dan Whitney’s superb “Vee’s for Victory” on the Allison V-1710. Graham White’s book on the R-2800 is not on a par with it due to various shortcomings from poor design to the author’s sometimes peculiar attitudes. White’s book on the R-4360 is much better. And then there is the excellent series of books from Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. Unfortunately, these books are not particularly well-marketed thus making them unknown to may potential readers.

The Secret Horsepower Race (subtitled “Western Front Fighter Engine Development") is constructed first chronologically and then within each time period by nation (mostly Germany, Britain and the U.S.) though Italy and France are mentioned when properly due. This is a good choice - Soviet and Japanese piston engines are not covered. According to the author his access to Russian and Japanese sources was insufficient to allow for the level of detail he aimed for.  Each chapter in the 'Secret Horsepower Race' is profusely illustrated with photos, drawings, tables and graphs. Many original illustrations I have seen elsewhere in black & white are reproduced in colour now. The standard of reproduction is very good throughout. The book is laid out clearly and logically with text and illustrations supporting each other impeccably. There are a few typos, but I’d say that the book is much better than most these days as standards of editing seem to be slipping.

While people who have read the above-mentioned book by Whitney and the excellent RRHT-series naturally encounter some familiar information, the information on German engines in Douglas' book is whopping and mostly unfamiliar in English. The reader will learn that the DB 605 basic construction left much to be desired in comparison with its Junkers counterpart, the Jumo 211. I have previously suspected this to be the case and the book confirmed my suspicions. The reader will also learn why the DB 605A power remained limited for so long (the take-off and emergency power being prohibited) and why the left and right cylinder banks had a different compression ratio. I am not revealing why; buy the book, please.

One theme carried throughout the book is the extremely poor industrial management of the German war economy. As such this is not an unknown fact for those who have read better on books on war economy, but nevertheless remains a point worth emphasizing. Some authors have suggested reasons for this and I personally believe that the political system was not the only, or perhaps even the primary reason for the poor state of affairs. To me it seems that Germany had the misfortune of having the wrong people in the key staff positions. In case of the Luftwaffe it is clear that people like Ernst Udet and Adolf Galland were totally unsuitable for non-combat managerial assignments. They simply lacked the ability to see the wider perspective and the knack for knowing what is the difference between battle-winning and war-winning. This failure also affected e.g. German tank design, the best case being the Panther whose design was driven by theoretical battle-winning considerations when Germany needed practical war-winning weapons.

All other considerations aside, I recommend this book without any hesitation. What is more, for a book with a weighty 480 pages in large format on good paper, it is nearly dirt cheap. Buy it! 

 PS. Above I wrote how poorly WW II piston aero engines are covered in English books. Coverage of WW II jet engines is usually much better. I am no fan of jets (for reasons I'll not go into here) but granted: jets can be and were simpler - see a previous blog article here comparing the He 162 with the Me 262; the Jumo 004 required half the man-hours of the Jumo 213 to manufacture. This is primarily for the reason that jet engine performance (specific fuel consumption and thrust) is in practice solely dependent on how hot one can make it run and stay then together while piston engine performance (fuel economy and power produced) is a much more complex and even contradictory affair - in jets an increase in thrust through increased heat (turbine inlet temperature) also improves fuel economy while the inverse may occur in piston engines. That is one reason piston engine design is so much more interesting.

Also by Jukka Juutinen on this blog;

Heinkel He 177 Greif, Flugplatz Aalborg -ebay photo find #339


notgelandeter Heinkel He 177 "Greif" mit Tarnanstrich - vermutlich geht es um He 177 A-5 mit Kennung "6N+DM" der 4./KG100, Werknummer 550006, notgelandet südwestlich Aalborg, Dänemark, am 9. Mai 1944.

Crash landing of He 177 A-5, WNr.550006, "6N+we.DM, 4.II.KG 100", damaged 9 May 1944 crashed south-west of Aalborg, DK

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Attack on Nordhausen, 16 January 1945 - fourteen Ta 152 fighters destroyed on the ground


Report on the Tiefangriff  (ground strafing attack) flown against Nordhausen  (12:03 to 12:35) on 16 January 1945.

Number and type of enemy aircraft: " several Mustangs and Lightnings " 

"The airfield was overflown at 500m from west to east - no firing. The field was then strafed from the north-east and south-west at heights down to 3 meters above the ground. The attack comprised four waves of around ten machines against the aircraft camouflaged around the outside of the field and parked up at the dispersals in the woods...."

"..14 Ta 152s were destroyed. Because of their large wingspan the Ta 152s could not be parked up in the normal fighter pens (Abstellboxen). 1 FW 190 was also destroyed and 1 Ta 152 was 30% damaged.." 

