" The Experimental Units of Hitler's Condor Legion: German Aircraft in Action During the Spanish Civil War" is the latest in Frontline books "Air War Archive" series. Written by Rafael A Permuy Lopez and Lucas Molina Franco and translated from the original Spanish this new work features, according to the publisher's blurb, "rare photographs from wartime collections". And to be fair some of them are quite unique. Author Permuy Lopez has already produced several well-received titles on Spanish Civil War aircraft including the 96-page softback "Air war over Spain" produced by Classic, similar in style to this publisher's Jagdwaffe Colours series. Here for Frontline (a Pen and Sword imprint) he concentrates coverage, as the title suggests, on those 'experimental' Luftwaffe types sent to Spain when the Nationalists sought help for their cause from Germany. The Luftwaffe personnel that formed the so-called Condor Legion trialed a number of prototypes and aircraft then undergoing development- VJ/88 had as part of its mission the testing in combat of Germany's new monoplane fighters - the Bf 109 and the He 112 - while VB/88 deployed the Junkers Ju 86, He 111 and the Dornier 17 in combat for the first time. The Do 17 was a state-of-the-art bomber and at the time the 'greatest achievement of the German aeronautical industry', dubbed 'Bacalaos' or 'Codfish' by the Spanish. As the authors point out, while some of these types went on to achieve notoriety during WWII, their combat performance during the Spanish Civil war has at most warranted brief chapters or more usually a cursory overview. While the first twenty nine pages are devoted primarily to the in-theatre deployment of the Me 109's principal fighter rival, the Heinkel He 112, the bulk of the content (pages 29-92) features the bomber types. And while both are illustrated the Hs 123 and Ju 87 dive-bombers are not covered in this title. There is a fair amount of interesting text - the activities of VJ/88 are illustrated with extracts from He 112 test pilot Oblt. Otto Winterer's diary describing the first operations of the German fighters ('The He 112's operational debut at Tablada'). At one point he writes " We are fighting against two enemies. Firstly, against the Reds; secondly, and more so, against bad leadership " In 'Loss of a Condor Legion Do 17' a German crew is shot down behind enemy lines during the battle of Brunete to be captured and later exchanged. There are brief combat summaries by unit which do presuppose a certain level of knowledge of the conflict - there is for example a single page devoted to "VB/88's operational debut on the southern Front" in log-book note form and a single page headed "VB/88 in the battle of Guadaljara" or "Operations in Santander: the Battle of Brunete" and so forth. There are no maps though. The bulk of the work is the photo content - mostly clear and well-captioned with some images reproduced over the full page with lots of 'Pedros', 'Pablos' and 'Fumos' (or 'Jumos' as the Ju 86s were dubbed). Similar in style to an 'Osprey', the colour profile centre section certainly looks nice. The He 112 prototypes are illustrated in profile - including Oblt. Harro Harder's swastika-bedecked machine, which will be useful for modellers working with the Print Scale 'Aces of the Condor Legion' decal sheet - while the He 111s feature some striking emblems. However there is no colour key so the reader is left to guess - once again - at the upper surface finish of the Bf 109s that saw combat in Spain. To sum up, a title certainly worth adding to the library.
First look at and in the box of Eduard's latest Fw 190 variant in 1/72 - the 'R2' Sturmbock. Very impressed with the quality of the mold, while the amount of options and 'spare' parts in the box is something to behold. This 'Profipack' features coloured etch and decals for five machines (including Bretschneider's 'red 1' and Kornatzki's 'green 3'). The model also features separate ailerons, separate tyres and wheel hubs, different upper gun cowls and canopy options. The Sturm armour is molded in situ on the fuselage halves. This kit is available - as I write this - at the great price of just £11 in the UK via Mike at MJW Models. See Eduard's free pdf magazine issue 83 for the story behind the box-top art, download link below..
For a full account of the story behind the box-top art - the Memmingen air battle of 18 July 1944 - read Jan Zdiarsky's article in the latest Eduard Info pdf magazine. Free download at this link
New from Jan Pavlik and inspired by the JG 4 history..
Bf 109 G-14 flown by Rolf Schlegel of 10./JG 4, kit is the AZ Model in 1/72 scale...
