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Old 17th December 2014, 21:46
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

When it comes to the combat losses of Bf 109 in Spanish Civil War, they have in some cases stirred up very lively discussion. The Bf 109 was the great star of the air combats of SCW - but maybe for being the icon of later WW2 than due to its actual contribution in SCW. I´m inclined to think that the Fiat CR 32 was after all the true workhorse of Nationalist side and made actually more job in the gaining the air superiority for Franco´s side.

But Bf 109 was technically the most advanced plane in SCW and "Messers" were piloted by skilled men who without doubt were succesfull. It was very difficult for Republican pilots to achieve real "Bf 109 kills"! It would be interesting to know who truly were the very selected members of the "Bf 109 kill" club.

Here all the recorded/claimed Bf 109 losses - based on my notes on the books of Laureau, Forsyth, Permuy Lopez and Maslov + on some more or less reliable web sources:

12.7.1937: Bf 109 "6-13" (Braunschweiger) shot down by I-16 - was this the very first Bf 109 shot down in air combat? This did pop up from one web discussion but I have not seen this discussed elsewhere.
13.7.1937 Brunete: "6-4" (Höness) shot down by I-16 (Tinker or Soviet pilot Burtym?) - most sources consider this as the first air combat in which Bf 109 was shot down. Tinkers claim has been put in doubt in some web forum discussions, so the Soviet claim might be more legitimate. IIRC, this had something to do with the date and location of Tinker claim. However, the date and location errors are not so uncommon - remembering them wrong or writing wrong date in diary/combat report has occurred more than once.
17.7.1937 Escalona: Bf 109 "6-9"? (Handrick?) shot down by I-16 - it is strange that this is not mentioned as a air combat incident in Laureau´s book Condor - if Handrick was really shot down, it should be included in a standard work on Legion Condor! Tinker claimed one Bf 109 on 17.7.1937 - but could that rather be the "6-14" (Haarbach) below?
18.7.1937 near Escalona: Bf 109 "6-14" (Haarbach) shot down by I-16
5.11.1937 Teruel: Bf 109 (Sigmund) shot down by I-16
30.11.1937 Teruel: Bf 109 "6-15" (Polenz), force-landed behind enemy lines and captured.
23.12.1937 Teruel: Bf 109 (Kurz) shot down by enemy fighter or flak
7.2.1938 Teruel: Bf 109 "6-1"? (Balthasar) shot down by the return fire of enemy SB (maybe he became too overconfident after having shot down some enemy bombers) - also J.M. Bravo made a claim on Bf 109 on that day, but was he around?
11.3.1938 Caspe/Sastago: Bf 109 (Graf zu Dohna) shot down by I-16 (J. Bosch Llul)
20.4.1938 Sagunto: Bf 109 (pilot?) shot down by I-16
11.5.1938 Sra Espadán: Bf 109 (pilot?) shot down by I-16 (Tarazona)
14.6.1938 Mijares: Bf 109 (Henz) shot down by I-16 - E. Claudín Moncada and F. Tarazona Torán of Mosca Grupo 21 claimed a shared Bf 109
14.6.1938 Villafames: Bf 109 "6-33" (Priebe) shot down by I-15
14.7.1938 Teruel: Bf 109 (pilot?) destroyed by mid-air collision with I-15 (Redondo)
3.8.1938 Flix: Bf 109 (Lehrmann) shot down by enemy flak
5.9.1938 Bf 109 (Lutz) shot down by enemy plane or flak? location?
4.10.1938 Venta de C: Bf 109 "6-67" (Betram) shot down by I-16 (Cortizo Bertolo or González Fernandez - on 4.10.1938 the Mosca Grupo 21 claimed two Bf 109)
13.12.1938: Bf 109 shot down. location? pilot?
16.12.1938 La Cenia: two Bf 109´s at La Cenia were bombed on the ground by the air attack of SB bombers.
29.1.1939 Mollet: Bf 109 (Bötticher) shot down by enemy flak

And then the controversial incidents and claims over Vilajuiga 6.2.1939. I would have liked to leave these out because of the heated discussion which they have caused in some web discussions, but the list would be incomplete without them:

6.2.1939 Vilajuiga: Bf 109 "6-96" (Nirminger) claimed by I-15 pilot Falcó - well, Nirminger certainly was not KIA on that day on that place, but is there info of his involvement and coming back safely from this mission? This has been in some extent discussed in some web forums with some being strongly against Falcós claim (based on Legion Condor records?) and some believing Falcós claim being legitimate. Nirminger case remains probably permanently "unsolved".

