Sunday 28 June 2020

The life and times of Finnish fighter ace Veikko Karu by Jukka Juutinen

by Jukka Juutinen

In his original post on Kari Stenman’s book “Mersu” blog author Neil Page made mention of the case involving Veikko Karu and his post-war criminal conviction. For non-Finnish speakers not familiar with the background of the comment (that was originally due to my instigation), a more comprehensive explanation is perhaps appropriate.

To people used to a more complete treatment of fighter aces, their lives and personalities, it may come as a great surprise to find that the Finnish historiography on Finnish fighter aces tends to be of "Battler Britain" heroic style with perfect heroes having perfect lives. To date, not a single ace biography meeting the basic requirements for a serious historical study has been published in Finland. Most have no proper referencing and even feature dialogue that cannot be verified with any trustworthy source (Franz Kurowski-style).

As most Finnish AF history enthusiasts know, Kari Stenman has written numerous key books on the topic. One of these books is “Lentävät ritarit” (Flying Knights), a book with short biographies on all FAF Mannerheim Cross awardees. One of the awardees was Veikko Karu. Veikko Karu was a very brave and courageous soldier with an  impeccable service record. However, in the early 1960s he was convicted of killing his wife and disposing of her corpse by incinerating it. He received a sentence of 10 years in prison.

This incident has never been mentioned in any of Stenman’s books or articles, nor in any standard literature on Finnish fighter aces. The topic is still a sore one in some Finnish circles, as I discovered to my great astonishment last year. I wrote a book review for the prestigious Finnish military journal Sotilasaikakauslehti who published it in their April 2018 issue. I made a mention of the Karu case in the review. Some time after the review was published, I received a phone call from a person of military background. While neutral in tone, one got the feeling that my text had angered some people who feel that any such negative publicity is akin to “defaming the veterans”. I wonder does similar atmosphere exist in the U.S. or U.K.?

As for the crime Karu committed, the latest information (although coming from several sources, the intel is based on hearsay, though I am inclined to believe it is true) suggests that Veikko Karu’s only crime was the disposition of his wife’s corpse after discovering that one of his sons had actually killed her. That son was apparently mentally “slow” and Karu believed that he could not cope with imprisonment and decided to take the blame instead. He did his time and after release continued his life. Apparently, his closest family knew the truth but decided to keep it to themselves.

If it is indeed true that Karu took the blame for his son’s crime, one has to wonder why to tiptoe about it? After all, what can be a higher demonstration of highest character of a war hero than to make a huge sacrifice for his own family in civilian life as well?

Summary of video interview by Jukka Juutinen.

The interview begins with the question when did Karu first see an aeroplane. Karu responds that he was about 10 years old. Then Karu explains that his original plan was to study electric engineering after his Abitur as his family (he uses the expression “we had”) owned an automobile dealership representing e.g. General Motors. The firm had an auto repair shop with some 10 mechanics. I.e. Karu intended to become employed by that firm. At that time aeroplanes and “their droning” did not much interest Karu.

In 1936 he had his Abitur exam and then entered AF Reserve Officer’s Course. He states that he was very lucky as there were over 1000 applicants and only 30 were approved. He then describes the selection process. At the first stage over one half were rejected on the basis of application papers.

Then he notes that when he for the first time climbed onboard an aeroplane and took controls, he made up his mind: this was to be his life career. Then he had struggle to get approval from his mother who at first resisted his plans. Veikko was his mother’s “support and security” as he had a significant share in running the auto business already. He then says “That much I can confess you that had my mother not given in, I would have given up my flying career”. “I am eternally grateful for her approval.” “Flying has been everything for me in my life.”

Then he is asked that was the AF cadet school the only way to become an airman. Karu responds that it would have been possible to become a civilian pilot for Aero (Finnish airliner), but he adds that driving Aero’s aeroplanes is akin to driving a bus and “it is not flying until you get a plane under you and can do whatever you want”.

He then describes when he was caught stunting over his then girlfriend’s home. His CO first held a loud sermon over the incident but then added that such stunting is what makes a pilot and the case is closed for good. Then Karu describes his first aerial combat on 20.2.1940. He describes how he climbed to 7000 metres without an oxygen mask. He shot down/at 2 enemy aircraft and then had dive vertically to get away. He was so weary that he wonders how he got back to home base.

