Wednesday, 15 September 2021

1./JG 300 Bf 109 G-6 wilde Sau -1:72nd scale AZ Bf 109

" I keep going back to the 1:72nd scale AZ Bf 109s ...and then reality hits home.." - Part III

In 72nd scale from the " 500 pcs only" Limited Edition AZ JG 300 wilde Sau kit. Actually, the fit of parts on this boxing was much better than early editions of this kit. Finished in Xtracolor enamels, Farbton 74 Graugrün, Farbton 75 Grauviolett and Farbton 76 Lichtblau. Often noted as being the aircraft of Fhj.-Uffz. Otto Leisner, August 1944, Bad Wörishofen.. 


Elsewhere on this blog

Late- war Bf 109s - Profile artworks by " Angantyr "

".. Bf 109G-14/AS of JG 300, photo from Borkheide, found on your blog, proved irresistible to me, so I just had to make an illustration..Anyhow, here is the finished result. As parts of the aircraft are hidden by bushes for camouflage purposes, I have exercised a minimum of artistic license...."

A line-up of JG 300 Bf 109 G-14/AS fighters including W.Nr. 16. ... "Rote 15" of 2. Staffel seen at Borkheide during October 1944....

" ..Following my urge to doodle, I have made an illustration of one of the aircraft serving with 10/JG 76, late August 1944 at Athis-Mons, later a wreck to be found at the same location. It's a standard Erla-built G-14, flown by an unknown pilot..."

" ..Have just finished my interpretation of Ofw Paul Schwerdfegers Bf 109G-14/AS, WNr 784986 when he was KIA in operation “Bodenplatte” on January 1, 1945. Information on the aircraft itself is scarce, I have only been able to find a photo of the wreck, that doesn’t show much more than a piece of the triple band, carried by JG 6. Although, there is known the WNr, and from that, can be gathered how it probably looked..."

".. it's time again to show what I have been up to lately, this time it's a Bf 109 G-6/AS as seen in a photo of a line-up of 5 Staffel JG 27 machines shown on Marc Haldimann's Late-war Bf 109 FB page.  Admittedly, there are parts of the aircraft which are not shown, so, a modicum of artistic license has been used. Among the things that ARE clearly seen, is the "reverse" spiral on the spinner. I DID however resist the temptation to add the Staffel emblem, as at this late stage in the conflict, they were rare. As for camouflage of the Bf 109 G-6/AS it's an understatement to say that they were not standardized...."

Thursday, 2 September 2021

New from Mortons "Luftwaffe fighters - Combat on all Fronts" - I./JG 77 over Malta


"New Product Alert " from Mortons/Classic Magazines - 120 pages, 200+ illustrations, 
" Luftwaffe fighters - Combat on all Fronts, Part 1 "

One of the features in Mortons new "Luftwaffe Fighters - Combat on all Fronts" relates the Malta 'campaign' of I./JG 77 during the summer of 1942. Here pilots of 3. Staffel JG 77 are seen relaxing at their dispersal in Comiso, Sicily with the Staffelhund during that period. Note the distinctive aircraft shelters in the background. A G-2 trop  (note the position of the octane triangle - thank you Jochen) finished in a mottled camouflage and covered with a tarpaulin displays the chevron bar of the Stab. The mottled camouflage is also apparent on the wing upper surface nearest the camera. Note the detail of the leading-edge slat. Wearing a cap is Oblt. Erhard Niese seated (middle) on the deckchair. Niese transferred to III./JG 77 after the Gruppe left Sicily. The ace of I./JG 77's Malta campaign Ofw. Walter Brandt of 2. Staffel appears to be seated alongside him (right). Click on the image for a full-screen view..

 Extracted from the new "Luftwaffe fighters" book-a-zine from Mortons/Classic Magazines

More info and pre-orders here

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Ofw. Lorenz Dessoy II./JG 2


Uffz. Lorenz Dessoy joined 4./JG 2 during the Battle of Britain. He was flying as Rottenführer to Gefr. Rudi Miese on the sortie on 15 November 1940 over Portsmouth/Selsey Bill when the latter was shot down badly injured and hospitalised at Littlehampton near Brighton. According to Meimberg's memoir, there were some surreal moments during the sorties over England; 'Assi' Hahn ordering the Staffel to form up closely since ' would make a very nice photo, knowing full well that none of us had a camera' or getting out his harmonica after combat over England and ordering Dessoy to accompany him over the FT; " Dessoy, ein Lied !" Dessoy sung all the way home while we joined in.."

Dessoy was shot down over the sea during the second 'Circus' flown by the RAF on 21 June 1941 but was fished out by the Seenot off  the coast of Treport. Some two years later Dessoy was still flying combat with JG 2. Lt. Christoph Dezius reported; " when I joined the 'Richthofen' during April 1943 having finished my training with the Erg. Jagdgruppe West, the most experienced pilots were tasked with perfecting our skills. Aside from Goltzsch and our Staffelkapitän, our Staffel included another veteran of the Luftschlacht over England, Ofw. Lorenz Dessoy. It was these pilots who taught us the essential manoeuvres for air combat and we flew so many training sorties that the aircraft became extensions of ourselves. I generally flew with Dessoy during this period." 

