Kit: Tamiya 1/48 FW-190D-9
Kit Number: 61041
Decals: three versions: 4/JG 301 (Blue 15), Stab/JG 4, 10/JG 54 (Black 12)
Conversion: Ta-152 tail by Kommandeur Decals
Date of Review: 21 January 1999
Review and Photos by: Scott Van Aken
No real need to go into the history of the Fw-190D-9 again, other than to say that it was one of Germany's best late war fighters and though not built in huge numbers was modified a great number of times and has some of the more interesting paint schemes applied to any late war aircraft. This particular variant had the broader tail of the Ta-152; one of three 190D-9s documented as having such a modification. What was more interesting to me, was the number of different colors applied to the aircraft. Since aircraft part production had been dispersed to all parts of Hitler's dwindling empire, and the parts were prepainted, all the parts were not painted exactly the same, and in some cases, not painted at all. They were all brought together at an assembly point were the aircraft was assembled, test flown, and then hurried off into combat.
Conversions generally mean hacking away at some part of the aircraft. In this case, the tail. The new tail fits along a mold line, which is helpful. It is also wider than the kit tail, which is not. First step was to remove the old tail and clean up the join. Next the resin block was cut from the resin tail and it was cleaned up. I then cut away some material on the inside of the fuselage until the exterior surface of the tail and fuselage were flush. This left a small gap in the upper and lower fuselage halves. Concurrent with the tail mods, I decided to install a Hawkeye designs resin interior set. An excellent set that includes not only the interior bits, but sufficient instrument panels and consoles to do any Fw-190. What you don't use can be used on another kit. No kit interior parts are used. However, you must cut off all the attachment points in the fuselage. In addition, you must carve away the inside of the glare shield so the instrument panel can fit. This took me a while, but was finally accomplished. Once all that was hacked and filed away, the fuselage interior was painted RLM 66 dark grey.
Next the nose section was glued together. Once dry, the resin tail and fuselage were glued together using superglue. When dry, the gaps in the fuselage were filled with superglue and an accelerator was used to allow it to dry quickly. The area was then sanded down. During this operation, I noticed that the tail had corners that were more square than the fuselage and those areas were also sanded down to match. A final putty job was used to smooth things out and then the panel lines were rescribed.
On to the interior. First, the proper consoles were installed, then the rudder pedals and control stick. Next the proper instrument panels were chosen and they, along with the seat, were attached to a piece of stiff paper with white glue. When dry, those components and the interior were painted RLM 66 Dark Grey. The interior was then drybrushed with light grey and the panels given some detail work with different colored paints and washes. Next the lower instrument panel was glued to the interior. The upper panel was glued on with white glue and while still pliant, the interior was temporarily installed in the fuselage to get a good fit. Once that was done, the upper instrument panel was held in place with superglue. The throttle was attached to the left console and painted, and the canopy crank attached to the fuselage interior and painted. During this whole process, which took several days, each step was carefully dry fitted before gluing. Meanwhile, the wings were glued together as per kit instructions.
The interior was then glued in using superglue. A rather good fit. The wings were glued to the fuselage and any gaps and such were smoothed out with filler. The guns were removed to be replaced with tubing. For some reason, all my kits need filler, and this one was no exception. Must be me :( The tailplanes were next. It was obvious when I tried to attach them that the resin tail was not made for the Tamiya kit. I would hazard a guess that it was originally molded from the DML/Trimaster kit. The tailplane roots on the tail were way too small in both chord and length for the Tamiya tailplanes. Ah well. It was time for the superglue and putty.
Once that was done, it was time to start painting the airframe. It was here that I ran into my first quandry. The Kommandeur decal sheet and an illustration in the book 'Green Hearts: First in Combat with the Dora 9' of the aircraft I was doing, Brown 4, were not in complete agreement on underside color. The Green Hearts illustration had the entire underside (except wings) in a green-grey similar to sky and sometimes called RLM 84, though no documentation has been found confirming this color. The Kommandeur sheet had the nose and tail in RLM 76 and the rest of the airframe underside (except the wings) in the green-grey color. The only photo of the plane is a bit inconclusive as it shows a wreck minus nose cowling, though the tail does appear brighter than the fuselage.
Well, I decided to go with the Kommandeur sheet as it was much more colorful. In fact, it uses no less than seven different RLM shades plus bare metal, black ,and white. My idea of an interesting paint scheme! Aeromaster enamels were used for all the paints, except the bare metal and went on beautifully. In a scheme that needed this much masking, it was possible to add some bits and pieces during the many stops. It was during this time that the windscreen and gunsight were added, and the canopy assembled and tacked on with Elmer's glue. Also at this time, the landing gear was painted RLM 02 grey, and the True Details wheels were cut from their blocks, painted, and drilled out to fit the Tamiya struts.
As you can imagine this scheme took lots of masking to prevent major overspray problems. There was only mottling on the tail so those of you who shy away from that will like this scheme. Once the paint was dry, the landing gear was installed. When it was able to stand on its own legs, the airframe was sprayed with Future in preparation for the decals. I used Kommandeur's sheet 4701 for late war Fw-190s. Kommandeur supply all the major markings plus a set of stencils for one aircraft. I used the Tamiya kit for what few stencils were used. Kommandeur decals are superb and very thin. I have used them before and really like them. This set gave me some problems. One was due to the thinness as I managed to get one folded on itself and no amount of fussing or floating in water would undo it. No problem as it was with a number and three different ones are provided. I also had one of the underwing crosses break into several pieces, the first time I have run across this. It may be due to the low humidity. Anyway, I used a cross from Black 3, one of the other aircraft on the sheet. It proved to be a bit smaller than that of Brown 4, but you probably wouldn't notice it. All the decals reacted well to Champ setting solution, which was applied one the decals had had a few minutes to settle down.
Once they were dry, the airframe was wiped down with a damp cloth to remove any decal residue. At this time, the underwing antenna, which had red warning stripes applied to it, as well as the df loop and boarding step were added to the kit. It was then sprayed with a flattening agent. Now I know that some of you will be saying "Well hey, didn't these guys wax their aircraft for greater speed?". According to what I have read in 'Green Hearts', waxing the aircraft only added a couple of kph to the speed and made it easier to see because of the glint of light on it. It was also time consuming so by very late 1944, this practice was abandon.
Once the aircraft was good and flat, I accentuated the panel lines with pastels, then paid attention to the exhaust and gun soot, also using pastels. It was during this time that I had an accident with a bottle of black paint and had to redo the rear fuselage of the aircraft. What a pain!! Needless to say, I had almost thought of putting the whole thing into a box and forgetting it, but since it was basically done, I got out the paints and redid the scheme. Once that was completed, the last thing to do was to add the radio antenna. This was done using monofilament thread in an attempt to get the proper sag in it as 190Ds with the 'blown' hood did not have the mechanism installed to keep the long wire taut. Unfortunately, it doesn't sag as well as I had hoped so will be replaced with thin wire.
A long saga was over. The final result is quite pleasing to the eye, especially with all the different colors used. Looking back, were I to do this modification again, I would use the DML kit for which the resin tail was designed.
Scott Van Aken
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