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Heinkel He 111: Ammo drums for MG 15

Heinkel He 111: Ammo drums for MG 15

Heinkel He 111, Ron Mackay (Crowood Aviation). A comprehensive look at one of the most famous German aircraft of the Second World War, taking us through its pre-war development, its time as the Luftwaffe's most important bomber early in the war, to its long decline and the eventual collapse of the German bomber force.[see more]


MG 15

The MG 15 is mounted on tripods and aircraft in FHSW.

The MG 15 was a German 7.9 mm machine gun designed specifically as a hand manipulated defensive gun for combat aircraft during the early 1930s. By 1941 it was replaced by other types and found new uses with ground troops. The MG 15 was developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 1920s. Though it shares the MG 15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG 15nA (for neuer Art, meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The World War I gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG 15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position. It was a modular design with various attachments that could be quickly attached or removed. Operation was easy and the bolt remained in the cocked position after expending the 75 round double drum (also called a "saddle drum") magazine, negating the need to re-cock once a fresh magazine was installed. The MG 15 fires from an open bolt, meaning that the bolt stays back when the gun is ready to fire, and also making it nearly impossible for "through the propeller" synchronized forward firing on a fuselage mount. Pulling the trigger releases the bolt and allows it to go forward, stripping a round from the magazine. The bolt continues pushing the round into the chamber and locks up when the lockring rotates and locks the bolt and barrel extension together. At this point the trip lever releases the firing pin and the gun fires. Recoil pushes the barrel,lock and bolt backwards until the lockring hits a cam that rotates it unlocking the bolt and barrel. Inertia carries the bolt backwards until the base of the fired case hits the ejector flinging the empty out of the receiver. If the trigger is held down the cycle will continue. If the trigger is released the bolt will remain in the rearward position. The 75 rounds of ammunition was evenly distributed in each side of the magazine with a central feed "tower" where the ammunition is fed to the bolt. Various methods where used to secure the magazines in the aircraft, while a carrier of 3 mags each were used on ground. The drums were preloaded prior to takeoff so that the gunner did not waste time loading (however reloading could be done as quickly as 6 seconds). Ammunition was fed by a spring forced spiral double-drum containing 75 rounds total (not 150 as is often mistaken). This combined with a firing rate of 1000+ rpm means it could empty the magazine in 4.5 seconds or less. Typical practice was to provide at least 10 reloads for each gun on the aircraft, not including the magazine on the gun. Starting in late 1940 the MG 15 was replaced by the Mauser 7.92 mm MG 81, MG 81Z (twin-MG 81), MG 131 13 mm machine guns, or MG 151/20 20 mm cannons. Many MG 15s were modified for infantry use as heavier weapons replaced them on Luftwaffe aircraft. There are a number of pictures showing the guns, both aircraft and ground versions, with 25rd magazines from the MG 13 but the magazines don't actually work with the MG 15. Official numbers of conversions was about 17,648 by January 1, 1944, although additional conversions may have been done as well.


History [ edit | edit source ]

The MG 15 was developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 1920s. Though it shares the MG 15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG 15nA (for neuer Art, meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The World War I gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG 15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position.

It was a modular design with various attachments that could be quickly attached or removed. Operation was easy and the bolt remained in the cocked position after expending the 75 round double drum (also called a "saddle drum") magazine, negating the need to re-cock once a fresh magazine was installed.

The MG 15 fires from an open bolt, meaning that the bolt stays back when the gun is ready to fire, and also making it nearly impossible for "through the propeller" synchronized forward firing on a fuselage mount. Pulling the trigger releases the bolt and allows it to go forward, stripping a round from the magazine. The bolt continues pushing the round into the chamber and locks up when the lockring rotates and locks the bolt and barrel extension together. At this point the trip lever releases the firing pin and the gun fires. Recoil pushes the barrel,lock and bolt backwards until the lockring hits a cam that rotates it unlocking the bolt and barrel. Inertia carries the bolt backwards until the base of the fired case hits the ejector flinging the empty out of the receiver. If the trigger is held down the cycle will continue. If the trigger is released the bolt will remain in the rearward position.

The 75 rounds of ammunition was evenly distributed in each side of the magazine with a central feed "tower" where the ammunition is fed to the bolt. Various methods where used to secure the magazines in the aircraft, while a carrier of 3 mags each were used on ground. The drums were preloaded prior to takeoff so that the gunner did not waste time loading (however reloading could be done as quickly as 6 seconds). Ammunition was fed by a spring forced spiral double-drum containing 75 rounds total (not 150 as is often mistaken). This combined with a firing rate of 1000+ rpm means it could empty the magazine in 4.5 seconds or less. Typical practice was to provide at least 10 reloads for each gun on the aircraft, not including the magazine on the gun.

Starting in late 1940 the MG 15 was replaced by the Mauser 7.92 mm MG 81, MG 81Z (twin-MG 81), MG 131 13 mm machine guns, or MG 151/20 20 mm cannons. Many MG 15s were modified for infantry use as heavier weapons replaced them on Luftwaffe aircraft. There are a number of pictures showing the guns, both aircraft and ground versions, with 25 round magazines from the MG 13 but the magazines don't actually work with the MG 15. Official numbers of conversions was about 17,648 by January 1, 1944, although additional conversions may have been done as well.

The MG 15 was used in the Japanese aircraft as the Type 98 flexible-mounted machine gun and as the Type 1 in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Ώ]


Heinkel He 111 - Military Variants - He 111 P

The He 111P incorporated the updated Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 water-cooled engine and featured a newly designed nose section, including an asymmetric Ikaria nose mounting for an MG 15 machine gun that replaced the 'stepped' cockpit with a roomier and aerodynamically favourable, heavily glazed stepless cockpit over the front of the aircraft, a feature to be widely adopted - with some variations - on many German twin and multi-engined military airframe designs to come. This new "bullet" smooth glazed nose was first tested out on the He 111 V8 in January 1938. These improvements allowed the aircraft to reach 475 km/h (295 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and a cruise speed of 370 km/h (230 mph), although a full bombload reduced this figure to 300 km/h (190 mph). The design was implemented in 1937 because pilot reports indicated problems with visibility. The pilot's seat could actually be elevated, with the pilot's eyes above the level of the upper glazing, complete with a small pivoted windscreen panel, to get the pilot's head above the level of the top of the "glass tunnel" for a better forward view for takeoffs and landings.

One of Heinkel's rivals, Junkers, built 40 He 111Ps at Dessau. On 8 October 1938, the Junkers Central Administration commented:

Two aircraft were able to be inspected on 6th October in Bernburg. Apparent are the externally poor, less carefully designed components at various locations, especially at the junction between the empennage and the rear fuselage. All parts have an impression of being very weak especially when one is used to taking a long look at Junkers' designs, one cannot dispel a feeling of uncertainty. The visible flexing in the wing must also be very high. The left and right powerplants are interchangeable. Each motor has an exhaust-gas heater on one side, but it is not connected to the fuselage since it is probable that as a result of incorrect air feed, the warm air in the fuselage is not free of carbon monoxide (CO). The fuselage is not subdivided into individual segments, but is attached over its entire length, after completion, to the wing centre section. Outboard of the powerplants, the wings are attached by universal joints. The latter can in no way be satisfactory and have been the cause of several failures.