The Continuation War began with Fokker D.XXI for him. Then he was ordered to begin training night fighter pilots. That was when the friendly fire incident occurred. He was flying at night at about midnight when he spotted a black shape flying over a field. He asked on radio whether own aircraft were in their air. Negative was the response. He radioed “I’ll go after it.”

He then pursued the black form and says that he recognized it as a He 111. He notes that also Soviets were known to use (captured) He 111s. He kept asking on the radio that are there friendlies in the air. “Negative”. He then radioed that hurry up, the frontline is approaching, what should I do. He asked for permission to shoot. He shot one engine on fire. The aircraft kept going on. Then he asked can he shoot the other engine. “Posotie”. Then he shot that too on fire and then the aircraft turned away from the enemy lines. Right at that moment he hear on the radio “It is friendly!”.

Some 10 to 20 km before reaching the base the aircraft blew up in the air and debris hit Karu’s plane too. He flew back to base, he jumped into a car and drove to the crash site. He heard shouts “Wasser! Wasser!”. There were still two airmen alive. Afterwards Karu requested that he be informed at once when the Germans are buried. The Germans were buried in Helsinki and Karu acquired a wreath for the grave. The Germans were very adamant that Karu was not responsible, it was their own fault.

When Fuhrer’s wreath was lowered, a gun salute was fired. Karu says that Germans fired only such salute when something very important was happening. “I was wondering that what is this ceremony. Then a German whispered it was my turn. When I lowered my wreath, didn’t those cursed Germans just fire a gun salute! I felt that I now should sink under the ground, so pissed up I was. When I got back, I asked the German that why the hell did they do that? The German responded “Don’t you realize that we did this to emphasize that shooting down the plane was not your fault.”

Then the interviewer cites from the official Mannerheim Cross award document. Then Karu describes how he was shot down. He and one another spotted a Russian truck column. Karu attacked and on the first run set 9 of the 10 trucks on fire. Then he made a mistake: he did not leave that one alone and attacked again. And so the flak got him.

Then he describes how he was able to escape from the enemy territory. He says he was extremely lucky. He was able to cross an old barbed fire fence over a fallen pine tree. He was able to steal a rifle by knocking out a Russian who had come out of a bunker for urges of nature. He was then able to cross a minefield probably due to thick snow over the area, or “the guy up in the sky helped”. Then he faced a problem when the Finns guarding the line did not originally believe he was Finnish.

At the end Karu sends his greetings to his comrades, who after his long absence (which is presumably a reference to his incarceration) welcomed him with heartwarming comradeship.

”Ylipäällikkö on pvm:llä 6.11.42 nimittänyt Vapaudenristin 2. luokan Mannerheim-ristin ritariksi kapteeni Veikko Johannes Karun. Kapteeni Karu on johtanut erittäin tarmokkaasti ja ansiokkaasti hävittäjälaivuetta. Itse taitavana ja aina taisteluihin valmiina sekä rauhallista harkintaa osoittaen on hän esimerkillään kannustanut alaisensa ohjaajat erinomaisiin tuloksiin. Hänen henkilökohtaisella tilillään on useita ilmavoittoja, jotka hän on suurimmaksi osaksi saanut meririntamalla taistelussa vihollisen lentoveneitä vastaan. Hänen johtamansa partiot ovat menestyksellisesti toimineet erikoisesti vihollisen keveitä merivoimia vastaan upottaen lukuisia aluksia. Kerran hyökkäsi kapteeni Karu partioineen kolmea vihollisen moottoritorpeedovenettä vastaan. Alukset syttyivät vuorotellen tuleen, räjähtivät ja upposivat. Taistelun aikana oli vihollisen ilmatorjuntatuli hyvin kiivasta ja sai kapteeni Karu omaan koneeseensa useita räjähtäviä luodinosumia, mutta jatkoi siitä huolimatta taistelua loppuun saakka. Kapteeni Karun tuhotessa erään toisen kerran rintaman takana toistakymmentä autoa, sai hänen koneensa ilmatorjuntatulesta niin pahoja osumia, että hänen oli tehtävä pakkolasku vihollisen puolelle. Pelastettuaan koneesta kaikki tärkeät paperit ja kartat lähti hän pyrkimään omalle puolelle ja onnistuikin siinä kahakoituaan kiivaasti vihollisen kanssa. Kapteeni Karu on suorittanut kaikkiaan 146 sotalentoa ja on hänen johtamansa osasto upottanut 22 vihollisalusta sekä ampunut alas lukuisia viholliskoneita.” Translation: The Supreme Commander has awarded Captain Veikko Johannes Karu on the date 6.11.1941 the Mannerheim Cross of the 2. Class of the Cross of Freedom.” [literally it says “has nominated as a knight of the…]. Captain Karu has led with great vigour and merit a fighter squadron. Displaying great skill, readiness for combat and calm thinking he has encouraged his subordinate pilots to great results through his personal example. His personal victory list has several victories, most of which have been cored over the seafront against enemy flying boats. Patrols led by him have successfully engaged especially enemy’s light naval forces sinking numerous vessels. On one occasion Karu and his patrol attacked 3 enemy torpeedo [intentional error as in original text!] boats. One by one the vessels caught fire, exploded and sank. Duringt the fight the enemy AA fire was very heavy and Captain Karu’s plane received several hits by HE bullets, but still he kept fighting on till the end. On another occasion, Kaptain Karu destroyed behing enemy lines over a 10 enemy vehicles, his plane took so severe hits that he had to force-land on the enemy side. After saving all important papers [documents] and maps from the plane he began his journey to own side [of the front] and succeeded in doing so despite heavy skirmishes with the enemy. Captain Karu has performed 146 combat missions all in all, and the unit under his command has sank 22 enemy vessels and shot down numerous enemy aircraft.”

