View Full Version : Scans: The Story of BF-109 "Blue Sixteen" And Her Pilot

01-18-2008, 08:32 AM
Hello again!

Here are some scans about a BF-109 F4 that was found in the Mediterranean off the island "Ile de Bagaud". A lot of hobby divers dive here looking for World War II machinery. So far they've found Stuka's, a couple of Mustang's but never a BF-109. That was about to change when Lino von Gartzen (who wrote this article) arrived and heard from a buddy, Christoph Desix, that divers had located a Daimler-Benz engine with a BF-109 propeller hub on it. This meant a BF-109 was somewhere down there. The location of the engine find was kept a secret, but Desix was willing to help von Gartzen find the rest of the plane. So here are the translated important parts. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

The Plane

The wreck was actually "moved" by accident by local fishers who's nets had become entangled in the debris. They had moved the plane 300 meters from its original resting place. Supposedly the remnants had sunk somewhere deeper but when the fishermen accidentally moved it they brought it into shallower waters. The wreck is now located in waters about 10 meters deep. It took some time to find, but eventually the '109 was located. The '109 lies on its belly. About two meters of the left wing are still reasonably intact complete with the left landing gear. The tail of the aircraft was gone - and with it the factory number which would have helped in easy identification. Sometimes the factory number was placed on other parts, but this meant taking the plane apart piece by piece and this is not something the divers wanted to do.

Back in Bavaria, von Gartzen consulted books as to find out which BF-109 he was looking at. From sources and photos, he narrowed the mystery '109 down to an "F" or early "G" model, both of which served with the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean. Then von Gartzen came across some conclusive evidence. The cockpit of the '109 F series had a small round opening in the upper left wall of the cockpit, the G series didn't: the '109 wreck had it meaning that it was a BF-109 F series.

Von Gartzen consulted sources from all over: German, French, Allied records of downed aircrafts etc. One source told him what he needed to know. A missing Messerschmitt BF-109 F4 on January 21, 1944 in the waters where the Daimler-Benz engine and eventually the wreck were found. German records pertaining to this have been lost. So von Gartzen looked at Allied records. On January 21, 1944, the 15th Airforce conducted a bombing raid on the airfield of Salon de Provence, where a Luftwaffe fighter unit was based. The Luftwaffe unit suffered many damaged machines and four losses from this bombing raid. Yet the records indicate no BF-109 shot down, nor did any dogfights take place.

Help came in the form of a French historian named Guy Julien. Julien traced another attack to the likely cause of the downd '109. The 12th Airforce specialised in shipping attacks and made use of B-25 bombers. On the same day, Jan. 21, 1944, they conducted a strike against a German convoy on the southern coast of France. Two German escort fighters were shot down: one from a B-25 gunner and one from an escorting Spitfire flying under American colors. This fact enabled von Gartzen to view the proper German records and give the missing plane and moreover the missing pilot a name and face.

The Pilot

19-year old Rudolf Wälde completed his fighter training in late 1943 and is posted to the 4th Staffel of Jagdgruppe Süd beginning of December 1943. Jagdgruppe Süd is tasked with exposing rookie pilots to combat operations (under the guidance of more experienced pilots) in order to give them the necessary experience and confidence in their abilities and machines. The "exposure time" usually takes 12 weeks, then the pilots, if they survived, will be posted to Jagdgeschwader 11.

At first, Rudolf Wälde is lucky. The last attack on his new unit prior to his arrival caused heavy casualties. On December 13, 1943, the 4th Staffel receives brand new Messerschmitt BF-109 G6's. Wälde receives a G6 too. In one of his last letters home, Wälde writes: "Got the new Me-109 G6. Very fast, very maneuvrable and she climbs quickly!"

On December 15, 1943, Wälde prepares an emergency belly landing due to engine damage having had to turn back from a flight, but he remains unharmed. He writes home: "On the 15th of December I got hit, well only the airplane. In this relationship I tend to be lucky one."

But things are about to change.

The End

His replacement plane is an almost three-year old Messerschmitt BF-109 F4 "Blue Sixteen". Blue Sixteen has been in service with Jagdgruppe Süd for over half a year and has already been damaged heavily twice. At this stage in the war the aircraft is already outdated and outclassed by most Allied fighters in the Mediterranean.

