Thursday, 25 May 2023

Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1 WNr. 111711


A previous blog post shows Me 262 A-1 WNr. 111711 at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, 1945 - see right. These still captures from REDA archive colour footage at quite clearly depict WNr. 111711 following Hans Fay's defection/arrival at Frankfurt - presumably. The tarp and the foliage suggest otherwise. I have read that the branches around WNr.111711 are the result of US troops’ hasty efforts to conceal Fay’s aircraft soon after its landing - they had only arrived at the airfield a few days prior to this. They then later removed them to inspect the machine.

thanks to Snautzer for the find.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

Last gliders into Berlin, April 1945


  On April 27, 1945, Gatow airfield fell into the hands of the Red Army. With the loss of Berlin's last airfield for heavy aircraft, the main east-west axis in Berlin was used as an adhoc landing ground by smaller aircraft including a handful of re-supply DFS 230 Lastensegler cargo gliders. The participation of the gliders was symbolic in every sense of the word. G. Schlaug writes;

"..On the night of April 28-29, five DFS 230s took off from Rerik with Uffz Kestner, Uffz Schleicher, Uffz Kugler, Ogfr Heine and Gefr Heim at their controls. The east-west axis was under intense artillery fire and no landings were attempted. Uffz Kugler took advantage of the fires burning in the centre to locate a flat area and carried out a landing near Tegel. His cargo of anti-aircraft shells was immediately recovered and used by a nearby Flak battery. Kugler, like his comrades, was carrying an authorisation of safe passage which allowed him to climb into one of the last Ju 52s leaving the area and return to Rerik. Heim was forced to make an emergency landing before reaching Berlin, probably due to the failure of the He 111 that was towing him. Nothing is known about the fate of the other three pilots. On the night of March 29-30 (or March 30-April 1?), two more DFS 230s flew to Berlin. Wilhelm Schneider's machine was hit by flak and its pilot, seriously wounded, landed near the east-west axis and was immediately captured by the Soviets. The pilot of the other glider, Uffz Göbel, was killed attempting a landing..."

Mark Felton's latest video attempts to describe some of the Luftwaffe's last operations into Berlin during April 1945 and specifically those adhoc glider re-supply sorties flown by TG 30 He 111s towing DFS 230 gliders.

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

new from Lela Presse - Luftwaffe over Belgium and Stukas in the Blitzkrieg


"La Luftwaffe en Belgique"  Part II  by Jean-Louis Roba and Peter Taghon.  The second installment of the Roba/Taghon story of the Luftwaffe in Belgian skies. Daily activities in diary format covering both day fighters and night operations.

BA  #104    " Stukas dans la Blitzkrieg " Part 1 

The story of the Stuka units over Poland and Scandinavia, while the last eight pages are devoted to the dates 10 and 11 May in the West. (97 pages, photos, maps profile artworks, 13 euros 50)

Avions magazine #252  - features the second part of 'Fw 190 in the Med 1942-43' and 'Dornier night fighters' Part I. The continuing Ukraine war coverage details the combats for Snake Island. I don't always agree with author Christophe Cony's stance on Ukraine's share of responsibility for Putin's illegal invasion but 'Avions' provides easily the best coverage anywhere of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine..

Much more on  the website. Click on the image below to go there now!

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

No 1 Squadron Hurricanes in France 1939-40 - Sqn Leader 'Bull' Halahan and 'blue 109s'



During late 1939 No. 1 Squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Patrick J. H. ‘Bull’ Halahan. While airmen from all over the Empire served in 1 Sqd,  the Irish squadron leader earned a certain notoriety. Patrick Halahan, a Dubliner, nicknamed ‘Bull’ - apparently because of his sturdy broad-shouldered physique - had what might then have been referred to as a 'strong character'. He spoke with a thick Irish accent and according to one account, " his language was colorful and down-to-earth. " As part of 67 Wing, 1 Squadron was sent to France during October 1939 along with No. 73 squadron as part of the air component of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) assigned to escort and protect the BEF's Fairey Battle bomber and recce machines. No. 1 Squadron was to settle in at the airfield at Vassincourt (Champagne-Ardennes region), while No. 73 Squadron under Squadron Leader Brian W. ‘Red’ Knox was stationed at Rouvres. The field at Vassincourt was perched above the small village of Neuville where No 1 squadron’s pilots were quartered in private lodgings. It was, according to the pilots, a ‘real hole’. Squadron Leader Halahan soon had good cause to call upon the services of the new French interpreter assigned to the unit - a certain Jean Demozay. With Jean’s help the pilots were able to establish their ‘mess’ in the local town hall, rather than utilize the ancient and run down buildings on the airfield. This was the first real contact between the two men and their paths would subsequently cross on several more occasions.

'Bull' was soon embroiled in struggles with RAF command. This became evident when he insisted on back armour being installed in the Hurricane. The authorities believed this would disrupt the aircraft's centre of gravity, but Halahan took the armour from a Fairey Battle bomber and had it installed. It was soon apparent that it did not affect the Hurricane’s handling. He demanded – against regulations – that the convergence distance for the eight machine guns be reduced to short range, which increased the effectiveness of the Hurricanes. 

Pilots of No 1 Squadron at Vassincourt show off one of their Hurricanes to Mr Mahmoud Abu Fath, a member of the Egyptian Parliament, January 1940. Looking at the camera is Flying Officer Billy Drake, who became a 20-kill ace and survived the war.

