The Black Friday
The aerial massacre at the Førde Fjord (Norway) February 9th 1945
Models by Bjørn Jacobsen
The Strike Force
On the 9th February 1945, two RAF Beaufighters discovered
the German destroyer Z-33 and several other vessels at the
Førde Fjord on the Norwegian west coast.
Even before the two Beaus had returned to base, the planning
of an attack had begun and a large strike force was assembled:
11 Beaufighters from 404 Sq RCAF
11 Beaufighters from 455 Sq RAAF
9 Beaufighters from 144 Sq RAF as outriders
12 Mustang MK III from 65 Sq RAF as escort
2 Warwick MK I from 276 Sq RAF as sea-rescue
The strike force of 43 planes was led by Wing Commander
The German fighters
In February 1945, German fighters were still to be reckoned
with, even if Luftwaffe only had about 45 single-engine fighters
in Norway south of Trondheim, barely more than the total
number of planes in the strike force.
But they were flying high-performance Focke-Wulfs or
Messerschmitts and most of the pilots were battle-hardened
veterans from the northern front, having fought the Russians
for over three years.
The famous JG5 Eismeer Geschwader was stationed at Herdla,
just outside Bergen and could easily reach Førde Fjord and
intercept the Strike Force if alerted in time
Prelude to Disaster
Shortly after take-off one of the Mustangs had to return because
and another joined in as an escort, in case of a forced bail-out.
Now they had only 10 escort fighters, but hopefully, that would suffice.
The plan was to attack out of the fjord and head for the relative safety of the North Sea.
The time was just past 16.00.
The formation turned towards land, expecting to see the enemy at the entrance
of the Førde Fjord.
They turned north with the intention of making an attack out to sea when they
suddenly was under fire from German ships deep inside the fjord and
almost underneath them.
The German was quite familiar with the RAF tactics and had
sailed further into the fjord. Here the mountains rise almost
vertically from the fjord and it would be very difficult for a plane
to hit the vessels with cannon and rockets.
The Beaufighters had no other choice but to initiate a new
attack east to west. Abandoning the operation was not an option.
They had to get further east to make the attack run out the fjord.
As the formation turned east, Wilson led his strike force south
toward Førde and then west just south of the fjord, but now
they realized that they would have to continue on a westerly
direction and then make a 180-degree turn northeast again to
attack into the fjord; just the opposite of the usual practice.
All this manoeuvring had taken a long time and suddenly
German fighters appeared at the scene
Alarm at JG5 at Herdla (Bergen)
The alarm sounded shortly before 15.50.
9. Staffel (Squadron) had nine Focke-Wulfs on readiness,
12. Staffel had three. All twelve Fws took off immediately
Feldwebel (Sargent) Rudolf Artner, a very experienced pilot
from the Eismeerfront was leading the 9. Staffel in his
Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8, "White 10".
He was credited with 17 victories up to this date.
There were no novices that set course towards the Førde Fjord
The Battle at the Førde Fjord
The Førde Fjord is about 40km (25miles) long, very narrow on
some places and with steep, almost vertical mountainsides.
Commander Milson in his Beaufighter made the first attack.
Behind him, others were queuing up to make theirs.
It was simply not room in the fjord for more than two or three
Beaus to attack at the same time. Projectiles of all calibres
were streaming towards the planes from the German ships,
making the entire fjord a very dangerous place to be.
Some planes attacked from the south-west, others from a more
western direction, the latter used cannon and rockets against
the Z-33 destroyer
Suddenly one of the attacking Beauforts saw a fighter a couple
of hundred yards behind and noticed the characteristic broad
cowling of a radial-engined Focke-Wulf.
Then things happened quickly. Cannon shell exploded and the
pilot was seriously wounded. He managed to crash land the plane
at the sea and was rescued by civilians and survived.
9. Staffel had attacked directly into the swarm of Beaufighters
waiting to attack the ships.
At about this time the Mustangs discovered the German
fighters which were heading directly towards them and was
immediately in aerial combat. One of the Fw190 caught fire and
crashed into the sea. The pilot bailed out to safety.
The battle soon spread over a large area in all directions.
The Beaufighters suffers heavily at the hands of the Focke-Wulfs.
Terrified civilians witness how a Beaufighter pursued by a
Focke-Wulf was hit several times and crashed in a hillside.
A single Mustang tried to help out and attacked the German
fighter. An aerial duel developed and the Mustang caught fire
and crashed in a pine forest
Further north, in Naustdal two Fw190 and one Mustang was
fighting. Suddenly one of the German planes burst in fire and
crashed. It was Lieutenant Rudi Linz, one of the most successful
German pilot in Norway at this time with 70 victories.
