Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Josef Ulsamer World War II Collection

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: 2017-03-23
The Josef Ulsamer World War II Collection consists of five photographs featuring German Luftwaffe Lieutenant Josef Ulsamer in uniform and with his spouse, most likely taken in Kiel, Germany circa 1930s-1940s. One of the photos features a Junkers Ju-88 aircraft with an exterior view. Another photograph depicts an interior view of an aircraft, likely a Heinkel, with an airman, possibly Ulsamer, in defensive position below the cockpit. While the aircraft photographs do not have any location information, they may have been taken at the Sola Air Base in Norway, occupied by several German Luftwaffe reconnaissance squadrons from 1940-1944. Also included is an undated newspaper clipping with an image of a Kiel journalist laying flowers at a memorial in Reykjavik for German airmen shot down over Iceland during World War II.


  • Circa 1930s-1940s


Language of Materials

One newspaper clipping is in German. All other materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 letter-size folder)

Biographical Note: Josef Ulsamer

Josef Ulsamer was born in Kiel, Germany in 1917. During World War II, Ulsamer served in the Luftwaffe as a pilot and navigator onboard a Ju-88 reconnaissance aircraft. He was killed in action on October 18, 1942, when his aircraft was shot down by American fighters over Iceland. He was 25 years old. The Ju-88 was one of the first aircraft to be shot down by American aircraft in the European Theatre in World War II.

Biographical information derived from collection materials.
Historical Note: Ju-88 Crash in Iceland, October 18, 1942 On October 18, 1942, a German reconnaissance aircraft was reported by American pilot Lieutenant Joseph D. Shaffer as he flew over Þingvellir, Iceland. The aircraft was a Junkers Ju-88 D-5 of Aufklärungsstaffel 1 (Reconnaissance Squadron 1) based in Sola. Shaffer, flying a P-39 Aircobra out of Patterson Field near Keflavík, fired at and chased the Ju-88 into a cloud over Hvalfjörður. The Ju-88 later crashed into a ravine near Svínaskarð. Fifteen days later, the United States Army Air Forces found the crash site and identified the three crewmembers killed in action: Lt. Harald Osthus (F), Lt. Josef Ulsamar (B), and Fw. Franz Kirchmann (Bf), all aged between 22 and 30 years old. At the time, Ju-88 aircraft were typically crewed with four airmen. Investigators were concerned that a fourth crewmember had survived and escaped into the Iceland countryside. Further investigation determined that a fourth crewman as well as some armament had been left behind to lighten the aircraft and increase its range. There were bullet holes throughout the tail section of the Ju-88, however examination of the wreckage and Shaffer’s P-39 determined that the cause of the crash was due to a collision rather than weapons fire. While chasing the Ju-88 through the cloud, Shaffer’s propeller hit its tail section. Various items were salvaged from the crash site, including aerial cameras, radio components and armor plating. The Ju-88 was the second aircraft to be shot down by American airmen during World War II and the first to crash on Iceland itself. The U.S.Army Air Forces obtained permission for the three German airmen to be buried in a cemetery in Brautarholt, Iceland. They were later moved to a memorial site at Fossvogur Cemetery in Reykjavik in 1957 alongside 14 other German soldiers that had been killed in action in Iceland during World War II.


“Iceland Base Command.” Wikipedia. July 3, 2019. Accessed October 10, 2019.

Johnsen, Frederick A. “Captured Eagles: Secrets of the Luftwaffe.” New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.

Larson, Knut. “Nordic Aviation During WWII: Loss Register.” Accessed October 10, 2019.

Magnússon, Magnús R. and History Department of Swavesey Village College. “Reconnaissance Over Iceland.” June 7, 2005. Accessed October 10, 2019.

United States National Archives. “U.S. Army, U.S. Forces, European Theater, Historical Division: Records, 1941-1946.” Fold3. Accessed October 10, 2019.

World War II Crash Sites in Iceland. “Junkers Ju 88, Svínaskarð, Esja. October 18, 1942.” March 27, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by the creator's grandson.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Separated Materials

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:

  • World War II Luftwaffe officer uniform jacket with insignia, dagger, pins, patch, and chalice.
Guide to the Josef Ulsamer World War II Collection
Completed - Level 2
L. Rola
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st Edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request