by: Michael O'Mahony [ ]
IntroductionThe Fw-190D series (also known as the Dora, Long-Nose Dora, "Langnasen-Dora") was intended to improve on the high-altitude performance of the Fw-190 A-series and make it a potent threat to Allied bombers. A total of 1,805 D-9s were produced with production starting in August 1944 and finally entering service with the Luftwaffe in September 1944.
The Academy kit provides painting and marking information for two aircraft of JV44, which it refers to as the “Papagei Staffel”. These Fw-190 Ds served as fighter cover for Me 262 airfields as the jet fighters were notoriously vulnerable during take off and landing. The commander of the newly-formed JV44 was to be Adolf Galland. Galland was dismissed by Göring as General der Jagdflieger of the Luftwaffe for his criticism of the way the air war was being handled. He was then given command of this new unit in order to demonstrate the abilities of the Me 262. Rather than depend on the support of the High Command, which he had been at odds with for some time regarding their handling of Luftwaffe operations, Galland set about establishing his own Platzschutzstaffel (airfield defense squadron). For this he turned to men he knew and trusted such as the distinguished Eastern front ace, Lt. Heinz Sachsenberg. The Platzschutzstaffel was equipped with the long nosed Dora variant of the Fw-190, both D-9s and one D-11 were used. The aircraft were painted with bright red and white striped undersurfaces to aid in recognition by weary 262 pilots returning to base, and also the trigger-happy ground flak units. The aircraft also had unusual markings including a personal inscription on the port fuselage side. The unit, known as Würger-Staffel, guarded the airfield of JV44, and was operational late in the war, from about March 1945 to May 1945. Its role was to defend taking off and landing Me 262s and was absolutely forbidden to chase Allied aircraft.
The JV44 Platzschutzstaffel has in recent times been referred to as the “Papagei Staffel” (Parrots), as is the case on the box of the Academy kit, however there doesn't seem to be any tangible historical evidence to support the name. According to accounts, the staffel did occasionally use the radio call sign "Pagagei", however to the pilots and personnel of JV44, the unit was simply known as the Würger-Staffel.
The KitThe kit itself comes in a rectangular open top box with 3 light grey sprues, and 1 clear sprue. There are 42 parts which are nicely-detailed for the scale, with recessed panel lines, some riveting, detailed cockpit cabin, instrument panels and wheel wells. The parts have no flash and there doesn't seem to be any ejector pin marks in areas that will be visible in the finished model.
The decals are printed in register and seem to be of good quality, however there are no swastikas included. Academy have provided two canopies: the early type normal canopy and the later “Galland Haube” bubble type canopy. Both canopies are very clear, however there are visible tabs for the internal cockpit to fit into. The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow. As mentioned before there are painting and marking guides for “Red 1” and “Red 13” of JV44 Würger-Staffel. There are no specific paint manufacturer references in the painting guide, but there are RLM references.
AssemblyThe initial dry-fitting of the major parts indicated that there are no real major fit issues. The cockpit fitted nicely between the fuselage halves, although there wasn't much visible as the cockpit opening is rather small and the instrument panel would sit quite far back. To overcome this problem I inserted some plastic card to bring the instrument panel closer to the seat. The fit of the cowling to the fuselage is a bit fiddly but with a bit of care shouldn't present even less experienced modellers with too much trouble. The rear of the cockpit is the first disappointment of the kit. While there is a long gap for the canopy to slide open, there is no other detail to the rear of the cockpit whatsoever, meaning an open canopy would look bare. At this point I came across an Eduard PE Zoom set (SS 101) which addresses the lack of detail in the rear of the cockpit, so after a little soul-searching, I decided to use it.
The landing gear also seemed a little bare so I decided to use thin strips of bare metal foil to detail it using reference photos as a guide. The gun barrels were replaced with stretched plastic tubing from a cotton bud, which worked really well as a replacement.
In order to overcome the problem with the canopy, I crash moulded a replacement using a piece of acetate sheet heated over a gas ring and then pressed down on the original kit part.
Painting and DecalsI opted for “Red 1” of JV44, which had the distinct red undersurfaces with white stripes, RLM 76 Light Blue fuselage, RLM 82 Light Green and RLM 83 Dark Green camoflauge pattern with mottling on the fuselage and tail. I used a selection of Gunze Aqueous Hobby Color (RLM 76, 82, 83) and Pactra Acylics (RLM 66, 02, 70, 23, 04). After pre-shading the undersurfaces were sprayed white, thin strips were masked and then Red RLM 23 was dusted on to build up a nice clean line. Then the undersurfaces were masked off and Gunze RLM 76 was sprayed on the fuselage and tail. Finally the topside camo and mottled scheme was then sprayed with Gunze RLM 82 and 83. The decals behaved reasonable well but I had to use Techmod swastikas to complete the model. After decalling it was given a light artist oil wash and Tamiya smoke was sprayed for the exhaust stains. Some pastels were used to add some further weathering.
ConclusionThis was my first attempt at a Luftwaffe subject in many years. I had never tried a mottled effect before and I'm pleased with the outcome. The Academy kit is a nicely-detailed kit that is very reasonably priced which builds into a really good representation of a Dora. However, in order to build a well-detailed kit with an open canopy I would recommend the Eduard Zoom PE set. I have no reservation in recommending this kit to modellers of any skill level and experience.
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