Focke-Wulf Fw 200
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies was a German all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner. A Japanese request for a long-range maritime patrol aircraft led to military versions that saw service with the Luftwaffe as long-range reconnaissance and anti-shipping/maritime patrol bomber aircraft. The Luftwaffe also made extensive use of the Fw 200 as a transport.
The period from August 1940 to May 1941 was known by the Germans as the First Happy Time. This was due to the considerable amount of Allied ships sunk for light losses in both U-boats and anti-shipping/maritime patrol bomber aircraft. Even before the formation of Fliegerführer Atlantik, the success of air attacks on Allied convoys during this time was almost immediate. Under the command of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, in August 1940 to February 1941, Fw 200s sank 52 ships for only four losses. By Christmas 1940, KG 40 had sunk 19 ships amounting to 100,000 tons and damaged 37 of 180,000 tons. In January 1941, 17 ships were sunk (65,000 tons) and five damaged. February was worse for the British with 21 ships lost to Fw 200s, totalling 84,301 tons.
The Focke-Wulf FW 200 was assigned to Kampfgruppe 40, which operated from Bordeaux-Merignac from June 1941. Systematic anti-shipping operations began in August. Patrols left from the Bay of Biscay, passing around the coast of Ireland ending in Norway. The sinking of 90,000 tons of shipping was claimed in the first two months of operations, and 363,000 tons by February 1941. Churchill called it the “Scourge of the Atlantic”.
The coordination of German maritime assets was not always successful. Communication between air and sea forces was problematic. U-Boats were unable to make accurate navigation using sun or star charts due to poor weather and even when convoys were located they had trouble homing in bombers because their short-range transmitters were too weak to reach the aircraft. Harlinghausen was irritated when his aircraft communicated accurate locations and the U-Boats failed to respond. Only when he complained to the BdU did he learn from Donitz that the navy failed to inform the Luftwaffe that there were no U-Boats in the area to respond. By the end of March, 1941, attempts at close cooperation were abandoned in favour of a more flexible approach. During the first quarter of 1941, the Condors sank 171,000 tonnes.
Donitz envisaged coordination of air and sea forces in mass attacks against Allied convoys. The wolfpack tactics were proving successful, and he sought to supplement them with the Luftwaffe. The Condors were to break up the convoys, and scatter them so the Wolf packs could move in and dispatch the ships while they were unprotected. The introduction of Allied CAM ships (Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ship), Long-range R.A.F. Coastal Command aircraft, armed merchantmen and escorts and most importantly, the Allied breaking of the German Enigma code ended the “scourge of the Atlantic”.
Revell Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-4 Camouflage and Markings
Focke-Wulf Fw 200C Condor 7./KG40 (F8+FR) Norway 1945 0A-0D
Profiles 0A-0C: Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-8 Condor of code F8+FR. The aircraft was finished in the standard upper maritime colours of 72 and 73. However, late in the war (probably in the spring of 1945), the aircraft had a heavy, randomly applied mottle along the sides of the fuselage, fin and, engine cowlings. This mottle was of a light colour such as white or pale grey, presumably for operations over northern waters. Uncommonly for the type, the F8 unit code has been applied in the small, mid-1943 style. When this aircraft was found by the Allies in Norway, it had a white distemper applied to the whole of the upper fuselage and had been exposed to the external elements for several months. This would account for the severe weathering of the white paintwork, which especially on the uppersurfaces, was beginning to show the original camouflage underneath. The unit code F8 in front of the Balkenkreuz was painted in black approximately one-sixth of the standard letter height. The Staffel letter ‘R’ and individual aircraft letter ‘F’ were also in black with the latter being thinly outlined in white. Some trouble had been taken to paint around the national markings.
Finland, Germany and the Soviet Union in the Baltic Campaign
The Finnish Navy supported by the air force faced a significant threat from the Soviet Baltic fleet. Of particular concern were the Russian Navy submarine fleet and its larger fleet units, in particular the Petropavlovsk, Gangut and the Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya. In addition, the Soviets had at their disposal; 7 cruisers, including 4 modern Kirov-class vessels; 59 destroyers; 218 submarines; 269 torpedo boats; 22 patrol vessels, 88 minesweepers and 77 mine-hunters.
These assets were largely offset by formidable coastal batteries located on the shores of Finland. In addition, the Finns had deployed an anti-submarine net with the co-operation of the Estonian Government from Tallin to Helsinki. The region was also heavily mined, which the Finnish coastal defence ship Ilmarinen discovered to her cost when she was mined on the 13th September 1941.
