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Fate of Crashed Allied Aircraft

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Fate of Crashed Allied Aircraft

Postby Durand on 20 Feb 2004 19:09

Hallo,

When Allied aircraft crashed within the borders of the Reich, what became of the wreckage? What organisational entity (or entities) was responsible for moving the wreckage and stripping it of useful materials? What was the procedure for handling wreckage in the occupied territories?

Regards,

Durand
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Postby Xavier on 20 Feb 2004 20:38

Hallo:

"Strangers in a strange land"
captured allied `planes in german service.
Squadron/signal publications

has an extensive description of the way downed airplanes were recovered and recycled into new airplanes (mostly aluminum panels melted down).

also there were special batallions that recovered parts for reuse in captured planes used in special units (KG200) and for testing purposes.

if you need specific info, I can look it up tonight.

best regards

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Postby Mark V on 20 Feb 2004 21:16

Xavier wrote:
has an extensive description of the way downed airplanes were recovered and recycled into new airplanes (mostly aluminum panels melted down).


Aluminium is an material which recycling is the only sensible means of producing new equipment, still today.

Bauxite ore, from which aluminium is produced is really not so scarce - it can be found all around world, but producing "virgin" aluminium from it consumes huge amounts of electricity (ever wonder why Norway is large producer of aluminium ?? - the answer lies in plentitude of cheap hydroelectricity - it is economically viable to transport the ore from other side of world to the source of cheap electricity).

Smelting recycled material consumes about 1/20 of that energy...


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Postby Jeremy Chan on 21 Feb 2004 05:46

Wouldn't the downed airmen have tried to destoy their aircraft? I'm sure they would torch the engine or ammunition, or carry a grenade into the planes for such purposes?
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Postby Durand on 21 Feb 2004 13:49

Hallo,

My thanks to all who have considered the questions.

Xavier, Stranger in a Strange land sounds like a very interesting book. What I am curious about is the basic procedure for recovering crashed Allied aircraft. For example, suppose a bomber was critically damaged during a raid on Mannheim and subsequently crashed in a spargel field in the vicinity of Schwetzingen. What happened to the wreckage after the smoke cleared? Was there some law or regulation that required wreckage to be cleared away within a specific timeframe? Who appeared on site to physically remove the wreckage -- Luftwaffe personnel, Heer personnel, representatives of some civil ministry, local independent conrtactors? Was the wreckage stripped of recyclable materials at the crash site or was it removed to a junk yard or designated center and then stripped?

Best Regards,

Durand
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Postby Xavier on 21 Feb 2004 16:52

Durand:

excerpts of the above mentioned book (strangers in a strange land)

Berge-bataillone (salvage units)
The massive allied raids over germany and occupied europe created a huge logistical problem for the luftwaffe: how to remove and make use of the tons of aircraft wreckage scattered over the eurpean landscape, since every heavy bomber provided aproximattely 35,000 pounds of potentially useful salvage..............

These units, known as berge-bataillone (salvage battallions) were under the special control of the luftwaffe. Their mission was to investigate each crash site, evaluate the salvage potential and ship it to the proper destination...

The majority of the aircraft that crashed were completely destroyed and usable only as scrap metal.

Because gasoline was strictly rationed, the wreckage was usually transported by truck to the nearest railway station where it was loaded onto railway cars for transportation to the nearest salvage yard. To transport the wreckage of a heavy bomber, at least three railway cars were usually required.

The berge- battalions were organized into Kompanie (companies) and bergentrupps (salvage unit) . usually a trupp was asigned to investigate the crash site and salvage the aircraft. A truppp normally consisted of fifteen soldiers led by three corporals. .....

At every crash site the bergentrupp prepared a four part salvage report that would be sent to several luftwaffe commands.

@Colonel SteelFist:
When planes were not destroyed during landing (when the pilot decided to crash land in order to save a badly wounded crewman, who was unable to bail out). Others mistook german territory for neutral countries such as sweeden, spain or switzerland and made no attempt to destroy their aircraft. In such cases, the Luftwaffe demanded careful handling of the aircraft and its equipment.

In the event the airframe was not repairable, hard to obtain items, such as engines and propellers were carefully salvaged . these were sent to the Beauteparks (captured item depot) for storage and possible use as spare parts for captured flyable aircraft. New or unique items of equipment were sent to Reichlin or the Deustche Verschsanstalt fur Lufthart (DVL) at Berlin-adlershof for further investigation.

Intact items, primarly engines, were assigned to technical colleges as instructional aids.

Tires were sent to the tire storage facilities at the W. Heidik factory at Neuenhaben.
Parachutes were sent to the Textilwerke Henking K.G. at Seifhennersdorf
Salvaged fuel was stored in fuel dumps at Nienburg, Derben, Neuburg and Dulmen

The german aircraft industry was supplied with captured material and Junkers used two salvaged B-24 main landing gear assemblies for the Ju 287 V1 experimental jet bomber prototype.

The luftwaffe salvaged any usable aircraft parts to supply their “captured figther rebuild program”, a repair center was established at Goittingern and parts salvaged from fighter crashes were shipped there.

Waco and Horsa gliders were high interest items and carefully investigated at the Deustche Forschunganstalt fur Segelflugzeuge (german research institute for gliders) at Darmastadt-Griesenheim.

Salvaged engines were overhauled at the Beutepark 5 der Luftwaffe at Paris-nanterre from which engines were supplied to the units operating captured equipment.