Three years after joining JG 2 Dessoy claimed his first victory in combat with 7./JG 2 on 3 October 1943! Dessoy's victim was a Spitfire shot down that evening over La Haye-St-Romain during the course of a raid on the airfield at Beauvais. During the same sortie Huppertz claimed his 50th and Bühligen his 80th! Dessoy's second success in combat was a 9th AF B-26 south of Amiens during the afternoon of 25 March 1944. He flew sorties over the 'Invasionsfront'  during June 1944. On 17 June his 'Hundert-neun' was shot down by P-47s in the vicinity of Bayeux but was he able to bail out more or less unscathed. 

However, just two months before war's end, Dessoy was killed in an accident on 20 March 1945. He is seen here as an Unteroffizier alongside his II./JG 2 Emil...

More JG 2 pilots profiled on this blog 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Gefr. Helmut Kofler 3./JG 77


.. A very rare image of Gefr. Helmut Kofler, seen here third left, with fellow instructors. Kofler was born 22 May 1923 in Vienna. Having served as an instructor he was posted to 3./JG 77 in late 1944 but was reported MIA/KIA during the Bodenplatte operation on 1.1. 1945. The other pilots in this image were almost certainly also posted to a front JG.

Many school instructors were sent to the front towards the end of the war; for example, several arrived at JG 53 around September 1944.

Via Jochen Prien; "Just a quick note concerning your blog – Kofler was not a Gefreiter in your photo but a Fähnrich acc. to the verso. Although you cannot see this in the photo itself, it is clearly visible there that he at least holds the rank of an Uffz. if you take a look at his epaulette. Fhr. and Uffz. are equivalent ranks with the difference that the Fhr. will become an officer in due course.."

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Erla Bf 109 G Ofw. Karl Hannes - "KJ+.."

Another image of Karl Hannes in the Gustav with the STKz "KJ+??" Note the factory finish - a single protective coat overall of the lower surface colour. Possible identity of this machine..

- Erla-built Bf 109 G-2/Trop batch W.Nr. 10 605 - 10 629 "KJ+BA" - "KJ+BY" built between July and December 1942.

- Erla-built Bf 109 G-4 batch W.Nr. 14 976 - 15 000 "KJ+GA" - "KJ+GY", produced between December 1942 and February 1943.

from Marc-Andre Haldimann; 

 "Your photo does show with high probability one of the G-2/Trop W.Nr. 10 605 - 10 629 "KJ+BA" - "KJ+BY" machines, as evidenced by the tear-shaped umbrella holders. Time frame would be late summer 1942.."

Photos from the G-G Voss JG 2 archive

Monday, 16 August 2021

Uffz. Karl Hannes 5./JG 2 and Erla factory Einflieger


" ..Shot-up Me 109 glides back across the Channel - outstanding performance from a German fighter pilot - gliding more than 70 km home..  

"..Unteroffizier Hannes, der als Rottenhund eines Schwarms fliegt, wird gleich von zwei englischen Maschinen angegriffen... "

Uffz. Karl Hannes flew during 1939-42 in 5./JG 2 and successfully survived combat on the Westfront during this period. His Staffelbezeichnung was "12".  He returned his first victories - downing Spitfires - during September 1940. He was credited with five victories over the RAF. His 5th claim was for a Hurricane, west of Le Touquet during the evening of 17 August 1941. 

A PK report dated 23 September 1940 described an incident during a Ju 88 Begleitschutz escort sortie over London flown by the Geschwader Richthofen from their bases in northern France.

Kriegsberichter Gerhard Linke takes up the story .......

"..having over-flown the Channel at 6,000 metres, the formation came under attack from RAF fighters, diving from a favourable position directly out of the sun. Hannes quickly had two on his tail, one of which gave him a long burst of fire into the engine and fuselage from fifty metres. The enemy's shells hit the Me 109 hard, even slamming into the steel plate that protected the pilot's head. A glance at the instrument panel told Hannes he was rapidly losing his coolant and that the engine would likely seize at any moment. He chopped the throttle and his fighter fell away to the left. At that moment the RAF fighter swept past him and attempted to peel off to the right. With his engine still barely turning over, Hannes seized his chance. His 'sick' Me 109 fell in behind the RAF fighter - so long as the engine was running then he was still able to fire his MGs.  He cut across the Spitfire's curve - even if he was going to go down he would teach the Englishman a lesson. Barely thirty metres in front of him the Spitfire was framed in his Reflexvisier gunsight. Hannes squeezed the two firing buttons on his control column, unleashing in the same moment the first rounds from his MGs and cannon. Not for an instant had the Englishman expected that the Me 109 would still pose a danger to him. He attempted a split-S away but Hannes was on his tail as both machines fell away through one thousand metres. Time and again his rounds hit the Spitfire's fuselage and then a cannon shell into the engine - the Spitfire was soon trailing a banner of black smoke. Hannes could see flames licking from the cockpit. Der Gegner ist erledigt - his adversary was done for! But now his propeller juddered to a stand, the three blades starkly black against the horizon. 4,800 metres altitude and still 30 kilometres from the Channel which was at least 40 kms wide at this point. Beneath his wings the meadows and fields of the English countryside. Hannes kept his cool, feathered his prop ('Segelstellung') - the positions where the blades gave the least resistance and held the stick gently in his right hand -'keine unbedachte Bewegung darf gemacht werden' careless movement could be performed, every metre was precious. It is a strange feeling for a fighter pilot to glide through the air with no engine noise... [..]   