Beaufighters were shot down over a wide area.
One Beaufighter bellied in on the ice, but turned over and
trapped the crew.
Another Beaufighter fell at the entrance to the fjord. The crew
survived the crash landing.
The battle lasted only about 15 minutes. Thus at about 16.30
the last combatants withdrew from the battle and set course
Artner had led his Staffel into combat with his “white 10” and
landed at Herdla at 16.55, barely more than an hour after
take-off. His kills had risen from 17 to 19.
The remaining Beaufighters and Mustangs, many of which were
damaged, flew singly or in small groups all the way to Dallachy.
Two damaged Beaufighters had a wheels-up landing in the dark.
Both crews survived.
One Mustang and nine Beaufighters were shot down.
Altogether 14 young lives were lost and five ended as POW
on the Allied side.
At this stage of the war with the end clearly in sight, it was a
heavy price to pay.
The Germans suffered losses too, but not anything like the
Allied Force. Two Fw190 was shot down and two German pilots
died due to the aerial combat.
In view of the enormous effort and terrible losses, the result of
the attack was very disappointing.
The Z-33 Destroyer was just lightly damaged and continued its
journey to Trondheim.
Beaufighters from 144 Sq RAF
Attacking the Z33 destroyer
Beaufighters attacking in the Førde Fjord
A Baufighter from 144th Sq bellylanded at Dallachy
No wonder that the RAF later referred to this event as
The Black Friday
Building the Black Friday :
The Fw190A-8 Würger “White 10” of 9./JG5 “Eismeer”
The kit is from Hasegawa/Hobby Boss
The parts fit nicely together and required just a little filler.
The major problem was however rather unusual: The lower part of the starboard stabilisator was
missing from the box. This is very rare: I have never experienced it before and made contact with the
UK Amerang Group which is responsible for the Hasegawa products in the UK and asked for a
replacement part. They don’t even bother to answer me, and I, therefore, had to make my own part
(out of Styrene). It turns out OK and I was just happy it wasn't the upper part of the stabilisator.
The cockpit building is straight forward.
To have more details in the cockpit, I used the
Eduard PE-interior which fitted well into the
Around the front of the instrument panel, is a
padding which I made with a thin electrical cable.
The cowling in the kit has 6 hinges scribed into
the top port and starboard sides.
These hinges were not on the A-8 model and
needed to be removed (filling and sanding)
The multi-piece cowling needed a little sanding
on the forward cowling.
The cooling vents on the fuselage sides are
moulded shut in the kit, which does not look very
I, therefore, made the vents with thin metal strips.
The flaps on the kit, hang almost vertically, but
again, this is easy to correct.
The landing gear is nicely moulded and needed
just a brake hose made by a thin wire to be
The interior painting of the cockpit is dark grey,
and the interior of the wheel wells, flaps and
cowling are RLM 02 (grey-green)
In common with the vast majority of Fw 190A-8s,
the aircraft is finished in RLM74/75/76
(Dark Grey/Grey/White Blue) with mottling of
both 74 and 75 and darker grey.
The painting process started with masking the
canopy and placing it on the aircraft. The next
step was priming and then the RLM74 and 75
on the upper wings and upper fuselage.
Before I started painting the pale blue/grey the
underside and lower fuselage sides, I had to fix
all the bits and pieces on the underside
(wheels, antennas and so on)
Crew: 2: pilot, observer
Length: 41 ft 4 in (12.6 m)
Wingspan: 57 ft 10 in (17.65 m)
Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.84 m)
Empty weight: 15,592 lb (7,072 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 25,400 lb (11,521 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Hercules
14-cylinder radial engines,
1,600 hp (1,200 kW) each
Maximum speed: 320 mph (280 kn,
515 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
Range: 1,750 mi (1,520 nmi,
4 × 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon
(240 rpg) in nose and 6x7,7mm machineguns in the wings.
1 × manually operated .303 in
(7.7 mm) Browning for observer
2× 250 lb bombs or
8 × RP-3 "60 lb" (27 kg) rockets (underwing)
Beaufighters from 404th Sqn RCAF February 1945
Beaufighter TFX with RP-3 rockets
The Bristol Beaufighter TFX
The Beaufighter was a two seats long-range heavy fighter.
With its four nose-mounted 20mm cannons and six 7,7mm machine guns in the
wings it was the most heavily armed aircraft with RAF during WWII.
