Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 Book Review

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Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2

By Chris Goss, profiles by Chris Davey

Series:  Osprey Combat Aircraft 129

Softcover, 96 pages, appendices, 30 color profiles, and index

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472829638

ISBN-13: 978-1472829634

Dimensions:  7.3 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches

State of the art when introduced in the mid-1930s, the Dornier Do 17 was fast approaching obsolescence at the beginning of the Second World War.  It was intended that the “Flying Pencil” would be able to out-run defending fighters, but such was the pace of aeronautical development that it was not considered fast even for a bomber by the start of the war.  Coupled with its poor range and limited bomb load it was destined to be replaced in short order, but along with the Heinkel He 111 the Dornier Do 17 made up the medium bomber arm of the Luftwaffe for the first year of the war.

The Do 17 served with the Condor Legion in Spain, and in the Battle of France.  In the Battle of Britain losses mounted and several units began transition training to the new Ju 88.  Surviving units fought in Greece and in Russia, but by 1942 front-line units had converted to the Ju 88 or the more powerful Do 217 development of the design.  Still, some Do 17s soldiered on in auxiliary roles through the end of the war.

This work tells the story of the units which flew the Do 17 in Luftwaffe service and in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.  Much of the text reads as a loss list, with dates, places, and crew names given for the aircraft involved.  Being a type with marginal performance figures, attrition was constant and the detailed listing of losses soon becomes repetitive.  The profiles offer little relief, as the vast majority are finished in the same standard Luftwaffe bomber camouflage scheme of 70 / 71 over 65, with a little variation provided by the Condor Legion schemes or those aircraft wearing black distemper for night raids.

Overall there are no surprises here for those familiar with Osprey’s Combat Aircraft series.  The format follows the familiar formula with photographs and color profiles.  The repetitive nature of the writing provides some useful information for amateur researchers, but tends to make recreational reading a slog.  Good for picking a specific Do 17 as a modeling subject.

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Heller Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg in 1/72 Scale

The Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg was a manned version of the V-1 missile, intended to be flown by the “Leonidas Squadron”, V. Gruppe of the Luftwaffe’s Kampfgeschwader 200.  Nominally the pilot was intended to parachute from the aircraft before impact, but chances of survival were slim, at best. Approximately 175 were produced although none were actually used in combat.

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Dragon Mistel 6 Composite in 1/72 Scale

Most aviation buffs are familiar with the Mistel composite aircraft used by Germany at the end of WWII.  These consisted of Bf 109s or Fw 190s mounted above unmanned Ju 88s, to which a large warhead was fitted.  The pilot in the fighter aimed the Ju 88, then detached while the bomber flew on autopilot to (hopefully) impact the target.

The Mistel composites’ low speed made them vulnerable to interception, so German designers proposed three variants based upon jet aircraft.  Mistel 4 utilized Me 262s for both the upper and lower components.  The Mistel 5 design used the He 162 as the piloted aircraft, with an Arado E 377 purpose-built payload which was also jet propelled using two BMW 003 engines.  The Mistel 6 was to utilize an Ar 234 C/E upper component, and an unpowered E 377 lower.

Dragon kits the Mistel 5, which contains an He 162, a powered E 377, and a take-off trolley.  They also make several versions of the Ar 234, which include the Ar 234 C/E with four jets.  Modeling a Mistel 6 is possible by combining the two kits.

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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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Eduard Bf 110G-4 of Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer in 1/72 Scale

Bf 110G-4 of Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, NJG4, Eggebek Germany, April 1945.  Eduard kit, ExtraTech decals, scratchbuilt FuG 218 Neptune radar.

Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer is the highest-scoring night fighter pilot with 121 victories, including 114 Royal Air Force four-engine bombers.  He was never shot down, although he was wounded once in the leg by defensive fire from an RAF Halifax.  His best night came on 21FEB45 when he claimed nine RAF bombers over two sorties, post-war analysis indicates he may have actually downed ten.  By the age of 22 Schnaufer was the Kommodore of NJG 4 and had been awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.  He survived the war but was killed in an automobile accident in France in 1950.  The tail fin of his last aircraft with his 121 victories is currently on display at the Imperial War Museum.

