Mezek a Turbina
Messerschmitts in Czechoslovakia
Following WW2, the Messerschmitt Bf 109G was used and produced in Czechoslovakia as the “Mezek” and the Me 262 as the “Turbina”. The acquisition, production and service of these aircraft in the Czechoslovak Air Force is described and illustrated in detail. Many unpublished photos and colour profiles
Includes also Chapter on the duty in Israeli AF.
IPMS (UK) Magazine Issue 3 2015-07-03
By David L. Veres
After World War II, author Bohumír Kudlicka reveals, "Czechoslovakia became the largest user of German aircraft in the world."
That fascinating fact sets the stage for his intriguing Mezek a Turbina, MMP's survey of Bf 109s and Me 262s in postwar Czechoslovak service – available in North America from Casemate.
It's a terrific tale of ingenuity, innovation and – intermittently – intrigue. Contents commence with the May 1945 collapse of Hitler's Third Reich. And that quickly spurred efforts to resurrect Czechoslovakia's aviation industry and air force – chiefly from the ashes of local Nazi German production facilities and war booty.
With vast numbers of Bf 109s manufactured, Messerschmitt's aging design proved an obvious production option. Unfortunately, Kudlicka notes, a warehouse fire destroyed Czechoslovakia's stock of DB 605 engines. And the Jumo 211 with heavier, paddle-bladed prop was substituted.
Thus emerged the Avia S-199, an intriguing fighter with some truly fearsome features. By almost every performance and reliability measure, it proved inferior to the original Bf 109 G-10. But pending arrival of modern equipment imports, the "Mezek" – or "Mule" – remained Czechoslovakia's only option.
The new fighter entered both Czechoslovak Air Force and Police Air Force service. The latter, Kudlicka reveals, operated 120 aircraft, at least 70 of which were fighters – and included the Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache helicopter among its assets!
Text next turns to the book's other protagonist: the Avia S-92, Czechoslovakia's attempt to manufacture Me 262 jet fighters. The 1948 Communist coup, however, brought Czechoslovakia into the Soviet sphere. Large-scale deliveries of MiG-15s ensued. And while hundreds of S-199s saw service, perhaps a dozen "Turbina" – "Turbine" – jets entered production.
Mezeks continued in Czechoslovak close-support and second-line use throughout the 1950s. But they really gained international fame in Israeli service. And that's where contents conclude.
Section author José Fernandez tracks the purchase, delivery and deployment of Avias during Israel's war of independence. He also discloses the interesting origin of the country's national insignia – and of its legendary 101 Squadron "death's head" badge. And he candidly notes the type's surprising successes – and frequently fatal flaws.
Possibly suggesting the German meaning of "Messerschmitt", the S-199 was dubbed "Knife" in Israeli use. And in an ironic instance of cosmic karma, this Nazi German design proved the key instrument of air superiority for the nascent Jewish state.
Like most MMP titles, Mezek a Turbina sports plenty of pretty pictures. The generously illustrated contents include dozens of B&W photos, detail shots, color plates, scale drawings and archival illustrations.
Nitpicks? A few.
Hand-painted Israeli fuselage serials varied noticeably in style. But artist Teodor L. Morosanu's otherwise excellent profiles inaccurately depict code uniformity. Historian K.A. Merrick's latest research has effectively discredited claims of Israeli S-199s in overall "RLM 68". And the Hebrew word "Knife" is properly transliterated "Sakkin" – not "Sakhin".
But I quibble. If you're seeking a convenient chronicle of Czechoslovakia's fascinating, flying footnotes, get MMP's absorbing account. I enjoyed it.
You know you’ve seen them—but do you recognize the names? The “Mule” and the “Turbine” are the Czech variants of two important German WWII fighters, the Bf 109 that was the Luftwaffe’s mainstay and the Me 262 that as the first operational jet ushered in a new era, even if not for the Germans.
Imagine looking up into the sky in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and getting buzzed by these aircraft. What makes this book, and this topic, interesting is that these are not captured German planes but Czech-built versions. And when the Czechs were ready to decommission their Avia S-199 variant (here described as “far from being a good aircraft”—hence the Mule moniker) of the Bf 109, the Israelis fielded the aircraft during the 10 Day War with Egypt and other actions that momentous year.Mezek3
If you follow aviation history, you know that the Soviets gleaned crucial insights into aviation technology from captured German hardware. Czechoslovakia was a crucial waypoint in this development and therein lies a story that is nowhere near being fully researched and told. Chances are that the publisher of this book—a British outfit located in Poland and with mostly Eastern European contributors (which also explains the ever-present typos)—is ideally placed to whittle away at it.
We are not in the habit of writing book reports, i.e. retell what a book is all about, but in order to whet the appetite, and presuming that this is not common knowledge, it is worth explaining why it was Czechoslovakia that played a far more prominent role in aviation matters than any other of the German-occupied territories. It had become what the Germans euphemistically called a “Protectorate” as early as 1939, possessed an active aviation industry along with ancillary research and manufacturing facilities all of which were flooded with Luftwaffe work, and at one time was home to the largest and most modern military airport outside Germany. This requires infrastructure and a transportation system; enter the railroads. And railroads involve tunnels, and it is those tunnels to which the Germans evacuated whatever aviation activity they were able to salvage after the Allied bombing campaigns in the last years of the war. If all this is news to you, this book is a fine way to get into the subject. (While peripheral it may interest US readers to learn that there was at least one American among the POWs and other personnel of the 6–8000-strong workforce at the primary site that built Bf 109s. There would also be Americans among the Israeli pilots flying against Egypt later.)
