Sunday, 24 July 2011

Revell 1:32 Heinkel He 111 P-1 - first look by Iain Ogilvie, He 111 reference and walkaround images

Revell 1:32 Heinkel He 111P-1 

A first look by Iain Ogilvie of the 32nd SIG

The follow-on to Revell’s 1:32 Ju-88 is finally here – and it looks superb! (Click on the images for a larger view.)

Comprising 433 very crisply moulded parts and with final dimensions when complete of 51.1cm long and 70.9cm wingspan, this model will be a real stunner when complete.

Model features full cockpit detail, individual bomb cells, radio equipment, spare ammunition cases and detailed bays and some of the clearest transparencies I’ve seen - important as they’re such a feature of the prototype. The model represents the P-1 version of this iconic aeroplane as used early in the war and during the Battle of Britain but I think it’s a safe bet that a later ‘H’ series kit will be on the cards at some point in the future if this one sells well.
A superb decal sheet is included (minus the swastikas as would be expected from a German company) and features markings for three aircraft:

5./KG 54 “Totenkopf Geschwader”, Coulommiers, France 1940

III./KG 27 “Geschwader Boelcke”, Delmenhorst, Germany 1940

II./KG 5 “General Wever”, preserved at the Norwegian Aviation Museum, Gardmoen, Norway

At a retail price of £59.99 (and many outlets offering discounts even on that!) this model represents astounding value in this day and age. The aftermarket manufacturers are bound to be releasing accessories for what will undoubtedly be a popular kit, but to my mind the most worthwhile addition would be a set of etched seat belts and Revell have just released a set of pre-coloured etch (by Eduard) to enhance the new kit.

Accuracy? Not had a chance to go through in detail yet – but there’s nothing that shouts ‘fix me’ yet – it’s just shouting ‘build me’!

Edit - This model featured in Military in Scale magazine - click on the images for a closer view.

Click on the label links below for more He 111 reference on this blog. Check out Mike's review on

Friday, 22 July 2011

'Feindberührung' - Julius Meimberg memoir published by 296 Verlag

On 12 May 1944 the US 8th Air Force dispatched hundreds of B-17s and B-24s- screened by long range escort fighters - to petro-chemical targets in central Germany. One unit that rose to meet this awesome array of strength was II. Gruppe of JG 53 commanded by Julius Meimberg. Aged twenty seven years old, he had seen service in France and Africa with JG 2 and was now responsible for some eight hundred men in the defence of the Reich, knowing already that the war was lost. His vividly written memoir 'Feindberührung' - Contact with the Enemy - opens with a description of his bail out that day. Scrambled from Eschborn at 11:30, Meimberg's Schwarm had sighted Mustangs glinting in the sunlight at lower altitude and swept down on the bounce. Opening up with the engine mounted cannon, Meimberg was quickly in trouble - a defective 30mm round suddenly exploded in his weapon..The following translated extract nicely captures the drama of Meimburg's vivid account..

" ......Get out! Out! OUT! Oh my God - get out! Quick!

While reason is still fighting the rising panic, my hands start to dart around the cockpit in a well-rehearsed ballet of actions...

My left hand pulls the throttle lever back to idle and with a jerk I disconnect the cable that runs to the flight helmet from the radio set. My right hand releases its grip from the stick and starts to grope for the clasp of the harness. Even as I'm doing this the aircraft has already started to fall away in an uncontrollable dive.

I do not want to get roasted as happened last year over Tunis.

The push-in buckle of the clasp has to be open before the negative acceleration of the plummeting fighter in its final dive pins me so tightly into my straps that it will impossible to release it. It has to be undone before I release the canopy - the force of the slipstream will whip and lash my body so powerfully that the belt lock will block.

With both hands I fumble around on the safety catch.

Done! My left hand flies up to the emergency canopy- jettison lever but the hood sits tight; both hands grab the lever which opens the canopy normally and and start to wind it furiously but the hood remains closed. I can feel the panic rising again, choking. The explosion must have bent something; some ridiculously small part, a peg, a locking mechanism, a linkage or a drill hole.

Through the black film of oil that the shot-up engine is spraying onto the plexiglass wind shield, I can see bight red flames streaming back along the fuselage. My 109 is on fire. Feet drawn up onto the seat already, I arch my back against the canopy hood desperately. The Messerschmitt continues its headlong plunge to earth - now no more than a blazing torch.