From the publisher;
"..The concluding volume in our history of JG 4 covers the story of the Geschwader from Operation Market Garden in Holland during September 1944 to the final desperate battles over Berlin and capitulation in May 1945. The combats flown by the pilots of JG 4 throughout this nine month period are related with the aid of rare oral testimony and illustrated with photographs from private albums, including a selection of new images for this English-language edition. Covered in detail are the 'Storm' missions flown by the Sturmgruppe (including ramming attacks against USAAF bombers), ground-attack bombing sorties during the Ardennes offensive of December 1944, the fullest account yet of the unit's participation in the 1945 New Year's Day Operation Bodenplatte, the last desperate sorties flown on the Oder front against the Red Army with, for the first time, accounts in English of German kamikaze attacks flown against the Oder bridges and the final air battles over the ruins of Berlin.
"....Over the course of 20 years research I was able to track down and interview virtually every surviving pilot and compile their very often moving and desperate accounts into this book, giving it a uniquely human dimension which will undoubtedly be of interest to all former Allied aviators and their descendants as well as enthusiasts of the period....
Once again Neil Page has produced the translation and his knowledge of both the French and German languages as well as WWII aviation history has enabled us to present this superb English language edition. The work is illustrated with several hundred photographs and is completed with loss and victory listings, a table of commanding officers and Thierry Dekker's superb full-colour profile artworks. This is an unmissable 232-page A-4 format hardback, with much new information on WWII air combat over Europe, the pilots and their machines....."
When building the new 72nd scale Airfix Ju 87 B-1 recently I recall thinking that there were not many schemes available for this variant. The same applies to their new-tool B-1 in 48th scale. Evidently Raphael Groteclaes thought the same - but he decided to do something about it for the benefit of Luftwaffe modellers everywhere!
Under the label NG Decals he has producing a new sheet specifically for the new Airfix Ju 87 B-1 in 1:48th scale featuring the machines of II./St.G 77. II./St.G. 77 was formed on 01 May 1939 in Breslau-Schöngarten from II./St.G.165. Clemens Graf von Shönborn-Wiesentheid was appointed Geschwaderkommodore. The German propaganda magazine Signal published a photo report on the unit's Sturzkampfflugzeuge dive bombers - the Stuka would soon become synonymous with 'Blitzkrieg' in Europe. While often assumed to have been taken during the campaign against Poland, they are in fact pre-war images, but as far as I am aware these machines have never before featured on a decal sheet.
Below; II/St.G.77 Stuka line-up, May 1939 - the majority of the units aircraft had white spinner tips (4.Staffel) and white painted identification numbers on the engine cowling. The shark-mouth machine nearest the camera - 'white 10' on the wheel spat - features an eye painted on the engine cowling, green spinner tip and a rather uniform colour scheme with no evidence of a splinter pattern. 'White 9' has some sort of pattern on the fuselage sides aft of the cockpit, looking more like an over-painted pre-war three tone such as found on earlier Ju 87 A and Ju 87 B-0 prototypes than the well-known RLM 70/70 scheme. However, a closer look at the picture seems to indicate that it has been re-coloured. Factory registration number (Stammkennzeichen) starts with VK+ ??, last letter could be K, P or R. Standard straight demarcation line on 'white 9' on lower engine cover. There are two versions of 'white 10' featuring the sharkmouth on the new NG Decals St.G 77 sheet - one for the factory code VK+ER. and the second enables the modeller to apply the unit code 'S2' (in this instance S2+AC) The individual aircraft letter "A" is painted green in this second option. 'White 10' was flown by Major Alfons Orthofer who was awarded the RK on 23 November 1941.
The new NG Decals sheet is printed by Cartograph in Italy and features a full set of stencils, four different sizes of Balkenkreuze - not to mention swastikas which do not appear in the Airfix kit - and, most importantly, decals for the never-previously identified Stammkennzeichen codes on those 'famous' propaganda colour pictures (the Kette of Ju-87 and the diving Stuka dropping bombs). As mentioned there are two options for the sharkmouth 'white 10'. Fitting the sharkmouth will probably be quite tricky as they cover the exhaust ejector stubs - not having seen the kit yet I would imagine that the best way to proceed would be to paint and decal the engine cowl/forward fuselage prior to attaching to the main body of the aircraft so that the exhausts can be inserted from the rear once the decals are dry. Do let me know if this is not the best way to proceed! (falkeeins at aol.com) Six aircraft are featured on the sheet, each of which are fully described from available references and feature Raphael's astute commentary and observations. Side view artworks come on an A3 sheet while text is provided on an A4 sheet. Entitled 'Signal Stukas' Raphael's new decal sheet is available from Ebay.com, Ebay.de or Ebay.fr or directly from the producer at NGModels@orange.fr
".. For a long time I have been trying to find photographs or details of the FW-190 flown by Fw. Siegfried Lemke of I./JG 2 in September 1943. I've posted to all the Luftwaffe forums and basically drawn a blank. Little known about him and very few photographs, none that I have found showing his aircraft other than one from 1944 with him standing beside the rudder of a FW-190 showing his scoreboard at the time. However, looking at Luftwaffe records, for a number of the victories he claimed in September 1943 it shows his unit details as 2 I/JG 2. He was appointed Staffelfuhrer in I./JG 2 in early September 1943. Lacking details of exactly what aircraft he did fly, other than in all probability a FW-190 A5 or FW-190 A6 at that time, can anyone tell me what the unit markings were for 2./JG 2 in September 1943? The camouflage seems fairly standard from the photos, profiles and descriptions, it is mainly the unit markings that have me stumped. So what colour used for markings, etcetera. Was it typical for different roles to have a defined or different number of marking applied eg for Staffelfuhrer? I am trying to build a representative FW-190 to provide the other half of the story of a RAF Mustang Mk.IA that was shot down by Lemke in September 1943. The Mustang Mk.IA pilot who was shot down is a friend of mine and this is a part of the closure process after all these years -the story of the Luftwaffe pilot who shot him down and resulted in him being a PoW in Stalag Luft III for the remainder of the war ". (Colin Ford)
Colin's question concerns what many researchers would like to know: details of Siegfried Lemke's particular machines. Unfortunately, there's a reason his searches have drawn a blank - the details are not yet known.
