Saturday, 31 August 2013

new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A-8 in 1:72nd scale

As promised a quick look at my first new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A-8 in 1:72nd scale. This latest Airfix effort is quite neat, and along with the much more expensive Hasegawa kit is probably now the benchmark in this scale given that the Revell kit is showing its age. The one decal option is a JGr. 10 machine with snake or Schlange motif, while the 'gift set' boxing features 'brown 6' of II./ JG 26.

more pictures and some commentary on the build here

Friday, 30 August 2013

Herdla-based JG 5 Fw 190 "Annemarie" Uffz. Siegfried Ballerstädt

I recently received the following along with some images from a blog reader;

" I would like to ask  you some questions about a particular Fw 190 I am interested in. I am working on Fw 190 A-4 (maybe A-3) from  9. or 12./ JG 5 based in Herdla. This machine is "white 4 " 

The Herdla 190s receive their own text in the Brekken/Akra " Luftwaffe Fighters over the Far North" book although only one of these images appears there (pages 113-118).  " White 4" was apparently the aircraft assigned to Uffz. Siegfried Ballerstädt of 9. Staffel. (12. Staffel were assigned A-8s only) and like many of the Herdla-based Fw 190s was given the name of a wife or girlfriend, in this case  "Annemarie" ...

From the photos my correspondent has sent through he concludes that "Annemarie" would likely be an A-4. 

" The engine vents look like one from late A-4 and silhouette of headrest looks like one from late A-3/A-4."

On page 114 of their work Brekken/Akra state that "Annemarie" is an A-4 but on page 115 it is identified as an A-3. I suspect that this machine is an A-3 - note the little round bulge on the cowling, above the vents, which covered the  compressed air bottle valve that operated the upper cowl MGs, only seen on early Fw 190 fighters built by Arado (cf. page 109 'Jagdflugzeug 190' by Peter Rodeike). The picture above is also reproduced on page 160 of Vol IV (Band 4) of Erik Mombeek's history of Jagdgeschwader 5 "Eismeerjäger" and is dated March 1945.

Note the absence of MG-FF guns in the outer wing station. See Brekken/Akra page 112 who confirm that " all A-2/A-3s had their MG FFs removed". This leads to some questions regarding cockpit instrumentation and the lower wing cover/service panel  related to MG FF wing armament..did an A-3 without MG-FF guns have Zähl- und Verschlusskontrollkasten ZVK-FF instrument (Fl.47298-1)? Was that instrument only in use with MG-FF guns or it can it count rounds on other guns? What kind of service/cover panel was in use on A-3 without MG-FF? 

As for comments on the paint scheme and probable markings, "white 4" features the early national insignia (fuselage Balkenkreuz) that was still used on 2-to-3 year old Fw 190 A-2/A-3s assigned to JG 5. The standard 74/75/76 scheme here looks to be particularly dark, perhaps following an almost uniform application of RLM 74.

As usual, comments and corrections on any of the above gratefully received at falkeeins at

Friday, 16 August 2013

Jean Barby's Luftwaffe models - Luftwaffe blog 500th post !

A special feature for the 500th post of the Luftwaffe blog courtesy of the superlative modelling of Jean Barby. Regular visitors to the Luftwaffe blog will be familiar with this name as a couple of Jean's wonderful 1:48 scale Bf 109s appear elsewhere on this blog - for this post Jean has put together a fine 'gallery' featuring some more of his Luftwaffe models. Jean's work has been published in most major French aviation and modelling publications including 'Wingmasters' and 'Avions' and he is a regular on French modelling site Jean lives in the Oise region just north of Paris to where he retired after a long career in the airline industry serving with UTA and Air France. Aged 61 years old, Jean has been building aircraft models since he was seven and is known as a specialist on Italian colours and the French Aéronavale as well as the war in the Pacific. And his interest in all things Luftwaffe; well the consummate skill on evidence in this special photo gallery speaks for click on the images  to get in close.