As a precaution Hannes jettisoned the canopy in case he had to leave the 109 quickly...[..]  Zehn lange Minuten! Ten long minutes! Jetzt kommt der Kanal. At 3,000 metres he glided out over the Channel, the machine slowly losing height  - das fliegerische Gefuhl ist jetzt alles....[..] With a slight whistling in the slipstream the Me 109 came in over the French coast at a height of fifty metres. To his right he spotted a freshly mown field and set up for a belly landing. He touched down softly,  slid along for  ten metres  and came to a stand. Hannes sat motionless for a moment. Then rubbing the dust thrown up by the landing from his eyes and face, he slowly unbuckled his belt, pulled himself up out of the seat and climbed down from the cockpit. The aircraft had sustained only slight damage in the landing but Hannes counted over twenty bullet impacts, mostly in the wings and the fuselage. There were just two in the radiator and it was these that had brought him down..[..]  .."

The display of airmanship shown by Hannes in downing a Spitfire in his crippled fighter and then gliding it home was second-to-none and won the fulsome praise of his comrades - 'Hannes hat ..[..] eine Leistung vollbracht, die gerade bei seinen Kameraden in der Jagdfliegerei bewundert wird..' His feat was evidence of the 'immense skill' and 'Siegeswillen' or 'will to win' of the men of the German Luftwaffe..

Below; Uffz. Karl Hannes in front of his (presumably) 'red' or 'black 12' of 5./JG 2 - a 'cropped' version of this photo was first published in the April 1977 issue of Jägerblatt.

Above; Karl Hannes was subsequently posted to Erla and served as a factory 'Einflieger' (test pilot) and in the works Jagdstaffel.  In this role he would perform more than a few emergency landings..

Below; Hannes seated on the spinner of a crash-landed Gustav coded 'G1'

Below; Hannes flew this modified Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4 coded "H1" (Hannes, aircraft # 1 ?). The aircraft was written off in a crash landing during 1943. Hannes can be seen near the engine bearer arm, hand resting on one of the cowl MGs..

A 'second' "H1" (?) trialed a system for direct injection of liquid oxygen into the engine turbocharger to significantly improve the rate of climb. 

Friday, 13 August 2021

Siegfried Lemke Flugbuch Kommandeur III./JG 2 on 1.1.45 (Model build by Paul Stipdonk)

A friend of the blog recently sent through a copy of Hptm. Siegfried Lemke's Flugbuch. Using this document he has built a scale model of the Fw 190 flown by Lemke on the New Year's Day 1945 'Bodenplatte' mission. Siegfried Lemke's Flugbuch details this sortie, see image below (second line from bottom) Tasked with attacking St Trond, Lemke's III. Gruppe of JG 2 flew out of Ettinghausen, north of Wiesbaden. At around 09h00-09h05, JG 2 crossed the front line at Malmedy and was greeted by an enormous volume of Allied ground fire. I./JG 2 lost at least seven fighters to ground fire alone. III./JG 2 lost 10 fighters on the ill-fated mission and fifteen aircraft including at least six Doras were shot down! Lemke records that on 1.1. 1945 he flew a Fw 190 Dora marked with his Kommandeur chevrons and toting Werfer rocket launchers ('Werfereinsatz' as per the logbook entry). Werknummer '210286' almost certainly wore the JG 2 RVT fuselage bands and displayed a III. Gruppe Balken. Note that most -if not all- of the WNr. 210 000 series produced by Focke Wulf were fitted with the standard Fw 190 A canopy. Fw. Werner Hohenberg's well-known belly-landed Dora (I./JG 2) was D-9 WNr. 210194. 

(Click to view larger)

Also on this blog;

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Who collided with the 97th BG B-17 F 'All American' ? - Luftwaffe in Tunisia (2)


 The internet it would appear was made for stories like that of the 97th BG B-17 'All American'. 

 "..The 'All American', a B-17 Flying Fortress, seen returning to Biskra, Algeria, after a mid-air collision with a German fighter almost tore the bomber's tail off completely..."

While quite amazing in its own right, the story has been somewhat embellished in the re-telling. Some versions even have the B-17 returning to England. The 'Disciples of flight' web site even uses a German newspaper illustration of a Sturmstaffel Fw 190 ramming attack to illustrate its article. 