6.2.1939 Vilajuiga: Bf 109 "6-98" (Windemuth) claimed also by Falcó - this one went down for sure and Windemuth was killed, but there are different versions. One is that the Messerschmitt just crashed because Windemuth for some reason could not control his plane (which the forum member Fran supports strongly - I guess that this is based on Legion Condor combat reports of this incident?). Other version is that Windemuth went down "in flames" (both Laureau and Forsyth accept this version ) - in this case Falcós claim could be legitimate or at least he made his claim in good faith.

Last edited by GuerraCivil; 19th December 2014 at 14:45.
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Old 18th December 2014, 14:23
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GMichalski GMichalski is offline
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Thumbs up Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

Hi,
good info,
you have any info of these:

Bf.109B-?
Unit: 1.J/88, Legion Condor
Serial: 6-20
Flown by Lt. Fritz Awe. He was killed on this airplane in Summer 1937


Bf.109B-2
Unit: 2.J/88, Legion Condor
Serial: 6-30
Pilots - Uffz. Wilhelm Stage. Alar d'el Rey, July 1937. He force landed and crashed on this aircraft at Alar d'el Rey in July 1937. Pilot did't wounded.

from this web: http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/f/139/67/1

regards
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Old 18th December 2014, 23:36
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

They were losses due to other cause than enemy activity:

Bf 109 B "6-20" piloted by Fritz Awe (1.J/88) collided in air with Bf 109 B "6-21" (pilot Adolf Borchers, also 1.J/88) on 4.4.1938 over Larraja. Both planes were destroyed and Awe was killed. The propeller of Borcher´s plane sliced through the cockpit of Awe´s plane and rather macabre detail is that Awe was decapitated in the process. Borchers managed somehow to land his scrapped plane and survived from the accident.

When it comes to Wilhelm Stage (2.J/88), it seems that the name of the pilot was Wilhelm Stange and his plane was Bf 109 B "6-12" and the crash-land accident occurred near Santander - on "Santander-0" on September 1937. The plane was written off, but apparently not the pilot. During that time (Sept 1937) also another Bf 109 - "6-7" - piloted by Norbert Flegel (2.J/88) crash-landed at same place and also his plane was written off. Maybe the "Santander-0" was very rough place for landing.

Notes based on Laureau 2000: Condor - The Luftwaffe in Spain, 1936 - 1939.
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Old 19th December 2014, 14:00
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

Hi,

many thanks for your info XD

regards
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"The wingman is absolutely indispensable. I look after the wingman. The wingman looks after me....."
Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski,

"The first rule of all air combat is to see the opponent first."
Adolf Galland
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Old 19th December 2014, 14:27
Arsenal VG-33 Arsenal VG-33 is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuerraCivil View Post
But Bf 109 was technically the most advanced plane in SCW and "Messers" were piloted by skilled men who without doubt were succesfull. It was very difficult for Republican pilots to achieve real "Bf 109 kills"!
Are you sure? The Mosca was about as fast up to 3000 m high and more manoeuvrable. In turn the 109A-D had speed superiority above 4 000 m due to higher altitude engine rating. So they use dive attacks and hit and run tacticts, carefully avoiding dogfight with soviet fighters, that did not produce particular air supremacy, but lead to some regular decimation of republican planes.


Quote:
And then the controversial incidents and claims over Vilajuiga 6.2.1939. I would have liked to leave these out because of the heated discussion which they have caused in some web discussions, but the list would be incomplete without them:

6.2.1939 Vilajuiga: Bf 109 "6-96" (Nirminger) claimed by I-15 pilot Falcó - well, Nirminger certainly was not KIA on that day on that place, but is there info of his involvement and coming back safely from this mission? This has been in some extent discussed in some web forums with some being strongly against Falcós claim (based on Legion Condor records?) and some believing Falcós claim being legitimate. Nirminger case remains probably permanently "unsolved".

6.2.1939 Vilajuiga: Bf 109 "6-98" (Windemuth) claimed also by Falcó - this one went down for sure and Windemuth was killed, but there are different versions. One is that the Messerschmitt just crashed because Windemuth for some reason could not control his plane (which what the forum member Fran supports strongly - I guess that this is based on Legion Condor combat reports of this incident?). Other version is that Windemuth went "down in flames" (both Laureau and Forsyth accept this version ) - in this case Falcós claim could be legitimate or at least he made his claim in good faith.
My two pences for this history
http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showpo...6&postcount=13
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Old 19th December 2014, 15:41
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

The Bf 109 B-D was little faster to my knowledge compared to I-16 type 5/6/10 - IIRC, about 30-40 kph faster (depending on the source) and the high altitude advantage gave also some tactical benefit. The Bf 109 hit and run tactics in such were nothing special innovation, but just one example of the again and again "reinvented wheel" of the pilots of fast and well diving fighters against slower and better maneuverable enemy planes. There was little point to seek aerobatic performance contest with Bf 109 against I-16/I-15.

