Sunday, 27 December 2015

Focke-Wulf A 17

The prototype Focke-Wulf A 17 V1 Möwe [gull] passenger aircraft D-1149 Bremen, Werknummer 32, built in 1927. D-1149 was powered by a Gnome et Rhône 9A Jupiter engine and could carry eight passengers. It was operated by Norddeutsche LVG and also flew for Deutsche Lufthansa. The photo was taken at Borkum island in the North Sea, apparently in 1929.

The A 17's passenger cabin measured 3.5 meters in length, 1.5 meters in width, and 1.8 meters in height, and the design provided for four crank operated windows port and starboard. The eight forward-facing passenger seats had adjustable seat backs. The cabin was furnished with lights, curtains, luggage nets, coat hooks, hand holds, and a toilet in the rear. The entry door was located on the port side, and there was an escape hatch in the cabin ceiling. In addition to the passenger cabin, the A 17 also featured two dedicated luggage compartments. (Fischer collection)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Focke-Wulf Fw 44

Moment of partial touch-down of Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz [goldfinch] two-seat biplane trainer ?G+AD (possibly CG+AD), powered by a Siemens Sh 14 radial engine. Aircraft appears to be painted in dark green camouflage, with undersides in 65 and a yellow fuselage band.

This Fw 44 was photographed during the final four years of the war; location unknown. The inscription on the back of the photograph simply reads: Landung im Schnee [snow landing]. (Fischer collection)

Friday, 18 December 2015

Les Avions Francais Aux Couleurs Allemandes, Volume 1

Philippe Ricco, Horse-Série Avions #40, Edition Lela Presse, Le Vigen, France, 2015, ISSN 1253-5354. Illustrated, softcover, published in French.

Cover image © by Edition Lela Presse, 2015.

Latest in a long-standing series of notewothy aviation publications by Lela Presse, this beautiful softcover publication provides a dedicated look at aircraft of French provenance in German service following the German invasion of France in 1940. Philippe Ricco's Les Avions Francais Aux Couleurs Allemandes [French aircraft in German colours] is a magazine-type publication of standard A4 size, featuring 112 pages and 250 photos (some in colour), and it includes 30 well-rendered colour profiles. Moreover, this is actually the first installment of what is intended to be a multi-part study, and it covers aircraft produced by Amiot, Arsenal, Bloch, Breguet, CAMS, Caudron, and Delanne.

Ricco's work focuses mainly on photographic coverage; only brief sections of text are included. The paper quality and photo reproduction are quite excellent, and each image is accompanied by a detailed caption. Where available, the individual aircraft type entries include lists of known codes, units, and other information. The wealth of images collected for this publication is remarkable, and while a certain number of photos have been published before, Les Avions Francais Aux Couleurs Allemandes serves as a competent and complete one-stop compilation.

As has been pointed out on this blog before, and as any serious student of our topic of choice will agree, a publication featuring exceptional content should really serve to render any potential language barriers irrelevant. And many of the photos contained in Les Avions Francais Aux Couleurs Allemandes are indeed exceptional. In addition to numerous very clear shots, there are also many noteworthy camouflage schemes and several interesting detail views. Uncredited (captioned simply as deux officiers allemands), on page 27, top, is what appears to be Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall [field marshall] Hugo Sperrle, in front of a Bloch 200.

Volume 2 of this excellent new series will apparently cover aircraft by Dewoitine to Stark, and the publishers also promise to include any corrections/amendments provided by the readers of the previous volume. Very commendable, and very recommended.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Unidentified early Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A in what appears to be the standard camouflage of 74/75/76. Underside of cowling appears to be yellow 04. The lack of the forward fuselage extension (introduced on the Fw 190 A-5), along with the presence of the panel line on the air intake duct on the side of the cowling (introduced on the Fw 190 A-1), narrows the possible subtype down to either an Fw 190 A-1, A-2, A-3, or A-4.

The temporary inscription on the propeller has unfortunately so far proven illegible, except for the number "82". (Fischer collection, additional information very kindly supplied by Steve Sheflin and Leon Venter, via

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Henschel Hs 123

Crashed Henschel Hs 123 A-1 L2+KM of Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), likely photographed at Tutow, late 1930s (exact date currently unknown to me). Camouflage is the early style of 61/62/63/65. It appears that the aircraft suffered a mishap which sheared off its fixed landing gear, as evidenced by the damage to propeller.

Parts of the aircraft have apparently already been salvaged, and the missing forward fuselage panels and cowling reveal the BMW 132 Dc radial engine. A section of the detached upper wing can be seen in the foreground. (Fischer collection)

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Dornier Do 17

Wreckage of what appears to have been a pristine and somewhat nondescript Dornier Do 17 Z. The aircraft seems to have been partially disassembled after the mishap, its wings stored neatly next to the fuselage. The camouflage scheme is very likely standard 70/71/65.