Below; Thierry Dekker artwork of No. 1 Sqd Hurricane Mk 1. s/n L1679 'JX-G' of F/O Paul Richey, Vassincourt, May 1940. Note the French-style rudder stripes. Note the aircraft is fitted with a reflector gun sight. The photo also appears to show aluminium or blue lower surfaces (rear fuselage) - as Richey put it in his account ; " all German aircraft were difficult for us to see from below as they were painted duck-egg blue. Our  [..aircraft ] stood out like chequer-boards. Not without a struggle 'Bull' had our machines painted blue underneath, a colour subsequently adopted for all RAF fighters..."

As noted by Richey in his memoir 'Fighter Pilot' 'Bull' also filed a report regarding the lower surface colours of RAF fighters which was forwarded to AASF HQ and dated May 7, 1940 and had originated from test flying a captured Bf 109 against Hurricanes on May 2, 1940 at Orleans. S/Ldr Halahan wrote:

" ..during these tests one point became abundantly clear, namely that the 109, due to its better under camouflage, was very much more difficult to spot from underneath than was the Hurricane. This gives the 109 a definite tactical advantage, namely when they are below us they can spot us at long distance, which we when below them find most difficult. As in all our combats initial surprise is the ideal at which we aim, I strongly recommend the undersides of Hurricanes be painted a duck egg blue, the roundels remaining the same, as it is the contrast between the black and the white only which is noticeable from below.."

Above, Bull Halahan (CO) and Johnny Walker in front of 'L', still apparently with black/white undersides

Below; P/O Peter 'Boy' Mould of 1 Sqd is often credited with scoring the first RAF victory over France on Oct 30, 1939 in Hurricane L1842 coded 'T'. In fact he did not - a JGr. 152 Bf 109 D flown by Gfr. Joseph Scherm was shot down by return fire when attacking a Battle of No. 103 Sqd on September 27. Three weeks later a Hurricane coded 'T' was lost after a mid-air collision with a French H-75A. The Hurricane was flown by Sgt A.V. Clowes (of JX-B with wasp fame) and the photo shows Clowes alongside the machine - note the 'T'  - the serial 'JX' appears to have been overpainted, as was common practice at the time. While codes change in service of course this may well have been Mould's aircraft.

Loss report for P/O Mould, flying a replacement Hurri, coded "T" on May 10, 1940
Type: Hurricane Mk 1
Serial number: P2649, JX-T
Operation: Patrol
Damaged: 10/05/1940
P/O W.O. Mould - unhurt
Took off from Vassincourt. Hit by return fire from Do 17 engaged east of Rouvres 05.00 hrs. Returned with slight damage and punctured tyre. Aircraft damaged but repairable.

Another Irish pilot to benefit from Halahan’s leadership in 1 Sqd was John Ignatius Kilmartin from Dundalk, County Louth. ‘Killy’ claimed several aircraft destroyed during the Battle of France, including a Messerschmitt Bf 109 on 12 May 1940.  (claimed as a Heinkel He 112). On that same day, his leader, ‘Bull’ Halahan shot down a ‘real’ Bf 109 before being brought down himself. Luckily, he was unhurt and managed to return to his unit. He continued to lead them to numerous victories in the air until the exhausted Squadron was granted a return to Britain on 24 May. Both pilots became instructors at No. 5 Operational Training Unit at RAF Aston Down. Halahan became its commander, but Kilmartin was sent to RAF Tangmere to participate in the Battle of Britain, shooting down two aircraft in the first three days. 

Surprisingly the experienced Halahan was not involved in the Battle of Britain. In April 1941 he led a formation of 24 Hurricanes, taking off from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and flying to the besieged Malta, enabling the island to hold off Italian-German air attacks. However, in June 1941, he took responsibility for a riotous drinking spree of some of his men and was transferred to the Middle East. With his career stalled, he retired from the RAF in 1943. This, together with his absence from the Battle of Britain, may be the reason why he is largely forgotten. 

The memoirs of Richey and Drake, two direct witnesses suggest other reasons. For example, Halahan is described as  having a certain contempt for the French ally and made no secret of it according to the Francophile Richey. Drake describes him as an unwelcoming fellow who did not wish to have any ongoing contact with his men. He lived in a chateau or, although married, indulged in adultery with local girls (his Francophobia was therefore 'two-speed'). It is perhaps for his 'harsh' temperament ('Bull') and his various misdemeanours that led to his eclipse rather than for his 'non-participation' in the Battle of Britain.... 

Kilmartin had a much longer career, flying Typhoons and Thunderbolts and taking command of several units from Scotland to Sierra Leone and from Middle Wallop to Sumatra. After the war, Kilmartin stayed in the RAF and held several positions in NATO until 8th July 1958, when he retired as a Wing Commander.

Also on this blog;

Monday, 10 April 2023

out now! Luftwaffe fighters - Combat on all Fronts 2


"... an excellent piece of work, a very welcome addition to my library..."  Johannes Matthews

" is great that you are able to bring to the English-speaking world many of these stories that otherwise we would be unaware of. It is a nice balance of narratives covering the entire war period that when read chronologically really imparts on the reader the opportunities and challenges the Luftwaffe and its men faced..."      David E. Brown

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Oberfähnrich Wolfgang Rose 4./JG 26 - 'Ehrenbuch JG 26'