On January 21, 1944, the Allies attack. A large formation of B-17's with P-38 escorts is en route to attack Salon de Provence. Shortly after this, another group of six B-25 US bombers is reported heading from Corsica to the southern French coast where a 10,000 ton German freighter with five escort convoys is located and heading from Marseille to Genoa. The B-25's belong to the 428th BS of the 12th Airforce and specialise in the destruction of naval convoys. They're being escorted by eight Spitfires belonging to the 4th FS, 52 Fighter Group. The Americans are supported by a group of recon RAF B-26 Marauders who've reported in targets.

The 1st and 2nd Staffel of Jagdgruppe Süd are desperately fending off the attack and sustaining heavy casualties on ground and in the air. At 12:45 PM local time, the alarm sounds at the 4th Staffel.. They're ordered to immediately take off and intercept the B-25 bombers and their escorts. Seven BF-109 G6's and one F-4 take off to intercept. This is Wälde's first mission - and his at the same time his last.

At 13:15 PM contact is made with the bombers. Two B-25's are immediately heavily damaged from a firing pass by the first group. Then it's the turn of the group where Wälde is in to attack. Suddenly, eight Spitfires open fire coming out of the sun. "Blue Sixteen" is immediately hit and reported to have crashed into the sea at 13:16 PM. Wälde has just enough time to bail out. His comrades reported seeing him land in his parachute, six kilometers from the coast on open sea. It will be the last time anyone has ever seen Rudolf Wälde.

After five minutes, the dogfights around the islands are over. The remaining bombers head for home. At 14:00 PM, the Germans send out a reconnaisance plane to locate Wälde. For three hours the airplane searches for Wälde, without hope. The waves were reported as high and strong on this day, and it is assumed that Wälde was possibly wounded, hence he probably drowned.

In the appropriate Allied records, the description of Wälde's plane is: The escort put away another FW of a separate flight of four. The B-25's thought they were being attacked by FW-190's. The Spitfire pilot who shot down Wälde, Lee Trowbridge, reported downing a "BF-109".

The first contact with the enemy for Rudolf Wälde took only one minute. Until today, his fate remains unknown (MIA), but a part of him was found: his airplane.

Rudolf Wälde, the pilot of the BF-109 F4.

Here's what the BF1-09 F4 "Blue Sixteen" Wälde flew looked like.

The Scans
http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/2650/flug01dd3.th.jpg (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=flug01dd3.jpg) http://img182.imageshack.us/img182/306/flug02kj4.th.jpg (http://img182.imageshack.us/my.php?image=flug02kj4.jpg) http://img341.imageshack.us/img341/6776/flug03vm8.th.jpg (http://img341.imageshack.us/my.php?image=flug03vm8.jpg)

01-18-2008, 08:52 AM
Many thanks, mate, nice read and even nicer finding! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

01-18-2008, 10:31 AM
The first images looks weird; the propeller seems to have 4 blades. Maybe it's a picture of another wreck? Production 109s never had 4 blade propellers.

01-18-2008, 10:51 AM
Originally posted by Alex_Voicu:
The first images looks weird; the propeller seems to have 4 blades. Maybe it's a picture of another wreck? Production 109s never had 4 blade propellers.

The caption of the picture lists it as P51.


01-18-2008, 11:58 AM
Oh, i see now... I don't understand german so i didn't bother to read the text.

01-18-2008, 12:23 PM
Poor chap. But I don't see how a Bf-109 F-4 is more outclassed than a Bf-109 G-6 apart from armament.
However he does praise his new G-6.

01-21-2008, 05:15 AM
Anytime guys. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Originally posted by Alex_Voicu:
The first images looks weird; the propeller seems to have 4 blades. Maybe it's a picture of another wreck? Production 109s never had 4 blade propellers.

That's a P-51 Mustang that was found in the Mediterranean. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

01-21-2008, 05:16 AM
Originally posted by Metatron_123:
Poor chap. But I don't see how a Bf-109 F-4 is more outclassed than a Bf-109 G-6 apart from armament.
However he does praise his new G-6.

I'm no expert, but I think the G-6 has larger machine guns and was faster than the F-4.

01-21-2008, 06:05 AM
Thank's for posting... interesting find and story about the history of the Bf-109.

01-21-2008, 12:40 PM
Another good thread http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

01-21-2008, 01:33 PM
As searchable pdf file