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Messerschmitt Bf 109 "White 13"

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This Messerschmitt Bf 109 G fighter plane is the only one you can find in Austria. The owner, Mr. Kurt Steiner, an enthusiast, needed 20 years (!!!!) to rebuild it. He gave it as a loan to a tiny Museum, the AVIATICUM in Wr. Neustadt in Lower Austria. If you want to visit it go to http://www.aviaticum.at

The plane is a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G6 ( a so called Me 109). Mr. Steiner rebuilt it, using parts from several old Messerschmitt planes. As you can imagine, parts are hard to get. However, the centerpart of the fuselage and both wings are from a Me109 G14/AS which flew in the 4th group of the 53rd fighter squadron (JG53).
On 1 January 1945, during operation 'Bodenplatte', the German Luftwaffe launched a surprising blow against Allied ground targets. Fighter Squad JG 53 had order to attack the airport at Frescaty near Metz. Before reaching the target NCO Herbert Maxis (born November 30 1920 in Berlin) from Friedrichshuette in Upper Silesia of Group IV got in trouble and emergency landed near Oberfelsberg. He has been MIA since then. Responsible for this crash was American soldier Flenory Griggs of 455th AAA AW (M) Bn., 'A' Battery which was stationed at Dueren to protect American field artillery. He hit Maxis' Me109 with machine gun fire and forced him down only 200 yards from his position. Hints given by members of this American unit indicate that Maxis was shot when he wanted to leave his plane by approaching artillery men who mistakenly believed he was going to pull a pistol though he actually just wanted to press his hand against a body wound.

1987 the wreck was recovered. Lots of parts of other Messerschmitt planes have been used and among these parts was the tail section of a Me 109/G6 which has been built in Wr. Neustadt (Lower Austria). In memory of Herbert Maxis, the plane has been painted like his Me109/G14/AS he flew on 1st January 1945.

19. March 2010 NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS

Already in 2009 I was contacted by a lady from the USA by e-mail. The lady, Mrs.Charlene Kiley, told me that she personally knew Flenory Griggs, the man who shot down Herbert Maxis. In the first moment I was a bit confused as there are a lot of strange people out there in the web. But after Charlene told me that her dad was Lt. Col. Charles Sargent the Commanding Officer of the 455 AAA and that she personally had contact to Flenory Griggs I was indeed agitated.
After such a long time getting in contact with persons more or less involved in one of a billion tragic acts of the big war was fascininating.

But the really exciting thing had still to come. Charlene told me that in her cellar she has the original tail wheel of Herbert Maxis Messerschmitt 109. I was speechless and almost could not believe it, but Charlene sent me photos and she did know a lot about what happened that day. She told me that she would love to get the tire to the place it once belonged, the fuselage of the White 13 or at least in a display in the museum where White 13 stands.

So I tried to get in contact with the owner of the plane, Mr. Kurt Steiner and although he lives in Austira less than 50 miles from where I am located it was not easy to get in touch with him. However, after quite a while I could inform him about what has happened and I was able to give Charlene his e-mail addy. I do not know what Charlene and Mr. Steiner agreed and if he was interested in getting the wheel or not.
All I know is that Charlene will - one day - either bring the wheel or ship it to the Aviaticum museum as a gift.

I personally have very exactly the same attitude as Charlene. The war is over quite a while and in the meantime we all can speak frankly about what has happened so many years ago. There is no possibilty to change what our fathers, grandpas and other forefathers have decided to do. But we should take the chance to account for the past together. Charlenes wish to bring the wheel clearly shows that there is not the slightest enemyship and there are no reservations between us, the desecendants of the men who tried to defeat each other.

I write this lines with a bit melancholy as it is not possible to show those who fought and died in WWII that former enemies have learned their lesson and have become friends.

