Thursday, October 15, 2015

Finnish Bofors AA-Gun in Position

A Lance-Corporal from Finnish 43rd light anti-aircraft divison reloading 40mm Bofors AA-gun already in position near the township of Nokia/Finland, 25 April 1944, during Continuation War. Finland bought license for manufacturing 40-Bofors guns in 1937. In fact the Finns intended 40-mm Bofors as one of the main products of newly established VTT (= Valtion Tykkitehdas = State Artillery Factory) already before World War 2 broke out. Even the first order was sent to VTT already year 1938. However, as VTT's production failed to start as fast as had been earlier planned and as the international situation developed more serious the Finns decided to order guns from Sweden (Bofors) and Hungary (MAVAG) already before Winter War. First delivery of 9 guns came from Sweden and arrived in spring of 1939. From Hungary 42 guns were ordered, 24 of them arrived via Sweden during December of 1939, just barely getting past Germany before the Germans stopped weapon transports through their territory to Finland. The next shipment of 12 guns from Hungary was not so lucky - the Germans stopped it. After secret negotiations, the Germans released the 12-gun shipment and it arrived to Finland in January of 1940. The last 6 guns ordered from MAVAG never arrived. All in all the Finns managed to get 53 guns before starting of Winter War. During Winter War Sweden was the largest supplier of these guns and most of the guns it delivered were in fact loaned from Swedish Army. By 13th of March 1940 (the day Winter War ended) the amount of 40-mm Bofors guns in Finnish use had reached 100. Next large purchase happened when during Interim Peace Finland managed to buy 92 guns from Germany, these probably originated from Poland, Netherlands and Austria, they arrived in November of 1940. From these 92 guns coming from Germany 56 arrived with S/S Lutjehörn 9th of November 1940 and 36 with the same ship 20th of November 1940. Finnish license production did not produce its first guns until year 1941 and whole license production was only 77 guns. As usual Lokomo manufactured barrel blanks for these guns while Crichton-Vulcan manufactured much of the parts needed for their gun carriages. Finnish license manufacturer VTT (Valtion Tykkitehdas = State Artillery Factory) manufactured rest of the parts and built the guns. VTT delivered 12 guns in 1941, 45 guns in 1942, 14 guns in 1944 and 6 guns in 1945. The total number of 40-mm Bofors guns in Finnish use during World War 2 reached around 300 or so.


Source :
http://inktank.fi/these-24-amazing-colour-photos-of-finland-during-ww2-make-war-seem-incredibly-real/
http://www.jaegerplatoon.net/AA_GUNS2.htm
http://sa-kuva.fi/

SdKfz.251 of Afrikakorps Advances Past Fort Mechili

German Afrikakorps soldiers in an armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz.251/1 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) Ausf.B advances past the fortified Fort Mechili in Cyrenaica/Libya, Western Desert, North Africa, 8 April 1941. On 31 March 1941, Rommel launched his first offensive into British defense line at El Agheila - Libya with only 8,000 men of 5. leichte-Division (division formed by parceling units from 3. Panzer-Division, thus did not possess full Panzer complement but was fully mechanized ). Panzer-Regiment 5 was its main panzer arm with Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks - enough power to deal with British Crusader tanks. Unbeknown to the Germans, British already withdrawn their main tank force - 7th Royal Tank Regiment - from Libya to augment British offensive against Italian forces in Somali in east Africa down by Indian Ocean. As main British forces retreated along coastal road to along Benghazi - Derna - Tobruk cities, Rommel pursuit followed. He also sent Panzer-Regiment 5 into southern flanking attack to capture Fort Mechili and cut-off British retreat at Derna. German forces would then regroup for final assault onto port city Tobruk where Axis could then land supplies immediately behind frontline, rather depend on arduous long-trek coastal route from Agheila-Tunisia ( of which vulnerable to Allied air attacks ). These open desert flanking maneuvers would be Rommel's hallmark (hence British named their nemesis the "Desert Fox"!). Major coup achieved when British garrison were encircled at Fort Mechili on April 6th by German southern flanking force. British attempted breakout on April 7th was utter disaster. Its 3rd Indian Motor Brigade did not wait for tank reinforcements and ran head-long into German anti-tank, Flak, and Panzer siege lines. British column systematically battered as enemy shells dropped among its vehicle line, majority of which scrambled back to Mechili. Upon Mechili surrender April 8th, Germans captured 2,000 men, virtually entire 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, along with British 2nd Armoured Division commander General Gambier-Parry and his HQ staff. Disgrace was such that on 10 May 1941, British decided not to reform the 2nd Armoured Division and disbanded it outright! As for General Gambier-Parry, after serving 2 years as POW in Italy, he was liberated by the Allies but quickly retired from military service in 1944 even before World War II ended.


Source :
http://deutsches-afrikakorps.blogspot.co.id/2010/12/life-in-afrika-korps.html
http://modelsuwemilitaria.blogspot.co.id/2013/01/steyrflakwagen-5-german-conquest-of.html

Messerschmitt Bf 110 undergoing Repairment in Greece

Two photographs of Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 L2+KR of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), taken in May 1941 following the entry of German forces into Greece, probably at the Athens-Kalamaki airport. The aircraft's tail section has sustained battle damage. The right rudder had been damaged previously, this time the Bf 110 was hit in the tailwheel and left rudder. The number of technicians examining the tailwheel suggests that the damage was something out of the ordinary. Note the Bf 110's gray camouflage scheme, the yellow elevators and the retouched finish on the vertical stabilizers. Beneath the fuselage is the "Gartenzaun" (Garden Fence) antenna of the FuG III - a U instrument-landing system - and the DF loop of the Peil G V.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Walther von Reichenau in Russia

Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Reichenau (Oberbefehlshaber 6. Armee) with his staff officers in the Russian Front during Unternehmen Barbarossa, August 1941 (Wikipedia incorrectly identified the general as Friedrich Paulus, Reichenau's successor as commander of 6. Armee). Reichenau strongly opposed the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he led his army into the heart of Russia during the summer of 1941. 6. Armee (Sixth Army) was a part of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South), and captured Kiev, Belgorod, Kharkov and Kursk. In September 1941, Reichenau reportedly wrote to Adolf Hitler to suggest that Ukrainians and White Russians, who initially viewed the German army as liberators, should be recruited to fight against the Bolsheviks. Hitler rejected this idea, telling Reichenau to stop interfering in political matters. Later that month Reichenau wrote again to Hitler on this subject, warning him of the dangers of large-scale partisan warfare in the Soviet Union. His advice was ignored, but his persistence in challenging Hitler's opinion was noted. During its offensive into Russia, the German army was confronted with a number of superior tank designs. Reichenau inspected the Soviet tanks he came across, entering each tank and measuring its armour plate. According to general staff officer Paul Jordan, after examining a T-34, Reichenau told his officers "If the Russians ever produce it on an assembly line we will have lost the war." On 15 January 1942 he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after a trail run in harsh cold weather, and it was decided to fly him from Poltava to a hospital in Leipzig, Germany. He is often said to have been killed in a plane crash in Russia, although Görlitz writes that the plane merely made an emergency landing in a field and that Reichenau actually died of a heart attack. His death coincided with a propaganda offensive conducted by the Polish underground, Operation Reichenau, the goal of which was to discredit Reichenau, in the eyes of the German leadership, as a man who had allegedly been plotting to overthrow the Nazi régime, thus sowing distrust between the Nazi political leadership and its military command and punishing one of the German generals responsible for war crimes in Poland. The coincidence of such propaganda with Reichenau's death became a fertile ground for conspiracy theories, which allege that Reichenau might actually have been killed by the Nazi secret services.

Reichenau supported the work of the SS Einsatzgruppen in exterminating the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. On 19 December 1941, Hitler sacked Walther von Brauchitsch as Commander-in-Chief and tried to appoint Reichenau to the post. But again the senior Army leaders rejected Reichenau as being "too political", and Hitler appointed himself instead. 


Source :
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_169-0946,_Russland,_General_Friedrich_Paulus_mit_Offizieren.jpg

The British Cruiser Convoy on D-Day

The Allied invasion fleet crossing from England to Normandy on D-Day kept to twelve narrow lanes in order to avoid minefields. From the starboard bridge wing of HMS Belfast, flagship of Force E, a line of three Royal Navy cruisers can be seen in the morning gloom. The picture was taken by George Stevens. Construction of Belfast, the first Royal Navy ship to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland, and one of ten Town-class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1938. Commissioned in early August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Belfast was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany. In November 1939 Belfast struck a German mine and spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Belfast returned to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour. Belfast saw action escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943, and in December 1943 played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In June 1944 Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. In June 1945 Belfast was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet, arriving shortly before the end of the Second World War. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. A number of further overseas commissions followed before Belfast entered reserve in 1963.


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Belfast_%28C35%29

A Messerschmitt Bf 110 of Lehrgeschwader 2 in Bulgaria during Balkan Campaign

L2+SR, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), photographed at Sofia-Vrazdebna at the beginning of April 1941 as German forces were preparing to invade Greece and Yugoslavia. We can see the entire cockpit area is covered with tarpaulin. The yellow yellow painted rudders are clearly visible. The aircraft letter "S" is in the Staffel color white. Also note the heavy mottling on the fuselage sides. At the beginning of November 1938 the Lehr-Verband / Aufklärungsgruppe Jüterborg (Training Unit / Reconnaissance Group Jüterborg) was reformed as the III.Gruppe (Aufklärungs) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2). Consisting of three Staffeln (7, 8, and 9. Staffel), the Gruppe was part of LG 2. The Geschwader's other two Gruppen were I.(Jagd)/LG 2 and II.(Schlacht)/LG 2, fighter and close-support unit respectively. 7.(F)/LG 2 saw action in Poland, flying the Dornier Do 17 P and M. Not until operations against England began was it reequipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-5. It was at this time that the Staffel emblem, a small "Teufelskopf" (Devil's Head), first appeared on the unit's aircraft. The Staffel was based at Grimbergen, Belgium, until 12 February 1941, when it was withdrawn from operations over England to prepare for the attack on Greece and Yugoslavia. On 24 March 1941, 7.(F)/LG 2 moved via Popest, Romania, to Krumovo in Bulgaria, and on 2 April to the Sofia-Vrazdebna airfield. There yellow identification markings were applied to the Staffel's Bf 110s, on the nose, elevators and rudders. The German forces attacked in 6 April 1941. After missions over Southern Yugoslavia and Greece, the Staffel supported the airborne invasion of Crete from Athens-Kalamaki. The Russian campaign saw the Staffel in action in the southern sector where, in the summer of 1941, it flew reconnaissance missions on behalf of Panzergruppe 1 with its few remaining Bf 110 E-3s and C-5s as well as several Bf 109 E-6s. In September 1941 the unit was briefly withdrawn from operations and sent to Breslau for a rest and refit. In December the Staffel returned to operations, flying from Mariupol on the Sea of Azov west of Rostov. In february it transferred to Stalino. In March 1942 the unit was renamed to 7.(H)/LG 2 and in May it was attached to Stab Nahaufklärungsgruppe 12 (NAGr 12). In November the Staffel was briefly combined with 3.(H)/31 to form NAGr Fleischmann (Tactical Reconnaissance Group Fleischmann). The Gruppe flew missions over Stalingrad from Golubinskaya (north of Kalach). On 11 December 1942 the airfield had to be abandoned in a hurry as Russian forces approached. Most of the unit's machines were lost, as only a few Bf 110s could be flown out. At the end of December, 7.(H)/LG 2 and 3.(H)/31 had just five machines between them! By January 1943 this number had been reduced to three. At the end of February 1943, 7.(H)/LG 2 disappeared from the Luftwafffe Order of Battle. Many of its ground personnel had been forced into the Stalingrad pocket when the Russians broke through, and on 3 February 1943 sixty men were reported missing there. There is no record of the disbandment of 7.(H)/LG 2, the unit probably just ceased to exist.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Generalmajor Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski

Generalmajor Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski (2 January 1899 – 19 September 1966) was fought during World War I (as a cavalry officer) and World War II (as a panzer officer). At the 1936 Summer Olympics he won the Gold Medal in the team Dressage. In World War II, he acquired reputation as a bold tank commander, especially in the Eastern Front front when once he only got 39 tanks left (of 104 available at the start of the battle) but kept fighting until the front stabilized. From 6 December 1942 to 5 January 1943 his Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) destroyed no less than 451 Russian tanks, 209 guns and 752 heavy weapons. During the battle for Caen he managed to kept his position for 32 days, without losing even one metre of ground, but lost 50% of his tank forces! In the last months of the war, he fought fiercely for a narrow corridor to the fortress of Breslau. Then he freed the besieged 1200 soldiers of the Fort of Bautzen, and counter all enemy attacks until after arrived at Spremberg. He only surrendered to the American forces in 18 May 1945, a couple of days after the war ended in Europe. Months later they found out that he was the defender of Caen and was accused as a war criminal. Classified in the category of "completely innocent", he was released in 1947. In the post-war period he worked as a civilian advisor and helped setting up of the German Bundeswehr. He also worked for the Canadians as a riding instructor at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He was the recipient of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern (Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords), of which only 159 members of the Wehrmacht received it.