Unfortunately, even a detail enlargement (lower photo) doesn't provide for a positive identification of the emblem(s) on the forward fuselage. Exact circumstances, date, and location are unknown to me at this time. (Fischer collection)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1

[Full title: German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1 - Bf 109 F-4, Bf 110 E, Fi 156, Fw 190 A-3, Hs 123 A, Ju 88 A-4] Dariusz Karnas, Inside Series, Mushroom Model Publications/Stratus s.c., Sandomierz, Poland, 2014, ISBN 978-83-63678-55-5. Illustrated, hardcover, published in English.

Cover image © by Mushroom Model Publications/Stratus s.c., 2014.

This first volume of a potentially substantial series of reference works by Dariusz Karnas is a superb and very welcome publication. The instrument panel of each aircraft featured in German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1 is described in a section of four to six pages, and each such section contains a minimum of text plus black & white photos, lavish colour renderings of the instrument panel and the individual instruments and gunsights, and, at times, additional drawings taken from the aircraft's handbook.

Needless to say, the colour renderings are the main focus of the book. They are quite accurate and realistic, and some of the individual instruments are depicted at near their original size. The instrument panels themselves are shown both completed and bare, the bare versions being captioned with numbers and corresponding lists of applicable instruments. The individual instruments feature their original German designations and parts numbers as well as the appropriate English designations.

In spite of the orientation of the cover, German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1 is actually a landscape format book (sized 30 x 22 cm), which permits a larger reproduction of the instrument panels than would have been possible had a portrait format been chosen. Having said that, the nature of large colour renderings, in combination with the somewhat odd choice of a light brown background, at first glance make this publication appear almost like a children's book. But the realism and amount of detail featured are absolutely stunning.

Frustratingly, however, there are also shortcomings. At a meagre 38 pages, and featuring the instrument panels of a mere six aircraft types, the actual content of German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1 is disappointingly moderate. This is a bit of shame. While the subject matter will, by necessity, require multiple volumes at any rate, it would have been nice if individual volumes would have been produced as slightly more substantial works of reference.

Moreover, while I do understand that both publisher and author will have to adhere to self-imposed limits to keep a publication within a realistic scope and price range, Karnas has elected to omit any other cockpit details, such as instrumented side panels, controls, ancillary equipment, or seats. Or the rear of the instrument panels, for that matter. The small amounts of text contained provide a brief overview of the aircraft types, but no information whatsoever with regard to the instrument panels themselves or their development. While all of these omissions undoubtedly reflect conscious decisions by the author, the inclusion of such content easily would have made German Aircraft Instrument Panels Vol. 1 an indispensable standard work on the topic.

As it is, however, this indisputably lovely book is best used in conjunction with existing publications in order to obtain a more complete picture of the subject matter. There are some that are quite essential, such as Peter W. Cohausz's substantial hardcover study Cockpits Deutscher Flugzeuge [German Aircraft Cockpits] (Aviatic Verlag GmbH, 2000), or the same author's Cockpit Profile softcover series (Flugzeug Publikations GmbH, 1998-2000). And then there is, of course, Kenneth H. Merrick's extensive but equally frustratingly incomplete German Aircraft Interiors 1935 - 1945 - Vol. 1 (Monogram Aviation Publications, 1996); another book that could/should have become a standard work for decades to come.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Udet U 11

The sole Udet U 11 Kondor [condor] Grossverkehrsflugzeug [large airliner], Werknummer 243, photographed in January 1926 at Oberschleissheim airfield north of Munich, with test pilot Harry Rother. The aircraft is still in pristine condition and devoid of any markings; it would later be assigned the fuselage code D-828. First flown by Rother on January 19, 1926, the U 11 was powered by four Siemens & Halske Sh 12 air-cooled radial engines with aerodynamic fairings, extended driveshafts (necessitated due to the pusher configuration), and two-blade propellers.

The U 11 was the largest aircraft produced by Udet Flugzeugbau, München-Ramersdorf, following an order by Deutscher Aero Loyd. As is beautifully illustrated by the photos, it was an open-cockpit design with side-by-side seating for the two pilots. The navigator's station was located in the very front of the aircraft, ahead of the pilots. The fuselage was constructed from Duralumin profiles and covered by Duralumin sheets. It could seat eight passengers and also contained a toilet and a luggage compartment.

The wings, featuring two main spars, were manufactured from wood, with fabric covering and a plywood-reinforced leading edge. The empennage consisted of Duralumin tubing and profiles, also covered with fabric. The landing gear was fitted with a then rather common rubber suspension system and 1100 by 220mm main wheels.

