1/48 Tamiya FW-190 A8, “Otto Kittel” 2. JG 54, Black 1, Werk Number 690 282
This article is part of a series:
- Kasserine Pass GB: 1/48 scale Tamiya FW-190A , Oblt. E. Rudorffer, CO 6 / JG2 Tunisia
- 1/48 Tamiya FW-190 A8, “Otto Kittel” 2. JG 54, Black 1, Werk Number 690 282
- 1/48 Tamiya FW-190 A4, as Flown by Leutnant Eberhard Von Burath, Adjutant 1 Gruppe / JG 1
- Tamiya 1/48 FW-190 A3, Werk Number 223, Hans “Assi” Hahn, Gruppenkommandeur III / JG 2
Here’s a model that I completed several months ago, during the Kasserine Pass Group Build, when I built a series of four different FW-190’s. This model is painted as a “What if”, since I didn’t find any photos of the actual plane he flew on his last mission. JG 54 is well known for their use of “unofficial colors”. The model is built box stock, with no aftermarket additions. The base kit was the Tamiya F8 ground attack version that I slightly modified to represent an A-8 version of sorts.
This model represents the plane that Otto Kittel made his last flight in, when he was shot down in flames by the rear gunner of an IL-2 “Shturmovik” on the 14th of February 1945. Some sources state the date was on the 16th instead… It might have even been a Shturmovik pilot who shot down Kittel… More on that later.
In case you’re wondering just who Otto Kittel was, he was the highest scoring “Experten” in the Focke Wulf 190, scoring over 200 victories of his 267 total while flying the type. If I’m not mistaken, all of his claims were made on the Eastern Front. He was the Worlds 4th highest scoring Ace in aviation history. Despite this, not much has been written about the man and not too many photos exist of his aircraft.
Otto Kittel was born on 21 February 1917 in Kronsdorf near Krnov in Sudeten Silesia, Austria-Hungary.
Kittel joined the Luftwaffe in 1939, when he was 22 years old. Prior to this he was an automotive mechanic. Flying the Bf-109 “Emil”, he started his combat flying career in the Balkans. Here he flew numerous ground support missions in the Bf-109, while acting as a wingman for the Staffel Leader. However no aerial victories were claimed by the Future “Experten” while flying in this location.
He didn’t start scoring until JG 54 was transferred to the Eastern Front with the opening of “Operation Barbarossa”. I found this photo of the Ace, sitting on the edge of the cockpit of his winter camouflaged FW-190. You can see the “Grunherz” emblem by his feet. The use of Unit emblems was later “discouraged” by the German High Command, but occasionally you can still find photos of it’s use, where the “Green Heart” was simply sprayed on subtly and used as part of the camouflage !
On the opening day of Barbarossa, June 22nd, 1941, Kittel scored two victories while flying the newer Bf-109 “Freiderich”. His first kill was a Soviet Yak-1, and he also claimed a bomber. (Some sources state his first two victories were Tupulev SB-2 Bombers.)
His 3rd victory was scored only 8 days later, on June 30th, 1941, when the future Ace claimed an IL-2 “Shturmovik”. For this feat he was later awarded the Iron Cross second class.
By now, his unit had moved to an area just South of Leningrad. JG 54 would remain in this location for almost two years in support of Army Group North !
In early 1943, JG 54 was temporarily withdrawn to convert to the newer FW-190. By mid March of 1943 Kittel had scored 46 victories which included all types of aircraft. The Fw-190 swap was especially appreciated by Otto Kittel, as the type was easier to land, easier to service, and could take more punishment than the 109, since it had an air cooled engine before the “Dora” came into service.
On the 14th (or 15th) of March, 1943, Kittel suffered an engine failure and force landed behind Soviet lines. His plane slid on the snow covered ground for almost 500 feet.
He managed to evade capture, having only a chocolate bar with him for food ! He had left the 190 in a hurry to avoid capture, leaving the emergency rations with the plane. Kittel travelled mainly by night to avoid detection. He ran across several abandoned homes and searched them for food. He found some clothing, but no food.
