Thursday, 11 October 2012

Zvezda Bf 109 F-2 1/72nd scale 'weisse 12' 7./ JG 53 Ltn Karl Vockelmann









I have virtually finished the Zvezda 1/72nd scale Friedrich, here in the markings of 'weisse 12' flown by nine-victory ace Ltn. Karl Vockelmann of 7./ JG 53. I have still to add a hint of exhaust staining and some stencils. Decals were taken from a variety of spare Academy and MSAP sheets. Vockelmann was reported MIA on 19.5.43 after Luftkampf




This is NOT a pantographed down version of Zvezda's 1/48th scale Friedrich by any means - it is the second in their new-ish range of snap-together easy build kits that are designed to be assembled without glue! I was disappointed with the fit in some areas and quite impressed in others. The undercarriage clips in beautifully and the stance and 'sit' of the model are more than adequate.Panel lines are finely engraved and the cockpit is well detailed - but the canopy glazing is far from transparent so most of that effort is wasted. The Zvezda Friedrich kit was a little pricey and a little short on detail options compared to, say, the recent new Airfix Emil - no poseable flaps or separate rudder for example. The large locating lugs on the canopy spoil the overall effect so that the model looks a little toy-like I think..that said, this is still miles better than the Italeri 'F' in this scale and must be VFM compared to the Fine Molds kits..













Moving swiftly on; 




 My recent 'Channel Dash' memorial post has been "+1'd" on google - thanks for that. Here are a couple more close-up views of the memorial itself as photographed in the pouring rain on Dover's sea front Marine Parade. This is me pointing to one of the several spelling mistakes in the text! 'Norwigian' for 'norwegian' 'everning' for 'evening' etc etc...these and more had to be hastily corrected just prior to the unveiling - that's what happens when you commission a commemorative stone in China..although to be fair to the 'Channel Dash Memorial Trust' the Chinese did put in the best bid for the work - or so I believe..



Below;   the 'Channel Dash' was covered extensively in 'Avions' magazine in a three-part feature written by Jean-Louis Roba  (issues 101-103). The photo of the Staka 2./ JG 2 Siegfreid Bethke's Bf 109 F-4 was incorrectly captioned - this is not 'Yellow 1' but 'Black 1', the Staffel number being a black outline only. Note ten victory markings partially visible on the rudder. This image was taken in wintry conditions on or just after the events of 12 February 1942..


Finally for today's post, a couple of views of a very nice Zoukei-mura 1/32 Ta 152 H seen at Euromilitaire recently...




..postscript;

I was surprised to see no response from anyone at all to Peter Achs recent comment on TOCH. Achs was commenting very unfavourably on Eddie Creek's excellent new Junkers Ju 87 book and offered us this;

"...One should have the necessary background knowledge to write German aviation history. One should be able to write German names and places correctly. I miss both in the most books of Anglo-American authors..."

Of course his comment merited the complete silence that it got, but at the very least I felt that someone should have pointed out that 'Eddie Creek' was in fact born Helmut Rudolf Nielinger !

Airfix Blohm & Voss BV-141B in-box build review by Maj. Mike Cocke




Here’s my Airfix Blohm & Voss BV-141B finished mostly OOB as NC#RA (V10) from the Erprobungstelle at Rechlin in Germany in 1941.  I don’t have a lot of information on this particular aircraft.  The other kit option is for GK#GH from Wenzendorf, Germnay in early 1945.  As far as I can tell this one was found abandoned at the Blohm & Voss works at the end of the war.  Some have surmised that because the codes for this particular aircraft are out of sequence with the other BV-141’s, that it may have been the one used for operational trials.
This is pretty honest build.  It was tricky where you’d expect it to be tricky, but even then it wasn’t beyond what an average modeler could handle.  It was my first attempt at large scale rescribing.  I’m not too happy with the new panel lines, but does help the kit look a bit better.  Overall I found the build pretty straight forward.  Airfix has a smart parts breakdown, and the fit is generally good.  Probably the biggest area on the kit that could use some work is the cockpit.  With all the glazing up front a lot of the interior can be seen, and the kit as provided by Airfix is pretty sparse.  I added a few control boxes and an instrument panel up front.  It helps the cockpit look a little more full.  A proper scratch builder could have a field day with this kit.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the fit of all parts was quite good, particularly the canopy sections.  I only used a little filler around one wing join.  The instructions don’t mention it, but you should leave the bomb racks off until after the decals are applied.  If there ever was a kit for an aftermarket canopy this is it.  Don’t get me wrong, the Airfix canopies were fantastic, about as good as you can get from injection molding.  But a nice, thin vac formed canopy would show off the interior even better, and should be considered.  It’s also worth mentioning the small hole in the front of the main windscreen.  It appears that this was for one of the two fixed, forward firing machine guns.  It isn’t mentioned in the instructions at all.  I filled it with a left over .303 barrel, which did the trick. 




