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Old 10th August 2019, 10:56
Mission-Impossible Mission-Impossible is offline
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Smile Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

OK I am doing some research on the basis of a story told to me by a man I was apprenticed too, as a boy. I knew him around 1980 - 1981 (or there abouts)

OK what I am asking for help with in researching:

This man went by the name of Joseph Lunthorp or Landthorpe or Landthorp (something like that). He I faintly recall, was shot down over France, became a prisoner of war, and after the war, he changed his name into a more anglicised (english and less germanic) last name. And then he immigrated to Australia, where he spent the remainder of his life as a welder, and he had a small white Datsun 4 cylinder car.

He was an ex ME 109 messerschmitt pilot during WW2. He had the matching black squadron insignia and ID number/s tattooed inside his upper left arm - because pilots were often badly burned and that was the generally one of the few area's that identifying marks would remain.

His squadron was the 7/JG 26 - Messerschmitt ME109

And one of his missions was to fly with about 6 (?) other planes through a train tunnel - with about 2 feet or 600mm clearance on each wing tip, and once at the other end of the tunnel, they had to drop their bombs onto a power station within a steep walled valley, while doing a steep bank and partial loop - before heading back into the tunnel. The planes were fitted with spot lights on each wing.

He said they had to train for he mission by flying their planes with only a few feet (prop clearance) above the ground - down straight roads lined with poplar trees.

This is such a rare and distinct mission, that it's always intrigued me - kind of like an itch you can't quite scratch. The ME-109 he flew (or similar) was in this image, second down with the red heart insignia. s3.amazonaws.com/fineartofdecalsimages/CED48189.jpg

I have tried the German war archives - but they only deal in German. AND the issue is that there was an awful lot of bombing raids on all sorts of things, throughout all sorts of countries over such huge areas and in so many languages and nationalities.


The main criteria for searching is Messerschmitt ME109 (aircraft) and 2 or 3 Km of train tunnel (assumed). Mountains. And hydroelectric (assumed) power station.

This link I assume, does not contain the mission, but it's in that particular strategic initiative. The mission as far as I can recall,could have been nearly anywhere in Europe. However, Hitler and Co., were doing their very best to knock out the Soviet power stations, so as to bring their industries to a halt.
This is not to say that the mission occurred in the Soviet union, nor that a Soviet power station was the target of the mission - thus while it has a fairly high degree of probablility that the mission was to bomb a Soviet hydroelectric power station, it's not an absolute certainty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Eisenhammer

This is also an extremely good read. On pages 16 and 17 - *The map is adapted from a German original enclosed with a list of Soviet electric power plants (thermal and hydro) issues in April 1943 by the War Economy Staff of the Wehrmacht High Command (Wehrwirtschaftssab im OKW : Liste der Industriebetriebe der UdSSR. Teil II: Elecktriziitaetswerke) And it shows some 40 power generation stations in an area of some 1000Km wide by 2000Km long.

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/ran...006/RM6206.pdf


To the best of my abilities, this is the only records I have found on the travels of the JG 7 / 26 squadron and it's combination and recombination with other squadrons AND a very basic list of their locations.


https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-Jagdgeschwader-26

III. Gruppe:
Gruppenkommandeure:

Hptm Walter Kienitz, 23.9.39 - 31.10.39
Maj Ernst Freiherr von Berg, 1.11.39 - 5.6.40
Maj Adolf Galland, 6.6.40 - 20.8.40* He identified Galland as his commander from a picture when I was doing some research.
Maj Gerhard Schöpfel, 21.8.40 - 5.12.41
Hptm Josef Priller, 6.12.41 - 10.1.43
Hptm Fritz Geisshardt, 11.1.43 - 6.4.43
Hptm Kurt Ruppert, 7.4.43 - 13.6.43
Hptm Rolf Hermichen, 15.6.43 - 4.7.43
Maj Klaus Mietusch, 5.7.43 - 17.9.44
Hptm Paul Schauder, 18.9.44 - 26.9.44
Hptm Walter Krupinski, 27.9.44 - 25.3.45

Formed 23.9.39 in Werl from parts of I. and II./JG26. In 1.10.43 increased to 4 staffeln (9. - 12./JG26), with the 9./JG26 formed from the old 7./JG26, the new 10./JG26 from the old 9./JG26, and the independent 11. and 12./JG26 became part of the Gruppe. The old 8./JG26 had been redesignated 4./JG26 on 21.9.43 and became part of I. Gruppe. III./JG26 was disbanded on 25.3.45.
* 7./JG26 (Bf 109E) moved to North Africa on 9.2.41. Stationed at Gela 9.2.41 - 6.4.41, Tarent 6.4.41 - 8.4.41, Gela again 8.4.41 - 31.5.41 and Ain-el-Gazala 1.6.41 - 31.7.41. The staffel then returned to Liegescourt, joining the rest of III./JG26, and began conversion to Bf 109F.

