Heinkel He 219 Uhu vol. II

On the night of 22nd/23rd April 1944, Hptm. Modrow scored an outstanding success, shooting down three Lancasters in one sortie: one at 01:10 hrs over Düsseldorf, another at 01:55 hrs 30 km southeast of Gilze, and one more in the same area at 02:04 hrs. Maj. Hans Karlewski, flying a He 219 A-0, contributed with a single victory – at 01:39 hrs he got a Lancaster 10 km south of Xanten, Germany. Just four minutes later, at 1:43 hrs, one more Lancaster was shot down by Uffz. Karl-Heinz Wildhagen 50-70 km north of Düsseldorf. On the night of 24th/25th April 1944 two pilots of 2./NJG 1, Hptm. Modrow and Oblt. Baake each scored a double victory. Modrow knocked down two Lancasters, one at 00:05 hrs 18 km northeast of Liege, and another (during his second sortie that night) at 03:34 hrs, 25 km southeast of Gilze. Oblt. Baake, in turn, chalked up a Lancaster at 00:26 hrs 6 km north of Tilburg, and at 02:18 hrs a Halifax, which cratered into the ground west of Gorinchem. On the night of 26th/27th April 1944 Fw. Josef Ströhlein of 2./NJG 1 claimed his first victim – at 02:05 hrs he flamed a Lancaster, which tore into the ground three km northwest of St. Trond. The following night, 27th/28th April 1944, two RAF bombers failed to make it back, falling prey to Oblt. Wilhelm Henseler of 1./NJG 1. First, at 01:58 hrs, he downed a Lancaster over St. Trond, and four minutes later a Halifax in the same area. Then, at 02:05 hrs, Lt. Hittler of 3./NJG 1, shot down another Halifax 30 km northeast of Namur.  

View from rear from front through the rear part of the fuselage. [Visualisation 3d Marek Ryś]

In April 1944 Nachtjagd-Ergänzungsgruppe (an operational training unit) stationed at Grove, Denmark, received its first He 219 (though not equipped with radar).
May 1944 witnessed a peak in the successes achieved by He 219s in defence of the Reich. On the night of 1st/2nd May, at 00:25 hrs Hptm. Modrow chalked up his ninth victory. This time he hunted down a Halifax, which fell out of the sky some 50 km northwest of Brussels. On the 6th/7th, at 23:55 hrs, a He 219 crewed by Oblt. Werner Baake and Uffz. Rolf Bettaque of 2./NJG 1 intercepted a Mosquito bomber and sent it crashing down in flames. They didn’t stop at that; at 00:09 hrs they claimed the destruction of a four-engined bomber, but that victory was not confirmed by OKL.
Despite such successes, the first serial production He 219s to see operational service fell short of expectations. It was established that no other Luftwaffe night fighter could match its speed, armament and ease of handling, but when fully loaded with fuel and ammunition, the He 219 was unable to climb higher than 8,500 m. Only with nearly empty fuel tanks and reduced armament was the He 219 able to reach 10,000 m. As for its maximum speed, the He 219 could attain the calculated 605 kph only without radar equipment. Laden with drag-producing FuG 220 antennas and flame dampers, it could reach only 560 kph at 6,200 m. It was an improvement over the 510 kph attained by a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 fitted with similar equipment, but definitely not good enough to label the He 219 ‘the scourge of the Mosquitos’.
On the morning of 7th May 1944, at 07:05 hrs, He 219 A-0 W.Nr. 190 115 crashed near Süchteln on a training flight. Its crew, Fw. Emil Heinzelmann and Uffz. Wilhelm Herling, were killed. It is very likely that the aircraft fell prey to a British Mosquito intruder.


Three close ups of the central part of the cockpit canopy. [Visualisation 3d Marek Ryś]