Rother's test flights revealed significant design shortcomings, and the aircraft's service career with Deutsche Lufthansa (successor to Deutscher Aero Loyd) was correspondingly brief. The U 11 subsequently crashed during the delivery flight to Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule [German air transport school]. The failure of the U 11 was among the reasons for the financial failure of Udet Flugzeugbau and its eventual acquisition by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW). At least one of the above photos appears to have been an official release by BFW, as it bears a company stamp on the rear.

Enlargements of sections of the second photo posted above reveal a number of interesting details (below).

Monday, 27 July 2015

Focke-Wulf Fw 58

Inspection of the starboard Argus As 10 engine of a Focke-Wulf Fw 58 C Weihe [harrier] liaison aircraft, photographed at Cottbus, near Berlin. Unfortunately, none of the aircraft's markings are visible, thus rendering a more detailed identification difficult.

The inscription on the back of the original photograph reads: Vor dem Start [before take-off]. The exact date is unknown, although judging by the attire of some of the mechanics, the picture appears to have been taken in summer. (Fischer collection)

Friday, 24 July 2015

After The Battle Magazine: Nordhausen

Karel Margry, After The Battle magazine no. 101, Battle of Britain International Ltd., London, England, 1998. Magazine article, illustrated, published in English.

Cover image © by Battle of Britain International Ltd., 1998.

As related in my review of Jean Paul Pallud's After The Battle magazine article First Manned Rocket Launch (issue no. 151), posted here on June 4, 2013, After The Battle is a quarterly military history specialist publication, committed to an extremely well researched and deeply absorbing "then and now" approach, and focused on the period of World War II. Moreover, After The Battle magazine's articles are abundantly illustrated, and the photos provided are expertly captioned. This is something I consider essential, but it is all too often lacking, even in dedicated special interest publications.

After The Battle no. 101 is one of the magazine's occasional issues to contain material regarding the German aerospace industry of the period. For anybody reasonably well versed in German history of the 20th century, the name Nordhausen will be inextricably linked to the abysmal existence of the Mittelwerk GmbH underground production facilities in the Kohnstein mountain and the associated Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. The Mittelwerk facility was created with the aim to protect the manufacture of some of Germany's most advanced aerospace products - Fieseler Fi 103 missiles, A4 rockets, and Junkers jet engines - from Allied bombing campaigns. It was not least the bombardment of the Peenemünde rocket research centre on the shores of the Baltic Sea in August of 1943 that revealed how vulnerable Germany had become to air attacks as the war dragged on. Mittelbau-Dora, on the other hand, housed the inmates who were forced to construct both the concentration camp itself and the tunnel system of Mittelwerk.

The enormous Mittelwerk underground manufacturing plant and the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp are prime examples of the immeasurable ruthlessness applied by the National Socialist leadership in order to vainly attempt to avert an inevitable, self-inflicted, and utterly complete defeat. The associated cost in terms of human suffering was staggering and yet of no consideration whatsoever to the powers that be. In spite of such colossal and infinitely inhuman efforts, however, both the construction of the facilities and the actual mass production of rockets, missiles, and engines at Mittelwerk came too late in the war to still effect a perceptible impact - other than the indescribable human misery perpetrated at Mittelwerk and Mittelbau-Dora, that is.

Nordhausen is the main feature of After The Battle no. 101. It is a 42-page investigation into the wartime history and subsequent fate of the Mittelwerk and the Mittelbau-Dora, written by accomplished long-time After The Battle author Karel Margry. The article is presented in the typical After the Battle format, i.e., carefully researched text, illustrated by numerous black & white photos, many of them providing interesting comparisons between wartime scenes and the very same locations as they appeared at the time the article was written (1998). In addition, four colour photos relating to the topic can be found on the magazine's cover and in the centre-spread. The article also contains various maps to provide context with regard to geographic locations, underground production facilities, and concentration camp installations.

Moreover, the deeply captivating - and frequently intensely disturbing - photo content complements Margry's competent and comprehensive narrative enormously. The images provide views of the inside and outside of the Mittelwerk production facilities as well of the situation at Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. The historic photos were taken both during the war and right after the cessation of hostilities, and the comparison with the modern day situation is often intriguing. Although much has been published about wartime Germany's underground manufacturing facilities in recent decades, images depicting the inner workings of these facilities are still somewhat rare, and Margry's Nordhausen provides a number of such extraordinary glimpses. Next to various details of the tunnel system itself, there are many shots of A4 and Fi 103 components at various assembly stages.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the article does not neglect to delve deeply into the topic of slave labour and the associated concentration camp installations, in text and pictures. This is an immensely crucial subject matter all too often willingly (and thus negligently and spinelessly) "overlooked" in uncounted otherwise competent specialist publications on the late-war German aerospace industry and its output. The construction of the camp and manufacturing plant at Nordhausen as well as the subsequent manufacturing operations resulted in a death toll of around 20,000 human beings. The rational, clean layout drawings of the camps thus stand in perverse contrast to what can only be described as drastic images depicting the fate of those unlucky enough to have been confined there.