There-finally: a crack! A tiny opening! Any hope of being able to escape the deadly trap imparts almost superhuman strength.

A bang, the brute punch of the airflow against head and chest - I am free...right hand groping for the handle for the ripcord, I whirl down through the skies. As soon as I open my eyes, I see a grey-green expanse above me and deep blue at my feet. Strange how you always fall head first. I have to resist the urge to pull the ripcord now. This would be very dangerous: far too many comrades have been machine-gunned while hanging in their chutes recently. Discernable details come into focus in the grey-green mass above me - here a village, surrounded by fields of rape oil seed blossoming brightly, there a small forest. Now, country roads and gravel paths come into view.

No, don't pull it yet.

I've at least 500 or 600 more metres to fall - that would be two -much too - long, dangerous minutes hanging under the open chute. But very quickly the red-white area of the village resolves into individual houses and the light- and dark grey of the wood develops into conifers and broad-leafed trees.


One last moment of terror - I hold the ripcord handle with its short wire in my hand and think that it has been torn off – but then - just at that instant - the jolt of the chute as it billows out behind me brakes my descent and I float downwards, envelopped by the tender smell of Spring.

My jump ends on a slope full of fresh green. Suddenly the roar of the engines of the three American P-51 Mustangs - appearing out of nowhere they sweep over my landing site without attacking - resonates as a dramatic final chord.

And then - silence. This redeeming silence which talks even more vividly not letting you hear any sound at all.

I will be here forever, it says; behind the thunder of your engines, the hammering of your guns, the rattling inferno of your orders and your death-cries in the earphones, I will await you, timeless and indifferently. Your war – your war does not touch me …

In front of me a pair of rabbit ears pops up in a furrow. I do not move. Flat on my belly, my head raised, I listen into this silence. A hare stretches,bobs up for a few seconds and then jumps away without any hurry.

With a deep breath, childish joy flows through me: joy for the Spring, the sun, the colours and the smells around me. I'm alive. Again, Still. And infinitely thankful.

A whirling sound drills itself into my ears and ends in a hollow banging and splintering sound. Over there - where just seconds before the hare was musing - the cabin hood of my plane smashed into the ground.

I pull myself together and head towards it - the canopy is scorched, charred, bent, shattered and covered with a raw, blinding coat of boiling oil.

“Hands up !”  I hear the voice behind me as -with shaking hands- I'm still trying to clean a fragment of the hood for safekeeping...the villagers are here, lead by a man who is being pulled by a barking mutt that looks very aggressive. No, I have to disappoint them. All they have before them is a German airman. A German fighter pilot, brought down by his own machine five minutes ago.

That must have been how it happened, I think to myself, while we are trotting towards their village; There is no other reasonable explanation for this turn of events. We were climbing, when I saw something flashing to the right below me- the glinting of sunlight on the aluminium body of an enemy aircraft, a glittering spot above the Taunus hills - still more flashing spots were swarming eastwards, weaving and bobbing. The American fighter sweep is below us, we are up at 5000 metres and have the sun in our backs. The ideal position to attack.... "

'Feindberührung' is published by 296 Verlag. An English-language edition has been promised for some time now. Unfortunately I have no news on its possible appearance. Elsewhere Meimberg contributes extensively to Erik Mombeek's history of JG 2 (two volumes published in French, one in English - translator Neil Page)

More Meimberg on this blog

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Jagdgeschwader 53 - the story of the Ace of Spades - Jean-Louis Roba

New from Lela Presse publishers of 'Avions' magazine is part one of a two-part monograph by noted Luftwaffe author Jean Louis Roba covering the history of Jagdgeschwader 53.

Created as JG 334 in March 1937, JG 53 was one of the leading Luftwaffe fighter units of WWII. This first volume covers the period from the unit's establishment to the end of the Battle of Britain in late 1940. JG 53 was a 'nursery' for pilots who would go on to become some of the leading Jagdwaffe aces. The author describes the fascinating history of this great fighter unit that saw action in all the great air campaigns fought by the Luftwaffe. This brand new text (in French) is illustrated by dozens of photographs, some previously unpublished. Recommended for all Luftwaffe enthusiasts.