Source :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_von_Oppeln-Bronikowski
http://www.historicalwarmilitariaforum.com/forum/17-photographic-images-albums/
http://ww2gravestone.com/people/oppeln-bronikowski-hermann-leopold-august-von/

Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Werner Schroer in the North African Coast

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop "Schwarze 8" of Oberfeldwebel Werner Schroer (8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27) above the North African coast of Ain el Gazala/Libya, April 1941. The aircraft is wearing  a short-lived leopard camo scheme. Werner Schroer was born on 12 December 1918 at Mülheim in Ruhr. His Luftwaffe career began in 1937 as a member of the ground staff. In May 1940 he completed his flying training. On 27 August 1940 he joined 2./JG 27 based on the Channel front. He flew his first combat missions during the Battle of Britain but did not claim any confirmed victories. In March 1941, I./JG 27 was deployed to North Africa in order to support the Afrika Korps under the command of Erwin Rommel. Schroer claimed his first victory, a RAF Hurricane, on 19 April 1941, however, his Bf 109 E (WNr 3790) was hit and he had to make a forced-landing near his airfield with 48 bullet holes in his aircraft. On 21 April, in an engagement with RAF Hurricanes, an aircraft collided with his Bf 109 E (WNr 4170) slightly injuring him and requiring him to make another forced-landing. By the end of 1941 his score stood at seven. In March 1942, he was appointed Adjutant of I./JG 27. He was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 27 on 22 June. In July he recorded 16 victories. On 9 September, he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. He shot down 13 enemy aircraft in September, including six on 15 September to record his 35th through 40th victories. In October, Schroer claimed 15 victories. Leutnant Schroer was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 21 October for 49 victories. On 4 November, Schroer, with Alfred Stückler (10 victories), shot down two four-engined B-24s. On 11 February 1943, Schroer reportedly shot down two RAF Beauforts, although he claimed them as B-26s. When Major Gustav Rödel (98 victories, including 13 four-engined bombers, RK-EL) was appointed Kommodore of JG 27, Hauptmann Schroer took his place as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27 on 22 April 1943. Operating over Sicily and southern Italy, between 29 April and 23 July, Schroer was to claim 22 Allied aircraft shot down, including 12 four-engined bombers. On 2 August, he became the 268th recipient of the Eichenlaub, awarded for his 84 victories. In August 1943, II./JG 27 was redeployed to Wiesbaden-Erbenheim in Germany for Reichsverteidigung duties. On 6 September, Schroer led the Gruppe on an interception of a formation of 262 B-17s. In all 45 American bombers were lost including four shot down by II./JG 27, three of which were claimed by Schroer as his victories 86 through 88. On 3 March 1944, Major Schroer scored his 99th victory and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 54, relieving Major Rudolf Sinner (39 victories, DK) who had been badly wounded on 6 March attacking a formation of four-engined bombers. III./JG 54 was based at Lüneberg and flew the Bf 109 G-6. On 24 May, Schroer shot down a P-51 and two P-47s for his 100th to 102nd victories. On 21 July 1944, Schroer relinquished command of III./JG 54 to Hauptmann Robert “Bazi” Weiss (121 victories, RK-EL, killed in action 29 December 1944). Schroer was transferred to a fighter pilot school as an instructor. On 4 August, he had to make a forced-landing when his engine malfunctioned. From November 1944 to February 1945 Schroer was retained in a training role. On 14 February 1945, Schroer was appointed Kommodore of JG 3. With this unit he quickly claimed 12 Russian aircraft destroyed. On 19 April 1945 he became the 144th recipient of the Schwertern. Werner Schroer survived the war. He died on 10 February 1985 in Munich, aged 67. Werner Schroer was credited with 114 victories flying 197 missions. 102 of his victories were scored on the Western front, including 61 claimed over North Africa, and 26 four-engined bombers.


Source :
http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/bf-109-thread-2974.html
http://www.luftwaffe.cz/schroer.html

Invasion Armada on D-Day

"What Philip of Spain failed to do, what Napoleon tried and failed to do, what Hitler never had the courage to attempt, we are about to do." (Commander Rich). A panoramic view of the 5,339 vessels that were engaged in the largest amphibious operation ever undertaken in military history. In the background LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) can be seen moving towards Juno Beach with small LCTs (Landing Craft Tank) in the foreground. Both protected overhead by barrage balloons



Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens

Friday, October 9, 2015

German Bf 110 Fighter-Bomber in the Balkan Campaign

L2+SR, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), photographed at Sofia-Vrazdebna at the beginning of April 1941 as German forces were preparing to invade Greece and Yugoslavia. Yellow identity markings have already been painted on the aircraft. Note that the Staffel's "Teufelskopf" (Devil's Head) emblem was spared when the nose was painted. The spinner tips are white, the Staffel color. The heating air inlet in the fuselage nose and two ETC 50 bomb racks under each wing are identifying features of E-series aircraft. Canvas covers have been placed over the engines and wheels. The aircraft is finished in the standard gray camouflage finish (RLM 74/75/76) with mottled fuselage sides


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

A Finnish Air Force Bristol Blenheim Bomber on snowy airfield

A Finnish Air Force Bristol Blenheim bomber of Nr.17 Squadron on snowy airfield in Luonetjärvi, Finland, 31 March 1944.  In 1936, the Finnish Air Force ordered 18 Blenheim Mk Is from Britain and two years later, they obtained a manufacturing license for the aircraft. Before any aircraft could be manufactured at the Valtion lentokonetehdas (State Airplane Factory) in Finland, the Winter War broke out, forcing the Finns to order more aircraft from the UK. A further 24 British-manufactured Blenheims were ordered during the Winter War. After the Winter War, 55 Blenheims were constructed in Finland, bringing the total number to 97 aircraft (75 Mk Is and 22 Mk IVs). The Finns also received 20 half-completed ex-Yugoslavian Mk IV Blenheims captured by Germany, together with manufacturing tools and production equipment, as well as a huge variety of spare parts. Yugoslavia had ceased production of the Mk I and commenced a production run of Mk IVs just prior to the April 1941 invasion. The Finnish Blenheims flew 423 missions during the Winter War, and close to 3,000 missions during the Continuation War and Lapland War. Blenheim machine-gunners also shot down eight Soviet aircraft. Thirty-seven Blenheims were lost in combat during the wars. After the war, Finland was prohibited from flying bomber aircraft by the Paris Peace Treaty, with Finland's Blenheims being placed into storage in 1948. However, in 1951, five Blenheims were re-activated for use as target tugs, with the last flight of a Finnish Blenheim taking place on 20 May 1958.