The creation of much, if not all, of the most modern and fascinating German aerospace equipment at that stage of the war would have been impossible without the implementation of slave labour of the most barbarous kind. This is an irrevocable fact of greatest significance, and it apparently renders rather uncomfortable a number of authors specialised in the field. It is to Karel Margry's credit that he did not elect to cheaply skirt around the issue and that he instead addressed it frankly and yet without hyperbole or tendentiousness.

All back issues of After the Battle magazine, including the above reviewed issue no. 101, remain available through the publisher's website. More information regarding Mittelwerk and Mittelbau-Dora may be found in Yves Le Maner & André Sellier's remarkable Bilder aus Dora, reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Arado Ar 96 TG+TN Redux

A few months ago, fellow student of historic German aviation Eric Guillaume provided me with an alternate view of Arado Ar 96 B "yellow 20"/TG+TN, the subject of a detailed blog entry published here on June 27, 2013. Eric was kind enough to allow me to feature his photo in a post on this blog, thus facilitating a more complete picture of the aircraft in question.

It is evident that Eric's photo (bottom) was taken around the same time as the photo I originally posted (top), as the aircraft appears to be in the very same, abandoned condition, resting on jacks. Due to the customary practice of boarding the aircraft from the port side, the aircraft's camouflage is less deteriorated on the starboard wing fairing than on the port wing fairing.

I would like to express my gratitude to Eric Guillaume for providing me with the image and consenting to its publication in this context. (Fischer collection, top; Guillaume collection, bottom)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Vera von Bissing

Images of German aerobatic aviatrix Vera von Bissing, originally featured in Erika - Die frohe Zeitung für Front und Heimat [Erika - The Happy Newspaper For Front And Homeland], no. 43, volume 1, Berlin, October 1940 (see cover, top), published and printed by Deutscher Verlag, Berlin.

Erika was a generously illustrated German periodical with a rather modest page-count, published in the early 1940s. At first appearing weekly, it was later restricted to a monthly publication schedule, and then terminated. The topics covered include entertainment, reports, and propaganda.

After attaining her pilots license in 1930, Vera von Bissing (October 23, 1906 - June 15, 2002) was trained in aerobatics by Gerhard Fieseler and subsequently became a notable and successful aerobatic pilot.

The images reproduced here were originally part of a one-page, five-photo report, illustrating Vera von Bissing's activities in the service of the National Socialist Flyers Corps (NSFK). In actual fact, von Bissing's relationship with the NSFK appears to have been somewhat coerced and strained.

The centre photo depicts von Bissing and an unnamed mechanic working on the Siemens-Halske Sh 14 A engine of her personal BFW M 35 b sports aircraft D-EXIV. The photo below shows von Bissing flying D-EXIV, although the article presents this as von Bissing test flying a newly completed aircraft. Note that the front seat has been covered.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Schleicher Rhönbussard & Schneider Grunau Baby

DFS/Schleicher Rhönbussard, likely D-6-612 (the dark aircraft in the main photo, top, and in the detail enlargement, bottom), and Schneider Grunau Baby D-6-660 (light coloured aircraft in the rear and in the detail enlargement, centre) of NSFK-Gruppe 6 Breslau (Schlesien).

The Rhönbussard first flew in 1933. It was designed by Hans Jacobs as a small high-performance sailplane. The number of completed aircraft amounted to over 200.

In its original configuration, the Grunau Baby sailplane was designed by Edmund Schneider, together with Wolf Hirth, in Winter 1930/31. Several thousand Babys were built.

Devised in spring of 1937, the aircraft code system (e.g. D-6-660 ) of the NSFK [Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps, i.e., National Socialist Flyers Corps] was implemented by July 25, 1937. The exact date of the photograph and the location are currently unknown to me, however. (Fischer collection)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 2

[Full title: Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945; Flugzeug-Dokumentation; Geschichte, Fakten, Risse, Schnitte; classic scale; Band 2], Karlheinz Kens, Modellsport Verlag GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany, 2007, ISBN 978-3-923142-55-2. Illustrated, softcover, published in German.

Cover image © by Modellsport Verlag GmbH, 2007.

