Thursday, September 24, 2015

Messerschmitt Bf 109 Flown by Leutnant Walter Blume

In the summer of 1940, Major Adolf Galland’s III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) “Schlageter” was based at Caffiers airfield east of Calais, from where it flew missions over England. There III./JG 26’s technical officer, Hauptmann Rolf Schödter, took a series of color photographs. This photo depict the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 “Weiße 13”, flown by Leutnant Walter Blume of 7.Staffel / III.Gruppe / JG 26. The four black victory bars on the rudder date the photograph between 25 July 1940 (Blume’s 4th victory) and 15 August 1940 (when Leutnant Blume was lost). Also in evidence are the yellow identity markings introduced by Luftflotte 2 at the beginning of August, which were applied to the wingtips and outer horizontal stabilizers and, in some cases, the top of the rudder. The presence of these yellow markings suggest that the photographs must have been taken in the first two weeks of August. The yellow identity markings on “Weiße 13” are clearly visible in this view. Note how haphazardly the painting was done! For example, application of the rudder triangle resulted in significant overspray on the vertical stabilizer. Also of interest is the marked difference between the yellow of the identity markings and the yellow of the octane triangle. The yellow used to apply the identity markings is more orange in color. This color often looks the same as red in black and white photographs, and in the past this has led to errors in interpretation. Note, too, the small tactical number, typical in size and shape for III./JG 26. Visible beneath the port wingtip is the engine cowling bearing the heart emblem of 7. Staffel. On the rudder may be seen four victory bars, the first two red and the last two black. This is surprising, as all of Blume’s victories came against the RAF in the West. The markings above the bars are not cockades, but circles in which the date of each victory was recorded. The aircraft wears the standard 1940 camouflage finish. Note the feeble attempt to hide the wing crosses with straw. The presence of straw on the ground suggests that this was a regular practice. In the background is the Gruppe’s Klemm 35, also camouflaged with straw. On 18 September 1940, several days after this photograph was taken, Leutnant Walter Blume was shot down by Hurricanes of No. 32 Squadron near Canterbury during a mission over England in “Weiße 13”. He was seriously injured in the ensuing crash-landing and the aircraft largely destroyed. Blume returned to Germany in a prisoner exchange in 1943 and resumed operational flying, recording another 14 victories by the end of the war.

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

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