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 jg300.de - 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 - usually incorrectly captioned - showing 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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