'Yellow 14' Bf 109 G-6/AS of III./ JG 1 -Wochenschau 28 June 1944

These Bf 109 G-6/AS fighters of  III./ JG 1 were featured on the Wochenschau footage shown in German cinemas on 28 June 1944. Taxiing out -most probably at Paderborn - is 'Yellow 14' with 'Yellow 9' behind to the right of the image. Finish is the usual three greys with red RVT band around the rear fuselage. Note the over-painted remnants of a Stammkennzeichen under the Kennziffer fuselage numeral. Note too the unusual position of the short III. Gruppe bar. Just visible under the fuselage is the FuG 16 ZY aerial..

Artwork is from the 'Reich Defence' boxing of the AZ model G-6/AS

The first reported loss of the new G-6/AS variant in III./ JG 1 occurred on 8 May1944 - Fw. Felix Karenitz of 8.Staffel by shot down by P-47s. He baled out but failed to operate the ripcord of his chute. Below; a close-up from the same Wochenschau footage showing Ofw. Friedrich Zander of 7./ JG 1 in the cockpit of his G-6/AS..

Saturday 27 June 2020

More ‘symbols of command’ - eBay photo find #333

Oberleutnant Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld as Staffelkapitän 5./NJG 2. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 25 January 1942 and the Ritterkreuz on 16 April 1942 after he had shot down 4 RAF bombers in the night of 26 -27 March 1942, his score standing at 21 victories. Promoted to Hauptmann, Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld was made Gruppenkommandeur I./ NJG 3 on 15 October 1942..

Galland’s ‘famous’ 5819 - a rare view showing the auxiliary tank. These images taken from a sequence depicting Galland arriving in Berlin at Staaken according to the seller, presumably on a Dienstreise  (lit. 'business trip' )  More from this sequence on this blog

Above;  summer 1944 , Kommodore JG 52 Hrabak.

Also on this blog;

Hrabak and Hartman toast Hartmann's 300th

 Below; distinctive camo finish on this III./JG 3 machine presumably transferred to the Stab, note twin emblems under the cockpit, probably Luetzow...

Thanks to Sinisa, Marc, Chris, Michel, George, Franck at the ‘Messerschmitt Bf 109’ FB pages for commentary and detective work...

Thursday 25 June 2020

Hptm. Herbert Ihlefeld, Kommandeur I.(J) /LG 2 - June 1941

Herbert Ihlefeld, Kommandeur I.(J) /LG 2, was awarded the Oak Leaves for his 40 victories on June 27, 1941. On June 29, 1941 he flew to the Führer Hauptquartier (HQ) for the Eichenlaub award ceremony. Images via ebay depicting the 'Flugvorbereitung' - 'getting ready for the Kommandeur's flight to see the Führer'. Note yellow theatre band aft of the Balkenkreuz and the early-style canopy and Gruppe emblem below the cockpit. Ihlefeld's unit operated in close collaboration with the Stab/JG 77 out of Jassy, Romania, during the opening weeks of 'Barbarossa'.