   The JG 26 'Ehrenbuch' is a large volume containing brief biographical details and portraits of every pilot who flew with JG 26. Read in conjunction with the "Gedenkblätter für die gefallenen Angehörigen des Geschwaders" ('memorial cards' for the fallen members of the Geschwader   - genitive case ending on Geschwader, not a plural!) it is possible to build up a picture of these young Nachwuchs ('new growth') who flew and fought for literally only a handful of sorties before being shot down and killed.
Born on 28 September 1924 in Stollberg (district Erzgebirgskreis, southwest of Chemnitz), Wolfgang Rose arrived at JG 26 on 30 April 1944 aged 19 years old. He had entered the Luftwaffe in November 1942 directly from school and became an Oberfähnrich on 1 March 1944. A tall thin lad, well-liked, he was a keen airman and as might be expected 'einsatzfreudig'  or 'keen to see action'. He was posted from his operational training unit 4./ Jagdgruppe West to 4. Staffel and flew just 7 combat sorties (Feindflüge) before he was shot down and killed on 27 June 1944. The Ehrenbuch gives a very short account of his death - his Staffel was landing after a sortie when they were surprised by Allied fighters.  At the controls of his Fw 190 A-7 'black 15' (WNr. 431159) Rose had already set up to land but 'saw the danger' and attempted to pull up and go around. He failed to detect the P-47 or P-51 that slipped in behind him. He was hit and shot down. He crashed to his death 1 km east of  Ennencourt and was buried at the German cemetery in Beauvais. Rose was credited with a single Abschuss - a so-called  'wirksamer Beschuss'  ('effective fire'). A note in his memorial card attests to his 'strong' ideological and political outlook ('seine weltanschauliche und politische Einstellung war gefestigt '). His rank of Ofhr. has been crossed out and 'Leutnant' added - presumably posthumously along with the award of the EK I in December 1944.

An interesting account from a JG 26 Nachwuchs who survived is Heinz Gomann's " Und über uns der Himmel - Fliegergeschichten vom Jagdgeschwader 26 " - flying stories from JG 26. (Vowinckel Verlag, 1996).  Gomann provides an apt description of the non-existent combat value of an inexperienced fighter pilot during his first missions at this stage of the war;

"..The Staffel takes off to counter incoming Spitfires. I stay close to my Rottenführer. Suddenly everything starts to turn like crazy. I have no idea why. After landing, they tell me that we were caught up in dogfights with the Spitfires. I didn't see any. Apparently that's what happens to everyone at the beginning (...)…"

Also on this blog;

Saturday, 18 March 2023

JG 11 Fw 190 'low-viz' camouflage schemes

On page 38 of his book 'Frontal durch die Bomberpulks' Fritz Engau (I./JG 11) writes;

"...When I arrived at I./JG 11 in early 1944 a number of our Fw 190s, including the Kommandeur's machine, had been sprayed in a light grey scheme overall, toning down the usual mottle finish, while on all our machines the Haken- and Balkenkreuze were only barely visible ('schwach erkennbar')...It has often been imagined that this unusual finish served as 'camouflage' (in 'English' in the German text) so that our opponents would find it harder to pick us out as German machines in the air..[..] You could hardly disguise the distinctive form of the Fw 190 or the Bf 109 in the air. In addition all JG 11 fighters displayed a yellow fuselage band which was highly visible. Ultimately the reasons for adopting the finish were obscure and it can be supposed with a certain degree of certainty they probably had more to do with  testing of colours/paint finishes- than any other consideration. Certainly at the time the subject was not one we pilots discussed....."

The images below are just two from a series that appear in the outstanding Jochen Prien Jagdfliegerverbände series (Volume 13, 1944 - Defending the West) depicting III./JG 11 Fw 190s with over-painted crosses. Note on the 'overhead' photo the wing crosses are just visible...

Also on this blog;

JG 11 Gustavs defending the Reich 1943, Jochen Prien's Jagdfliegerverbände series

'Frontal durch die Bomberpulks' Fritz Engau (I./JG 11)

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Bf 109 G-6/AS " Red 2 " - a view of the rudder scoreboard kill markings


A blog exclusive  - a  (very low res) view of the rudder scoreboard kill markings on Friedrich-Karl Müller's 1./NJGr 10 Moskito hunter "Red 2" during the late summer/autumn of 1944 and (above) amended profile artwork from Anders!

Since Anders Hjortsberg's original profile artwork was first published over ten years ago (!!) on this blog,  Müller's Bf 109 G-6/AS "Red 2" can be found all over the net (..stolen by Laird at the asisbiz site needless to say..), has been the subject of model kits and even featured on kit box artwork. With one area of 'speculation'  - the rudder.  The original images made available to this blog did not show the rudder kill markings yet we assumed they were there since all of Müller's aircraft were reputed to feature a rudder scoreboard. And although this is only a poor quality (photo) copy it was well worth waiting for too - the Hakenkreuz is very unusually for a late war 109 painted right across the hinge line. The owner of the photo stated when he sent me this poor quality copy that the swastika was 'oversized' for better 'visibility' and this was why it encroached on the rudder. This is evidently not the case  - the Hakenkreuz is not over-sized but it is strangely positioned as Ander's revised artwork below indicates. Still unusual - but not as unusual as it might have been!

Note the last but one bar in the bottom row is Müller's 24th victory returned on 23 August 1944 - his first and probably only Mosquito. The word 'Mosquito' (with English spelling) appears in the black stripe. Müller made six combat sorties in "Red 2" verifiable from his log book, before the machine was repainted in the ace's preferred 'Green 3' as Müller went to the 'new' Stab I./NJG 11 some time in September-October 1944 -according to his erster Wart. It may be that 'Red 2' had already become 'Green 3' by the time the above image was captured. Müller's 25th was claimed on 12 September (last victory bar above) and his 26th three months later on 4 December 1944.

When Hans Dittes restored his 'Black 2', a number of pictures of what was reported to be the original rudder from Müller's Bf 109 K-4 'Green 3' were published. Here the swastika must have been 'restored' to the fin as the rows of bars are neatly aligned ...and note the (German) spelling of 'Moskito'...