Source :
http://daywarphoto.blogspot.co.id/2014_04_01_archive.html
http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?107770-Vintage-pic-thread-55/page8

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Finnish Soldiers Taking a Break

Finnish soldiers taking a break besides a road during the attack phase of the Continuation war in 1941. The black trousers the soldier on right is wearing may be from British aid send to Finland during Winter war. The Continuation War refers to the hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II, from 1941 to 1944. At the time of the war, the Finns adopted this name to clarify how they viewed it in relation to the preceding Winter War. The Soviet Union saw the war as part of its struggle against Nazi Germany and its allies, on the Eastern Front of World War II. The war was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its overall war efforts on the Eastern Front, and it provided Finland with critical material support and military cooperation.


Source :
http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?107770-Vintage-pic-thread-55/page8
https://sa-kuva.fi/webneologinfin.html

Messerschmitt Bf 110 in Germany after Balkan Campaign

In the summer of 1941, the Messerschmitt Bf 110s of II.Gruppe / Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) "Haifischgruppe" (Shark Group), returned to the Reich after operations in the Balkans. The Gruppe landed at the Magdeburg-Ost airfield, where this wonderful photograph of M8+A?, a Bf 110 E, was taken. The color photo reveals the yellow identity markings worn by this aircraft. Similar markings were worn by all Bf 110 reconnnaissance and Zerstörer units during the Balkan campaign of April-May 1941. II./ZG 76 applied the yellow markings to the engine cowlings, the upper part of the fuselage nose, and the rudders (including the inner surfaces) of its aircraft. The spinners were black with a white segment and yellow nose ring. Also clearly visible is the Shark Mouth, which is outlined in red, not black as it often appears in color drawings. Note that the two ETC 50 bomb racks have been removed from beneath the wings. II./ZG 76 was renamed to III./NJG 3 (III.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 3) at the beginning of November 1941.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Aftermath of the Battle in Radzikhov-Koloyov Area


By 27 June 1941, The German 6. Armee had reached the Radzikhov-Lopatin-Lezhniov-Snurdare line. Tanks and artillery were used by the defending Russian forces in an attempt to halt the attack. The pictures show shot-up tanks and the result of artillery in action at Radzikhov-Koloyov area


Source :
"The Onslaught; The German Drive to Stalingrad Documented in 150 Unpublished Colour Photographs" by Max Hastings

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

George Stevens with a Present from his Son

Christmas 1944, near Bastogne. George Stevens with a present from his son. He left his former job as a film director in Hollywood in 1942 to serve overseas in the American Army for three years in North Africa and Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been disappointed with the film record of the war so far, so Major - later Lieutenant-Colonel - Stevens was given orders to organize high-quality motion picture coverage of the forthcoming campaigns to free Europe from the Nazis. In 1943 he began assembling SPECOU, the Special Coverage Unit of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. It became known variously as 'the Stevens Unit' or 'the Hollywood Irregulars'. Its members included crack cameramen, sound men, assistant directors and writers from the film industry. SPECOU was attached directly to SHAEF, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. The unit had official orders that enabled Major Stevens to assign small camera teams to move from army to army covering the major events of the war. Novelist Irwin Shaw, playwright William Saroyan and future screenwriter Ivan Moffat were responsible for writing captions and descriptions for the 35mm black-and-white film that the unit shot across Europe. Army producers called for all official motion picture coverage to be photographed in 35mm black-and-white, presumably because this was the standard for newsreels shown in movie theatres around the world, and because 35mm color film existed only in the costly Technicolor process which called for three strips of film running simultaneously through a huge camera - not a likely device for a mobile army unit covering combat! That is why, today, when we envision the Second World War, we see a black-and-white war.


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Official Link-up Ceremony near the Elbe River

26 April 1945: Major General Emil F. Reinhardt (Commander of the US 69th Infantry Division of Courtney Hodges' First Army) and Major General Vladimir V. Rusakov (Commander of the Soviet 58th Guards Rifle Division of Aleksei Zhadov's Fifth Guard Army) lead the celebrations as the Western Allies and the Red Armies link on the River Elbe near the town of Torgau (Southwest of Berlin, Germany). This was an important propaganda event for both sides, Soviet and American. Every American unit along the Elbe-Mulde line was anxious to be the first to meet the Red Army. By the last week of April it was well known that the Soviets were close, and dozens of American patrols were probing beyond the east bank of the Mulde, hoping to meet them. Elements of the First Army’s V Corps made first contact. At 11:30 on 25 April a small patrol from the 69th Infantry Division met a lone Russian horseman in the village of Leckwitz. Several other patrols from the 69th had similar encounters later that day, and on 26 April the division commander met General Rusakov in the first official link-up ceremony. Photo by George Stevens


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens
http://9thinfantrydivision.net/battle-history/central-europe/

A Pair of Bf 109 in the Barren North African Desert

This photo, that was taken from a propaganda film from 1941, showing a pair of Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop fighters from 8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 flying over the Cyrenaica/Libya in April 1941, shortly after the arrival of Afrikakorps in North Africa. If a pilot was forced down, he could die from the heat of the desert. Pilots carried extra water, food and survival items. JG 27 kept a number of Fieseler Storch aircraft on alert, to rescue downed pilots. The pilots wore light weight tropical clothing comfort being important, when coping with the daytime heat. He would be armed with a Luger, or Walther P-38 pistol. Apart from the tropical uniform, when flying is the standard weight flying suit, some pilots flew in khaki shorts and shirts, flying helmet with goggles and silk scarf to prevent neck chafing, or loose fitting. They also wore trousers that would be tucked into the flying boots, would carry a rubber bandolier of signal flares, and if it still had enough room, to carry a knife, extra ammo and maps. When flying near or overwater, the pilots wore standard lifejackets. The Germans camouflaged their aircraft to match the desert terrain, as the locations of Luftwaffe airfields was known to the enemy. Fuel, oil, lubricants were shipped from Germany and were not obtained locally except from captured British supplies. Fuel and other supplies, were stockpiled at airfields and hidden under camouflage or stored underground. Many of the personnel bunkers were built underground to keep away from the heat.


Source :
http://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/germany/aircrafts-2/messerschmitt_bf109/messerschmitt-bf-109e-7-trop-color-jg27-over-desert/
http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=10564

Wreckage of Bf 110 in France

The sad remains of a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4, aircraft code 3C+DR (all in black), of 7.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4). The photographs were taken in the summer of 1945 at Reims airfield in France. III./NJG 4 had began converting from the Bf 110 G-4 to the Junkers Ju 88 G-1 in the summer of 1944 and completed the process in October, therefore this must have been an aircraft that was taken out of service or used for some other purpose by the Gruppe. The Bf 110 was probably parked in some corner of the airfield and left to rot, as its seriously faded camouflage finish would suggest. Pieces of a Ju 88 are visible in the background. The remnants of a yellow fuselage band may just be seen in front of the unit code "3C", while a letter of the manufacturer's code is visible under the "3C". Also note the simplified white Balkenkreuz. In the other photograph we can see the remnants of the SN-2 radar on the fuselage nose. Camouflage: RLM 75 + 76.