The bombing raid was flown from Biskra, Algeria to Tunis on February 1, 1943. The American B-17s - a small force of some 12 unescorted machines - were targeted head-on by the Bf 109s of II./JG 53. As related in his memoir, Jules Meimberg's 11./JG 2 - subordinated to JG 53 in Tunisia - also participated in this action. Meimberg - who had claimed a P-38 over Tunis the previous day - was still testing the frontal pass for attacking 'Ami' bombers, concentrating his fire at the weakest point defensively on the B-17 F. However his luck ran out on February 1, 1943. His Bf 109 G-4 was quickly set alight by the gunners' fire and  Meimberg bailed out badly burnt. He subsequently claimed the B-17 shot down but none were lost. 6./JG 53 ace Fw. Erich Paczia also set up for a frontal pass. According to Steve Birdsall in his 'Pride of Seattle, The Story of the First 300 B-17 Fs', what happened next left indelible impressions on the men at the front of the aircraft. Bombardier Lt. Ralph Burbridge recalled ; “I was firing at it all the way… I figure one of us must have killed the pilot because the plane crashed right into us… When we hit, our plane almost stood up on its tail. Then we went down at a very sharp angle. I thought to myself, ‘boy, this is it’.”
Paczia's wing plowed through the rear fuselage of the 'All American' and the 16-victory German ace plunged to his death. 

Fw. Erich Paczia of 6./JG 53 (left) seen in Comiso during 1942

Below; the B-17 managed to fly back to its base and land safely without any crew member injured.

"..Wings ablaze with gunfire, the Messerschmitt pilot aimed his fighter directly at the nose of the 'All American'. The crew aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress had seconds to respond. The bomber’s nose gun flashed in reply. The gunners of the lead bomber joined the fray, raking the air with bullets. At the last moment, the fighter turned to pull away. Suddenly, the pilot froze – one of the American gunners had found their mark. The fighter shot right over the cockpit of the B-17 'All American' with a deafening “whoosh” before plowing into the tail section. The craft shuddered as a tremendous “whoomp!” tore through it..."

A full day-by-day account of the Luftwaffe in Tunisia is related in issue #96 of 'Batailles Aériennes' over 96 A-4 pages, comprising 200 photos and 15 artworks all for 12 euros. Even if you don't read French this is a bargain.

"..From 1940 to late 1942, the Tunisians had seen few Luftwaffe aircraft, except for the few aircraft of the Armistice Commission that had come to verify compliance with the conditions set in June 1940 at Compiègne. This changed in November 1942 when the Allies landed in Algeria and Morocco, catching the Afrika Korps (then in full retreat) in a pincer movement. Mustering all it could, the Wehrmacht rushed in disparate units from land, air and sea to take control of Tunisia, towards which Rommel's army was retreating. On the ground, the Heer was initially able to block the advance of the enemy forces, while in the air, the Luftwaffe stepped up all kinds of operations: fighter and bomber escort sorties, ground attack, reconnaissance and also supply operations following the creation of an air bridge linking Europe to Africa. Airborne units and the flak arm were also put to great use. However, even if the German fighters were able to inflict heavy losses ( the USAAF in particular lacked combat experience), they often appeared powerless against large forces of American heavy bombers that were dispatched to pound their airfields as well as troop concentrations. The Luftwaffe, confronted with sophisticated enemy equipment, was to find out the hard way what 'Materialschlacht' meant. As the months passed and Allied numerical superiority increased, fatal blows were dealt to the air and sea supply units, which isolated the Tunisian pocket. Despite the disproportionate nature of the fighting, the Axis were able to hold on to the country for some six months, although their positions were slowly  whittled away. And on 13 May 1943, after suffering heavy losses, the Axis lost Africa for good..."


Monday, 9 August 2021

Lt. Rolf Schlegel of 4./JG 53 - Luftwaffe in Tunisia (1)


Lt. Rolf Schlegel of 4./JG 53 climbing into the cockpit of his G-6 ‘Trop’ ‘white 6’ for a spell at 'readiness' during early 1943 in Tunisia. Note the 'painted' cowl gun troughs. Schlegel flew as Staffelkapitän 10./JG 4 during February-March 1945 and was posted to EJG 2 at Lechfeld for jet training for the final months of the war. He returned nine victories. Click to view large

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Dragon/Revell Me 110 C in 32nd scale


Rod Bettencourt's superlative Revell (Dragon) Me 110. Additions include Quickboost exhaust, Eduard set and HGH Seat belts. Painted with Model Master and AK real colors; 

Rod;  " this was the first-time using AK paints since I cannot get the Model Master any longer. With that said, I really enjoyed using the AK and have started to buy more. The decals came from one of the Kagero books. I also riveted and stressed the skin". 

The 109 in the back ground is the Cyber kit and was featured on this blog in March 2019. 

Friday, 16 July 2021

Info Eduard Vol.20 July 2021 - Part II of a wilde Sau Limited Edition series


Info Eduard Vol.20 July 2021 - issue 137

Check out a new 'wilde Sau' feature that I recently compiled for Eduard and which is published in their latest 'INFO' booklet for July to mark the release of Part II of a 'wilde Sau' 'Limited Edition' trilogy of kit releases. Entitled 'wilde Sau stories' the brief was to write something about the G-10 and G-14/AS in JG 300 service. 

