the task force. The US Navy fighters were not

in an advantageous position to attack and

did not want to abandon their brothers. Heavy anti-aircraft fire was launched from the

ships of the task force. The 486th Squadron

was closest to the enemy, and Wing Commander Mackie, commander of the entire

British formation, ordered Sheddan to attack

with his squadron. The rest of the Tempests

and escorts continued to the target.

The New Zealand Tempests raced towards

the surface, just above which the attacking

Germans were coming. Sheddan first split

the squadron into four flights and then allowed attacks in pairs. The enemy were heading for the aircraft carriers HMS Habbakuk

and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Kleinkönnig alternated between checking

the position of his enemies, the altimeter and

the speedometer during the descent. The

engine roared and the plane shook. At 3,000

metres, the speedometer needle was approaching 800 kilometres per hour. Torgeir held

on bravely a few hundred metres behind.

Kleinkönnig carefully leveled off but missed

two bombing Gotha‘s that were flying left to

right with torpedoes under their wings. In his

rear-view mirror he noticed that some British colleague had opened fire on them. He

continued towards the ships. The flak fire had

thickened to the point that it was perhaps

walkable. One Haunebu and two Gotha were

violently spinning into the sea after the hits

from ship guns.

Around Kleinkönnig, his own flak was already exploding, and he heard a few bangs as if

a hammer had hit the plane.

„Rabbit 6 to Rabbit 5, there‘s a Messerschmitt

down at 10 o‘clock!“

Indeed! The P.1101 flew the same course. „He

can‘t just be here alone, he‘s covering someone,“ thought Kleinkönnig. „Rabbit 5, I‘m going to attack, watch your surroundings and

watch out for bombers!“

Kleinkönnig already had a target in his sights.

Occasionally it was partially obscured by puffs of flak, but he was quickly approaching the

Messerschmitt from above and its 5 o‘clock.

The German spotted the danger at the last

moment and tried to roll to the right, but it

was too late. The hits of Kleinkönnig‘s guns

tore off his wing and the Messerschmitt jet

disappeared in a tumble in the depths.

„Good show!“ the wingman echoed.

„Rabbit 5 to Rabbit 6, check the area, lest we

end up like that mule.“

Then Kleinkönnig noticed two shadows over

the water, moving in the same direction as

him. At first he thought it was the shadow of

his pair, but then he realized how low the sun

was and looked down on the other side. Two

Haunebu with white and grey camouflage

were flying towards the carriers.


The speedometer needle passed the 800


The Haunebu had torpedoes hanging from

her bottom, Kleinkönnig knew they would

have to slow down and stay on course for the

target in order to drop their cargo. He was

closing fast on both saucers. Flak of smaller

calibers was already firing from nearby ships.

The outlines of the carriers were rapidly increasing in size.

The flying saucers suddenly turned sharply to

the left. Kleinkönnig didn‘t expect that and

pulled Tempest up the climb. He went into

a sharp bank to see what was happening.

Then he realised that the German pilots had

to reduce their speed considerably and there

was no other way to do it than to reduce power and brake in a tight turn.

Both Haunebu‘s performed a 360 degree

INFO Eduard - January 2022

Ens. Eduard „Bunny“ Kleinkönnig, Naval Detachment of No. 486 Squadron

RNZAF, Aircraft Carrier HMS Habbakuk, Antarctica, summer 1946/1947

This machine was flown by the legendary Czech pilot in the international

crew of the aircraft carrier HMS Habbakuk during the battles against the

Luftwaffe over Antarctica in the summer of 1946-1947. The letter K is the individual designation of Kleinkönnig‘s machine. He had his girlfriend painted

on the side of the aircraft. The sharkmouth was added to the aircraft later,

as a reminder of the rescue of Kleinkönnig‘s flight leader. After being shot

down into the sea, he was attacked by killer whales, but Kleinkönnig fought

off the predators. The naval scheme was painted on the unit‘s machines during the voyage to Antarctica. Rabbit skulls were painted on all of the unit‘s

machines in honor of Kleinkönnig. The machine was equipped with missiles

for attacking od enemy jets during take-off.

turn during the break off and re-set course

for the carriers, this time at the correct speed for torpedo drops. Kleinkönnig had not yet

met the Haunebu bombers, but he suspected that they might have at least a rear firing


He wasn‘t wrong, the German machines

went into a slight descent and from their

sterns red tracers with smoke trails began to

converge towards the pair of Tempests.

Torpedoes could be in the water any second.

Kleinkönnig opened fire, and flashes and puffs of smoke began to appear on the surface

of the flying disc. Two geysers of water rose

below, the torpedoes were on their way. The

disk began to leave gray smoke behind it, but

it hadn‘t had enough yet. But Torgeir took


Kleinkönnig targeted the second machine

with fire and when he ran out of ammunition, he came even closer and fired rockets.

The disc exploded in a deafening detonation.

Kleinkönnig looked back to find his wingman

and saw the first flying saucer hit the water.

From the reports on the radio it was clear

that Sheddan, Clostermann, Luukkanen and

others had shot down several torpedo bombers. HMS Habbakuk had taken two hits, but

a layer of pykrete protected the ship. USS

Franklin D. Roosevelt was more severly hit, listing on her side. Her crew managed to right

the tilt, but eventually Rear Admiral Soucek

decided to drive between the ice floes to the

shallow water and make the ship a stationary

base off the part of the coast in Allied hands.

The danger from enemy submarines was too

great on the high seas.

Bunny Lady was inspired by Kleinkönnig‘s girlfriend. His colleagues proposed the painting of carrot as part of the

„nose art“, as a reminder of the distilled

carrot juice produced by Kleinkönnig.

To be continued