Airfix provides a few options for the kit.  As with most Airfix builds there’s a full crew, which is nice for those who want an inflight build.  It has two different tail gunner positions, which is nice.  But the instructions don’t explicitly state which position is for which version.  The open rear area is for the “operational” version while the closed solid cone is for the “non-operational” version.  Since the BV-141 was never truly operational, I assume the “operational” version refers to the aircraft used in operational trials.  If that is the case then it probably should be used on “GK#GH”, but again the instructions aren’t very clear.  As with most Airfix kits if you build carefully you can get the prop to spin.  The BV-141 also has optional parts for retracted landing gear.  That’s a nice touch since the gear doors have a large bend in them when they are extended.  Lastly of course there are the under wing bomb racks and bombs.  As with the open tail gun position, I assume these would be more used on the operational trials version.  Having said that I think they look good on the kit, and I’m glad I added them to the BV-141 from 1941.The decals went on with no problems at all.  They fit great and there was no silvering.  For a kit of this size there are very few decals, and it didn’t take long to complete.  I added the swastikas from the spares bin.  The two build options are really nice.  Airfix must really be commended for finding two different unique decal options for this kit, particularly when you consider how few BV-141s were actually built.  I am a sucker for the German splinter camouflage pattern, so I knew which version I had to choose.  The overall grey version is pretty cool too, I just am not as interested in that colour scheme.  Maybe if I get this kit again. . .The BV-141 is a great little kit.  It’s not easy, but it’s not all that hard either.  The fit is good, the markings are decent, and it adds a very unique aircraft to the display.  Overall two thumbs! Thanks Mike! ..and some hard-to-find detail views of the real machine 





Friday, 5 October 2012

Josef “Sepp” Wurmheller I./JG 2 Dieppe 19 August 1942 - Channel Front aces (5) -Luftwaffe fighter aces


from www.luftwaffe.cz/wurmheller.html

 "   Assigned to 1./JG 2, Wurmheller gained 10 victories during May 1942. In June he claimed another 11 victories. His most successful day came during the Allied landings at Dieppe on 19 August 1942. Despite a crash-landing, during which he broke a leg and suffered concussion, Wurmheller claimed seven victories during the day. The feat earned Wurmheller a promotion to the rank of Leutnant and the award of the Eichenlaub (Nr 146), presented on 20 August 1942. His score stood at 60 victories..."

.. seven victories while flying with a broken leg ?  no, not possible surely? But this 'story' is widely repeated on just about any web page you care to look at dealing with Wurmheller, including wikipedia, asisbiz (no surprise there!) and ww2gravestone.com. At historicaviation.com you can even buy a $32 1/30th scale figure of him complete with crutches! While Wurmheller's performance on 19 August 1942 was widely feted for his seven victories, it was achieved with no more serious injury than a foot in plaster (from a previous 'domestic incident') and a bump on the head. The latest volume 3 in Erik Mombeeck's JG 2 history (in collaboration with Jean-Louis Roba) provides more details from a period newspaper report reproduced below. The caption reads,

".... the day of the Dieppe landing. A broken foot in plaster and his first sortie curtailed by an emergency landing during which he sustained slight concussion, then climbing into another aircraft and dispatching seven opponents; that's Oberleutnant Wurmheller..."



The 'emergency landing' was sustained as a result of defensive fire from a No. 88 Sq Boston (credited to Wurmheller as a Blenheim) which ditched off the coast, Fw 190 A-3 (WNr. 0130 479) suffered 65% damages. Prior to this combat Oberfeldwebel Wurmheller had downed two Spitfires for his 54th and 55th victories..