The new design was powered by the DB 601 Ba engine with 1,175 PS and reduced the length of the aircraft by 1.1 m (3.6 ft). The He 111P's DB601 powerplant exhaust pipes had a second outlet on the top of the engine which pumped hot air back into the aircraft to warm crews. It was designated as P-0, and the first production lines reached their units in Fall 1938. In May 1939, the P-1 and P-2 went into service with improved radio equipment. The P-1 variant was produced with two DB 601Aa powerplants of 1,150 hp (860 kW). The fuel tanks had the added innovation of self-sealing fuel tanks to protect them from enemy fire. The Nose department itself was now fully glazed and the "stepped up" cockpit was dispensed with. The P-1 was powered by a DB 601Aa engine and given a semi-retractable tail wheel to decrease drag. Armament consisted of a MG 15 mounted in the Ikaria A Stand mount in the nose, and a sliding hood for the fuselage's dorsal B-Stand position. Installation of upgraded FuG III radio communication devices were also made and a new ESAC-250/III vertical bomb magazine was added. The overall takeoff weight was now 13,300 kg (29,321 lb).

The P-2, like the later P-4, was given stronger armour and two MG 15 machine guns in "waist" mounts on either side of the fuselage and two external bomb racks. Radio communications consisted of FuG IIIaU radios and the DB601 A-1 replaced the 601Aa powerplants. The Lotfernrohr 7 bombsights, which became the standard bombsight for German bombers, were also fitted to the P-2. The P-2 was also given "field equipment sets", to upgrade the weak defensive armament to four or five MG 15 machine guns. The P-2 had its bomb capacity raised to 4 ESA-250/IX vertical magazines. The P-2 thus had an empty weight of 6,202 kg (13,272 lb), a loaded weight increased to 12,570 kg (27,712 lb) and a maximum range of 2,100 km (1,305 mi).

The P-3 was powered with the same DB601A-1 engines. The aircraft was also designed to take off with a land catapult (KL-12). A towing hook was added to the fuselage under the cockpit for the cable. Just eight examples were produced, all without bomb equipment. The P-4 contained many changes from the P-2 and P-3. The jettisonable loads were capable of considerable variation. Two external SC 1800 kg (3,960 lb) bombs two LMA air-dropped anti-shipping mines one SC 1,800 kg plus four SC 250 kg or one SC 2,500 kg external bomb could be carried on an ETC Rüstsatz rack. Depending on the load variation, a 835 L fuel and 120 L oil tank could be added in place of the internal bomb bay. The armament consisted of three defensive MG 15 machine guns. But these were not sufficient, so a further three MG 15s and one MG 17 machine gun was added. The radio communications were standard FuG X(10), Peil G V direction finding and FuBI radio devices. Because of the increase in defensive firepower, the crew numbers increased from four to five. The empty weight of the P-4 increased to 6,775 kg (14,936 lb), and the full takeoff weight increased to 13,500 kg (29,762 lb) owing to the mentioned alterations. The P-5 was powered by the DB601A. The variant was mostly used as a trainer and at least 24 production variants were produced before production ceased. The P-5 was alleged to have been fitted with PVC bomb racks, which cannot be confirmed. The P-5 was fitted with meteorological equipment, and was used in Luftwaffe weather units. Many of the He 111 Ps served during the Polish Campaign. With the Junkers Ju 88 experiencing technical difficulties, the He 111 and the Do 17 formed the backbone of the Kampfwaffe. On 1 September 1939, Luftwaffe records indicate the Heinkel strength at 705 (along with 533 Dorniers).

The P-6 variant was the last production model of the He 111 P series. In 1940, the Ministry of Aviation abandoned further production of the P series in favour of the H versions, mostly because the P-series' Daimler-Benz engines were sorely needed for Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighter production. The remaining P-6s were redesignated P-6/R2s and used as heavy glider tugs. The most notable difference with previous variants was the upgraded DB 601N powerplants.

The P-7 variant's history is unclear. German archives do not produce any reliable information for this variant, if it existed. The P-8 was said to have been similar to the H-5 fitted with dual controls. Its existence cannot be established. The P-9 was produced as an export variant for the Hungarian Air Force. Due to the lack of DB 601E engines, the line was terminated in Summer 1940.


Warfare Equipment

The MK 108 (German: Maschinenkanone—"machine cannon") was a 30 mm caliber autocannon manufactured in Germany during World War II by Rheinmetall-Borsig for use in aircraft.

The weapon was developed as a private venture by the company in 1940 and was submitted to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM—Reich Aviation Ministry) in response to a 1942 requirement for a heavy aircraft weapon for use against the Allied heavy bombers appearing over German-controlled regions by then. Testing verified that the autocannon was well-suited to this role, requiring on average just four hits with high-explosive ammunition to bring down a heavy bomber such as a B-17 Flying Fortress or B-24 Liberator and a single hit to down a fighter. In comparison, the otherwise excellent 20 mm MG 151/20 required an average of 25 hits to down a B-17.

MK 103 cannon

The Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 103 was a German 30 mm caliber autocannon that was mounted in German combat aircraft during World War II. Intended to be a dual purpose weapon for anti-tank and air-to-air fighting, it was a development of the heavy MK 101. Compared to the MK 101, it was lighter, faster-firing, and was originally intended to develop a higher muzzle velocity than the MK 101. Unlike the MK 101, the MK 103 used a belt feed, allowing it to potentially carry a larger ammunition load. The MK 103 used electrically primed rather than percussion primed ammunition. The firing mechanism differed from the recoil operated MK 101 in that it used a combination of gas and recoil operation. After firing, gas pressure serves to unlock the breech, while barrel recoil was used to cycle the action (eject spent cartridge and load a fresh one).

MG FF cannon

The MG FF was a drum-fed, 20 mm aircraft autocannon, developed in 1936 by Ikaria Werke Berlin of Germany. It was a derivative of the Swiss Oerlikon FF F cannon, itself a development of the German World War I Becker 20 mm cannon, and was designed to be used in fixed or flexible mountings, as both an offensive and a defensive weapon. It saw widespread use in those roles by the German Luftwaffe, particularly during the early stages of World War II, although from 1941 onwards it was gradually replaced by the 20 mm MG 151/20.

Compared to rival designs, such as the Hispano-Suiza HS.404 - which had been developed from the larger Oerlikon FF S - the MG FF had some disadvantages, such as low rate of fire and low muzzle velocity, as well as limited ammunition storage in its drums. On the other hand, it was much lighter and shorter. Wing installation on the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters was not easy, as the drum required substantial space, and as a consequence the ammunition storage was initially reduced to 60 shells per drum. An ammunition drum of 90-round nominal capacity was developed for the Fw 190 A-5, and retrofitted to some earlier variants. There were also experiments with belt feedings.