This is the Band 2 [Volume 2] follow-up to Karlheinz Kens' excellent first Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945; Flugzeug-Dokumentation; Geschichte, Fakten, Risse, Schnitte [Historic German Aircraft up to 1945; Aircraft Documentation; History, Facts, Drawings, Cutaways], as favorably reviewed elsewhere on this blog. As such, it follows the established pattern and is produced using the same format (A4), layout, and first-rate printing quality, but featuring slightly less content at 122 pages (versus the 130 pages of the first volume). And once again, the articles featured in Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 2 have been adapted from the print versions originally published in the Modellflug International radio-control model aviation specialist publication.

Each of these articles on a specific German aircraft type is quite involved, rather detailed, and lavishly illustrated. As before, it really is highly enlightening to simply browse Ken's book to discover minutiae about interesting aircraft designs that are rarely covered anywhere else, if at all. The contents of Band 2 comprise the pioneering Junkers J 2 all-metal fighter prototype, the Daimler L 11 fighter, the Meusel M IV light aircraft, the Espenlaub E 5 glider, the Bäumer Schnecke biplane, the utterly intriguing Arado L II light touring aircraft, the Einsitzer FF/Berlin AB 4 sporting aircraft, the Fieseler F 2 aerobatic aircraft, the Dornier Do 10 fighter, the La Pruvo and Hessenland sailplanes, the Junkers Ju 160 fast passenger aircraft, the München Mü 17 sailplane, the aerodynamically advanced Möller Temperolus and Möller Stürmer sporting aircraft, and the Fieseler Fi 256, successor to the famous Fi 156 Storch.

As established in Band 1, each aircraft entry consists of a multi-page article, generously illustrated by means of high-quality black & white photos and various drawings. Many of the photos and drawings also highlight certain details of the aircraft in question. All of this makes for an astonishingly absorbing publication, available for a modest price. Highly recommended.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Klemm Kl 32

Klemm Kl 32 touring/liaison/courier aircraft, powered by a Siemens-Halske/Bramo Sh 14 radial engine. Aircraft was operated by the Luftdienst, as evidenced by the triangular Luftdienst emblem (see detail enlargement).

Aerodynamic fairings around main wheels have been removed. Of note is that the hangar floor appears to have been made from wood instead of the more common concrete. Exact date and location unknown. (Fischer collection)

Friday, 19 June 2015

Henschel Hs 126

The still smoldering remains of a crashed Henschel Hs 126 parasol wing reconnaissance aircraft. The only visible remnant of the aircraft's code is the letter "G" outboard of the Balkenkreuze on the wing. The entire mid-section of aircraft appears to have perished in the fire.

Center photo shows starboard landing gear strut as well as exhaust collector of Bramo 323 engine. Note excessively large Balkenkreuze on wing. Exact circumstances, date, and location unknown. (Fischer collection)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Die Geschichte der Henschel Flugzeug-Werke in Schönefeld bei Berlin, 1933-1945

Horst Materna, Verlag Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza, Germany, 2011, ISBN 978-3-86777-049-1. Illustrated, hardcover, published in German.

Cover image © by Verlag Rockstuhl, 2011.

Even though it was largely relegated to being eclipsed by more familiar German aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Junkers, or Focke-Wulf, the Henschel company produced number of highly interesting aircraft and missile types between 1933 and 1945. The somewhat modest nature of Henschel's reputation might be rooted in the fact that it was tasked as a licence manufacturer of Junkers and Dornier designs, while the aircraft Henschel designed and produced itself were rather unglamorous, rugged workhorses, as exemplified by the Hs 123 dive bomber and attack aircraft, the Hs 126 reconnaissance aircraft, and the Hs 129 ground-attack aircraft.

Nonetheless, these aircraft were of considerable significance for the Luftwaffe, given the nature of operations demanded by its command level. Henschel has traditionally always of been of interest to me, not least because it also managed to produce a number of technically highly intriguing designs, such as the high-altitude Hs 128 and Hs 130, the Hs 132 single-seat jet bomber prototype, the Hs 117 surface-to-air missile, the Hs 293 anti-ship missile, or the Hs 298 air-to-air missile.

I thus anticipated Die Geschichte der Henschel Flugzeug-Werke in Schönefeld bei Berlin, 1933-1945 [The History of the Henschel Aircraft Plant in Schönfeld near Berlin 1933-1945] with great expectations. It is indeed a worthy study of Henschel's aircraft and the company's operations at Berlin Schönefeld airfield. It not only chronicles the history of the manufacturer but also examines Henschel's individual aircraft, Henschel's license production, and Henschel's missiles. Materna's book is lavishly illustrated throughout, and it is helpful in understanding the various aspects of Henschel's story that Materna includes brief biographies of various protagonists. Moreover, plenty of space is devoted to personnel, flight operations, facsimiles of original Henschel documents and advertising, manufacturing facilities, and maps.