I have already blogged Volume 3 of Erik's Jagdgeschwader 2 history earlier this year, but this week is the first I've had some time to get to grips with the book. If you have any interest in Luftwaffe fighters and especially in the Fw 190 then you should seriously consider supporting Erik in his self-publishing endeavours and getting this book - even if you only buy one Luftwaffe title this year. Recommended!


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Operation Fuller memorial unveiled on Dover's Marine Parade to commemorate the 'Channel Dash' - JG 2 and Donnerkeil Channel Front aces





The weekend before last (22 September) I popped down to Dover for the unveiling of the new 'Channel Dash' memorial on the town's seafront Marine Parade. The Royal Navy's Type 23 frigate HMS Kent and the First Sea Lord were also in town for the ceremony, along with the RAF Band and there were fly-pasts from a Swordfish and Spitfire. A Spitfire and Me 109 were on ground display. HMS Kent provided a guard of honour for the unveiling ceremony of the memorial to the bravery of those who lost their lives during Operation Fuller. In this 70th anniversary year of the 'Channel Dash'  the theme of the unveiling, also attended by German dignitaries, was "recognition, remembrance and reconciliation ". To coincide with the dedication of the memorial HMS Kent opened her gangway to members of the public.




Operation Fuller was launched on 12 February 1942 to intercept and attack the powerful German battleships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen which had left port in Brest, France undetected the day before to return to Germany. The three battleships were protected by an accompanying flotilla of some further 50 warships of varying sizes. Planned by Admiral Bertram Ramsay in the tunnels below Dover Castle, the chief air component of the British response comprised six Fairey Swordfish biplanes of No. 825 Sq crewed by 18 Fleet Air Arm aviators. The Swordfish were airborne from RAF Manston near Ramsgate in appalling weather conditions. Supporting in the attack were MTBs from Dover, shore batteries of the Royal Artillery, destroyers from Harwich and aircraft of Fighter and Bomber Command RAF. Due to the surprise element of the movement of the German battleships and hampered by poor visibility including sleet and snow showers in the Channel over the two days of the transit, the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force were on the back foot and, with ineffectual air cover the Swordfish torpedo bombers under the command of Lt Cdr Eugene Esmonde took off and flew to almost certain destruction, managing to inflict only relatively minor damage to their German targets before being shot down. Only five men from the total of 18 who undertook the mission survived and only one of these survivors was uninjured. The bravery and self-sacrifice of these young aviators was noted both at home and by the German forces. Most accounts of this operation from the German side rely heavily on Adolf Galland's memoir and tend to feature Galland's former unit JG 26. However the latest volume of Erik Mombeeck's history of JG 2 just published features new and detailed coverage of Donnerkeil from the perspective of Jagdgeschwader 2 with rare personal accounts from Lt. Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel, Oblt. Franz Fiby, Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 2 and Oblt. Siegfried Bethke, Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 2 among others.

On 11 February I./JG 2 departed Caen in Normandy for Calais-Marck on the Channel coast in weather conditions that ordinarily would have kept the Gruppe grounded. The pilots were briefed later that day, secrecy was paramount. Tactics involved Staffeln orbiting the ships in shifts of 50 minutes duration and among the most surprising of instructions were orders to ram any RAF bombers that penetrated the fighter screens. Oblt. Elmar Resch of the operational training unit 4./JFS 5 was one of the first Luftwaffe units airborne that day over the Channel - their attempts to even locate the German convoy were fruitless as a result of the poor weather conditions;

" ..none of our ships were sighted and as intermittent snow falls grew heavier and more prolonged and the cloud base got lower and lower we had to break off to seek out our landing ground at Wevelgem. With snow lying on the ground it was extremely difficult to get any bearings. Fortunately I had been trained on instruments, and we were able to land on the Belgian airfield at 10h27 after sixty minutes in the air and our fuel running low. A Schwarm led by Hptm. Zink continued the search.."

Franz Fiby of 3./ JG 2 continued;

" ..we were airborne at 11:45 from Marck with sixteen aircraft. My Schwarm was to furnish cover on the land side of the convoy. We caught sight of our ships off Boulogne and escorted them as far as Cap Griz Nez where we were relieved by Fw 190s. At that time the ships were still undetected by the British so we saw no action. The sortie was hard work - high levels of concentration had to be maintained in very gloomy visibility some 200 metres below the cloud deck and in total radio silence. We landed back at Calais Marck after an hour's flying time and had lunch. From the airfield we could hear the booming of the coastal batteries as they opened up...the sixteen of us then went back to cockpit readiness. From the ground we caught brief glimpses of a dogfight going on overhead..."

