Thursday, February 19, 2015

German Stuka dive bomber spruced up before 3-D scan at MSI

################ Frank Mathie

A big part of World War II history landed at the Museum of Science and Industry Wednesday morning.

The German Stuka dive bomber, one of only two in the world still intact, has been at the museum of science and industry since the late 1940s. Every so often the museum brings the plane in for a little R & R.

"We are lowering our World War II German Stuka plane to the museum floor where we can assess the condition and clean it as part of collection stewardship," Kathleen McCarthy, curator, said.

The Germans made 6,500 of these dive bombers. But this one, like so many others, was shot down. The bullet holes in the 75-year-old plane tell the story of how the war, for this plane, ended in Libya in 1941. The British captured it and then ultimately sent it to Chicago.

The Stuka dive bomber was a big part of the Nazi psychological warfare. It didn't just carry more than 1,000 pounds of bombs, it also had a siren that scared you half to death before they struck.

The Stuka sirens were all silenced by the end of the war and now just a scary part of history. However, soon this plane might reveal new secrets.

"We're going to take this great opportunity to actually 3-D scan the entire plane and get lots more information about the plane. It's structure. How it was built," McCarthy said.

There's a good possibility the Stuka was shot down by a British Spitfire just like the one that hangs behind it at the MSI now.

"We hope to re-hang the ship around February 21. In projects like this the dates can be fluid but right now that's our goal," McCarthy said.

When that happens the Spitfire will still be there right behind him.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Blohm und Voss BV 222 Wiking (Viking)

The Blohm und Voss BV 222 Wiking (Viking) was a large German flying boat of World War II.

The BV 222 Wiking six-engined flying boat was originally ordered in September 1937 by Deutsche Lufthansa as a civil flying boat, but was quickly taken over as a military transport. A dorsal gun turret was added behind the cockpit. Rearward facing machine gun turrets were added on both wings. Access in flight through the wing was via a tubular wing spar of a metre in diameter. Engineers could also reach the two stroke diesel engines in flight via the same spar.

Originally the type was powered by Bramo 323 "Fafnir" radial engines. Later aircraft were powered by six 1,000 hp Jumo 207C inline diesel engines. The use of diesel engines permitted refueling at sea by U-boats. The BV 222C-13 aircraft was a sole example fitted with Jumo 205C engines and later Jumo 205D

The type was noted for a long flat floor inside the cabin and a large square cargo door aft of the wing on the starboard side. The flat floor was a welcome novelty for that era. Only thirteen aircraft were thought to have been completed. Early aircraft were identified as V1 to V8. Production examples were designated C-09 to C-13.

In Service

There still remains doubt about the fate of aircraft C-11 and C-13 said to have been flown to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, USA for testing. There is no corroboration and any further information is welcomed from readers who can clarify their fate.

BV222.jpg Several aircraft early in the war were used to supply forces in North Africa, operating mainly to Tripoli. Other aircraft of 1.(Fern/See) Aufklaerungsgruppe 129 flew from a base at the salt water lagoon of Biscarrose in the bay of Biscay. BV 222 V3 and V5 aircraft were destroyed at their moorings there in June 1943 following an attack by RAF De Havilland Mosquitos.

The V8 and V6 aircraft were shot down in separate incidents over the Mediterranean. The V1 aircraft was destroyed in a landing accident at Piraeus harbour. The C-10 aircraft was shot down by RAF nightfighters in late 1943.

Following the Normandy invasion remaining BV 222 aircraft were formed into a unit controlled by the ultra secret KG 200. Of these, C-09 was destroyed at her moorings in the Baltic port of Travemünde by P-51 Mustang fighters. Late in the war her sisters V7 and V4 were scuttled at Travemünde and Kiel-Holtenau, respectively.

The V2 and C-12 aircraft were captured at Soreisa in Norway after the war and flown to Trondheim. This pair of aircraft had been readied at the instructions of Hitler's pilot Hans Bauer in 1945 to fly the Fuhrer to Japan via Greenland. These aircraft were prepared before Hitler's death, but interestingly the operation was still intended to proceed even after this according to orders dated May 1. A copy of this order to Oberstleutnant Lenschow, Kdr K-Stelle, Travemuende Fliegerhorst, still exists in archive form. The navigator of one aircraft involved was Hauptmann Ernst Koneig and he has come forward to corroborate details at the age of 93. Two of the aircraft which had been prepared for this mission were destroyed at their moorings in Germany (C-09 ?)

