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).