By contrast, the Finnish Navy consisted of; two coastal defence ships – the ilmarinen & Väinämöinen; 5 submarines – Vesihiisi, Iku-Turso, Vetehinen, Vesikko and Saukko; four sloops – Turunmaa, Karjala, Uusimaa and Hämeenmaa; three minelayers; 12 minesweepers and 7 motor torpedo boats. These assets were supported by the Kriegsmarine which operated; 28 Schnellboote; 5 submarines; 6 minelayers; 3 squadrons of requisitioned minesweepers; 2 squadrons of R-boats; 2 squadrons of patrol boats; 3 Sperrbrecher; 2 depot ships for minesweepers and 4 auxiliary minelayers.
This fleet was supplemented by Four Destroyers, Five submarines, one large minelayer and various smaller vessels from the Polish Navy. There resources were supported in a limited way by the bombers and fighters of the Ilmavoimat and to a larger extent by the Luftwaffe.
In the event, due to the large flotilla of craft operating in the region, the Soviets were reluctant to commit their large fleet units to combat relying instead on their submarine fleet. This in effect resulted in the Russian Navy being confined to the naval base at Kronstadt.
Soviet concerns were further compounded by the presence of the German Fleet operating out of Norway, which in addition to the combined German Finnish and Polish units in the region prevented the Russian Navy access to the North Sea and the Atlantic. These considerable assets consisted of; the DKM Tirpitz, Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, Admiral Graf Spee, three O-Class Battlecruisers, the heavy cruisers Admiral Hipper, Blücher, and Prinz Eugen, the Light Cruisers; Emden, Königsberg, Karlsruhe, Köln, Leipzig and the Nürnberg. In addition, the Kriegmarine had at its disposal numerous auxilliary cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and 200 E-boats (Schnellboote).
Supporting the respective fleets was Luftflotte 5 (Air Fleet 5) which was one of the primary divisions of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. It was formed 12 April 1940 in Hamburg for the invasion of Norway. It transferred to Oslo, Norway on 24 April 1940 and was the organization responsible for Luftwaffe activity in Occupied Norway throughout the Second World War.
Furthermore, Fliegerführer Atlantik (German: “Flyer Command Atlantic“), was a Second World War Luftwaffe naval command Luftflotte (“Air Fleet”), dedicated to maritime patrol. In February 1941, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe was ordered by Adolf Hitler to form a naval air command to support the German Kriegsmarine’s (Navy) U-Boat operations in the Battle of the Atlantic. Though reluctant, the commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring, agreed to the formation of a specialised naval formation which would remain under the command of the Luftwaffe. It was placed under the control of Luftflotte 3, commanded by Hugo Sperrle. The command had jurisdiction over all Luftwaffe operations in the Atlantic and supported German surface raiders and submarines attacking Western Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel and Irish Sea. It was disbanded in September 1944. Fliegerführer Atlantik had on strength 21 Fw 200s, 26 He 111s, 24 Heinkel He 115s, and a mixed force of Messerschmitt Bf 110s and Junkers Ju 88s, numbering 12 aircraft. The total number of aircraft by July 1941 had reached 155; 29 Fw 200s, 31 He 111s, 45 Ju 88s, 18 He 115s, 20 Dornier Do 217s, 12 Bf 110s and Ju 88 specialized reconnaissance aircraft.
The primary objective of the Finnish Navy during the period 1943 to the armistice in 1944 was anti-submarine mine warfare. Mine barrages were constructed at Kalbadagrund (named “Pälkjävi”) which had 100 mines in two lines.
At “Seehund” west from Lavansaari, 200 mines and 250 anti-sweeping devices, were laid during August. To prevent Soviets clearing routes through “Seeigel”. Additionally mine barrages were laid in “Norppa” and “Ontajärvi” south from Someri in July-August with Smaller offensive barrages, “Sauna”, “Peninkulma”, “Tiger” and “Brummbär” These were laid in sea ways between Kronstadt and Lavansaari. The German air force dropped 200 mines in the Kronstadt area.
The Soviet submarine fleet had broken through the mine barrage too easily in 1942. Action was required to protect Finnish interests in the Gulf. Larger barrages and a double submarine net were added, additionally the use of mine laying patrol boats was increased, types which included German M-class sweepers, the four Jymy class torpedo boats, and at the end of the summer of 1943, “Hurja” class boats of the second MTB flotilla dropped mines in the area of the Diamant shallows, northeast from Seiskari.
A change in Finnish leadership in August 1944 precipitated a peace agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union. This resulted in the Lapland war between Finland and Germany and led to the eviction of all German forces from Finland to Norway and brought about an end to Finland’s involvement in the Second World War.
Thanks to SPOT-ON MODELS AND HOBBIES for the review sample.
- · The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor by Emmanuel Gustin, 2014: http://uboat.net/technical/fw200.htm
- Brown, Capt. E. Wings of the Luftwaffe. Marlborough, UK: Crowood Press, 1993.
- Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War: Volume 9 Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft. London: Macdonald, 1967.
- Scutts, Jerry. The Fw200 Condor. Manchester, UK: Crécy Publishing, 2008.