III./JG54, Black Friday, 29 Dec 1944...

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by lesofprimus, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    #1 lesofprimus, Sep 29, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2009
    Alright guys, trying to get as much info as I can concerning this dreadful day so I can re-create it in my IL2 Music Video format... I have the Green Hearts Dora 9 book by Axel Urbanke as my main ref and it goes into some great detail, atleast on the German side of things....

    I havent been too successful getting some of the details sorted out, and I want this vid to be the best Tribute to this horrendous day....

    I called Erich yesterday on the phone and talked alittle bit about it, but some details are still lost.... Heres what I got so far, a brief summary for those who dont know about one of the worst days of the Luftwaffe.... The main gimmick with this day was the loss of Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Robert "Basi" Weiss...

    If anyone can give some assistance with some of the details missing, the aviation community and myself in particular would be eternally grateful....

    29 December, 1944... Taking off from Varrelbusch at 10:15am, the Stabsschwarm led by Hptm Weiss and 11. staffel under Hptm Bottlander (20 aircraft) are directed to 2,000 meters flying South to intercept fighter bombers in the Munster-Rheine area...

    At 10:45, enemy aircraft are sighted below them and Weiss calls the bounce... They had run into the midst of a large formation of 20+ Typhoons of 439 Sqd RCAF and 168 Sqd RAF busting up some trains... Very soon, the German formation was broken up by the superior forces of the 2nd TAF..

    All over the Vreden/Bentheim/Coesfeld triangle pairs and fours of German fighters were engaged with the Typhoons... First to fall was Yellow 10 of Fw Kreisel of 11. Staffel, shortly followed by 2 members of the Stabsschwarm, Black 3 of Oblt Bellaire and Black 4 of Uffz Rupp... All 3 went down with their machines....

    After the initial bounce, Fw Ungar of 11. Staffel got on the tail of a Tiffy over the train tracks and a disabled train, and with alot of deflection shot it down at about 500 meters, crashing with the pilot, either F/L Gibbon (JR 323) or F/O Plant (MN 639), both from 168 Sq (both were listed as lost)... Another successful German pilot, Uffz Rey of 11. Staffel also shot down one of the Typhoons, most likely that of W/O Church from 438 Sq RCAF...

    During the same engagement, Spitfires joined the fray... Ofw Philipp of 11. Staffel and Knight Cross recipient with 80 victories, flying Yellow 6, managed to knock down one of the attacking Spitfires before himself being shot down, taking to his parachute near Nordham... The chute "bunned" up, and upon hitting the ground received so many fractures he never returned to combat...

    Getting back to Fw Ungar, after knocking down the Typhoon, he spotted 2 D-9s at low level headed North at about 10:50am... Leading the Rotte was Hptm Weiss flying Black 10 with Fw Neersen flying Black 2, the last 2 surviving members of the Stab... Joined by a 4th D-9, that of Oblt Schreiner from 11. Staffel flying Yellow 9, they flew towards the town of Lengerich...

    They were then spotted by 10 Spitfires of 331 Norwegian Sq, led by Major Martin, flying at 2000 meters, who had just strafed 2 trains in the Osnabruck area...

    Fw Ungar saw 3 aircraft approaching from behind, and at about 200 meters they broke to his right... He immediately identified them as Spitfires... Hptm Weiss, Fw Neersen and Oblt Schreiner pulled around to the right while Ungar flew straight ahead for fear of flying into the guns of the Spits.... He was chased briefly but escaped...

    The same cannot be said for the remaining 3....

    Oblt Schreiner was the first to fall, wrapped in flames he did not escape, the first victory for F/Sgt Haanes.... The remaining 2 Dora-9's turned into the attackers and joined combat.... Shortly thereafter, Fw Neersen crashed to his death, attempting to crash land his shot up Dora, shot down by 2/Lt Stousland... In the ensuing dogfight at low level, hopelessly outnumbered, Hauptmann Weiss was able to blow the entire tail section off of Capt Readers' Spitfire, coded PT 704, who failed to escape his spinning crate...

    Almost immediately tho, Hptm Weiss' Dora-9 was hit by F/Sgt Haanes and upon entering a steep dive, narrowly missed a farmhouse where Frau Schulte-Uhlenberg stood frozen with fear watching the German plane bearing directly at her.... Weiss was able to pull up before hitting the house and crashed into the woods 400 meters from the farm.... Chalk up victory #2 for Haanes...

    Thus ended the life of Hauptmann Robert "Basi" Weiss, holder of the Knights Cross with 121 victories... He was not credited with the victory over Capt Reader, as there was no one left alive to confirm this...

    This is the part of Black Sunday that I want to re-create.... For the loss of 7 planes and 6 pilots, the members of the Stab and 11. Staffel claimed 4 aircraft destroyed, of which 3 can be confirmed through British sources....