By the late summer of 1944 wilde Sau operations were a distant memory for the majority of pilots in JG 300. All night-fighter actvities in the Geschwader had been concentrated in a ‘specialised’ Moskito-hunting Staffel designated 10. (N)/ JG 300. This was the so-called ‘Kometen’ or comet Staffel, established to combat the almost nightly incursions over Berlin by DH Mosquito bombers of the RAF's LNSF (Light Night Striking Force.). Operating out of Jüterbog, south of Berlin, under Staffelkapitän Leutnant Karl Mitterdorfer, 10. Staffel flew a 'modified' Wilde Sau system— guided by two vertical searchlight beams and a ground controller, the unit’s high performance G-14/AS fighters loitered at high altitude (10,000 metres) above the 'corridors' used by the Mosquitoes flying into Berlin.....

The feature is illustrated with the artworks from the new 'Limited Edition' wilde Sau Dual Combo kit. Also in this edition of the 'Info'  - the 'Adlerangriff' 72nd scale Bf 109 Emil combo (Special Hobby sprues with a large new decal sheet and resin wheels) 'reviewed' and illustrated and Jan Zdiarsky discusses II./(Sturm) JG 4 in action against the 100th BG. His article features more of Piotr Forkasiewicz's superlative artwork.

Part one of Eduard's wilde Sau trilogy was released last November. Eduard asked me to put together some text/markings schemes for this Dual Combo kit.  While they didn’t go with all my choices, it was nice to be asked and at least have a hand in choosing the markings options ( ten in the box). A separate decal sheet was also released.

The November 2020 issue of Eduard Info - a free download from - featured some text and images that I compiled for this release....Episode three due next is planned to cover the Fw 190s of JG 300...

My 'history' feature on wilde Sau ace Friedrich-Karl Müller of JG 300 and NJG 11 complete with rare photos and first person accounts is available to read in the free 76-page November 2019 issue of Eduard INFO - download it here

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

'German Fighters of WW II' - how exactly do you write/compile a compendium of Luftwaffe aircraft types ?


New from Chris Goss  -  a 208-page large-format compendium-type book on Luftwaffe fighters for French publisher caraktère. Continuing the series of WW II aviation encyclopedias started by Chris Ehrengardt, Caraktère's "German Fighters 1939-45" covers some thirty aircraft in depth, and features all German piston and jet-engined fighters in service between 1933 and 1945 alongside coverage of lesser types such as the Arado Ar 197, the Heinkel He 100 and the Gotha Ho 229. Given the space restrictions of the format, content is best described as pretty general but even the 'armchair' historians out there will find it a worthwhile read. Kudos to Chris for continuing the work of CJE - the book will undoubtedly look fabulous on the shelf alongside the Italian and French fighter volumes in the same series.

Compendiums or 'encyclopedias' of aircraft types appear every so often and are probably - and somewhat unfortunately - generally dismissed nowadays as being for the novice 'enthusiast'. They can on occasion be pretty 'hit-and-miss' but in this instance - as with their other encyclopedias in this series - Caraktère have lavished a deal of care and attention on this volume. During my teens I like many others grew up on these types of books and I still like to browse through all the old 'classics, for example, William Green's " Fighters and Bombers of WWII" was published in ten small-format volumes between 1960-1968 and were a benchmark series of books. As a teenager in the mid-1970s one of my hobbies was building Luftwaffe model kits - usually Airfix - their Me 262, Me 109, Fw 189 or even the Bv 141- since this was all that was available in the local branch of Woolworths. This coincided with the discovery in the local library of William Green's massive "Warplanes of the Third Reich" book. It was a book full of exotic machines and far too valuable to be loaned out of the library - you were allowed to study it in the reading room and I still recall spending at least one set of summer holidays taking copious notes from it into a small notepad - aged about 11 or 12. Well-known author and Classic Publications founder Robert Forsyth told me that his interest in the Luftwaffe was stimulated in similar fashion - but he actually got his mum to buy him a copy of 'Warplanes..' ! I've always wanted to write a blog post on " Warplanes.." but there are few if any people involved in the original production still with us today. I do recall John Weal telling me once that most of the material accumulated by Green (over two decades of research..first published 1970) and passed to Aerospace Publishing for their projected three-volume 'reprint' was lost when their basement storage flooded! And who knew then that this huge tome would be so decried nowadays. 

 Other compendiums that came out around this time were J. R. Smith's and Antony Kay's German Aircraft of the Second World War (1972), Aireview's German Military Aircraft in the Second World War (1959), and Heinz J. Nowarra's and Karlheinz Kens' Die deutschen Flugzeuge 1933-1945 (1961, with a Nachtrag by Nowarra alone in 1964). As far as I know, these were the major compendiums of the times. Green, Smith, and Nowarra were prolific writers of their time. Smith teamed up with Eddie J. Creek dating back to at least Gruppe 66 (1966) for a long and distinguished career in Luftwaffe aviation history writing. Green also wrote the Famous Fighters and Famous Bombers 2-volume sets (1957-1962), but these were restricted to the most well-known aircraft. In his day, Green was considered one of the foremost authorities on the subject of German WW II aircraft. The tendency since has been in the area of specialization, concentrating on single aircraft types, manufacturers, units, camouflages, cockpits, specialized aircraft fields, such as the jet and rocket aircraft, etc. Why the specialization? Because more and more information has become available over the years to do more complete studies.

