Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson

 

Bf 109G-6-8.JG300-Gabler

Introduction

Intercepting high-flying Mosquitos was not easy, and Luftwaffe fighter units tried various methods of squeezing more performance out of their fighter aircraft to catch them.

The problem was that, at the time when the Allied air offensive over Germany was increasing dramatically in intensity, the Luftwaffe introduced the G-6 Gustav, which was the first variant to be slower than its predecessor, the G-4. This was because the armament of the earlier models was not heavy enough for bringing down “Viermots”, so the G-6 sacrificed a little speed to get more firepower – the famous “Beulen”, or bulges, were introduced to cover the bulkier MG 131's, so the aircraft was carrying an extra drag penalty as well as the extra weight of these much more potent MG's.

Therewith arose the myth that the G-6 marked the watershed after which the 109 was definitively outclassed by the Allies' Mustangs, Thunderbolts and Spitfires. Fernandez-Sommerau, Mombeek and van Mol, addressing this in their “Bf 109 Recognition Manual”, point out that the real cause of the decline was that, by the time the G-6 was replaced by the G-10 and K-4 variants, supplies of fuel, especially the 100 octane stuff that the excellent new DB 605 D of these new variants needed, had dwindled catastrophically. In other words, the Bf 109 was never really outclassed as such, it was just operating in a totally chaotic logistic environment.

One way to get a bit more speed was to polish the surfaces of the aircraft, and some units took this to the extreme of buffing off almost all the camo paint, to give an appearance that is basically like a nat.met. finish. JG300 tried this on some of their G-6's, the best-known of which is Kurt Gabler of 8.JG300's “red 8”.

The Initial Image

Recently this unusual G-6 has become very popular with modellers, and it's not difficult to find reviews of Gabler's G-6. This particular one is a review I found some time ago, and in the meantime I've lost my reference grab, that tells me about the site, the kit and the modeller's name – all I know is that his initials are “cs”.

This is another modestly-sized download, only 700 pixels wide, but extending it to encompass the tips of the port wing and starboard tailplane yields a starting image about 1000 pixels wide, so definition is quite good. Depth of field is also satisfactory.

Treatment of the Image

The canopy, which is of the Erla Vollsichthaube type, is already closed, so the flying surface extensions are the only tricky selection problems.

There is some variation in the colour and texture of the skin panels, and I used a profile by the reliable Claes Sundin to get closer to the authentic appearance. We know that the buffing off of the paint finish was far from total, but I found nothing to indicate exactly where the remnant paint was, so I didn't try and guess it. However, there is a feeling that the removal of paint had left quite a matt surface, and this model is a bit too shiny to portray that properly. So I put a very fine wash of a neutral grey colour over all the metal surfaces, to tone down the shiny effect.

I placed the airframe on a high-altitude background and added a recon Mosquito, which I got from a photo of a flying model, in my terminology called an FF model. It's an early mark aircraft, probably a PR.4.

Conclusions

Although it was intended as a Moskitotöter, we know from the records that Gabler only ever caught one of them himself, so maybe the sanding-down operation didn't add enough mph to cope with this fast intruder.

Otherwise he had a pretty impressive score. In the period from mid-March 1944 until late September, he scored 17 Abschüsse, of which 11 were Viermots. In September 1944 he was wounded in action, and his convalescence was such that he saw no further action in the 7 months until the end of the war.

I'm no expert in these matters, but the tally-board on his aircraft's rudder clearly shows what look like RAF roundels for all his kills (the last two have not been fully painted in yet). It's obvious that all his kills were in fact USAAF aircraft, apart from the Mosquito. Maybe the Luftwaffe guys considered them all to be “Englische Hunde”.