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  #1  
Old 3rd February 2017, 21:43
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Exclamation Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

On the 2 or 3 August 1942, the Soviet light cruiser Molotov was badly damaged by a torpedo hit to the stern at night. This Axis success is commonly attributed to the torpedo-bombers of KG 26. However, Italian MTBs were also present and they may have hit the Molotov. The confused nature of this action has been highlighted by Andrey, among others, back in 2012:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrey Kuznetsov View Post
Molotov (CL) 3.8.42 damaged (disputable due to simultaneous attack of Italian MTBs)
Is there any evidence in the documents of KG 26 or Fliegerführer Süd/Fliegerführer Krim that a cruiser was claimed torpedoed on either 2 or 3 August?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 5th February 2017, 14:45
Andrey Kuznetsov Andrey Kuznetsov is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Hello Paul,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Thompson View Post
Is there any evidence in the documents of KG 26 or Fliegerführer Süd/Fliegerführer Krim that a cruiser was claimed torpedoed on either 2 or 3 August?
haven't Fliegerführer Süd documents for the time in question and don't know whether they survived the war.

The event seems more confused than I thought in 2012.

According Kriegsmarine documents, it was Italian MTBs success (erroneously claimed cruiser Krasny Krim sunk). Torpedo planes were mentioned as shadowers only, nothing about their attacks. Moreover, Fliegerführer Süd after 2-3 days of investigation came to conclusion that really Krasny Krim was sunk by MTBs.

So we have only Soviet documentary evidences about torpedo planes attacks - at night and 07:18 MSK, the last one was unsuccessful.

It is unclear for me what is the source of 6./KG26 claim. Maybe some info is in British radio intelligence documents? Or in the pilots logbooks?

According to Alexander Steenbeck (book "Die Spur des Löwen" about KG26), the attack was in daytime (Tagesangriff). Maybe really it is about unsuccessful attack at 07:18 MSK = 06:18 GST. But he wrote about the take off at ~10:00 (Start gegen 10 Uhr).

Best regards,
Andrey

Last edited by Andrey Kuznetsov; 5th February 2017 at 17:31. Reason: typo
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Old 6th February 2017, 15:45
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrey Kuznetsov View Post
According Kriegsmarine documents, it was Italian MTBs success (erroneously claimed cruiser Krasny Krim sunk). Torpedo planes were mentioned as shadowers only, nothing about their attacks. Moreover, Fliegerführer Süd after 2-3 days of investigation came to conclusion that really Krasny Krim was sunk by MTBs.

So we have only Soviet documentary evidences about torpedo planes attacks - at night and 07:18 MSK, the last one was unsuccessful.

It is unclear for me what is the source of 6./KG26 claim. Maybe some info is in British radio intelligence documents? Or in the pilots logbooks
Hello Andrey,

Thank you for a very interesting set of remarks! I would think that if the Germans did not claim a sinking, which they usually did even with little evidence in their favour, it is quite probable that there was no German attack. Could the Soviet crew been confused by the presence of LaGG-3s or MBR-2s in the area? I have seen an 'escort' of some kind, involving a pair of each aircraft type, being described as involved in this mission. If they were flying beyond the range of easy visual idenitification and were not in radio contact, the crew could have possibly considered them hostile. There is also a tall tale on airwar.ru of an MBR-2 firing signal rockets to fend off an He 111 during this action, a sign of general confusion!

I am sure logbooks would help clarify the issue, but I have never heard of any surviving logbooks for 6./KG 26.

Warm regards,

Paul
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Old 9th February 2017, 19:21
Andrey Kuznetsov Andrey Kuznetsov is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Hello Paul,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Thompson View Post
Could the Soviet crew been confused by the presence of LaGG-3s or MBR-2s in the area? I have seen an 'escort' of some kind, involving a pair of each aircraft type, being described as involved in this mission. If they were flying beyond the range of easy visual idenitification and were not in radio contact, the crew could have possibly considered them hostile.
"Molotov" and "Kharkov" were without air cover during the night attacks. The air cover (fighters and 4 MBR-2) had appeared at daybreak only.
During the night 5 DB-3? 7 SB and 16 MBR-2 bombed the port facilities in Feodosia, but I can't find any evidence of their contacts with "Molotov" and "Kharkov".

