Aviation Historian 18
R.Forsyth - Defending the Reich (2)
Three of the 127 Boeing B-17Gs of the 614th Bombardment Squadron, 401st Bombardment Group, sent from Deenethorpe to bomb oil refineries at Molbis, near Leipzig, on March 17, 1945. Nearest the camera is serial 42-102468, coded IW-S, which completed some 106 missions over Europe. Erprobungskommando 25 was established specifically to find effective ways of disrupting such formations and destroying the USAAF’s devastating bombing capability.
With bomb doors open in preparation for their arrival over Koblenz, the target of the day, B-17Gs of the 401st BG maintain a tight bombing pattern. The distinctive white “Mickey” radar housing that replaced the ball-turret on “pathfinder” B-17s to accommodate the American H2X radar system is just visible on the nearest B-17, serial 44-8153 of the 612th BS.
A perfect target for a Luftwaffe fighter armed with Nitropentaschnur, tested by E.Kdo 25 during the summer of 1944. The concept was to attack the bomber Pulk from the front and above, and drop lengths of hooked explosive cord into it; the cords would be slowed by parachutes and explode after attaching to the bombers with their clawed anchors.
These two gun-camera stills from an Fw 190 capture the outer starboard engine of a USAAF B-17 exploding during a frontal attack. By 1943 E.Kdo 25 was investigating and testing the use of various types of cable bomb and detonating cord for deployment against the “Viermots”. It was hoped that such items would cause havoc among enemy bomber formations.
Steel cable tangled around the nose of a Consolidated B-24 of the 44th Bombardment Group on its return to its base at RAF Shipdham in Norfolk from a raid on Emden on December 11, 1943. The cable was probably dropped from an aircraft belonging to E.Kdo. 25. The bombardier and navigator aboard the Liberator were injured but the aircraft was still flyable.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-5 WNr 181729, “White 42”, as operated by E.Kdo 25 at Achmer, near Osnabruck, in the early summer of 1943. Note the W.Gr.21 mortar tube attached to the underside of the wing, as covered in the first part of this series. The camouflage finish is RLM 74 Graugrun and RLM 75 Grauviolett over RLM 76 Lichtblau, with a black flash with thin white edging applied over the exhaust area.
Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, commander of the Luftwaffe, inspects a line-up of Messerschmitt Me 410s of E.Kdo 25 at Achmer in November 1943. The aircraft nearest the camera is fitted with a 37mm Flak 18 cannon, which the unit was then evaluating as a potential weapon against daylight bomber formations.