Luftwaffe armourers load 250kg (550 lb) SC 250 bombs into the bomb bay of a Heinkel He 111. On each side of the bomber’s central gangway there were four bomb stowage cells in which, unusually, the bombs were stored vertically with their noses facing upwards. On release they would tumble and self-right to drop nose-first on to their targets.
Heinkel He 111 1H+CP of 6./KG 26, with the Geschwader’s distinctive lion badge on the fuselage, is prepared for a bombing sortie during the early days of the “Blitzkrieg” into Poland. After the inauspicious start related by the author, the unit went on to play a major part in the Battle of Britain and served in every European theatre of war until its surrender in Norway in May 1945.
A bad day at the office - the aftermath of the events at Gabbert on the German-Polish border on the afternoon of September 4, 1939. In the foreground are the remains of the tail of one of the KG 26 He 111s and debris is strewn over a large area, including on and around boxes still full of ordnance.
Other aircraft in the vicinity of 1H+LN when it exploded suffered extensive damage, including this He 111 some distance from the explosion. The wrecked bombers were all dismantled and the unit was out of action for several days, at a time when they were much needed for operations.
A pall of thick black smoke rises from Gabbert airfield in the wake of the explosion on the afternoon of September 4. Some eight bombers were destroyed and 5./KG 26 could not return to action until September 9.
One of the bombers’ Junkers Jumo 211 engines destroyed in the explosion awaits the clearing-up operation. Note the ordnance boxes in the background.
After all fires were put out, the big clean-up began. In the foreground is the remains of the tail of one of the bombers. Behind it is He 111 1H+DN, which has special antenna equipment fitted on the top of the fuselage for direction-finding.