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Revell Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Hans Waldmann in 1/72 Scale

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Hans Waldmann, 3. / JG 7, Kaltenkirchen, Germany, March 1945.  Revell of Germany kit.

Hans Peter Waldmann scored the majority of his 134 victories flying the Bf 109 with JG 52 on the Eastern Front.  In early July 1944 Waldmann and the rest of 4./JG 52 had been transferred to the West in Defence of the Reich, flying with II./JG 3 over the Invasion front.  He flew Jabo missions along with fighter sweeps, adding seven American and RAF aircraft to his score.  In November II./JG 3 was retrained to fly the Me 262 and became I./JG 7.  Waldmann claimed two Mustangs on the Me 262.  On 18MAR45 JG 7 was ordered to intercept American bombers raiding Germany despite heavy cloud cover.  Waldmann collided with one of his wingmen in the clouds and was killed.

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Revell Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Walter Nowotny in 1/72 Scale

Walter Nowotny scored his first two victories on 19JUL41 against Soviet Polikarpov I-153s but was shot down by a third.  He subsequently spent three days in a raft in the Gulf of Riga until he washed ashore in Latvia.  Most of his subsequent victories came while flying the Fw 190 with JG 54.  He became the first Luftwaffe pilot to be credited with 250 victories, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.  Nowotny was given command of a unit tasked with developing tactics for the new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.  The type had been rushed into service and suffered from several “bugs”.   On 08NOV44 Nowotny claimed an American P-51 and B-24, but crashed in his Me 262, possibly due to an engine fire.  He was 23 at the time.

Nowotny had a superstition and insisted on wearing his lucky “victory pants” whenever he flew, the same pants he had worn after his first victories and three days afloat in the raft in the Gulf of Riga.  The only time he failed to wear them was on his last sortie when he was killed.

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Eduard Bf 110G-4 of Oberst Helmut Lent in 1/72 Scale

Bf 110G-4 of Oberst Helmut Lent, IV /NJG1, Leeuwarden Netherlands, Spring 1943.  Eduard kit, Aimes decals.  FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 array replaced with the turned brass aftermarket version from Master Model, the small FuG 218C antenna is scratchbuilt. Helmut Lent began the war flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110 with Zerstörergeschwader 76 in the heavy fighter role.  He participated in both the Polish and Norwegian Campaigns, during the latter he landed his damaged Bf 110 at Fornebu and negotiated the surrender of the Norwegian forces there.  He participated in the Battle of Britain and had achieved eight day victories before being trained as a night fighter pilot.  As a Nachtjagder he scored steadily, eventually reaching the total of 110 victories and being awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.  He was killed on 05OCT44 when his Junkers Ju 88 crashed while attempting to land at Paterborn after the runway was damaged by USAAF B-17s.

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Heller Bachem Ba 349 Natter in 1/72 Scale

The Bachem Ba 349 Natter was a single-use point defense interceptor.  It was a desperate attempt to defend Germany against Allied bomber streams.  The Natter was powered by a Walter HWK 109-509C-1 liquid rocket engine supplemented by four Schmidding SG 34 solid rockets for take-off.  The Natter was constructed of wood and was designed to be disposable.  Armament consisted of 33 R4M rockets in the nose.  It was to be launched vertically when Allied bombers were overhead, flying into the bomber formation and launching its rockets.  The pilot was then to glide clear, the aircraft separating and both the pilot and rocket engine were to return by parachute.

The first manned launch resulted in the death of the test pilot, Lothar Sieber.  Subsequent manned launches were successful.  Several Natter were produced.  Most were expended in testing, none were used operationally.

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Revell Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Johannes Steinhoff in 1/72 Scale

Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was one of the legends of the Luftwaffe, having flown throughout the entire war on every major front.  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 scored six of his victories while flying the Me 262 with JV 44, but two weeks before the end of the war his jet crashed during take-off, leaving Steinhoff with severe burns.  After the war he became a General in the West German Air Force.  He died in February 1994 at the age of 80.

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