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

German Soldiers Milking a Cow

This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger, one of Hitler's personal photographer, and showing German Heer (Army) soldiers milking a rather docile Friesian cow during a break in the drive through Netherlands, summer 1940. Apart from the ordinary water, Wehrmacht soldiers may also fill their canteens with milk (or coffee), and drink it when it's still fresh. Especially when the water may be flavoured. There's also 'Klim', a German canned milk (dry powder? condensed? This seems to be "milk" spelled backwards, or 'milch' close enough likewise). Some photos show German troops using it, and others show it used by Allied POWs in Luftwaffen Stalag. The need for fresh milk sometimes unbearable. Rumour has it that during the war, a U-boat put to shore in New Zealand with one aim - to milk a cow. Having snuck ashore, they successfully milked several cows before returning to their U-Boat, leaving confused farmers the next morning wondering why their cows didn't need milking!


Source :
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=52223&sid=95a344844c608d2c9f9bb27fa43bd45a
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/portrait-of-two-elderly-jewish-men-in-the-kutno-ghetto-news-photo/50408855

Boeing B-29 Superfortress Flying toward Japan

Boeing B-29 Superfortress X-55 “Limber Richard” (factory number 44-70072) of the 99th Bombardment Squadron / 9th Bombardment Group flying toward Japan with other squadron bombers, 1945. The bombing missions against Japan could last as long as sixteen hours, that's a 3,500 mile or 5632.7km round trip! B-29s took off at dusk, made it to the target before dawn, and after dropping their bombs the return trip was made during the day. Flying at altitude with strong winds, flak, fighting off enemy fighters, the Japanese were able to get their fighters as high as 32,000ft. drop their bombs on the target and that was just getting there. The trip back "invited" more flak, fighters, battle damage wounded and other inflight problems. Did you know that the B-29 carried six tons of bombs and twenty tons of fuel? The B-29 also used about 500lbs or 226.8kg of fuel just to taxi before takeoff!


Source :
http://www.ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=23342

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Crash-Landing of Hungarian Messerschmitt Bf 109

Two photographs of V- + 08, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of Hungarian 5/1. Staffel, after a training mission ended in a crash-landing, February 1943. It appears that the aircraft ground-looped, shearing off the undercarriage. The "08" of the aircraft code may be seen in the photo as well. The aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash, losing its undercarriage, tail and one wingtip. In the second photograph, the wingtip - the undersurface of which was painted yellow - may be seen lying in the snow next to tail section, on which the Hungarian national colors may be seen. Note the gray fuselage behind the cockpit. V- + 08 was destroyed when Stary Oskol was evacuated on 18 March 1943; presumably it had not yet been repaired. This picture was made by Fähnrich (Officer Candidate) Gynes, one of the pilot in the Hungarian fighter-bomber squadron who was also an amateur photographer


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fähnrich Gynes from Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron

On 25 January 1943, young Fähnrich (Officer Candidate) joined Hungarian 5/1. Staffel in the Eastern Front. Gynes was one of the first pilots of 5/1 to complete conversion training on the Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4. The officer candidate subsequently flew mainly ground-attack missions against Russian supply routes. We have Gynes' love of photography to thank for these images. As may be seen on the other pictures taken by him, the officer candidate also took photographs while flying. Gynes was planning to take more on 9 May 1943, but while attempting to photograph the commander's aircraft he collided with the Bf 109 flown by his wingman, Unteroffizier Tarnay. Both pilots were Killed. At the time of his death Gynes had flown 65 combat missions


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Warming up the engine of a Hungarian Messerschmitt Bf 109

Warming up the engine of V- + 08, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of the Hungarian 5/1. Staffel, in preparation for a training flight. The pilot is already sitting in the aircraft, which is parked in a blast pen made of tree trunks. The engine cowling has been painted green. The standard gray camouflage colors begin beneath the cockpit. This picture was made by Fähnrich (Officer Candidate) Gynes, one of the pilot in the Hungarian fighter-bomber squadron who was also an amateur photographer


Source :
  "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

The Tirpitz in Fættenfjord near Trondheim

The Tirpitz in June 1942 in Fættenfjord near Trondheim, Norway. Note the light /dark grey splinter-pattern disruptive camouflage. This was one of several paint schemes sported by Tirpitz during her service career. Additional quad 2cm anti-aircraft guns have been fitted to the roof of turret "Bruno" and the forward part of her main superstructure, and the ship is surrounded by anti-torpedo netting. Even when damaged severely enough to prevent any further combat use, she represented a serious enough threat that the British spared no effort in seeking her total destruction


Source :
Book "German Battleships 1939-45" by Gordon Williamson
http://www.bismarck-class.dk/tirpitz/gallery/themes/gallthemetirincolour.html

German Battleships in the Operation Rösselsprung

This photo is apparently taken from the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and is showing the Tirpitz to the right and to the left of the Tirpitz a German destroyer can be seen. The photo is taken in Norway. The combination of the paint scheme used on the Tirpitz and that she is together with Admiral Hipper in Norway indicates that the photo is taken in 1942 and most likely during Operation "Rösselsprung" which took place 2-6 July 1942. Notice the yellow turret top on the main gun of Admiral Hipper. Rösselsprung was the largest operation of its type mounted by the Kriegsmarine during World War II, and arguably the most successful, resulting as it did in the near destruction of arctic convoy PQ-17. Ironically, this success was entirely indirect, as no Rösselsprung ship caught sight of the convoy, or fired a shot at it, all PQ 17s losses being due to U-boat and aircraft attacks. Also, a number of the Rösselsprung ships were damaged in the course of the operation, while only five aircraft were shot down, and no U-boats lost or damaged in the attack on PQ 17. Despite indirectly causing the catastrophic losses to PQ-17, the Rösselsprung operation was a disappointing performance by the German capital ships. Also, Tirpitz, Lutzow and the three destroyers spent a considerable time in dock for repairs. Following this, the Kriegsmarine were unable to mount such an extensive operation again in the Arctic campaign, and never saw a comparable naval success.