Below; Lemke, 7th from the left in this line-up of 1./JG 2. Identified from the left are; unknown, Fw. Rhode, Lt. Karl Reiss, Lt. Horst Zettel, Lt. Joseph Wurmheller, Oblt. Hans-Jürgen Hepe, Uffz. Siegfried Lemke, Fw. Willi Morzinnek ?, unk, unk, Uffz. Hans Lohkamp. From a page devoted to Hans Lohkamp, link below.
" 14. Juni 1944 Leutnant Lemke, Flugzeugführer im Jagdgeschwader Richthofen, 23 Jahre alt, erhielt dieser Tage an der Invasionsfront nach seinem 45. Luftsieg das Ritterkreuz verliehen..."
OKW annoucement dated 14 June 1944, confirming the award of the RK to the 23 year old ace of 1./JG 2 after his 45th victory (sic). Below; Lemke congratulated by Hohagen.
At the time of the D-Day landings Lemke was Staffelführer in 1./JG 2 (page 16 Frappé, " La Luftwaffe face au débarquement allié ") Lemke claimed three victories on 7 June 1944 taking his score to 43. He was awarded the RK on 11 June (see BA photo above) for 44 victories. The well-known images of him alongside his Fw 190 A-7 WNr. 430674 show his rudder marked with 48 victories. This is the only machine of Lemke's that can be identified with certainty - but it was lost on 14 June 1944, near Evreux, possibly following a combat with Typhoons of which he claimed one. This machine may have featured a white number of 1./JG 2, but it is always possible that he was flying an aircraft from another Staffel. Whilst the exact details of his 14 June bail-out are unknown (Frappé), there are no WAsT details because he was not killed or badly wounded. The following day, Lemke claimed two Spitfires, one east of Evreux. (pages 18-19 Frappé " La Luftwaffe face au débarquement allié "). Few JG 2 pilots survived the war, and putting together a detailed bio is near enough impossible. It is not known if Lemke's logbook has survived. Lemke himself survived the war and died in the mid 1990's.
In addition to the second installment of their " Hs 126 in Spain " article the latest issue of 'Avions' magazine (No. 217) covers the He 111 Z in 24 pages in an article entitled 'Twilight of the giants -France 1943' and authored by Dan Gilberti and Jean-Louis Roba . The Zwilling (lit. 'Twin') was constructed in small numbers by the expedient of mating up two He 111 H-6 bombers, joining them at the outer wing section and adding a fifth Jumo 211 F engine at the wing join section. The resulting craft had a wingspan of 35 metres and was a thirty ton machine fully laden. Conceived for the task of hauling the largest glider in the history of aviation - the Me 321 - the five Jumos each developed some 1350 hp and with supplementary tanks the aircraft could carry some 10,000 litres of fuel. Range in this configuration was 4,000 km. Interestingly the crew - usually of seven depending on the number of gunners - was divided between the two fuselages, with the principal controls in the port fuselage (left) - although there was a pilot in each fuselage section. The authors have discovered that in addition to two prototypes - Z V1 and Z V2 - some fourteen Zwillingsflugzeuge were constructed - not the ten usually quoted. The Zwillinge operated both on the Eastern Front and - more unusually - over France.
