Archive for January, 2009

31
Jan
09

Windsock Datafile 9 – Fokker D.VII

The Fokker D.VI1 Typenprufung (type-testing programme), a full range of static and performance tests mandatory for Front-line release, was concluded in February 1918. Idflieg engineers must have been impressed, not to say astounded, by the functional simplicity and inherent strength of the airframe. With their eye on lowering production man-hours. Fokker and Platz had designed a simple, welded, steel-tube fuselage that provided good pilot protection in event of a crash. The clean and robust cantilever wing cellule was free of drag-producing wires, although it was braced with an outer N-strut. a structural feature the necessity of which has been questioned. It is a little known fact that comparative speed tests performed with and without struts at Rechlin in October 1918 demonstrated that the strutless V.II was marginally slower, felt ‘softer’ in the air and was appreciably less responsive to aileron deflection.
31
Jan
09

Luftwaffe at War – The Junkers Ju 52

The first transport unit, KGrzbV 1 (Kampfgruppe zur besondern Vervendung – Unit for Special Purposes), was formed in October 1937 from IV./KG 152 ‘Hindenburg’, and by the start of the war KGzbV 172, KGrzbV 1, 2, 9 and LLG 1 and 2 had been created (LLG – uftlandesgeschwader, Air Landing Wing). Some of these units were at far from full strength, mainly because the training of pilots and production of aircraft could not keep up with the speed with which the units were created. An example of this problem is shown by I. and II./KGzbV 172, which were formed by using personnel and aircraft from Deutsche Lufthansa. A full-sized Geschwader consisted of four Gruppen, each with 53 aircraft, (four Staffeln, each with 12 aircraft and 5 Gruppe Stab aircraft). A KGzbV would therefore total 212 aircraft when in full strength. Many temporary units were formed for major operations such as the invasion of Poland, where KGzbV ‘Ahlefeld’, made up of several Gruppen from existing units and was created specifically for that campaign and then disbanded immediately after in order to return to their original units.
31
Jan
09

Luftwaffe Air Crews – Battle of Britain 1940

The organisational structure of the Luftwaffe reflected the function for which it was developed — the tactical support of large and mobile ground forces, as opposed to the defence of the Reich and its territories, or the launching of strategic attacks from fixed home bases. This policy was the direct result of the change in emphasis brought about in 1936 with the death of Generalleutnant Wever. Wever was, in his time, the one man in the German Air Ministry whose foresight and ablility to plan and co-ordinate could have changed the face and fortune of the Luftwaffe during its formative years, and no doubt during the initial and very crucial years of the war. As the Luftwaffe’s first Chief of the Air Staff, he had laid long-term plans for the development of the new German Air Force. Included in these plans was the use of large numbers of four-engined heavy bombers. Wever saw the long-range bomber as the means whereby Germany, as a central power, could exert her will by striking out at any corner of Europe.
31
Jan
09

German Aces of the Russian Front

In the light of post-war investigation, it is now conceded that overclaiming occurred in every air force. Mostly this was attributable to the heat and confusion of battle. Sometimes it was a case of genuine error — the trail of smoke emitted by a Bf 109 diving away at full throttle fooled many an Allied fighter pilot or air gunner into believing that his opponent was mortally hit. Only in very rare instances was it a matter of deliberate deceit. And any pilot suspected of falsifying his victory claims was given very short shrift by his peers. Each of the combatant air forces tried to regulate claims by a strict set of conditions. None more so than the Luftwaffe, which required written confirmation of the kill by one or more aerial witnesses to die action, plus – if possible – back-up confirmation, also in writing, from an observer on the ground. Given the amount of paperwork this engendered back at OKL in Berlin, it is little wonder that it could sometimes take a year or more for a pilot’s claim to receive official confirmation.
31
Jan
09

Eagle Files 04 – Tigers over China – The Aircraft of The AVG

The Curtiss Hawk 81-A2 was the export version of the P-40B/C. The first aircraft received by ihe A.V.G. were Hawk 81-A2 fighters originally intended for the RAF, and as such they were painted according to RAF guidelines. While Curtiss did nol have actual RAF paint stocks on hand, they used DuPont paints that approximated the color descriptions given to them by the RAF. The upper surfaces were to be painted Dark Green and Dark Earth, and the DuPont paints used were fairly close to the specified RAF colors. In some cases the brown color used had a slightly more yellow hue to it that the RAF color, which became more evident when fading occurred in the field as shown in several color plates in this book. The DuPont paints used were 71-065 (Dark Brown), and 71-013 (Dark Green).

31
Jan
09

Eagle Files 02 – Yellow 10 – The Story of the Ultra-Rare Fw 190 D-13

Escaping the Russians, elements of II./JG 52 surrendered at Neubiberg. near Munich, while others flew to smaller nearby airfields like Aiming. Three of these Bf 109 G-10/U4s captured by the Allies were sent to America, along with “Yellow 10” and other prized sophisticated German aircraft. One of these G-10s becomes part of our story of “Yellow 10”. From Neubiberg. Germany, via Cherbourg. France, to Freeman Field, Indiana, this rare G-10 ultimately ended up as a derelict fuselage behind a run-down rental house in Atlanta. Georgia. There in 1965 was where I initially saw this one-time proud Luftwaffe fighter. The story that took me there was told in a previous chapter. I was still recovering from (he shock of seeing the D-13, when Bud Weaver took a couple of us enthusiasts a few blocks away to look at the remnants of his Bf 109.
31
Jan
09

Eagle Files 01 – Doras of the Galland Circus

The changes from a D-9 to a D-11 include the Jumo 213 F engine with three-stage supercharger, requiring a larger oval Ta 152-type intake scoop. The Jumo 213 F engine drove a VS 9 wooden paddle-bladed prop. The D-11, D-12, and D-13 models shared a new motor cowl and flatter panel that replaced the bulged D-9 gun cover. In order to accomodate the new motor mounts required for the 213 F engine, the cowl had to be altered resulting in the D-ll having distinct bulges around the area where the mounts attach to the firewall, in turn causing a distinct groove down the length of the cowl. This can be seen in the photograph of “Red 4” on the scrap heap at Miinchen-Riem, where the groove is visible forward of the cowl in front of the windscreen. This also is obvious on the Fw 190 D-l3 in the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona.