Luftwaffe Bombers in the Blitz
Luftwaffe Bombers in the Blitz comprises some 140 images of German bomber aircraft during the Blitz of 1940-1941. The images cover the entirety of the Blitz and also depict losses across Britain during this period. Each picture tells its own story, fully captioned with historical detail. Each section has a short introduction and the images include those of shot down aircraft, including relatively intact machines, badly damaged/destroyed wreckages, photographs of pilots and other related illustrations. All images are from the author’s unique collection of wartime photographs of Luftwaffe losses, collected from a variety of sources across some thirty-five years of research.
Although the massed daylight raids were drawn down, there continued to be sporadic activity during daylight hours by the Luftwaffe bomber force.This was generally un-escorted, mostly conducted by singleton aircraft or very small groups, and often of little value militarily. Although this aircraft, a Junkers 88 of Stab 1./KG 77, was a lone raider shot down on Thursday, 3 October 1940 its attack had an unintended although successful outcome for the Luftwaffe.
Trying to find Reading, the crew became lost in poor visibility and accidentally stumbled upon the de Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield. Here, the crew executed an accurate attack that killed twenty-one factory workers, injured another seventy, and destroyed eighty per cent of the materials and work in progress for the new Mosquito bomber.
It was a significant blow to an important military aircraft project.The airfield defences were alert, though, and put up a barrage of machine gun and 40mm Bofors gun fire which hit and crippled the junkers 88. The bomber crash-landed in flames at Eastend Green Farm, Hertingfordbury, where the crew scrambled clear and were captured unharmed before the fire took hold.
After another overnight raid, this was the scene in Leicester Square on the morning of 17 October 1940. Even the skills of the Automobile Association, whose HQ stand behind the wrecked vehicles, would have been hard-pressed to get any of these back in running order! Truly, London had burned day after day and night after night. But it had not been without cost to the Luftwaffe bombers.
Apart from anti-aircraft guns and night fighters another form of defence sometimes claimed its victims: barrage balloons. During the day, the balloons could often be seen by pilots, and they would be forced to fly higher, above them, to avoid their lethal cables.
At night, the balloons were mostly invisible and this was the aftermath when a Heinkel III of I./KG 26 flew into a balloon cable over Essex during the early hours of 20 November l940.The aircraft broke apart and fell onto Beckton Marshes at Jenkins Lane killing all five men on board.
It was also on that same night that another form of defence, slightly more ‘high-tec’ than balloon cables, came into play:Airborne Interception Radar.
An AI equipped RAF Beaufighter of 604 Squadron, piloted by Flt Lt john Cunningham, locked onto a target that night and brought it down at East Wittering in West Sussex.Two of the crew of the 3./KG 54 junkers 88 baled out safely; a third man landed on his parachute in the sea and drowned; the fourth was found dead in the wreckage, which buried itself deeply in the ground on impact leaving little for RAF investigators to examine.
To hide the existence of Al radar, Flt Lt Cunningham was described by the news media as having exceptional night vision.They dubbed him Cat’s Eyes and he became a very successful night fighter pilot of the Blitz.
Reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, for any copyright enquiries please contact Pen and Sword Books direct.