Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
Bf 109E-1-5.JG77-Alfred Held
“Messerschmitt Bf 109 in action”, by Beaman and Campbell, is still a useful guide to the evolution and description of the different variants of the type, from the early prototypes to the final -G and -K models, though it isn't up-to-date with the substantial new knowledge that has come to light in the 30-odd years since it was published.
In Part 1 there is a narration of the first RAF losses to German home defence, which occurred on 4. September, when Fw. Held and Fw. Troitsch, flying Bf 109E-1's, claimed a Wellington each from a force attacking the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off Brunsbuettel. The German Press claimed that Held had shot down the first Wellington, but the commander of II.JG77 always believed that Troitsch made the first kill. It's tempting to think that a Held (hero) was given the unofficial honour because of his name – the banner headline looked better!
At the moment I'm rather into the dark early camo worn by 109's in the first few months of the War, and I decided that Held's “red 1” would be a good subject.
The Initial Image
This is a model of Karl Ebbighausen's E-1, from a kit and modeller both unknown to me. I only have one photo of the model, but it's a good one, and in a good pose. My archive only contains photos of one build of Held's aircraft, and none of the photos are useable on account of excessive perspective. I'll just have to replace all the markings on this one to get the Held version, but the bonus is that I'll get a good image of this “white 1” along the way.
Treatment of the Image
Most of the work was about improving the internal details of the airframe, and the excellent quality of the model image was very helpful in that work.
I found that the finish of the model was rather too matt to get a pleasing end result, so I spent some time putting in highlighting on the fuselage and wings, including local highlights on details such as the spinner, exhausts, supercharger housing etc. As part of this work, I lightened the upper sides of the wings and tailplane, giving an extra lightening on the remote, starboard wing, which is more directed toward the viewer because of the dihedral. The effect of the highlighting work was to remove the somewhat leaden appearance of the model.
I haven’t made a final version of the resulting Ebbighausen image, but I may do that in future. All that's needed is to paste it onto a backing.
Once all the above steps were completed, It needed only a few hours work to swap the markings, plus a little more to convert the fuselage Balkenkreuz to the more modern type with wider white edging.
When I go for a seascape as backing, I have an instinct to use a smaller primary image than usual, and I completed the image by adding a Wellington in serious trouble.
I thought the Emil looked better than I expected when I did the pasting, so I'm rather pleased with the result.
Before I fixed on the background image that I finally chose, I had been keen to use another one, which was an aerial view of the island of Wangerooge, which lies just a few miles off the North Sea coast of Germany. Co-incidentally, the squadron/signal publication that I mentioned above had a photograph of Held's E-1 flying over the island on a patrol, but my picture ended up in my archive for a different reason; I had searched for aerial views for the image of a Meteor NF11 that was based at Ahlhorn in the 1950's, and I ended up not using it, because I couldn't get a composition that looked right (The backing I did use is seen in my MM article of May 2016).
The same thing happened this time.