World War II Arthur Bondar Collection

The life and death of the Third Reich's 'Lion's Wing'

Author unknown / The German Army / 34 photos

The life and death of the Third Reich's 'Lion's Wing'

War negatives taken at airfields showing aircraft and personnel life are quite rare, as it was forbidden to take pictures at airfields because they could be identified by the enemy. Each side tried to find an enemy airfield and then suddenly destroy it with an air raid.

This unknown archive turned out to be the archive of a Luftwaffe serviceman from the "Lion's Wing" squadron Stab./KG 26, which consisted of the second most mass-produced and legendary aircraft of the war - Henkel He-111 bomber. The "Lion's Wing" squadron participated on all fronts in the European Theatre until the end of the war, engaged in both strategic bombing and direct air support, as well as countering cargo deliveries by sea, land and air.

The photographer who shot this archive was a aircraft technician with a passion for photography, and at the same time a serviceman of a Henkel He-111H3 aircraft with the board number 1H+KA ( factory number 2411). In the photos we can see airfields in Norway and France and the life of pilots and technicians, how the bombers were serviced, repaired and loaded with bombs before combat missions. All images from this archive were taken in 1940 during the German invasion of these countries.

Thanks to the help of specialists in World War II aviation we were able to determine the war destiny of this aircraft. A tragic fate awaited this bomber during a flight from Trondheim Varnes airfield (Norway) where the squadron was based at that time. On the afternoon of 24 May 1940, while flying a raid on the enemy airfield Bardufoss, in a formation of 5 aircrafts (4 from I./KG26), this aircraft was intercepted at an altitude of 150 metres and attacked by three enemy aircrafts - Gloster Gladiator. During the attack, the Flight Attendant (top gunner) was killed. The right engine caught fire. The left engine was further damaged. Back fire damaged one of the Gladiators. The Henkel bomber was forced to make an emergency landing in the Fjordbotneidet area north of Gratangen. After landing, the crew was discovered by a Norwegian patrol and after a short firefight was taken as prisoners of war. The aircraft was 100 % damaged and could not be recovered.


Captain (Commander) (Flugfuhrer) Oberlt Hartmut Paul (captured, Britain, Canada)

Navigator / bomber (Beobachter) Oberfw Eduard Strüber (killed)

Radio operator (Bordfunker) Fw Alfred Stock (killed)

Flight mechanic / gunner (Bordmechaniker) Uffz Günther Eickmann (wounded, captured)

Gunner (Bordshutze) Uffz Hans Blunk (wounded, captured)

The photographer, after the aircraft he was servicing was shot down, was reassigned to another bomber. And in September 1940 the whole squadron "Lion's Wing" was redeployed to France. The further fate of the photographer is unknown.

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