The C-12 aircraft was flown by Captain Eric Brown to the RAF station at Calshot in 1946 with RAF markings "VP501". It was eventually scrapped in 1947. The V2 aircraft briefly wore US markings in 1946. Strangely the V2 aircraft had identification markings given to her from the original V5 aircraft for Operation Schatzgraber. V2 was later scuttled by the British who filled it with BV 222 spare parts from the base at Ilsvika to weigh her down. V2 was towed to a position between Fagervika and Monk's island where it is thought she now rests perfectly preserved on the seabed, owing to low oxygen levels in the water. There are plans to raise and restore this aircraft.

There were claims after the war in a German newspaper that at least one BV 222 flew via the pole to Sakhalin Island, then part of Japanese territory prior to April 1944 whilst wearing Deutsche Lufthansa markings.

At least one aircraft, V4, is said to have shot down a US Navy PB4Y Liberator of VB-105 (BU#63917) commanded by Lt Evert. This epic air battle occurred October 22, 1943. Since the war this has often been quoted as a BV 222 shooting down an Avro Lancaster.


General Characteristics

* Crew: 16
* Capacity: 92 troops
* Length: 121 ft 4.75 in (37 m)
* Wingspan: 150 ft 11 in (46 m)
* Height: 35 ft 9 in (10.90 m)
* Wing area: 2,744.89 ft² (255 m²) BV138.jpg
* Empty: 67,572 lb (30650 kg)
* Maximum fuel: 40,418 lb ( kg)
* Maximum takeoff: 108,027 lb (49000 kg)
* Powerplant: 6x Jumo 207C inline diesel engines, 1,000 hp ( kW) each


* Maximum speed: 242 mph (390 km/h)
* Cruising speed: 139 kts (257 km/h)
* Endurance: 28 hours
* Range: 3,787 miles (6095 km)
* Service ceiling: 23,950 ft (7300 m)
* Rate of climb: 492.13 ft/min (2.50 m/s)
* Wing loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
* Power/Mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)


* Machine Canons: 3x20mm
* Machine Guns: 4x13mm

Book Review: Focke Wulf Fw 190 in North Africa

Focke Wulf Fw 190 in North Africa

Andrew Arthy & Morten Jessen

Published by Classic Publication in 2004
176 pages
111 photos
15 colour profiles (incl. 2 plan view)
9 x 12"
ISBN: 1903223458

For someone with a special interest in the operational history of Germany’s superb radial-engined fighter of WWII, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the brief period this fighter spent in the North-African theatre of operations has always been a bit mysterious to me. Very little has been written on this subject and it seems that even fewer photos were available. And those that were available tended to be re-published countless times. Who haven’t seen the classic shots of Fw 190A-5 KM+EY?

I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I read on Andrew Arthy’s Fw 190 website that a book on this subject was forthcoming. At first opportunity I bought it.

Let me start by concluding that this is a masterpiece of aviation writing! As a scientist I am very, very pleased to see the academic approach taken by the authors when writing this book. By this I mean that not only is the research conducted thorough and extensive but it is also presented in the best possible manner, at least in this reviewer’s opinion. The authors use footnotes extensively throughout their work and this is conveniently placed below each page. I would strongly urge all aviation authors to use this system as it is very easy to find the required reference and a great aid in one’s own research. Fortunately, it seems to be a trend in aviation writing of late.

The authors present their work in a chronological day-to day manner, another approach I must admit I am inclined to favour! The book is broken down into ten chapters, five appendices, a reference section (in addition to the aforementioned footnotes) and thankfully a personnel index. The chapter breakdown is as follows:

1. The early desert war – brief introduction to Luftwaffe operations in North-Africa, tactics and command structure.
2. Erprobungskommando 19 – brief chapter on the first Fw 190 unit in North-Africa (all of which was news to me)
3. III./ZG 2 in North Africa – chronological war diary November-December 1942
4. II./JG 2 in Tunisia - chronological war diary November-December 1942
5. III./SKG 10 - chronological war diary December 1942 – February 1943
6. A successful period for II./JG 2 - chronological war diary January – February 1943
7. Kasserine – 14. – 24. February 1943, the famous battle described
8. II./JG 2 leaves North-Africa - chronological war diary Late February – March 1943
9. Axis reversals - chronological war diary Late February – March 1943
10. The final days – April – May 1943

Even if emphasis is on Fw 190 operations the allied perspective is not forgotten and combat reports and war stories from several participating American and British are presented. Together with the German view these are an interesting documentation of an air war that has often been overlooked in the past. At the end of each chapter the authors present their “conclusions”, an assessment of the Fw 190 units’ significance and achievements during the time period just described. An interesting way to end each chapter, I think! There are also a few bibliographies in the book, like that of Kurt Bühligen and Erich Rudorffer. Interspersed among the text are various small tables, like summaries of Fw 190 claims or losses for a given period or of unit commanders.

