02 August 2015

Luftwaffe Jet Reconnaissance of the Invasion Area

The Beachhead at Arromanches from 11,000 metres
Today is an anniversary of a very different kind - the first operational mission of a jet plane.
Invasion area photography from the mission - time 1632hrs

No, not a fighter or combat mission - a reconnaissance mission by a Luftwaffe Arado 234 over the Normandy invasion area.

Erich Sommer in 1942
The pilot was Erich Sommer, who emigrated to Australia after the war and lived down the street from a friend of mine.  He tells me "Erich Sommer was an acquaintance with whom my son formed a friendship based on their common flying interests and they were both glider pilots. Erich lived in Adelaide after the war.  He continued flying until in his seventies. For Erich's eightieth birthday his daughter paid for him to have his final flight. I saw many of his original movies taken from his Arado on combat missions."

After his Normandy missions, Eric conducted recon sorties over SE UK and then London and the Thames estuary in late 1944.

Eric died in 2005 at the Age of 93 and here is the transcript of a television interview he did in May 2004.  http://www.abc.net.au/gnt/history/Transcripts/s1110428.htm

Eric Sommer in 2005

The only surviving Arado 234 Jet recon aircraft at the Udvar-Hazy museum, Washington DC