RECOVERED: Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 Trop


Messerschmitt Bf109F-4, Werk Nummer 10145, was built in 1942 in Leipzig, Germany. Records show that this aircraft was a Norwegian patrol aircraft which flew the Murmansk sector of Russia and was shot down in World War II by Russian forces.

Bf 109F-4/trop WNr 10145 was coded ‘Yellow 3’ and was shot down in aerial combat with multiple soviet fighters during an escort mission for Ju 88 bomber aircraft on July 19th 1942. According to the report from the Gruppenkommandeur Horst Carganico, 5 aircraft from 6./JG 6 started for this mission, the target being Rosta. About 15 kilometers north of Murmansk. The aircraft flown by Fw. Leopold Knier was crippled by a Soviet P-40 and he bailed out at an altitude of about 3000 meters.

The story of Knier is interesting, but it is questionable if his story was true – or if he just made it up to, say, get away from the Eastern Front…

After being captured by the Soviets he was returned to the German lines and came back to his unit on July 27th 1942. There was some speculation that he returned as a Soviet spy. Knier was one of a few German pilots that were in fact returned from Soviet captivity. The idea was to make captured German pilots as spies for the Soviets, but it is not believed that they got to stay at the Northern front very long after their return.

He was shot down by a Soviet Jak-1 of 20. IAP VVS SF (JLt. Nuzhin) near lake Retinskoe, on the western side of Kola bay. This means that he had reasonably good opportunities to escape and get home. Such a trip would easily take 10 days (he came back 27 July). There is no mention of him being captured in the Soviet records and, more important, there is no interrogation report on him in the Soviet archives.

This is in contrast to the case with Fw. Josef Kaiser of 8./JG 5. He was shot down by AA over the Murmansk frontline on 26.12.42. He then voluntered as Soviet agent and was disembarked by Russian plane 31.05.43 at Nautsi. He reported himself to German troops 05.06.43.

For Kaiser the time span is more realistic for agent training – and there is an interrogation report on him in the Russian archives.

Knier had 5 victories in JG 5 and at least 1 in 3/JG 27 (a 4-engined bomber) and then went to JV44, Adolf Galland’s famous Me262 fighter group.
The aircraft wreck remained in Northern Russia until it was recovered by Warbird Recovery in the winter of 1994. All remaining pieces were shipped to the Warbird Recovery facility in Broomfield, Colorado.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft was so successful that when production of the Bf 109 ceased in 1956, over 35,000 had been built. The performance of the Bf 109 was equal to the Spitfire and superior to the Hurricane. There is now only one flying original Bf 109 in the world.

Warbird Recovery has begun restoring this aircraft to original flying condition with Legend Flyers in Everett, WA.

Knier’s claims with JG 5-
Date; Unit; Claim; Number
15May42; 6./JG 5; Hurricane; 1st
28May42; 5./JG 5; Pe-2; 2nd
01Jun42; 5./JG 5; DB-3; 3rd
23Jun42; 6./JG 5; Hurricane; 4th
07Jul42; 6./JG 5; Hurricane; 5th
13Jul42; 6./JG 5; Airacobra; 6th
Source: Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe Teil 9/III – Prien/Stemmer/Rodeike/Bock.
Special thanks to Dave McDonald and friends

Construction-All metal stressed-skin
Engine-One 1,475hp Daimler-Benz DB605A liquid cooled inverted V12
Armament-One 20mm MG151 engine mounted cannon with 150 rounds
Two 7.9mm MG17 fuselage mounted machine guns with 500 rounds per gun
Performance-Maximum speed 398mph (640kph)
Service ceiling 39,370 (12,000m)
Range 340 miles (540km)
Wingspan-32ft. 6 1/2 in.
Length-29ft 7 1/2in.
Height-8ft 2 1/2in.
Weight empty-5,687lb.
Weight loaded-6,834lb.