After I wrote a few mails to Charlene discussing the emergency landing of the White 13 she informed me that a friend of her, Mr. James C. Chandler knows a lot about the emergency landing of Herbert Maxis' Messerschmitt. It turned out that he is a historian and that he already had undertaken attempts to fully brighten what has happened on the day Flenory Griggs downed Herbert Maxis. In the meantime I found out that Jim Chandlers dad also was on service for the 455AAA, the "RABBS" as they call it. If anyone of you would like to kmow more about the "RABBS" you really should visit http://www.455thaaa.com.

In February another person dropped some lines in the comment field below the gallery, you can see what he wrote as I left his comment there. Mr. Craig Green, from the USA informed me that his dad left a few photographs from a plane which very much looks like the one in my gallery.

Craig was so kind to scan the photographs and to allow me to use them in this gallery. It turned out that Craigs dad was in January 1945 with the 204th Field Artillery Battailon. When he mentioned this I was totally wired up as I did know from my own attempts to find out what was going on that the 455th AAA had among others order to protect the 204th FAB. When I got Craigs photos I was within one second fully convinced that they showed "our" White 13. Though I knew that it is the White 13 I had no officially approved picture of the plane. But after a while I found a site in Germany showing the tail section of the plane and the owner confirmed that his photo has been approved. I compared the tail section and it was proven that Craigs dad must have been there too. I think that Craigs dad personally visited the area a while after Herbert maxis died, beacuse in Craigs dad's photos the body of Herbert maxis has been already removed.

I sent the photos to Jim Chandler and I think he was also quite amazed about them. He offered to hand over the photos he had collected and he also allowed me to show them in the gallery.

For those who are interested I want to post what Jim Chandler wrote to me in an e-mail. As he is the historian of the RABBS I would like to exactly use his words. There is a lot of information contained in his mail amd it makes the whole matter much more transparent. I also belive what he told me about the death of Herbert Maxis. Since Jim told me about it I do not believe the official version anymore. Well, to be honest I never did.

Please read what Jim wrote:
_____________________________________

In regards to the Field Artillery units in the area that day (1 Jan. 1945), the 739th FA Bn. was in the Oberfelsburg village and area. Battery 'A' (Capt. James Parsons) of the 455th AAA was guarding the 739th FA Bn. The 204th FA Bn. was Headquartered in Alt-Forweiler, Germany. This is not far away from the crash site of White 13. I have a copy of the Battalion History of the 204th FA ("Fire Mission"). In their entries for this time period, they also mention some of their personnel at Felsburg, which is even closer to the crash site. So, it is very logical for some of their men to be able to be on the scene of the shootdown.

The 204th entry for January 1st reads (in part): "Enemy air activity was heavy over the Battalion area today: there were many planes over the roads in the area strafing and raising hell in general. One enemy plane made a pass at one of our liaison planes right in the area of the Battalion C.P., but was chased away by machine gun fire..."

On Dec. 31, 1944, the 204th FA was being protected by three gun sections of the 551st AAA, Battery 'D' (which was attached to the 455th AAA at that time). The day after White 13 was shot down (2 Jan. 1945), the 2nd Battalion gun crews (Battery 'C') of the 455th AAA took up the protection. At Oberfelsberg, during the White 13 shootdown, Battery 'A' (Capt. James Parsons) of the 455th AAA was protecting Oberfelsberg and Ittersdorf, which was the C.P. of the Battery. Flenory Griggs of Battery 'A' was credited with the shootdown of 'White 13'. He did not kill the pilot, Herbert Maxis, however. That was an artilleryman from the 739th FA Bn. The stories are conflicting as to exactly what happened. The 455th folks say that the pilot was injured from a .50-cal. round from Flenory's quad guns and pressed his hand against his side when he exited the plane onto the wing. This was judged as his reaching for his pistol and he was shot in the head by the artilleryman.

OR--Maxis came in firing his aircraft guns and wounded a field artilleryman. His irate friend then shot the pilot as he stepped from the plane.