Hungry and desperate for something to eat, and now that he was wearing the clothes he took from the abandoned homes, he walked through several Soviet check points. Kittel could speak Czech, and some Russian, so he passed himself off as a peasant ! The Soviets even gave him some food …
Three days later he approached the edge of Lake Ilmen, which was frozen over. That night he crossed the frozen lake, and was discovered by a German sentry, where he was “recaptured”… and returned to his unit. Otto Kittel had managed to survive the cold winter, and evaded capture for 3 days. He was approximately 40 KM behind enemy lines.
During the Battle of Kursk, Kittel flew escort missions for Junkers Ju-87 Stukas, for the unit that was commanded by Hans Ulrich Rudel, III StG 2.
On the 14th of September, 1943, Kittel would claim his 100th victory, which was listed as a Yak-9. To show just how many aircraft the Soviets were losing, he was the 53rd Luftwaffe pilot to reach the “Century” mark ! For this feat he received the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.
Between November 1943 and January 1944, Kittel served as the Chief instructor at Training Group East, teaching new fighter pilots from his combat experiences. He didn’t like this new position, and repeatedly wrote requests to be returned to the “Ost Front”. He was eventually granted permission, and returned to JG 54 in March of 1944.
By early April of 1944, he scored his 150th aerial victory, and was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Iron Cross.
He was summoned to the “Wolf’s Lair” in East Prussia to be presented the award by Hitler on May 5th, 1944. Kittel returned back to his unit and continued to add to his list of victories.
By now “Otto” was flying a FW-190 A-6, that some say was marked as “Yellow 5”. His score had increased to 254 victories by mid October 1944. He scored 106 of these kills in only 6 months…
By the end of November, 1944, his score had risen to 264 victories. Again he was summoned by Hitler to the “Wolf’s Lair” in East Prussia. Here he was presented with “Oak Leaves and Swords” for his Iron Cross.
After the ceremony, Kittle flew home to visit his wife and to take a break on leave in Germany…
He returned to JG 54 in January of 1945. Upon his return, he assumed command of 2. JG 54 and started flying this plane marked as “Black 1”. It was a FW-190 A-8, Werk Number 690 282.
He scored two more times bringing his total up to 266.
A little after 12 Noon, on the 14th of February (or the 16th at 12:06 PM as stated in a German document I found online). I don’t read too much German, so if any of you can translate this I would appreciate it. 🙂
********************* update ******************** update ****************
With the help of my good friend Ferry Dierckxsens, we now know what was written in the German document: He was so kind as to post up a translation so that we all could understand this a little better.
******** update ***************** update ****************** update *********
Prior to having this document translated, this is how the crash of Kittel’s plane was described below at a few other online websites. Personally, I would rather believe the document…
Many thanks again to my good friend Ferry, for sharing this translation with us.
He took off with his unit flying in this machine. They were going to intercept a group of 14 “Shturmovik” planes that were attacking German Forces. Contact was made with the Soviet planes at 12:13 Hours. The Soviet planes were flying at a very low altitude between 100-150 Meters.
Otto Kittel opened fire on a “Shturmovik”, shooting it down. This was his last confirmed victory, giving him a total of 267. Kittel had damaged another “Shturmovik” and was lining it up for another attack, when his FW-190 was hit by return fire from the rear seat gunner of the damaged plane.
Then, as it was reported later (by his wingman) that he noticed a small fire inside the cockpit of Kittel’s plane.
The plane slowly turned downwards and struck the ground, killing the Worlds 4th all time leading Ace. The plane caught fire and burned upon impact.
Otto Kittel’s remains were later found and buried nearby. After the War was over, his remains were supposedly repatriated. Just recently, about two years ago it was reported that the crash site where “690 282” struck the ground was re discovered… but I have found no further information online about this.
