Revell Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6/AS of Hauptmann Ludwig-Wilhelm Burkhardt in 1/72 Scale

Hauptmann Ludwig-Wilhelm “Lutz” Burkhardt flew this Messerschmitt while in command of 7. / JG 1, at Paderborn Germany, April 1944.  Burkhardt opened his account on 09MAY42 against the Soviets, downing an I-153 fighter.  He managed to score a total of 53 victories against the Soviets with II./JG 77, but was forced down himself on several occasions, each time making it back to his own lines without serious injury.  He was transferred to the West where he continued to score, downing 16 American and British aircraft, all fighters.  He suffered from recurring bouts of malaria which sidelined him for much of the last year of the war.  He survived with a total of 69 victories.

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Messerschmitts Over Sicily Book Review

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Messerschmitts Over Sicily: Diary of a Luftwaffe Fighter Commander

By Johannes Steinhoff

Softcover, 271 pages, bibliography, and index

Published by Stackpole Books August 2004

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0811731596

ISBN-13: 978-081173159

Dimensions: 6.0 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches

Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was one of the legends of the Luftwaffe, having flown throughout the entire war from beginning to end on every major front and surviving.  He flew a total of 993 sorties and was credited with 176 victories.  He was shot down himself on twelve occasions but only bailed out once, preferring to crash land his aircraft due to a mis-trust of parachutes.  He achieved most of his successes flying with JG 52 against the Soviets in the East but in March 1943 he was transferred to North Africa to lead JG 77 as Geschwaderkommodore.  He arrived just in time to move what remained of the Geschwader (Wing) from North Africa to Sicily.

Messerschmitts Over Sicily is Steinhoff’s autobiographical account of JG 77’s fight against the Allies during the summer of 1943.  The Luftwaffe faced over 5,000 American and British aircraft with only 350 of their own.  The German airfields were well within range of Allied fighters and were subjected to almost daily bombings by medium bombers.  This kept the German fliers on the move and resulted in material shortages, the Germans were often forced to utilize improvised landing fields to escape the attentions of prowling Allied aircraft.

A problem which the Luftwaffe never solved in the Italian Theater was how to deal with the American heavy bomber formations.  While Jagdwaffe units defending the Reich enjoyed some notable successes, American Flying Fortresses operated over Italy with relative impunity.  The proximity of Allied bases greatly reduced warning times which frustrated German attempts to mass and direct intercepting fighters, and the bomber boxes were able to be escorted by defending fighters all the way to their targets.  These obstacles, exasperated by the generally poor logistical situation, were not appreciated by the Luftwaffe high command.  Reichsmarschall Göring attributed the lack of success to cowardice on the part of his pilots which only served to reduce morale further.

This is an interesting study of command and leadership under adversity.  It reveals the complexities of managing the daily administrative responsibilities of managing a military unit while dealing with unrealistic expectations from superiors and also leading men in combat.  An interesting book and well worth a read, recommended.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 of Major Günther Lützow in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 of Major Günther Lützow Stab / JG3, Russia,  Summer 1941.  Fine Molds kit.

Günther Lützow scored his first five victories as a member of Germany’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War, including the first victory ever credited to the Bf 109.  During the Battle of France he added nine more to his score, with another nine during the battle of Britain.  When Operation Barbarossa began he was a Major and Geschwaderkommodore of JG 3, this is Lützow’s mount depicted in the model.

Lützow continued to score regularly against the Russians and on 24OCT41 he became the second Luftwaffe Jagdflieger to achieve the one hundred victory mark (after Werner Mölders).  He was outspoken in his beliefs and made no secret of his distaste for the SS and the National Socialist Party.  This resulted in his being transferred to various staff positions, but he was a central figure in the Fighter Pilot’s Muntity where he criticized Herman Göring directly, which resulted in his exile to Italy.  He returned to Germany to fly the Me 262 with Galland’s JV 44 and was credited with two additional victories, bringing his total to 110.  On 24APR45, just two weeks before the end of the war, Oberst Günther Lützow went missing in his Me 262 while intercepting USAAF B-26s over Donauwörth, Germany.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 of Oberleutnant Günther Rall in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 of Oberleutnant Günther Rall of 8. / JG52, Russia, SEP42.  Fine Molds kit.

Günther Rall flew this aircraft upon returning to 8. / JG52 after recovering from a broken back sustained when he was shot down on 28NOV41 after his 36th victory.  By the end of the month he had brought his score to 90.  The aircraft shows signs of overpainting on the fuselage sides.  Rall was superstitious about the number thirteen and preferred that number on his assigned aircraft.

Rall was promoted to Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 52 in July 1943 and in September was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.  In April 1944 he was transferred to the Western Front and command of II./JG 11.  Like so many Experten transferred from the Eastern Front, he found combat against the Americans and British to be a much different thing than fighting the Russians.  On 12MAY44 Major Rall found himself facing the P-47 Thunderbolts of Colonel Hubert Zemke and his “Wolfpack”.  Unable to evade or outrun the powerful Thunderbolts, Rall bailed out of his damaged Messerschmitt with a severed thumb.  He survived the war as the third-highest scoring fighter pilot with 275 victories.  Post-war he served in the German Bundesluftwaffe, retiring with the rank of the rank of Generalleutnant.

Günther Rall passed away on 04OCT09 at the age of 91.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Leutnant Helmut Lipfert in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Leutnant Helmut Lipfert of 6. /JG52 at Bagerovo, Russia, DEC 1943.  Fine Molds kit.