    The day gets worse however for III./JG54, as shortly thereafter, at around 12:00pm, 12. Staffel under Oblt Hans Dortenmann took off with 12 aircraft into the same area with the same orders to engage low flying fighter bombers.... He had however heard what was going on in the area and that enemy fighters were all over the place up to 5,000 meters...

    He decided he would ignore his orders and fly his Staffel into the area at 5,500 meters to avoid the inevitable bounce by the RAF.... At 12:45 he sighted 10-15 Spitfire MkIXb's of 401 Sq RAF below in the area of Munster... Dortenmann got the first at 12:50 and 2 were credited to Fw Steinkamp.... The Brits however only lost 1 Spitfire according to their records....

    12. Staffel did not escpae without loss however, as Uffz Zessin flying Red 12 who bailed out and Uffz Seibert in Red 7 who crashed to his death could not escape...

    At around 1:00pm, 9. Staffel of JG54, led by Oblt Heilmann, took off with the same orders as the previous units... Knowing that Oblt Dortenmann had refused his orders and now facing a court martial, he led his unit into the area at the prescibed atitude of 2,000 meters South towards the Mittelland Canal...

    After reaching the target area they began circling over the target area, and at 1:30 were bounced out of the sun by Spitfires of 411 Sq RCAF....

    It was a brutal mistake...

    In rapid succession, Uffz Fernau in White 7 died, then Uffz Toepler in White 1... Lt. Prager was able to knock one of the Spitfires down east of Messingen, the only victory for 9. Staffel.... Then, three more Dora-9's went down with their pilots, Uffz Reichardt flying White 11, Uffz Buch flying White 4 and Lt. Bartak flying White 8...

    Upon nearing Rheine airfield, Fhr Schmauser, the youngest member of of 9. Staffel at 20 years old, was shot down and killed by F/Lt Cook of 411 Sq at a height of 4,000 meters....

    Oblt Heilmanns D-9 also suffered heavy battle damage and belly landed near Munster-Handorf... The loss of 6 pilots and 7 planes meant that almost half of those that took off were killed....

    III./JG54's total casualties for the day totaled 13 killed 2 wounded and 15 planes lost.... In the Munster district alone, 29 trains had been shot up, causing 9 killed and 66 wounded... In 2 days of fighting, III./JG54 had lost 20 pilots killed or wounded, a third of its flying personnel...

    Black Friday goes down as one of the worst days for the Luftwaffe fighter arm....
     
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    #2 Erich, Sep 29, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2009
    Dan good run down on the events for the Dora crates of III./JG 54. the outfit was still too fledgling with tasks ordered of it it was not ready for due to in-experience flying the FW.

    say do want anything else on the day's activities ?

    2600 ops flown by the Allies and only 130 by the LW. JG 6, 27 and 54 lost 17 KIA and 3 missing losing 26 aircraft.

    A. Urbanke and J. Manhro will cover all of JG 6 in a future volume which will be a must have

    ......... 2nd TAF claimed 31 LW craft while losing 11 of their own.
     
  3. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    I was wondering about the Spitfire types. The 'MkIXb' of 401Sqn RAF I presume were either FB MkIXc or LF MkVb but what about others. Mostly MkIXc and LF Vb or some Griffons in there with the Canadians maybe?
     
  4. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Im pretty sure there was no snow on the ground for Dec 29th, as pics from the 28th or 29th show no snow on the ground at Varrelbusch...

    Also trying to figure out which crate, Yellow ?, Fw Ungar was flying, cant find anything out about that....

    Also, like Vanir pointed out, not sure what type of Spits 331 Sq was flying...

    Lookin for confirmation on what the codes were for the Typhoons of 168 and 438 Sq were.... Why are there 2 completely different code sets for the two lost from 168 Sq???

    I know that the Spits of 331 Sq Norwegian were coded FN but have no idea what the rest of Haanes or Stouslands codes were....

    Help............
     
  5. 109ROAMING

    109ROAMING Active Member

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    Great info Dan/Erich , wish I could help a little . Barely knew much about these events til I read Dan's post though

    Sounds like some interesting modelling subjects

    Hopefully this thread turns up some good info
     
  6. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Most of the info is covered Daniel, theres a few gaps here and there that may never be figured out....

    I cant even find a single combat report of the RAF side for this engagement.... Very frustrating....
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    This might help a bit Dan.
    The Typhoons of 168 Squadron were coded QC
    Those of 438 Sqn, RCAF, were coded F3
    The Sitfires of 331 (Norwegian) Squadron, RAF, were LFIXc, with clipped wings, coded FN
    Note: It was common for the MkIX Spit to be refered to, in the RAF, as a 'MkIXb', even though it would be a 'C' wing, or even the 'E' wing. This has caused, and will no doubt continue to cause confusion and frustration to reserachers using material written or sourced from veteran Spit pilots!
     
  8. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    And I was just about to close out IE and jump in bed with my wife, and u post up these delicious tid bits Terry...

    Frickin Awesome Brother.............
     