- The pre-war period (March 1937 - August 1939)

- The Sitzkrieg (Phony War) (September 1939 - May 1940)

- The Westfeldzug - campaign in the West (May-June 1940)

- Over England - the Battle of Britain (June-December 1940)

A4 format, 80 pages, 200 photos and 20 colour profile artworks by Thierry Dekker

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wekusta 2 - 'cloud chasers' of the Luftwaffe

Just ahead of the release of the huge new Revell Heinkel He 111 in 1/32 scale, part 1 of a small article on a little-known He 111 unit, the 'cloud-chasers' of the Luftwaffe, weather recce Staffel Wekusta 2.

Below; He 111 D7 + LH and a Do 17 Z of Westa 2 Ob.d.L. in front of the hangars and the tower at Brest-Lanvéoc, autumn 1940.

Wettererkungdungstaffel 2 Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (weather reconnaissance squadron) was established during July 1940 in Oldenburg, north-west Germany and located at the German-designated 'Brest Süd' (Lanvéoc) from the summer of 1940. The primary mission of the Staffel was long-range Atlantic weather observation for the preparation of accurate forecasting both for the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine, particularly the U-boot arm. During the course of its activities the Staffel not unnaturally fulfilled the secondary but equally important of role of spotting Allied Atlantic convoys. The Staffel operated under the auspices of, and drew its personnel and equipment from, Aufklärungsgruppe 123, whose Stab was located in Tossus-le-Noble and Buc in the Paris region from July 1940 until mid-1944. 3.(F)/123 was located in Rennes from August 1942. The Staffel was one of the rare Luftwaffe units to fly sorties with 'semi-civilians' on-board - each flight carried a meteorologist who was also trained to fire the on-board armament of the He 111s and Ju 88 Ds with which the unit flew its sorties out over the Atlantic and around the western coasts of Ireland. Note there were several grades/ranks of meteorologists from Regierungsrat and Wetterdienst Assessor. The full story of Wekusta 2 in Brittany is told by Pierre Babin in 'Avions' magazine issues 162 and 163. The images reproduced here are currently offered for sale in Michael Meyer's Ebay shop and some of them are featured in Pierre's articles....

He 111 H-3 coded 'D7 + CH' of  Wekusta 2 Ob.d.L. in Brest-Lanvéoc during August/September 1940.

The first Staffelführer of Wekusta 2 was Oblt. Rudolf Prasse and the first of the unit's daily sorties out over the Atlantic were flown from mid-August 1940 and followed the same routine - an early, often pre-dawn, takeoff maintaining altitudes of between 500 and 3,000 metres according to the height of the cloud deck and following a pre-determined flight plan, with a weather information 'bulletin' broadcast back to Brittany every 90 minutes during the flight. A sortie could last anything up to six hours. The Staffel sustained its first loss that same month, an He 111 H-3 crashing on takeoff from Brest on 23 August 1940. On 23 September 1940 Prasse and his crew were shot down over the Atlantic by RAF Blenheims while flying a 'rescue' sortie for the He 111 H-3 flown by Lt. Horst-Max Dümcke. Dümcke and his crew had ditched safely in the Atlantic after technical problems but his 'SOS' messages had also been picked up by listening stations in the UK. Dümcke and his crew put their He 111 down near a small group of French fishing boats and were quickly rescued  and subsequently picked up by a Do 24 of  Seenotstaffel 1. Prasse meanwhile also ditched in the Atlantic after coming under attack by RAF twins sent out to the area and he and his crew spent the best part of two days and two nights in their dinghy before being rescued by another fishing boat, finally arriving back in Brest on 28 September 1940. One of Prasse's crew died of his wounds. 


During 1941 the unit received its first Junkers Ju 88s. Above, a Ju 88 of Wekusta 2 Ob.d.L. in Brest-Lanvéoc suitably decorated on the occasion of the unit's 500th Feindflug (combat sortie) on 31 December 1941 (Meyer incorrectly states 'early 1941' on his 'caption'). The crew for this sortie comprised Reg.Rat Richard Not, Oblt. Horst Dümke, BF Wilde, BM Gajewski and Staffelkapitän Rudolf Prasse. Below; gound crews assemble in front of the aircraft decorated for the occasion.

