Saturday 30 January 2021

Forthcoming and available to pre-order from Éditions Arès - The Luftwaffe in France vol 2 1943-45 " Adversity and defeat " by Jean-Louis Roba. Luftwaffe Gallery No. 6 "LuGa - Luck, Fate and Destiny"


From the publishers blurb;

In early 1943, the Luftwaffe based in France had to occupy the whole of France following the invasion of the southern Free Zone at the end of 1942. This proved to be a real headache for a local command that had to square the circle since it had a wholly inadequate number of air units and Flak (DCA)! The situation was to worsen with the deterioration of the Axis' military situation in the Mediterranean, with France too often becoming a reservoir of men and aircraft from which to draw if necessary to reinforce Africa, Greece and, finally, Italy. 1943 also saw increasingly powerful raids launched on the continent by the American USAAF and its formidable four-engined aircraft. The daytime fighter force, the Tagjagd, would thus be gradually worn down and overwhelmed, regularly losing aces whose disappearance could not be compensated for by the arrival of young aviators lacking experience and training. RAF Bomber Command by night increased the number of intrusions, forcing the local command to develop its night fighter arm (Nachtjagd) which, until then, had remained somewhat embryonic. Despite these efforts, few new units could be raised to reinforce the offensive and defensive potential of the German air force in occupied France. Thus, the KG 6, which was formed from bits and pieces in 1942, operated only slightly from French territory, being called up in Italy or Denmark before being engaged in raids of very low strategic value on England. Even the inevitable approach of an allied invasion could not overturn the scales and the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944 following by those in the south (Provence) dealt a fatal blow to the Wehrmacht. By the end of August 1944, almost all Luftwaffe units had evacuated France. Withdrawn to Germany, they carried out sporadic actions in French airspace, mainly in support of land forces or purely on the defensive. On 1 January 1945, the Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte, which was hardly a success. The last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over France were the He 111s of TG 30, which flew night-time resupply missions to the German-held Atlantic coast pockets until the end, surrendering only on 8 May 1945.

Page views and pre-order info  at this link here

volume 1 of  'The Luftwaffe in France' reviewed on this blog here

A 'new look' tenth edition in the tenth anniversary year of the ' Luftwaffe Gallery' monograph series has been available for a while now from  

Via Del Davis;

"..I received the book yesterday and have not finished reading it but my initial impression is very positive. There are articles on Ubben and Wurmheller with previously unseen photos and color schemes. Other articles cover airfield tank trucks, the He-115 and aircraft markings with a gambling theme. The overall layout has been revised and photo numbers are tied directly to items and remarks in the text. It seems to be available in the US on eBay and Amazon as well as several other locations..."

Saturday 16 January 2021

Currently reading 'Avions', 'Flugzeug Classic', 'Aerojournal'


If you are a regular visitor here you will know that I will often look at the Luftwaffe content to be seen in the monthly and bi-monthly magazines that are published by our European neighbours. I have a subscription to 'Avions' and pick up issues of 'Aérojournal' from the local supermarket. 'Flugzeug Classic' is usually purchased from the Geramond website or as postage from Germany can be expensive. As our own Key Publishing attempts (bizarrely) to turn 'Flypast' into 'Aviation News' and 'Aeroplane' into 'Flypast'  - no doubt in the face of some competition from 'Britain at War' and even the rather hit-and-miss 'Iron Cross' - there is no doubt that titles such as 'Flugzeug Classic', 'Avions' and 'Aérojournal' leave our own UK-based titles floundering in their slipstream. Not a metaphor for what is happening in the wider world. I hope. Try one and see for yourself. 

Markus and his team at (Flugzeug Classic) continue to produce a very nice magazine with a wide range of Luftwaffe-related features. (along with plenty of other content too) In the January 2021 issue Peter Schmoll completes his account of the life and times of JG 52 pilot Ernst Stengl in "Fight for survival". Accounts from Jagdflieger in the East during 1945 are pretty rare and this is a very detailed one. Stengl describes endless strafing and 'freie Jagd' missions against  and over Russian columns during early 1945. On 20 January Stengl was hit by ground fire and made a forced landing some 10 kms behind the front lines, east of the Oder. Making his way through woods  to the banks of the river he recalls the constant engine noise of Soviet columns moving up. Unable to locate any sort of boat or barge to cross in, Stengl took the risk of entering the freezing water with his clothes/uniform bundled inside his Lederkombi held above his head, and half-wading, half-swimming managed to reach the western bank. By March 1945 Stengl was flying two to three resupply sorties per day into the besieged 'fortress' of Breslau - " solange wir genügend Versorgungsbehältern und Sprit hatten.."  ('or as long as we had resupply cannisters and fuel available...'). According to the author the contents of their resupply canisters were on one occasion emptied of food, chocolates and cigarettes  on the orders of the Gestapo since only weapons and munitions were to be dropped on the beleaguered city. Stengl also describes his last - and 17th victory - also in March, prior to his transfer with Staffelkapitän Oblt.Neuböck to II./JG 52 on 17 April 1945. 

