Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Book Review

Focke-Wulf Ta 154: Luftwaffe Reich Defence Day and Night Interceptor

Series:  Luftwaffe Classics #31

By Dietmar Hermann

Hardcover in dustjacket, 224 pages, bibliography, appendices, and index

Published by Crecy Publishing, October 2021

Language: English

ISBN-13: 978-1-91080-994-5

Dimensions: 9.0 x 0.9 x 12.0 inches

The Focke-Wulf Ta 154 was a twin-engine Luftwaffe fighter design.  With over half of its airframe weight being made of wood it is often compared to the Royal Air Force’s de Havilland Mosquito, to the point it is generally referred to as the “Moskito”, a name which the author points out was never mentioned in Focke-Wulf or Luftwaffe documents.  While the prototypes were impressive performers, the design had little room for development due to the decision to keep size to a minimum, and performance suffered as equipment such as armament and radar were added to the airframe.

The prototype’s first flight was in July 1943, which was unfortunate timing.  As Allied bombing raids against the Reich intensified in strength, frequency, and effectiveness, the German aircraft industry was directed to concentrate on producing single-engined fighters to combat the Allied bomber streams.  An assessment of the Ta 154s’ strengths versus limitations resulted in only slightly more than a few dozen being completed and entering service before the program was terminated.

The book is a fascinating design study of the development of the Ta 154, using original factory drawings and documentation, as well as seemingly every photo of the aircraft ever taken.  These are reproduced in large format on glossy paper so every detail can be seen, a boon for modelers.  In some places the text suffers from translation from the original German, a reflection of the difficulty in technical aeronautical engineering terms.  Aviation enthusiasts should be able to discern the intended meaning, in others instances the errors should have been caught by the editorial team, such as the misspelling in the sub-title.

The Luftwaffe Classics series are well-researched, quality publications and this volume is no exception.  The high production standards, artwork, research, and reliance on primary sources ensure that these volumes represent the definitive works on their subjects.  If you have any interest in the subject aircraft, buy the book while it is still in print.  You will not be disappointed, and these volumes reliably go for stupid money on the collectors’ market after they go out of print.  Recommended.

Luftwaffe Rescue Buoys

During the Second World War the Luftwaffe deployed a series of rescue buoys or Rettungsboje along the Continental side of the English Channel. The buoys were intended to provide shelter for downed airmen until help could arrive.
There were several similar buoy designs employed in this effort. Luftwaffe aircrew called them Udet-Boje after Ernst Udet, who directed their development. The British nicknamed them “lobster pots” due to their box-like shape and bright yellow paint schemes.
This contemporary magazine illustration shows the internal layout. The buoys were provisioned with food, dry clothing, medical supplies, and various means of signaling the need for rescue. There were also basic creature comforts such as playing cards, radio, and board games to alleviate boredom. Supplies were to be immediately replenished by rescuers to ensure the buoys were always fully equipped and ready for the next use.
The buoys were not secured in the typical manner using multiple anchor points and chains, but were moored using a single anchor line so ditching aircrew would have a visual indication of winds at the surface and could ditch their aircraft in a favorable position for the crew to reach the buoy. Consequently the buoys would occasionally part their moorings and wind up washed ashore like this example.
Retrievals were often performed by dedicated rescue aircraft of the Seenotdienst, the Luftwaffe’s rescue service. Here is a Heinkel He 59 in a high-visibility rescue scheme. These aircraft were suspected by the British of performing reconnaissance in addition to their rescue duties, and the RAF was ordered to consider them legitimate targets.
Seeing the value in the concept, the British developed their own version which was deployed along the English side of the channel. With a more boat-like hull, perhaps seakeeping was marginally improved.
Many aircrews were saved by the buoys on both sides of the Channel. For their parts, aircrew in distress took their chance for survival and used what ever rescue buoy they could reach, only the identity of their rescuers determining whether they would be held as PoWs or returned to their units.