German torpedo planes had shadowed the cruiser. It is info from Kriegsmarine documents. Soviet navy reports and AA Defence reports (probably from shore radar station) also contains info about continuous contacts with German recce planes.
But Kriegsmarine documents in contradistinction from Soviet reports hasn't any info about aerial torpedo attacks, only about Italian MAS-boats attacks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Thompson View Post
I am sure logbooks would help clarify the issue, but I have never heard of any surviving logbooks for 6./KG 26.
Maybe British Y-intercepts and ULTRA contains some useful info?

3.Aug.42 He111H-6 WNr 4816 1T+JH (4./KG26) was downed by AA fire from cruiser "150 km suedl.Feodosia" according to Steenbeck's book (probably not S but SE Feodosia). All crew MIA incl. FF Lt Hans-Georg Bachem. I wonder if the exact time and location of the loss in known? Maybe in NVM report?.

Warm regards,
Andrey
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Old 9th February 2017, 19:51
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

This from Rohwer's Chronik des Seekrieges 1939–45:
Auf dem Rückmarsch Angriffe von dt. Torpedoflugzeugen (6./KG.26, Oblt. Wilhelm Kleemann) und ital. MAS 568 und MAS 573. Kreuzer Molotov erhält Torpedotreffer im Vorschiff, 20 m abgerissen.
= "During the withdrawal, attacks by German torpedo aircraft (6./KG 26. Oblt. Wilhelm Kleeman) and Italian MAS 568 and 573. Cruiser Molotov sustains torpedo hit(s) in bows, 20 m torn away."

Rohwer's book came out in 1968 so it's unlikely to be the last word on the subject.

In a vivid account, Rudi Schmidt's »Achtung, Torpedos Los!« says about 10 aircraft took part with two crews lost and that two or three hits were observed "partly on [escorting] destroyers, partly on the cruiser." No mention of Kleeman there or in the book's index. He does say that this was the first and last concerted daylight torpedo attack on the Red Navy.

While Schmitt served with 6./KG 26, quite of a lot of his book seems to be based on memories rather than archives (it includes an entirely imaginary attack on the invasion fleet en route from Corsica to the French Riviera in August 1944, for example).
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Old 9th February 2017, 22:46
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
This from Rohwer's Chronik des Seekrieges 1939–45:
Auf dem Rückmarsch Angriffe von dt. Torpedoflugzeugen (6./KG.26, Oblt. Wilhelm Kleemann) und ital. MAS 568 und MAS 573. Kreuzer Molotov erhält Torpedotreffer im Vorschiff, 20 m abgerissen.
= "During the withdrawal, attacks by German torpedo aircraft (6./KG 26. Oblt. Wilhelm Kleeman) and Italian MAS 568 and 573. Cruiser Molotov sustains torpedo hit(s) in bows, 20 m torn away."

Rohwer's book came out in 1968 so it's unlikely to be the last word on the subject...
Yes but the internet version has more info than my Second, revised, expanded edition 1992 published by Greenhill Books. So it is based on info from mid-90s at earliest probably even more recent.

Juha
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Old 9th February 2017, 23:22
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Yes but the internet version has more info than my Second, revised, expanded edition 1992
Thanks, that's interesting to know. It's years since I last borrowed the book from the library.
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Old 10th February 2017, 00:38
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrey Kuznetsov View Post
"Molotov" and "Kharkov" were without air cover during the night attacks. The air cover (fighters and 4 MBR-2) had appeared at daybreak only.
During the night 5 DB-3? 7 SB and 16 MBR-2 bombed the port facilities in Feodosia, but I can't find any evidence of their contacts with "Molotov" and "Kharkov".

German torpedo planes had shadowed the cruiser. It is info from Kriegsmarine documents.

Maybe British Y-intercepts and ULTRA contains some useful info?
Andrey, thank you for providing yet more great information. On reflection, it is probably unsurprising that there was no air cover during the night, given communication difficulties. I would say that the relatively large number of Soviet sorties, including a dozen by twin-engine bombers, gives some support to the theory of mistaken identity. However, as you say, the information about German shadowers is firm, so there was some basis to the Soviet claims of torpedo attacks.

I hope some forum members who have seen relevant ULTRA material will comment here. I would pin some hope on Signatur RL 10/65 at Freiburg. Has anyone seen that?