But, as most twin-engine fighters, it could not stand up against the agile and fast
When operating in areas with enemy fighters, it needed an escort (P-51 Mustang) to
keep the German fighters at bay.
The Beaufighter proved to be effective in the Mediterranean against shipping,
'aircraft and ground targets and the Coastal Command became the major user of
By the end of 1942, the Beaufighters were being equipped with torpedo-carrying gear,
enabling them to carry a torpedo externally.
The first successful torpedo attacks by Beaufighters came in April 1943, with
No. 254 Squadron sinking two merchant ships off Norway.
With new stronger Hercules XVII engines, the TF Mk.X model became the main
production mark for the Beaufighter (TF=TorpedoFighter)
The TFX model could make a precision attack on shipping at wave-top height with
torpedo or “60lb” RP-3 rockets.
The Beaufighters in the strike force at the Førde Fjord was the TFX model, but
They would rely on rockets and cannons when attacking the German ships – and they
would rely on the Mustangs to fight off possible attacks from German fighters
The kit I am using is a 1:48 from Tamiya
The building is straight forward and the kit gave no problem. As always it started with the
cockpit mounted in the fuselage.
I chose to have the crew included because I intended to show the plane in the air.
The propeller shafts are lubricated so the propellers will spin if I blow on them with a
This makes the presentation of the model in the air more realistic
The camouflage on the Coastal Command Beaufighters was mostly different shades of
This plane is SeaGrey and GreyGreen on the upper side and White Grey on the
The North American Mustang IV
The Mustang IV was the RAF designation for the P-51D.
Seventeen RAF and three SAAF Squadrons used the Mustang IV
With its great range, the Mustang was ideal for escort missions
(the Spitfire had far too short range) and since the Beaufighters
was going to an area where German fighters were operating, they
needed the Mustangs for protection.
The Strike Force's Mustangs was from RAF 65th Sqn which had
moved to Scotland just a month earlier to give escort services to
Coastal Command attacking shipping off Norway and Denmark
I had previously made a P-51D Mustang from the 55th FG/8th AF.
This was exactly the same plane as the British Mustang IV. I just
had to dress it up in the RAF camouflage to become a
65th Sqn Mustang.
The colour would be Dark Green, Ocean Grey and Medium Sea
Grey with Duck Egg Blue spinner and tail band.
The Mustang was one of the best fighters in WWII, but the late
models of the Focke-Wulf 190 A-8 Würger was an equal opponent.
The leader for the Mustangs, Lieutenant Foster was very
surprised of the aggressive attack from the German fighters.
To his astonishment, the Focke-Wulfs flew right through the
intensive fire from their own ships and went straight for the
The Mustangs dropped their external fuel tanks and went after the Würgers
It is a little strange that the potent Mustangs performed so badly in protecting the Beaufighters against the Focke-Wulfs
The Germans were actually heavily outnumbered by the Allied aircraft (even if the Beaufighters were slow, they had an enormous punch in their cannons and machine guns)
Operating at low altitude in a narrow fjord was probably not to the Mustangs advantage and the war-hardened pilots in the Eismeer Geschwader did not make the situation easier for the British pilots.
Whatever the reason, the result was disastrous for the Allied Strike Force.
I have used the "wrong" Mustang model
It has come to my attention that the RAF 65th Squadron used the Mustang III
on the escort mission to the Førde Fjord, not the Mustang IV
The Mustang III is the same as the P-51B/C model which you can see in the
picture to the right, except that it had a Spitfire hood.
I am sorry for the mistake, but it makes little different to the Black Friday story
That was the three main participants in the air battle of the Førde Fjord:
The Focke-Wulf Fw190, the Bristol Beaufighter and the North American Mustang.
It is impossible to make a traditional diorama of an air battle, but I have put all three models together in front of the camera and painted a background of the fjord.
It’s the best I can do to create a kind of feeling of what happened on the 9th February 1945.
One of the Fw190s, a Fw190 F-8 "White One" from 9./JG 5 was hit in the engine and the pilot was forced to bail out.
He was too close to the ground for the chute to open and fell to a certain death
But, instead of being crushed against the ground, he hit a steep snowy hillside, slided down and survive against all odds!
The pilot was Heinz Orlowski.
In 1994 he and his newly-restored "Weisse 1" (White One) was actually reunited in Texas, survivors of a fierce battle some 49 years before!
Rudolf Artner (to the left) in front of his Fw190 A-8 "White 10"
The pictures above:
The model of the Fw190 A-8 is pictured in different positions and pasted on a picture of a clouded sky.
The Black Friday, a painting by Adam Toby
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