Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
Fw 190D-9 9.JG54-SinzHermann
In recent years a considerable number of new-build Fw 190A's have appeared on the air-show circuit, which means we now have plenty of photographs of these aircraft.
The Fw 190 appeared on the Channel Front in the Spring of 1941, and it caused the RAF great consternation, as it outperformed the latest British fighters, including the Spitfire 5. It took about a year before an interim solution, the Spitfire 9, came on stream to re-establish the balance in capability. The Mk.9 Spitfire, interim or no, was built in large numbers, and was still holding its own until mid 1944, when the Spitfire 14 started to join the fighter squadrons, complementing the Mk.9 in the most challenging theatres and roles.
The Fw 190 also provided good service until the end of the war, specifically as a bomber interceptor and ground attack aircraft. It's radial engine lost some performance at high altitudes, so Bf 109G and K aircraft were used as top cover, and to attack high-flying bomber streams.
These Messerschmitt aircraft were really too small for the role, noticeably smaller than the Spitfire and the Fw 190. They were like the F-16's of their day, and, like the F-16, they coped pretty well within their limits.
The Luftwaffe needed a beefier fighter with an in-line engine, to obviate the limitations of radial motors at higher altitudes. All of a sudden, around the middle of 1944, the RLM gave the go-ahead for the Jumo 213 to be used for an in-line variant, and the Fw 190D-9 was the first production version.
The airframe of the D-9 was adapted for the Jumo engine by three simple changes. The engine bay ahead of the firewall was redesigned for the longer in-line engine; the rear fuselage was lengthened by a 50cm insertion ahead of the tailplane bulkhead; and the fin area was increased by inserting a 10cm. wide panel at the rear of the fixed tailplane. I've already adapted photos of quite a few new-build Fw 190's to produce pictures of Doras.
The Initial Image
This is a typical air-show shot of one of around a dozen new-build aircraft that are now airworthy. It's a very sharp image, with almost no perspective recession. The plane is seen at an angle close to an elevation, which makes the proportioning of the new parts I will be adding, especially the engine nacelle, easier than usual.
Treatment of the Image
I started by selecting the whole tail unit and copying it to an auxiliary file. Then I constructed the 50cm. insert and pasted the tail unit directly behind it. Next, I selected the rudder to an auxiliary file and made the 10cm. insert, again pasting the rudder back in behind it.
The new engine nacelle is trickier. There's a lot of new detail in it, including a bank of exhausts and the set of cooling vanes behind the radiator. I was careful to make the appearance of this new portion consistent with the rest of the airframe. The new structure was now complete.
The revision of the camo was done as much as possible by colour-shifting, so that the original skin texture is retained. I wanted to portray one of the early D-9's, and chose W.Nr. 210013, only ten airframes behind the famous 210003, which was flown by Hans Dortenmann. Its camo is therefore typical of early Fw-built aircraft as shown in the profile at p.90 of DLP part1, without the rather fussy mottling on the rear fuselage shown at p.91. Note that the fuselage Balkenkreuz is of the earlier standard with a black core and white framing, which was replaced after W.Nr. 210015 by a simple black framing cross. Dortenmann's aircraft also had this type of cross, which was retained after the extensive re-paint that it underwent in February 1945.
We know quite a lot about this aircraft. It was assigned to 9.JG54, and was flown by Fw Hermann Sinz, who was WIA when he had to make a forced landing on 24.February 1945 at Ahlhorn due to combat damage; the aircraft overturned and suffered 25% damage. It is also mentioned twice in earlier technical failure reports – typical for a new aircraft type in the earliest part of its service life. The problems of the Dora were relatively few compared to those of the Fw 190A after its introduction in 1941.