To conclude, a couple of links on this blog covering both this and another similar aircraft; 

 Bf 109 G-6/AS 'Red 2', 1./NJGr 10 Moskito hunter flown by Friedrich-Karl Müller during July-August 1944 - pictures and artwork here

'Green 5', the overall black Bf 109 G-6/AS of 2./Erg.JG 2, the Ergänzungsnachtjagdstaffel (night fighter auxiliary training unit) featured on this blog here

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

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

'A fighter pilot's bold feat' - Siegfried Lemke claims March 19, 1944


During January 1944 I./JG 2 was hastily dispatched to the Mediterranean Front, deployed to counter  15th USAAF bombing raids. Following the Allied landings at Anzio Italy, the Gruppe was scrambled on 27 January over the Toulon-Hyeres region in the south of France against an incoming fighter sweep by 52nd FG Spitfires airborne from Calvi in northern Corsica. Four of these were claimed, three of them by Fj-Ofw. Lemke, 1./JG 2 Staffelführer.

On 25 February 1944, I. and 4./JG 2 moved from the south of France to the banks of Lake Trasimeno in northern Italy. Lemke distinguished himself during his unit's short two month stay in northern Italy, being credited with eighteen victories. He was awarded the Ehrenpokal in March 1944, the DKiG in April followed by the Ritterkreuz in June.

On 19 March Lemke - by now with the rank of Leutnant - repeated his feat of 27 January. According to an article in an issue of Frontzeitung "Luftflotte Süd" the date March 19, 1944 is an odyssey in itself in the career of the ace of 1./JG 2. His exploits - including the downing of three more 52nd FG Spitfires - featured in a PK war correspondent's report. Lemke came down at sea, spent some time in his dinghy, then elected to swim ashore - spending five or six hours in the water - at least! En route he swam past his one of downed US opponents who was in his dinghy. Lemke carried on swimming and reached the shore. He then walked to the nearest fishing village and apparently passed out from fatigue,. When he came to, he commandeered a boat, rowed back out to sea to rescue the US aviator still in his dinghy.. (!!) 

A feat that borders on the miraculous and I'm guessing that  Shores and co. left this episode out of their 'Mediterranean air war' account because there is probably no way of verifying any of it..

Lemke was subsequently 'interviewed' by a war correspondent and this rare personal account has been translated by Nick Beale - see link below.  " - Leutnant Lemke tells how after three victories in one day, he was shot down over the sea, swam ashore and still took an enemy pilot captive .."

Lemke's claims for March 19, 1944
34th claim
5km W of Moltalto di Castro

35th and 36th claims
19.3.44/0953 and 1002
20km W of Tarquinia/20km W of Moltalto di Castro

Two Spitfires from 52nd FG lost this date, while a third was damaged: EF703/VF-Q of Lt. Robert C Boyd, EE858/VF-E of Capt. Eugene C Steinbrenner and Lt. Charles E DeVoe was WIA (damaged)

The full story of the deployment of I./JG 2 over Italy during early 1944 is told by Nick Beale on his Ghost Bombers site here

Lemke's own account of his March 19 feats as told to a war reporter translated by Nick Beale here

Also on this blog; 

Siegfrie Lemke's award of the Ritterkreuz, June 1944

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

KG 3 Ju 88 crew photo album -ebay photo find # 360

From the estate of Luftwaffe Ju 88 crewman Hans Burkhardt from Görlitz (born 14 December 1916)
April to October 1937 labour service with the RAD-Abteilung 1/105 in Sagan, Silesia.
Rekrutenzeit/recruit period/boot camp with the 1st / Infantry Regiment 30 in Görlitz from 14 November 1938.
With this unit, as part of the 18th Infantry Division, deployment in the Polish campaign.
In 1940 to the Luftwaffe; October 1940 to May 1941 at the Große Kampffliegerschule Thorn.
May 1941 to February 1942 with 11./ Kampfgeschwader 3 at Chièvres, Belgium.
February 1942 transferred to 2./KG 3 KG.3 on the Eastern Front as an observer-gunner Beobachter-Bordschütze.
He served in the Junkers Ju 88-A crew of pilot Helmut Rösner (DK holder).
March 1943 transferred from Zaporozhye to Creil, France, for special England operations.
Spring 1943 to IV./KG.3 at Istres airfield, southern France for operations over Africa.
Here he was awarded the Ehrenpokal (honour goblet) on 30 April 1943. He was also proposed for the DK (German Cross).
In 1944, he was posted as a crew instructor ("Lehrbesatzung Rösner") to Lüneburg airbase.
November 1944 until end of war with the 3./TG 20 (Transportfliegergruppe) in Fornebu, Norway.
He made a total of 176 combat flights in the East, 11 over England, and 3 in Africa.
He survived the war and escaped from French captivity on 31 July 1946.

 On offer from crains militaria here

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Strange (postwar) deaths of the aces - Zwesken, Engfer, Tanzer, Quast


As everyone knows Marseille died on 30 September 1942  'undefeated' after bailing out of a new Gustav and failing to open his chute after (presumably) striking the tailplane.  And we also recently highlighted the death of Gustav Francsi who drowned trying to rescue his wife from the sea. 

Another (German) web site recently posted a report on another strange death of a Luftwaffe ace -   former Ofw. ace of II./JG 300 Rudolf Zwesken, Zwesken committed suicide on 26 February 1946. In a copy of Zwesken's farewell note posted on - apparently written by him but typed up by the Halle Kripo - Zwesken states that his lover Isolde had died during the abortion of what would have presumably been 'his' child. In his 'distress' he had therefore killed himself by sticking his head in her gas oven. However his mistress did not die so there is obviously more to this story. After all, under what circumstances does a man commit suicide because his wife is pregnant? We can 'guess' but prefer not to spell it out here - I'm sure you can work it out. 

