||Last Updated: Aug 21st, 2020 - 13:06:35
The pilots of III/JG54 “Grünherz” weren’t terribly impressed when their first Doras arrived in October 1944. The new long nose promised less manoeuvrability and the JUMO 213 bomber engine had little increase in power over the tried and true BMW 801 radial of other Fw190s. The feeling was reinforced by the designer, Kurt Tank who explained to the pilots that the Fw190D was an interim type, pending the introduction of the much more developed Ta152.
As the Grünherz (Green Heart) pilots became used to their new mounts, they discovered that the new long nose Fw190s had much better acceleration, were much faster and could out turn the radial – engined Fw190A-8 and the Bf109G. In time most of the pilots who flew the Fw190D came to regard it as the best German piston engined fighter of WW2.
By December of 1944 four other units other than “Bazi” Weiss’ III/JG54 had transitioned on to the type; I and II/JG2, I and II/JG26. Also the Geschwader Stab of JG4 under Oberstleutnant (Lt Colonel) Gerhard Michaelski had begun to receive it’s quota of Fw190Ds.
The Fw190D-9 was to be in action from December 3rd 1944 when 23 aircraft took on a formation of RAF aircraft, bringing down 3 Typhoons until the last day of the European war.
The Dora in kit form – a potted history….
The Fw190D has long been a modeller’s favourite, being one of those aircraft with looks that exude sheer grunt, for want of a better way of putting it. In terms of available kits, what’s been on offer over the years has been, well, patchy. In 1/72nd scale there is the Academy and Tamiya kits – not being familiar with them, I won’t presume to comment on their accuracy – or otherwise. In ‘quarter scale’ (1/48th) modellers had to put up with the flippin’ horrible old Fujimi kit for way too long – until the arrival of Trimaster in the 1980s. This now defunct firm can take the credit for kick – starting 1/48th scale back into life with its’ then brand new Fw190D-9. The kit had all the bells and whistles, what with white metal, photo-etch and metal tubing and a truly frightening price tag. This beastie is still available from Italeri (by way of Dragon) without the metal bits and without the man-eating price tag. It is easily the most accurate – and worst fitting Dora in 1/48th scale. Tamiya eventually came along with their own Dora in this scale and typically for Tamiya, it is a very modeller-friendly kit – but with some accuracy issues. Ya can’t win them all…
Upsizing to short-sighted round person scale (1/32nd of course…) the old 1/48th Fujimi kit had it’s equivalent in the equally ancient Revell kit – this thing seemed to consist of rivets moulded in the shape of a Fw190D-9. Hasegawa jumped on the “High – Tech” bandwagon of the late 80’s by releasing a 1/32 “High Grade” Fw190D-9 which followed the Trimaster lead of terrifying price tag, lots of metal bits, a very nice new fuselage – and the rivet infested wings of their old Fw190A8 kit – arrgh!! At long last however, the good people at Hasegawa have released a shiny new kit of the Dora as a follow up to their shiny new kit of the Bf109G-6. Along with the aforementioned Gustav, this kit is about as good as it’s going to get for an Fw190D modeller – in any scale. The big 1/24th scale kit from Trumpeter is by all accounts spectacular, but from what your humble scribe has seen on the ‘Net, there are issues with accuracy and some rather dodgy detailing as well.
As for most kits, construction starts with … the pilot! That is if you really must have one; otherwise it’s straight into the cockpit tub. This one area that puts any ‘190 ahead on points over the Bf109. The real thing had a nice neat cockpit with side consoles to hide all the wiring that is so prominent in any Bf109 ‘pit. This makes the job of detailing any Fw190 cockpit in any scale less of a chore. Having already built a 1/32nd scale Dora last year, I came to realise that the money I invested in a resin replacement cockpit was largely wasted. This is not because of any quality problems with the resin – far from it – all the resin ‘pits on offer are just fantastic in terms of the level of moulded-in detail, its because that most of that lovely detail will be hidden by (1) a coat of dark grey paint and (2) the fact that the ‘190 cockpit extends well into the forward fuselage and is therefore hidden. Unless you have a torch to check out your handiwork….