Below; Me 321 'W6+SW' of the GS-Kdo.2 (Grossraumsegler) seen in the Kuban at Sslawjanskaja just weeks after the fall of Stalingrad in mid-February 1943. He 111 Z-1 'TM+KI' is on the right of the image in the background. The two Bf 109 G-2s are 'white 3' of 4./JG 52 and the 'chevrons + bars' of the Kommodore Major Dietrich Hrabak. Low res image copy courtesy of Michel Ledet via J-L Roba.
The Zwillinge were subsequently assigned to I./LLG 2 and first deployed in early 1943 to the Crimea on glider towing duties. The huge machines arrived in France (Nancy) in April 1943 and from July to September operated out of Istres (south of France) flying troop transporter missions for the Italian front...a pdf extract of this issue can be viewed at the Lela Presse site here
The Luftwaffe's 'Blitz' against England is another richly illustrated monograph from Jean-Louis Roba, covering the period from 1 January 1941 to 31 March 1941. The title opens with a detailed over-view of the Luftwaffe's Kampfgeschwader assembled for this night assault on the British Isles. Not had a chance to read this one yet, but as usual with Jean-Louis, I would expect a pretty comprehensive look at the subject, with plenty of rare photos and Dekker profile artworks. French text. Do take a look at the pdf extract on the Lela Presse web site here
Also from Lela Presse and due soon is Philippe Saintes study of Me 262 losses - according to the publisher's blurb, a work not thus far undertaken in either English or German. Over 250 photos, 25 artworks and a full list of losses and also featuring numerous pilot biographies. French text. Pre-order your copy here
Published in the latest issue of Eduard's Info pdf magazine (no. 83) is Jan Zdiarsky's thorough account of the Memmingen air battle of 18 July 1944 which introduces Eduard's new Fw 190 A-8/R2 Profipack kit. The box-art is striking to say the least. Meticulously researched it is based on the facts as presented by Jan. The artist is in this case Piotr Forkasziewicz.
from the 483rd BG unit citation;
"..As part of the strategic effort of the 15th Air Force against industrial and counter air targets in south-western Germany, a force of 167 B-17s of the 5th Wing was dispatched on 18 July 1944 to attack and destroy the Memmingen airdrome and installations at Memmingen, Germany. The importance of this target is emphasized by its description in the Intelligence Annex to the Operations Order, "Memmingen Airdrome activity has increased, with recent cover showing 70 to 73 ME-110's and 410's not too well dispersed. The installations are used for repair and assembly. This makes this airdrome one of the highest priority counter-air targets.."
At that stage the Americans were almost certainly unaware that following the Oschersleben air battle of 7 July the Sturmjäger of IV./JG 3 had moved to a new and larger field just south of Munich equipped with a concrete runway coincidentally home to the Zerstörer training Gruppe I./ZG 101 - Memmingen!
Due to adverse weather encountered en route the US bombers found themselves devoid of fighter cover. In the absence of a properly authenticated recall signal, the 483rd BG decided to attack the primary target as ordered and continued on alone and unescorted over the northern edge of Italy, over Austria and into the target area in south-west Germany. Kommodore JG 300 Walther Dahl recalled events in his sometimes exaggerated memoir "Rammjäger "..
"....I have been feeling unwell for several days. The flight surgeon reckons I’ve got a touch of angina and has confined me to my bed. I’m off the flight roster of course. It is a beautiful bright morning....my Ia comes in to tell me a call has come in from Division. A force of about one hundred bombers with strong fighter escort is headed towards Munich. Such a relatively small force heading towards a large city like Munich is unusual and it is difficult to track the exact course of the bombers with radar given the proximity of the Alps. Our Einsatzleiter (Mission Co-ordinator) Hptm Kraus has put the pilots on readiness. The first sightings come in from the ground observation post at Kempten. The bombers target must be Memmingen! My gut feeling was right! The bombers will arrive over the field in minutes !..."
Some 45 Fw 190 A-8/R2 Sturmböcke of IV.(Sturm)/JG 3 led by Hptm Wilhelm Moritz were scrambled. The Sturmgruppe climbed to meet the bombers now flying over Innsbruck in a north westerly direction. As they manoeuvred into their attack formation taking up station in line abreast individual Staffelführer selected their targets behind the bombers and calmly ordered their pilots to hold their fire until they had approached to close range....
Early 1940 4./JG 77 Emil with black skeleton emblem and eagle crest ahead of the cockpit. Possibly StaKa 4./JG 77 Helmut Henz - note the initials 'LF' ahead of the emblem in the lower two images, Henz's personal emblem. II./JG 77 departed Norway in the fall of 1940..