 "Langnasen" - this model represents one of the first Dora- 9s constructed by Focke-Wulf Sorau, initially assigned to III/JG 54 and then ceded to JG 2. The base kit is from Tamiya with the resin correction set from MDC, the small main wheels replaced with Eduard items. The airframe has been 'riveted' and all markings are painted with masks.

Next, this is the venerable Dragon Ta 152 as depicted with the Stab JG 301 and flown by Willi Reschke. The WNr. and the 'Green 9' only are decals, the other markings were masked and painted..

Below, this Bf 110 G-4 in the markings of Wilhelm Johnen is the very nice Eduard kit, radar antenna are after-market items from Master except for the scratch-built FuG 202. The crew boarding ladder is also a scratch item.  All markings were masked and painted.

Below, this superlative Me 262 night fighter is the Tamiya 48th scale kit converted to a two seater with the CMK set. Radar antenna are again from Master while all markings are masked and painted! 

St.G 2 Ju 87 B as flown by  Major Walter Enneccerus for the raid on the British carrier "HMS Illustrious" en route for Malta; this precision strike even drew the grudging admiration of Admiral Cunningham! This is the Hasegawa kit with numerous detail additions. 

Georg Hamon's Bf 109 G6 of 8./JG 53, the so-called "cartoon Staffel" based at Scaccia, in mid July  1943

Monday, 5 August 2013

Classic 23 - Junkers Ju 88 volume 1 by William Medcalf - reviewed by Jukka Juutinen

Junkers Ju 88 volume 1 by William Medcalf - review by Jukka Juutinen

As my review will seemingly contain lots of apparently negative criticism, I must begin by saying that as a whole, this book gets 4 stars out of 5 and that if you have any interest in the Ju 88, do yourself a great favour and buy this book. I also have to mention that my primary interests concern engineering features, performance, handling, production engineering and combat experiences (e.g. how a particular feature fared in combat service) and thus may not reflect the interests of other readers.

Physically the hardcover book is of large format (about A4) produced in Bulgaria and has some 328 pages printed on excellent coated and glossy paper throughout allowing the copious amount of illustrations their due. This reviewer has sometimes in the past criticised Classic books’ layouts, but not here ; it is excellently readable without any excess areas of blank space.

The first impression when browsing through the book is that there are plenty of excellent and most helpful illustrations. Especially those drawings taken from various Junkers manuals offer a nearly complete view on the structure and systems layout of the aircraft. Unfortunately there is a major shortcoming here as most of the explanatory keys in the drawings are not translated, so a reader with zero knowledge of German does have a handicap, though sometimes one can deduct the meaning. Considering that the descriptions of the airframes and their systems are pretty much left to the keys alongside the drawings, this lack of a translation is a not insignificant shortcoming.

William Medcalf writes in a clear and quite impartial manner. Even a relative newcomer to the subject would find the text readable. However, given the author’s background as an experienced pilot and engineer, there are some oddities and gaps in the text which in my view leaves the work lacking somewhat.

First, there are many remarkable gaps in the text. For example, nowhere in the book could I could find data as to what the Ju 88’s wing’s profile was. There is some dimensional data in the drawings, but the text mentions only the aspect ratio, but nothing on the profile or wing thickness.

There is data on the structural strength of the Ju 88, but for some reason, Medcalf does not state at what weight the given figures are valid.

There is insufficient discussion on the engines. It is mentioned that crews preferred Jumo engined variants over BMW engines due to latter’s reliability issues, but this is not analyzed in detail. It is not even mentioned that the Jumo 211J was produced in two slightly different Baureihen (Construction series). It is mentioned that the Jumo 213 was a development of the Jumo 211 with many “innovative features”, yet no information on these features is forthcoming. In this respect Christoph Vernaleken’s Junkers Ju 388 book is much superior.. (continued below..)

