Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-8

Blue 8, "Erika" fown by Unteroffizier Wolfgang Dietrich, 12./JG 5, Herdla/Norway, 9 February 1945

On this day at Herdla shortly before 15:50, the alarm sounded and soon 12 Focke-Wulfs were in the air racing towards an incoming RAF strike force near Fordefjord.

Fw. Rudolf Artner, a 17 victory ace, was leading eight pilots of 9./JG 5, and Lt. Rudolf Linz, a 68 victory ace, was leading another Fw 190s from 12./JG 5.

The RAF had assembled a large striking force totaling 43 aircraft; 31 Beaufighters, two Warwicks, and its escort of ten Mustangs. The target for this mission was the last large Kreigsmarine vessel still in Norway, a destroyer from the Narvik-class, Z-33. The Z-33 had been detected during the morning hours and at 14:00 the strike force took off, arriving over the Norwegian coastline at 14:40.

As the German Navy had been alerted, they moved the ship further into the fjord anchoring it close to the mountains that rise almost vertically from the water - a near-perfect place to situate a ship risking air attack. When JG 5 arrived at Fordefjord the attack was already underway. The 9. Staffel flew directly into the swarm of Beaufighters maneuvering to attack the ship, while Lt. Linz, who was flying top cover, led his fighters towards the escorts. The battle soon spread over a large area in all directions.

The Beaufighters suffered heavily at the hands of the Focke-Wulfs. Rudolf Linz engaged a Mustang and after a prolonged dogfight, the RAF machine caught fire and make a wide turn out of the fjord. The Mustang suddenly turned back and crashed into a green pine forest, killing its pilot, W/O Cecil Claude.

This battle only lasted for 15 minutes. Thus, at about 16:30 the last combatants withdrew and set course for home. The remaining Beaufighters and Mustangs, many of which were damaged, flew singly or in small groups all the way back, the last RAF plane, a Beaufighter, landing at Dallachy at 18:45. Fw. Artner had led his Staffel into combat and landed at Herdla at 16:55, barely more than an hour after take-off.

After fighting the largest aerial battle ever fought over Norway and losing one Mustang and another nine Beaufighters, this operation was later dubbed as "Black Friday" by the RAF, RCAF, and RAAF's survivors. III./JG 5 lost four Fw 190s this day with two pilots KIA. One of these was Lt. Rudolf "Rudi" Linz, who after shooting down a Beaufighter and then a Mustang for his 69th and 70th Abschüsse, was shot down by a Mustang. His Focke-Wulf was seen to quickly flick over and spiraled down trailing black smoke and finally crashing in a ball of fire near Solheimsstolen.

Dietrich´s rather colorful machine displays like most of the planes in the staffel, a unit badge on its engine cowling, a girlfriend name under its cockpit, the Blue painted armored ring and a spinner spiral in white. Note also that Uffz. Wolfgang Dietrich´s machine shown signs of extensively repaint work, rather typical for machines in JG 5.

This is one of the eight profies made during the week, and it would be one of the 130 profiles to be include in my new Profile Book No 15

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