MG 131 machine gun

The MG 131 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 131, or "Machine gun 131") was a German 13 mm caliber machine gun developed in 1938 by Rheinmetall-Borsig and produced from 1940 to 1945. The MG 131 was designed for use at fixed, flexible or turreted, single or twin mountings in Luftwaffe aircraft during World War II.

It was installed in the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Me 410 Hornisse, Fw 190, Ju 88, Junkers Ju 388, He 177 Greif bomber, and many other aircraft. The Fernbedienbare Drehlafette FDL 131Z remotely-controlled gun turret system, used as a forward-mount dorsal turret on the He 177A, used two MG 131s for dorsal defense, with the experimental Hecklafette HL 131V manned aircraft tail turret design, meant to be standardized on the never-built A-6 version of the He 177A, was also meant for standardization on many late-war prototype developments of German heavy bomber airframes such as the separately developed four engined He 177B and the 1943-44 Amerika Bomber design contender from Heinkel, the Heinkel He 277, both airframes being intended to use the HL 131V tail turret unit mounting four MG 131s, two on either side of the seated gunner. The Hecklafette tail turret design was never produced beyond a small number of prototype and test examples from 1943 onwards, with few relics of their existence remaining.

MG 17 machine gun

The MG 17 was a 7.92 mm machine gun produced by Rheinmetall-Borsig for use at fixed mountings in many World War II Luftwaffe aircraft.

A mainstay fixed machine gun in German built aircraft (many of which were sold to other countries) well before World War II, by 1940 it was starting to be replaced with heavier caliber machine gun and cannons. By 1945 very few if any aircraft mounted the MG 17.

The MG 17 was installed in the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Messerschmitt Bf 110, Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Junkers Ju 87, Junkers Ju 88C Nightfighter, Heinkel He 111, Dornier Do 17/215 Nightfighter, Focke-Wulf Fw 189 and many other aircraft. Many MG 17s were later modified for infantry use as heavier weapons replaced them on Luftwaffe aircraft. Official numbers of conversions was about 24,271 by January 1, 1944, although additional conversions may have been done as well.

MG 15

The MG 15 was a German 7.9 mm machine gun designed specifically as a hand manipulated defensive gun for combat aircraft during the early 1930s. By 1941 it was replaced by other types and found new uses with ground troops.

The MG 15 was developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 1920s. Though it shares the MG 15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG 15nA (for neuer Art, meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The World War I gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG 15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position.

MG 151 cannon

The MG 151 (MG 151/15) was a 15 mm autocannon produced by Waffenfabrik Mauser starting in 1940. It was in 1941 developed into the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon which was widely used on many types of German Luftwaffe fighters, fighter bombers, night fighters, ground attack and even bombers as part of or as their main armament during World War II. The 20 mm MG 151/20 was also fitted on the Italian World War II fighter aircraft of the "Serie 5", the most effective Italian fighters of WWII.


Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

Main article: Heinkel He 111 operational history

The Heinkel He 111 served on all the German military fronts in the European Theatre of World War II. Beginning the war as a medium bomber it supported the German campaigns in the field until 1943 when, owing to Western Allied and Soviet air superiority, it reverted to a transport aircraft role.

German-built He 111s remained in service in Spain after the end of the Second World War, being supplemented by Spanish licence-built CASA 2.111s from 1950. The last two German-built aircraft remained in service until at least 1958


Heinkel He 111: Ammo drums for MG 15 - History

Heinkel He 111 / CASA 2.111

(Variants/Other Names: See History below)


This CASA 211 was owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force, Mesa, Arizona, USA. Photo taken over Frederick, Maryland, USA in August 2000 by Gregory Witmer, from Larry Kelley's B-25 "Panchito." This aircraft was lost in an accident in July 2003.

History: When World War I ended, the German Air Force was disbanded under the Treaty of Versailles, which required the German government to abandon all military aviation by October 1, 1919. However, by 1922, it was legal for Germany to design and manufacture commercial aircraft, and one of the first modern medium bombers to emerge from this process was the Heinkel He 111, the first prototype of which an enlarged, twin-engine version of the single-engine mail-liaison He 70, which set 8 world speed records in 1933 flew in February of 1935. The second prototype, the He 111 V2, had shorter wings and was the first civil transport prototype, capable of carrying 10 passengers and mail. The third prototype, He 111 V3 also had shorter wings and was the first true bomber prototype. Six He 111 C series airliners were derived from the fourth prototype, the He 111 V4, and went into service with Lufthansa in 1936, powered by a variety of engines, including BMW 132 radials. The first production models had the classic stepped windshield and an elliptical wing, which the designers, Siegfried and Walter Gunter, favored.

As a military aircraft, it took longer to gain favor, because military load requirements and underpowered engines kept its cruising speed down to less than 170 mph. However, in early 1936, the plane was given 1,000 hp Daimler Benz DB 600A engines which improved performance dramatically enough to bring in substantial orders. The first two mass-production versions, He 111 E and He 111 F experienced great success during the Spanish Civil War, where they served with the Condor Legion as fast bombers, able to outrun many of the fighters sent against them.

In fact, the experience in Spain generated a false sense of security in which the Germans thought that the He 111's light armament and speed would be sufficient in the coming war. Thus, although it was out of date, the large numbers in which it had been produced made the He 111 the Luftwaffe's primary bomber for far too long in the war, availability being more persuasive than practicality for this serviceable, but highly vulnerable, aircraft. Modern fighters like the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane proved the He 111's inadequacy during the Battle of Britain. As soon as possible, the Luftwaffe replaced the Heinkel with the Junkers Ju 88, reassigning the Heinkel to night operations and other specialized tasks until, by war's end, it was being used primarily as a transport.

More than 7,300 had been built for the Luftwaffe by autumn, 1944, with another 236 (He 111H) being built by the Spanish manufacturer, CASA, during and after the war (as the CASA 2.111), some with the traditional Jumo 211 engines, some with Rolls-Royce Merlins. In service with the Luftwaffe from 1937 to 1945, the Heinkels remained in Spanish service until 1965.

One of the more bizarre adaptations of the Heinkel by the Luftwaffe was the He 111 Z-1, in which two He 111s were joined at the wing with a special section containing a fifth engine. Two prototypes and 10 production models were manufactured, their purpose being to provide the power to haul the huge Messerschmitt Me 321 transport gliders.

The sole remaining He 111 in regular use was owned by the Arizona wing of the Commemorative Air Force in the USA. It was a Spanish-built CASA 2.111D that was used to transport VIPs during the Franco regime. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a crash in July 2003. Another He 111 is currently under restoration in the USA.

Nicknames: Pedro (Condor Legion nickname).