As is known Operation Fuller condemned the men manning the Swordfish torpedo bombers to almost certain death - all the attacking Swordfish were shot down. In this new account of the operation the author details how the Swordfish had the misfortune to reach the convoy and launch their attack in the precise sector where JG 26 and JG 2's fighter coverage coincided. Banks of cloud and fog could offer little protection when setting up for a straight run-in against the ships.  Out of the ensuing hail of withering fire and the confusion of battle that blasted all six Swordfish out of the air, II./ JG 2 eventually claimed and was credited with no fewer than 8 Swordfish, while III./ JG 26 claimed three and the ships' anti-aircraft batteries were credited with a further four!  Lt. Graf von Einsiedel was credited with two Swordfish shot down;

" ..we had just overflown the Scharnhorst when I sighted six torpedo bombers on my port side which we identified as Swordfish types. They were flying in two formations; a group of four and two together on their own. The crews did not appear particularly experienced, they were making no evasive manoeuvres. I focused on the first formation, ploughing along at no more than 110 kph, their fixed undercarriage barely cresting the tops of the waves...."

In total JG 2 filed some seventeen claims for 12 February and, unlike JG 26, sustained no losses. A Spitfire brought down by Staffelkapitän 'Assi' Hahn was his 50th victory. III./ JG 2 claimed Whirlwinds of No. 137 Sq shot down. Two Hampdens and two Blenheims from a late afternoon raid mounted by some seventy RAF Bomber Command machines were also claimed by JG 2, one of the last actions of the Geschwader before cover duties were taken over by JG 1 based in the Netherlands..

" the narrowest part of the Channel is reached..now the Tommies wake up.." German newsreel footage of Donnerkeil




Below; a 'pre-digital' view taken on the hills above Folkestone looking across the Channel to Cap Blanc Nez between Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer on the other side. While the lens has shortened the effect of distance (22 miles!) on clear days when it is easy to see across to the other side I often wonder what a Kriegsmarine battle group would have looked like steaming up the Channel ..according to Siegfried Bethke the poor visibility and heavy seas played a crucial role in the safe passage of the convoy on 12 February 1942...







Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Heinkel He 219 - a research paper







As regular readers of this blog will know Australian historian Ron Ferguson has focused his attention on the He 219 for many years. His self-published research papers will soon be available in updated form as a fully-fledged book, produced to dispel the many myths that surround one of the Luftwaffe's most advanced night fighters. I featured the 2nd edition on the blog at the following link

http://falkeeins.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/he-219-research-paper-2nd-edition-by.html

This new, revisited, expanded and updated volume from Simon Parry's team is a scholarly work that probes some lesser-known aspects in great detail and is not an entry-level general history of the He219. It lists and corrects the many errors found in earlier books, including the much more recent Kagero Monograph, as well as providing new and definitive information.


Chapters include: 

The Numbers – Production and Werknummern 
The Ejection Seat
 Versuchs Machines
 The Jets 
The RLM 22 Schwarz Camouflage Scheme 
Engine Air Intakes (Shape)
 He 219 Publications – List of Suggested Corrections

 Appendix 1 – Chronicle of Meetings (Generalfeldmarschall Erhard Milch) Appendix 2 – He 219 Versuchs Machines Appendix 3 – He 219 Werknummern and Stammkennzeichen Appendix 4 – He 219 Victory Claims Appendix 5 – He 219 Losses Appendix 6 – He 219s taken to the UK and USA in 1945 


"....Hello Neil,


This is to advise you of the release of my new book on the Heinkel He 219.The book will be available 7th October on the Wing Leader website - http://www.wingleader.co.uk/product-p/he219rp.htm

The attached PDFs will give you some info on the contents - more appears on the Wing Leader website. This will be my final "He 219 Research Paper" - there are no plans for a 4th Edition. For those planning on building Revell's soon to be released 1/32nd scale model kit of the He 219, I'm sure the Research Paper will be an invaluable tool in obtaining historical accuracy to the subject. Sales of the book will help a good cause - any royalties I might be entitled to will go to charity for homeless kids - so please tell your friends.With my sincere thanks to you for your support and most welcome encouragement.  Neil, I can't thank you enough for the kind words you've posted on your FalkeEins blog - these have certainly stirred up world-wide interest in the Research Paper (please keep it up).


