Thursday, 15 February 2018

Fw 190 II./JG 2 in Tunisia (2) "Black 1 + - " Wolf von Bülow, Staffelkapitän of 5./ JG 2

Previously on the Luftwaffe blog I have posted on II./JG 2's departure to North Africa in November 1942 under their new Kommandeur Adolf Dickfeld

I've been trawling through the footage made available via the Agentur Karl Höffkes film archive AKH and I've come across some colour footage of II./JG 2 in Tunisia filmed during late 1942-early 1943.

I was initially under the impression that some of these stills showed Rudorffer's 'Yellow 1'. Most probably his FW 190 A-4. The ace himself features in the footage. Only you see the problem. I assumed that the type of of film used must have modified the colour of the yellow and even the white of the Balkenkreuz - although the white of the fuselage band and Hakenkreuz outline remained. But as Andrew Arthy pointed out to me, this is almost certainly "Black 1 + - " of Wolf von Bülow, Staffelkapitän of 5./ JG 2 until he was killed in early 1943. These scenes appear to have been shot at Tindja near Cap Blanc on the northern coast of Tunisia. Von Bülow returned no victories while with JG 2 in North Africa and with good reason.

On 23 February 1943 Kairouan was raided by B-17s of the 301st BG. 'Gruppenführer' * II./JG 2 Erich Rudorffer noted in Erik Mombeek's ' Dans le Ciel de France ' (Vol 4) ;

" ..we were scrambled at 08:38 on the approach of a formation of US bombers. It was my task to keep Wolf von Bülow out of the action as much as I could. This was because Wolf was the son of our former Kommodore, who had already lost his other son, a U-boat commander** . So he only flew so many sorties and on this occasion he did not scramble with us. In the end it proved more dangerous on the ground than in the air - a stick of bombs came down on his 'hole' right were he had sought shelter. Oblt. von Bülow's body was riddled with shrapnel. His death was a terrible blow to morale. In any case the atmosphere within the unit was going downhill fast following Dickfeld's departure. There was far too much bad feeling and competitiveness around aerial victories and the 'scramble' for decorations and promotion had become far too important and such a state of affairs could only harm any 'esprit de corps' ..."

 (*Gruppenführer is an SS-rank and a vet I corresponded with was rather put out that such terms were used in the context of the Luftwaffe. ** His son-in-law in fact, Hans-Hartwig Trojer, U-221)

The solid black appearance of the Balkenkreuze fuselage crosses is interesting. It has been suggested that this is the result of the poor quality paint deteriorating rapidly in the sun - surely paint fades in sunlight? Elsewhere on the same airframe the white of the fuselage band and the Hakenkreuz outline is still 'white'. And from one regular blog reader;

"..I am inclined to think there is nothing wrong with the white paint, but they have simply toned down the Balkenkreuz, and nothing more. If you look at it, the entire Balkenkreuz appears to have the same tone, otherwise if it was just the white paint, than the black part of the cross would be different. Other than that, neat images…"

 BTW I contacted Karl Höffkes who gave me the OK to post stills provided the watermark was present and a link was available..

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Erich Schmidt III./JG 53 RK July 1941 - ebay photo find #237

Erich Schmidt III./JG 53, RK 23 July 1941. Note, above forty seven Abschussbalken, his final tally. Currently on offer here

Below, members of his ground crew paint victory bar number 44 on the rudder of Erich Schmidt`s "Yellow 11". Surash, 27 August 1941.

(expired Ebay auction)

A previous ebay sale image of III./ JG 53 ace Lt. Erich Schmidt. The exploits of III./JG 53 over the fourteen week period from the launch of Barbarossa to the end of September 1941 have assumed legendary status - by the end of the first summer in the East, III./JG 53 had submitted claims for some 373 victories! But as Jean-Louis Roba has pointed out in his four-part history of JG 53 published by Lela Presse and discussed here

 "..operating over Heeresgruppe Mitte, this latter organisation seems to have largely abdicated its authority to 'adjudicate' in the claims confirmation process ".

While its defenders claim Wilcke's Gruppe - established by Mölders - was a nursery for Draufgänger, as evidenced by the three Ritterkreuze awarded in this short space of time, Roba continues;

 " it is nonetheless a fact that many of these pilots' victory claims were no more than flights of fancy and that they were 'encouraged' to file these claims by a benevolent hierarchy and propaganda media looking for new heroes ".

 These 373 claims were made for the loss of some 31 Friedrichs either seriously damaged or destroyed and just three pilots killed. However one of those killed was Ritterkreuz holder Lt. Erich Schmidt. Following the award of the Ritterkreuz on 23 July 1941 for 31 victories he claimed five Russian DB-3 twin-engined bombers (32-36) on 26 July and his 40th, an I-16 fighter, on 7 August.

On 31 August 1941, Schmidt’s Bf 109 F-2 (W.Nr. 12 633) “Yellow 6” was hit by flak near Dubno. He was seen to bale out of his stricken machine but is still listed as MIA.