The model depicts Leutnant Helmut Lipfert’s mount when he was Staffelkapitän 6. Staffel of JG 52.  He had claimed eighty Russian aircraft at that time.  His final score was 203 victories, for which he was awarded Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.  He was shot down himself fifteen times but survived the war.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Leutnant Walter Wolfrum in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Leutnant Walter Wolfrum of 5. /JG52 at Grammatikovo, Russia, March 1944.  Fine Molds kit.

Walter Wolfrum flew his first combat sorties with 5./JG 52 over the Crimea in February 1943.  He flew with JG 52 on the Eastern Front throughout the war.  He scored a total of 137 victories, but was himself shot down twelve times and wounded on four occasions.  He and the rest of JG 52 were turned over to the Russians at the end of the war, but Wolfrum was released due to his injuries.  He became the German National Champion in acrobatic flying in 1962.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/R6 of Leutnant Walter Krupinski in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/R6 of Leutnant Walter Krupinski, 6. /JG52 Russia, OCT 1942.  Kit is from Fine Molds.

This model depicts the Bf 109G-2/R6 of “Graf Punski” early in his career, at the that time he had amassed fifty victories.  Subsequently he was brought down by a Taran (ramming) attack by a Soviet pilot in an I-16.  He was promoted to Staffelkapitän of 7. Staffel, where Erich Hartmann, who was to become the world’s highest scoring ace, flew as his wingman.  Krupinski was promoted to Hauptmann and took over command of II./JG 11 in the West.  The Gruppe was active over the invasion front in France, where Krupinski scored ten victories before he was wounded for the fifth time in August.  After recovering, he commanded III./JG 26 until that Gruppe was disbanded in March.  Krupinski finished the war flying Me 262 jets with JV 44, where his final two victories brought his total to 197.  Walter Krupinski survived the war.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Unteroffizier Günther Josten in 1/72 Scale

This is the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Unteroffizier Günther Josten of 1. /JG51 at Bobruisk, Belarus, Spring 1944.  Kit is from Fine Molds.

Günther Josten got a late start for being one of the highest-scoring Luftwaffe Experten, opening his account on 23FEB43.  The next month his Staffel converted to the Focke Wulf Fw 190, the type upon which he was to score most of his victories.  He was credited with 178 victories, all on the Eastern Front.  One of his more unusual victories for an Eastern Front pilot was a USAAF B-17 sent to bomb Warsaw in support for the Warsaw Uprising.  Josten’s most successful day was on 25APR45 when he downed nine Russian aircraft.  At the end of the war he was the Gruppenkommandeur of IV. Gruppe of JG 51.  Josten survived the war.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Obstlt Herbert Rollwage in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 of Obstlt Herbert Rollwage of 5./JG 53 in Sicily, Italy, July 1943.  Fine Molds kit.

Herbert Rollwage opened his account on the opening day of Operation Barbarossa.  By the time the Pik As Geschwader transferred to the Mediterranean Theater in December 1941 his score stood at 11.  He was shot down and wounded on 10JUL43 over Sicily.  He rejoined 5./JG 51 on Reich Defense duties in Austria in December 1943.  He survived the war.  Some sources credit him with 102 victories including 44 four-engined bombers, but other sources put his final score in the eighties.

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Das Vergessene As: Der Jagdflieger Gerhard Barkhorn Book Review

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Das Vergessene As: Der Jagdflieger Gerhard Barkhorn

(The Forgotten Ace: The Fighter Pilot Gerhard Barkhorn)

by Bernd Barbas, fifteen color profiles by Claes Sundin

Hardcover in dustjacket, 208 pages, heavily illustrated, maps, color profiles

Published by Luftfahrtverlag—Start January 2014

Languages: German and English

ISBN-13: 978-3-941437-22-7

Dimensions: 9.5 x 11.2 x 0.9 inches

With 301 credited victories, Gerhard Barkhorn is the second most successful fighter pilot in history, surpassed only by Erich Hartmann with 352 victories.  To think he has been “forgotten” is a bit of a stretch, but the point that the person who sets the record achieves higher fame and recognition than those who don’t is valid, even if their achievements are also noteworthy.

This book is impressive for several reasons.  It follows Barkhorn’s career from flight school, service in Jagdgeschwader 52, and eventually finishing the war flying the Me 262 as part of Galland’s JV 44.  Much of the information comes from Barkhorn’s own combat reports or those of his wingmen – at least for the first part.  After his 172nd victory on 08SEP43 subsequent records were lost and the narrative relies on other authoritative sources.  This results in less detail going forward but continuity is maintained.

Jagdgeschwader 52 was the most successful fighter group in history.  Barkhorn’s story reads like a who’s who of Luftwaffe Experten.  Many had over one hundred victories themselves and flew as wingmen to the likes of Barkhorn or Hartmann.  Several of these pilots better fit the description of “forgotten aces” as portions of their records or photographs of their aircraft do not survive today.

While Barkhorn’s story is fascinating, the major strength of this book is the photographs.  Many of these were taken by Barkhorn himself, and many are in color.  The publishers have gone to great pains to reproduce these photographs from the original negatives and present them in full-page landscape format on quality paper.  These are supplemented by black and white photographs from various other sources, most of which are sharp and equally well presented.  These provide the basis for Claes Sundin’s superb profiles, and often the reader is treated to both the profile and an original photograph of the subject aircraft in the same page spread.

This is a fascinating package, and one is left with a sense of wonder that the records and photographs survived the war and the chaos of post-war Germany.  The color photographs alone make this book invaluable to the Luftwaffe enthusiast, even more so when you realize the photographer in many cases was Barkhorn himself.  Sundin’s profiles are the icing on the cake.  This book is getting somewhat hard to find, but well worth the effort.  Highly recommended.

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