Ebay images shown here

Below; Ihlefeld at the controls of a different machine also in the East. This is one of Ihlefeld's Friedrichs seen in the spring of 1942 shortly before he left I.(J(/LG 2 or rather I./JG 77. This image is part of a whole series showing him and Geisshardt in their respective Friedrichs...(caption courtesy Jochen Prien)

Geisshardt (right ) with (possibly) 2. Staffel comrade Oblt. Ekke-Eberhard Reinbrecht. Reinbrecht crashed on takeoff during July 1941 and was injured..

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Lehrgeschwader 1 by Peter Taghon, Lela Presse - new Luftwaffe books

The second part of  Peter Taghon's Lehrgeschwader 1 history is published by Lela Presse in French.

Deployed in the Mediterranean in early 1941 against the British, LG 1 had very quickly gained the respect of its opponents (whether Navy or Army), having earned during these bloody battles the formidable nickname of 'Helbig's flyers' (after one of its best officers - see below). But, in September 1942, III./LG 1 was 'temporarily' assigned to the USSR and detached from the rest of the Geschwader, re-designated III./KG 6. I./KG 55, also operating the Ju 88 at the time, became the new III./LG 1. While this Gruppe was disbanded in May 1944, I. and II/LG 1 flew their missions until the end of the war, leaving Italy to be deployed over Normandy at the time of the 'invasion' in June 1944 and then over the Reich both in the West (Battle of the Bulge) and in the East (facing the Soviet steamroller). The remnants of LG 1 were not de facto dissolved until the beginning of May 1945. Throughout this latter period of the war, the Geschwader flew mainly on various variants of the Ju 88 (A-5, A-4, A-14, S-3). While other Kampfgeschwader were equipped with more modern aircraft (Ju 188 or Do 217), LG 1 fought to the end on machines that could be considered outdated. And while the other KGs were disbanded or switched to fighters, Lehrgeschwader 1 was one of the very few Luftwaffe units to make it through the six years or so of the war as a pure bombing unit.

Posted by Kevin Huckfield on TOCH;

  "...Volume 2 of the LG-1 book has just arrived and it is just as good as the first volume and about one and a half times the size in terms of pages. Features some 600 photos over 288 pages and 25 artworks by Thierry Dekker. The page quality is very good allowing for good images and the book is packed with narrative, photos and paperwork of all kinds, more so than the original German language versions. It also includes Annexes for such things as LG-1 Ritterkreuzträger, LG-1 related Werknummern, personnel etc...."

A ten-page PDF extract from the book is available from the publisher's website here

The first volume of this two-part unit history is reviewed elsewhere on this blog here

Two photos offered on ebay taken on July 5, 1941, on the airfield at Eleusis, on the occasion of the award of the Ritterkreuz to Hptm. Gerhard Kollewe Gruppenkommandeur II./LG 1 (below, on the right) presented by the Kommodore Friedrich-Karl Knust, on the left in the image below. Similar ceremonies were held on 30 August 1941 for the presentation of the Ritterkreuz to Ofw. Franz Schlund (radio operator in Helbig's crew) and 8 September 1941 when the Staka 8./LG 1 Hptm. Hermann Hogeback received his RK.

from 'Helbig flyers - I./LG 1 im Mittelmeer und Afrika' by Gerd Stamp

"....The year 1941 was drawing to a close. If it had been too hot in summer, it was now too cold. We stood and froze in front of our accommodation building, which with its squarish shape was reminiscent of a cigar box. The personnel of the entire Gruppe stood in an open square: the Stab, first, second and third Staffeln, the technical company and the intelligence section.. Expectant faces and frozen fingers marked the spot. I was shivering unashamedly. The cutting northwest wind, which came down from the Parnassus, did not make for pleasant thoughts. Suddenly commands, and an announcement - the Kommodore was to address us. The wind snatched the words from his mouth. I stood opposite and heard only torn fragments:

" . . . a few days ago . . . the old commander v e r a b s c h i e d e t . . took his leave. Today I am introducing the new K o m a n n- deur . . .an old member of the Geschwader . . . look back on great achievements . . . Expect the same in the future .."

