The world’s only original flying Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-5 ground attack “Butcher Bird” had alluded me for years. Yes I had seen this fine aircraft recovered from a Russian swamp and returned to flight numerous times on the ground but never in the sky. In 2012 the Flying Heritage Collection Luftwaffe Flying Day at Paine Field, Everett was beset with mechanical issues and the mighty Fw 190A-5 didn’t fly, then most recently at this years Famous Fighters Flying Day poor weather and a low cloud ceiling kept all the fighters including the Fw 190A-5 on the ground (safety must always come first).
So finally August 13th, 2016 and the Flying Heritage Collection Luftwaffe Flying Day came around and it was a beautiful sunny day, even better the Fw 190A-5 had no engine troubles or the like and took off into the great blue yonder. Finally my wish came true and what a beauty she is to see fly. Accompanied in flight by a real Battle of Britain 1940 veteran Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 Emil and a fellow Eastern Front compatriot in a 1943 Fieseler Fi 156 C-2 Storch liaison and observation aircraft, the day was ideal!
This Fw 190A-5 served on the Eastern Front near Leningrad with Jagdgeschwader 54 Grünherz (JG54 Green Heart – fighter wing 54) and crashed whilst attacking a Soviet supply train on July 9th, 1943. The pilot Feldwebel Paul Ratz became a prisoner of war but this aircraft sat deep in inaccessible marshlands, slowly being surrounded by a growing forest. It pretty much sat there untouched until rediscovered and recovered in the late 1980’s. Following a long restoration it was first returned to flight in 2010 with an original BMW 801 D-2 radial engine. The paint scheme is indicative of its Eastern Front livery as are the bright yellow flashes to indicate it was a friendly aircraft to German forces.
The Bf 109E-3 Emil was manufactured in Germany in October 1939. Operated in France with Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG.51) Mölders it was flown by Eduard Hemmerling (6/JG.51) who was credited with shooting down 2 RAF Spitfire fighters and a Blenheim bomber in July 1940 during the early stages of the Battle of Britain (the livery is as it would have appeared in JG.51 and tally markings are on the tail). During the engagement with one of the Spitfire’s on July 27th, 1940 west of Cap Blanc Nez, Hemmerling’s aircraft was damaged and he never made it back to France. Crashing off the coast, he died in the incident and the aircraft sat there for the next 48 years. It was rediscovered in 1988 by a man walking along the beach who noticed the wing tip sticking out of the sand! This lead to the recovery of the Bf 109E-3, it’s long restoration and finally a return to flight in 2003 with an original Daimler Benz DB 601Aa liquid-cooled, inverted V12 1159 hp inline engine.
The Fieseler Fi 156 C-2 Storch (Stork – when in flight, with its long slender fixed undercarriage you soon see why it was called Stork) was deployed by the Luftwaffe across all fronts during World War Two. Known for its slow speed (it can almost stop in the air) and its incredible short field landing and take-off capability, the type was famously used to rescue Italian dictator Mussolini from his mountain top imprisonment in 1943. Pilot Heinrich Gerlach landed his Storch on a rocky area on the mountain within 30 metres / 100 feet and even though very much overloaded with Mussolini and German commando leader Otto Skorzeny aboard, took off in 80 metres /250 feet!
The FHC Storch was manufactured in Germany in 1943 and deployed for use in occupied Europe and the Eastern Front. Somehow it survived the maelstrom of war and was found in a poor state in East Germany in the late 1980’s. Following an extensive restoration it was returned to flight and continues show off its slow speed handling today (the livery is as it would have appeared in the summer of 1943 including the bright yellow recognition flashes).
The German artifacts kept coming on the ground too. There was a Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (kind of like “troublemaker”) tank destroyer on the vehicle track. The Hetzer was designed using the base of the well proven Czechoslovakian Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) light tank and put into service in 1944 (over 2,800 were manufactured up to 1945). It was joined by a big Sonderkraftfahrzeug 8 (“special motorized vehicle 8”) or simply Sd.Kfz.8 heavy half track powered by a mighty V12 185hp Maybach engine. The Sd.Kfz.8 was a prime mover for heavy artillery and the like, used on all fronts by the German Army throughout World War Two.
Inside the FHC Museum was a special visitor on loan from the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in the form of a 1956 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabin Scooter. Yes post war the famous manufacturer was not allowed to make aircraft again until the mid 1950’s, so they made these little 2 seat, 3 wheeled commuter vehicles instead that were known as a “Kabinenroller” (hence the KR, which translates to Cabin Scooter). The KR200 was introduced in 1955 and had a top speed of 96.5 km/h / 60mph. By the time production stopped in 1964, some 16,000 KR200’s had been produced!
Joining the KR200, former Luftwaffe aircraft and German military vehicles were also numerous BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen cars from a local German vehicle motor club. They were all parked neatly outside the museum hangars and looked great in a big long row.
A fun day! All that was lacking was a cold stein of German beer and a bratwurst topped with some sauerkraut to make it complete!