The real tragedy of this is that the pilot's body was stripped for souvenirs and his dog tags apparently taken. He was not identified and it is not known where he was buried, thus he is MIA today instead of KIA. There is no doubt that this was Herbert Maxis flying "White 13" that day, but the German authorities won't accept that as proof of KIA. If we knew what Graves Registration was in the area, their records should be in the National Archives.

The photo that stunned me the most was the one showing the side of the aircraft after the pilot's body was removed. You can still see the large blood patch on the snow next to the wing. In the distance, on the road, you can see a jeep (visible in at least one other photo I have), that has come from the Ittersdorf area. Since Capt. Parson's jeep came down and Parsons picked up the tail wheel and other items from the site, that may very well be his jeep. He commanded the Battery 'A' crew (455th AAA) that shot down the plane.
JC.
_____________________________________



28. June 2010 NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS

I received some new amazing photographs from Jim Chandlers collection. I will put them online as soon as I am back home (end of August 2010)
A gentleman, Mr. James P. Wardrup left an AMAZING message (see section comments below images) and I do hope to get additional information and photographs, especially from the planes clock.

August 9 2010, as expected the clock of White 13 has been found. It was taken by James Wardrup father as a souvenir. James dad was a wireman at 739th FAB and was at the scene when the plane was shot down.
Better photographs of the dead pilot have been handed over to me, thank you Jim! Some additional information has been found - please look at the new pics caption!


October 3 2010 NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS

On August 25 2010 Jim Chandler sent me AMAZING NEWS. As the story is not easy to explain and after several attempts to post the information I decided to just copy Jim Chandlers amazing message and kindly ask you to read what Jim has found out. I promise you will be surprised. Here is what Jim found:
_____________________________________

I have found something else amazing about the Maxis shootdown. I have discovered another (still living) veteran of the 360th FAB, HQ, who was credited by his fellows as having been the man who shot down Herbert Maxis. I have already made an update in my 455th History. Here are
the facts as he (a primary source) gave them to me:

"...EDITOR NOTE: Although these are the events as the 455th AAA recorded them, I have located other information which indicates that someone else may have downed the ME-109 of Herbert Maxis. Many men were firing at the plane(s) as it/they came over. One of these men was Antonio (‘Tony’) Vittiglio of the 360th Field Artillery (95th Division), located just a mile away in Felsburg, Germany. In an telephone interview with me recently, Tony indicated that he was manning a single .50-cal. MG out in a field. He saw two ME-109s flying down the valley near Felsburg. He opened fire on the planes,
firing 50-60 rounds. He hit one of the planes, which went away smoking but he did not see if it went down or not. The second plane made a turn towards him. His fire hit it also. He saw a ‘mist’ or ‘fog’ appear where he hit it (apparently in the cooling system), but it did not catch fire. This German plane was firing its guns and Tony was hit by a piece of metal in his right leg, about 8” up from the ankle. He pulled the metal out and wiped off a little blood. It was not a bad wound and he never got a Purple Heart for it…He watched the ME-109 belly-in for a crash landing and it bounced a few times. He was running toward it at this time and hoped to make the pilot a prisoner. He was able to see from his vantage point that the pilot exited the aircraft and ‘held both hands high up’ in surrender. The pilot was NOT holding his side or reaching for a pistol. He then heard a BANG and the pilot fell on the wing of the plane. When he got to the plane, the pilot was dead and already stripped of gear. He said the pilot was short with black, curly hair. Vittiglio thinks the pilot (Herbert Maxis) was a hero, “just doing his job”…Tony also indicated that one of the buildings near the plane’s resting place was a bakery. He thinks (but is not certain) that the pilot was buried in a cemetery near Saarlautern…" (Note: Saarlautern is today Saarlouis)

So, in the group of men around the plane on that day, we now know that Antonio Vittiglio (and his friend Floyd Tarquinto) were also present on the scene. Antonio has macular degeneration and is not seeing so well now, but he says he has been unable to find his photo(s) of the shootdown. He said Floyd took some photos also ( I found that Floyd Tarquinto died in 2005). Tony's details were spot on with what I already knew, so I have no reason to doubt him.

