|Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 Trop W.Nr10132.
In the summer of 1980 a Bf109 F-4 was located in a remote part of Northern Russia, well within the Arctic Circle. It was recovered from Motovski Bay by Mi-6 helicopter of the Russian Air Force and brought to Sofanova Museum at Severmorsk where it was loosely restored to static. It was then put on display at the Russian Museum of the Northern Fleet at Severmorsk in Northern Russia.
In 1995 this relatively complete and extremely rare Bf109 F-4 was purchased from the Russian Museum and brought to England where it was put on display with a hopeful intention of possibly restoring it back to flying condition.
On arrival in England, the F-4 was put on display at AJD’s facility in Suffolk, where interested parties visited the F-4 to see what the prospects for a rebuild were. Generally there was a lot of interest, but unfortunately at the time it was not thought to be economically viable to restore the F-4 to flying standard. Although structurally complete, internally it had been stripped of most of its removable components. The history at this time was also not well known as the Luftwaffe Quartermaster returns only recorded the date, where it was lost and the unit. As the pilot was not recorded, it indicated he survived unscathed and returned to his unit.
In 1996 the F-4 was eventually purchased by Aero Vintage Ltd with the intention of restoring this rare aircraft back to a high standard of static finish with a museum exchange in mind. A team was assembled at Aero Vintage in Sussex to work on the restoration which included Mike Taylor-Langley and Mike Rodgers of MGR Restorations who were brought in to oversee the project to completion.
It began in September 1997 with the delivery of the wings to the Aero Vintage Works facility. The team must be praised for taking care in the strip down and removing all of the non original material applied by the Russians to ‘restore’ the aircraft for display. Gradually these non original skins were removed enabling the existing F-4 to be seen in a true light for the first time since it was recovered from the crash site 17 years earlier.
The F-4 had suffered the ravages of weather and also souvenir hunters/vandals. The paintwork to the upper surface was very weathered but enough survived to show the colours and markings which had been applied. Two distinct areas of the fuselage and engine cowling had been surgically cut out, one below the cockpit and one to the cowling, both on the port side. It was clear from this that some type of marking had been removed as souvenirs. The rudder assembly had also been surgically removed, having been removed by cutting through the rudder ribs, leaving only the rudder post. The probable reason for this is that it had been painted up with kill markings which was the practice with II/JG5 at that time.
Areas of the wing and behind the cockpit had suffered axe damage with the possible intention of locating and removing the leather and rubber items located in these areas. Generally though, the aircraft was still complete with a large majority of the structure intact and undamaged. Small calibre bullet holes were found in various parts of the airframe and some of the bullets could still be seen trapped between the main wing spar and outer skin.
On stripping down the fuselage further, other interesting items were discovered. Spent small calibre bullets were also found rattling about as well as one armour piercing round which had not gone off. Both radiators and oil cooler had soil and coal within them and both surrounds had suffered slight damage although where this occurred is open to debate. The standard VDM propeller is also thought to be original and the lower of the three blades had been straightened.
During the restoration pencil marks were located around the airframe, applied no doubt during the construction by Messerschmitt.
It was only towards the end of the project, that the history was researched in earnest and what follows is the history of this remarkable aircraft.
Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4, Werke Nr. 10132 was built by Erla Flugzeugwerk at Leipzig during April 1942 in a batch of F-4's numbered between 10001 and 10290. Most of these were produced as tropical variants and were finished in the standard RLM79 Sandbrun (sand brown) to the upper surfaces and RLM78 Hellblau (light blue) to the underside and at the demarcation line at centreline of the fuselage.
In April/May 1942, 10132 was issued with the RLM block codes of CD+LZ and was one of those completed as a tropical variant. This model was equipped with the deeper oil cowl and facility for a tropical sand filter but probably with the standard VDM 9-12010A propeller. (It is possible it was a F-4/Z variant). It was then air tested before being flown to a Feldflugpark in Germany to be stored prior to issue to a unit.
During this period large numbers of F-4's were diverted to units other than JG27 in North Africa, specifically to JG3 in Southern Russia and JG5 in Northern Russia. This was mainly due to the delivery of the new G-2 ‘Trop’ to JG27 there was a surplus of the older F-4 ‘Trops’ still be constructed. Both JG3 and JG5 who received large numbers of F-4 Trop’s had quite different and individual camouflage schemes applied over the sand upper colour to allow them to fit into their new environment.