On the night of 10th/11th May He 219s accounted for two more Lancasters. One was shot down at 00:12 hrs by Oblt. Josef Nabrich off the Dutch coast, and the other by Hptm. Heinz Strüning three minutes later, northeast of Brügge. Both pilots served with 3./NJG 1. The following night victories were filed by pilots of 2./NJG 1: Hptm. Modrow (two Lancasters, at 00:26 hrs and at 01:04 hrs) and Oblt. Baake (a Lancaster at 00:42 hrs). Modrow continued his lucky streak on the night of 12th/13th, again bagging two bombers (at 00:02 hrs and at 01:00 hrs). Before another day dawned, Oblt. Nabrich and Hptm. Strüning had shot down one bomber apiece, at 00:20 hrs and at 00:48 hrs, respectively.
On the night of 21st/22nd May 1944 at least six He 219s took to the air. Five pilots each shot down one RAF bomber: Hptm. Strüning (a Lancaster at 01:32 hrs), Oblt. Henseler (a Lancaster at 01:37 hrs), Hptm. Modrow (a Lancaster at 01:41 hrs), Hptm. Förster (a Lancaster at 02:06 hrs) and Maj. Karlewski (a Halifax at 02:12 hrs). That way they avenged the loss of He 219 A-0, W.Nr. 190 107, coded G9+FL, which was shot down by F/L J. B. Kerr of No 418 Sqn RAF and pilots of No 19 Sqn RAF, and crashed about 20 km south of Herning, Denmark, on 21st May. The crew, Uffz. Ewald Tampke and Uffz. Eduart Tanbs, survived with injuries.
The He 219s returned with a vengeance the following night, 22nd/23rd May, shooting down five Lancasters. The victors were: Oblt. Henseler (at 00:39 hrs), Maj. Karlewski (at 00:44 hrs), Oblt. Baake (at 01:14 hrs), Hptm. Strüning (at 01:14 hrs) and Hptm. Modrow (at 01:25 hrs). The successes mounted. On the night of 24th/25th May 1944 a total of six RAF bombers were gunned out of the sky by He 219 crews. Hptm. Heinz Strüning scored a ‘double’ (at 00:47 hrs and at 01:15 hrs), as did Oblt. Josef Nabrich (at 02:41 hrs and at 02:51 hrs). Maj. Hans Karlewski and Oblt. Wilhelm Henseler contributed with one apiece, at 00:45 hrs and 02:48 hrs, respectively.
On the night of 26th/27th May 1944, at 01:21 hrs over Werl, Fw. Rauer of 3./NJG 1 shot down a Mosquito of No 692 Sqn RAF. Six minutes later Fw. Wilhelm Morlock of the same Staffel claimed a four-engined bomber. However, his victim was probably a Mosquito of No 139 Sqn RAF. The following night Fw. Rauer clobbered another Mosquito, this time over the Dutch coast, at 02:44 hrs, but his victim has yet to be identified. Others were successful, too. Hptm. Modrow came back claiming three more RAF bombers (at 02:25 hrs, 02:35 hrs and 03:28 hrs). In an overlapping action Fw. Wilhelm Morlock brought down another (at 01:44 hrs). He added two more to his bag on the night of 31st May/1st June (at 01:10 hrs and at 01:41 hrs) to round up this highly prosperous month for the He 219 crews.
On the night of 2nd/3rd June, Lt. Ernst-Ewald Hittler and Hptm. Heinz Strüning scored one victory apiece, at 23:56 hrs and 00:36 hrs, respectively. The clashes between He 219s and Mosquitos became increasingly frequent during the month of June. On the night of 3rd/4th June, He 219 A-0, W.Nr. 190 188 (coded G9+BL) of 3./NJG 1 fell prey to a prowling Mosquito fighter north of Wilhelminsdorp. Ofw. Heinz Gall, the radio operator, was killed; the pilot, Hptm. Heinz Eicke, bailed out and survived. They in fact provided No 219 Sqn RAF - which operated the Mosquito NF Mk XVII - with the squadron’s premier victory. The British crew were P/O D. T. Tull and his radio operator P/O P. J. Cowgill manning the aircraft serial-numbered HK 248.

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On the night of 5th/6th June 1944, on the eve of the allied landings in Normandy, Hptm. Heinz Strüning of 3./NJG 1 settled some scores – at 02:30 hrs he shot down a Mosquito, his 50th victory since the start of the war. On the same night, at 00:59 hrs, engine failure led to the crash of He 219 A-0, W.Nr. 190 177, coded G9+IK of 2./NJG 1, eight km east of Herning. The pilot, Lt. Ernst Mauß, was injured - his radio operator, Uffz. Günther Kraus, was killed. On the night of 10th/11th June 1944 He 219 pilots managed for the first time to shoot down two Mosquitos in one night. One went down at 00:55 hrs near Münster, the victim of Oblt. Nabrich (his 13th victory), and the other at 02:50 hrs in the vicinity Alkmaar, claimed by Hptm. Modrow (his 19th). Oblt. Nabrich repeated his success the following night; at 01:03 hrs near Salzwedel he shot down a Mosquito. On the night of 12th/13th June 1944 Lt. Hittler scored his fourth victory, claiming a Lancaster at 01:30 hrs. Individual honours went to Hptm. Modrow, who once again shot down three RAF bombers in one sortie (at 01:27 hrs, at 01:31 hrs, and at 01:46 hrs). On the night of 15th/16th June He 219 A-0, W.Nr. 190 180, coded G9+RK of 2./NJG 1 was lost with its crew, pilot Uffz. Willi Beyer and radio operator Ogfr. Horst Walter. They perished in a crash at 02:15 hrs, one km north of Leersum.


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