Franz von Werra
One major advantage the British had over the Germans in the Battle of Britain was that pilots who survived being shot down could be reclaimed by the British, but they were lost to the Germans. With one notable exception. Franz von Werra was shot down over England and returned to duty.
His story after the jump.
Franz von Werra joined the Luftwaffe before World War II and fought in the Spanish Civil War. When World War II started he quickly proved himself a competent pilot and officer. He scored kills in the Battle of France and made ace early in the Battle of Britain. He had 9 kills by September 5, 1940, when he was shot down over Kent.
Over the next several months he made several escape attempts. Including one in December of 1940 when he’d made it as far as an RAF airfield, and talked his way into a British cockpit, when the suspicious squadron leader arrived with military police to arrest him. To avoid any further trouble with this prisoner, he was part of a large group shipped off to Canada, where he should be out of the war for good.
On January 21, 1941, he jumped out of a window of a prison transport train in Ontario. Seven other prisoners also made a break for it that day. The rest were quickly recaptured, but the confusion bought von Werra several days before his absence was noted. Of course the US was still neutral (until December 1941), so von Werra escaped across the border to Ogdensburg New York where he turned himself in to police. He was charged with illegal immigration and remanded to the custody of the German Ambassador. US sympathies were with the British, and extradition negotiations started to return him to Britain or Canada; but the German Ambassador smuggled him into Mexico. From there, he flew commercially to Brazil, Spain, Italy and home.
On his return home in April of 1941 von Werra was awarded the Knight’s Cross, and was commander of a Fighter Squadron at the start of the German invasion of Russia. He raised his score to 22 kills before he was killed in a flying accident in October of 1941.
The story is well documented, von Werra wrote an unpublished book about his experiences, and other writers and film makers have told his story. But if ever a war story was in need of an “A List” film treatment this is it!
This is the Tamiya kit, with Aeromaster Decals of the plane von Werra was shot down in over England. Both products were flawless. But that doesn’t mean no controversy! A famous photo of the downed aircraft looks like there is a color break from the engine cowling to the forward fuselage. Artists, modelers etc have assumed for years this was white; but its recently been suggested it may have been the same RLM 65 Light Blue as the fuselage, but had recently been cleaned, replaced, or caught the light funny. It does look like it might be darker than the white segment on the propeller spinner. Hard to say.