 Since Green, many others have produced similar type compilations - encyclopedias if you will - including and not limited to Smith and Kay (Putnam), David Donald (Aerospace Publishing), Kenneth Munson and Bill Gunston. Thomas Newdick has just done it with his 'German Aircraft of WWII' for  Amber books.

The reviews looked good so I thought I'd get a copy. I then asked Thomas if he would like to talk about his new book, how he went about compiling  it and so on - but unfortunately he told me he was not in a position to respond, citing a new publisher who forbids him from discussing his old books! A shame.

 So how does anyone nowadays go about compiling a compendium? Do you just go to Wikipedia for these sorts of titles - after all there are no footnotes or references in Newdick's book at all. How do we know what is reliable and what is not with regard to all the info out there?  This was the question I put to a number of well-known Luftwaffe authors and experts - a publisher asks you for a compendium of 100 Luftwaffe aircraft. Just a page or two on each type. You get six months to write and 'research' the book. How do you go about it?  How do you judge what's accurate and what's not when consulting secondary sources, assuming especially in the current climate that this is all you would use. And how good is Thomas Newdick's latest publication?

Jean-Louis Roba; co-author of the multi-volume "Seaplanes of the Luftwaffe" published by Lela Presse

" As virtually everyone who has known any Luftwaffe aircraft up close is no longer with us, any potential author writing on the subject must: 

-locate reliable period documents in the archives;
-consult RELIABLE works (even dating back to the 60s and 70s - sometimes the best ones);
-be logical in comparing sources and discard everything that seems doubtful (but they can be cited by saying: 'However, according to one source,...');
-get it into your head that you can NEVER know the whole truth, even if you want to get as close to it as possible.
In short, be humble and do not attempt to make the reader believe that you know everything..."


Nick Beale, author of 'Ghost bombers' and 'Air war Italy' among other titles ; 

".. Go almost entirely with the material you already have. But do you include only German-built aircraft? Only those which saw service with a Luftwaffe unit? Do you include foreign types used by Luftwaffe units (Re. 2002, Avia B-534, Dewoitine D. 520, Bréguet Bizerte, B-17, Caudron C. 440 etc.). The Luftwaffe used far more Fiat CR.42s in combat than they ever did Ta 152's or 154's, after all. Do you include the exotica (Natter, Do 335, Ju 287, Me 264, Go 229) which never saw service? Arrange it by role (fighters, bombers etc.) or by year/campaign (showing how capabilities developed), or by manufacturer? Do a William Green and include every projected variant (He 219 B and C for example) whether they built any or not. Finally kill off the Ju 87 D-7, Ju 87 D-8 and He 111 H-22 (none of which I have ever found in a strength return, loss report, ULTRA or A.I.2(g) report)? .."

"..For accuracy of secondary sources, I tend to go for the most recent work by authors I’ve come to trust. I would always feel slightly guilty not doing everything myself in terms of research. I ran into this in a very minor way lately when I was looking up the dimensions of the Ju 87 D. There were minor variations (an inch or two) between a number of my sources, all of which used imperial measures which probably doesn’t help for aircraft built in metric. I honestly don’t know what the primary sources are for RAF aircraft. I’d imagine there was either a manufacturer’s spec sheet, or some Air Ministry documentation re acceptance of the type but what did the Greens or Gunstons use, back when so little was publicly available? Ring up an old RAF mate in Ministry? Either the figures we all use are the official ones or successive authors have just copied whoever was first. Nowadays you could pull all the RAE files at Kew (if they were open!) and check but has anyone actually done that? With the Luftwaffe, factory documentation is a closed book to me but some people seem to thrive on it and I take them in trust..."

There are however some actual German spec sheets for late-war types (frame 341 onwards) here: 

 I think they may (partially?) duplicate the ones I saw in 1990 in the Air Historical Branch 6 microfilms (Reel 2) at the IWM. I’d only gone up for the day, so all I noted down (in those days before portable tech) was the fuel capacities of types that served in Italy — I wanted to get a handle on how far the available fuel would go..."

David Isby, author of  one of the best books written about the Bf 109-Spitfire entitled 'Decisive Duel';

".. I am not familiar with the new Thomas Newdick book, so I will have to pass on a specific comment. I know Thomas Newdick from when he was an editor at AIR FORCES MONTHLY, where he did good work. How can you go about it? A good question. If I had an answer, I would propose such a book myself. I first considered this question some time in 1962, one evening where I was waiting for my parents to finish a boring dinner party and I had not brought a book to read. I always wondered if I could have brought any book I could imagine, what would it have looked like. It would have been of course a book on Second World War airplanes, like Green’s Famous Fighters and Famous Bombers (in 1962 these appeared brilliant) but would instead have featured a mission by each type of airplane that would explain what it was designed to do and how it operated in the context of its opponents and escorts. I would still try and write it if someone was interested. My DECISIVE DUEL book was not my idea. The publisher had the idea, mentioned it to my agent, Ian Drury (who used to be my editor at Harper Collins). Other books I have done were my idea, which often had an ulterior motive behind how I envisioned them. Other times the publisher approached me directly. That’s why I did the six volumes of German wartime documents. The publisher, Lionel Leventhal, was not offering lots of money, but he understood why we write and could make it seem like great fun. I have also been offered books that I turned down. Usually time or money was insufficient. Others I declined because the information I would need to do a good job is in archives I cannot use or in languages I cannot read well enough. Sometimes I have been asked to write about subjects when there was no real way to do the research. If I was to do such a book on wartime German aircraft, unless I had lots of time and money (which is unlikely) I would quickly try to ascertain which good recent German-language sources I could rely on to avoid simply repeating the material in an earlier generation of English-language stuff. There are lots of mistakes that have been repeated for years. When it comes to performance statistics, the sources often differ, as internet sites will show, and often omit key information. Hermann Goering did not understand what impact an airplane’s full throttle height would have on air combat, because he had flown fighters without superchargers. The reference books he read did not tell him the information he needed to know..."..

