February 5, 1945

The night of February 5th to February 6th, 1945, sees the Royal Air Force back over Berlin – 63 Mosquitos are attacking the city, one of them is lost[1]Middlebrook, Martin et al.; The Bomber Command War Diaries; a.a.O, Page 660.

1945-02-05 - MM115This Mosquito of No. 571 Sqn. is not only “not returning”, she is “lost without a trace” and there are no indications as to her fate or her crew’s whereabouts.

In addition, a little known and almost undocumented accident must have happened around this time: Kurt Welter crashes his Me 262 during a take-off to a nocturnal mission. The aircraft is supposed to have shown “Rote 4” as tactical designator, but there are no sources to proof this.

1945-02-05 - Unknown (Welter)

Although there is little coverage of this accident, the following information is available:

Fw. Christoph Linde, who claims to have been with 10./NJG 11 as designated radio operator “for the two-seater”, gave the following oral account[2]via Alexander Steenbeck:

“Welter was always the first to start. You could already hear the incoming bombers over Burg [Burg near Magdeburg] when the Me 262 took off. One night, I saw a Me 262 aborting her take-off or rather failing to take-off. At the airfield perimeter, she crashed and caught fire. According to my lists, it was Welter. I reported the accident and said that it was unlikely for the pilot to have survived. Shortly thereafter, Welter returned to the command post, unharmed. He got out of the aircraft before she exploded.”

His account is backed by a written account by Karl-Heinz Becker[3]via Manfred Boehme:

“[talking about his first victory on February 15th, 1945] It was already into the afternoon, around 14:30 hrs. We, the men of Kommando Welter, were assembled in the command post. Welter had been grounded some time ago.

During the take-off to a nocturnal mission over Berlin. Leaving Burg to the west, he had crashed his aircraft right after it took off. The Me 262, ‘Rote 4’, was heavily damaged – wheels torn off, the nose section demolished, the hull’s breaking point had given in. The only thing that survived his crash actually was the pilot’s compartment. The thing he missed most though, was his mascot, a black plush dog.

The reason for the crash very likely was him bringing the engines up too quickly. Doing so resulted in an overheating of the fan blades which ultimately caused a deformation of vital engine parts and a flame-out with following crash.

He was lucky that night: leaving the airfield [to the west] and crossing the street from Burg to the airfield, he came over flat terrain, a sort of military training area where he put down the aircraft.

After that, he was unbearable, went ballistic on every little thing that happened. We had decided to best ignore him and get out of his way when he was around.[…]”

The loss itself is not covered by the official loss lists. And the aircraft itself also is subject to speculation: she is said to have been modified with Schräge Musik, the vertically mounted guns in the back of the pilot that fired upward when the Nachtjäger was crossing beneath a target. So far, there is no reliable evidence of such a modification available to me.

References   [ + ]

1. Middlebrook, Martin et al.; The Bomber Command War Diaries; a.a.O, Page 660
2. via Alexander Steenbeck
3. via Manfred Boehme
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