70 - Heinkel He-111 crash-landing

Heinkel He-111

crash-landing in Rauma River,

North-West Norway, 25th April 1940

 

Diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen

April 1940

.

9th April 1940:

German forces attacked Norway.

 

The Norwegian King and Government refused to surrender and fled from Oslo (the Capital) with the German invasion force in hot pursuit.

 

The German occupation forces were desperately trying to prevent the Norwegian leadership from escaping to Britain.

 

The German army used all the available forces, including bombers to capture or kill the King and the Government while the small Norwegian army was doing whatever it could to slow the German advances.

 

On the 25 of April, two weeks after the invasion, the King and the Government arrived in Molde, a seaside town in North-Western Norway.

 

The German sent in the bombers to attack the area where the King was supposed to be.

 

One of the bomber formations was the LG1 (LehrGeschwader) which flew their aircraft from Schleswig (North Germany). After re-fuelling in Oslo (which by that time had fallen into German hands), they continued their flight to Molde and Åndalsnes.

 

The LG1 used He-111's and Ju-88's on the attack on Molde

 

One of the He-111 was the L1+MK.

 

The bomber crew was pilot Uffz. Helmuth Nolte, Navigator/Observer Gefr. Herbert Schmidt, Radio Operator Uffz. Hans Schrader and Gunner Uffz. Harry Frerichs.

 

They dropped some bombs on a couple of British warships off the coast but missed the target.

 

The day before, British troops arrived at the west coast to help Norway in their struggle.

 

Part of the British forces in the Mode and Åndalsnes area was the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious with 18 Gladiators fighters.

 

Suddenly, the L1+MK were attacked by two British Gladiators (from the RAF 263 Squadron).

 

The radio operator in the Heinkel was severely wounded, and one of the engines caught fire.

 

The He-111 was going down.

 

The area is covered with high mountains and deep and narrow fjords.

 

A good place for a forced landing with a bomber is hard to find, but the He-111 pilot managed to make a wheels-up landing on a relatively flat, snow-covered field on the banks of the river Rauma.

 

The massive plane hit several rocks and trees when sliding over the river bank before it skidded into the icy river.

 

Both wingtips were ripped off, and the wings and the lower fuselage were severely damaged.

 

The wounded Radio Operator was trapped and clamped in the aircraft wreck when it came to a standstill in the river.

 

The other three crew member survived the crash without major injuries.

The injured Radio Operator was in a terrible situation, being trapped in the aircraft with the icy water rising – he must have feared he was going to drown – because, according to local sources, he used his gun and killed himself in the wrecked plane.

 

The other three crew members surrendered to British and Norwegian troops and were brought to Scapa Flow on board the cruiser "York".

 

They ended up as POW's in Canada.

In 1946 they returned to Germany.

 

 

PS.

For those who want to know:

The Norwegian King Haakon VII and the Government escaped from Molde and continued to Tromsø (North Norway) with the help of the British Navy.

Here they stayed until 7 June when they boarded a British warship and sailed to London to continue the fight against Nazi Germany.

Norway forces capitulated on the 10 June. The war on the Norwegian mainland was over but continued with guerrilla and sabotage activities, and most of all, the mighty Norwegian merchant fleet which offered invaluable help to the allied supply routes.

 

 

Picture to the right:

In April, the snow in the mountain had not yet started to melt in earnest, but in May and June, the water flow in the river would increase dramatically and the wreck was partly ripped apart.

The bombing of Molde

The two Gladiators which downed the He-111 were piloted by Squadron Leader John William Donaldson and Captain Randolph Stuart Mills.

It’s easy to see that the river banks are the only place to try a forced landing – and survive.

In April, the whole area would be covered with snow. Soon after, in May, the snow-melting begin, and the water flow in the river would increase dramatically.

The He-111 in the river

 

The diorama I am building shows the He-111 in the river Rauma and the surviving crew members

surrendering to British troops.

I have used all available pictures from the incident

to make the details as close to the real situation

as possible.

Building the Heinkel He-111

The kit I used was the old Monogram 1/48, but that’s unimportant because I was going to rip the model apart anyway.

 

I started with the wings and cut off the wingtips, the flaps, the ailerons and some part of the front wings.

 

The engine nacelles were partly cut open.

 

The front cockpit glass window was cut out, and the different escape hatches in the cockpit and fuselage section were opened.

 

On the tail, the elevators and rudder were removed.

 

When all the bits and pieces were on the workbench, it was time to catch a tube from the fridge.

The tubes with mayonnaise (or bacon cheese or whatever) are ideal for use as aircraft skin.

 

The plastic in any kit is far too thick and is more like a tank armour than an aircraft skin.

 

If you are making credible damage on the aircraft, you have to use a thin metal sheet; the plastic is of no use whatever.

 

And on this model, I needed a lot of damages.

 

An open hole in the aircraft was made like this:

 

1. A hole in the plastic (wing or fuselage)

is cut out.

 

2.The thick plastic edges in the opening,

are filed very thin.

 

3. A thin metal sheet is glued (with CA-

glue) to the inner side of the opening

 

4.The transition between plastic and

metal is filed and smoothed to make

the transition as invisible as possible.

 

5.The metal is cut (with a scissor) and

bent as you like.