Source :
http://www.bismarck-class.dk/tirpitz/gallery/themes/gallthemetirincolour.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_R%C3%B6sselsprung_%281942%29

German Battleship Tirpitz in Scheerhafen

The Tirpitz in Scheerhafen, Kiel in June-August 1941. Tirpitz was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships built for the German Kriegsmarine (War Navy) during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and her hull was launched two and a half years later. Work was completed in February 1941, when she was commissioned into the German fleet. Like her sister ship Bismarck, Tirpitz was armed with a main battery of eight 38-centimeter (15 in) guns in four twin turrets. After a series of wartime modifications she was 2,000 metric tons (2,000 long tons; 2,200 short tons) heavier than Bismarck.


Source :
http://www.bismarck-class.dk/tirpitz/gallery/themes/gallthemetirincolour.html
https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t302798-59/

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

German Battleship Tirpitz in the Norwegian Fjord

A low quality but perhaps unique original color photograph of the German battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord, apparently taken in August of 1943. The British were determined to neutralise Tirpitz and remove the threat she posed to Allied lines of communication in the Arctic. Following the repeated, ineffectual bombing attacks and the failed 'Chariot' attack in October 1942, the British turned to the newly designed X Craft midget submarines. The planned attack, Operation Source, included attacks on Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, and Lützow. The X Craft were towed by large submarines to their destinations, where they could slip under anti-torpedo nets to each drop two powerful 2 tonne mines on the sea bed under the bottom of the target. Ten vessels were assigned to the operation, scheduled for 20–25 September 1943. Only eight of the vessels reached Norway for the attack, which began early on 22 September. Three of the vessels, X5, X6, and X7, successfully breached Tirpitz‍ '​s defences, two of which—X6 and X7—managed to lay their mines. X5 was detected some 200 m (660 ft) from the nets and sunk by a combination of gunfire and depth charges. The mines caused extensive damage to the ship; the first exploded abreast of turret Caesar and the second detonated 45 to 55 m (148 to 180 ft) off the port bow. A fuel oil tank was ruptured, shell plating was torn, a large indentation was formed in the bottom of the ship and bulkheads in the double bottom buckled. Some 1,430 t (1,410 long tons) of water flooded the ship in fuel tanks and void spaces in the double bottom of the port side, which caused a list of one to two degrees, which was balanced by counter-flooding on the starboard side. The flooding damaged all of the turbo-generators in generator room No. 2, and all apart from one generator in generator room No. 1 were disabled by broken steam lines or severed power cables. Turret Dora was thrown from its bearings and could not be rotated; this was particularly significant, as there were no heavy-lift cranes in Norway powerful enough to lift the turret and place it back on its bearings. The ship's two Arado Ar 196 floatplanes were thrown by the explosive concussion and completely destroyed. Repairs were conducted by the repair ship Neumark; historians William Garzke and Robert Dulin remarked that the successful repair effort was "one of the most notable feats of naval engineering during the Second World War." Repairs lasted until 2 April 1944; full speed trials were scheduled for the following day in Altafjord. The ship was finally being sunk by RAF Lancasters using 12000 lb 'Tallboy' bombs in November 1944.


Source :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_battleship_Tirpitz
http://kalboor.com/tirpitz

Latvian Volunteer of Waffen-SS Unit

A Soldier of Waffen SS's Latvian Legion wearing a shield without inscription on his lapel. There was two Latvian divisions in the Waffen-SS: 15. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lett. Nr.1) and 19. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lett. Nr.2). The soldiers and officers of the Latvian SS legion wore the standard uniform of the SS forces with corresponding insignia. On their sleeve, the Latvian legionaries wore a red-white-red shield, sometimes with the inscription LATVIJA in the upper portion and sometimes without an inscription. The shield also came in a variety of shapes and was worn not only on the left sleeve, as per regulations, but also on the right and even below the elbow. Near the end of the war, a shield with a wide black mounting was introduced in the 15th SS Division (Latvian No. 1), which had been extricated from the Kurland pocket and operated in Pomerania and East Prussia until the end of the war. This wide black mounting was the same as that introduced in the 20th SS Division (Estonian No. 1) and for the same purpose – a reminder of the lost mother country. As with the Estonian legion, the Latvians initially made use of plain black collar tabs or collar tabs with SS runes, despite the fact that use of the latter was permitted for only German service personnel. On 11 March 1943, collar tabs with a swastika were specially introduced for the Latvian legionaries. In the fall of 1944, new collar tabs with a stylized version of the Latvian military emblem – “sun and stars” – was introduced for the personnel of the 15th SS Division (Latvian No. 1). Use of the swastika collar tabs was then limited to the 19th SS Division (Latvian No. 2). In reality, however, swastika collar tabs continued to be worn in the 15th SS Division, until a sufficient number of the new collar tabs had been produced. In addition to all these variants, some of the soldiers of the 19th SS Division also wore collar tabs with a “twinned” swastika, which had been prepared for the 36th SS Panzer-Grenadier Division (Latvian No. 3). [In the event, there was no such division. The 36th SS Waffen-Grenadier Division was commanded by Oskar Dirlewanger and consisted of convicts and criminals – not Latvians– skoblin]. In January 1945, honorific titles and correspondingly inscribed cuff titles were given to the 42nd and 43rd Regiments of the 19th SS Division (Latvian No. 2): Voldemars Veiss (organizer of the first Latvian police units and the first Latvian to earn the Knight’s Cross – died from wounds 17 April 1944) and Hinrich Schuldt (commander of the Latvian Volunteer Brigade – died 15 March 1944). In addition, the troopers of the 19th SS Division were awarded with the cuff title Kurland as had other soldiers who had taken part in any of the three battles of the Kurland pocket. Another distinctive element of the Latvian SS was the use of ribbons on the shoulder boards, which were used in the regiments of the 15th SS Division (Latvian No. 1): white for the 32nd, red for the 33rd and yellow for the 34th.


Source :
http://latvianhistory.com/2011/03/08/latvian-waffen-ss-legion/

Maintenance of German Aircraft by Hungarian Ground Crew

Hungarian mechanics servicing the DB 601 engine of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 belong to 1. Ungarische Jabostaffel (1st Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron). This photograph was taken in February 1943. The mechanics were exposed to the bitter cold on the open airfields. This man is wearing a fleece cap and vest. The aircraft has a black spinner. On 20 December 1942 the squadron had eight Bf 109 F-4 fighters on strength. At the end of December, after 140 mainly close-support missions, the squadron was withdrawn from the front and replaced by Staffel 5/1 and 5/2. The pilots of these two units had to be retrained too. Staffel 5/2, commanded by Hauptmann Heppe, used three Bf 109 F-4s bearing the aircraft codes V- + 08, V0 + 10 and V- + 12. The photograph presented here were taken during Staffel 5/2’s conversion training. Staffel 5/1 continued training through all of January 1943, several times having to hastily abandoned airfields after Russian forces broke throught the lines. On 20 January the Staffel was at the Uman airfield. At the beginning of April Staffel 5/1 was combined with Gruppenstab 5/1 at Kharkov-South. In April the Staffel finally went into action, flying fighter-bomber missions with I./JG 52 commanded by Hauptmann Horst-Günther von Fassong