Elsewhere in this issue Kurt Braatz presents six pages on Günther Rall, while Holger Lorenz looks at the second generation of Jumo turbojets. Dan Zamansky in 'Gescheiterte Strategie' returns to the African and Mediterranean campaigns, looking specifically at the transfer of fighter units from the East to the Mediterranean theatres. 

Opening his piece with a brief account of events and using claims data from Johannes Matthews, author Zamansky constructs a picture of the movements of Jagdgruppen from the East to the Mediterranean during 1942 as the Soviet front was slowly ‘denuded’ of key resources. I./JG 53 is one unit under the spotlight, removed from the fighting around Stalingrad in late September 1942 – their claims total for the single month of September 1942 was nearly 350 Soviet machines - rather more than the figure achieved by III./JG 53 in the 3-month period June-October 1941 (highest JG 53 scorers in the East during 1941). They were followed by Gruppen of JG 77 and JG 51. The author points out that nothing replaced JG 77 in the East and by the time JG 27 left Africa it was in a very poor state. While all of its Gruppen eventually gathered in Austria to defend the southern part of the Reich, elements of one Gruppe remained in the Mediterranean until well into 1944. The key point is that the resources sent to Rommel may have been of much more use elsewhere, also a point made forcefully by others, such as J-L Roba in his recent ‘Luftwaffe in Africa’ (Casemate). Ultimately, Rommel neglected the problem of supply far too much and, worse, attracted Luftwaffe units to Africa that would have been more useful in Sicily operating against Malta..( or the USSR.)

“ ..In assessing Rommel and the campaign, it is important to remember that Germany was weaker than Britain, even Britain alone. Therefore, after Britain had held out in 1940, Germany had very few good strategic choices left. The attack on the USSR was a desperate choice, but the best choice remaining. […] the problem for the Germans was that giving up Africa would only draw the noose tighter around their necks. After Alamein, evacuation was the obvious choice, but this had equally obvious implications, such as "the beginning" of the end..."

When it comes to unit movements from East to South in 1942, the movement of Kampfgruppen was possibly even more significant but not dealt with in Dan Zamansky's piece. Hopefully the author will be given the chance to publish more on this. Like the fighter forces taken from the East, a number of Stuka and Transport Gruppen transferred to Africa not to mention elements of ZG 26 (Heller of 8./ZG 26 won his RK in Africa) and the Ju 88s of LG 1 and it was these forces that contributed chiefly to the DAK's early successes of course. It could even be argued that the German fighter force - with the pilots’ focus on 'acedom' - did not have the 'crucial'  impact in either theater as, say, the Gruppen of Stuka Geschwader.  After all German fighters went after other fighters and not for example Allied bombers. That said the Stukas operated with success into 1943 in Africa so while the German fighters were outnumbered this strongly indicates that " Marseille and his fellow pilots were as good at tactical bomber escort as they were at air combat..".

The article concludes with a 're-statement' of the author’s somewhat ‘controversial’ thesis that the USSR's role in the war is exaggerated – the author's contention briefly put is that the movement of forces away from the East took place as early as 1942 so that fighting the Western Allies became the dominant focus of Germany's war. 

The latest issue of 'Avions' - the best bi-monthly French aviation magazine* - covers RAF Lysanders in France (J-L Roba) and Mikhail Timine looks at some long-range Zerstörer sorties flown on the opening day of Barbarossa. Elsewhere 'Avions' have also republished the long OOP and hard to find "Romanian Black Hussars" in this new 'Special' edition entitled "Stukisti" - an account of the Romanian Grupul 3 Picaj Stukas in action by J-L Roba and Cristian Craciunoiu. Other units and aircraft types flying in Romania are also covered to a lesser extent with details of training carried out by the experienced airmen of St.G. 77 and Grupul 3 escort flown by the Bf 110s of Küstenstaffel Krim. Text in French. The Luftwaffe blog extends sincere thanks to co-author Jean-Louis Roba for a review copy of  'Stukisti'..

