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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 202630
Last updated: 27 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic H111 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Heinkel He 111H-3
Owner/operator:1./KG 26 Luftwaffe
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:east of Bell Rock off the Tay Estuary -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
At midday on 7 December 1939 seven He 111 H-3 of 1./KG 26 were intercepted during a sortie to the Firth of Forth. They were picked up on rader heading into the Tay Estuary at midday and quickly intercepted by three patrolling 603 Sqn Spitfires from Turnhouse that damaged two of the Heinkesl before dwindling fuel forced them to break off the attack.

Meanwhile the six Spitfires of the alerte section of 72 Sqn RAF scrambled from Drem and headed out northward over the Firth. One of the pilots was the Australian Flg Off Des Sheen (flying the Spitfire K9959), who recalls:

"We soon spotted the formation of seven Heinkels, who were carrying out an armed reconnaissance along the east coast. They must have thought that there would be no fighters this far north, so our presence no doubt came as a nasty shock to them. They had dropped down to low leevl in order to try and evade the 603 Sqn Spifires, so we in turn dived down to their altitude - I remember quite vividly zooming past Bell Rock lighthouse at eye-level, in pursuit of a fleeing bomber. As I commenced firing on my chosen target, a gunner in a second He 111 off to the left-hand side of "my" bomber hit me with an accurate burst in the cockpit. I was stuck in the ear with one round and hit in the backside with another, whilst a third round ruptured my petrol tank. I immediately broke off my attack and headed south to Leuchars, with my cockpit filling with fuel. Upon landing safely, I was soon bundled into an ambulance and proceeded to spend Christmas convalescing in the hospital in Edinburgh Castle, which was most pleasant!"

The groundcrew assigned to temporarily ’patch up’ Sheen’s Spitfire prior to it returning to Drem found an incendiary round in the petrol tank that had somehow not ignited when it buried itself in the Spitfire - the Australian had had a fortunate escape. He was awarded a third of a kill in this action.

Two of the Heinkels were shot down at around 1230 hrs in the sea east of Bell Rock off the Tay Estuary. There were no survivors.

From the first crew, the bodies of Obfw Herbert Kolberg and Fw Walter Stübke were recovered from the sea, while Lt Adalbert Lüneburg and Uffz Heinz Käberich are still missing. Kolberg now rests in Lyness Naval Cemetery.

From the second crew, only one body was found, Lt Alfred Fick being wahsed ashore neer Aberdeen. He now rests in Cannock Chase, where most German war dead buried in United Kingdom had been gathered after the war. The three other crew, Uffz Heinz Zenger, Uffz Franz Eggert and Uffz Helmut Kaminski, were never found.


"Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 12: Spitfire Mk I/II Aces 1939-41", by Dr Alfred Price. ISBN 1-85532-627-2
"The Blitz Then and Now, volume 1. September 3, 1939 – September 6, 1940", collective work, ISBN 0-900913-45-2
"Achtung – Torpedo los! Der strategische und operative Einsatz des Kampfgeschwaders 26 - Löwengeschwader", by Rudi Schmidt. ISBN 3-89555-170-8


Revision history:

07-Dec-2017 11:56 Laurent Rizzotti Added
13-Dec-2017 16:56 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Aircraft type]
09-Dec-2019 10:59 Nepa Updated [Operator, Plane category, Operator]

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