A short but very well-done video description here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b44TxTuLB0&ab_channel=MilitaryHistoryinaMinute

Hasegawa Focke-Wulf 190A-8 of Leutnant Rudi Linz in 1/72 Scale

One of the least known theaters of the airwar was the Arctic Front.  JG 5 was stationed there throughout the war, flying out of bases in Norway.  Rudi Linz was one of the more successful JG 5 Experten, claiming a total of 70 victories.

On 09FEB45 RAF Coastal Command launched a strike on German warships in Førde Fjord, Norway, including the destroyer Z33.  Linz led his Staffel to intercept the strike which consisted of more than 30 Beaufighters escorted by a dozen Mustangs.  In the ensuing action 9 Beaufighters and 1 Mustang were shot down, while the Germans lost 4 (some accounts say 5) Fw 190’s.  One of the pilots killed that day was Rudi Linz.

The model represents the Fw 190A-8 of Rudi Linz, Staffelkapitän of 12./JG 5 in Norway 1945.  Kit markings were used, but they should include a green heart on the port side along with the name “Gretel”.  Also it is unlikely that JG 5 aircraft carried the underwing rocket launchers.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Anton Hackl in 1/72 Scale

Anton Hackl flew throughout the war, his final tally was 192 confirmed victories.  He was one of the seeming rare Experten who was able to successfully transition from the East to the West, claiming 105 victories against the Soviets and another 93 against the Western Allies.  He claimed 34 four-engined bombers, making him the Jagdwaffe’s most successful pilot against the “heavies”.  He was himself shot down eight times and wounded four. The model depicts Anton Hackl’s Bf 109F-4 of 5. / JG77, flying from Oktoberfeld, Crimea, during JUN42. 

Hasegawa Focke-Wulf 190A-6 of Oberfeldwebel Fritz Tegtmeier in 1/72 Scale

Fritz Tegtmeier opened his account on the first day of Operation Barbarossa.  His score built up slowly, and he was sidelined for several months due to injuries sustained in a collision with a Bf 110.  Returning to duty in April 1942 he scored steadily until May 1943 when he was posted to instructor duty with 53 victories.  In September he returned to the front with 3./JG 54.  He was awarded the Knight’s Cross for 99 victories in March 1944, and was subsequently promoted to Leutnant and made Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 54.  He was undertaking conversion training on the Me 262 with JG 7 at the end of the war.  He was credited with 146 aerial victories.

This is the Fw 190A-6 of Fritz Tegtmeier of 3./JG 54, stationed at Wesenberg, Estonia, March 1944.

Tamiya Bf 109E-3 of Hauptman Adolf Galland in 1/72 Scale

Adolf Galland was posted as Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 26 “Schlageter” in June 1940, just prior to the beginning of the Battle of Britain.  He would hold this position until the end of August, when he was given command of the entire Geschwader.  While with III./JG 26 he increased his personal score to 22 and was awarded the Knight’s Cross.

The model depicts the Bf 109E-3 of Major Adolf Galland while Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 26 in June, 1940.

Warplanes of the Luftwaffe Book Review

Warplanes of the Luftwaffe: A Complete Guide to the Combat Aircraft of Hitler’s Luftwaffe from 1939 to 1945

Edited By David Donald

Hardcover in dustjacket, 254 pages, index

Published by AIRtime Publishing, January 1997

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎ 1-880588-10-2

Dimensions: ‎ 9.5 x 0.75 x 12.5 inches

The German Air Force operated a wide variety of aircraft types during the Second World War, Warplanes of the Luftwaffe documents the operational types.  Fans of “Luft 46”, experimental types, or “Napkinwaffe” should look elsewhere.  While I am not usually a fan of broad survey books, this one is an exception due to the high production values and subject matter.

The book is printed on glossy paper using a large format.  Each aircraft type is listed by manufacturer.  The text describes the developmental and service history, along with the variants and evolution of the design.  Well-captioned photographs, many in color, are included throughout.  This is supplemented by color profiles, large-format three-views, and cut-away drawings by John Weal.  To cover minor types such as the Heinkel He 51 this may take as little as half a page, while the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and Messerschmitt Bf 109 take fourteen pages each. 