 Two views via Jim Crow of Ju 188 D-2 WNr. 0541, flown to newly-liberated Luxembourg on 29 October 1944 and deliberately crash-landed by its defecting pilot. View above reproduced on page 315 of Medcalf's Junkers Ju 88 Vol 1 Schnellbomber, lower view of the same machine on the images for a full-screen view.

As is the case in many other books on German bombers, this book also suffers from a lack of engineering details on defensive weaponry. While there is a manual drawing of the upper turret of the Ju 188, there is no data on what kind of electric drive it had, what was its rotation and elevation rate, how thick was the armour etc.

There is insufficient discussion of flight testing and its results. For example, on page 28 it is stated that initial impressions were positive, but that’s it: there are no quotes from those reports, no detailed analysis of those results. On the same page the crash of the first prototype is reported but there is no data on why it crashed, let alone any detailed analysis of the crash.

There is one colour profile of a Ju 88 sent to the Soviet Union. The caption to the profile states it was evaluated in the USSR, but nowhere in the book is any data on the results of those tests to be found.There are two chapters dealing with comparisons to other aircraft performing similar missions. A superb idea, but lukewarm execution. There is surprisingly little analysis apart from a table comparing some basic data and data on the percentage of useful load to gross weight. What is more, for some reason that I fail to understand, the Ju 88 is not compared to the B-25, B-26, Ki-67 or the Do 217 but is compared with the A-26 and Yokosuka Ginga! Especially odd is the lack of comparison to the Do 217. These sections represent a lost opportunity.

There is thankfully a nice chapter on flying the Ju 88 (and 188/388). However, this was something of a disappointment as it so heavily relied on Allied reports and the Ju 88 manual. Again, not a single Luftwaffe or manufacturer test report quoted. Devoting one full page to what British test pilot Roland Beamont said about his flight in the Ju 88 is in my opinion padding.

On page 70 there is some discussion on the problems encountered in Finnish service. This sidebar is a bit of a puzzle. Medcalf speaks of reports recently surfacing that a Finnish engineer who examined Ju 88 wings concluded that the skin wrinkling must have been due to a design error. However, this claim has no source note, and the Finnish source quoted a bit later does not discuss the topic at all. There is a possibility that this reviewer’s posts year ago on a Luftwaffe board may have something to do with it. I based my comments on a Finnish book by Jukka Raunio, an aircraft engineer by profession. However, he did not examine a single Ju 88, so there might be a misinterpretation of what I wrote years ago. Now, since I got this new book, I contacted Mr. Raunio. He told me that his source for the structural problems, including permanent deformations of wing upper skin fields, were Finnish Air Force Technical Bulletins, many of which were direct translations of Luftwaffe Technical Bulletins. These bulletins are by default very reliable references. In other words, Medcalf’s theory of linking landing accidents* to those skin wrinkling problems rests upon speculation, not facts.

*Undercarriage weaknesses are mentioned in the book, but dear reader, you may guess as to whether these are analyzed properly…

So, in summary, I do have plenty of criticism on aspects of this study of the Ju 88 that many readers would possibly not consider particularly important. Even so I do recommend the book with these stated reservations - if you are not a gearhead, feel free to ignore a proportion of my comments. And if you are a gearhead, do buy the book, at least for those technical drawings!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Luftwaffe modelling - new tool Revell Bf 109 G-6 early and late versions in 1/32nd scale (04665) and new tool Airfix Fw 190 A-8 in 1:72nd scale

A little preview of what you get in the box for less than £20 (GBP) with this nice new tool Revell Bf  109 G-6 (early and late versions) in 1/32nd scale - the first thing that struck me on opening the box were all the rudders, both early and late, small and tall; there is even a Flettner-tabbed tall rudder that at first sight doesn't appear in the instructions as far as I can see - ah yes, probably Hauptmann Franz Dörr's machine, time to retrieve the Mombeeck JG 5 history from the shelf. By the way, see elsewhere on this blog my article "contending with torque" for a piece on tall-tailed Bf 109s.

