Two recently sold photographs of German aircrafts collected to be scrapped confirm the identity of this rather uniquely camouflaged Junkers 88G-6 of 6./NJG2, 4R+EP as Werknummer 620507. We are able to track a few stations of 620507 “career”: Abnahmeflug, approval flight, on September 25th 1944 at Bernburg, with II./NJG2 in January and February 1945, suffering 20% damage during landing at Mainz Finthen returning from a sortie the night of February 13th to 14th, and finally, captured at the end of the war at Leithorst Fritzlar where below photographs were taken.
Image #1: source eBay auction May 2020
While I am not aware of photographs that show without doubt both, Werknummer and unit markings, other documents equally provide very strong evidence that 620507 was 4R+EP. The General Quartiermeister loss report of March 11th 1945 lists 620507 as 20% damaged on February 14th at Mainz Finthen. With the same date, 4R+EP is documented in flight logs of Robert Lüddeke and his crew. For the night of February 13th / 14th, the RAF main targets were Böhlen and Dresden. According to the OKL morning report of February 14th, three night fighters were deployed under the orders of Jafü Mittelrhein - senior signals officer middle Rhine. Oberfeldwebel Lüddeke and his crew members Kurt Wacker and Ulrich Hess with 6./NJG2 was one of those. They took off from Mainz Finthen at 20:56 hours and returned in the early hours of the 14th. Kurt Wacker reported that flight with 4R+EP in his flight log adding the comment “Bauchlandung", belly landing. The Gen.QuM loss report describes the incident with “Fahrwerkschaden” or landing gear damage, leaving it open whether this captures the cause or the outcome. The aircraft suffered said minor damage and the crew remained uninjured and the morning report completely omitted or failed to mention the accident.
Image #3: source March 11th report in Flugzeugunfälle und Verluste bei den fliegenden Verbänden
Image #4: source page of flight log Kurt Wacker, expired eBay auction
The later stations of 4R+EP from Mainz Finthen to Fritzlar are unknown; although the above mentioned complete flight logs may contain more information. Other II./NJG2 logs show that the II. Gruppe operational base moved from Mainz Finthen by mid March to Illesheim and, by the end of March to Pocking.
Through the February accident the aircraft very likely suffered damage to its Jumo engines and its nose. Photographs taken at Fritzlar after its capture show that it had a replacement starboard engine - discernible by its factory applied RLM 71 surface color. Also the nose section which caries the aircraft’s individual letter “E" has a color application that is distinctly lighter and clearly different from the RLM 76 application to the forward fuselage. The port engine’s spinner has apparently received an over-spraying in what appears to be white or very light RLM 76, although it is unclear when this was applied, below and Janowicz, 2005, p.81. Noteworthy are also the white tips fo the lower radar struts, and that the starboard engine spinner and flame dampers are missing in all Fritzlar photographs.
Image #5: source FOLD3
The most distinct feature of 4R+EP are wide, dark colored bands diagonally applied to fuselage and vertical tail over a standard RLM 75 grey violet mottles over RLM 76 light blue camouflage with a front to back, top to bottom direction. Photographs prove that the bands are applied in the same fashion on both sides, Janowicz, 2005, Williams, 2005, p.167 and below, and as a likely consequence are joint at the upper fuselage. A still from a film shot by US Forces reveals that the upper surfaces of wings and horizontal tail planes had large patches of darker color with only small surrounding areas in RLM 76. The still below indicates that this color scheme rendered the aircraft much less standing out from the ground than a lighter colored object. Why this singular aircraft received this unique scheme for better protection from detection has to be subject to speculation. Similar to another 6./NJG2 Junkers 88 G-6, Werknummer 622126 4R+PP, the unit markings were in RLM 77 grey.
Image #6: source expired eBay auction
Image #7: source still from German Aircraft at Abandoned Airfield in Germany After End of World war II in Europe
A topic of much passionate debate among Luftwaffe researchers and modelers is which colors were applied, and how did they actually look like. Black and white photographs make it very difficult to identify a specific color with certainty. And even in the case of 4R+EP, where color film material exists, the task is not easier. Images #5, 7 and 8 show a contrast difference between the port engine cowling and the bands. This appears to be supported by images #1 and 2 with regard to the camouflage color applied to the Junkers 87 next to our aircraft in comparison to the visible bands on fuselage and tail. Jumo power eggs wore factory applied RLM 71 dark green. Gaemperle, 2011, p.14 assumes that the same color together with RLM 70 was applied to the Junkers 87. Given that reference, the color of the bands is clearly lighter than RLM 71 - or RLM 70 which is even darker than RLM 71. The still from the color film in my perception shows the forward fuselage band with a hue of green rather than brown or grey. This would make RLM 82 more likely than RLM 74 grey green or RLM 81 dark brown or brown violet depending on the author. Another factor of how colors appeared in reality and on photographs is how they were applied. Image #5 appears to show a slightly darker border delineation of the band, an indication that paint was more densely applied there, as well as some darker patches throughout the band. These darker border can also be discerned in the photograph published in Williams, 2005 and Janowicz, 2005.
Image #8: enlarged from image #9
The final still shows the subject aircraft furthest to the left and lined up with Junkers 88 G-1 and Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 at Leithorst Fritzlar. The links to the films shot at Fritzlar have been researched and posted by Martin Trnkus of the Luftwaffe Research Group, https://luftwaffe-research-group.org/threads/fritzlar-leithorst-fritzlar-nord-notlandeplatz.4062/page-4., see post #78.
Image #9 source: still from The Spirit of Liberation 1944 - 1945
Boiten Dr., E.W. Theo, Mackenzie, J. Roderick, 2008
Nachtjagd War Diaries, Volume Two April 1944 - May 1945
Red Kite, Walton on Thames, Surrey
Gaemperle, Roger S., 2011
Captured Eagles, German WWII Aircraft Captured By The Allies, Volume I
Vintage Eagle Publishing, Zürich, Switzerland
Generalquartiermeister 6. Abteilung
Flugzeugunfälle und Verluste bei den fliegenden Verbänden
BAMA, signatur RL2-III/
Green, Brett, 2006,
Götterdämmerung, Luftwaffe Wrecks and Relics
Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, UK
Harder, Fritz, Flugbuch
Janowicz, Krzysztof, 2005
Junkers Ju 88, Vol. III
Kagero Monographs, Lublin, Kagero Publishing s.p., Poland
Morgenmeldung Reichsgebiet 14.02.1945
BAMA, Signatur RL2-II/388
Stevens, Georg, von zur Mühlen, Konstantin,
The Spirit Of Liberation 1944-1945
German Aircraft at Abandoned Airfield in Germany After End of World war II in Europe
Available through CriticalPast, www.criticalpast.com
Wacker, Kurt, Flugbuch
Williams, David P., 2005
Luftwaffe Colours - Nachtjäger Volume Two
Classic Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, Surrey