With the above in mind, I decided to confine myself to doing what appeared to be necessary:
- Add a decent harness to the pilot seat
- Replace the rudder pedals – or at least add the foot straps (yes, they can be seen).
- Attach the throttle (part K8) to the left console – not the fuselage as shown in the instructions ( ! )
- Add a false rear bulkhead on each side of the pilot seat – about 2mm forward of the moulded kit item. The seat should be between the bulkheads.
- Add an oxygen hose and regulator on the right false bulkhead
- Add a cockpit light and cable to the rear of the left side console.
- Correct the instrument shroud by moving the gun sight (part K9) forward and cementing a small piece of Evergreen strip behind it to complete the padding around the rim of the shroud.
That all seems like a lot of effort, but I did not spend more than a few hours over the space of a week doing that work. And it certainly enhances the kit parts no end – in my totally biased opinion!
This big Hasegawa kit scores ahead of any other Dora kit previously released in providing an insert for the rear of the JUMO 213 engine and the upper nose decking guns ammunition chutes – the real Dora was essentially a conversion of the Fw190A-9 airframe (which is why the first Dora variant is the D-9…) which saw everything forward of the firewall replaced by the JUMO 213 and it’s new nose. A distinctive plug was added to the rear fuselage and the chord of the vertical tail was increased at the rudder post to compensate for the shift in centre of gravity. Because of the longer in-line engine, a cut-out was made in the centre of the wheel well roof to make room for the engine accessories and ammunition feeds for the nose guns. Prior to the release of this kit, no other Dora kit has included this very distinctive feature – one has had to do the work oneself or fork out mucho dosh to buy aftermarket resin. At any rate the insert was painted up as per the instructions and popped into place. I did add some extra length to the ammo chutes to mate them up to the wheel well centre section (part C1) but that was about the only work done at that point.
The one area I did replace with resin was the upper nose decking (part A7). As has been noted in many reviews, the bulged area over the gun breeches has too much er, “cleavage” and the bulges should be more subdued. I used the Eagle Parts replacement parts for this piece – do note, however that there “early” and “late” styles (depending on panel lines) and to check if possible as to which panel is present on the aircraft being modelled. The tail section posed no problems – the horizontal tail plane parts are a particularly good fit.
On to the wings, and looking at these parts, it becomes clear the good folk at Hasegawa had more than one Fw190 variant in mind when the moulds for this beastie were made. There are insert panels for the wing undersides and the topside wing fairings for the outboard guns carried by some (but not all) Fw190s are present as separate pieces. Two glitches have to be dealt with when assembling the wings – sink marks and the way the flaps (parts F10, F11) hang. The sink marks just need the old fashioned treatment of filler and careful sanding to sort out – nothing too onerous there. The flaps (which have ferocious sinks marks, by the way) hang at a near vertical angle if assembled according to the kit instructions. I found the best way to sort them out was firmly cement them into place and then leave to set rock hard over a couple of days. Once hardened up, I very carefully bent each flap back to a more acceptable angle. The other alternative is to cut off the locating tabs and cement each flap up in the retracted position – the fit, however is not good and some trimming will be needed.
The wing/fuselage joint is not wonderful and care was needed to get reasonable joint requiring minimal filler. I enlarged the recess at the rear of the fuselage wing roots where the step plate mould into each upper wing half fits and this seemed to help matters along.
The main undercarriage is best made up as two sub assemblies of each strut and gear cover and set aside. The fit is very snug – try test fitting those puppies and they are there for good.