I agree that the importance of Bf 109 in the airwar of SCW has been somewhat overvaluated. In the first place there were not so many Messerschmitts in the Spanish sky to take on Republicans and the number of combat available planes was further decimated by the technical problems and accidents keeping many planes on the ground. The Italian Fiats were far more numerous and easier to maintain - I think that they did most of the job of air combat in SCW. Mölders is often hailed as the top ace of SCW and he was that in Legion Condor. However there are five Spanish Nationalist aces above him with more claims (in SCW) and all of them flew with Fiat CR 32. How accurate the claim records were is of course another question.

Thanks for the reference post on Falcó question. I think that he was a respectable pilot, although his claim score is questionable in some parts - for example he claimed 7 Heinkel 59, of which 3 were "confirmed". According to enemy records (AS/88) only two of his He 59 claims could be legitimate. Falcó´s claim on 18.11.1938 on He 59 seems to be verified by AS/88 loss record, although in Republican records it was only probable. On 31.12.1938 his claim was confirmed, but AS/88 records credits the loss of their plane on 31.12.38 to enemy flak.

Leaving the claim record issue aside, I think Falcós way to respect the memory of Windemuth was a real gentleman effort.

Last edited by GuerraCivil; 19th December 2014 at 17:00.
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Old 19th December 2014, 18:06
Arsenal VG-33 Arsenal VG-33 is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuerraCivil View Post
The Bf 109 B-D was little faster to my knowledge compared to I-16 type 5/6/10 - IIRC, about 30-40 kph faster (depending on the source) and the high altitude advantage gave also some tactical benefit. The Bf 109 hit and run tactics in such were nothing special innovation, but just one example of the again and again "reinvented wheel" of the pilots of fast and well diving fighters against slower and better maneuverable enemy planes. There was little point to seek aerobatic performance contest with Bf 109 against I-16/I-15.
First, i don't think that it's much relevant to compare absolute speed values for planes without altitude indication, secund tu compare datasheets and real serial planes.
For instance the Cyclone F-54 fitted I-16 was running at 480 km/h at 5 km, whilst from SL to 3000 m it had exactly the same speed as the Shvestov's one. ( about 390-400 to 445-455 at 3 km)
Secund, the early I-16 tip 5 datasheet is as much optimistic as Bf-109's one with 420 km/h at SL and 460 at hight.
BTW, I-16 tip 6 had never existed, while soviet tested real Me-109 6 + 15 never exceed 380 km/h at groud and 422 at hight.

We will see it later in another thread about the subject.





Quote:
Leaving the claim record issue aside, I think Falcós way to respect the memory of Windemuth was a real gentleman effort.
Leaving Falco's behavior aside, thre were certainly 2 pilot's and 109E losses in november the 6th near Villajuega. Nimringer was taken out from his plane and barried in communal Villajuega's cemetery by remaining airfield staff. His later faith is unknown to me.
All from the famous historian Arraez Cerda's book, who cannot frankly be considered as an republican sympathiser!

Regards
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Old 19th December 2014, 21:48
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

Discussion on the Bf 109 B-D vs. Polikarpov I-16 types 5 and 10 (I agree that "type 6" is just a type 5 with open cockpit and nothing more) certainly needs much more info base than I have at the moment. Mikhail Maslov´s books should be more available in English when it comes to Polikarpov fighters - he is told to be very accurate in technical matters. The best books on Bf 109 B-D are in German - I have recently ordered one, which should be very good. The standard reference to my knowledge is Radinger & Schick 1997 covering technical development of Bf 109 up to E.

There is of course much depending on the test flight conditions when one tries to figure out the combat performance figures of certain aircraft type. Very often the manufacturers of fighter planes represented optimistic promises which were well above the real performance of their plane in combat condition. Also if the plane is old / worn out, it does not catch the same performance as the new aircraft. I know that Soviets tested the captured Bf 109 B brought from Spain, but it is questionable if the plane was in top form in Soviet test flights. Was the top speed really just 422 km/h above 4000 meters? French tested the same plane ("6-15" of Otto Polenz), but I do not know what their evaluation was. The little I know from German test flight results is that Bf 109 B/D should have achieved about 460 - 470 km/h above 4000 meters.

