Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
The final year of the Luftwaffe was marked by an increasingly desperate struggle to deal with the assaults of the Allies in East and West, and with the serious shortages of fuel and trained aircrews. It was a struggle that the Luftwaffe had no hope of winning; they could only carry on doggedly trying to limit the successes of their enemies. It's often maintained that this fatalistic attitude was an expression of Nazi fanaticism, forgetting that the Allies had declared that they would accept only total capitulation by Germany.
The D-Day landings were a watershed. For the first month the Germans succeeded in holding the invading forces within a narrow coastal strip between the Cherbourg peninsula and the Seine estuary; the terrain favoured an intelligent defence, with many small fields bordered by dense hedges (“Bocage”), but in July the Americans broke out southwards and westwards. Once under way and in more open terrain, their advance was rapid.
Luftwaffe units in north-west France had to re-locate in a hurry, and JG3 inherited some of the aircraft that got left behind.
The Initial Image
This is one of a set of 17 photos of a model by Aaron Long, built from the Eduard 1:48 kit, that I found a review of on line. Because of the green RV band on the rear fuselage, I tagged it as a JG27 machine at first, and moved the pictures to my JG27 folder. Some time later I decided to work one of the images – I chose this one and got started.
Sudden surprise! On the cowling is a JG3 emblem! I went back to the article and noticed a reference to a profile by Anders Hjortsberg. Given his reputation for reliability, I knew that this was no careless mistake. I ploughed through the comments section, and at last found an entry from Anders himself. This was one of the planes that JG3 acquired as JG27 was baling out from the chaos that succeeded the Allied breakout.
The model photos are good; this one is 1000 pix wide, and has good definition overall. The canopy is closed, and, apart from the flap and rad vane settings, it is easy to get an image of the aircraft in flight.
Treatment of the image
Regarding the wing's articulated surfaces, I treated the model's upper vane as my lower vane. This allowed me to zero the flap, and then simply add a new upper vane so that the flap now lay half-way between the two cooling vanes. In my final image, the pilot will be trying to stop his engine overheating, and is able to accept the speed loss.
I did quite a lot of work on the internal details to get my final image sharper, but the clarity of the original was such that guesswork wasn't needed, even on the extreme nose section.
The background I chose might be taken as a view from the French coast looking towards England, shrouded as usual in cloud. In fact, it's a view of Lake Michigan!
I added a P-47 out in front of the Gustav. It's rather colourfully marked, quite similar to one that Tom Cleaver presented here fairly recently. Though I didn't show any signs of damage to the Thunderbolt, something must be wrong with it, or it would be expected to out-run the Gustav.
This Bf 109G-6 is interesting in that it has the tall fin, but without the rather unsightly tabs that poke out from the rudder outline on G-10 aircraft. I haven't done one of these fins before. The rudder also doesn't have the sharp heel that later types had.
Judging from the odd diagonal spraying of top colour on the flanks, this may be a Regensburg-built aircraft. The upper camo should have an area of the darker RLM74 around the cockpit, with a noticeable scalloped boundary. I don't see the scallop pattern here, but I still think it's from the Regensburg line.