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Heinkel Recovery In Somerset

Heinkel He111

Luftwaffe Wn.3595  Fuselage Code 1H+ED

Stab III/KG26


Pilot: Ofw H Rose (PoW)

Observer: Fw G Fietzek (PoW)

Flight Engineer Uffz E Groschle (PoW)

Wireless Operator: Ofw E Blüher (killed)

Gunner: Gefr M van Kaldenkerken (killed)

​Date: 4 April 1941 – 22.25 hrs

Place: West Hewish, Somerset, UK

This excavation was featured in the BBC series Dig 1940 – shown on BBC2 and History Channel presented by Jules Hudson.

​The Heinkel was part of a raid on Avonmouth Docks and was shot down by F/O Crew and Sgt Guthrie in a Beaufighter of 604 Squadron.

A previous dig by the landowner in the 1970s recovered one engine, but a magnetometer survey indicated that the second engine and substantial wreckage was deeply buried. A very large excavator was needed to reach the engine, which was buried in soft clay.

Details from Luftwaffe Crash Archive, published by Red Kite:

Started at 19.00 hrs to attack Avonmouth Docks. This aircraft was attacked by a night fighter at 16,000 ft which set the starboard engine alight and the pilot ordered the crew to bale out. The aircraft dived vertically into the ground, the engines and airframe being buried or burnt.

Armament: a few pieces of machine gun were found; the aircraft was also fitted with a tail grenade tube. A large bomb rack was fitted under the fuselage and two external, faired bomb racks suitable for 250 or 500 kg bombs were fitted under the wings. It would have appeared that this aircraft was carrying a very heavy load.

An assisted take off hook was fitted under the fuselage.

The parachute of the wireless operator failed to open and the gunner was killed in the aircraft

This aircraft had ‘D’ as the fourth letter of the aircraft marking and should have indicated that it was from the Gruppen Stab or the Fuhrungskette of Gruppe III but the prisoners maintained that they belonged to the 10th Staffel. The 10th Staffel was formed from the Gruppen Stab, reinforced by crews and aircraft from the other three Staffeln of the Gruppe.

Bombs: from entries in a diary it appeared that on 10th January and 19th March 1941 aircraft were carrying a 2,500 kg bomb which was referred to as ‘Max’ and said to be five metres long and one meter in diameter. The tail had a circular air brake and the bomb was fitted with two instantaneous fuses, one of which was a Bruchzündung, such as fitted to the ‘Satan’ and ensured the detonation of the charge even if the casing broke up on impact. The ‘Max’ had only been carried by aircraft of the 10th Staffel and only by Leutnant Kaden and Oberfeldwebel Rose.

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