Moving on to the aircraft profiles all that is needed to say is that they are by Claes Sundin! Everyone with an interest in aviation art knows what that means. The profiles included in the book are some of the very best I have seen, indeed some of the best from Sundin’s hand, even if I am not entirely partial due to my interest in the Fw 190. Naturally the emphasis is on the Fw 190 (12 of the 15 profiles are devoted to the fw 190, including the two plan views) but there are one of a Bf 109G-4/R-6 (Franz Schiess’ Black 1, probably thrown in for the Bf 109 guys!), an American Spitfire V and a French P-40F. Sundin has also made three maps in colour of the areas of operations.

A crucial aspect of any Luftwaffe book, at least it is the one aspect I tend to consider the most, is the choice of photos. I am sure that the authors have done their utmost to find new photos and there were several here that were new to me. Of course there are old “friends” like the above-mentioned shots of KM-EY, but they have also managed to find a few new ones of this machine that I have not seen before. There are not really any big surprises as far as photographs are concerned, although the Gruppeemblem of III./SKG 10 was one that I have not seen in print before. Furthermore, I find the shots of White 1/White E fascinating, especially since this machine apparently belonged to Eprobungskommando 19, the first fw 190 unit in North-Africa who only carried out non-operational tests. There are also four pages (appendix V) devoted solely to presenting more photographs, including many of KM+EY and four of a captured Fw 190A-4 with strange red-white-blue tricolor markings painted over the German national insignia.

If I have to find a negative point with this book it is that the photos are far to small for my comfort. At least some of them are deserving of much more space than they have been allocated. The majority of the photographs are only approximately 9x6 cm or smaller and that is not enough. I have been told that this is the choice of the editor and not the authors. Good thing that the profiles span an entire page and are reproduced with excellent clarity.

The appendices include the obligatory claims and loss lists but also a section on Jabo escort missions and, for modellers, a section on camouflage and markings. Perhaps surprisingly for many, the majority of the Fw 190s depicted in the book did not carry tropical camouflage, but the regular greys. Finally, there’s a list of Fw 190s captured in Tunisia.

This then, is my impression of this work. If it is not clear already let me say it again, this book is excellent, it represents marvellous scholarship and is obviously the result of a passion for the chosen subject and I can only look forward to any future titles from these authors.

Kjetil Aakra

The aim of Air War Publications is to continue to publish thoroughly researched books and eArticles on subjects that have not previously been covered in depth, with all books and eArticles to be fully illustrated with many photographs, colour profiles, diagrams and maps. We wish our readers to discover history through a broad range of subjects, with interesting stories ranging from those of famous fighter pilots to the unknown soldier who experienced the war, but whose story is untold.

Air War Publications also provides high-quality artwork prints from the talented and well-respected profile artist Claes Sundin. You can see his artwork under the menu ‘Artwork‘ and related sub-pages.

Fa 223 Drache

By this time World War II had been underway for nearly a year, and the German military saw the potential for such a craft. The RLM (German Air Ministry) redesignated the Fa-266 as the Fa 223 Drache (Kite), but as with many potentially advantageous aviation projects, the Fa-223 had to wait its turn in an industry inundated with new concepts and unprepared for a long war.

In October 1940, Karl Bode flew the Fa 223 V1 to the RLM flight test centre at Rechlin where he demonstrated its startling performance by setting a new world helicopter speed record of 113 mph., a rate of climb record of 1732 feet per minute, and a new altitude record of 23,294 feet. By comparison, America's 1944 Sikorsky R-4B had a top speed of only 75 mph. and a ceiling of just 8000 feet. 
The RLM responded to the Rechlin demonstration by procuring 30 pre-production Fa-223s for development and service evaluation, and ordering the long lead time materials for a further 70. Unfortunately, in wartime Germany where priorities for vital materials were frequently switched according to whim or political influence, the Fa-223 was destined for the lowest priorities. 
The Drache was to be developed in five versions: the Fa223A anti s-submarine helicopter with the capacity of carrying either two 250 kg 9550 pound) bombs or depth charge; the Fa-223B observation/reconnaissance helicopter; the Fa-223C search and rescue helicopter; the Fa-223D transport helicopter; and the Fa-223E dual control pilot training helicopter.