Surely an even more 'bizarre' death though is that of  former 9./JG 3 ace Siegfried Engfer. Engfer had passed 50 victories on 18 September 1942 during the 'drive' for Stalingrad to earn the Ritterkreuz, the same day as his close friend in 8. Staffel Fw.Heinz Kemethmüller. After being seriously injured (Lungenschuß) Engfer (seen left as an Oberleutnant) never returned to the front and survived the war. In April 1946 he boarded a train in Vienna heading for Prague - but never arrived. He presumably left -or jumped from- the train during the journey, probably hoping to cross the 'border' undetected to locate his family in the Eastern territories occupied by the Russians. He was never heard of again. Report from the November 1965 issue of Jägerblatt.

As you know a number of aces flew post-war and rejoined the Bundesluftwaffe during the 1950s -  Steinhoff, Hartmann, Obleser, Körner, Krupinski, Dahmer to cite just a few. But Waldemar Radener (JG 26, 37 victories) was killed in a training plane in southern Germany in January 1957, Kurt Tanzer (JG 51) crashed in a T-33 fighter over the Balearic Islands in '60. 84-victory ace and former 4./JG 52 RK-holder Werner Quast perished in July 1962 in a helicopter accident - at the time he was a Fluglehrer (instructor) with the Heeresfliegerwaffenschule (army combat aviation - German equivalent of the Army Air Corps training school). Heinz Bär died testing a light aircraft of course. Rudolf Rademacher (JG 54, 97 victories) survived the war only to be killed in a glider crash at Lüneburg on 13 June 1953. 

Numerous former aces died in road traffic accidents. Gerhard Michalski was killed in 1946 in a car crash as was his fellow 'Pik As' Herbert Kaminski who died on 16 July 1971 in a car accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Gerhard Barkhorn died tragically from his injuries following a pile-up on the Cologne motorway in 1983. His wife died at the scene. Theo Weissenberger, a 'speed freak', killed himself in 1950 during a car race at the Nürburgring. And finally, George Seckel -an ace in JG 77 who flew with Müncheberg in North Africa and was later Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 77 with around 34 victory claims - bred and exhibited poodles at dog shows postwar. As he was driving to display his poodles at a show on 23 September 1972 he was hit by another vehicle on the motorway and died at the scene. His wife survived her crash injuries, but several of Seckel's dogs escaped the wreckage unhurt - only to be mown down by passing vehicles.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Jägerblatt April 1962 issue - obituary Gustav Francsi I./NJG 100


Cover of the April 1962 issue of Jägerblatt above - well-known image of He 219 A-016, WNr. 190066, RL+AF, serving with NJGr. 10 at Werneuchen during the summer of 1944 engaged in radar trials. 

The April 1962 issue of  Jägerblatt featured an 'appreciation' of  'Nachtjagd' Ost Experte Gustav Francsi. Francsi drowned on 6 October 1961 in the sea in Spain after jumping in - fully clothed- to try and rescue his wife from an undertow. Strange coincidence with Hans Forke's death (BF to Ludwig Meister) - Forke also drowned during the 60s attempting a sea rescue  - in his case his daughter and nephew. Francsi was born on 4 November 1914 in Gierswalde. Francsi was awarded the RK in late October 1944 under Kommandeur Hptm. August Fischer in I./NJG 100 and was the leading night fighter ace in the East with  around  50 night-time vics (55-60 'claims', the majority of which were not officially 'confirmed' - sources conflict as to his victory tally). According to Obermaier he flew as a bomber pilot in Norway - this appears to be incorrect. Rather Francsi served as a flight engineer (BM) with KG 40 before training as a pilot during 1941.  His success on the Eastern Front  in NJG 100 - the only Nachtjagd unit to be based permanently in the East - was a result of close collaboration with the rail-mounted mobile radar units. At least  one source claims that Francsi had moved to Kdo Bonow and flew the Arado Ar 234 during April 1945 although his last four claims with NJG 100 were on the nights of 17-18 April and 24-25 April..

"..another name is added to the long list of great fighter pilots [..] suddenly taken from us in tragic accidents...[..] Gustav Francsi died as he had lived - selfless, courageous and loyal. When the history of the German night fighter arm is finally written, then the name of Gustav Francsi will certainly be at the forefront..."

With the recent publication of the last but one volume of Theo Boiten's 'Nachtjagd Combat Archive' ('Eastern Front and Mediterranean', Wingleader - a 'must buy' for Luftwaffe enthusiasts) read the full story of Francsi's career in I./NJG 100 on the Eastern Front. 

Also in Jägerblatt, April 1962 (issue No. 4, Vol XI)  Heinz J. Nowarra's  "Heinkel He 219 - eine vergebene Chance" ( '..a missed opportunity') and Hans Ring's comments on Walther Dahl's 'Rammjäger' ..

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Oblt. Bruno Kolthoff, Stab I./JG 77


Oblt. Bruno Kolthoff was a pilot in I./JG 77 born on Christmas day 1918 in the town of Weener. In 1939 he was serving in a Flak unit before joining the flying personnel. Trained at Brün (Brno) and Paris (Villacoublay?). His first victory was a Spitfire, claimed on 14 October 1942 flying from Comiso with 1./JG 77 over Malta according to a 'Herz As' claims list. Freytag and Brandt also claimed on that day. By the end of the month I./JG 77 had shifted to Tunisia and at some stage during November 1942 Kolthoff was posted to the Stab I./JG 77 before joining 3./JG 77. Prior to this he had been shot down on November 2, the first day of the British 'Supercharge' offensive (El Alamein) but was able to bail out. 

