Aviation Historian 20
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C.Goss - Last days of the Condor
Bristol Beaufighter VI KV912 was one of more than 100 radar-equipped examples supplied to the USAAF for nightfighting duties in the European theatre of operations. It was one of these machines, operating with the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, that dispatched Fw 200D-2 D-AMHL, named Pommern, on September 27, 1944.
Originally designed as a long-range airliner, the Fw 200 prototype made its first flight on July 27, 1937, pre-production examples of the type demonstrating its remarkable range capabilities with a series of record-setting long-distance flights. This Fw 200C-4 military variant is seen at Vasrnes, Norway, in 1942.
Oberleutnant Karl-Heinz Stahnke (third from right) and his crew at Veernes in April 1944. Stahnke joined 3./KG 40 in the spring of 1943 and went on to become one of the most experienced Fw 200 pilots of the war, participating in numerous Condor operations, including perilous resupply flights to weather stations in the Arctic.
Photographed at Torslanda, near Gothenburg in Sweden, by British aviation journalist John Stroud during a Scandinavian tour in the summer of 1946, Fw 200C-3/U1 WNr 0191, F8+MS (later G6+ST), has had its German markings painted over. Despite being in what appears to be remarkably good condition, it was scrapped in 1948.
Бомбардировщик FW 200C-5 (борт F8+NT, изначально TA+MP)
The unit that used the Condor more than any other, KG 40 was formed at Bordeaux-Merignac in July 1940, operating as part of Fliegerfiihrer Atlantik (Atlantic Command). This Fw 200C-6, WNr 0214 of 9./KG 40, is coded F8+NT; F8 was KG 40’s identification code, T represented 9 Staffel and the N was the aircraft’s individual code.
In an attempt to increase the Condor’s waning offensive capability, the type was modified to carry a single Henschel HS 293 guided bomb beneath each of the outer engine nacelles. This Fw 200C-8, WNr 0256, has been converted into a Fw 200C-5/FK for Hs 293 operations. The Hohentwiel antenna array on the nose is clearly visible, as is the cabin heating system air inlet on the underside of the aircraft’s large offset-to-starboard ventral gondola.
The Condor was regularly beefed-up during its service career; early Fw 200As, Bs and Cs were powered by 850 h.p. BMW 132 engines, replaced from the Fw 200C-3 onwards with 1,000 h.p. Bramo 323R Fafnirs.
Condor F8+UL of 3./KG 40 banks over a typically Norwegian landscape in 1944. While the type enjoyed a period of great success in the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic, when British convoys sailed with little or no air defence, by the end of 1942 the Fw 200 had lost its advantage as an effective anti-shipping weapon owing to vast improvements in Allied shipping defence.
Peekaboo! In this dramatic still from gun-camera footage taken by one of the Beaufighters of No 252 Sqn during the raid on Calato airfield on Rhodes on March 31, 1945, Karl-Heinz Stahnke’s Condor is visible between the trees rather primitively camouflaged with a few tarpaulins and some tree branches. Amazingly, the Beaufighter pilots failed to see the Condor, which was coded G6+AY of 14./Transportgeschwader 4.
The Condor could bite back if attacked, its defensive armament comprising one 7-9mm MG 15 machine-gun in the forward dorsal turret, one 13mm MG 131 in the rear dorsal turret, one 13mm MG 131 in each of the beam hatches (as seen here), one 20mm MG 151/20 cannon in the forward ventral position and one 7-9mm MG 15 in the aft ventral position.
Mosquito XIX MM654 only ever operated with No 157 Sqn, and is seen here bearing the unit’s RS code, in this case RS-N. On February 12, 1944, when three of its Mosquitoes attacked a formation of III./KG 40 Fw 200s over the Bay of Biscay, No 157 Sqn was operating on long- sorties from Predannack in Cornwall.