After making 115 flights the first prototype was destroyed on February 5, 1941, when a power failure occurred in a low altitude hover. The ship struck the ground so heavily that both outriggers failed. Shortly afterwards, the second prototype, the Fa-233 V2 (D-OCEW) was completed. While the first prototype had a nose with outward angled side windows, the second prototype had a glass nose made of flat glass panels similar to contemporary German bombers and, despite civil registration, had a nose mount for a 7.9mm machine gun.

The third prototype Fa-223E V3 was built to the pre-production Fa-223E-O specification. By this time it had been decided to build a single multi-purpose version, instead of five different specialized versions. Auxiliary equipment that could be fitted were bomb racks, cameras, electric motor driven winch, rescue cradle, 300 liter (79 gallon0 drop tank, and wire laying equipment.

The Fa-223 was like the FW-61, primarily constructed of welded steel tubing, with fabric covering the fuselage and tail surfaces. The nine cylinder BMW Bramo 323 radial engine was located behind the cabin and was fan cooled. The engine had a 1000 horsepower rating for one minute, an 820 hp. rating for 5 minutes, and a 620 hp. max. continuous rating.

In June 1942, the second and third prototypes along with seven partially completed pre-production machines were destroyed by Allied bombers. A new factory location was setup in Laupheim in southern Germany, with production work resuming in February 1943.

Karl Bode flew the first Laupheim built Fa-223E-O on June 21, 1943. This was the V11 which was finished in military coloring with the markings DM+SO. This ship was extensively filmed while making demonstrations of the helicopter's utility. The V11 exhibited its carrying ability by lifting such items as Fieseler Storch observation aircraft, an Me-109 fuselage, a one ton engine, and a Volkswagen military staff car.

Fa-223 V12 was designated in September 1943, to rescue Benito Mussolini from his mountain prison. At the last moment, however the helicopter had mechanical problems, and a Fieseler 156 Storch had to be substituted for the attempt.

Ship V12 would later be lost in an attempt to rescue 17 people trapped by heavy snow on Mont Blanc in France. The helicopter had been flown on the long cross-country trip from Germany to carry out this humanitarian mission, and while attempting a landing on the mountain, a mechanical failure resulted in a rotor disintegrating and the ship hitting an embankment, killing the crew.

In the spring of 1944 the V11 crashed while trying to recover a Do-217 bomber from the Vehner Moor. The Fa-233 V14 was then used to recover both the Do-217 and the unlucky V11. Two Focke Achgelis mechanics along with Luftwaffe personnel disassembled the two downed aircraft. Karl Bode along with Lt. Helmut Gerstenhauer, the Luftwaffe's most experienced helicopter pilot, made ten flights on May 11, 1944, followed by further flights the next day. The major components of both crashed aircraft were picked up from the marsh and carried out to a road where they were transferred to a truck.

Only seven Fa-233 helicopters were built at Laupheim, before this factory was destroyed. An Allied bombing attack in July 1944 hit every building in the factory complex except for the wind tunnel, wiping out the complex.

Testing and Operation

The existing Fa-223 helicopters carried on in demonstrating the usefulness of vertical flight aircraft. Two of the Fa-223s were used in manoeuvres at the mountain Warfare school in the Alps near Innsbruck during September 1944. Ships V14 and V16 were utilized to supply the mountain troops. The aircraft flew 83 missions, flying on 29 of the 30 days. The one day of non operation was due to fog so thick the pilot could not see the tips of the rotors. Seventeen landings were made on sites that were 4500 feet or more above sea level, including three on the Dresdener Hutte, at an elevation of 7600 feet. 
The extensive manoeuvres demonstrated the helicopter had a place in mountain warfare. The Fa-223 could lift 1100 pounds of provisions to a remote site at an elevation of 6500 feet in just seven minutes, a feat that would require twenty men, a day and half of strenuous climbing, to accomplish, in one fifteen minute round trip flight from the base at Mittenwald, a mountain howitzer and its ammunition were lifted on a cable below the helicopter, then flown to, and safely lowered to a position just below the Wornergrat peak. The gun had to be winch lowered, because there was not enough room to land.

The Fa-223 was used as a troop transport during manoeuvres and carried as many as 12 troops in addition to the pilot. Four men were carried inside the cabin and eight were carried on tractor seats fastened to the outriggers.

When the mountain manoeuvres ended on October 5, 1944, the head of the Mountain Warfare School enthusiastically endorsed the Fa-223 and everyone expected that there would be a push for production of the Drache, instead, on October 11th, an order was received from the Air ministry to stop all work on the Fa-223 and transfer all Focke Achgelis personnel to Messerschmitt. The Me-262 jet fighter required all the skilled labour available for production and as the Allies closed in on Germany from east and west, factories were being set up in remote areas, away from the bombing devastating German industrial plants.