On 6 January 1942 an RAF bombing raid on Brest Lanvéoc caused considerable damage to installations and aircraft and saw Wekusta 2 eventaully move to Nantes- Château Bougon during July 1942 where the picture below was taken.

Monday, 11 July 2011

" die lange Ju 88 " - the Junkers Ju 88 H

First published in Jet & Prop 6/96 this image depicts a rare Ju 88 H-1 with extended rear fuselage. Conceived for long-range recce sorties, the H-1 - including this particular example DO+FS (?) WNr. 430931 - was deployed operationally with 3.(F)/123 during the first half of 1944 over the French Atlantic coast. Operating variants of the Ju 88 D, the Aufklaerungs (recce) unit flew typical Ferne sorties, roaming over the the ocean on convoy-hunting sorties in concert with Luftwaffe bombers and the U-Boote, additional fuel cells mounted in the rear fuselage providing extended endurance. WNr. 430931 was lost on 31 July 1944, shot down over the Atlantic by a Mosquito of 248 Squadron. 

Flugzeug magazine (issues 1 & 2/90) featured an article compiled by Oliver Thiele entitled 'Die lange Ju 88' - unfortunately I don't have access to it. Two more Werknummern 430841 and 430941 are H-1s positively identified according to this article. A 4th H-1 WNr. 430 898 was lost on 6 April 1944 on a test flight shot down by Typhoons over Rennes where 3.(F)/123 was based at that time (Thiele in Jet & Prop 6/97).

According to some estimates Aukl.(F)123 had five or six of the H-1 variants equipped with remote cameras. Defensive armament comprised a twin MG 81 Zwilling and/or two MG 131 13mm machine guns fitted in the upper rear canopy. As the profile below suggests a single forward firing MG was also carried. The lower gondola was absent.

Also operating under the umbrella of Aukl.(F)123 was the Luftwaffe's 'cloud-chasers' Wekusta 2, a Brittany-based weather & long-range recce unit established during 1940 on the He 111 and then the Ju 88 D-1 and D-5 up until early 1944 when the unit received sixteen He 177s. These heavy bombers were deployed during July 1944 following the Normandy landings in ground-attack sorties against Maquis camps in the Gers! (see Pierre Babin in 'Avions' magazine May/June 2008)

Friday, 8 July 2011

For Hitler and Kaiser - The memoirs of General der Flieger a.D. Alfred Mahncke

It goes without saying that this blog applauds each and every new publication conceived and published by Robert Forsyth. I am looking forward to reading this new work from Robert's latest imprint 'Tattered Flag' distributed by Casemate Publishing. Having already dipped in and out of the book for the purposes of this brief introduction I can report that Mahncke's memoir is a well-written, fresh and fascinating account from a Luftwaffe General of the pre-war rise of the Luftwaffe and the re-building of German air power under Nazi command in the first instance. From page 150 the book turns to Mahncke's involvement in the war against Russia with new insights into the Luftwaffe's defeat in the East and in Italy. His accounts of the chaos of the Stalingrad re-supply operation and the 'fighting' withdrawal through Sicily and Italy which Mahncke directly managed are particularly interesting. I think the book works less well when the author reports on events that he was not implicitly involved in. He also admits to having lost his diaries covering the period from November 1944, but this amounts to only some 30 pages at the end of the book and is pretty minor league criticism. Recommended !