 

6. Everything is painted.

 

This was done on the wings, on the nacelles and the fuselage (see pictures).

 

The ailerons were ripped away together with the wingtips, but the flaps, elevators and rudder were glued back on in the wanted position.

 

The starboard engine was on fire after the Gladiator attack, but the flames were extinguished when the aircraft skidded into the river.

 

The nacelle, however, was severely damaged and several panels ripped off.

 

An after-market engine was placed in the nacelle.

 

The propeller blades were heated by a candle and bent in the positions I wanted.

 

The aircraft was primed with aluminium paint, and the splinter camouflage was painted with acrylic paint.

 

With the aluminium primer under the camouflage, I could scratch carefully with a scalpel on the camouflage, and the aluminium would shine through.

 

Next, gloss varnish (Johnson Floor Polish) was airbrushed, and the decals were applied.

 

The correct decals for the L1+MK were of course not available, and I had to make my own by using my decals scrapbook.

 

The aircraft was weathered, and a coat of satin varnish was applied.

 

Last to be made were the bullets holes from the Gloster Gladiators machine guns.

 

I used the scalpel to drill holes and cut away some plastic around the entry hole.

 

When the bullet hit the aircraft skin, it was dented inwards, and some of the paint around the entry hole was ripped off, exposing the naked aluminium skin.

 

Each bullet hole was painted black in the middle and lighter grey/aluminium around.

 

The figures

.

I needed three German Pilots and some British soldiers. The British soldiers are from the 1/48 Tamiya kit. The German crew, I had to make from bits and pieces in my scrap box.

 

I do not know how and when the crew was taken prisoners, and I, therefore, took the liberty to place them on the aircraft and the British troops on the river bank. This makes a good diorama anyway.

 

The Base

.

The base was a 60 x 60cm (24 x 24in) wooden board.

 

The river bank was made of Styrofoam from some leftover package material. The slope down to the water was covered with pebbles, and some larger stones were placed on the riverside and on the land.

 

The Styrofoam (riverbank) was covered with Papier Mache. Skid marks after the aircraft were made, likewise footprints and trees, and everything painted in acrylic paint.

 

The snow part was given a coat of Johnson Future because matt snow does not exist.

 

The Heinkel was to be placed into the water.

 

I used a two-component liquid plastic (epoxy) to make the water, but before I could pour the liquid into the river, I had to build a wall to contain the “water”. A plastic strip was glued to the edges of the wooden base, and all openings were sealed to prevent the liquid plastic from escape.

 

The damaged He-111 was then placed on the riverbed, and liquid plastic was poured into the “river”.

 

I have never used “liquid plastic” before, and I doubt that I will use it again. It’s fine if you want a smooth and blank surface, but if you want some waves and ripples on the water, it’s close to impossible to achieve.

I, therefore, had to put a layer of Realistic Water (Scenic) on top of the plastic to get a more realistic surface.

 

If you look at the pictures taken in May/June 1940, you’ll see that the water level has risen well above what’s in the diorama.

That is because the snow-melting increased the water level considerably from April to May/June. I think the water level in the diorama is about correct.

 

When the liquid had hardened, I cut away the top of the plastic wall around the “water” and the diorama was finished.

 

 

The Background

 

I used the 1940-pictures from the crash site as a model and painted a backdrop as close to the real scenery as possible with the snow covered steep hillside in the background.

 

The painting was on a cardboard 70 x 100 cm (28 x 40 in).

 

Of course, the background was too big for the diorama base.

 

If this diorama should end up in a model show, the background had to be sized to the base.

 

But not in this case. I needed the background only for picture taking, and for this purpose, it was fine.

The Diorama

The historical correctness:

The way I have portraited the surrendering is probably not entirely correct.

The story is that the surviving crew waded to the shore and surrendered to the nearest farmer (Fiva Farm) who at the time was armed with an axe(!).

They asked if they could make a telephone call and report the situation to the airport in Oslo.

They were later taken care of by British and Norwegian troops. Of course, this is an interesting story, but not very well suited for a diorama. I have therefore left the farmer out of the diorama

 

The He-111 that was shot down in Romsdalen belonged to

LG1 (LehrGeschwader 1)

This was a specialised unit which tested new aircraft and attack methods. They had a lot of different aircraft (Bf110, Bf110, Do-17, Ju-88, Ju87 Stuka and He-111) and took part in every major operation, both on the east and west front during the whole war.

I see that “LehrGeschwader” several places are translated into “Demonstration Wing”, which I think is a wrong term.

“A Wing for Test and Trail” would probably be more accurate.

 

The Warning

.

It must have been very dramatic when the Gladiators attacked, and the Heinkel was going down because the pilot had no time to

get rid of the bombs before the

belly landing.

 

To warn all curious locals,

someone wrote in Norwegian on

the fuselage: “Bomber Livsfarlig”

(in English: “Bombs! Lethal Danger”)

 

I painted the same text on the

model and took a picture so see

how close I could get it compared

to the old b/w picture from May 1940.

The diorama is now at display at the War History Museum in Åndalsnes (Norway)

I hope you enjoyed this website!

 

Thank you for visiting!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments

(bjorn@dioramas-and-models.com)

 

Bjørn Jacobsen

 

January 2018