In December, the Air ministry did an about face and ordered Focke Achgelis to be re-established at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and to begin producing the Fa-223 at a preposterous rate of 400 per month! This lunatic order was issued despite the fact that all tooling had previously been destroyed in bomb raids and there were nowhere near enough aircraft workers left to perform such a task, even if the tooling did exist, but professor Focke once again went to work setting up a helicopter factory.

Five of the seven Fa-223s built at Laupheim were still flyable and three of these were turned over to the Luftwaffe for use by its recently activated helicopter squadron Transportstaffel 40. This unit was formed in early 1945 at Muhldorf, Bavaria, and operated a mix of Focke Achgelis Fa-223s and Flettner Fl-282s. The organization under the command of Hauptmann Josef Stangl moved to Ainring near the German-Austrian border and then to Styria in Austria to preform artillery observation, liaison, and transport task in support of the hastily improvised Luftwaffe division, north Alp. Once in Austria the unit began a retreat back to Ainring in the face of the advancing U.S. 80th infantry Division. Some of its helicopters were captured along the way, others were destroyed by their crews, after forced landings. The two Fa-223s and the few Fl-282s that made it back to Ainring, were captured by the onrushing U.S. forces.

Meanwhile, the Tempelhof produced Fa-233E was delivered to the Luftwaffe and by "Order of the Fuhrer' on February 25, 1945. Ordered to fly to Danzig. It took off from Tempelhof the next morning to proceed on its mission. Due to dodging storms, Allied bombing attacks, advancing allied forces, and having to search for fuel, the helicopter's pilot did not arrive on the outskirts of Danzig until the evening of March 5th. There, because of advancing Soviet forces, it was now impossible to fly into the centre of Danzig as ordered. While awaiting orders on where to proceed, the crew got word that a fighter pilot had gotten lost in a snowstorm and had made a crash landing. Lt. Gerstenhauer took off in the Fa-223 and proceeded to search the area. The helicopter crew spotted the downed Me-109 with the injured pilot still in the cockpit. They rescued him and flew him back to the base for medical attention. By this time, Danzig was falling to the Russians, and the Fa-223's crew took off to try to reach a safer haven. Fuel was still a problem and when they did find a fuel stockpile, they realized that the Allies push had captured or destroyed all the friendly airfields along their projected route. After topping the tanks off, they loaded a 55 gallon drum of gasoline and a hand pump on board, took off and overflew the Soviet forces. When they finally put down at the German base at Werder, they had flown a total of 1041 mile on this escape mission. After a rest the ship was flown to Ainring to join Transportstaffel 40, only to be captured by American troops.

Three Fa-223s were in final assembly at Tempelhof, along with 15 partially assembled ships, when the Soviet forces captured the Berlin airport.

Post War

The Americans turned over Fa-223E V14 to the British for evaluation. At the time of its transfer, V14 had logged 170 flying hours, more than any other helicopter in the world. On July 25, 1945, ex-Luftwaffe Lt. Gerstenhauer (officially a POW), flew V14 with Sqn. Ldr. Cable, RAF and Lt. Buvide, USNR, from Germany, to the French coast and then on to England where they landed at RAF Beaulieu. This was the first crossing of the English Channel by helicopter, but while undergoing flight evaluations in England, V14 was destroyed, due to a mechanical failure in the drive system. 
The Fa-223 that had made the Danzig trip was painted with U.S. markings and was scheduled to come to the United States for flight evaluation. It is not known if it ever actually made it to America, but there were other Fa-223 survivors.

In addition to the Tempelhof assembly line, a second Fa-223 production line was being set up in occupied Czechoslovakia. After the war, two of its partially completed airframes were assembled and flown at the Avia plant.

Luft-Transportstaffel 40 based at Ainring in April 1945, had at least three Fl-282s (and also three Focke Achgelis Fa-223s) at its disposal. During the last few months of the war and this unit made many flights into and out of besieged and encircled towns transporting dispatches, mail, and key personnel. It was possibly one of this unit's Fl-282s that flew Gauleiter Hanke out of besieged Breslau just before the capture of that city.

If Benito Mussolini would be rescued by the Fa-223 V12, as initially intended, the apparatus would be by far more famous, now and then. If think that was the day when the German helicopter missed the chance for celebrity.

[1]Hanke had flown out in a small Fieseler Storch plane kept in reserve for him. In his memoirs, German Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, claimed that he heard from Anton Flettner, the designer that Hanke actually escaped in one of the few existing prototype helicopters.