Luftwaffe Secret order Nr 03743 of july 14, 1944 issued by Luftwaffe-Kommando XI stated that after luftwaffe aircraft , B-17’s with damage of less than 80% had the highest priority for salvage and repair. B17's were usually repaired at Rechlin.

Most downed american aircraft , even those with minor damage, were usually scrapped as soon as the salvage teams had finished cannibalizing the aircraft of all usable equipment.

The salvage work was hurried since an intact aircraft would soon draw the attention of prowling allied fighters. A number of repairable allied aircraft were destroyed by strafing attacks before they could be succesfully recovered.

In addition to the recovery of allied aircraft, the Berge-batallione were also responsible for salvage of luftwaffe aircraft.


if you need more specific info, there are other sections of the book regarding the recycling process and the beuteparks, (not very detailed, general info.)

interesting link regarding several Republic P-47D captured intact and used by the german Luftwaffe:
http://www.luftwaffe-experten.co.uk/republic.html
Image

regards
Xavier
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Last edited by Xavier on 10 Aug 2004 20:08, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Durand on 21 Feb 2004 18:41

Hallo Xavier,

Absolutely outstanding. Your response is exactly the information I hoped to find. Many thanks to you, Sir.

By the way, have you read the second volume of Strangers in a Strange Land? As I understand it, it deals with the aircraft and crews interned in Switzerland.

Best Regards,

Durand
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Postby Xavier on 21 Feb 2004 18:57

ave Durand:

as a matter of fact, I had not noticed there was a second volume until I started doing a search for some reference Images for this post, the book (pt II) is still available from the publisher. (squadron mail order, at http://www.squadron.com)

I ordered the book this morning, expect to have it here in 1 month, I wil let you know my review.

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Postby Erik E on 22 Feb 2004 00:37

Very good reply Xavier ! You really fit as a Instandsetzungtruppfuhrer :)

Does it tell how wrecks were handeled in countries Like Norway, or even at the frontlines?? I guess the more remote areas didn`t have this kind of organisations!

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Postby Kurt_Steiner on 22 Feb 2004 09:47

This large fleet of aircraft included Ar-232s, B-17s, B-24s, Bv-138s, Bv-222s, Ju-52s, Ju-88s, Ju-188s, Ju-352s, Ju-290s, Ju390s, He-111s, He-177s, Pe-2s (Soviet), and Sb-2s (Soviet) to name a few... These aircraft used operationally on all fronts carrying out a great variety of missions ranging from reconnaissance, to cargo transport, to the covert ferrying of agents in and out of enemy territory, to bombing and missile attacks! Many a German agent was dropped in Allied territory by this unit, what better disguise than a B-17? These aircraft were also used to shadow 8th Air Force bomber formations sending out a constant stream of radio updates of the air battle with up to the minute altitude and heading of the big bomber boxes; and this, without fear of attack from Allied fighters. Some of these aircraft were redesignated so as to not attract attention, for example, the B-17s in Luftwaffe service were refered to as the Dornier 200.

Tehre is a book, by the way, about this issue: Kg200 Geheim Geschwader: The Luftwaffes Most Secret Squadron, by Authors: Geoffrey Thomas. It is going to be released in June, 2004, I think, I'm not sure.


And visit http://www.kg200.com/historyac1.html
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Postby Xavier on 23 Feb 2004 20:50

@ EE

the book mentions:

".....the work of the Trupp was often hampered by a lack of fuel and a shortage of railway cars. bergentrupps worked under the most austere conditions, whitout proper salvage tools and often in distant , inaccesible areas of germany and the occupied countires.


it would be interesting to know, as Durand asked int he first post, how the spotting system worked (who spotted, and reported when brought down by Flak, and what chain of communications leads to the bergen-battallions...

best regards

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Postby Xavier on 14 Apr 2004 00:55

Ave Forum:

I received my copy today of SquadronSignal's "strrangers in a strange land" Vol II Escape to Neutrality (togehter with Schnellboot in action)

the booklet mainly deals with the aircraft interned in switzerland during the wqar, and is organized mostly by date, as most aircraft to land whitin swiss borders did so after a big air raid.

Several interesting pictures, inlcuding some of the Dübendorf airfield , showing dozens (yes, dozens!!) of B-24's

the book mentions that about 5-10 % of crews did land on switzerland deliberately, to end early their own war.

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Postby Jon G. on 14 Apr 2004 09:52

Interesting topic! I can remember seeing footage from an old UFA week revue where the scrapping of downed allied aircraft was being used for propaganda purposes.

As for captured allied aircraft - wouldn't their engines overheat and die in short order from using low-octane German air fuel? Or was captured fuel earmarked and set aside for captured planes?
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Postby Xavier on 14 Apr 2004 15:13

Yes,
Any salvaged fuel was stored specially for use in captured aircraft.

I have read several accounts of captured aircraft engines (specifically the case of a P-38 used by the Regia aeronautica [(italian air force]) ruined by the use of low octane european fuel.

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Postby Durand on 06 Jun 2004 01:36

Hallo Xavier,

Thank you for presenting your impression of Strangers in a Strange Land, Vol. II. My apologies for the late recognition, I was away for a while and when I returned to the board the topic had, despite my interest, simply slipped my mind -- a not uncommon event these days!

Earlier on after asking about SSL, vol. II, I did a bit of checking on the topic and found two other titles that I thought may be of interest to you and others following this thread:

Shot from the Sky: American POWs in Switzerland by Cathryn J. Prince;

Refuge from the Reich: American Airmen and Switzerland during World War II by Stephen Tanner.


Best Regards,

Durand
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