Thursday, 19 May 2011

Late-war variant Fw 190 Dora with Ta 152 tail (Eduard kit Fw 190 D-9 Late ProfiPACK)

Eduard's latest release features another boxing of their very nice 1/48 scale Dora kit - a late-war variant fitted with the wider broad chord Ta 152 empennage. The kit itself is nicely reviewed on britmodeller here. The article excerpt below neatly illustrates the two types of Dora tail alongside each other (Fw 190/Ta 152 Aircraft in Detail by Neil Page in SAM 27/12) and the lower photo depicts the Eduard tails as published on their Facebook page.

 Like other German late-war fighter aircraft, production of the Fw 190 Dora variants was largely dispersed with major aircraft components being brought together and mated up at a final assembly location. The majority of these components were painted to varying degrees prior to delivery resulting in the 'pieced together' appearance of many Fw 190 Dora camouflage schemes. Various attempts were made to 'standardise' the production effort - one such was the planned introduction on the later Dora variants of the broad chord tail built for the Ta 152. And while these airframes may appear to be 'hybrids' the so-called Einheitsheck or 'uniform tail' ( see Rodeike) was designed, firstly, to be constructed from non-strategic materials (wood) and, secondly, to fit all the later planned Doras (D-12, D-13, D-14 up to the D-15). However the fascination with the variant resides in the fact that only two examples have been documented photographically, whether as new or replacement items is unknown. From Jim Crow's collection, the first photograph to appear ( in Monogram Close-up No. 10, but subsequently in multiple sources, including Hildebrandt 'Broken Eagles', Aero Detail Fw 190 D, German Aircraft Interiors by Merrick, 'Greenhearts'  by Urbanke and so on and so forth.. )  showed the wrecked and burnt-out tail fin of WNr. 500645 (clearly visible). According to authors Smith and Creek the photo appeared to depict     "... the remains of what might be a Fw 190 D-15. WNr. 500645 would suggest the type is a Fw 190 D-9 but the revised fin seems incompatible with this series. However the new fin was to be standard on the Fw 190 D-15.."  German authors Griehl and Dressel also agree in their Fw 190/Ta 152 book published in 1997 that this is   "... the wreck of a Fw 190 D-15 discovered close to the Czech border. Despite the Werknummer the empennage differs considerably from that of a Dora-9 ". Dietmar Herrmann in his 'Focke Wulf Ta 152' volume identifies the broad chord tail fin of WNr. 500645 as belonging to " Ta 152 C WNr 500645 "  - with no further commentary. Peter Rodeike - author of the Focke Wulf 190 'bible' - goes further in his Jagdflugzeug 190 book (P.404); " the so-called Einheitsheck or 'uniform tail' was planned for the Dora from the spring of 1945 and designed for series production of the Ta can be seen that the yellow/white/yellow fuselage tail bands of JG 2 are also visible .." W.Nr. 500645 was most recently illustrated as 'black 6' from III./JG 2  (Crandall Fw 190 Dora, Vol I) although this profile is speculative and apparently not based on any documentary evidence- although now featured on a least one after-market decal sheet and as an option in this Eduard boxing. The single 'known' photograph was allegedly published in a Dutch monograph in the 1970's but surprisingly not a single example has yet surfaced anywhere (?)

Urbanke's 'Greenhearts' volume was perhaps the first to publish pictures of what was identified as 'brown 4' of 7./JG 26, WNr. 500647 and photographed by a Canadian soldier at Hustedt airfield near Celle. Again the photographs appear to show a Dora-9 fitted with the wide tail and given that the two Werknummern are so close together, this according to author and publisher " demonstrates that a small number of of Fw 190 Doras were constructed with the Ta 152 tail ".

This aircraft is the box-top subject of the new Eduard Dora - 'brown 4' WNr. 500647 of JG 26. A third photograph of this machine was published in Hideki Noro's 'LO+ST' photo album of captured and abandoned Luftwaffe aircraft - interestingly this 'new' photo, along with the previously published pics of this aircraft, again fails to show a complete view of the tail unit, leading some to suggest in a debate on one forum that 500647 does " not have a Ta 152 tail..." (see P282 Crandall Vol II -while the broader tail fin appears to be present the top of the fin itself is nonetheless cropped out so it is not possible to confirm absolutely the absence of the typical pointed Dora aerial mast ). However it is now generally assumed that other Doras in the WNr. 500600 range were fitted with the same broad Ta 152 tail and are mostly covered here on Eduard's decal options.

There are a number of 'blanks' in the history of the Dora - such as the 'operations' of Kampfgeschwader units re-organised and re-equipped with fighters in the last months of the war. These so-called Kampfgeschwader (Jagd) or KG (J) units - the designation reflecting their conversion to the fighter or Jagd role - presumably did only relatively limited flying due to difficulties in obaining fuel. In SAM 27/12 Dora/Ta 152 'Aircraft in Profile' (February 2006) article a third candidate Dora with Ta 152 tail was illustrated speculatively - a 9./KG(J) 27 machine 'yellow 6' featuring green/white rear fuselage band checks. Noted Luftwaffe colours researcher David E. Brown first wrote about KG(J) Doras, specifically "ge.6 + I" of 9./KG(J) 27, way back in July 2000 - 11 years ago. His commentary and a profile by Claes Sundin were posted on Claes' website at that time. As recently as 2008 the existence of these Doras was being questioned by one prominent Dora Experte - however with the passage of time more KG(J) 27 aircraft have surfaced, the majority wearing the green/white Karobands, which rather vindicates David E. Brown's research. Interestingly - giving previously expressed doubts - a KG(J) 27 green/white tailband on a Dora fuselage is shown on page 337 / Vol. 2 of the Crandall Dora book. Also worth pointing out that the white/green fuselage checks have been seen photographically on this unit's Antons, which presumably accounts for this shift - although no artwork. Some 'speculative' machines are more valid than others it would appear.
'Yellow 6' was identified from loss reports as WNr. 500641, subsequently revised as WNr. 500648, just one number above the JG 26 machine. III./KG 27(J) lost two Doras in action on 1 April 1945, one of which was the aforementioned 'yellow 6'. And although the profile is speculative, this aircraft was likely finished in the typical Mimetall scheme - fuselage sides in the green-blue variation of 76, fuselage spine and engine cowling in 81 Braunviolett, fuselage underside natural metal from the wheel well back to the fuselage insert, wing leading edges and the front underwing panel probably 75 Mittelgrau with the control surfaces in 76. Note that these later Doras were more often than not fitted with the re-designed centreline weapons rack - the ETC 504 was a simplified carrier featuring a much smaller mounting and fairing.