Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Henschel Hs 123

This Henschel Hs 123 wears the insignia of a Staffelkapitän of a Schlachtgeschwader on the Eastern Front some time after the epic summer of 1941. The decals that came with the venerable Airfix kit did not indicate exactly what unit the aircraft may have belonged to, not to mention that the triangle is supposed to be black, not red, but that was discovered after decals were applied and the kit mounted. The kit itself has been modified with extra details in the cockpit, engine and a stretched sprue antenna. The very heavy ribs on the wings were sanded down, but the rivet details were kept intact, even if they seem a bit too conspicuous. The aircraft is carrying an auxiliary fuel tank, but I decided to not hang any ordnance on the underwing bomb racks, since the 50kg bombs supplied with the kit would have required extensive reworking.

The Henschel 123 was interesting in many ways. Close to an anachronism, it was supposed to have been withdrawn after the French campaign in 1940, but the need for WW2-style Close Air Support remained, even with the early successes of the Ju 87. The Hs 123 was in service until at least April 1944, when Schlachtgeschwader II were using a few Hs 123s alongside their FW 190s in the southern Crimea. It should also be mentioned that the top ten tank killers of the Luftwaffe knocked out more than 1,350 tanks, while the top ten air aces of the Schlachtflieger shot down approximately 437 enemy aircraft. The leading ace, Oberleutnant August Lambert, who flew in Schlachtgruppe 1, 2 and 77, shot down 116 enemy aircraft during his 350 missions. While on the topic of missions, Major Werner Dörnbrack flew 1,118 missions with LG 2, SchlG 1, 2, and 4. Dörnbrack also managed to shoot down 29 enemy aircraft while flying his many missions.

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