2 November 1942: Bf 109 G-2/Trop (W.Nr. 10 480) of 1./JG 77 due to enemy fire south of El Daba

In late 1943 he was sometime acting Staffelführer of 2./JG 77 and took over from Oblt Köhler at the end of the year. Now with the rank of Oblt. and serving in the Gruppenstab his next claim - a B-24 at 4,200 metres - was filed on 2 April 1944 over Italy during the interception of a 15th AF raid on Steyr (Austria). On 25 June 1944 he shot down a Spitfire into the sea off Rimini, claiming his second over Italy. After reorganization during early October 1944, he was named Adjutant of I./JG 77 having claimed a P-47 north of Liege on 11 September and a second P-47 on September 28 according to a 'Herz As' claims list. He was shot down just eight days later on October 6, 1944. Airborne in the early afternoon from Babenhausen for a fighter sweep over the Volkel area, Kolthoff was intercepted and shot down by Spitfires near Zand (close to Arnhem) at the controls of his Bf 109 G-14 ('black chevron'  WNr. 460429). The 25-year old did not survive and rests today at Ysselsteyn cemetery in Limburg; grave AD-5-125. He had been officially credited with four victories.

Below;  Oblt. Bruno Kolthoff, on a G-6 Trop possibly in Italy during 1944, possibly a 2. Staffel machine 'black 8'. Note the heavy overspray ahead of the aircraft Kennung where a previous emblem might have appeared....

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Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Erla production 'saw-tooth' wing camouflage pattern


First completion of 2023, another of the 'old' new-tool Eduard Bf 109s, this time in the markings of 11./JG 27 ace Bartels. IV./JG 27 were at Kalamaki, Greece in the autumn of 1943 and intervened over Kos and Leros during October as German forces pushed out the British from these Dodecanese islands following the Italian 'change-of-sides'. J-L Roba recently produced a comprehensive monograph on these combats published by Lela Presse and reviewed on this blog.

Note alongside the finished model my 72nd Academy G-6 in the 'same' scheme. As usual the mottling is a pretty rough 'approximation' given that the real machine is only 'partially' covered photographically. As SAM editor Gary Hatcher remarked a while ago, how can Luftwaffe modellers be satisfied knowing that their mottling is always so 'hit and miss'? I suppose he may have a point - all of the known images of this machine show the port side. Not one shows the starboard side AFAIK. A feature of some Erla-Leipzig 1943 production, the upper surface 'saw-tooth' pattern was less problematic and 're-created' here easily enough with a P-Mask mask. The underwing 'R6' MG 151 cannon gondola have been opened up to display the Eduard resin cannon...I asked profile artist Anders Hjortsberg to comment on the 'saw-tooth' finish;

" ....In mid 1943 an Erla built 109 would certainly have the sawtooth pattern. I'm not sure when it was first applied but I think I've seen Friedrichs with it as well. It was used well into 1944. As to why, I don't know, there's no official document showing anything about it. The document that laid down the rules for the pattern used by WNF and Erla did mention a 10 cm transition between colours in the pattern though. WNF used what I believe was the intended effect, i.e a blurred demarcation that comes naturally when painting free hand with a spray gun. Erla wanted to use some sort of template for the pattern and so they cut a saw tooth template to fulfill the order of a 10 cm transition. That's just my theory though, there's no confirming this. Looking at the crude "Spotted mottle" on Erla aircraft is another hint that they didn't want to work as much free hand as WNF and Mtt Regensburg. It was only in the series that a softer mottle started to appear and the wing pattern got changed as well, more conforming to the WNF style although an interim pattern can be seen where there's a free hand pattern painted clumsily to resemble the saw tooth pattern..."

Monday, 30 January 2023

Bf 109 F-2 coded 'D-IWAU'

" ..Hi Neil,

..something and nothing really. We came across this "lost" photo when my wife's grandmother passed away. The airman on the extreme right is Joe, a friend of the family, taken in Germany in mid 1945. Joe met and married a Jewish girl who had been in a concentration camp and they eventually emigrated to Canada. I had the pleasure of meeting them when they visited in the 1980's.We found the image again yesterday in a poorer state than it was so I repaired it. I found it odd to see as late as 1945 what I would say were pre-war style 'civilian' markings on the aircraft, I'm guessing a Bf 109? Anyway hope it is of interest....

Regards Steve..."

From Peter Achs; " ..This was the V35, W-Nr. 9227 used in 1941/42 as a testbed for a DB 605 (W-Nr. 76076) with intercooler by Daimler-Benz at Echterdingen. take over: 16 Aug(?) 1941 from Mtt Regensburg by railway ("16. IIX. 41" in the original document) delivered: 22 Oct 1942 to the DVL at Braunschweig.."

More on this machine in Roger Gaemperle's "Captured Eagles" monograph...

Saturday, 28 January 2023

more on the Arado Ar 199s - 'TJ+HL' Ar 199 V-3 10. Seenotstaffel, Norway, August 1942.

A little reference for a build of the RS Models Arado Ar 199 as recently featured in SAM (Scale Aircraft Modelling)  

 The Ar.199 was a development of the Ar.79 two-seat sports/trainer, 'crossed' with the Ar.196 float design conceived during 1938-9 for advanced training of seaplane flight crews. The cockpit featured twin tandem (side by side) pilot controls, and in the rear cockpit, equipment and space for a trainee/radio operator. 

Unlike the wooden Ar 79, the new aircraft was all-metal and was suitable for ship-borne catapult launch. The first prototype (Ar.199V-1) flew in 1939, followed by the V-2 and V-3. All were powered by the 450 hp Argus As 410C engine with two bladed prop. Although a 'successful' design only around 30 aircraft of the type were built, most of them being constructed in Paris at the SIPA factory (see link below) .