 My thoughts started to wander. Hopefully it wouldn't be long now. Then, more commands barked out, car doors slamming and he was gone. Then someone else stood in our midst. Again I heard only snatches of the words;

" . . . Take over the group . . . add more to the successes achieved . . . I won't ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn't do myself!"

But now it was really too cold for me. I felt Hoffmann and "Fähnlein" (Gerd Brenner) freezing next to me, and with these thoughts the command to stand down came.

So that was Joachim Helbig.(below, centre)

I still had a fleeting memory of him from France when he was once in our command post. A thick fur waistcoat, impossibly crumpled cap that kept his smooth slick-backed hair in check, a pair of mischievous eyes that constantly flitted to and fro. . . . and always some apt remark on the tip of his tongue. At first he was called "Capitaine Fit". The name came from the "Pelikan", a bar in Orleans, which even at the mention of its name evoked longing memories in all its former patrons..."

Sunday 14 June 2020

HA-1112 M1L Buchon - Kagero Monograph no. 67

The Bf 109 had a long association with Spain, the type having undergone its baptism of fire during the Spanish Civil War. Post-WWII versions of  the Bf 109 saw frontline Spanish service until the mid-1960s. Now Spanish author Eduardo Manuel Gil Martínez tells the full story of the 'Buchon' and its many variants in this latest monograph from Kagero (released in late 2019).

The HA-1112 M1L Buchon was essentially a fusion of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and was the last in line of this famous fighter. Having seen the type 'blooded' in combat as early as 1937  - a world first - the last of the line, the 'Buchon', remained in service in the "Ejercito del Aire" until 1965 and was still being constructed well after the Korean War and the first 'jet vs. jet' combats. The final “Buchon” variant – the only Bf 109s with four-bladed props - did not enter service until as late as 1957.

The saga started with Spanish attempts to find engines for their Me 109 airframes - it is not clear to me from the text why the Germans never delivered any DB engines with the Spanish Bf 109 order.  As no-one was supplying military equipment to the Spanish during WWII - indeed Franco sent a volunteer unit, the 'Escuadra Azul' to the Eastern Front -  Hispano Aviacion had been contracted to build some 200 Bf 109 G-2s under license in November 1943. Twenty five G-2 airframes were supplied from Germany presumably for pattern-making, technician training and so forth - but no engines, these apparently requisitioned by the Luftwaffe. The first attempts to 're-engine' the Bf 109 airframes involved marrying the Hispano-Suiza HS 12-Z-89 engine, a modification of the French HS 12Y powerplant. This resulted in a considerable number of mods to the type as the engine rotated in the opposite direction to the DB engine. The Ha 1109 J first flew during March 1945. Later and more successfully, the Rolls-Royce Merlin was fitted to the German airframe after embargoes on the export of military goods to Spain were lifted in the early 1950s. The author makes the point that the first and last of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 line were thus powered by the British Rolls Royce.

The first Spanish "G-2s" did not enter service until 1947 and were constructed in a number of different versions - HA 1109 J even known as the Me 109 J to the Ha 1112 - essentially a Merlin-engined 'Jota'.  Hispano Aviación had been established when an Hispano-Suiza car and aircraft parts factory complex in southern Spain was taken over by "Nationalist" forces in 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. Located in Tablada, in the Triana district of Seville, the Hispano factory - in addition to the licence built version of the famous Messerschmitt Bf-109 Gustav - also went on to produce the Hispano HA-100 Triana and the Hispano HA-200 Saeta jet trainer and light attack aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt. Hispano Aviación was taken over by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) in 1972, which is now part of Airbus.

below; powerfully armed 'tripala' with rocket-rails and 20mm cannon.

The 'Buchon' as it became known became a 'movie star' as  early as 1957. Appearing in 'Der Stern von Afrika' were the HA -1109s - these machines were surprisingly successfully passed off as Bf 109 Friedrichs of JG 27. The type cemented its reputation with 1969's 'Battle of Britain' blockbuster. There were a number of subtle differences to these film aircraft 'modified' from their stock military configuration to look like Emils. The wing fences were removed, as were the wing cannons. Fake wing 20mm cannons were added, also cowl guns. One of the most noticeable differences involved the wing tips. They were changed to look more like the squared 109 E wing tip. However, they were not merely shortened, but replaced with a more representative item. Interestingly, most of the BoB Movie survivors have reverted to the original pieces.

