Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Nowotny's Me 262 'white 8' - Kommando Nowotny and a Luftwaffe myth that refuses to die!

".. I've just picked up an Academy Me 262A-1a in 1/72 scale, one marking option of which is for "White 8" supposedly flown by Walter Nowotny. The colour calls give it as being RLM 81,82 over 76. It also shows it as having a Grunherz under the windscreen on the fuselage sides. The marking diagram, such that it is shows a mid fuselage demarcation between top & bottom colours, also on engine pods but several other model & marking sources give it as having a low demarcation. Is there any definitive answer on this ?...."

" ..I'm pretty disturbed that so many Me262 authors are still publishing incorrect captions and profiles, stating that a Me 262 from Kdo. Nowotny had a yellow fuselage band and the well-known “snake” or 'tadpole' camouflage pattern on the tail fin, when both are wrong! " (Olivier Menu posting in 2006 on TOCH forum,  "Me 262s of Kommando Nowotny" thread)

Even the replies to the original forum question cite the Me 262s from Kdo. Nowotny had a yellow fuselage band and the well-known “snake” or 'tadpole' camouflage pattern  response. This erroneous deduction-  most probably stems from analysis of stills drawn  from a well known film showing “white 1” advancing out of a row of Me 262s with “white 19” becoming first on the line. Then “green 3” W.Nr.110813 is seen passing in front of the camera. These machines are invariably identified as showing machines of Kdo. Nowotny - cf. profile artworks in Osprey and Kagero volumes. However further analysis points to another option - the above still and film extracts in fact depict Me 262s from the later III./EJG2 and not from Kdo. Nowotny as usually stated. There is a certain amount of evidence; the gun camera shots of F.Schall's  “white 1” W.Nr.110404 - the machine obviously lacks any yellow fuselage band while Manfred Boehme's JG 7 volume told us that W.Nr.110813 was produced in December 44 - following Kdo. Nowotny's disbandment on 19 November 1944… 

Finally in 1998 Axel Urbanke in his “Green Hearts First In Combat With The Dora 9” published a view of what we could definitively ID as a Kdo. Nowotwy aircraft, “white 2” W.Nr. 110389. This aircraft's identity "White 2" WNr. 110389 is known from the published loss listings in Manfred Jurleit's " Me 262 im Einsatz ".  This machine's previously applied yellow fuselage band, from EKdo 262, is clearly over-painted and the camouflage is dark. Thus since 1998 it has been accepted knowledge that the following Me 262 photos, F. Schall's “white 1”, Schneiders “white 3” W.Nr.110372 and Helmut Baudach's “white or yellow 6 or 8” were all three aircraft in  Kdo. Nowotny markings

Smith and Creek in Me 262 (Vol II)  and Dan O’Connell in his comprehensive “Messerschmitt Me 262 – The Production Log 1941-1945” should have effectively put an end to all these erroneous captions and so-called 'artist' profiles when they explained that the “snake” or "tadpole" tail fins were actually wooden experimental fins, produced in December 44, sometimes retrofitted on earlier Me 262s thus confirming why some Me 262s produced before Kdo. Nowotny was disbanded could be seen with this "snake" tailplane in December 44 or later, as the well known W.Nr.170003 V7 pictured in colour.

Can we specifically ID Nowotny's machine? Probably not, but it may be the Me 262 above. The following from a chat I had with David E. Brown of Experten decals back in the days when I was really interested in Luftwaffe colours. David wrote that he was of the opinion that the machine pictured here - from the old Werner Held "Reichsverteidigung" book - could very possibly have been Nowotny's 'white 8' (see extreme right of pic)  Of all the known photos of Ekdo. 262, Kdo. Nowotny and III./EJG 2 Me 262s, this is the only 'white 8' for starters. We can rule out Kdo. Schenk/ KG 51 as they used letters on the forward fuselage. And if 'white 8' here is Nowotny's machine WNr. 110400 then we know of  three machines from this unit from photos including the pic from Urbanke's book above all from the same WNr. block (110386 to 110410)- all wearing different schemes but featuring a pretty dark camo finish, the plain white number on the forward fuselage, no yellow rear fuselage band (although not visible on 'white 8' ) and no 'tadpole' or 'snake' markings on the tail ( which - to repeat- were not a feature of Kommando Nowotny machines as stated above). In David's view this aircraft was finished most probably in overall 83 over which a "wispy" application of 76 had been applied at unit level. Note the man on the wing is wearing shorts - which points to an early time frame (July- September) in Me 262 operations. The only 262 units operating during this period were Ekdo. 262, Kdo Nowotny and Kdo Schenk/ KG 51 - KG 51 used letters, Ekdo 262 used white numbers outlined in black. And while the Werknummer is not visible here, note that part of the Stammkennzeichen aft of the Balkenkreuz is. To conclude 'white 8' here reveals a number of the attributes of the known aircraft assigned to Kdo. Nowotny - plain white numbers, no yellow band (possibly), no tadpole tail markings and photographed early-ish in 1944 - which automatically rules out a number of units.  And in any case, as David E. Brown concluded, " there is no mention in the loss listings of a Me 262 with a 'white 8'  - except for Nowotny's.."