Specifications (He 111H-16):
Engines: Two 1,350-hp Jumo 211F-2 inverted V-12 piston engines
Weight: Empty 19,136 lbs., Max Takeoff 30,865 lbs.
Wing Span: 74ft. 1.75in.
Length: 53ft. 9.5in.
Height: 13ft. 1.25in.
Performance:
Maximum Speed at Sea Level: 227 mph
Ceiling: 21,980 ft.
Range: 1,212 miles
Armament:
One 20-mm MG FF cannon
One 13-mm (0.51-inch) MG 131 machine gun
Three 7.92-mm (0.31-inch) MG 81Z machine guns
Internal bomb-load of 2,205 pounds.

Number Built: 7,300+

Number Still Airworthy: None, but one is currently under restoration.


The MG-15: A Flexible Aircraft Machine Gun Pushed into Infantry Service

The MG-15 was the first standard flexible-mounted aircraft machine gun adopted by the Luftwaffe in the 1930s. Both it and the MG-17 are evolved form a Rheinmetall/Solothurn design which would also become the Austrian and Hungarian M30 infantry light machine guns. As used by the Luftwaffe, the MG15 fired at 900-1000 rounds per minute from a 75-round double drum magazine (the MG-17 was the belt-fed version). It is a very sleek and plain looking tubular gun, using a short recoil action and a rotary locking collar to secure the bolt and barrel during firing.

As World War Two progressed, aircraft armor became heavier than the 8x57mm Mauser cartridge became insufficient for aerial combat. It would be replaced by 13mm, 15mm, 20mm, and even 30mm machine guns and machine cannons. This left a substantial numbers of MG15 guns obsolete but still in inventory, and at the end of the war some numbers were converted to infantry guns. This was done by adding a simple buttstock, a bipod and bipod mounting shroud, and infantry type sights. It was not an ideal ground gun, but with German arms production in serious trouble anything was welcome.

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27 Comments

First off, thanks to Ian for another fascinating episode.
Ian is an above-average historian because he takes the extra time to explain historical context …. milieu of a particular weapon.

As for the infantry MG-15: Holy over-complexity Bat Man!
Amazing how Luftwafe firearms were still un-necessarily complex even during the desperate (later years of) World War 2.
Compare that multi-piece butt stock with the single chunk of wood on Stg 44. That butt-plate may already have been in production because it resembles a German flare pistol modified (pare war) to fire grenades.

“MG-15”
I starting wondering about proper orthography of that, MG-15 xor MG15 xor MG 15?
After searching I found cut-away drawing here: http://www.airwar.ru/weapon/guns/mg-17.html (near end) described as MG.15, however these drawing itself contain designation as M. G. 15. so it looks that proper name is M. G. 15.
2 values of mass are given for M. G. 15.:
7,1 kg (empty)
12,4 kg (loaded)
assuming that first is for weapon less magazine, it would mean that loaded magazine (with 75 rounds) weighted 5,3 kg. Not big issue for aircraft gunners which could have several magazines in reach of hand, but clunky for usage in light machine gun role.

Does anybody know if this, or perhaps more likely the MG-34 double drum, was the inspiration for the Beta C-Mag?

The way of writing equipment short-names changed over time. It started with a lot of punctuation and spaces (M. G. 08). First the spaces were left out (M.G. 34), later also the punctuation. In 1944 field manuals, for example, you find the names written MG 81 and MP 44, which was continued by Bundeswehr (G 3). Today even the space between letter and figure is gone: G36

bloody hell, using aluminum for a last ditch mg. it must be german! the butt stock reminds me of their at rifles. was it re-used when the at rifle, like the aircraft mg, fell out of use? has ian’s mg17 video a disassembly part to explain the locking collar?

Actually, the bipod and rifle butt-stock were part of the MG15 package from the beginning.

The MG15 was originally the standard “flexible” (i.e., hand-swung) defensive MG carried on all Luftwaffe medium bombers, notably the Ju-88, Do-17 and He-111. Most carried at least two, sometimes three or four. (One each in nose bomb-aimer’s, forward cockpit, aft cockpit, and “gondola” positions, plus one in each side on a Heinkel.)

Luftwaffe bomber crews were issued pistols as survival SERE weapons, generally 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP) blowback autos like the Walther PP. Each bomber usually had at least one survival longarm, most often a “drilling” (three-barrel, break-open rifle/shotgun combination, usually 12 gauge, 7.9 x 57, and either .22 LR or .22 Hornet, the latter more common in Europe before the war than you might think).

Considering this OK for foraging but maybe less than optimum for actual shoot-outs, the Luftwaffe also issued two sets of MG15 butt-stock and bipod combos to each bomber. The drill was you unshipped two of your flexible guns, bolted the bits on, grabbed the ammo saddle drums, and you had two LMGs in event of an actual gunfight.

This kit was in every Luftwaffe bomber in North Africa and the Med/Balkan theaters, and most on the Russian Front. The Germans did not trust the Arabs or other Africans, knew that being captured by the Greek or Yugoslav partisans was a certain death sentence, and no Luftwaffe officer in his right mind surrendered to the Red Army.

They were rarely seen over England, as parachuting from the stricken bomber was more common than trying to crashland there, and no German was much worried about his treatment in a “Kriegie” camp in Canada or the U.S.

MG15s with this setup were also used on tripods as light AA by Luftwaffe ground troops to protect their airfields from low-level attacks, as well as being used in support-fire mode against ground attacks by enemy troops (quite common in the non-British theaters, especially in the Balkans and the Ostfront).

By 1945, when the Luftwaffe was little more than a shadow of its former self, and the Allies were kicking in the doors on all sides of the Fatherland, those MG15s with their rifle-butts and bipods were taken from Luftwaffe stores and issued to the Volkssturm, Hitler Youth, and other such pickup formations, often by local Gauleiters. As John Walter observed in Guns of the Third Reich</em, even without quick-change barrels, they provided a measure of LMG fire support to units that otherwise would have had none at all.