So, Steve, the story of 'White 13' is growing and proves to me that there is a lot more out there, if we can track it down. Tony was pretty sure that the pilot's body was taken to Saarlautern for burial. Still going to be tough to locate it without knowing exactly where. Burial records for a German killed on Jan. 1, 1945 in that area might be the clue to finding him. A bullet wound to the head would also be a fact, if the unknown grave was ever found and investigated. Then, Herbert Maxis could rest in peace, as KIA status."
_____________________________________


Many thanks Jim. I hoped that the German warbird magazine would help us but unfortunately they did not even respond. Not what I expected, to be honest. However, I will keep on trying to find someone in Germany who would like to help to find Maxis. The Saarlouis authorities did not respond either, but I will not comment this.

Lets see what we can do in the near future and many thanks for the telephone number of the contact person in Germany!

Folks, I thank you all so much for your help and your efforts to brighten up what happened those days in cold January 1945. There is not much we all can do but bringing home the wheel would be a great achievement. But in the meantime the main target has changed and is now to get Maxis' status changed to KIA! And if it is really necessary to find his remains we will try that too. Any kind of help is most appreciated!

For all of you who want to assist us to bring home the tire I would say you can help with a donation. If you like to donate contact me and I will take care that everything runs smooth and legal.

My special thanks goe to:

James R. Chandler, historian of the RABBS and son of John 'Spud' Chandler (455th AAA, C Battery)
Charlene Kiley, daughter of CO Lt. Col. Charles Sargent
Craig Green, whose dad (204th FAB) shot a few phantastic photos in 1945
James P. Wardrup, son of Vann C. Wardrup, Wireman, 739th FAB
Antonio "Tony" Vittiglio former member of 360th Field Artillery, 95th Division