Its a shame you can't do a G-6/AS straight from the box without a bit of work but no doubt this and other variants will be along soon enough or available with the help of the  after-market concerns..

Aside from a selection of 'poseable' rudder options, here's what is in the kit;

- alternative cockpit parts including different cannon breech covers and battery box option on the shelf behind the pilot's head
- both early framed and Erla Haube canopies with different windscreen versions
- long and short tail wheels and treaded and smooth tyres
- alternate starboard side engine cowls
- Morane mast and DF loop for late versions
- separate control surfaces
- two decal options, Kommandeur JG 5 Franz Dörr and Gkr. II./ JG 51 Karl Rammelt. BTW depicts Dörr's aircraft incorrectly as a G-14 and gives him 128 victories, instead of 122.

The cockpit comprises some 20 parts and includes the fuel line for the starboard cockpit wall as a transparent part so that the clear view cut-out - which the pilot used to detect the first air bubbles and thus the tank emptying - can simply be masked off for painting. Harness straps are moulded on the seat pan and rear bulkhead and look quite good.. 

Also noticeable are the upper wing bulges which are NOT stick-on parts but feature in situ on the inner wing panels. The forward fuselage is basically an empty frame into which various panels can be dropped - but I can't see how these will fall along 'natural' panel lines. The quality of the surface engraving is impressive. Various filler hatches NOT required for a G-6 will have to be filled, but at least these indicate that later variants are likely to follow eg  the filler hatch for the GM 1, nitrous oxide power boost system or the MW 50 methanol/water power boost system. MW 50 was not slated for use on the Bf 109 G-6 - in fact a Bf 109 G-6 with MW 50 was essentially a Bf 109 G-14.  GM 1 was used on some Bf 109 G-6 aircraft engaged in high altitude interception duties, though it is more usually associated with the pressurised versions of the G series.. The multi-part wheel wells will no doubt look very good too. Difficult to formulate any real criticisms without building the model, but I can see that the various cowl scoops are all solid and the split between the front and back of the spinner does not fall on a natural panel line so that will be a job to eliminate. The choice of decal subjects is not exactly stellar IMHO but that will hardly be a problem - there is a decal for the instrument panel too. Are the cowl bulges a little under-sized ? are the prop blades a little too 'fat' and not perfectly shaped? Possibly ...but difficult to tell really- certainly the Beulen certainly don't seem to be as 'bulbous' or bulge along the top of the fuselage as they should..

Given Revell's pricing policy this kit should do very well and no doubt we'll be taking a few weeks off here to build one or two - it certainly has the edge on the Hasegawa effort in this scale for detail in most areas, especially the cockpit, the undercarriage and general outline accuracy.

If you haven't seen it already then there is much more detail on this kit with an excellent write-up for modellers at the large scale planes forum

Lots of pictures here - plundered from a variety of sources...

Revell new tool G-6 in 1:32nd scale  - an unrivalled level of detail

Before we attack this kit, just time to put together the new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A-8 in 1:72nd scale - to be honest I have some difficulty raising much enthusiasm for a new-tool Fw 190 from Airfix (even though " FalkeEins -the Luftwaffe blog " was consulted by Airfix during the process of development and conception), after all their old one wasn't that bad even with its raised lines and lack of breech covers ( plus I have about 20 Revell, Hasegawa, Italeri and Academy Fw 190s on the shelf already in his scale ). This latest Airfix effort though appears to be very neatly done, is a bargain at £5.99 (GBP) and most importantly perhaps the canopy can be depicted open! And rudder pedals in an Airfix 1/72nd scale kit, must be a first. I've probably built my last Revell Fw 190 Anton in this scale then! There is a bulged canopy too but no late head armour to go with it. The one decal option is a JGr. 10 machine with snake or Schlange motif...
(click on the images to get in closer..)

more on Schlangenschwarm Fw 190s on this blog

Incidentally all (64) Luftwaffe-related modelling articles on this blog can be accessed together via this one link