Friday, 3 February 2012

demise of the Luftwaffe blog ?, Lt. Karl-Heinz Kempf, JG 26 at Villacoublay June 1944

Thank you for all the kind comments received during the blog’s recent hiatus. I pulled the plug a bit too rapidly perhaps. The ‘end’ of the blog resulted in a bit of fevered speculation on at least one forum - funny how people immediately jump to the worst possible conclusions. As you can see I decided in the end to ‘restore’ this blog, partly to demonstrate to some that Google have not shut this site down for any particular issues, especially of copyright, far from it. Anyway, I'll live with it for a few days and see how I feel. I’m afraid the ‘Luftwaffe blog’ had/has become too much like hard work to be honest. I recognise that there is no way I can really continue to keep doing up-dates of reasonable 'quality' with my 'schedule'; having finished translations of Erik Mombeeck’s JG 4 Vol II and JG 2 Vol II (not yet published) I need a break but I’m still mid-way through a number of other planned publications for various German, Belgian and French authors and with invitations to contribute to two new series on the table currently! One friend recently asserted that I am “the victim of my own expertise”. You are too kind David!

There are obvious problems with regularly up-dating a blog like this. You create something half-decent and it begins to consume all your time and people expect more. Visitor numbers were/are quite impressive, I think, for a private blog, with upwards of 1,200 page views per day. The other (paper) projects demand increasing amounts of attention too. It is always nice to be asked to contribute and difficult to say no, even when it’s Kagero and the half-baked Polish/English text is all but incomprehensible. (Luckily they have upped the quality in leaps and bounds and in Thomasz Szlagor they have a very competent English/Polish writer and researcher). My feeling right now is that this blog will not be updated quite so frequently. Then when time permits I hope to be in a better position to consider again providing more regular updates. Creativity - and energy - ebbs and flows, and right now I'm in an ebb phase with the blog. And besides there are other Luftwaffe blogs and sites out there - see my links and support my friends!

 I am fortunate to have a number of expert friends and fellow enthusiasts to provide material. Chief among these is French researcher/author Jean-Yves Lorant, author of the two volume history of JG 300 (Eagle Editions) and of a ground-breaking study of the Focke Wulf 190 back in 1981 published by Docavia in France (co-author Jean-Bernard Frappé). This was Jean-Yves’ first work, written in the late 1970’s when he was still a teenager. Nowadays he manages the French armed forces photo archive at the Service Historique de la Défense (over 6 million items) from a huge office (big enough to display a genuine Fw 190 propeller) in the opulent surroundings of the château de Vincennes, Paris. A visit there was the highlight of a trip to Paris a few years ago. Jean-Yves was in touch following my recent posting of III./JG 26 Gustavs taxying out and lining up for take-off in front of the ‘Guynemeyer’ hangar at Villacoublay during June 1944. This image was just one of a much longer sequence which featured 9. and 2. Staffel ace Lt. Karl-Heinz Kempf, which Jean-Yves very kindly offered for publication here.

As there is very little information about Kempf on the Net or in books and even fewer images, I am not going to reproduce Jean-Yves' high-res TIFF files here for the usual reasons, but have decided to post some low-res photocopies. Kempf was a former Green Heart Geschwader pilot with some 60 victories over the course of approx 400 sorties by the time of the Normandy Invasion. The pictures show Kempf clambering over a Gustav at Villacoublay during June 1944, possibly ‘white 9’.

He was a rare holder of the Ritterkreuz in JG 26, awarded in Russia during 1942. Kempf survived the hard air combats over the Normandy Invasionsraum and filed a number of additional claims. He was shot down and killed on 3 September 1944 at the controls of a Fw 190 A-8 ‘Black 9’, caught by 55th FG P-51s while taking off with 2. Staffel from Grimbergen, Belgium. (details in Mr Caldwell's "JG 26 War Diary") This flight had been planned as a relatively straight forward ferry flight back to Germany. Kempf’s death was over-shadowed that same day by that of another leading former JG 54 ace and the 170+ victory ace and Kommandeur of II./JG 26, Hptm. Emil Lang.