“usually 12 gauge, 7.9 x 57, and either .22 LR or .22 Hornet”
However Luftwaffe also bought some weapon known now as M30 Luftwaffe Drilling: http://modernfirearms.net/shotgun/de/sauer-m30-luftwaffe-e.html
for 12 gauge and 9,3呆 R (this is old German “African” or “Safari” cartridge)

This blog is a bit old but where did you get your information eon?
You are right that bomber crews carried a butt and bipod on board for fighting if the plane crash landed for defence. However the butt and bipod was nothing like the ones that can be seen in ground role use at the end of the war.
I have a bipod that was taken out of a bomber that was at the bottom of a lake in Holland and a bipod that was found in France.
Both items look quite crude in construction and I have only seen one of these butts in a reference book of a BW picture taken during the war presumably from a captured MG15.
I have an aircraft archaeologist friend who did a dig on a HE111 in England who found several box’s containing French SMGs. I think the German Luftwaffe obviously thought that there was a threat even during the Battle of Britain for crews to have a fighting chance if grounded. Back to the butt and bipod, I do believe there is a photo I’ve seen of one of these butts in use in a HE111 nose. Kind regards, Mark


World War II Database


ww2dbase The Heinkel He 111 Doppel-Blitz medium bombers' original design was civilian in nature as Ernst Heinkel aimed to produce a new generation of fast passenger airliners. After the Günter brothers successfully completed their He 70 Blitz project, that design eventually became the foundation upon which they drew the one for He 111. Because the heritage of the He 111 project traced back to He 70 Blitz ("Lightning"), the new design was named Doppel-Blitz ("Double Lightning"). After two variants of prototypes, the third variant began to show practical promise, but it was deemed underpowered so those built were sold off to China in 1935. In early 1936, the third prototype variant boosted power output with Daimler-Benz engines, allowing the aircraft to reach a top speed of 360 kilometers per hour, and it generated interest within the German Air Force, Luftwaffe. An order from the Luftwaffe was given, and the construction proceeded in secret under the guise of a civilian order. This secrecy gave the Luftwaffe some advantage many He 111 aircraft, disguised as Deutsche Lufthansa airliners, flew reconnaissance missions over Britain, France, and the Soviet Union in 1937. Some of them also served in the Spanish Civil War, during which they proved themselves as combat worthy bombers by outrunning many of the hostile interceptors. Before the European War began, it was already recognized that He 111 bombers were fast and powerful enough to perform a wide variety of missions.

ww2dbase When the European War began in Sep 1939, He 111 bombers were the standard medium bombers of the Luftwaffe. During the Battle of Britain, they were regularly seen over British cities. In that battle, although these bombers were durable and often returned home safely after being riddled by bullets and shrapnel, more and more guns were added to the aircraft in later designs to bolster their defensive capabilities, which came at a cost of their performance. In 1940, after Junkers began building the better-performing Ju 88 bomber in sufficient numbers, and He 111 bombers' role shifted to become a tactical support bomber, flying a range of high altitude and dive bombing missions in direct support of ground troops during Operation Barbarossa, Battle of Stalingrad, Battle of Kursk, and other engagements on the Eastern Front. In the early stages of the Russo-German War, a small number of them served in weather reconnaissance roles and pathfinder roles as the tide turned and German troops began finding themselves trapped in pockets, many He 111 bombers became transport aircraft, flying food and ammunition into encircled areas, unloading either on the ground or airdropping them out of bomb bay doors. In this role, their air crews were among the last German witnesses of combat at the doomed German efforts at Stalingrad, Breslau (now Wroclaw), and Berlin. He 111 aircraft would remain in service until the end of the European War.

ww2dbase During the production life between 1935 and 1944, about 7,300 He 111 bombers were built. There were a great number of variants due to the different engine types available for use during different times in the production life. Many of these machines also saw service with minor Axis nations such as Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. The Spanish company CASA also produced a number of He 111 bombers for use with the Spanish military these heavily modified Spanish-built bombers had the designation of CASA 2.111.

ww2dbase Sources:
John Weal, He 111 Kampfgeschwader on the Russian Front
Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: May 2007

He 111 Doppel-Blitz Timeline

25 Feb 1935 The prototype He 111 medium bomber made its maiden flight with test pilot Gerhard Nitschke at the controls.
19 Aug 1944 F6F-5 Hellcat fighters flying from USS Tulagi became the first US Navy Hellcats to score aerial victories in the European Theater when fighters from Squadron VOF-1 shot down three Heinkel He-111 medium bombers south of Lyon in southern France.

H-3

MachineryTwo Junkers Jumo 211D-2 liquid-cooled inverted V-12 engines rated at 1,200hp each
Armament5x7.92mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 15 machine guns, 1x20mm MG FF cannon, optional 1x7.92mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 17 machine gun in tail, 2,000-3,000lb bombs, optional 1xFZG-76
Crew5
Span22.60 m
Length16.40 m
Height4.20 m
Wing Area87.50 m²
Weight, Empty7,720 kg
Weight, Loaded11,300 kg
Weight, Maximum12,400 kg
Speed, Maximum415 km/h
Service Ceiling7,800 m
Range, Normal2,150 km

H-6

MachineryTwo Jumo 211F-1 liquid-cooled inverted V-12 engine rated at 1,300hp each
ArmamentUp to 7x7.92mm MG 15 or MG 81 machine guns, some of them replaced by 20mm MG FF cannon or 13mm MG 131 machine gun, 2,000kg of bombs
Crew5
Span22.60 m
Length16.40 m
Height3.90 m
Wing Area86.50 m²
Weight, Empty7,720 kg
Weight, Loaded12,030 kg
Weight, Maximum14,075 kg
Speed, Maximum400 km/h
Service Ceiling8,390 m
Range, Normal2,800 km

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. pedro says:
3 Apr 2006 10:31:18 AM

i never knew any of that stuff i guess its pretty cool

2. Alan Chanter says:
2 Nov 2007 04:59:39 AM

By the 1st September 1939 earlier models of the Heinkel III had been almost exclusively replaced in the Luftwaffe. The first-line Kampfgruppen comprised 808 bombers of this type including 349 He.111Ps and 400 He.111Hs. The two models differed from each other primarily in the type of powerplant. The P series having Daimler-Benz DB 601A engines, whilst the H Series had Junkers Jumo 211 engines. In early 1940 the decision was made to standardize on the Jumo 211 engine. Both types participated in the Battle of Britain.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


32 sad, tragic but fascinating colorised images of WWII

Many thanks go to Doug Banks and his team – the masters of colourisation. The beauty of these colourised images is that colour, allows you to pick out and study the smallest detail. Do not click on their page – you will become addicted to their work It is the research that they do on each image that makes the captions themselves a history lesson. Facebook page here Colourised-Photos

An SAS jeep (Sr/Nº4822478) in the Gabes-Tozeur area of Tunisia. The vehicle is heavily loaded with jerry cans of fuel and water, and personal kit. The ‘gunner’ is manning the .50 cal Browning machine gun, while the driver has a single Vickers ‘K’ gun in front, and a twin mounting vickers behind. 1943. #SAS #Jeep

(Source – IWM – Sgt. Currey, No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit) (Colourised by Paul Reynolds)
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Historic Military Photo Colourisations)

Pilot Officer Albert Gerald Lewis DFC (aged 22) in his Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 (VY-R) P2923 with 85 Squadron RAF at Castle Camps, RAF Debden’s satellite airfield in Cambridgeshire. July 1940.

Albert Gerald Lewis (10 April 1918 – 14 December 1982) was a South African born fighter ace during the war, who was featured in a ‘Life’ magazine article about the Battle of Britain. Lewis re ceived his Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in July 1940 and his citation read that during the Battle of France on May the 19th, he shot down five enemy aircraft before he himself was shot down over Lille.