At the same time, Materna's book leaves much room for improvement. An example is the inclusion of the aforementioned Hs 132; it is slightly marred by Materna's decision to include the long outdated and deficient Gert Heumann pseudo photo (i.e., photorealistic drawing) and a further, rather clumsy drawing (incomprehensively even featured twice, in colour and b/w) instead of photos of the actual uncompleted prototype that have been known for quite some time. There are other such cases.

The book's relatively small size (16 x 21 cm) alone means that the available space to expand on individual topics is inevitably limited, even at 288 pages. The same applies to the number and size of the photos featured, regardless of the generous number included and the very good quality of their reproduction. Moreover, the standards applied to layout and visual attractiveness fall rather short of what is possible and customary nowadays, and what a number of competitors in the Luftwaffe publishing scene are routinely accomplishing. In fact, the layout of the book is at times even a tad bit amateurish.

That is a true shame, as Horst Materna's work really does contribute immensely towards closing a significant gap in the documentation of German aviation history. At the end of the day, Die Geschichte der Henschel Flugzeug-Werke in Schönefeld bei Berlin, 1933-1945 is thus a book one can still highly recommend. I simply wish it was larger and thus more expansive, slightly more discerning as to its image content, and a bit more modern.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Heinkel He 51

Interesting close-up shot of Heinkel He 51 biplane fighter, S4+D??, used as a trainer for Flugzeugführerschule FFS (A/B) 113 (see detail enlargement), in Detmold. Identity of pilot and exact date currently unknown to me. (Fischer collection)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Junkers Ju 52/3m

Junkers Ju 52/3mge D-ASIS, Werknummer 4074, Wilhelm Cuno, of Deutsche Lufthansa (top and detail enlargement at center), pictured on the apron of Berlin-Tempelhof airfield, before the airport's complete transformation by Ernst Sagebiel. As D-ASIS was built in 1935, the photo was taken in the second half of the 1930s, although the exact date currently remains unknown to me.

The aircraft seen protruding from the hangar at left (detail enlargement at bottom) is likely Ju 52/3m D-AQIT (the "T" appears to be partially obscured by the tailplane), Werknummer 5112 (Stammkennzeichen DD+MG), Major Dincklage, of the Regierungsstaffel [government squadron]. This would make it the personal aircraft of German Labour Front leader Dr. Robert Ley.

Alternatively, the aircraft might be Ju 52/3m D-AQII, although a look at the spacing of the letters of the registration seems to make this appear unlikely. (Fischer collection, with thanks to Christian M. Aguilar and Armin W., via, for further information)

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1

[Full title: Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945; Geschichte, Fakten, Risse, Schnitte; classic scale; Flugzeug-Dokumentation; Band 1], Karlheinz Kens, Modellsport Verlag GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany, 2011 (second edition), ISBN 978-3-923142-39-2. Illustrated, softcover, published in German.

Cover image © by Modellsport Verlag GmbH, 2011.

There are no Messerschmitt Bf 109s in this book. Nor any Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. And yet it is quite an absorbing little publication.

The wordy German title of this rather inconspicuous softcover release translates to: "Historic German Aircraft up to 1945; History, Facts, Drawings, Cutaways; Aircraft Documentation; Volume 1". It is essentially a 130-page (A4 format) compendium of portrait articles on various German aircraft types of the years 1919 to 1945, authored by one of the early pioneers of German aviation history research, Karlheinz Kens. Some of the articles featured in Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 originally appeared in Modellflug International, a specialist publication for radio-control model aviation. These articles were expanded upon for inclusion here, however, and there are also a number of entries specifically written for this book.

What makes Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 truly appealing to me personally is that it attempts to present a comprehensive cross-section of aircraft types not commonly addressed in most mainstream publications. This includes little known aircraft, competition aircraft, aircraft built by student groups, sailplanes, aircraft produced in very small numbers, and aircraft produced by the larger aircraft manufacturers that, for some reasons, did not enter mass production. Volume 1 contains entries on the Klemm Kl 106, Klemm Kl 151, the Der Dessauer sailplane, Albatros L 101, Daimler-Klemm L 20, Daimler-Klemm L 21, Blohm & Voss BV 141, the Luftikus sailplane, D-B1 glider, D-B2 sailplane, Blohm & Voss BV 40, Caspar C 32, Greif sailplane, Gerner G-I, Gerner G-II, Focke-Wulf Fw 159, Ruhrtaler Ru 3, and the Münchener Eindecker glider. These contents are concluded by a five-page article on German military aircraft markings up to 1918.