In May 1942, JG5 operating from Kirkenes and Petsamo in Northern Norway were issued with 20 brand new F-4's from the 10001 and 10290 batch. It is highly likely 10132 was one of those within this batch of aircraft. Most Bf109’s were flown via Reval and Helsinki-Malmi to the Feldfieldpark at Pori, Finland to be completed before going onto JG5 at Kirkenes, Norway. A number are recorded as arriving at Feldflugpark Pori carrying a 300 litre drop tank. Most likely at Pori, the RLM79 Sandbrun (sand brown) camouflage was supplemented with RLM74 Graugrun (grey green).
(Possibly at the Fledluftpark in Germany).
NOTE (Subsequent research indicates the RLM 79 (sand-brown) might well have been overpainted as well with RLM75 (Grau) Dark Grey but still in the unusual splinter camouflage. The evidence(from some Finnish researchers) is that the landscape within the Arctic Circle consists of greys colours only. There is no sand or green colours at all. Even so, three or four Bf109 wrecks have been recovered so far have been painted with the RLM79 camouflage. Subsequently, it is most likely that these aircraft were tropical variants sent to JG5 and were then overpainted at Pori or with the unit.
The lower blue RLM78 Hellblau was retained and also the yellow theatre markings were applied to the lower wing tips and lower engine cowling. (Some even retained there white fuselage band and wingtips). It retained the RLM block codes CD+LZ which were to be removed by the unit on arrival. Although all were built as tropical variants, none of those on their way to JG5 appeared to have had the brackets for the fitment of the sand filter.
In June 1942 Hptm. Horst Carganico was promoted from Staffelkapitäine of 6./JG5 to the post of Gruppenkommandeur of II/JG5. (4./, 5./ and 6./JG5 were the three Staffeln with II/JG5). On this promotion he is thought to have changed his Bf 109 E-7 for one of the 19 new F-4's that had arrived that month.
When W.Nr 10132 CD+LZ arrived at Kirkenes, it was finally completed and became Carganico's own aircraft. The markings on the F-4 were completed. Full yellow wing tips were applied and the temporary RLM block codes were removed. On the cowling was applied Horst Carganico's personnel emblem of a 'Mickey Mouse' figure and under the cockpit was painted the emblem of 6./JG5, a four leaf clover, which Carganico had brought across to become the emblem of the whole of the II Gruppe. Also painted on the fin were painted in the region of 35 kill bars, five RAF kills and thirty Russian.
(On photos of the rudder when he scored his 50th at the end of July 1942, three additional RAF roundals are recorded for the period October 1941. There were claims against Hurricanes of 151 Wing or there Russian counterparts when they were handed over.)
It is thought Horst Carganico flew 10132 throughout June, July and August 1942. At sometime prior to its loss, W.Nr10132 received a new DB601E engine, (probably mid July) as evident on how new it was when it was stripped down.
On July 22nd 1942, Carganico was flying another Bf 109 F-4, Werke Nr. 10256 of Stab II/JG5 when he had to undertake an emergency landing due to engine trouble. On this mission he had to force land at Murowskij. This was Hptm Carganico's first crash landing with II/JG5. Although behind the front line, it was still miles from the nearest habitation. He was missing overnight but on the 23rd July Horst Carganico was either picked up by Storch and or had returned to his own unit by foot. It is thought 10256 was being flown following an engine change on 10132 which would tie in with the information known on the engine.
Later a Russian patrol found the aircraft and noted a few items including the werk number, markings etc. Interestingly, no additional personnel markings were located on 10256 so it can be assumed that there was none of those as applied on W.Nr10132.
NOTE: (The remains of Bf109 F-4 W.Nr10256 have also been recovered and are currently in the hands of Warbird Recovery Inc in Colorado. USA.)