With the main construction out of the way, I turned to preparing the canopy and windscreen parts. I had decided that this Dora was going to be in the markings of ObLt Gerhard Michaelski’s JG4 machine. This was (according to the Eagle Cal decal sheet notes) an early Feisler built Dora with the original “flat” canopy fitted to the vast majority of Fw190s, rather the bulged “Galland Hood” often seen on Doras and some late production Fw190A/Fs. Thus, kit part M1 was masked off inside and out along with the windscreen (part L4). After a solid coat of black grey 66 (well, actually Tamiya’s XF-24 dark grey…) was sprayed and left to dry, the internal masking was removed and the windscreen fitted to the fuselage. The pilot’s head armour brace (part F13) was corrected by lopping off the long brace part itself. This was replaced with a length of Evergreen strip that had a slot cut into it, along with a small flange cemented to each side of the new brace. The head armour (part F15) was then attached and the assembly plonked on my glass top (handy things, dead photocopiers…) working surface to set up and dry properly. Once dry, stretched sprue “bracing wires” were attached to each flange and the rear mount of part F13. The whole unit was painted and then glued into place inside the canopy. Last job was running a sprue aerial wire from the rear mount up through the slot in the new brace to touch the canopy under the raised bump moulded on the outside of the canopy. White glue was used for this little job.
Time for painting….
Michaelski’s bird is the subject of two good photos taken by American troops at the end of the war – both are reproduced in the notes with the Eagle Cal decal sheet. One can ignore the U. S. Army general draped over the aircraft in both photos… Finished in a typical late war scheme of Grey Violet 75 and Dark Green 83 over White Blue 76, the aircraft carried the black-white-black Reich Defence bands of JG4 – with some nifty added pinstripes for the boss’s bird. Full Geschwader Kommodore markings were also carried – a near suicidal practice in the closing months of the war as allied pilots were well aware of their significance. What really spun my prop though was the big spotty hooter – the nose for whatever reason was plastered with a light coloured blotching – maybe to break up the length of the nose? The decal sheet notes suggest that the dodgy blue green variation of blue 76 was used, but looking at the photo of the nose, I felt that grey green 02 was a better bet. Aeromaster paints were used for the camouflage – mixed with gloss varnish for a better surface finish. With the painting complete, I decided to have a go a painting the markings, rather than using decals. The inspiration for this came after having sprayed the spinner gloss black and then watching the decal for the white spiral shrivel up like a piece of tin foil as the little stinker set. An e-mail to Maungaraki resulted in some photocopies of the Eagle Cal sheet which I used to make up a Tamiya tape mask to spray on the white spiral – thanks Steve!! At this point I thought that since that worked out well; why not spray on the rest of the markings….. So, using a combination of paper and Tamiya tape masks and stencils, I did just that. The only aggro I had was trying to position the stencils for the swastika on each side of the vertical fin – like wrastlin’ with an octopus.
The stencilling and maintenance markings were decals from an Aeromaster sheet and nearly all of the little sods silvered on me – not the first time I’ve had that problem with Aeromaster stencilling decals, I might add. Once completed, I unmasked the canopy and attached it to the fuselage and then ran the aerial wire from the fin cap to the top of the canopy. Pretty much the last parts to be added were the whip aerial under the rear fuselage (part K18) and the Morane antenna (part K16) under the left wing. Both of these parts had their aerial portions replaced with sprue.
This kit builds up into an impressive replica of one of WW2’s most charismatic fighters. Sure, there are faults with the kit – none are beyond correcting either with aftermarket resin or by a bit of the old “modelling skills required”. After all, the perfect model doesn’t exist – it would be rather boring if it did. The Fw190D-9 is a typical late war Luftwaffe fighter with a myriad of late war paint jobs (factory standard and field-applied mongrel) to choose from. If all the above seems a lot of hard work, well it’s not really and I have no hesitation in recommending this kit to anyone who wants to have a go.
Some useful references;
Squadron Signal Walk Around number 10 Fw190D
Aero Detail 2 Focke Wulf Fw190D
Model Art 8 Fw190D/Ta152H
Monogram Close Up 10 Fw190D
Eagle Cal sheet EC58 superb decals with top notch instructions and notes
 Geschwader Stab – Headquarters Flight of a fighter wing.
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