There is much interesting info on the types in Kagero's book. Did you know that early, Jumo-powered Bf 109 variants in Spanish service actually survived until July 1955? I didn’t, either.  And how were condoms used in aircraft maintenance? See page 35. Want the official name for the Buchon’s vivid “cobalt blue” finish? You’ll find it here.

There has been a debate among modelers regarding the exact blue color used on the HA-1112. Rumor had it that they were painted with automotive colors - "Peugeot Blue" to be exact. It seems the Spanish CO owned a Peugeot and thought his planes would look great in the same color. Everything was painted blue from the gear legs to wheel hubs. (Model by Barry Numerick).

Some reviews of this latest Kagero monograph have pointed to the " ..over 80 picture-packed pages.." but in reality there are only 55 pages of text and pictures, 3 pages of annexes with the remaining 20-odd pages comprising air-show contemporary photos, some taken from wikipedia under the 'creative commons' license. There are also four pages of color shots of contemporaries of the 'Buchon' in Spanish air force service ie, Starfighter, Harvard, T-33 which have nothing to do with the Hispano Ha  -1112 story whatsoever.

However as in the 'bad old days' with Kagero, the text in the book is virtually unreadable. As one reviewer put it,  "..  the text is wearisome to read. Some diction frankly borders on bizarre. And some sections actually defy discernment. But attention to context – and a  grasp of history – help divine much of the book’s awfully opaque English "... There was a time when Kagero would send this blog author their monograph texts for proofing, editing, translating and generally re-working - by a native English-speaker. See some of the credits in their Bf 109, Fw 190, Ju 88 and He 111 books for example. But they haven't done that for a while, as their release programme slowed.

  ‘A star has born’

But most modelers undoubtedly buy Kagero titles for the pretty pictures – not for proper prose. And this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s certainly a colorful project reference! For modelers, the Special Hobby kit is the only current option in 1/72, although Classic Plane had a resin conversion years ago. They also made limited run complete kits of several versions of the HA-1112. A Czech company, Lift Here, also made a complete resin kit. In the larger scales, Buchon Scale Models have done magnificent conversion sets for the HA-1112 in 1/32 and the HA-1109 in both 1/32 and 1/48. They also have a line of accessories for these aircraft as well. The whole line is superb, very well researched and beautifully cast resin. Perhaps one day they might think of doing these in 1/72. 

Kagero are distributed in the UK and available in North America from Casemate.

Links to Buchon Scale models and to Barry Numerick's  72nd scale 'Buchon' conversions and builds follow;

Three CASA HA-112-M1L Buchóns (5926427425)

The Messerschmitt Stiftung's "Rote Sieben" (Red Seven) was built as a Hispano (CASA) license built Bf-109, the Hispano HA-1112 M-1L Buchón in 1950 with c/n 139. After delivery she first served with the Ejercito del Aire with serial C.4K-75. After being stuck off charge she was stored in Tablada before being sold to the United Kingdom in 1968, registered as G-AWHH. She starred as a Bf-109E "yellow 11" and "red 14" in movie "The Battle of Britain". For another role in a movie she was reconverted into a P-51 "Mustang" with a fake belly-cooler attached. But she unfortunately crashed during a take-off and was severely damaged.  (Malcom Auld video)

After her accident she was sold to the USA being registered as N3109G and restored to flying condtion. She was flown for the first and last time from Casper, Wyoming in 1986 as she crashed on take-off. After she was "repaired" to represent an Bf-109E-4 in static condition and in open storage. She was in a terrible state when she arrived in Augsburg, Germany in the 1990s where a couple of enthusiasts had the ambitious plan to restore her to Bf-109G-4 "Gustav" specifications, including the Daimler-Benz DB605 engine. Her first owner gave up on the plan fairly soon an in 1998 she was moved to the Messerschmitt Air Company (MAC) at Albstadt-Degerfeld. There she would undergo an expensive and time consuming restoration, that took over 30.000 hours. The work was completed in 2004 and on October 8 of that year she was presented to the public; the Rote Sieben had come to life!

