February 4, 1945

Two days after the loss of “Rote 1” and the death of her Flugzeugführer, Oblt. Walter Eppelsheim, disaster strikes a second time: Fw. Paul Prandl, flying Me 262 WNr. 110 932, crashes near Brandenburg-Briest and is killed in the accident.

1945-02-04 - 110932Unlike for the loss two days earlier, the loss lists of the Generalquartiermeister do not show any related entry. Literature also barely covers it – a text attributed to Fritz Wendel from Messerschmitt quotes the following:

“Three pilots of the units were killed during daylight training flights when their aircrafts crashed”[1]Smith, J. Richard et al.; Me 262 Volume 3; a.a.O., Page 453

Fritz Wendel must have been referring to the losses of January 21st, February 2nd, and February 4th, 1945. Another source lists the loss as “Crashed near Brandenburg-Briest during a ferry flight.”[2]Jurleit, Manfred; Strahljäger Me 262 im Einsatz; a.a.O., Page 182

In the meantime, I have received transcripts of two letters which I would like to quote partially:

“On this day, he was tasked with ferrying his aircraft to our new base. His aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the airfield at Brandenburg-Briest for reasons we unfortunately do not know. I immediately took all necessary steps to investigate the case, but without any results so far. The aircraft crashed into the woods and was severely damaged.”[3]Kurt Welter writing Paul Prandl’s widow, dated February 20th, 1945

There is a second letter, this time from Walter Eppelsheim’s widow to Paul Prandel’s widow, dated March 1945.

“As far as I know, Kommando Welter was transferred from Rechlin to Burg near Magdeburg in the early days of February and your husband was supposed to ferry one of the new aircraft there. This was on February 4th, 1945, and it was the flight from which he should not return. The cause of the loss is unknown, like it is for the crash of my husband and Oblt. Bruckmann two weeks earlier – and they will probably be never known.”

Both letters[4]provided to me by Daniel Studener which I am most grateful for – being transcripts – are typed and have no signatures which prevents a final evaluation with respect to their authenticity (although I currently have no reasons to doubt the nature of these two documents).

Like Manfred Jurleit, both letters seems to confirm the nature of the flight being a ferry flight. If this is the flight of a unit’s aircraft to the new location or the delivery of a new aircraft is currently unknown[5]the airfield at Brandenburg-Briest was a so called “Montagekopf” for the Me 262, an assembly site where the completely built modules of the aircraft (the Baugruppen) saw their final assembly and where the aircraft was then test flown and finally handed over to the active units.. But both letters confirm that the impact was of such a force that Fw. Prandel must have been killed immediately.

References   [ + ]

1. Smith, J. Richard et al.; Me 262 Volume 3; a.a.O., Page 453
2. Jurleit, Manfred; Strahljäger Me 262 im Einsatz; a.a.O., Page 182
3. Kurt Welter writing Paul Prandl’s widow, dated February 20th, 1945
4. provided to me by Daniel Studener which I am most grateful for
5. the airfield at Brandenburg-Briest was a so called “Montagekopf” for the Me 262, an assembly site where the completely built modules of the aircraft (the Baugruppen) saw their final assembly and where the aircraft was then test flown and finally handed over to the active units.
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