Nigel Moore;

" Goodness! How to get to Mars when all you have is a bicycle with a bent front wheel. I'm afraid I don't know any of the works by Newdick, so I'm working blind. However, from the quantity and variety of his books he has clearly evolved a formula, and can and does apply it at will. If I was taking on such a task from scratch and without being pointed at any particular model for reference (make it like ....), my first two steps would be: develop a scope and sequence outline for the coverage that I would apply to each aircraft. If you read Green carefully and you can see he did this rather well plus his writing was clear and elegant. Then look at the handbook for each aircraft - that's a lot of handbooks! There are also just a few good studies that must also be looked at. Ron Ferguson on the He 219 for one recent example (at his fourth or fifth? iteration). However, the reality is valid quality studies are virtually as rare as hen's teeth and generally confined to minor types..."

"..The secondary sources are reasonably good for details of construction and dimensions, broad operational use etc. but have either a lot of blah or plain gaps on detailed distinctions between versions and quantities produced. So you could develop a reasonable account built around airframe construction techniques, available engine developments and armament fits because these are tangibles and a lot of good work has been done on these areas over an extended period. However, it would all have to be kept pretty 'broad brush' if you wanted to avoid straying into the repetition of errors and myths..."

 "...On balance my advice would be don't do it. (Why add to the mythology, outright errors and inaccuracies?) It's the same with any area of serious historical study. The quality overview works come late and are built on a host of monographs and detailed studies of different aspects. For the Lw this pre-stage is really only just beginning and it is very time-consuming. For the RLM/Luftwaffe/German aircraft/aero-engine industry my mind picture is of a ten billion piece, three-dimensional jigsaw, where 98% of the pieces have been lost, and those that survive are in tens of thousands of different boxes. Because of the repetitions of the same information a bunch of pieces in a particular area can sometimes be put together with reasonable clarity and assurance. But having enough related pieces of the jigsaw is often down to chance. Outside of this serendipity, a lot of linkages can only be inferred until (maybe, sometimes) happily some more information resurfaces and a clearer picture emerges..."

Ron Ferguson; author of Wingleader's definitive account of the He 219;

"...I've been thinking about this - but not too sure if I can offer any useful insights. When it comes to consulting secondary sources I think the key is to look for a reliable author(s). For example, in my work on the new He 219 book I had every confidence in consulting the works of Vernaleken and Handig, Mankau and Petrick, Dr Volker Koos, Dr Theo Boiten and Roderick Mackenzie. I don't think anyone would disagree that these fellows are top-notch researchers. It's also important to recognize that as time moves on, our collective knowledge of the subject expands as new files and new photographs come to light. Vernaleken and Handig, Mankau and Petrick, Koos, Boiten and Mackenzie are 21st century sources. Most of the 20th century secondary sources - works by Nowarra, Dressel, and to a lesser degree Remp - were largely ignored. Nearly all the 20th century He 219 books rely on the Entwicklung document which is a toxic mix of fact and non-fact. The one exception to this 'rule-of-thumb' was the the work of Richard Bateson. His tiny little 1970 booklet on the He 219 was surprisingly 'clean' and dove-tailed nicely with Koos' findings. In 2012 I received a copy of Bateson's book from fellow Aussie researcher Ken Merrick (author of several books on WWII Luftwaffe camouflage and markings) which came with a note that Bateson was generally well regarded as a researcher.

Your question, You get six months to write and 'research' it. How do you go about it? This is really out of my territory. I commenced work on the new He 219 book in December 2012. It was published in 2020. I guess the answer to your question lies to some degree in defining the 'target audience'. In the early 1980s David Mondey wrote three small books on WWII aircraft - British a/c, American a/c, and Axis a/c. These works were targeted at the 'introductory level' and no doubt many readers found them good reading (I read all three volumes). But for the more knowledgeable and the more inquisitive they would have been of little interest. Also, I must confess to having 'tunnel-vision' when it comes to the He 219 (some would say obsessive). For anyone contemplating the task of writing a compendium of 100 Luftwaffe types in the time frame of six months, I would wish them good luck!.."