The prolific J-L Roba also has a long feature in the latest Aérojournal - the best bi-monthly French aviation magazine* - in the form of a lengthy bio of JG 77 56-victory RKT Eduard Isken which features many rare images from the albums of JG 77 veterans. Incidentally issue no. 79 also covers the aerial battles over Kasserine (Tunisia) during early 1943. In addition to Chris Goss on the Battle of Britain, recent issues of Yannis Khadari's magazine continue to evoke the spirit of CJE with very nice multi-part features on JG 26 in the Westfeldzug (Philippe Saintes) and a thorough sixteen-page account by J-L Roba of 2.(H)/14 with plenty of colour and artworks!  Issue 77 covered Luftwaffe 'rockets and missiles' in a fantastic 40-page spread with outstanding artworks, photographic content and reproductions of period blueprints.  Highly recommended. Having used the service a number of times now I can confirm that back issues are speedily and professionally shipped via  Keep an eye on the website too for a forthcoming 'Encyclopedia of Luftwaffe fighters' from the same publisher.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Aus dem Nachlass eines Piloten Feldwebel Pöggeler, ZG 26 Me 410, KG 26 "Löwengeschwader", Zerstörer Geschwader "HW", Do 217, Me 410 - eBay photo find #344


Aus dem Nachlass eines Piloten Feldwebel Pöggeler, KG 26 "Löwengeschwader", Zerstörer Geschwader "HW", Do 217, He 111 cockpit, Me 410 mit Raketen, Fw 190s JG 2 Triqueville 

 Kommodore Maj. Kogler ZG 26

Orig. Foto Luftwaffe Flugzeug Flugzeugführer Heinkel He 111 Cockpit Löwe KG26

Thursday 7 January 2021

Ostermann's Friedrichs, May 1942 - new JG 54 decals from AIMS and new Bf 110 conversion and update sets


During May 1942, as he was approaching 100 victories, Helmut Ostermann flew - and crashed - two different Friedrichs in quick succession, one on 10 May and the other on 12 May 1942 - this is a matter of record. The two different aircraft were crash landed within two days of each other, one after the other. Only one of these machines appears to feature in photographs and it has been generally thought up to now that it had differently finished fuselage sides  - the starboard side was apparently left in the original paint scheme – the exact colours of which are a matter of conjecture but most probably 74/75 – whereas the port side of the fuselage was completely sprayed over in what is usually said to be a light gray, resulting in a marked difference of the appearance of the two sides of this a/c. I spoke to John MacIllmurray at AIMS who has an interesting theory about Ostermann’s machine(s) and who is currently preparing a new JG 54 decal sheet for release early in the New Year which will feature markings for Ostermann's Friedrichs.

"...The first Friedrich (W Nr. 13088 in 'standard' gray-greens) crashed on 10 May 42 ripping off the tail aft of the III. Gruppe symbol. The second machine - lost on 12 May two days later - was W.Nr 13125. Here the crash-landing also tore off  the tail - on this occasion though in the middle of the III Gruppe bar!  The photo report that appeared in Luftwaffe in Focus (5/2004 edition) actually mixes up photos from the two crash-landings! What was striking about the 'second' aircraft was the 76 overspray on the fuselage sides. Yes, RLM 76 sprayed over the fuselage sides and, yes, the photographs show two aircraft which look similar but they are not the same at all. Not surprisingly modellers and model companies are confusing them. What was the reason behind the 76 overspray? Well, most people imagine that this colour is a faint white or gray overspray - but what would be the point of that in mid-May? It is clearly much darker than the white of the fuselage Balkenkreuz or the white outline of the numeral. My theory is that this may have been an attempt for concealment. Obviously high-altitude combat as such didn't occur in the East, but in painting over the fuselage sides in 76, Ostermann may have been looking for altitude concealment from low-flying Sturmoviks or even ground personnel/troops when flying his long-range strafing sorties behind the lines.." 

See the Luftwaffe Gallery JG 54 'Special' for an account of these types of long-range strafing sorties flown by Ostermann. In the event the 'blue' machine, WNr. 13125, was only flown by Ostermann for two days before it crashed on 12 May 1942...

to reprise the differences on the two machines as seen in the various ‘crash’ photos that have been published;

Ostermann's 'gray-green' F-4 (W Nr. 13088) - 'wet' crash location, no straw under nose, no mud on top most prop lower area, different angle of half and half RLM 70 / white painted spinner, different damage to spinner tip, different painting of rear section of spinner, different damage to rear fuselage - ripped off aft of III Gruppe symbol - lower engine cowl ripped off in the crash. See clearly right side photo and small photo of left side!