 Very little is known about the career of the Arado 199; most were dispersed piecemeal in schools or Seenot rescue units. Two of the prototypes, including the V4, were stationed in Bergen for some time, starting in late 1940. It is known that the V3 was lost on 14 August 1942 while attempting to rescue a shot-down Bf 110 crew in Finland; surprised by Soviet fighters, it was wrecked by their machine gun fire (full story below). Left to rot in its remote location it was still in situ as late as 1994, when the wreck was recovered and dispatched across the Atlantic. The V1 served with 10. Seenotstaffel and was photographed at Santahamina (Finland) in June 1943. It is also likely that A-0 0007, 0011 and 0026 joined it at the same time.  Ar 199 coded 'KK+BT', served at the Seefliegerschule Bug in Rügen in May 1944. Finally, 'KK+BX' joined 5. Seenotstaffel in Tromsö in January 1944. An A-0 coded DM+ZE had to make an emergency landing near Tournai on 15 May 1943 and was destroyed there. A few days later, on its way from the SIPA factory to Travemünde, WNr. 0017 sustained slight damage  during a forced landing in the Chartres area.

Two 'new' and rare views of a 'stranded' Arado Ar 199 - is this WNr. 0017? Further details unknown..

The third prototype (Ar.199 V-3, above) initially had the civil code D-ITLF (WNr. 3673). During the summer of 1942 and coded "TJ+HL" the machine  served with 10. Seenotstaffel, the main base of which was the port of Tromsø, Norway. It was lost during August 1942 during a 'rescue attempt' . The story via 'Jet & Prop' 6/94, Girbig's Jagdgeschwader Eismeer and the sk16ru forum -  translated and edited by FalkeEins.

On August 13, 1942 at 14:12 some fourteen Ju.88s were airborne from Banak airfield to raid the Varlamovo-1 airfield (as the Germans called Vaenga-1). Bombing at 15:47 from a height of 6500 m, they attacked the northern part of the airfield and observed "good hits on the edge of the airfield and aircraft dispersals." Some 13 SD 250 and 246 SD 50s were dropped. As defensive measures, the Junkers noted only well-aimed anti-aircraft guns in the area from Rost to Polyarny. They sustained no losses. Escorting the Ju 88s were six Bf 110s of the 'Dackelstaffel' 13.(Z)/JG 5 airborne from Kirkenes airfield at 15:02. One returned home due to technical problems. After completing their mission 3 "Messers" under the command of the future ace Weissenberger were caught up in combat with a group of Soviet aircraft, identified by the Germans as 8 "Tomahawks" some 10 km west of Murmansk at  an altitude of 3000 m. The Germans filed a claim for one Soviet fighter, which was allegedly shot down by the gunner-radio operator Uffz. F.K Schröder. He did not have time to celebrate his victory: his Bf 110, flown by Lt. Hans-Bodo von Rabenau, received fatal hits. With one engine on fire and the other streaming glycol, the Bf 110 stood little chance of making it home.

Von Rabenau ordered the crew to jump. In addition to his BF there was a third 'crew' member on board, Kriegsberichter (war correspondent), Sonderführer Kuhnke. Schröder, wounded in his arm, was the first to leave the machine. He was followed by the "propagandist". Judging by his report, at that time the pilot was alive and well, and the plane was at an altitude of 1500 m. However, Rabenau did not bail out, but crashed and burned at the controls of his Bf 110 F-2  (WNr.4547, coded 'LN+MR') attempting a forced landing on the tundra. The crews of the other Bf 110s looked on as their comrade went down. They also saw the two parachutes. The location for these events was described as 40 km southwest of Murmansk. From Soviet accounts Rabenau and his crew fell victim to pilots of the 19th IAP.

As soon as it became clear that the Bf 110 had been downed and that the crew remained on enemy territory, the Germans began to conduct search sorties. For this purpose, Bf 109s were sent out along with Hs 126s from 1.(H)/32 which were airborne from Petsamo between 17:26-20:33. It was the Hs 126 that located the burned-out plane 6 km east of Lake Urd, but failed to spot any sign of the surviving crew. At 22:30, two Bf 110s flew to the scene - Weissenberger and Hauptmann Schmidt. They also found the downed 110, only its location was determined as "9 km east of the southern tip of Lake Urdozero." A kilometer away, Kuhnke was also found and the Bf 110 dropped flares and an emergency supply of food. The Soviets had noted the German search activity in the area of Lake Urdozero and suspected that a particularly important crew member had been shot down there - in their words " no ordinary 'Fritz' pilot would have been looked for as carefully nor for as long.."

Sorties continued through the Arctic 'night' - the Schmidt-Weissenberger Rotte escorted one "Storch" at 03:50 flown by Ofw.Rollnik from the "Zerstörerstaffel". Having found Kuhnke, the Fieseler attempted to land and pick him up, but the terrain was unsuitable - swamps and small lakes. So another "summer emergency kit" was dropped off to the 'propagandist', as well as directions on how to proceed. The Sonderführer was supposed to reach the southern tip of Lake Urd by 10:00 and wait there, marking himself with light signals and coloured smoke cannisters.

Since they were going to save Kuhnke from the shore of a large lake, the Germans decided to send a small seaplane in for him. At 13:07 the Ar.199 coded "TJ + HL" took off from Kirkenes with Ofw. G. Urtel at the controls and Hptm Schmidt's BF radio-operator as a 'guide' in the rear. The Arado was escorted by the same pair of Bf 110s. The German planes arrived at the rendezvous site with no problem but found no one there. However, after circling overhead, they nevertheless found the missing crew. Hptm.Schmidt spotted Kuhnke on the shore of the neighboring Lake Veznyavrsh (south of Lake Urd). Inexperienced in traveling through the tundra, the Sonderführer was apparently lost and was at the wrong lake. This 'mistake' would have sad consequences for them. Just as the Arado managed to put down and launch its inflatable dinghy to attempt to retrieve Kuhnke from the eastern shore, Soviet fighters intervened in the rescue operation.