He then joined No.249 Squadron RAF on the 15th of September 1940. One the same day he shot down a Heinkel He.111 and on the 18th, a Messerschmitt Bf. 109 (his twelfth confirmed enemy aircraft).
On the 27th of September he claimed 6 kills (three Bf 109s, two Bf 110s and a Ju 88), two probables and one damaged. While on a patrol on the 28th of September he was shot down and he baled out of his Hurricane over Faversham and was taken to Faversham Cottage Hospital, blind for two weeks, and with shrapnel in his legs with severe burns on the face, throat, hands and legs. He returned to the Squadron in December, 1940, having been promoted Flight Lieutenant on the 29th of November. He was flying by the 17th of January 1941, and became “A” Flight Commander, and was awarded a bar to the DFC.
His final tally was 18 kills.

USAAF Capt. Dewey E. Newhart
“Mud N’ Mules” Republic P-47D-15-RE Thunderbolt LH-D s/n 42-76141 350th Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, 8th Air Force

Capt. Newhart was killed in action on the 12th of June 1944 during a mission over Northern France.
He was leading the squadron down to strafe an enemy truck convoy near Saint-Saëns, Normandy when he was jumped by 8-10 Bf.109s whilst flying a P-47D LH-U(s/n 42-26402) named “Soubrette”, he was hit and radioed that he was attempting to make landfall. Before he could escape, he was attacked by two more fighters, and was shot down and killed.

The pictured aircraft was re-assigned to Capt. Lonnie M. Davis who renamed it “Arkansas Traveler” but retained the mule artwork out of respect for Newhart.

A German paratrooper (Fallschirmjäger) with an MG 42 (Maschinengewehr 42) machine gun positions himself to fire on Allied forces. Near Sainte-Mère-Église, Manche, Normandy, France.
21st of June 1944. Although the Fallschirmjäger were actually Luftwaffe troops, these units were by the time of the Allied Invasion of Normandy, tactically subordinated to German Army (Heer) com mand.

(Source – Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-582-2106-24)

(Colorized by Jiří Macháček from the Czech Republic)
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M4 Sherman (US Army 3099276) of ‘A’ Company 763rd Tank Battalion and troops from the 96th Infantry Division in battle at Okinawa, April 1945.

(Source – US Army Signal Corps)

(Colourised by Royston Leonard UK)
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Major General Erwin Rommel, and an early Panzer IV (Nº321) of the 7th Panzer Division in France, May 1940.

Erwin Rommel, is pictured here with his Leica III rangefinder camera. Rommel is reported to have been given such a camera by his friend/patron, Joseph Goebbels, before the 1940 Western campaign many ‘photos of his authorship or probable authorship survive, and crop up with a fair degree of frequency in propaganda/publicity contexts.

Rommel and the German 7th Panzer division in France 1940 He was given the command in the place of the both older and more experienced commanders. Inevitably, any account of the German 7th Panzer Division’s actions in France, 1940, to a large extent involves Erwin Rommel. Nevertheless, Rommel often showed audacity and never hesitated to take command of a situation no matter how big or small. He was a man of action, and it seems that he often reacted in a spontaneous and somewhat impulsive manner. His style of command and personality characterized much of the actions of the division.

At the time of the campaign in France, Germany did not possess an overwhelming military strength. The Germans had 135 divisions compared to 151 for the allied side. Germany had some 2500 tanks while the allies had more than 4000. The German tanks were not technically superior to those of the allies. Only in the air did the Germans have superiority both in numbers of aircraft and in their technical performance.
The German superiority, instead, lay in their tactics with narrow and deep penetrations. The Germans only had 10 Panzer Divisions, but they were used with a devastating effect when they were concentrated on a narrow front.
(www.thegermanarmy.org/)

British Sherman tanks and 6-pdr anti-tank guns of the 11th Armoured Division, advancing through the village of St Charles-de-Percy in Calvados, Normandy, on the N 177 road to Vire. 2nd of August 1944,

(Source – © IWM B 8488 – Sgt. Laing – No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit)

(Colourised by Allan White from Australia)

Flying Officer Philip Ingleby 137140, the navigator of an Avro Lancaster B Mark III of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, seated at his table in the aircraft. February 1944.

Taking off at 10.50 hrs on the 7th August 1944, the de Havilland Mosquito VI (s/n NT202) AJ-N of No. 617 Squadron, was on a training exercise from R.A.F. Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. It had completed three runs over the Wainfleet Sands bombing range and at 11.12 hrs. whilst pulling up in a climbing turn to port the starboard engine failed, followed immediately by structural failure of the starboard wing. Out of control, the Mosquito plunged into shallow water by the foreshore. The Pilot F/O. Warren Duffy (aged 21) and Navigator P. Ingleby (Aged 23) were both killed.

T/Sgt. Benedict “Benny” Borostowski, ball turret gunner of Capt. Oscar D. O’Neil’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Invasion 2nd” (serial 42-5070) of the 401st Bomb Sq, 91st BG.

The B-17 and crew were on a bombing run destined for the Focke-Wulf factory in Bremen on the 17th of April 1943 when it was hit by flak and crashed in the region of Nikolausdorf, near Oldenburg in Germany.

“Invasion 2nd” formed the lead plane of the first element of six aircraft making up the lowest squadron. Taking flak hits and attacks by German fighters over the target, the number two engine was completely shot away. The left wing caught on fire and spread to the fuselage. Captain Oscar D. O’Neill called for the crew to bail out but Waist Gunners T/Sgts. Lapp and King were prevented from leaving by a stuck escape hatch. The ball turret gunner, Technical Sergeant Benedict B. Borostowski, came up into the fuselage from the ball turret and went to the partly open waist door. He found Lapp and King unable to force the door and used his foot to push both of them through. All of the crew members were able to leave the aircraft and survived the jump. They all spent the remainder of the war as POWs.

The ‘Sperry’ ball turret, meant for ventral defense needs on aircraft, was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the United States Navy’s Liberator, the PB4Y-1. The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. The gunner placed his feet in the heel rests and then crouched down into a fetal position. He would then put on a safety strap, close and lock the turret door. The gunner sat in the turret with his back and head against the rear wall, his hips at the bottom, and his legs held in mid-air by two footrests on the front wall. This left him positioned with his eyes roughly level with the pair of light-barrel Browning AN/M2 .50 caliber machine guns which extended through the entire turret, and located to either side of the gunner. The cocking handles were located too close to the gunner to be operated easily, so a cable was attached to the handle through pulleys to a handle near the front of the turret. Small ammo boxes rested on the top of the turret and the remaining ammo belts were stowed in the already cramped turret by means of an elaborate feed chute system. A reflector sight was hung from the top of the turret, positioned at head height, there was no room inside for a parachute, which was left in the cabin above the turret. A few gunners wore a chest parachute.

The turret was directed by two hand control grips with firing buttons similar to a one-button joy stick. Hydraulics normally powered elevation and azimuth. Hand cranks were available for backup. The left foot was used to control the reflector sight range reticle. The right foot operated a push-to-talk intercom switch.