Each of those entries is nicely - if unspectacularly - presented by means of a clean and attractive layout, several pages of text, high-quality black & white photos, and nice multi-view line drawings. Wherever possible, both photos and line drawings include various detail views as well (cockpits, wing structures, cross sections, and so on). This is a true enthusiast's publication, and there are thus no visual stunts, color profiles, tinted photos, or lurid headlines. This is simply about the history and use of the aircraft featured. Nonetheless, for somebody whose interest is not limited merely to the already utterly overexposed aspects of German aviation history and the German Luftwaffe, this little book is quite a treasure trove.

Moreover, Karlheinz Kens' writing is concise and captivating throughout. The contents of Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 have managed to answer a number of questions that existed in my mind for quite some time. And, not least, it is quite nice to see so many images of aircraft that are usually relegated to remaining concealed due to a lack of attention by authors and publishers.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Arado 68

Arado 68 E biplane fighter, powered by a Junkers Jumo 210 engine and used in the trainer role. Aircraft's likely fuselage code, S7+B94, would point to Schule/FAR (Flieger-Ausbildungs-Regiment) 13 at Neubiberg, Bavaria, in late 1939. Aircraft seems to be painted 63 on all surfaces.

Note unusually large Balkenkreuz on underside of lower wing (see detail enlargement) as well as heavy staining below exhaust stacks.

Aircraft in the background is in all probability a Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz [goldfinch] biplane trainer. It displays equally large under-wing crosses. (Fischer collection; additional information very kindly supplied by Eric Guillaume)

Friday, 5 June 2015

Blohm & Voss BV 142

Rare image of a Blohm & Voss Ha 142/BV 142. Notes on the back of the photo reveal that it was taken at Neufchâteau, France, in late 1940. The dark spinners indicate that this might be BV 142 V2/U1 PC+BC, Werknummer 219, assigned to Luftflotte III. Before its conversion to a reconnaissance aircraft (encompassing, among other changes, an enlarged nose section with extensive glazing), the V2 flew in Lufthansa livery, as D-ABUV, Kastor.

The BV 142 V2's first flight took place on June 3, 1939. In part of the flight envelope, the aircraft's flight characteristics were somewhat deficient. Conversion of the aircraft from the Lufthansa configuration to a long-range reconnaissance platform for the Luftwaffe was ordered in December 1939, shortly after flight testing of the V2 had been completed. The V2 was the first BV 142 to be so converted.

The maiden flight of the newly configured aircraft took place already on May 13, 1940, marking the beginning of a second flight test program that comprised 20 flights. The weight of the rebuilt V2 had increased by one metric ton, but the maximum speed attained was only slightly below that achieved before the conversion.

It appears that the photo was taken from a moving vehicle or rail car, across what might be perimeter railroad tracks. (Fischer collection)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Blohm & Voss Bv 141 - A Technical Guide

Airframe Detail No. 1, Richard A. Franks, Valiant Wings Publishing Ltd., Bedford, England, 2014, ISBN 978-0-9575866-7-3. Illustrated, softcover, published in English.

Cover image © by Valiant Wings Publishing Ltd., 2014.

It is pleasantly astonishing that we live in an age where aircraft formerly thought of as rather obscure - or even outright unworthy of any attention - become the subject of lavish, dedicated publications. I do remember the time well when books on the former German Luftwaffe focused only on the most well known aircraft or units but still rendered all interested parties happy merely due to the fact that one was starved for a publishing house that would actually consider us odd crowd. If a glimpse at aircraft other than, say, Ju 52s, Bf 109s, or Fw 190s was desired, one was left with occasional brief but, in hindsight, vastly pioneering articles in magazines such as Flug Revue + flugwelt (authored by Hans Redemann), Modell Magazin (Heinz Birkholz, Theodor Mohr, Karl Kössler, Heinz Mankau, and many others), Modell Fan (Manfred Leihse, Gebhard Aders, etc.), or Luftfahrt international (Günther Ott, Karl Kössler, etc.).

Things have changed dramatically in the past thirty or forty years, of course. We are now not only treated to the substantial array of information available through the internet (as utterly flawed and/or regurgitated as it often is), the possibility of near-instant exchange of research and images provided by the very same medium, and plenty of books about rare types such as, e.g., the Junkers Ju 287, Messerschmitt Me 264, Horten Ho 229, or Focke-Wulf Ta 152. Happy times, indeed, and among the latest such publications is Richard Frank's Airframe Detail No. 1 on the rare but truly unique Blohm & Voss BV 141.

By and large the book follows the concept of earlier releases by Franks/Valiant Wings. And those have set a reasonably high standard. At 66 pages and a format of 29 x 21 cm, the layout, paper quality, and text and image reproduction of the book are quite exceptional, as expected.

