Saturday 22 October 2016

Night-fighting 'porcupines'! Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 Nachtjäger of 6./JG 300 - Airfix Fw 190 in 72nd scale

Another new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A in the markings of JG 300 ace Klaus Bretschneider with added FuG 217 aerials (from florists wire) and markings from EagleCals. I haven't tried any of the small scale Eduard 190s yet, but this new-tool from Airfix is probably just as competent and a much easier build.  Bretschneider  flew through the 'wilde Sau' (wild boar) night fighting period with 6. Staffel. JG 300 and his machine was 'Yellow 1 N',  a 'porcupine' as the pilots referred to them - a FuG 217 Neptun radar-equipped Fw 190 A-7.

Above;  'Yellow 1 N', seen at Rheine during early 1944.  Note Bretschneider's victory markings on the rudder and the absence of head armour in the cockpit. The photo above was one of the many photographic highlights of Vol I of the two volume history of JG 300 written by Jean-Yves Lorant and Richard Goyat - the authors kindly sent me a copy as thanks for my contribution to their work. (See my 'wilde Sau und Moskito-Jagd' article in Model Aircraft Monthly, June and July 2014, some details here ) The image depicts  II./ JG 300 mechanic Wilhelm Beissel seated on the horizontal stabiliser. Camouflage netting has been partially unfurled over the forward fuselage and the wings. The ground crew have carefully avoiding covering the antennae of the FuG 217 Neptun radar which are set obliquely across the upper wing surfaces and in the MG cowl cover. The JG website has the '1' in red and this is obviously not the case for 6.Staffel machine. A few questions though; is there a II.Gruppe bar present on the fuselage band - in yellow? Probably yes -as per the drawings on the Eduard site for their 'Dual combo' Fw 190 nightfighters posted below - although not visible in the photo because the yellow appears 'dark' on the type of film used. I should perhaps have added it, although EagleCals don't - and they were obviously working with the authors who located the original photo of this machine. Did Bretschneider's A-7 feature outer-wing MGs - almost certainly yes, but could the armament have been retained with the aerials in situ? I've also painted the tips of the antennae in red, although perhaps this is not correct.

Below; Fritz Krauze's NJG 10 FuG 217 equipped A-6/7. A well-known photo to help with the placement of the aerials

Above; close-up of the wild boar emblem from EagleCals as seen on this 6./JG 300 night fighter. Note the red letter 'N' for 'Nacht' (or Night) utilised by JG 300 during the wilde Sau period. M. Lorant wrote to say that as it happens he has recently spent some darkroom time on this same image  The original wartime print measured just 2,5 cms x 4 cms (!) and was slightly out of focus. M. Lorant has been able to 'clean up' the photo in good enough quality to be able to identify the Werknummer. Close examination of the digital version of the photo negative allows the viewer to discern the last five digits - 40300. For Bretschneider's A-7 this gives us a WNr. of 340300. The 'enhanced' image is reproduced here courtesy M. Lorant. Click on the image below to see a close-up.


Wednesday 12 October 2016

Airfix Grumman Martlet in 72nd scale - Operation Torch (2) No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm

Below; a Grumman Martlet naval fighter of No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm taking off from the deck of HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean during 1942. 'FN 142' - the subject of the Airfix kit - may have been a 893 Sqd machine, also on Formidable. The Imperial War museum's 'Fleet air Arm archive is here 

Another neat Airfix new-tool. Buy one..and build it! The only slightly tricky area was joining the fuselage halves. The wing fold option was a little awkward with no real positive location points. I thought it would be interesting to feature one wing fold and leave the other deployed which was possible on the Martlet and quite often seen. From the earlier Wildcat which I built at the start of the year here, Airfix have provided parts to lengthen the forward fuselage and these fitted well but a little filler was needed - I don't think there was a visible seam line here on the real aircraft. One detail I've missed is the engine crank case which must be fixed with the `attachment' facing upwards and not down as it shows in the instructions. Otherwise, having stared at pics of the real thing, I think the windscreen is a little too long and the fuselage spine behind the cockpit a little too 'fat'..but not enough to detract from the appearance of the finished model. The windscreen also needs a rear view mirror - I fabricated mine by simply leaving the plastic sprue tab attached to the part..

Note the carrier code isn't 0 (zero) or O (Latin alphabet) but Ø (Greek letter Phi) Phi is F;  F for  carrier HMS Formidable.