Ostermann's 'blue' machine (W.Nr 13125)

High up demarcation 74/76 machine, 'dry' crash location, straw under nose, mud on upper prop, angle of white/RLM 70 spinner different, painting of spinner different, tail ripped off near beginning of III Gruppe symbol and the lower engine cowling intact and in situ. Note too the 8th Staffel bird may well be also in a different place on the two aircraft - 13088 has it near the front of the cowl, 13125 it is in the centre as per normal. 

Bf 109 F-4 – WerkNr. 13 088 – was covered in detail in JFV 9/III, JG 54 Luftwaffe Gallery and various editions of Luftwaffe im Focus and pictures published thus far are usually thought to show an aircraft with differently finished fuselage sides. This highly unusual scheme could be seen on a number of 8./JG 54 Bf 109 F-4s in the spring of 1942, apparently being some kind of intermediate scheme during the spring thaw. (III./JG 54 was only some 50 km south of Leningrad)

But, as is evident from John's comments, it may well be that we have actually been looking at two different aircraft, one of which was 13 088, the other 13 125....over to John again;

"..Regardless of the similarities between 13088 crashed on the 10th and 13125 crashed on  12 May the fact remains that the crash photos from the left show 13125 and the photos from the right show 13088. The photos show two aircraft with two different tail rips, two different spinners and one with lower cowl ripped off and one without - two different crashes - two different aircraft - two different locations - regardless of similarities. It is perhaps a little odd that 13088's 74/75 fuselage is only ever seen from the right and bizarre in the extreme that 13125 in the 'high up' RLM 76 is only ever seen from the left but that is what we have been left with! Since the crash photos show one side only of both aircraft it cannot be proven that work was started to paint the left side of 13088 RLM 76 nor can it be proven that 13125 had the RLM 76 finished on the right for that matter but the head-on photo of it on a dry sunny day (LiF 5/2004) would suggest that it is more finished than un-finished...."

Preview image of just some of the subjects on the forthcoming AIMS JG 54 decal sheet

A final word from John at AIMS;

".. if I'm wrong about this then that's cool too - I am happy to be wrong and thankfully it does not in any way change the decal designs - just the instructions. Okay so the identical paint scheme on the tail plane and wings of both aircraft could be a 'problem for sure but less of a problem - in my mind - than believing all the crash photos are the same aircraft. It would not be the first time an aircraft crashed in an unfinished condition but rare none the less..."

AIMS is also almost ready to start taking orders on a new Bf 110 conversion set - a Bf 110 G-2/R1 conversion for the 32nd Dragon C-7 kit. There are also new 1/72 and 1/48 update sets for the Eduard G-2/R-1 or G-2 kits in the pipeline ..

The Bf 110 G-2/R1 sub-type was a Pulkzerstörer for defence of the Reich duties mounting the imposing 3.7cm Bordkanone Flak 18 under the fuselage. After trials this variant first equipped ZG 76 in late 1943/early 1944. Some of these machines were also equipped with WGr. 21 rocket launchers under each wing. Below, decal sheet extract depicting ZG 76 machines

"M8+NP" a Bf 110 G-2/R1 seen in Wertheim in late 1943. FF Uffz. Herbert Stengel on the right. Note the lower fuselage fairing/housing for the cannon rather resembled the 'Dackelbauch' fitting seen on the Bf 110 D. The cannon muzzle brake was perforated.

More photos and data on the Bf 110 G-2/R1 Flak 18 on this blog here

Fw. Kurt Knappe 5./JG 51


With Mayer’s departure from 7./JG 2 another JG 51 ace was posted in to further strengthen the Staffel, a Ritterkreuzträger with around 50 victories - Fw. Kurt Knappe. On completion of fighter pilot training in spring 1941, Knappe was posted to JG 51. Gefreiter Knappe was assigned to 5./JG 51.Knappe participated in the invasion of Russia and gained his first victory on 24 July 1941. By the end of the year his victory total had risen to nine. Uffz.Knappe gained his 50th and 51st victories on 4 October 1942 and was awarded the Deutches Kreuz in Gold. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 3 November 1942. Knappe was then transferred to 7./JG 2 at the end of November 1942 to undertake Reichverteidigung duties. On 20 April, he transferred to 10./JG 2 where he gained his final victories. On 3 September 1943, Knappe was shot down and killed in combat with USAAF B-17 four-engine bombers and escorting P-47 fighters over Evreux, France in Fw 190 A-6 (W.Nr. 470 016). Kurt Knappe was credited with 56 victories. 

Uffz. Kurt Knappe and his rudder scoreboard showing 51 victories - victories 50-51 were returned on 4 October 1942. The Ritterkreuz was awarded in November 1942 followed by a transfer to the West and 7./JG 2