Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
When WW II ended, the Bf 109 continued in production, notably in Czechoslovakia and in Spain. Stocks of the DB 605 engines were limited, so both countries needed to adapt the airframe to carry an alternative power plant, a Jumo 211F in the Czech case, and the Merlin in Spanish aircraft. The Jumo apparently gave the aircraft very poor handling, and it was soon relegated to support duties by its main user, the fledgling Israeli Air Force.
The Merlin-powered Spanish version was more satisfactory, and under the designation HA-1112-M1L, it was in service until 1967. On its retirement, a number were bought for use in the aerial sequences in the film “The Battle of Britain”. After filming, these aircraft eventually ended up in various collections.
The Initial Image
This is one of the survivors. It was presumably restored by the Aircraft Restoration Co. at Duxford, and at the time of the photograph was still in flying condition. The photo carries their logo, and also the copyright marking of Darren Harbar Photography.
Since it's a photograph of the real thing, we're dealing with a shot taken with a powerful tele lens. The daylight is bright, so the iris isn't too open, which means we have good definition and depth of field. A common bugbear with these shots is the “contre jour” effect, but this image is free of that – the sun is behind the camera. So it's an ideal picture for my purpose – converting the Buchon to Bf 109G-2 standard.
Treatment of the image
The whole engine module needed to be re-shaped, with the engine axis lower, and the exhaust bank lower still. Lots of trial and error was needed. I salvaged two components from the original; my spinner is a copy of the original pointy one, made a bit more plump, resized, and pasted back in on the new engine axis; the exhaust bank was also resized and relocated.
I think the re-paint of the Buchon was intended to suggest the G-2 flown by Werner Schroer of 8.JG27. It has the same red rudder, the white theatre band, the red “Welle”, and the red “1” outlined in black.
The only deviation from the consensus view of Schroer's machine is the retention of “northern theatre” camo. I selected the upper fuselage area and split it into two zones. One zone was colour-shifted to get “sand yellow” (a 50% shift towards yellow plus a 50% shift towards red – both big shifts!); the other zone was given a shift towards green, a small shift was enough. My references for the resultant pattern was the Eduard 3-view, and also Ian Robertson's lovely model – I compromised between their interpretations, Eduard showing more sand yellow than Robertson.
I added Schroer's tally bars to the rudder, made the theatre band a bit wider at its forward edge, and moved the Balkenkreuz forward a little, all according to Eduard. Likewise, the “red 1” is usually shown as being in the area between frames 3 and 4, so it shouldn't be visible in this view – a pity, but I decided that authenticity should prevail.
I pasted the revised airframe onto a more decorative backing. I often try out a number of alternative backings, but on this occasion this first choice seemed satisfactory enough.
Schroer's G-2 has been very popular with modellers recently, deservedly, because it's an attractive, colourful machine. I'm rather familiar with it, having done two model-derived images in the last few months.
As always, I'm much indebted to the author of my original downloaded image. Darren Harbar has a useful website at www.darrenharbar.co.uk, which has galleries covering a number of topics.