" the large number of finished machines on the site at Nordhausen can be explained by two 'special' additional checks  ('zwei Sonderprüfaktionen' ) having to be carried out on the aircraft after production and acceptance .....which require a certain time and are necessary for reasons of flight safety...

Posted by Jørn Junker

Blown-up Ta 152 V18/U2 W.Nr. 0040 "CF+OY", Fl.Pl. Reinsehlen, Germany, April 1945.
repost from the Luftwaffe Fliegerhorste FB page

Monday 14 December 2020

Willy Messerschmitt, Stellungsnahme zum Projekt ‘Volksjäger’ - was the He 162 vs. the Me 262 a bad idea ? Production and engines compared.


In late 1944 Willy Messerschmitt issued a statement from Oberammergau that argued against the development and production of the planned Heinkel He 162 'Volksjäger'. The two companies, Heinkel and Messerschmitt were commercial rivals, although the war situation had gone far beyond that point. In his latest video Kris from the 'Military Aviation History' channel on youtube (see link below) looks at Messerschmitt's warnings that the development of a 'cheap', 'mass-produced' and untested 'disposable' new jet at this late stage of the war would disrupt existing types - while competing for the allocation of scarce resources - even though - as a recent publication argues - a cheap, easy to construct single-engine jet fighter was exactly what the German war effort required.  It is doubtful though whether Messerschmitt could have anticipated such rapid development of the single-jet Heinkel fighter that first flew on 6 December 1944. 

The video compares the two machines from a production standpoint.  Why was it that of a total of 1,433 Me 262 airframes constructed, only 358 machines became operational, given that Allied air attacks accounted for the loss of only roughly one third of these. In other words only one quarter to one third of total Me 262 output was of any benefit to the German war effort - and produced at tremendous cost. This was despite the widespread introduction of slave and concentration camp labour in the type's production. The main advantage of the He 162 lay in its comparatively low production costs - 1,500 man hours per machine as opposed to the 9,000 man hours required to build each Me 262 at a unit cost of 150,000 Reichsmark, twice that of the He 162. Despite these advantages - and as predicted by Messerschmitt - the new type  inevitably encountered developmental difficulties, so that by the end of the war only around 275 He 162s had been constructed with another 800 nearing completion or under production. However, a large proportion of these never received engines. The video looks at the two jet engines and their construction. The Jumo 004 in the Me 262 and the BMW 003 in the He 162 both required considerably fewer man-hours to build that the Jumo 213, DB 603 and BMW 801 piston engines in service and " were less resource-intensive.." In a six month period the single Nordwerk plant produced - underground - some 1,955 Jumo 004 jet engines from a total Jumo production run of between 4-6,000 depending on the sources.  These were required for the both the Me 262 and Ar 234 types. BMW produced only some 560 jet engines during the war, despite the BMW 003 being even less resource intensive than the Jumo engine (no more than 0.6 kg of nickel per unit) and construction being broken down into easily made and assembled components. Being cheaper it was ideal for the He 162. The main reason for production delays were the modifications required to adapt the engine for installation above -rather than under - the wing on the He 162. 

But did the He 162 have the impact on Me 262 production  that Messerschmitt claimed it would have ?  On paper, production capacity had become available with the abandonment of bomber types and even piston-engined fighter production was restricted to only a handful of types from 1945..

A single click to view here..

Sunday 13 December 2020

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6/R6 "yellow 3" 6./JG 3, Sachau, May 1944.


Bf 109 G-6/R6 "yellow 3"  6./JG 3, Sachau during one of the hardest periods in the defence of the Reich. Fhj.Fw Becker seated on the wing.

Above; ..the experienced Lt. Paul Draeger of 5./JG 3 was KIA on 2 November 1944, his G-14 'white 8' shot down in combat with P-51s  in the Halle-Naumburg area. Below, pilots of 6.Staffel in front of 'yellow 3' - second left with the cap is Fw. Albert Zanterl.

Also on this blog;
Lt. Walter Bohatsch I. & II./ JG 3 - Bf 109 Gustavs defending the Reich, Reichsverteidigung

Friday 4 December 2020

Friday 27 November 2020

Aufklärungsgruppe Ju 88 and Do 17 - Ebay photo find #338


Aufklärungsgruppe Ju 88 D1 (no sign of any underwing bomb racks) probably from 1. (F) 122 based in Greece in early 1944. According to the annotation, a 'souvenir snapshot taken prior to our Feindflug (combat sortie) of March 25, 1944 which ended in a crash landing'. Interesting spinner decoration....and fourth image below, " Athens..from 800 meters.." showing the 'effectiveness' of this dappled finish in action.


More recce machines - Western Front Phoney War Do 17 P with a 'comic' Staffel emblem depicting the British and the French (in the form of Chamberlain and Marianne) chasing a fox that has just raided the hen house..

Oliver Rogge's Ebay sales page is here