AIRtime is the publisher of the World Airpower Journal and Wings of Fame series among other high-quality publications, editor David Donald brings all that expertise to bear on this work.  The artistic values are high throughout, with ample space given to the color profiles and cut-away drawings which gives the reader the ability to appreciate their quality.

This book is still in print, and is regularly available on the secondary market at a reduced price.  For the quality and quantity of information it is a bargain.  I return to my copy regularly; it is useful as a quick history and the artwork is an inspiration.  The cut-aways have often proven helpful in identifying the odd “thingy” or antenna commonly found protruding from combat aircraft.  In several cases the information in this book is more useful than that contained in a monograph devoted to a specific type – plus you get the rest of the Luftwaffe as a bonus.  If you have even a passing interest in Luftwaffe aircraft, this book should be in your library.

Hasegawa Focke-Wulf 190A-5 of Leutnant Albin Wolf in 1/72 Scale

One of the lesser-known Luftwaffe Experten, Albin Wolf was transferred to JG 54 Grünherz (Green Hearts) in May 1942, then fighting the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.  He did not score his first victory until August, when he downed an Il-2 Sturmovik.  After that he scored steadily, being awarded the Knight’s Cross for 117 victories on 22NOV43.  He was shot down and killed on 02APR44, his final score was 144.

The model depicts the Fw 190A-5 piloted by Albin Wolf of 3. /JG54 in Russia. The camo is a field-applied scheme of RLM 71 / 02 / 79 over 76.

Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 of Oberleutnant Hans Philipp in 1/72 Scale

Hans Philipp was credited with his first victory on the fifth day of WWII, a Polish PZL P.24 near Radomsko.  He continued to score during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross on 20OCT40 for 20 victories.  He then flew in the Balkan Campaign, where he added two Yugoslavian-flown Bf 109’s to his total.

JG 54 was re-equipped with the improved Bf 109F-2 for Operation Barbarossa.  Philipp continued to score steadily against the Soviets, who were overmatched in both equipment and in training.  In March 1942 he was presented with the Swords and had achieved his 100th victory, the fourth Luftwaffe pilot to do so.  A year later he had achieved 200 victories.

Philipp was transferred to the West to command JG 1 in April 1943 to combat the ever-growing streams of American heavy bombers.  Like many Luftwaffe fighter pilots, Philipp found the transition from fighting small groups of Soviet tactical aircraft to large formations of American heavy bombers and their escorts difficult.  On 08OCT43 he led his Geschwader against a formation of B-17 Flying Fortresses escorted by P-47 Thunderbolts.  His Fw 190A-6 was hit by defensive fire from a B-17, Philipp bailed out but was too low for his parachute to open and he was killed.  Some sources credit LCOL Robert Johnson, an ace with the 56th FG with downing him.  Philipp was credited with 206 victories.

The model depicts Philipp’s Bf 109F-2 of 6./JG 54 in Russia, July 1941. RLM 74 / 75 / 76 camo with 70 squiggles on the fuselage sides.

Hasegawa Focke-Wulf 190A-6 of Hauptman Joachim Brendel in 1/72 Scale

Joachim Brendel claimed his first victory a week after Operation Barbarossa began.  His score grew slowly as he was assigned a number of ground attack sorties, but was promoted to Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 51 in May 1943.  The Staffel was heavily committed to the Battle of Kursk, where Brendal was credited with five victories in one day on 12JUL43 bringing his score to 57.  Two weeks later he was shot down and wounded by anti-aircraft fire, but managed to make his way back to German lines.  He was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 51 in September 1944, and awarded the Oak Leaves in January.  Brendal survived the war with a total of 189 victories to his credit.

The model represents the Fw 190A-6 of Joachim Brendel of 1. / JG51 at Orel, Russia, December 1943. Camouflage is the standard RLM 74 / 75 / 76.