At around 17.30 on the 12th August 1942, Hptm Horst Carganico got into the cockpit of his colourfully marked Bf109 F-4 on probably the second or third combat mission of the day over the Liza Front to the West of Murmansk. He took off with three other Bf109’s from II/JG5 stationed at Petsamo, Northern Finland. There mission was to escort a FW189 of 1.(H)/32 undertaking a reconnaissance mission over the Russian lines between 18.00 and 18.45. Whilst over Cape Mishukov on the Front Line the group were attacked by two Russian Curtis P-40’s and two Bell P-39’s of 19gvIAP. The outcome of this combat was one Bf109 shot down with no Russian loses. Carganico was heard on the radio informing his wing man that his engine was hit and he was having to make a force landing,
The aircraft had been hit from the rear port quarter with bullets passing through the fuselage and wings, and, significantly, through the radiator. One bullet even went through a propeller blade - sufficient damage to require an immediate landing, but not bad enough to bale out. It is thought he was trying to get back to his own lines when the engine seized. Carganico undertook a perfect belly landing at Motowiski (Motovski Fjord - ad old Finnish name Moutkavouno or "Torturous Fiord"). He again was missing for at least a day and it is still not clear whether he was on the German or Russian side of the fiord. It is know he ran for a significant number of hours before returning to his unit on the 13th August to return to his own unit as there were a number of search flights undertaken by pilots of II/JG5
Oblt Horst Carganico led II/JG54 from June 1944 until April 1944. In the summer of 1944 Major Horst Carganico returned to Germany to take over command of I/JG5 in ‘Defence of the Reich’ operations. On the 27th May 1944, having suffered serious damage whilst attacking B-17’s, he had to undertake an emergency landing in his Bf109 G-5 W.Nr 110087. Coming into land at Chevry, southwest of St. Die he struck High Tension electricity cables and was killed. At that time he had over 600 combat missions and 60 victories including 6 in the West. (Deplicated below)
The Bf109 F-4, which is now thought to be one of the most historically significant aircraft surviving today, was completed in the summer of 1998 and put on temporary display at Duxford. In 1999? it was collected by a Canadian C-130 and dispatched to Canada, It is now on display at the National Aviation Museum at Rockcliffe. Ottawa. Hopefully within the next two years it will be completed with the 35-40 victory markings on the rudder.
In addition to the work undertaken by Aero Vintage Ltd, the fabric and painting was done by Clive Denney, of Vintage Fabrics Ltd.
Additional information on Horst Carganico and his father.
Victor Carganico was born in Weenzen on July 15, 1887. He enlisted army in 1907 and year later was commissioned. He has been a Adjutant of Flieger Bataillon 4 from 1913 to March 1916 and became field combat flier (Feldpilot) with German and Austrian badge. With Oberleutnant rank served from March 1916 on Western front as a pilot of Roland Walfisch aircraft of Kagohl 1. His usual observer used to be Oblt. Oskar Knofe. Carganico was awarded with Prussian crown order 4th class without swords. Even during spring 1916 he took over command of Kapfstaffel 8 of Kagohl 2 using Walfisch as well as LVG C.II aircraft. One of his pilots was future legendary fighter Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen born, like Carganico´s son, in Silesia. The Kasta 8 was involved in fights on western as well as Eastern front. From June 1918 until December of same year Carganico served in Flieger Abteilung 34, 11 and Abteilung 203. Retired in December 1919.
His son Horst was born on September 27, 1917 in old German Silesian city Breslau (today Wroclaw) and entered the Luftwaffe in 1937 as a ‘Fahnenjunker’. In 1939 he was assigned to Stab JG1 as a technical officer and in the following year became Adjutant of II./JG 77 in Norway. During the summer of 1940 he opened his score sheet with five RAF coastal command aircraft.
In early 1941 he became Staffelkapitän of 1./JG77 just prior to the invasion of Russia and scored one other RAF aircraft victory. After the invasion of Russia, together with Hugo Dahmer (45 v., RK) he became the most successful fighter against Russians so far North during 1941. Carganico was the second pilot in this area to be awarded with Ritterkreuz (first came to Dahmer). Carganico received the award two days before his 24th birthday and after his 27th victory (with rank of Oberleutnant).
In early 1942 he became first Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 5 (renamed from 1./JG 77) and during spring of 1942 had achieved another 23 kills over six weeks. He was awarded the ‘Deutsches Kreuz’ in Gold on May 25, 1942.
On the 1st June 1942 until April 1944 he became the Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 5, then appointed with rank of Major as a CO of I./JG 5 in Reich Defence.
Carganico was killed on May 27, 1944 after combat with B-17’s. His Bf 109 G-5 (W. Nr. 110 087) had been hit and badly damaged. Coming into land at Chevry airfield, southwest of St. Die. France he hit High Voltage cables, crashed and was killed. Horst Carganico had over 600 combat sorties and 60 victories including 6 in West.
Victor Carganico was later executed by Russian soldiers on May 27, 1945 in Neugrimnitz farm near Angermünde, exactly one year after his son death and three weeks after the ‘official’ end of WWII!
Thanks must go to Guy Black, Gerhard Stemmer, Eric Mombeek, Hannu Valtonen and especially Jan Bobek (regarding Victor Carganico) for all there help in researching this historic aircraft.
Origiinal article in white
Additional information in italics