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Eastern Front 1941 Pt.2: Be-601

Started by comrade harps, October 01, 2016, 07:13:11 AM

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comrade harps

Beneš-Mráz Be-601
a/c 7 "Peterle", personal mount of Major Ján Gerthofer,  12th Letky, Slovenske Vzdusne Zbrane (SVZ)
"Kiev area" November, 1941

Although little known, Beneš-Mráz was a prolific manufacturer of sports monoplanes during the 1920s and 30s. The company's only foray in to military design was the Be-600 fighter, which, unusually for the firm, was a biplane. First flown in 1934, the Be-600 made up about half of the Czechoslovakian fighter force in 1938. As the country was dismembered following a program of Nazi destabilisation in 1938 and '39, the majority of surviving Be-600s were accumulated in the new Slovak Republic, where the  Beneš-Mráz factory was also located. As a Nazi puppet state, much of the Slovak Republic's industrial base quickly came to be controlled by German interests, with BMW taking a controlling stake in Beneš-Mráz.

As the break up of Czechoslovakia brought a halt to production at Beneš-Mráz, BMW's management sought to revive the company and established an assembly line for the BMW 132 radial aeroengine at the Slovak firm's factory. As this was being set-up a Be-600 was modified to accept the engine and was test flown in October 1939 as the Be-601. In the meantime Slovak Be-600s had given a good account of themselves during the invasion of Poland and BMW pushed for a resumption of production based on their new prototype. This was approved and an order for 130 BMW 132K powered Be-601s was issued, 70 of which were for Slovak use and 60 for Luftwaffe as fighter trainers (although many were later handed back to Slovakia to make-up for attrition losses). These aircraft were all built during 1940, the factory going on to manufacture the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch and BMW 801 powerplants.

In Slovakia the plane provided national air defence, but on the Eastern Front it chiefly flew in the close air support role. Armed with a MG 17 7.92mm machine gun beneath each wing, the type could also carry a up to six SC 50 bombs (on wing and centreline pylons) or a SC 250 bomb beneath the fuselage (seen here with a Dinort-Stäbe (Dinort rod) fuse extender to deal with "General Mud"). In many respects the Be-601 was similar in performance and role to Henschel's Hs-123A and was a difficult adversary in air-to-air combat.

The Slovakians regularly rotated their 4 fighter squadrons committed to the Eastern Front, enabling each to fly freshly overhauled Be-601s into action as they deployed to the front. The 12th Letky moved forward in October, 1941, and operated from a variety of airfields in Ukraine. Prepared for the Rasputitsa (the mud season), the unit's planes sported a disruptive camouflage of tan and RLM 65 over the standard-issue Luftwaffe RLM 70 and 71 greens.

Note that there is a yellow III marking ahead of the canopy. This recognised Major Ján Gerthofer's first three confirmed air-to-air kills, each one in a different conflict. On 24 March, 1939, Gerthofer shot down a Weiss WM-16 during the Hungarian invasion of eastern Slovakia. His second kill was a Lublin R-XIII on 5 September, 1939, during the joint German-Slovak invasion of Poland. His third kill was over an I-16 of the Socialist Union on 3 November, 1941. He would later convert to the Bf 109 and complete several combat tours of the Eastern Front through to 15 April, 1943, when he was shot down and killed. By then his confirmed victory total was 26.


comrade harps

By the way, the source of the engine nacelle is a hint towards one (or two) kit bashes in this theme to come.


[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]


An Hs123 engine married with a Gloster Gladiator?
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)


comrade harps




Lovely model; do like a nice Gladiator. That scheme really works well too :thumbsup:


That's nice. Particularly like the camouflage.
Decals my @r$e!



- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..