Thank you all!
Steve







Me109 G6 left side with 20mm cannon
Me109 G6 left side with 20mm cannon
t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470619.d7WAS3xz.jpg t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470618.1viiCqv7.jpg t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470606.BoRz4Umb.jpg t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470602.FR0MaJRF.jpg
t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470596.NpHkCJwb.jpg spinner
spinner
the 20mm gun fired through the spinner
the 20mm gun fired through the spinner
eye of death! nozzle of 20mm gun in the center of the spinner
eye of death! nozzle of 20mm gun in the center of the spinner
machine gun
machine gun
canopy, rh side
canopy, rh side
cockpit. note the handle of the original signal pistol
cockpit. note the handle of the original signal pistol
canopy, lh side. note the targeting unit (Reflexvisier)
canopy, lh side. note the targeting unit ("Reflexvisier")
antennas
antennas
squad sign (Jagdgeschwader 53, JG53)
squad sign (Jagdgeschwader 53, JG53)
t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470388.1IWfOBti.jpg engine hinge (the white part with the big distance bushings)
engine hinge (the white part with the big distance bushings)
Daimler Benz engine
Daimler Benz engine
air intake blower
air intake blower
t6%2f72%2f722972%2f4%2f79470368.5pYXmn4b.jpg
exhaust & coolers
exhaust & coolers
coolers below engine
coolers below engine
main wheel
main wheel
landing gear and wheel well
landing gear and wheel well
tail wheel
tail wheel
longe range tank (was dropped before dogfight )
longe range tank (was dropped before dogfight )
flap position indicator, simple but effective
flap position indicator, simple but effective
rudder G6 type, the original G14 rudder was of different shape
rudder G6 type, the original G14 rudder was of different shape
White 13 , Acess to oxygen for breathing unit' (blue circle) and 24 Volts power connector
"White 13" , Acess to oxygen for breathing unit' (blue circle) and 24 Volts power connector
access panel to first aid kit
access panel to first aid kit
flap hinge
flap hinge
Tail section with works number 784993
Tail section with works number 784993
Flenory Griggs, the GI who shot down Herbert Maxis
Flenory Griggs, the GI who shot down Herbert Maxis
Flenory Griggs, in front of The Me 109's rudder, Oberfelsberg Germany
Flenory Griggs, in front of The Me 109's rudder, Oberfelsberg Germany
Flenory Griggs receives the Bronce Star from Lt. Col. Charles Sargent
Flenory Griggs receives the Bronce Star from Lt. Col. Charles Sargent
Tail section, the tail wheel is missing
Tail section, the tail wheel is missing
Found in the USA, the famous tail wheel 65 years later
Found in the USA, the famous tail wheel 65 years later
Somewhere in the USA, the place where the tail wheel was kept
Somewhere in the USA, the place where the tail wheel was kept
John Proctor of Battery 'A' of the 455th AAA in front of the rudder, take a close look at the works number
John Proctor of Battery 'A' of the 455th AAA in front of the rudder, take a close look at the works number
Maxis' destroyed Messerschmitt 109 G14A/S
Maxis' destroyed Messerschmitt 109 G14A/S
GI's take a look at the scene, the dead pilot still lies near the left wing.
GI's take a look at the scene, the dead pilot still lies near the left wing.
A picture taken from the opposite side showing the dead pilot lying on the left wing.
A picture taken from the opposite side showing the dead pilot lying on the left wing.
The dead pilot
The dead pilot
The house in the background is still standing there
The house in the background is still standing there
GI's are inspecting the crumpled plane, look at the bullet holes
GI's are inspecting the crumpled plane, look at the bullet holes
Bullet holes
Bullet holes
Interested GI's inspecting the cockpit area, note the light dots on the rudder
Interested GI's inspecting the cockpit area, note the light dots on the rudder
Some more GI's pose for a photo
Some more GI's pose for a photo
A GI wearing differnt cloth than his comrades we have seen before
A GI wearing differnt cloth than his comrades we have seen before
Another shot showing GI's looking at the bent propeller
Another shot showing GI's looking at the bent propeller
A puddle of blood marks the place where Herbert Maxis died. RIP!
A puddle of blood marks the place where Herbert Maxis died. RIP!
More and more souvenirs removed of the 109
More and more souvenirs removed of the 109
GI's posing in front of the White 13
GI's posing in front of the White 13
The crumpled fuselage of the 109
The crumpled fuselage of the 109
The snow has gone and still the White 13 attracts the GI's
The snow has gone and still the White 13 attracts the GI's
Model of the famous White 13
Model of the famous White 13
Model of the famous White 13
Model of the famous White 13
Model of the famous White 13
Model of the famous White 13
First of the new photos I received July 2010
First of the new photos I received July 2010
Compare this one with #16
Compare this one with #16
Shoes missing? Compare this one with image # 10 above!
Shoes missing? Compare this one with image # 10 above!
Copy of image #9?
Copy of image #9?
Ray Finholt (from Iowa) in front of  White 13, A very clear image considering it is 65 years old...
Ray Finholt (from Iowa) in front of " White 13", A very clear image considering it is 65 years old...
Ray Finholt, photo taken by Tsgt. Raymond G. Wedige
Ray Finholt, photo taken by Tsgt. Raymond G. Wedige
White 13's original Junghans Flight Clock
White 13's original Junghans Flight Clock
Rear side of the clock showing some information!
Rear side of the clock showing some information!
Another part of W13
Another part of W13
Technical description of Fuel Transmitter from March 1935
Technical description of Fuel Transmitter from March 1935
The last photo of  White 13
The last photo of White 13
Was this the pilots medal?
Was this the pilots medal?
Thats how the medal looked when new!
Thats how the medal looked when new!
Map of the area
Map of the area
Map of the area
Map of the area