Doug and Larry's excellent database probably uses the same Steenbeck book for Bachem. Perhaps it was 4./KG 26, not 6./KG 26, flying that night? If the Bewegungsmeldung is not in error, this was the only combat loss for the Gruppe during the entire month:

BACHEM, Dr. Hans-Georg. 03.08.42 Lt., 4./KG 26 MIA - He 111 H-6 (1T+JH) struck by AA from an enemy cruiser 150 km S of Feodosiya/Crimea - search was fruitless. 31.08.42 Lt., (pilot) awarded the Ehrenpokal.

Kleemann was indeed the commander of 6./KG 26 at that time and so could have been in the area, but there is no evidence so far to support or refute that assertion:
KLEEMANN, Wilhelm. (DOB: 31.08.16). (DKG). 01.04.40 promo to Oblt. 16.05.42 Oblt., appt Staka 6./KG 26 (to 08.42). 01.07.42 promo to Hptm. 10.07.42 awarded DKG, II./KG 26. 03.43 at the Fliegerwaffenschule (See) (to 15.04.43). 15.04.43 trf to Ob.d.L. pool (Sch.Etat). 20.05.44 Hptm. and Staka 8./KG 26, MIA – in Ju 88 A-17 off the mouth of the Seine.

Doug provided a very useful list of the other Staffelkapitäne of KG 26 on this forum, back in 2010:
http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=21606

Nick, thank you for the details from Schmidt's book. I wonder whether II./KG 26 was short of torpedo-bombers, or torpedoes. The Bewegungsmeldung suggests that not all the units aircraft were equipped as torpedo-bombers, see http://www.ww2.dk/oob/bestand/kampf/biikg26.html On the other hand, they did have enough torpedo-bombers for more than one formation attack on Soviet warships, perhaps they simply concentrated on bombing sorties. Does the Schmidt book say anything about that?

In summary, it does appear more plausible that the "Molotov" was hit by Legnani's MAS 568, but this is only a provisional conclusion.

Warm regards,

Paul
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Old 10th February 2017, 00:39
Andrey Kuznetsov Andrey Kuznetsov is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Hello Nick,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
This from Rohwer's Chronik des Seekrieges 1939–45:
Auf dem Rückmarsch Angriffe von dt. Torpedoflugzeugen (6./KG.26, Oblt. Wilhelm Kleemann) und ital. MAS 568 und MAS 573. Kreuzer Molotov erhält Torpedotreffer im Vorschiff, 20 m abgerissen.
= "During the withdrawal, attacks by German torpedo aircraft (6./KG 26. Oblt. Wilhelm Kleeman) and Italian MAS 568 and 573. Cruiser Molotov sustains torpedo hit(s) in bows, 20 m torn away."
I read Rohwer's/Hummelchen's book of course and the web-version too. It isn't very credible source, at least in regard to naval war in East-European waters. For example, torpedo hit was in stern, not in bow. It isn't very significant of course. But sometimes authors even had used Soviet published incorrect data about German actions instead of data from existing Kriegsmarine documents. Or had used incorrect German claims about Soviet losses as real facts.

According to Soviet data, were simultaneous torpedo attacks from MAS-boats and from the air, but maybe evidences were inaccurate due to darkness. The origin of the sole torpedo hit was unclear from the first moment.

According to Kriegsmarine, it was MAS-boats success. More surprising that Fliegerführer Süd (i.e. local Luftwaffe command) after investigation had accepted the Kriegsmarine's conclusion without any mention about KG26 attacks.

Maybe KG26 really took part not as air recce only but by torpedo attacks too, but where are the primary sources about Kleeman's attack?

Best regards,
Andrey
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Old 10th February 2017, 00:41
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Re: Did KG 26 hit the cruiser Molotov in 1942?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
Yes but the internet version has more info than my Second, revised, expanded edition 1992
Thanks, that's interesting to know. It's years since I last borrowed the book from the library.
Yuha and Nick, it only takes one click to solve the mystery The text of the digital edition dates from 2007, see http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/historie.htm I believe parts of it have been updated since.

Warm regards,

Paul

Last edited by Paul Thompson; 10th February 2017 at 00:41. Reason: Clarified sentence
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