Once again, as with Franks' previous Valiant Wings releases, The Blohm & Voss Bv 141 is a comprehensive examination of the aircraft's various details, preceded by an 11-page illustrated overview of the history of the BV 141. The material provided in the technical description section of the book is beautifully opulent, consisting of 38 pages of close-up photos as well as reproductions of drawings sourced from the aircraft's handbook. This comprises cockpit and interior details, landing gear, wings, empennage, armament, and equipment. Much of this material is known to those seriously studying the Luftwaffe, and the handbook has been available commercially for considerable time. Even so The Blohm & Voss Bv 141 serves as a significantly valuable collection of relevant information.

This content is bookended by a 9-page section discussing camouflage and markings. It also includes numerous rather lovely colour profiles. The profiles are a bit small, however, due to the probably inevitable decision to print them horizontally across the pages rather than vertically. The latter would have resulted either in less aircraft featured or more pages added to the publication. Nonetheless, it works as it is. The book concludes with a 5-page look at BV 141 scale models and a bibliography. All of this makes for a precious and thorough work of reference, not least given the lack of attention this fringe aircraft has endured through past decades. All that is lacking, mysteriously, is a good set of line drawings.

It seems perhaps a bit odd that some authors or publishing houses chose to accompany their specialist publications by advertising or content statements which, upon closer examination, simply serve to direct the reader's attention to very limitations of the publication in question. On page 3 of the book, Franks states that he believes that his The Blohm & Voss Bv 141 contains every existing photo of the BV 141. To anyone familiar with serious Luftwaffe research, this is of course an utterly perilous statement. In spite of the wealth of excellent photos actually featured in Franks' work, it is thus not surprising that a number of previously known photos are missing from the book (e.g. landing gear well details, tail wheel details, canopy details, etc.). Some of them have been available online for many years, for example, courtesy of Lars Kambeck and Gary Webster, or were part of Lars Kambeck's truly excellent four-part series of articles on the BV 141, published in Jet & Prop magazine in 2003 and 2004.

Also on page 3, Franks states that he has chosen a certain manner of writing the aircraft's designation (i.e., Bv 141, Bv 141A-0, etc.). This in spite of the fact that a majority of surviving Blohm & Voss company documentation (some of which is even reproduced in Franks' book) contradicts this (as evidenced by the manner used in this blog). An unimportant detail to some, perhaps, but I find this rather unnecessary and annoying, and it certainly doesn't serve to ensure historical accuracy and prevent confusion.

There are some further puzzling observations, most likely caused by an unfortunate yielding to production requirements. The photo of the cockpit of the BV 141 V2 on page 15, top, for example, also exists in an uncropped version (published by Kambeck) that actually shows the instrument panel referred to by Franks in its very caption. Moreover, some detail shots (a random example would be the cockpit port side shot on page 16, bottom left, or the rear observer's station and cabin interior images on page 17, top) are reproduced so small that they offer hardly any value. In addition, they have been reproduced far larger elsewhere. Odd for a publication named Airframe Detail.

Finally, on page 36, bottom left, there is a photo depicting a pair of devices under the aircraft's starboard wing (they are visible in other photos as well). Franks asks what they are and presumes they might serve to "measure gust". They are, in fact, the Paddelausgleich (Fahnenausgleich) zur Ausrichtung des Querruders [paddle balance supporting aileron movement].

The Paddelausgleich helped the pilot in operating the ailerons. It consisted of two sets of pairs of small, square paddles, mounted under the port and starboard outboard wing segments on slim, forward-pointing support arms. They were linked internally by means of rack and pinion linear actuators, and connected to the aileron by means of push rods, moving inversely. With increasing deflection of the aileron, the paddles were spread apart into the airstream, thus opposing the force of the control surface and relieving the pilot.

The Paddelausgleich was a device frequently seen on Blohm & Voss aircraft. It is featured, for example, in Modell Magazin 5/1976 (referring to the Blohm & Voss BV 222), Modell Fan 4/1977 and Modell Magazin 4/1977 (Blohm & Voss BV 138) or in Flugzeug Extra 2 (Blohm & Voss Ha 139).

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Dornier Merkur

Dornier Merkur (Do B-Bal) passenger aircraft D-562, Marder [Mustelidae], Werknummer 71, of Deutsche Luft Hansa. Aircraft was manufactured in 1925 and powered by a water-cooled BMW VI V-12 engine.

The aircraft's registration has been applied by means of the typical Dornier factory stencil, used from 1926 on. The application of aircraft registrations only became more standardized in accordance with the decrees of 1930 and thereafter

D-562 was entered in the German aircraft registry in 1926. It was transferred to the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule [German air transport school] in June of 1934. It was destroyed in 1935. Location and exact date of photo unknown. (Fischer collection)