Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
It' not easy to find information on Willi Trabert on the internet. The best I could find was a brief biography on a German-language site - www.jg300.de
For non German speakers, I've taken the liberty of preparing the following English-language version:-
To this day we still know very little about Ltn. Willi Trabert. In 1944 he was the Staffelkapitaen of 9.JG300.
As a result of the re-structuring of Staffeln and Gruppen to four units each, in the third quarter of 1944, implementation of the new system of Staffel and individual aircraft number colours led to an unholy mix-up – some senior officers retaining their previous numbers and colours for some time. Thus we still can't safely identify these features with certainty.
Ltn. Trabert mostly flew a Bf 109G-14AS, “Red 3” (or possibly “Green 3”). Unfortunately we don't know the Werknummer of this aircraft, since the pilot's logbook has not been found. Likewise, we have only incomplete confirmation of his aerial victories.
My information is that Trabert was shot down on 7.July 1944 at about 10:30 (location Sangerhausen?), but parachuted to safety with injuries. At that time he is thought to have been flying a Bf 109G-6 (W.Nr.163069, “Red 1”). He survived the War and died in the late 1980's.
I also found an exchange of information on Trabert on a discussion forum. Aggregating the victories from these references, I get 2 victories in March 1944, both over heavy bombers, and both scored between 11pm and Midnight, presumably when he was using the G-14, and 2 victories over P-51 Mustangs, in July and October 1944 – at least one of these was scored using the G-6.
The Initial Image
Hasegawa used an artwork of this G-14 on the boxing of one of its models, and that is perhaps why it is a popular subject with modellers; I could choose between four or five different builds. This photograph of a model at 1:32 scale offered me the chance to enhance the pixel-count of my starting image considerably, by widening the frame both left and right to allow the port wing and the starboard tailplane to be included.
Focus is reasonably good over the visible airframe, and the lighting is acceptable, except on the rearmost part of the fuselage and the fin. Unusually, the canopy is already closed, so I'll have no hassles there, but the setting of the elevators will give a problem. The reconstruction of the port wing is not difficult.
Last but not least, there's a lot of recession in this image, and I'll alleviate that by making the final airframe image pretty large within the background frame.
Treatment of the Image
I was surprised how much the rear fuselage needed to be lightened, and several zaps of the lightening slider were needed to get it looking right.
The extension of the port wing went as smoothly as I anticipated, but two unexpected problems arose. Firstly, I established the orientation of the pitot head by geometry, allowing for the progressive fanning out of the wing chord toward the wing-tip; but when I then inserted the pitot in relation to the local chord, it looked wrong, and I had to re-select it pointing further to the left. The other problem was the Morane aerial underneath the wing. It can't be seen on the photo, so I decided it must lie just outside the frame. I solved that one by “informed intuition”!
No other snags arose, but I changed the fuselage camo somewhat in the area around the “green 3”. There is a profile of this G-14 that appears in the German-language site I refer to above, and it shows a large area of a dark colour enveloping the number. The same site carries a series of six photographs of Trabert's plane, and my study of these photos led me to agree that the dark area is right. I wasn't convinced that the dark patch was as big or as dark as the profile shows it, and I merely extended the darker top-side camo so that the number is enclosed.
Looking at the final image, I think I can see another reason why this is a popular subject for modellers – it's a smart-looking Gustav, this one!