The memoirs of General der Flieger a.D. Alfred Mahncke are the first from a former General of the German Luftwaffe to be published in the English language since those of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring in 1953. Since then, thousands of books have been written on every aspect of the Luftwaffe’s history, development, personalities, aircraft, campaigns, operations and ultimate defeat. But the historiography has lacked a fresh, detailed and personal insight into the leadership and command of the Luftwaffe from its earliest years through to the period of crisis which ensued after the tragedy of Stalingrad. Alfred Mahncke’s For Kaiser and Hitler rectifies this omission, providing those with an interest in the history of the German military machine with an absorbing, detailed, highly readable and evocative account of life within the Luftwaffe at senior command level. Yet Mahncke’s account is much more than that – for as he states, his is a story spanning ‘…the national autocracy of the Monarchy and the unsuccessful parliamentary democracy of the Weimar Republic, to the failed National Socialist dictatorship.’
It is also a chronicle of the very beginnings of military aviation. Mahncke was among the first German military aviators and flew with the Kaiser’s fledgling air unit in 1911, witnessing and experiencing the exhilaration – and dangers – of flying in some of the earliest military planes. He met the Kaiser, the German Crown Prince and various members of the Imperial royal family, as well as Hindenburg and many prominent German political and military figures. He flew in an early Zeppelin airship. By the outbreak of the First World War, Mahncke was an experienced pilot and he flew subsequently over the Western and Eastern Fronts, before assuming staff positions in France and Russia where he controlled tactical air operations. He went on a dive in a German U-boat in 1915 and later traveled to Palestine. He also suffered, and describes in highly graphic and emotional terms, the carnage and horror of the trench warfare on the Western Front in 1917.

In the ‘dark years’ of the interwar period following in the wake of the Versailles Treaty, Mahncke served in senior positions with the military police and his writing offers a valuable insight into life in the Weimar Republic and of the uncomfortable rise of National Socialism and Adolf Hitler – whom he first met in 1933 – from the viewpoint of the German conservative middle classes and the military. He met Charles Lindbergh and attended the controversial 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as well as the Nuremberg rallies where he shared a podium with the Führer.

In 1935, he joined the fledgling Luftwaffe, experiencing – from his position as overseer and champion of air sport in the Third Reich – at firsthand the politics, personalities and measures of stealth used to rebuild German air power under Nazi control. He witnessed, and describes vividly, the emergence of an awesome – but not flawless – new force in aviation and its eventual deployment in Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941, culminating in the drive into the Caucasus and Crimea and the advance on the Volga. Mahncke was deeply involved in Luftwaffe operations at Stalingrad and later in the Kuban in 1943, before moving to Italy, where he coordinated the desperate German air defense of Sicily ahead of the slow, tenacious defense and ultimate retreat through the Italian mainland throughout 1943 and 1944.

Mahncke met and worked with Göring, Udet, Milch, Kesselring, Jeschonnek, von Richthofen and many other senior commanders of the Luftwaffe and German armed forces. He describes their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their vision – or lack of it.

For Kaiser and Hitler is unapologetic, honest, readable and engaging. It provides an intriguing insight for those with an interest in the air power and military history of the First World War and the Third Reich and forms an important resource for scholarship.

Translator Jochen O.E.O. (John) Mahncke was born in Königsberg, East Prussia in 1926. While attending high school in Berlin, he was conscripted as an anti-aircraft auxiliary in the Flak defense of Berlin from February 1943 to mid-1944. He joined the Wehrmacht as a Panzergrenadier in 1944 and was dispatched to Italy where he served as an NCO (Officer Cadet). He was taken Prisoner of War by American forces in May 1945 and handed over to the British later that year and was shipped to North Africa. He was held in various PoW camps at El Dabbah, near El Alamein, until 1947. In mid-1947 he was moved to Cairo and then to the Suez Canal Zone where he served in a guard unit intended to protect British troops in their camps. By the time he was repatriated to Germany at the end of 1948, he was working as an assistant paymaster for the British administration at Port Said/Port Fouad.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Luftwaffe modelling - Karaya decals Captured Butcherbirds (based on Kecay books)

I have just returned from the 65th Koksidje international airshow in Belgium with some new decal sheets from Karaya (Poland). These superb sheets, based on the Captured Butcherbirds books published by Kecay and reviewed elsewhere on this blog, cover some very colourful captured Fw 190s in 48th and 72nd scales with more sheets devoted to Soviet and Yugoslav (partisan) machines, including a very striking Focke Wulf Fw 190 F-8 of the Kommando Seydlitz with its "Freies Deutschland" titles across the lower wing surfaces as seen in Kurland, April 1945. Two rather more well-known aircraft are captured US machines- Col. Leo Moon's red Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8 W.Nr.681497  and Focke Wulf Fw 190F-8 W.Nr.583234, 511th Fighter Squadron / 404th Fighter Group USAAF, Kitzingen, May 1945.

Go here for much more on Leo Moon's red 00-L

Rather than list the entire contents of the sheets why not visit directly for more info and ordering details.