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Crash Landed Kawasaki Ki-61 Being Inspected by the Marines

This sad Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc Hien, code-named 'Tony', had suffered several indignities during its short life. These marines were practicing the age old American art of "chicken plucking" for souvenirs. Before their arrival on the scene at this Okinawa airfield on 9 April 1945, the Japanese Army interceptor had been involved in a crash landing, and that piece of ground support equipment (oil drum) was evidently being used in an attempt to remove the propeller. Like ground crews of all nations, the line mechanics wanted to salvage what they could from the broken hulk, but the American invasion of April 1st quickly put an end to things. The Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (飛燕, "flying swallow") was a Japanese World War II fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The first encounter reports claimed Ki-61s were Messerschmitt Bf 109s: further reports claimed that the new aircraft was an Italian design, which led to the Allied reporting name of "Tony", assigned by the United States War Department


Source :
Book "WWII Pacific War Eagles: China/Pacific Aerial Conflict in Original Color" by Jeffrey L. Ethell and Warren M. Bodie
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/341781059197234472/
http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/3475-Imperial-Japanese-Army-Fighter-Aircraft

Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Leutnant Werner Schroer in Africa

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop "Schwarze 8" of Oberfeldwebel Werner Schroer (8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27) above the North African coast of Ain el Gazala/Libya, April 1941. The aircraft is wearing  a short-lived leopard camo scheme. The mottle is definitely sprayed free hand but the job was done very carefully and skillfully. For example the mottle extends onto the canopy framing so the canopy must have been carefully masked. These aircraft had lower surfaces in RLM 78 and upper surfaces in RLM 79. For the mottle itself, some expert said that it's RLM 80 but there is a distinct possibility that it was not an RLM colour at all but rather an Italian paint. It was dark green anyway. The leading edge slats were completely independent of all other surfaces and each other. They had a mechanism which caused them to deploy automatically at low airspeeds. As the flaps would only normally be deployed at low airspeeds it is likely that the slats would also deploy but they are not linked so it is possible for one to be up and the other down. They would usually remain deployed whilst taxying as well but it was common practice for ground crew to push them back up on parked aircraft to minimise the chances of foreign objects getting in to the mechanism.This means you can display them either way. If the slats are down the area at the leading edge of the wing revealed would usually be in RLM 02 (primer). The Luftwaffe suffered high rates of attrition in the conditions of North Africa. The Bf109E did have a tropical filter fitted, as did later Fs and Gs. It was cleverer than the British solution as it's frontal area is no greater than the standard intake. There was no drag penalty. Also it could be opened and shut. On the ground or at low level, in the dust and sand, the air intake was closed so that air was taken in through the filter medium. Once clear of the hazard the intake was opened and air flowed directly into the engine. This means that the filter wasn't strangling the engine. It was all operated by a handle in the cockpit.


Source :
http://historicalsocietyofgermanmilitaryhistory.com/messerschmitt-bf-109/
http://www.scale-models.co.uk/threads/me-109-4-7-collours.11760/

Fighter-Bomber Mission of Hungarian Fighter Squadron in the Eastern Front

This picture of Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 from 1. Ungarische Jabostaffel (1st Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron) was taken during a fighter-bomber sortie. Over the wingtip, Fähnrich (Officer Candidate) Gynes photographs a Russian supply road. The white cross on the black square was introduced in late 1942, as the Hungarian nationality marking previously used (red-white-green arrow) had caused many recognition problems. Note how misaligned the national emblem is! The purpose of the red lines on the wing is not known. In October 1942 the Luftwaffe command agreed to equip Hungarian fighter units with the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The first eight pilots of the Hungarian 1/1 Fighter Squadron under Oberleutnant Banlaky were given conversion training by I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) at the Stary Oskol airfield in mid-October. The Hungarian flew their first combat sorties after just a few days of training, using six second-hand Bf 109 F-4s that had been transferred to the Hungarian Air Force. Beginning on 25 October, the squadron regularly flew combat operations as part of I./JG 52. The Hungarians were constantly in action, despite snow in early November. Operating from Urasovo, they mainly flew fighter-bomber missions against Russian units that had broken through the Italian held-sector of the front. Railway lines were also popular targets. In mid-November snow and strong winds temporarily brought operations to a halt. The weather improved at the end of November, and the Hungarian squadron, which the Germans had by then designated as 1. Ungarische Jabostaffel (1st Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron) resumed its ground attack missions. On 20 December 1942 the squadron had eight Bf 109 F-4 fighters on strength. At the end of December, after 140 mainly close-support missions, the squadron was withdrawn from the front and replaced by Staffel 5/1 and 5/2. The pilots of these two units had to be retrained too. Staffel 5/2, commanded by Hauptmann Heppe, used three Bf 109 F-4s bearing the aircraft codes V- + 08, V0 + 10 and V- + 12. The photograph presented here were taken during Staffel 5/2’s conversion training. Staffel 5/1 continued training through all of January 1943, several times having to hastily abandoned airfields after Russian forces broke throught the lines. On 20 January the Staffel was at the Uman airfield. At the beginning of April Staffel 5/1 was combined with Gruppenstab 5/1 at Kharkov-South. In April the Staffel finally went into action, flying fighter-bomber missions with I./JG 52 commanded by Hauptmann Horst-Günther von Fassong