  9. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    BTW, I actually have dual threads goin for this subject, one here and one in the IL2 Sturmovik Section, where Ill be getting GrauGeists help and input for the details and skins that make these vids the best of the best out there....
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Don't know if it'll help, but I've probably got B&W pics of the aircraft from all three of the RAF/RCAF squadrons mentioned.
    The Spits from 331 Sqn had the Norwegian national colours, in the form of rings, on their spinners.
     
  11. 109ROAMING

    109ROAMING Active Member

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    Hell yeah Terry , Great stuff mate

    I'd appreciate any photos , as they'd sound serve as a good base for a modelling project . Proberly do 1 or 2 RAF birds from the conflict
     
  12. 109ROAMING

    109ROAMING Active Member

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    looking forward to that , downloaded the NF Spitfire one today ( left the computer for it to download ) watched it just before

    top stuff mate 8) as always loved the b/w footage , the 109Fs aswell are screaming to be modelled
     
  13. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

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    #13 paradoxguy, Sep 30, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2009
    Les-

    The book is not accessible to me at this time, but I recall that Don Caldwell, in his JG 26 War Diary, Vol 2: 1943-1945 and JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe, states that Oblt Heilmann's fateful mission occurred before both the tragic mission of Hauptmann Weiss and Oblt Dortenmann, and that it was the fates of the Heilmann and Weiss mission, plus radio transmissions of the combats, that led Dortenmann to disobey orders and lead his unit far above the low-level Allied fighter-bombers to avoid being bounced by Allied fighters. Caldwell also writes that Weiss tried to interview the few returning pilots of Heilmann's flight, but due to their shell-shock, was not able to obtain useful information about the combat situation. In short, Caldwell indicates the chronological order of the three missions were Heilmann, Weiss, and Dortenmann.

    I just wanted to point out the information as I recall it from Caldwell's writings. Since I don't have Urbanke's Green Hearts book, I could easily be wrong about the chronological order of the three flights, and I apologize if I am. I eagerly look forward to your upcoming IL-2 video of this fateful day and humbly suggest its import and substance are such that it might warrant more than being a music video.

    Thanks,
    PG
     
  14. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    man do I feel like a dumb A

    I own a copy of Shores/Thomas volume 2 of the 2nd TAC July 44 to January 45.

    there will be docs or at least a listing of whom shot down what.........

    give me some time the air op is four pages long with some small pics and a kills listing, probably losses as well.
     
  15. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Im pretty sure Heilmann had a belly landing at the last mission before being transferred, but he definatly didnt die before Weiss did, atleast according to Axel's research....

    ... Lemme find that Dora book.....
     
  16. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Got me very curious E...
     
  17. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Active Member

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    Hiya - Here's the combat reports for 331 Squadron for 29 December 1944:

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  18. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Mike
    Once again a very interesting posting. Can I ask where would be best place to look for the combat reports iro the Typhoons. I say this as at first glance they did pretty well in an aircraft not known for its dogfighting ability, flown by crews trained for GA not dogfighting and being on the receiving end of the initial bounce.
    If you could point me in the right direction it would be appreciated.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dan - when you said "one of the worst days for the Luftwaffe fighter arm" didn't you mean for III./JG54 specifically?
     
  20. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Excellent Mike, THANKS for the reports... Alot of info to digest here......

    Haanes report is almost unreadable, but I can figure it out.... Its a hellovalot better than what Ive been able to find so far, and his report is pretty damn important to the scheme of things...

    Thanks again Mike...

    Interesting is that he says the first and second aircraft destroyed both turned to PORT rather than starboard...

    F/Sgt Haanes report pieces:

    They were flying on deck level going North... Red 3, 2/Lt Stousland broke down on them immediatly and I followed.. On the way down I passed Red 3 and got on the tail of the Fw 190 in the rear.. He broke to PORT about 200 yards ahead of me... As he broke I fired a short burst and hit him in the port wing... Pieces came off and he crashed on the ground and exploded...

    I followed 2/Lt Stousland who was chasing an Fw 190... I saw him hit the Hun in the hood and the 190 crashed a few seconds later...

    I followed up the chase and got about 300 yards behind another Fw 190.... He broke to PORT and I followed round... After about 270 degrees turn he climbed to about 600 feet... I got in a long burst and hit him in the wingroot and around the cockpit... He turned his aircraft on its back and bailed out... The aircraft crashed and exploded on the ground...

    A few seconds later one of our aircraft came diving down and overshot the Fw 190... One of the Huns fiired a shot burst and hit the Spitfire in the tail which came off... He spun into the gorund immediatly.. The pilot was probably Capt Reader...

    He says Weiss bailed out rather than stay in the plane and crash in the woods.... We know Weiss didnt jump for they found his body near the wreckage...

    Also, the fact is that the 2nd guy he shot down (Weiss) was the guy who shot off Readers tail section....

    I read all the reports and it really gives this the realism we need.... Do we have any reports from the Typhoons from 168 Sq Mike???

    I can make this work pretty damn good....
     
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