Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) Color Photographs

The Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) were conceived as one of several types of landing craft intended to support the German invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion.  They were constructed by combining two large bridging pontoons with a cargo deck to form a catamaran arrangement.  Power was provided with either truck or aircraft engines located within the pontoons, and a small pilothouse was constructed in the center.  The ferry could carry any vehicle in the German inventory, including Tiger tanks.  The stability of the catamaran configuration was not lost upon the Luftwaffe, who converted several into flak barges after the cancellation of Sea Lion.

Here is a beautiful series of color photographs taken by Carl Rosenquist on 13AUG42.  The occasion was a review of several Siebel Ferries on Lake Ladoga by German and Finnish officers.  Photographs are held by SA-Kuva, the Finish National Archives.

Reviewing officers in place on the fo’c’sle of a small gunboat, the second officer from the left is a Finn. Behind them is a 20 mm flak gun.
Further aft other members of the crew are seen around the pilothouse as a signalman communicates via semaphore. MG 34s are ready with mounts on either side.
The Luftwaffe employed two basic versions, the SF40 Leichte (light) and SF40 Schwere (heavy). This is the light version, armed with four 2cm/65 Flakvierling 38, one at each corner, and a 3.7 cm Flak-Lafette C/36 atop the pilothouse.
The armament of the heavy version was even more impressive, up to four 8.8 cm Flak 36 and two 2 cm/65 C38. Here an SF40 plows by the reviewing boat giving a good view of the pontoon’s construction.
Here is another heavy SF40 with her crew manning the rail. When configured as flak barges they carried a compliment of 40 to 50 men. The Luftwaffe was responsible for anti-aircraft defense in the German military and provided the crew. This one is still in her winter camouflage.
The same barge seen from astern. There was variation in the configuration and armament of these ferries, this one only carries three 8.8 cm guns. Close inspection reveals none of these vessels are exactly alike.
Another ferry passes the reviewing boat with her crew at the rail. This view shows details of the armored gun mount construction. Note the starboard 2 cm mount is missing two of its barrels.
A stern view which reveals details of the engine room access and exhausts. The gun mounts on this ferry each have their own rangefinder. The nearest mount is also missing two of its barrels.
Another ferry approaches with her crew at the rails. The pontoon hulls were originally designed to be bridging units, and while rugged and easy to construct, they were not very hydrodynamic as evidenced by the excessive bow spray.
A view as the flotilla passes by. The Siebels were designed from the outset to be transported by road or rail, and could be disassembled to be hauled overland if needed.
Another Siebel seen in the Black Sea in July 1941. This one is armed with two 8.8 cm guns on the bows and two 2 cm amidships and has a different superstructure configuration. (Bundesarchiv)
Generalleutnant Kurt Steudemann, Inspector der Flakartillerie, talks to Luftwaffe crewmen manning the rangefinder of a SF40 Schwere. The heavy Siebels mounted a rangefinder for the 8.8 cm guns atop the pilothouse. (Bundesarchiv)

Fighters of the Iron Cross Book Review

Fighters of the Iron Cross: Men and Machines of the Jagdwaffe

Written by Jerry Crandall, Illustrated by James Bently and Thomas A. Tullis

Hardcover in dustjacket, 360 pages, bibliography, and index

Published by Eagle Editions Ltd, 2021

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0-9761034-7-8

ISBN-13: 978-0-9761034-7-9

Dimensions: 9.3 x 12.3 x1.2 inches

Jerry Crandal is well known to scale modelers and aviation enthusiasts as the publisher of Eagle Editions books and EagleCals decals.  This book contains much material which will be familiar to anyone who has purchased his Jagdwaffe decals, as the pilots profiled here also flew many of the subject aircraft.  This is no coincidence, as the author has fostered personal relationships with many Jagdwaffe pilots over the years.  He has conducted extensive interviews and preserved documents and photographs, several of which have not been published previously.

This is collection of the stories of twelve Luftwaffe pilots, much of them told in their own words.  Included in each are copies or transcripts of original documents, along with several photographs from the personal collections of the Experten.  These are reproduced clearly on glossy paper, making them especially valuable for modelers.  The real prizes of this work are the full-color aircraft side profiles which accompany each chapter and the detailed notes which explain them.

The binding is in a large format, and is well-printed on glossy paper.  The layout and quality of the artwork will be familiar to anyone who has purchased Crandall’s previous publications.  While not cheap, this is a substantial book and a top-quality work all around, so you get what you pay for.  If you are a Jagdwaffe enthusiast you will be delighted by this book, highly recommended.

Pilots profiled:

Hauptmann Karl Leonhard

Major Diethelm von Eichel-Streiber

Feldwebel Horst Petzschler

Oberleutnant Manfred Dieterle

Leutnant Herbert Schlüter

Leutnant Karl Albert Helm

Major Rolf-Günther Hermichen

Oberleutnant Gerhard Thyben

Leutnant Elias Paul Kühlein

Feldwebel Hans Langer

Feldwebel Oskar Bösch

Leutnant Willi Unger

Major Wilhelm Moritz

Major Georg-Peder Eder

Regrettably, Jerry Crandall passed away on 12JUN22.

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.