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Friday, September 25, 2015

German Aircraft of Hungarian Air Force in the Eastern Front in Winter

This photograph of V + 12, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of the Hungarian 5/2. Jagdstaffel, was most likely taken at the end January-beginning of February 1943 while the aircraft was being prepared for a mission. Note the emblem beneath the windscreen. The mainwheel fairings have been removed to prevent snow from building up between the wheel and the fairing. The aircraft’s wingtips are painted yellow, while the tail surfaces are in the Hungarian national colors of white, red and green. The red spinner was a common feature on aircraft of Jagdstaffel 5/1 or 5/2. Surprising is the absence of any winter camouflage, like that worn by the Junkers Ju 88 that may be seen in the sky under the Messerschmitt’s nose. In October 1942 the Luftwaffe command agreed to equip Hungarian fighter units with the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The first eight pilots of the Hungarian 1/1 Fighter Squadron under Oberleutnant Banlaky were given conversion training by I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) at the Stary Oskol airfield in mid-October. The Hungarian flew their first combat sorties after just a few days of training, using six second-hand Bf 109 F-4s that had been transferred to the Hungarian Air Force. Beginning on 25 October, the squadron regularly flew combat operations as part of I./JG 52. The Hungarians were constantly in action, despite snow in early November. Operating from Urasovo, they mainly flew fighter-bomber missions against Russian units that had broken through the Italian held-sector of the front. Railway lines were also popular targets. In mid-November snow and strong winds temporarily brought operations to a halt. The weather improved at the end of November, and the Hungarian squadron, which the Germans had by then designated as 1. Ungarische Jabostaffel (1st Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron) resumed its ground attack missions. On 20 December 1942 the squadron had eight Bf 109 F-4 fighters on strength. At the end of December, after 140 mainly close-support missions, the squadron was withdrawn from the front and replaced by Staffel 5/1 and 5/2. The pilots of these two units had to be retrained too. Staffel 5/2, commanded by Hauptmann Heppe, used three Bf 109 F-4s bearing the aircraft codes V- + 08, V0 + 10 and V- + 12. The photograph presented here were taken during Staffel 5/2’s conversion training. Staffel 5/1 continued training through all of January 1943, several times having to hastily abandoned airfields after Russian forces broke throught the lines. On 20 January the Staffel was at the Uman airfield. At the beginning of April Staffel 5/1 was combined with Gruppenstab 5/1 at Kharkov-South. In April the Staffel finally went into action, flying fighter-bomber missions with I./JG 52 commanded by Hauptmann Horst-Günther von Fassong. Photo by Fähnrich Gynes


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 of Jagdgeschwader 3

In May 1943, I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3) began receiving the first new Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 fighters to replace its existing equipment, Bf 109 G-2s and G-4s. Conversion to the new type took the entire summer of 1943. Like the earlier Bf 109 G-2 and G-4, the G-6 could be equipped with two 20-mm cannon beneath the wings through the use of Rüstsatz R6. Many fighter pilots did not like to fly machines fitted with the externally-mounted cannon because of the resulting loss of speed. This photograph depicts on such machine, or “Gunboat” as the pilots often called them, after delivery to I./JG 3 somewhere in the Reich. The only airfields used by the Gruppe in the summer of 1943 were München-Gladbach and Bönninghardt, from where it flew missions over the Reich and the Netherlands. The aircraft wears the standard gray camouflage scheme with gray mottling on the fuselage sides. The spinner is painted in four colors. Behind the red tip are black-green and black segments covering two-thirds of the spinner. The remaining segment is white with a fine black-green line. The Bf 109 in the background has a yellow spinner tip. Also note the spoked wheel rims, which were very rarely seen on aircraft of the G-6 series. The second aircraft also has these rims. The standard production G-6 was filled with disc-type rims. The long antenna masts suggests that this is one of the first G-6s built in the spring-summer of 1943 with the Werknummer blocks 15200, 16300, 18000 and 19000. Photo by Hauptmann Rolf Schödter


Source :
  "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 of Jagdfliegerschule

This highly polished Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-2 “Blaue 4” was photographed while serving with Jagdfliegerschule 2 or 4. Both schools used as their emblem the so-called “Jägerpfeil” (Hunter Arrow) on a red shield. The emblem is just visible on the fuselage in front of the cockpit. As the blue aircraft numbers suggests an aircraft of a 4. Staffel, it may have belonged to 4./JFS 4. The photo must therefore have been taken in the summer of 1942, for in April 1943 JFS 4 was renamed Jagdgeschwader 104 and use of the JFS 4 emblem was discontinued. The fact that the aircraft is sitting in the open on the airfield tends to confirm the timing of the photo. The aircraft is finished in a factory-applied camouflage scheme of RLM 74/75/76, with the upper colors extending far down the fuselage sides. As the photograph shows, the lower edge of the dark colors is near the bottom of the tactical number. In the close-up photo, note the black-blue spinner and the yellow cowling underside. In the forward view a thick red ring may be seen on the armored cowling ring, with a fine black circle within. The significance of this marking is not known. Also visible between the starboard undercarriage leg and its retraction strut is the red cable which retracted the tailwheel. Photo by Hauptmann Rolf Schödter


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Bridge Watch in the Back Light in a Heavy Following Sea

This color photo was taken by Kriegsberichter Garms in 1942. It shows a “Brückenwache” (Bridge Watch) in the back light in a heavy following sea. Such seas could pose a serious threat to the Bridge Watch if it underestimated the wave heights. Few other positions on a U-boat were as critical as the Bridge Watch. Keeping lookout was a “holy act”, on which the success and fate of the boat largely depended. Carelessness at this post could have fatal consequences. The Bridge Watch consisted of four men. An officer and one man stood forward in the conning tower with an NCO and another man aft. Using binoculars, each member of the watch had to observe a fixed sector without interruption. Every five minutes each lookout had to report “Sektor ist frei melden” (sector is clear) if that was the case. Regulations forbade conversation during the watch. Sighting reports were to be made in clear, plain language while pointing a finger to indicate direction. The watch was also forbidden to smoke. In areas where there was no threat from the air, other members of the crews could be allowed onto the bridge to smoke, but never more than two in addition to the Bridge Watch. There was no smoking on the bridge at night. The Bridge Watch was expected to be especially alert transiting areas where the aerial threat was great (Bay of Biscay and the North Sea) and in special situations. These included the stopping of ships, use of the deck gun, encounters with other submarines and the interrogation of survivors. In such situations the Bridge Watch could easily become distracted, resulting in lack of concentration. The danger of a surprise attack rose proportionally in such situations. Because of the blinding effect of the sun, lookouts were required to wear sunglasses when the sun was in their quadrant. The watch was relieved every two or four hours. The lookouts were relieved one at a time at five minute intervals for a full hour. This was intended to prevent too many men from being in the conning tower during a crash dive and to give the new watch time to become accustomed to the darkness or brightness. To accelerate the change at night, 15 minutes before beginning their watch, below deck the new lookouts put on infrared glasses. The lookout being relieved could only leave when the new man had become accustomed to his surroundings. As a rule, the best watch officer and bridge lookouts worked the most dangerous periods. Assignment of lookouts was the responsibility of the captain. In heavy seas, with breakers rolling over the conning tower, Bridge Watch was a task that demanded everything of the men. If wind, cold, rain or fog were added, the men were often completely exhausted when it came time to be relieved. In heavy seas the captain could order the men to put on restraining belts, which were supposed to prevent them from being washed overboard. A following sea was especially dangerous, as its height and power were often underestimated. The restraining belts could only be taken off by order of the captain. The conning tower hatch was kept closed in high seas to avoid damage to the latch. Without an efficient Bridge Watch, a U-boat had neither great chances of success nor a long life expectancy.



Source :
 U-Boot im Focus - ediiton no.3, 2008