Ron Ferguson
...."

My pleasure Ron !

I./SKG 10 - first Luftwaffe unit in action on D-Day - Wolfgang Zebrowski SKG 10 memoir " Nachts über den Wolken " ( By night above the clouds..)



 There has been surprisingly wide coverage in British newspapers over the past few days on the location and retrieval of wreckage from a 97 Squadron Lancaster found in Normandy, France. The aircraft and her crew were downed on D-Day 6 June 1944 and have been missing in action ever since (although there is some doubt about this - see link below).  A link to the Daily Mail's report and photo coverage appears below. In the meantime I have compiled a brief account of what is known from the German side;


"....They set off in the early hours of D-Day, never to return. The crew of the Lancaster bomber – among the most highly decorated in the RAF – were all killed when their plane was shot down by a German aircraft over Normandy. Their remains have never been found. Now, 68 years later, thanks to the chance discovery of a gold ring, the mystery has been solved......"



Above; Fw 190 G-8s or G-3s of 1. Staffel SKG 10 under the trees at Tours-West during June 1944. 'White 9' was lost with Fw. Nikolaus at the controls on the night of  4-5 July, shot down during an attack against Allied shipping..

While strictly speaking I./SKG 10 was not a fighter or even a night fighter unit, the Fw 190 G-3s and G-8s of the Gruppe were the first Luftwaffe 'fighters' in action over Normandy on 6 June 1944. Gruppenkommandeur  I./SKG 10 was Major Kurt Dahlmann, an experienced officer and pilot who had started his career four years previously with III./KG 4 and who had flown some 160 bombing sorties over England and the Mediterranean prior to being posted to Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 during June 1943. He had been warned early on during the night of 5-6 June that heavy gliders were reported landing in the vicinity of St. and that British parachutists were being landed at Ouistreham, on the Caen canal at the mouth of the Orne. He had immediately ordered a recce as described by Oberfähnrich Wolfgang Zebrowski of 2. Staffel in his post-war memoir entitled   " Nachts über den Wolken " ( By night above the clouds..);

" ..all serviceable aircraft were immediately ordered up to combat transport gliders and tug aircraft reported over Saint-(sic). The night was still dark and visibility rather poor as we took off again (Zebrowski had just landed back safely from an over night bombing raid against the city and port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England..). As we reached the target area I scoured the night sky looking for tell-tale flashes of light from machine-gun fire, constantly changing direction and heading, jinking back and forth - there was no sign whatsoever of any gliders. As my fuel started to run low I turned back and headed for Evreux. We were rather downcast by this lack of success - none of us had seen anything of the enemy.."

It was still dark as another alert came into Gruppe HQ - Allied bombers were reported to be pounding the coast between Carentan and Caen. On this occasion Gkr. Dahlmann instructed the Staffelkapitän of  3./SKG 10, Hauptmann Helmut Eberspacher, to lead four Fw 190s and head out over the sector. Two hours later the four pilots had landed back at Evreux having achieved the first German aerial successes of D-Day - intercepting a formation of Lancasters, four of the RAF four-engined bombers had been shot down, timed at 05:01 to 05:04, the first falling over Isigny and the others towards Carentan, the chase apparently taking place on a westerly heading. Three Lancasters were claimed shot down by Eberspacher himself, the fourth falling to Fw. Eisele.

Gkr. Dahlmann would receive the Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross) on 11 June 1944 for the performance of his Gruppe over Normandy following D-Day while Eberspacher was awarded his Ritterkreuz on 24 January 1945 for his performance and successes on 170 Jabo missions on the Western Front. He flew sorties during the Ardennes (Bulge) offensive and against the Remagen bridges and survived the war with some seven victories in total.

Below; pilots of 3./SKG 10 with Staffelkapitän Hptm. Helmut Eberspacher on the far right





http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2211250/Wreckage-Lancaster-bomber-crashed-D-Day-killing-crew-identified.html#ixzz28EvJdx7G 

Note that elsewhere -  the Key Aviation forum - the recovery of wreckage from this crash site has raised a number of questions pertaining to the remains of the crew. Nor does it appear that this was the first dig at this crash site..