As for the question what is Newdick's book like, here's John Vasco's critique of the pages devoted to the Me 110;

"..I can only go by the two sample pages that I have seen on Amazon with regard to the Bf 110. First of all, he says ‘Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-4/B. This aircraft flew with II. Gruppe, Erprobungsgruppe 210, deployed in raids across the English Channel in the summer of 1940. It features the famous Wespen (“wasp”) nose markings of Zerstörergeschwader 1’ with reference to the profile on the same page. Now, the book ‘Messerschmitt Bf 110/Me210/Me410’ by Heinz Mankau and Peter Petrick (English edition published by Schiffer), page 177, simply states re the Bf 110 C-4/B: ‘Gotha supplied four machines under the designation Bf 110 C-4/B. These were later carried on the books as Bf 110 C-7s, however’. The production bomber version of the ‘C’ was the C-7. Secondly, he states ‘II Gruppe, Erprobungsgruppe 210’. Erprobungsgruppe 210 never had a II. Gruppe. Thirdly he states that: ‘It features the famous Wespen (“wasp”) nose markings’. Erprobungsgruppe 210 never carried the Wespe emblem. The only unit to carry the Wespe emblem during the Battle of Britain was III. Gruppe of Zerstörergeschwader 76, and this emblem was the original one of three small wasps above clouds.

Onto the second sample page, he says: ‘The subsequent Bf 110 D series was intended for long-range operations’. That was the case for the Dackelbauch with the additional fuel tank and oil tank housed in the Dackelbauch fairing, but was not necessarily applicable to the standard non-Dackelbauch Bf 110 D fighter and Bf 110 D fighter-bomber variants. He also says that once the Bf 110 met Spitfires and Hurricanes it was ‘hopelessly outgunned’. That’s a strange claim, since the Bf 110 carried two 20 mm cannon and four forward firing MGs, whereas the Bf 109 only has two 20 mm cannon and two forward firing MG. Of the two fighters, the 109 was outgunned more so than the 110! He also says: ‘As that campaign continued (the Battle of Britain), the type was increasingly switched to bombing and reconnaissance missions’. Now this is 100% wrong – I haven’t a clue where he got that information from! There was a single Bf 110 unit in the Battle of Britain that was deployed as a fighter-bomber: Erprobungsgruppe 210. Their first operation against British shipping was on 13th July and they continued missions throughout the Battle of Britain. No other Bf 110 unit was ‘switched’ to fighter-bomber missions during the Battle. And the Bf 110 was already in service as a reconnaissance aircraft with the various recce Staffeln from the early stages of the Battle. He also says: ‘By the winter of 1940-1941 it had found a new niche as a night-fighter. The first night fighter unit, Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, was formed under Hauptmann Wolfgang Falck, in June 1940, even before the Battle of Britain had commenced.

The caption to the photo of Bf 110s of 2./ZG 26 is incorrect. They are not C-1 sub-variants, as evidenced by the wing root aerial. They are C-2 or later.

The profile top left of the page of 3M+AB says it is a ‘C-1’, but the wing root aerial points to a C-2 or C-4.

The profile top right of 3U+NS has the extended rear fuselage but does not show the cable that ran along the top of the port fuselage to the rear which operated the release of the extended tail. Also, it has two aerials from the cockpit aerial mast (a feature of the ‘B’ variant and the ‘C-1’, but from the ‘C-2’ onwards there was only a single aerial going to the starboard fin). The cockpit area is not accurate.

The profile at the bottom of the page of S9+LP states it is a C-7. However, it has no wing root aerial, and again, this profile has two aerials from the cockpit aerial mast (a feature of the ‘B’ variant and the ‘C-1’, but from the ‘C-2’ onwards there was only a single aerial going to the starboard fin, as mentioned above). The cockpit area of this profile is also not accurate, and it has what can only be described as a silver port spinner…

To conclude: in view of all the foregoing I would not recommend this book to anyone, as it is riddled with errors from just those two sample pages concerning the Bf 110. It appears to me that the author has not drawn on any modern research which has been published, but relied on decades-old incorrect information that is STILL being accepted as fact..."

also on this blog;

Monday, 28 June 2021

Okay, it's only a Buchon....Headcorn Battle of Britain air show, 25-27 June


 ..only a Buchon ....but it was great to see some actual aeroplanes in the air again at the Battle of Britain air display put on by Spitfire operators Aero Legends at Headcorn aerodrome, Kent, on Friday 25-Sunday 27 June. Despite some indifferent weather on the Friday and a complete wash-out on the Sunday the weekend's flying was superb. While Saturday was mostly hot and sunny, the Red Arrows show opening and closing displays were both cancelled. Saturday's finale of ten Spitfires and a Hurricane being 'scrambled' to counter the raiding Bf 109 was quite special - as good as anything I've seen at Dx.

Two from Leigh ('Alpha Delta 210')

Jay Geer image of the Buchon caught by the Spit ..

This is by far the best video of Friday's display - the aerobatics of the Bucker Jungmann can be briefly viewed from minute 9 and the  Buchon-Spitfire 'mock dogfight' tail-chase is at minute 23. Inbetween the B-17 cruises around majestically..well worth a watch.  A single click to view here..

more on the HA -1112 Buchon on this blog here