Test pilot Heini Dittmar chats with leading aviatrix Hanna Reitsch (in fur coat) some time (Franks in the latest Valiant Wings 'Airframe album' devoted to the Komet says 19 April 1944) prior to his record-breaking flight on 6 July 1944 at the controls of this Me 163 B V18 (VA+SP) powered by the new twin- chamber "cruiser" rocket motor which enabled the craft to achieve 1130 km/h or 702 mph, an 'unofficial' world speed record..
With only very limited endurance (seven and a half minutes of powered flight) the Me 163 was never more than a dedicated point defense interceptor. Various attempts were made to improve the short flight time. The aircraft in these screen captures (excerpts from the rocket.aero video "Wings of Fire" posted on youtube and similar stills published in 'Warbirds Photo Album' Vol. 6) was an otherwise standard 'B' airframe 'VA+SP' which in the early summer of 1944 was fitted with a more advanced version of the 509 A rocket engine, the 509 B, which featured two separate combustion chambers of differing sizes, one above the other, for greater efficiency. The main combustion chamber or Hauptofen of the 509 B engine used for the V6 and V 18 utilised the same cube-shaped frame occupying the same location as the A-series' engine, with the lower Marschofen "cruise chamber" housed within the retractable tailwheel's appropriately widened ventral tail fairing beneath the exhaust thrust tube. There is a decent image showing this in the new Valiant Wings Airframe Album devoted to the Komet or alternatively on the walterwerke.co.uk page here. On 6 July 1944, the Me 163 B V18 (VA+SP) was flight tested for the first time. This test almost ended catastrophically but the power boost provided by the second 'cruise' motor broke the world speed record (unofficially). William Green's 1971 book "Rocket Fighter" details the 'world record' flight as having taken place on 6 July 1944. His text is unequivocal that the pilot who flew Komet V 18 that day out over the Baltic with "both rocket chambers functioning" was Rudolph Opitz. The pilot in these screen grabs is obviously Dittmar and not Opitz, although it should be stressed that these shots may not show the 6 July flight. Dittmar had just spent the best part of two years in hospital, recuperating following a 1942 'crash' landing. The record-breaking flight began normally enough, but the rate of climb began to increase rapidly with the pilot soon finding himself exceeding the critical Mach number of the aircraft at above 16,000 feet. Dittmar cut power to the motor, causing a steep dive from which he only just managed to recover. It was later determined that the V 18 had reached a speed of 1130 km/h or 702 miles an hour. Upon landing back at Peenemunde it was found that the aircraft had almost completely lost its rudder. (photo in Green's account - Ransom and Camann's Classic title (2002) shows the same illustration of the V 18's rudder on Volume 1, Page 97, but, state that this occurred on a flight of 23rd December 1943, also flown by Heini Dittmar, and although this airframe was later used for assisted take-off rocket tests, they state this did not begin until 7th July 1944).
Below; the presumably still unmodified VA+SP getting airborne with Dittmar at the controls - unfortunately the 'Wings of Fire' commentary makes no mention whatsover of this developmental avenue. The overall single colour scheme may be RLM 76 or possibly RLM 63, close to Grau 02 but lighter..
The 509 B and 509 C rocket motors' main combustion chambers were supported by the "thrust tube" exactly as the 509 A motor's single chamber had been. They were tuned for "high power" for takeoff and climb. The added, smaller volume "lower" chamber on the two later models - dubbed Marschofen - with approximately 400 kg (880 lb) of thrust at its top performance level, was intended for more efficient, lower power cruise flight. These HWK 109–509 B and C motors could potentially improve endurance by as much as 50%. Two Me 163 Bs, models V6 and V18 (above), were experimentally fitted with the lower-thrust B-version of the new twin-chamber engine.
Below; screen captures showing PK+QP in use by Erprobungskommando 16 at Bad Zwischenahn. Captures from youtube footage taken from the rocket.aero DVD "Wings of Fire. More info here
The DVD includes footage of PK+QP landing, resting on its left wing tip during much of the landing and seen smoking from the engine and turbine after landing. It is then taken away on a Scheuch-Schlepper with inflatable bags. More on PK+QP at Rob de Brie's Me 163 Komet site
Pierre Giustiniani build of the Meng 32nd scale Komet for a forthcoming 'Wingmasters' feature..
Out yesterday the May 2017 issue of 'Aeroplane Monthly' publishes the first of a new Bott/Kightly feature entitled 'Briefing File' - the first of these looks at the Komet's rocket motor. Posted by Ian Bott at the Aviation Enthusiast Book Club on FB.