As soon as the Germans appeared in the area of Lake Urd, pilots of the 19th GIAP and their colleagues from the 197th IAP were quickly in the air - two P-39s and two P-40s and six Hurricanes at around 14:00..

The descriptions on both sides look rather confusing. According to the Germans, two "MIGs" suddenly appeared and attacked the Arado already taxiing to take off and were able to damage it. The right float was shot through, which made it impossible to get airborne. Photographs of the wrecked Arado show that it is listing to the left, and it is the left float that is in the water. Immediately after their success, the Soviet machines themselves were hit by "three" Me-110s, claiming one downed - small consolation for the failure of the rescue mission.

The Germans continued sorties to the area of ​​Lake Urd. From 15:00 to 22:00, 16 Bf 109s from II./JG 5 flew there from Petsamo and at 18:25-19:30 a pair of Bf 110s from Kirkenes. Four crew members people were found 10 km west of Lake Urd on the march towards the front. They were told to move in the direction of field patrol No. 11, from where, in turn, German soldiers were advancing towards them.

..When the seaplane took hits, the pilot Urtel was able to taxy it to the northern shore of the lake. Having taken out an emergency ration and a canister of water from an undamaged float, the Germans destroyed the dashboard and radio, and then went ashore. They also took with them a machine gun, 2 drums with cartridges and navigational instruments. According thier account Soviet aircraft soon arrived and began to strafe the Arado, however, they could not even set fire to it. The Germans at that time were hiding in the forest along the shoreline and escaped with only a slight fright.  According to Soviet accounts, on the next day (August 15) and on the morning of August 16, an Sh-2 seaplane twice returned to the scene.  As recorded in their report Soviet pilots found the enemy seaplane burned out and wrecked but also removed weapons and instruments from it. However, judging by the photo, the Arado, although crippled, does not show signs of a fire.

On August 15, Bf 109s and Bf 110s flew a number of sorties in search of comrades wandering through the tundra. The fugitives were again found walking in the right direction, there was no pursuit. A German patrol was located just 60 km from the 'place of death' of the Arado. Fortunately for the four pilots, Friedrich had just put it on his map recently. Therefore, laying the route was not difficult, and the main task was to cross the road from the Motovka camp to Ristikent. Here, too, the shot-down crew were lucky. The “road” marked on the map in reality turned out to be just a well-trodden path.  It was hard enough overcoming the numerous swamps, while enduring the rain and the cold over night wind. Half-frozen they finally reached German lines on August 15.

It is worth mentioning that Schroeder, who was not discovered during the search operations, was also able to get to German-controlled territory alone, and on August 16 he almost reached Petsamo airfield itself. After treatment in the hospital, he did not return to Norway, but was assigned to V./KG 40.

The Arado remained for many years in the lake, its floats sinking deeper and deeper into the bottom sediments. The place was quite remote and no one touched the “exotic waterfowl” until a power line was pulled past. For the sake of interest, the workers tried to pull the plane ashore with the help of a tractor. At the same time, the struts of the floats broke, and one float remained in the water. In the intervening period the Arado lying on the shore was visited by curious hunters and fishermen. They left traces of their "curiosity" - a tail section with the swastika shot through, the cockpit smashed. When told that the Arado had been located H-H Schmidt was amazed that anything survived as the machine was regularly overflown by JG 5 and used for 'target' practise as the Germans sought to set it alight. 

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Arado Ar 199 manufactured in Paris by SIPA here

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

More Aufklärungsgruppe Junkers Ju 88s - Ju 88 H with Aufkl.Gr. 123


The Junkers Ju 88 H was a development of the Ju 88 D intended for long range reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic in support of the U-boats. Powered by BMW 801 engines the design incorporated two additional sections in a fuselage 'stretched' to 17m - 99 cm was added forward of the leading edges and another 230 cm section was incorporated aft of the trailing edge root point to house an extra fuel tank. The wings were taken from the G-1. Three Robot Rb 70/30 and 50/30 cameras were mounted in the rear fuselage. The variant was also notable for the absence of a cupola under the forward fuselage. Prototype machine, the Ju 88 V89 (W. Nr 430820, RG+RP) was fitted with a FuG 200 Hohentweil search radar, two MG 81s in a WT 81Z ventral pod, and one MG 81 in the windshield and rear posts. It was first flown on November 2, 1943.

The Ju 88 H-1 was the reconnaissance version with BMW 801 Ds (1700 hp) and FuG 200. Maximum range was 5130 km. Ten were built. The H-2 was a more heavily armed Zerstörer sub-type not fitted with radar or cameras. Wing span was 20.08 m and engines were BMW 801 D-2s. Armament – two MG 151/20 cannon in the closed nose and four in a ventral pod. Five were built. (Smith and Kay)

Below; ECPA-D images possibly depicting an H-1 (note FuG 200 just visible) operational with 3.(F)/Aufkl.Gr.123 in France.  AufklGr. author Harald Rabeder comments;

".. The photos were taken early 1944 during a visit of General Ulrich Keller at 3.(F)/123 to inspect the Ju 88 H. Beside General Keller is Staffelkapitän Hptm. Höfer and an unknown officer -most-likely the adjudant aide-de-camp of General Keller or Technical officer of 3.(F)/123. The "German mastif" is the Staffelhund of 3.(F)/123 - unfortunately I do not know it's name .."


Ju 88 D of 1.(F) / Aufkl. Gr. 122 based in Greece in early 1944. Note the unit spinner marking. More on this blog at the links below 

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