Here less than perfect technical data of I-16 type 5 compared to Bf 109 B/D:

Top speed: 440 km/h at 5000 m (Bf 109 B/D about 20 - 30 km/h faster above 4000 m), speeds at sea level and other altitudes ?
Rate of climb: 6 min 18 sec. to 5000 m (Bf 109 B slower?)
Cruising speed: 300 km/h (Bf 109 B or D faster?)
Service ceiling: 9100 m (Bf 109 B equal, Bf 109 D 500 m above I-16)
Wingload: 114 kg/m2 (Bf 109 B 136 kg/m2)
Maximum flight time / endurance affecting the combat range: 70 min (Bf 109 B is given 85 minutes, D given 125 min.)

When it comes to tight turn rates and manouverability in "Kurvenkampf" (dog fight), the I-16 is known to be clearly better than the more stiff Bf 109 - and for this reason "Kurvenkampf" was avoided by Bf 109 pilots. However "mischia" (dog fight) did suit well to Fiat CR 32 which was a nimble plane and seems to have been a decent opponent to Polikarpov fighters. Fiat was equal to I-15 and survived quite well against technically superior I-16. The differences in the skills of pilots of course mattered a lot. To me it seems that I-16 pilots should have adopted "hit and run" against slower Fiats - maybe they did, but ended up to dogfight often.

It might be that also Windemuth and Nirminger had no advantage of hit and run -position over Vilajuiga on 6.2.1939 as they were on strafing mission at low altitude. So probably they ended up to a dogfight against very nimble I-15 piloted by a skilled veteran pilot and for that reason they (or at least Windemuth) went down. Bf 109 E-1 was certainly more advanced plane than I-15, but it depends on combat situation - low altitude "Kurvenkampf", overconfidence, surprise element used by undervaluated enemy etc. can make the pilot of "better plane" to remain second best.

Here is some discussion of the duel Bf 109 vs. Polikarpov I-16 over Spain:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...?f=32&t=209994

The duel between these two pioneer monoplane fighters in Spain is interesting enough for a entire book. It would be interesting to have as reliable technical data as possible and some at least roughly reliable estimate of verified losses and verified claims between the two. As much as I know the I-16 pilots shot down roughly ten Bf 109´s during SCW - Legion Condor claims vs. I-16 are multiple compared to that, but overclaiming plays its part as always.

Last edited by GuerraCivil; 19th December 2014 at 22:33.
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Old 30th December 2014, 21:32
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

A small correction to the loss list of Bf 109´s presented in post 1:

17.7.1937 Escalona: Bf 109 "6-9"? (Handrick?) shot down by I-16 - it is strange that this is not mentioned as a air combat incident in Laureau´s book Condor - if Handrick was really shot down, it should be included in a standard work on Legion Condor! It appears that this refers actually to Handrick´s emergency landing at Escalona on 17.7.1937 which was caused by engine failure. As far as I know, Gotthard Handrick was not shot down by enemy during SCW.

Tinker´s claim of Bf 109 on 17.7.1937 - taking above in account this can only be "6-14" (Haarbach) shot down on 18.7.1937. Despite the one day difference with Tinker´s claim and Legion Condor records it does not rule out the possibility that Tinker´s claim is legitimate.

Happy New Year,
GC
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Old 6th January 2015, 22:03
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: The Bf 109 losses in Spanish Civil War: verified and unverified

And more corrections to the post 1:

12.7.1937: Bf 109 "6-13" (Braunschweiger) shot down by I-16 - Incorrect, Braunschweiger and his 6-13 were OK.

The fateful last flight of Guido Höness was of course one day earlier:
12.7.1937 Brunete: "6-4" (Höness) shot down by I-16 (Tinker or Soviet pilot?)

Does anyone know more about these cases:

20.4.1938 Sagunto: Bf 109 (pilot?) shot down by I-16
11.5.1938 Sra Espadán: Bf 109 (pilot?) shot down by I-16 (Tarazona)
14.7.1938 Teruel: Bf 109 (pilot?) destroyed by mid-air collision with I-15 (Redondo?)
5.9.1938 Bf 109 (Lutz) shot down by enemy plane or flak? location?
13.12.1938: Bf 109 shot down. location? pilot? air combat or flak?
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