The site of the crash is believed to have been Six Kilometres (3.7 miles) south-west of Džūkste in Latvia.
This is the translation provided by Ferry:
Date: 16 Feb 1945 Oberleutnant Otto Kittel Born 21 feb 1917 in Kronsdorf, near Jägerndorf/Sudetengau.
Staffelkapitän of the 2nd Staffel – 1st Group JG 54.
Planquadrat 37-197 = map grid
Circa 6 kilometers south-west from Dzukste
Fw. 190 A-8
Werksnr. Could translate into BuNo. 690 282
Kennung = could translate into “marking” black 1
Totalverlust = Total loss is confirmed with 100%
Flight order: free hunting. In air combat shot down by Russian fighters. Grave location unknown.
Place of impact directly in the main battle Lines.
Course of events: statement of section pilot Oberfahnrich Renner.
Take-off from base at 12.06 PM in the unit of Oberleutnant Kittel for free hunting in the battle area of Dzukste.
At 12:13 PM at a height of 150 meters a dogfight started with 14 Il-2 aircraft, which where flying in line formation and attacking German ground targets.
The (German) unit pushed itself in from the near side into the line of Il-2 (literally) “Butcher”.
Flying on the right hand side in a distance of 100 meters from Oberleutnant Kittel, I noticed how a Il-2 attacked from the down rear position, while behind us 2 more IL-2 made a steep climb. A second later a bright flash was visible in his (Kittel’s) cockpit and the aircraft went down with a right curve in a flat gliding flight.
The aircraft hit the ground with it’s rightwing first and caught fire immediately. It skidded further up to 200 meters from the forest border and burned out completely.
I circled the area for a longer period of time. Exact area as mentioned above. A free para jump is not observed by me.
Signed by Renner, Oberfahnrich. LGPA- Konigsberg = Luftgau Post Amt = Air district post office.
Oberfahnrich is equivalant to Flight Cadet or Acting Pilot Officer
Oberleutnant is equivalant to First Lieutenant or Pilot Officer
Staffelkapitän is equivalent to Squadron leader
This sheds a lot of light onto the final moments of Otto Kittel.
If I am reading this correctly, it could be highly likely that he was shot down by a Pilot flying in another IL-2 “Shturmovik”. The “Shturmovik’s” were flying in a line formation, and Kittel was attacking from an angle flying through the formation. The plane in line after the one he shot down could have been the one mentioned as attacking Kittel from the “Down Rear” position.
The Soviet pilot may have managed to shoot down the Ace with a well placed deflection shot, similarly to how Admiral Yamamoto was shot down and killed by American P-38’s. The Soviet pilot may have pulled in behind Kittel from below.
Two other “Shturmoviks” turned upwards, but apparently didn’t fire upon his plane.
This would account for the “Bright Flash” that was visible inside the cockpit just before his plane went down. It is quite possible that his plane took a direct hit in the cockpit from one of the “Shturmovik’s” wing guns, which was a 23 MM cannon. These weapons could fire HE (High Explosive) and API (Armor Piercing Incendiary) rounds and this would account for the “Bright Flash” that was mentioned in the report.
It would also explain why Kittel’s plane simply flew off after the explosion was witnessed, to the right in a shallow glide until it struck the ground. The Ace was probably dead from the explosion, or incapacitated and could no longer control his plane.
The plane struck the ground with the right wingtip first, then slid to a stop where it burned.
It looks to both Ferry and I, that Otto Kittel met his demise in this fashion.
As I stated before, this is the old Tamiya F-8 kit that I built up as an A-8 version, and was part of this four plane build I did as part of the fantastic Kasserine Pass Group Build, that was the brainchild of David A Thomas. Here’s a link to the build if you’re interested…
I had a fun time with this one, and have a few more “Wurgers” to post soon… possibly a Tamiya 1/48 scale Me-262 that was built in between these FW-190’s.
“Comments are encouraged”.
Thanks for looking … 🙂