A DIRECT set of links.

** 7./JG26 operated under JG54 in Russia, 17.2.43 - 7.43. Left France 17.2.43 and arrived at Krasnowardeisk on 28.2.43. Remained there until it returned to III./JG26 in July 1943. While 7./JG26 was in Russia, 4./JG54 was attached to JG26.

*** 10. and 12./JG26 was in Valenciennes until about 11.43.

You see there are power stations that have come and gone, many national records have disappeared, as have countries, national borders, governments, trainline closures etc., and it's been nearly 80 years since these events.

It's not to say that these records or memories cannot be found, but I am kind of out of my depth with this.

I will not die if I never ever find out about the location of this particular mission, but with Google Earth etc., I would probably be able to see the tunnel and power station, if only I could find out about the mission location.

If anyone can help me with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Fingers crossed and hoping.
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Old 10th August 2019, 11:53
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mission-Impossible View Post
To the best of my abilities, this is the only records I have found on the travels of the JG 7 / 26 squadron and it's combination and recombination with other squadrons AND a very basic list of their locations …
If you want to know about JG 26 then seek out Donald L. Caldwell's "Top Guns of the Luftwaffe" or (for more detail) the same author's "The JG 26 War Diaries" volumes 1 and 2.

All three are excellent books, although I don't recall them mentioning the highly unlikely operation that you were told of.
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Old 10th August 2019, 12:11
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Chris Goss Chris Goss is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

Sounds highly improbable......
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Old 10th August 2019, 14:45
Merlin Merlin is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

I'm afraid that story was created after several beers on a very warm Australian summer evening.

A double track tunnel has a width of approximately 8 meters. That may be sufficient for a Gee Bee Racer with a span 7,62m but not for a Bf 109E with 9.87m.

Furthermore the propeller of the first aircraft creates so much turbulences that the following aircraft would crash immediately.
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Old 10th August 2019, 15:11
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

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Originally Posted by Merlin View Post
I'm afraid that story was created after several beers on a very warm Australian summer evening.
Either that or somebody had seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
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Old 10th August 2019, 16:14
RodM RodM is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
Either that or somebody had seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

"The planes were fitted with spot lights on each wing."

… Indiana Jones with a dollop of The Dam Busters thrown in...
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Old 10th August 2019, 18:00
VtwinVince VtwinVince is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

I don't recall Jupp Buerschgens or Gerd Schoepfel telling this story when I knew them, so I would say complete fantasy.
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Old 10th August 2019, 20:21
Carsten Petersen Carsten Petersen is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

2 or 3 km of train tunnel and a Bf 109 ? That takes more than a couple of beers. I have worked for the railways for 33 years and I have never seen a railway tunnel wide enough for a Bf 109. 2 to 3 km long tunnel flying on the deck (all old train tunnels curve) - that sounds more than impossible. A train tunnel is seldom more than 6 meters high. With 6 planes that would be impossible.
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Old 11th August 2019, 03:13
Mission-Impossible Mission-Impossible is offline
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

Hmmmmm "disappointment". I am willing to accept that he may have been feeding me bullshit, but with everything else he was pretty much straight down the line.

In Australia we drive in the left lane and the on coming traffic is in the right lane.

I also have done things like pass vehicles while riding a motorbike on a very narrow 2 lane mountain road, with about 150mm clearance between my left handle bar and the mirrors of the vehicles I am passing, and about 150mm clearance between my right handle bar, and the traffic coming from the other direction....

Yeah - showing off - while racing a woman in a fast car, through the mountains...

So with practice, the idea of flying a plane through a train tunnel is entirely feasible.

Also while the assumption of the train tunnel being a narrowish 2 track tunnel - a fair question may arise, "Was the tunnel made or designed in conjunction with the construction and servicing of the power station in mind? Was it a bigger tunnel or a 3 track tunnel - with or without the third line in situ, exclusively for the power station?

And I am prepared to consider that at say 300Kmh Or even less, going through an estimated 2 or so Km of train tunnel (say 6Km in total), that they may have flown in and out individually... and you could get one plane in and out every minute and 20 seconds or so....

While many feasible points have been put forward, it's also just as easy to say, I wasn't provided with all the information about the mission, and what currently exists is a list of "yes issues" and "probable issues", and finally, "non issues".

OK so taking this back to the originator of the story, Josef Landthorp - of the JG 7 / 26 squadron. IS there a way to obtain information about his war records and the missions and stationing of the squadron, and the locations and the proximity to any hydroelectric (assumed) power stations, in any countries that refused to roll over when the Hitlerite's came goose stepping in?
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Old 11th August 2019, 08:24
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Re: Flying BF-109E's through a train tunnel.

Only Waffen SS was tatooed on the upper inner arm.
Junker
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