The book gives a good Big Picture account of the above and the political complications postwar which direction to lean in. The Czechs, for instance, bought over 200 Spitfires but then felt obligated to switch to Russian Lavochkins that turned out to be so shoddy that it seemed better to dust off all that German war surplus and bolt together better aircraft. It is interesting to speculate how much farther the Czechs could have developed the Me262 if they hadn’t been “encouraged” to can the project after a very short time and instead await delivery of MiG 15s. The Mule and Turbine are only two of several such projects, and they were built by more than one maker which accounts for the plethora of different designations.
The book is pretty much evenly divided between the two, and the treatment is that typical of this publisher’s White Series: historical context, technical analysis, charts/tables, many photos and technical drawings such as 3-views and color profiles (here by Teodor L. Morosanu). In regards to the latter, the Me 262 gets only 3. Modelers who like to customize their kits with non-standard paint and markings will be tickled that the Mezek is shown in Air Police Corps versions as well as Israeli markings (although there have been recent publications that dispute the use of the gray/green “RLM 68” overall paint scheme that is shown here as the only one). The Israeli activities are kept to their own chapter, written by José Fernandez. One technical tidbit is worth singling out: photos of Mezeks with rocket packs bolted to their bellies to test rocket-assisted take-off.
Only two Mezeks and three Turbians survive in captivity (museums) so this book is as close as most of us will get!
Copyright 2014, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Bohumir Kudlicka follows the transition of Czechoslovakian production of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Mezek” and the Messerschmitt Me 262 “Turbina” from underground facilities for the Luftwaffe to production by Avia for the Czechoslovakian Air Force. Mr. Kudlicka weaves an interesting tale of how and why the Czechoslovakian Air Force came to use the ‘hated’ German designed aircraft in lieu of English and Russian aircraft that their returning pilots had been flying during the war.
There are many unpublished photos that describe in detail the selection, modification and production of these two aircraft. The text and photos are complemented with color profiles, 3-D plan views, 1/48 scale plans, and period scrap illustrations.
The Table of Contents focuses on three major chapters:
Mezek – “Mule”
Messerschmitt Bf 109G
Production of Bf 109s in Czech Territories
Renewal of the Czech Air Force
The C-10 Aircraft Testing the C-10 with Rockets (Rocket Assisted Take Off)
The C-210, alias the S-199
The CS-199 – training version of the S-199
Police Air Force (Czech) Air Force (Czech)
Colours & Markings
“Turbines” – Avia S-92 and CS-92
Production of the Me 262 in the Protectorate Bohmen and Mahren
Genesis and Development of the S/CS-92
“Turbines” for Yugoslavia
The Second International Air Show – 1947
Further Tests and Production
I Flew “Turbines” (From the memoirs of Frantisek Kraus)
The Avia S-199 in Israel
Waiting for the Second Round
The Second Armistice
Victory, but not the End
Drawing up a Balance
Jose Fernandez provides the final chapter with a history of the acquisition and service of the Avia S-199 in the Israel Air Force.
Mezek a Turbina provides an interesting view into a lesser known chapter in aviation history. The text and captions are well translated into English thanks to Karel Dokoupil, alleviating the need to bone up on your Polish reading skills. Both Mr. Kudlicka and Fernandez are able to craft the storyline with interesting tidbits to prevent this from being simply a progression of facts. Indeed, I found the chapter on the Avia S-199 evaluation with RATO alone worth the price of picking up this tome before proceeding to read it cover to cover.
You can watch a page by page preview of the entire book at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvkKpWEIk_8
My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.
By Chris Banyai-Riepl
As a major site of German aviation manufacturing, Czechoslovakia was in a good position for rebuilding their air arm after the end of the Second World War. With skilled labor and a plentiful supply of German aircraft, the transition went well and the nation ended up one of the first to add jet aircraft to their air force. This latest title from Mushroom Model Publications examines the integration of two Messerschmitt designs, the Bf 109 and Me 262, into Czech service as the Mezek and Turbina.
The Mezek was the name given to the post-war Bf 109 built by Avia. Initially these were powered by the Daimler DB 605 engine, but problems with the engines, and later the supply chain, led to engineers adapting the Jumo 211 engine to the Bf 109 airframe. The Jumo engine was designed for bombers, and thus was not well suited for fighter aircraft. However, the Czech engineers made the best of it and the result was a solid interim aircraft.
The Turbina was simply a stock Me 262, with very little changing from the original design. A healthy stock of engines kept the handful of planes in the air, but the problems with the original equipment continued to plague the Czech post-war operations. Still, the S-92 was the Czech Air Force's first exposure to jet fighters, and despite the teething troubles it provided some excellent experience in handling that new technology.
This book provides a detailed look at the overall history of these two aircraft in Czech service, with an additional section covering the Mezek in Israeli service. In addition to the text, the book is peppered with lots of photographs, very likely the most thorough photo coverage of both of these types currently available in English language print. There are also scale drawings of both types, as well as color profile illustrations.
For those interested in post-war operations of German aircraft, or for those who just have a fascination with smaller air forces, this book is a great one to pick up. My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for the review copy.
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