Colourised by Paul Reynolds.
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This photograph shows a British Paratrooper taking aim with an American M1 carbine from the first floor balcony of the Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek, near Arnhem in The Netherlands. September 1944.

(The photograph was taken by Sergeant D M Smith, Army Film and Photographic Unit on Saturday the 23rd of September 1944.) Sergeant Dennis Smith, the photographer, wrote: “We have had a very heavy sh elling this morning, September 23rd and now the situation is serious. the shelling is hellish. We have been holding out for a week now. The men are tired, weary and food is becoming scarce, and to make matters worse, we are having heavy rain. If we are not relieved soon, then the men will just drop from sheer exhaustion”.

The British 1st Airborne Division headquarters had been established in the Hotel during ‘Operation Market Garden’ and it is now the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’.

US troops from Combat Command B of the U.S. 14th Armored Division entering the Hammelburg Prison in Germany by opening the main gate with bursts of their M3 “Grease Guns”. Hammelburg, Germany. April 6, 1945. Hammelburg was a large German Army training camp, set up in 1893. Part of this camp had been used as a POW camp for Allied army personnel in World War I. After 1935 it was a t raining camp and military training area for the newly reconstituted German Army. In May 1940 the camp was established in wooden huts at the south end of the training ground. The first prisoners included Belgian, Dutch and French soldiers taken during the Battle of France. In May–June 1941 Yugoslavian, predominantly Serbian prisoners arrived from the Balkans Campaign, and soon after in June–July 1941 Australian and other British Commonwealth soldiers arrived, captured during the Battle of Crete.

American soldiers that had been captured during the Battle of Normandy arrived in June–July 1944, and more from the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945. In March 1945 a large group of prisoners arrived in deplorable condition after marching the 500 miles from Stalag 13-D in severe winter conditions.

“It seems the opening of the gates with machine gun fire is most likely symbolic and a show for the camera’s.
There are other photos of this POW liberation that show Sherman tanks rolling easily through the fences – which is far safer IMO than the method used in photo.”

(Colourising and Text by Paul Reynolds.)
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Lt. Col. Robert Wolverton, C/O 3 Btn, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, checking his gear before boarding the C-47 “Dakota”, 8Y-S, “Stoy Hora” of the 440th Troop Carrier Squadron at an airfield in Exeter, England. The evening of the 5th of June 1944.

On that evening in June 1944, he gathered his men in an orchard adjacent to what is now Exeter airport, and said: “Men, I am not a religious man and I don’t know your feelings in this matter, but I am going to ask you to pray with me for the success of the mission before us. And while we pray, let us get on our knees and not look down but up with faces raised to the sky so that we can see God and ask his blessing in what we are about to do. “God almighty, in a few short hours we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid. We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if You will, use us as Your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.”We do not know or seek what our fate will be. We ask only this, that if die we must, that we die as men would die, without complaining, without pleading and safe in the feeling that we have done our best for what we believed was right.

“Oh Lord, protect our loved ones and be near us in the fire ahead and with us now as we pray to you.”

Sadly, within hours, the orator himself was dead a cruel twist of fate meant his feet never touched French soil. Lt Col Robert L Wolverton (aged 30), was killed by ground fire and left suspended by his parachute from an apple tree in an orchard just north of the hamlet of St Côme du Mont in Normandy.

(Nb. of the 15 men in his ‘stick’, 5 were KIA on D/Day, 8 taken as POWs and 2 unaccounted for)

(Colourised by Johhny Sirlande from Belgium)
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From Left to Right, B-25 crew members: Sgt. John C. Bellendir (Gnr.), Chicago Sgt. Raymond J. Swingholm (Eng/Gnr.), Lebanon, PA Sgt. Harris B. Pate (Rd/Gnr.), Hamlet, NC Red Cross Clubmobile Worker, Peggy Steers from White Plains, NY. and T/Sgt. Aubrey Chatters (Rd/Gnr.), Milington MI. All from the 321st Bombardment Group, 447th Bombardment Squadron,12th Air Force. Alesani Airfield, Corsica, 2 nd of July 1944. They had just returned from a bombing mission over targets in Ravenna, Italy and now enjoy Coffee and Doughnuts. (Photographer – Ollie Atkins, reporter for the American Red Cross.)

German troops, accepting a drink from a French villager somewhere in Normandy. Mid. June 1944, after the commencement of the allied invasion.The soldier on the left is carrying a Sturmgewehr (STG.44) and in the centre is a Panzerschreck (RPzB.54 – anti-tank rocket launcher) and front right are the Gr.4322 heat rockets used with the launcher.

(Bundesarchiv. Bild 101I-731-0388-38)

(Colourised by Doug) Garapan, Saipan, Mariana Islands. 3rd of July 1944.

“Marine infantrymen move fast to take up new positions in Garapan, principal city of Saipan. Japanese buildings and installations were set afire by supporting artillery barrages and the ‘Leathernecks’ (Marines) entered the town to engage the enemy in street fighting for the first time in the Pacific theatre.”

Garapan, on the west coast of Saipa n, was captured by the 2nd Marine Division. About 2,100 Japanese out of the original garrison of 29,000 on Saipan were taken prisoner. American casualties were approximately 3,100 killed, 300 missing, and 13,100 wounded. (From the Photograph Collection (COLL/3948), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections)

(Colourised by Royston Leonard UK) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colourized-pictures-of-the-world-wars-and-other-periods-in-time/182158581977012

Two medics, one a Feldwebel and the other a Gefreiter, helping an injured comrade in Colombelles, Normandy, France in July 1944. (Colorised by Vitaly Lopatin from Russia)

July 1943. Greenville, South Carolina. “Air Service Command. Men of the Quartermaster Truck Company of the 25th Service Group having a card game in one of the barracks.” (Colorised by ‘Retropotamus’ from America)

Stanisław Franciszek Sosabowski CBE (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf sɔsaˈbɔfskʲi] 8 May 1892 – 25 September 1967) was a Polish general in World War II. He fought in the Battle of Arnhem (Netherlands) in 1944 as commander of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Stanisław_Sosabowski
(Colorised by Marcin Pasiak from Poland)

Supermarine Spitfire Mark VCs of No. 2 Squadron South African Air Force (SAAF) based at Palata, Italy, flying in loose line astern formation over the Adriatic Sea while on a bombing mission to the Sangro River battlefront. Oct-Dec 1943 (© IWM CNA 2102)

(Colorised by Tom Thounaojam from Imphal in India)

A 7.2-inch howitzer of the British Army’s 75th Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery being towed through the narrow Via Giuseppe Mazzini by the corner of Via Oreste Bandiniin in the commune of Borgo San Lorenzo, Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany. 12th of September 1944. (© IWM NA 18595)

(Colourised by Royston Leonard UK)
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Wehrmacht troops on the Eastern Front (c.1942) They are seen here carrying the Maschinenpistole MP.40.