Friday 12 June 2020

'Chamberlain' emblem on Knullenkopf Do 17 P - ebay photo find #332

another 'Chamberlain' emblem on this Knullenkopf 1.(F)/123 Dornier Do 17 coded "4U+CH". With the Adjutant of the Aufklärungsgruppe, Oblt Goebel, on board, the crew of this particular machine flew a sortie over the Dunkirk 'pocket' on June 3, 1940. See page 56 of Rabader's "Knullenkopfstaffel". Note the Knullenkopf emblem on the engine cowl.

More 'Churchill and Chamberlain ' emblem on Knullenkopfstaffel Dornier also on this blog here

Lajos Vargha, Hungarian Fw 190 F-8 pilot, 1944.

Lajos Vargha, Hungarian Fw 190 F-8 pilot, 1944.

Friday 5 June 2020

AZ Bf 109 G-6/AS Hptm. Horst Carganico Kommandeur I./JG 5 'Mickey Maus' in 72nd scale

Continuing with the small-scale Bf 109 theme and built from the AZ Bf 109 72nd scale kit, this is my representation of Hptm. Horst Carganico's G-6/AS from May 1944, displaying the personal 'Mickey Maus' and 60-kill rudder scoreboard of the Kommandeur I./JG 5 as photographed at Herzogenaurach during May 1944.

 As a far better modeler than me put it, " I keep going back to the 1:72nd scale AZ Bf 109s ...and then reality hits home.." Now - based on just one build so far - I decided that I quite like AZ Model's Bf 109 G-6 series - 'Model of the Year 2015' in the small scale category in the German 'Modellfan' magazine. I've just added a couple of G-6/AS variants to the stash and bought both the 'Limited Edition' JG 300 boxes.

But I'd forgotten how tricky these kits are - not much fits well unfortunately. Especially where the cockpit is concerned - a large chunk of that need sanding down to get it between the fuselage halves. The G-6/AS variant featured a refined cowl, tall tail and enlarged supercharger - Peter Schmoll refers to the variant as being 'Beulenfrei'. Hence the parts in the box are the same as those featured in AZ Model's Bf 109 G-10 boxes. However for a G-6/AS as depicted in this box the chin bulges will need to be sanded off - AZ don't tell you this anywhere.

Decals are taken from an old Encore Models Gustav sheet and performed just fine considering that they must be at least 15-20 years old - the coloring of the 'Mickey' emblem is probably not 100% accurate (note the red shorts..) and there is no actual image of Carganico's rudder scoreboard although he had some 60 victories by the time he was shot down and killed over southern Germany during May 1944. Perhaps his machine did not carry any other markings but on the starboard fuselage side I have used standard command chevrons. Note AZ do not give the modeler a spinner spiral ! These have to be sourced separately or else purchased on a separate sheet from AZ  ( thanks Jan .. no I haven't forgotten!)

Horst Carganico flew in Norway and Finland from the first days of the invasion in April 1940 until March 1944. He then departed the Eismeer front and II./JG 5, being appointed Kommandeur I./JG 5 in the Reichsverteidigung. By then his Mickey Mouse personal emblem was well known. In official German papers his aircraft was listed as "Mickey Maus".  Erik Mombeeck's 'Luftwaffe Gallery' JG 5 'Special Album' features an interesting photo of this machine. It is apparent that the aircraft was painted in light blue-grey overall (standard G-6/AS Höhenjäger finish) The picture is partially double-exposed, showing part of the wing - confirming the wing cross (black, filled, and not white outline as per my model..)  and the single-colour finish of the wing. On May 27, 1944, aged 26 years old, Carganico was killed in this machine crashing after colliding with power cables while attempting to make an emergency landing following combat with P-51s - no fewer than 13 of the nineteen I./JG 5 Bf 109s deployed against an 8th AF raid against rail hubs and infrastructure in eastern France and s-w Germany were lost that day. Carganico's body was repatriated back home to Berlin and he was buried on June 6, 1944. His father, Generalmajor Victor Carganico died exactly one year later - May 27, 1945 -  shot by Soviet troops.

According to some sources, Carganico's machine may have been a  a G-5/U2. This is essentially the same as a G-6/AS, only with GM-1 or MW-50 booster injection installed. The Erla canopy means that the G-5 pressurised cockpit features were of course absent. The cowling was 'bulge-free', like the G-10 and K-4. Standard 160/660 wheels, small 'tear-drop' wing bulges, low tail wheel and tall tail.

extract from Luftwaffe Gallery 'Fighters of the Midnight Sun' still available from