Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor“

Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor”

In the summer of 2021, after information provided by Yiannis Kourliaftis to diving instructor Nikos Vardakas, some remains of an aircraft wreck from World War II were located in the Saronida area. Initially, it was estimated to be the wreckage of a German transport aircraft, Junkers Ju 52. With the collaboration of many divers and researchers, a field investigation and thorough research in historical archives waw conducted, resulting in the realization, one year later, that this finding was something unique. It turned out to be the remains of a special and rare aircraft, a four-engine Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor,” the only one that has been discovered in Greek territory so far.

This particular aircraft belonged to the 1st Squadron of the 40th Battle Wing (1./KG 40, see 1. Gruppe des Kampfgeschwaders 40) of the Luftwaffe, part of which had been transferred to Greece in August 1941. On September 5, 1941, the Fw 200, with the side markings F8+GH and the production number (Werknummer) 0074, took off from Elefsina Airport with the mission of conducting a reconnaissance flight in the Suez area (Egypt). A short time later, and due to an unknown cause until now, the aircraft crashed in the Saronida area, resulting in the loss of all six crew members, who were:

Oberleutnant Horst Neumann (pilot)
Oberfeldwebel Martin Heidenreich (pilot) Oberfeldwebel Willi Laufmann (radio operator) Unteroffizier Johann Schneider (radio operator) Feldwebel Willi Schilf (mechanic) Unteroffizier Franz Rabensteiner (gunner)

The bodies of Horst Neumann (born on August 25, 1915), Martin Heidenreich (born on April 14, 1912), and Franz Rabensteiner (born on December 24, 1916) were located in the following days south off the islet of Fleves and buried there according to German casualty reports. The Focke Wulf Fw 200 F8+GH of Saronida was the first of the two Focke Wulf Fw 200 “Condor” aircraft lost in Greek territory. The second one, with the production number 0019, was lost on June 2, 1942, near Zakynthos.

The 1st Squadron of the 40th Battle Wing (1. Gruppe Kampfgeschwader 40) of the Luftwaffe, equipped with Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor,” initially operated in northern Europe, conducting reconnaissance missions in Norway from its base in Denmark during the spring of 1940. In June of the same year, it was transferred to southern France, based in Bordeaux, where it carried out reconnaissance missions in the area of the North Atlantic and the western British Isles, actively participating in the so-called “Battle of the Atlantic.”

After the occupation of Greece by Axis forces, a detachment of the 1st Squadron of the 40th Battle Wing (1./KG 40), consisting of six Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor” and nine Heinkel He 111 aircraft, was transferred to Greece in August 1941 under the command of Major Edgar Petersen. This detachment, which included the Fw 200 C-3 based in Sarondas, operated from the airfields of Elefsina and Heraklion, carrying out attacks against ships and reconnaissance flights in the Suez area of Egypt.

The Focke Wulf Fw 200 C-3 “Condor” had the following technical specifications:

Type: Passenger aircraft for civilian aviation (Deutsche Lufthansa) during peacetime; Bomber, reconnaissance, and transport aircraft for military aviation (Deutsche Luftwaffe) during wartime. Crew: 5-7 individuals Manufacturer: Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau Length: 23.87 meters Wingspan (length from the edge of the left wing to the edge of the right wing): 32.84 meters Height: 6.30 meters Wing area: 118 square meters Empty weight: 14,180 kilograms Maximum takeoff weight: 22,600 kilograms Engines: Four air-cooled radial Bramo 323 engines (nine cylinders), each with a power output of 1000 PS. Maximum speed: 384 kilometers per hour Range: 3,550 kilometers Maximum flight altitude: 6,600 meters Armament: Two 20mm M.G. 151/20 cannons, four 7.92mm M.G. 15 machine guns, and bombs with a total weight of 1,000 kilograms.

The following individuals participated in this special and multi-level cooperative effort: Ralf Duckheim, Derk Remmers, Lars Zimmerman, Antonis Grafas, Nikos Vardakas, Dimitris Galon, Panagiotis Vletsas, Andreas Michalopoulos, Yiannis Liardakis, George Kolikis, Ilarion Koiverakis, Stratos Vergadis, and Lefteris Koutalas.


The research area forms a roughly 100m x 100m square at a depth of 50m. Some sections of the aircraft extend eastward, such as one of the two wings, located 70m away from the site, and the second wing is 220m away at a depth of 47m. The engines have not been found despite extensive searches outside the field, indicating that they were possibly salvaged in the past. Only small and few pieces of the main body of the aircraft remain.