“Although the MP 40 was generally reliable, a major weakness was its 32-round magazine. Unlike the double-column, dual-feed magazine insert found on the Thompson M1921-28 variants, the MP 38 and MP 40 used a double-column, single-feed insert. The single-feed insert resulted in increased frictio n against the remaining cartridges moving upwards towards the feed lips, occasionally resulting in feed failures this problem was exacerbated by the presence of dirt or other debris. Another problem was that the magazine was also sometimes misused as a handhold. This could cause the weapon to malfunction when hand pressure on the magazine body caused the magazine lips to move out of the line of feed, since the magazine well did not keep the magazine firmly locked. Soldiers were trained to grasp either the handhold on the underside of the weapon or the magazine housing with the supporting hand to avoid feed malfunctions.”

By 1942 the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) on the Eastern Front consisted of many volunteers from other countries, such as, Belgium, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Croatia the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Caucasus.

4./Fallschirmjäger in Florence, Italy. Mid August 1944 (Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-588-2292-22)

Dispositions on the Gothic Line August-September 1944, Defending the section of the line around Florence was I Fallschirm Korps of the Fourteenth Army. The 356. Infantry Division was positioned on the eastern flank, the 4. Fallschirmjäger Division was in the centre and the 362nd Infantry Division was on the western flank. They faced forces from the British 13th Corps and the US IV Corps.

A Maquisard carrying a German MP.40 (Machinenpistole) at the time of the Liberation of Paris during August 1944.

Photo © Izis Lithuanian born photographer, Izraelis Bidermanas “Izis”, found refuge in the region of Limoges during the Second World War where he joined the French Resistance fighters. During the Liberation in August 1944 he made portraits of his fellow “Maquisards”.

The maquis increased fast with the reinforcement of many young men trying to escape the invasion by German troops in November 1942 and the STO(Service du travail obligatoire) in early 1943. Maquis operations changed from sabotages in 1943 to massive attacks against occupation troops in 1944. At its peak, the Limousine maquis is estimated to have reached between 8,000 and 12,000 fighters.

Troops from the 101st Airborne with full packs and a bazooka, in a C-47 just before take-off from RAF Upottery Airfield to Normandy, France for “Operation Chicago. 5th June 1944.

Additional ID: (F-Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division underway to Normandy aboard their C-47 #12. At 01.20 hours they jumped over DZ “C” (Hiesville). L to R: William G. Olanie, Frank D. Griffin, Ro bert J. “Bob” Noody, Lester T. Hegland. This photo took on a life of its own after publishment. In the picture Bob remembers he must have weighed at least 250 lbs, encumbered with his M-1 rifle, a bazooka, three rockets, land mines, and other assorted “necessities”.)

The division, as part of the VII Corps assault, jumped in the dark morning before H-Hour to seize positions west of Utah Beach. As the assault force approached the French coast, it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers from both the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas.

From 00.15 in the darkness of June 6, 1944, when Capt. Frank L. Lillyman, Skaneateles, N.Y., leader of the Pathfinder group, became the first American soldier to touch French soil, and for 33 successive days the 101st Airborne carried the attack to the enemy.

(Colourised by Paul Reynolds)
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A US soldier says farewell at Penn Station (Pennsylvania Station, New York), before being posted abroad in December 1943. (Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt) Eisenstaedt when speaking of the time he photographed American soldiers saying farewell to their wives and sweethearts in 1943 on assignment for ‘Life’ Magazine: “I just kept motionless like a statue.” he said. “They never saw me clicking away. For the kind of photography I do, one has to be very unobtrusive and to blend in with the crowd.”

(Colorised by Gisele Nash from America)
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Private L.V. Hughes, 48th Highlanders of Canada, Cdn.1st Division sniping a German position near the Foglia River, on the Gothic Line in Italy. Late August 1944. He looks to be using a Nº4 Mk.1(T) Lee Enfield Sniper Rifle with a Canadian made Nº32 R.E.L. Mk.III Telescopic Sight.

Gothic Line, Italy – Canadian 1st Division
While the Canadian 3rd Division troops had been in battle in France for almost 3 months, the Canadian 1st Division had landed in Italy from Sicily almost one year before, on the 3rd of September 1943. The 48th Highlanders (Toronto) approached ‘The Gothic Line’ — the next German line of defence and the next grand battle.

In the last week of August 1944, the entire Canadian Corps began its attack on the Gothic Line with the objective of capturing Rimini. Six rivers lay across the path of the advance. On August 25, the Canadians crossed the Metauro River but the next, the Foglia was more formidable. Here the Germans had concentrated their defences, and it required days of bitter fighting and softening of the line by Allied air forces to reach it. On August 30, two Canadian brigades crossed the Foglia River and fought their way through the Gothic Line. On September 2 General Burns reported that “the Gothic Line is completely broken in the Adriatic Sector and the 1st Canadian Corps is advancing to the River Conca.”

The announcement was premature for the enemy recovered quickly, reinforced the Adriatic defence by moving divisions from other lines and thus, slowed the advance to Rimini to bitter, step-by-step progress. Three miles south of the Conca the forward troops came under fire from the German 1st Parachute Division, while to the west heavy fighting was developing on the Coriano Ridge. By hard fighting the Canadians captured the ridge and it appeared that the Gothic Line was finally about to collapse, but this was not to be. For three more weeks the Canadians battled to take the hill position of San Fortunato which blocked the approach to the Po Valley. On September 21, the Allies entered a deserted Rimini. That same day the 1st Division was relieved by the New Zealand Division to sweep across the plains of Lombardy to Bologna and the Po. But the rains came. Streams turned into raging torrents, mud replaced the powdery dust and the tanks bogged down in the swamp lands of the Romagna. The Germans still resisted.

PzKpfw V. ‘Panther’ Ausf. A early, Sd.Kfz. 171, I./Pz.Rgt. 4, between Florence and Ravenna in Italy, March 1944 (Bundesarchiv)

Fallschirmjäger ‘posing’ with a Granatwerfer (8 cm GrW. 34) – Monte Cassino, 1944 (Bundesarchiv)

US 4th Infantry Div. troopers and German POWs. take cover from crossfire beneath an M10 tank buster somewhere in Germany, early 1945

A trainee tank driver at the controls of a ‘Crusader’ Mk.II tank of the 6th South African Armoured Division in the desert at Khataba, north west of Cairo, September 1943. (IWM E 4203E)

“Hit and wounded by Soviet fire, a German medic gives on the spot aid to his comrade in Potschlowaj, Ukraine. August 1942
(Colorised by Mike Gepp from Australia) MG.34 team of the motorized brigade SS “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” at Mariupol, Ukraine. October 1941


Watch the video: German He-111 Bomber Shot Down After Bombing Run - Crew Bails Out! - IL2 Sturmovik Combat Flight Sim (January 2022).