This is the story of a FW200 Condor that crashed in Belfast Lough whilst on a mine laying mission. Focke- Wulf Condor Action 23/24th July 1940 1ST Staffelof Kampfgeschwader 40 (1/KG40) The FW Condor flew from its operational base at Bordeaux-Merignac to Brest-Langveoc airfield near Brittany were it was was loaded with 4 500kg LMA sea mines, Its destination was Belfast Lough. The Condor (F8+BH) took off at 0030 hours local time (1130 hours BST). It had a crew of 5 and was commanded by Hauptmann Volkmar Zenker. They had flown a similar sortie on the night of the 19/20 and there is a strong possibility that theirs was the aircraft observed from Greypoint gun site and the one responsible for sinking the SS Troutpool. SS Troutpool sunk 20th July 1940 SS Troutpool (4886 Tons) owned by Sir R Ropner and Co , was laying anchor about a mile off Bangor Pier. She had been sreaming down the North Channel on the way from ports on the River Plate with a cargo of maize and bran for Avonmouth when Captain Muitt was instructed to put into Belfast Lough for degaussing. A process designed to neutralize the influence of magnetic mines by passing electric current through a cable round the ships hull. Upon completion the Troutpools engines were started and she was swung for compass adjustment. Almost immediately at 1352 hours she was struck by a mine under her bows and minutes later a second mine slightly further aft. Eleven members of the crew were killed in the explosion. She sank slowly in seven fathoms, comming to rest on the sea bed with her superstructure and mast visible at low tide. A u-boat attack was at first considered to be a possible cause and anti-submarine trawlers from Belfast and Larne were despatched to the scene. However when realized that the explosions had occured immediately after the ships engines were started, acoustically detonated mines were persumed to be the cause. SS Troutpool shortly after sinking FW Condor KG40 continued..... The flight to the entrance of Belfast Lough seems to have been uneventful. Shortly after 0200 hours the Condor made its descent through the cloud base to the release point close to Black Head at the southern end of islandmagee. When the release mechanism was activated only three of the mines left the bomb racks. Zenker immediately opened the throttles fully and made a climbing turn to come round again and try and get rid of the remaining mine.This was observed by gunners at Greypoint and the time logged as 0220 hours. Zenker decided to make a second attempt from a very low level although it was obvious from this height the parachute would not open. The remaining mine left the racks but when the throttle levers were advanced to climb the aircraft away both port engines failed to respond and the aircraft yawed violently to the left. Zenker at such a low altitude had no time to react, he lost control and the aircraft crashed into the sea. Zenker and two of his crew, Unteroffizier Heinz Hocker and Gefreiter Lothar Hohmann, were able to scramble clear with a rubber float but Feldwebel Willi Andreas (26) and Unteroffizier Rudolf Wagner (25) went down with the aircraft. There is no record of their bodies being recovered. Gun position at Greypoint overlooking Belfast Lough. Shortly afterwards the anti-submarine trawler HMT Paynter picked up the three survivors close to Black Head light and landed them at Larne.They were taken to the Olderfleet Hotel overlooking the harbour, which had been requisitioned by the Naval Officer in charge at Larne (NOIC) as his headquarters. Under interrogation the prisioners stated that they were members of the crew of a HE111 which had been engaged in reconnaissance. This was an attempt to keep Condor operations secret and conceal its presence for as long as possible. Luftwaffe reports indicate the position were the Condor crashed 15 miles N/E of Belfast, which would be near to the point were thr crew had been picked up. FW Condors of KG40 at Bordeaux-Merignac . HPTM Volkmar Zenker's account "I had descended to 1800 metres over the Irish sea. The engines were idling as i was hoping not to be detected. During the first part of the mission i was flying at 100 metres, but then i opened the throttles very slowly hoping to go lower and get rid of the last mine which had become stuck in its holder. I succeeded but now we were at 15 metres altitude. When i opened the throttles further, the two port engines stopped and the plane banked suddenly. In order to avoid the wingtip hitting the water i stopped the starboard engines and ditched. The plane had not run out of fuel, but there had been an air blockage in the fuel lines caused by the long glide with idled engines." Crew makes ready for a mission. Uffz Heinz Hocker account "Because of the impact the aircraft was full of water very soon. In the cockpit i saw my comrades Wagner and Andreas in the water looking for an exit. I swam to the other exit in the back of the fuselage, called my comrade Hohmann and tolled him to get ready with the dinghy. I pushed open the main door and Zenker swam up to us.We left the aircraft. In pitch-dark night i called together my swimming comrades. I only had a distress signal in a tin and the dinghy which had not yet been inflated. For a very long time we called the missing comrades but in my opinion they went down with the condor. Swimming in the heavy swell i had to inflate the dinghy which took me 8 hours as tghe compressed air bottle had not been connected to it after ots last servicing. Zenker and Hohmann climbed into the dinghy first. In the morning we noticed a steamship on the horizon which was heading for us. I realized that Zenker had exhausted himself and so i took command. In case of capture we should state that we were a reconnaissance flight. Then i searched through Zenker's pockets and threw overboard anything which could prove to be suspicious. The ship which came towards us was manned by English soldiers. The crew stood on deck with their rifles loaded, the officer had a pistol. I shot 2 red flare signals and threw overboard the pistol and ammunition box before putting my hands up. After being taken onboard and searched the sailors supplied us with rum. I was thankfull about that as i could not take any more. On our way into Belfast harbour i saw a ship at the bottom of the harbour. When i asked how it had sunk, i was told it had caught fire."