airfield protection flight for JV 44's Me 262's is one of the most colourful units to see service with the Luftwaffe. Painted with red and white striped bellies to aid recognition for flak gunners (and the Me 262's they were tasked with protecting), the group of five Fw 190s has long been a favourite subject for modellers. The unit has been known by many titles, including the flamboyant Papageienstaffel
(parrots squadron), but this doesn't seem to have been used at the time. Perhaps the nickname comes from one of the unit's radio callsigns Papagei
, but the callsign Elefant
(elephant) was also used - which somehow doesn't have quite the same ring to it!
Each aircraft famously carried a prominent slogan under the cockpit. Four of them, along with their pilots are well documented:
Fw 190D-9, Red 1, flown by Lt. Heinz Sachsenburg - Verkaaft's mei Gwand, 'I foahr in Himmel!
(Sell my clothes I'm going to heaven!)
Fw 190D-9, Red 3, flown by Hptm. Waldemar Wübke - Im Auftrage der Reichsbahn
(By order of the State Railway)
Fw 190D-11, Red 4, flown by Lt. Karl-Heinz Hoffman - Der nächste Mann dieselbe Dame!
(The next man the same woman!)
Fw 190D-9, Red 13, flown by Oblt. Kaus Faber - „Rein muß er" und wenn wir beide weinen!
(In he goes even if both of us will cry!)
A fifth pilot, Fwl. Bodo Dirschauer, has been associated with the unit, and he has mentioned the slogan Rein mit Sach und Flöte
(Bang in with bag and whistle). Frustratingly, no photo has been found showing the slogan for the fifth aircraft, Red 2, so perhaps that's the missing one.
In kit form
When Eduard released their Fw 190D-9 earlier this year, I was surprised and a little disappointed not to find JV44's Platzschutzstaffel
as one of the decal options. The reason for its omission is now clear - Eduard had something more ambitious planned, combining both the 'D-9 and their later 'D-11 in one package with decals for all of the unit's aircraft.
The Dual Combo arrives in a very attractive box crammed almost to bursting with sprues. It contains parts for one each of the Fw 190D-9 and 'D-11, plus a bonus 1:144 Me 262. In fact, I'd have to say I think Eduard have tried to force too much into one of their standard-sized packages, because the fuselage for the sample 'D-11 was bent in transit by the pressure of the surrounding sprues. Nevertheless, the sheer number of parts can't fail to impress, and the overall packaging is very good. There are no less than 12 sprues for the Fw 190s, most of them doubled-up in pairs as the two aircraft obviously share many of the same parts:
128 x olive styrene parts
6 x clear styrene parts
57 x etched parts
130 x olive styrene parts
6 x clear styrene parts
57 x etched parts
34 x olive styrene parts
1 x clear part
A large decals sheet is shared between all the kits, with 5 x colour schemes for the '190s, and a single scheme for the Me 262.
With Eduard's original Dora less than a year old (reviewed by Jean-Luc HERE
), the moulding is as crisp and flash-free as you'd expect. Surface detail comprises engraved panel lines, with quite delicate embossed riveting in places. As the standard kits have been well covered on Aeroscale, I won't go over too much old ground here.
The 'D-9 has a few points that I think are worth paying attention to - principally the shape of the propeller blades and the area between the wheel wells. Both modifications are quite straightforward, as I outlined along with other things to watch out for during assembly, when I built the kit as my half of our Fw 190D-9 Review-Build
This is my first opportunity to examine Eduard's 'D-11. I always like the way Eduard mould the main components for new versions from scratch (rather than over-engineer their kits to allow multiple alternative parts which seldom fit seamlessly the way many other manufacturers do), so I'm a little disappointed they haven't taken the opportunity to include a more appropriate late-style drop tank along with the rest of the new parts.
The revised wing sprue was designed for the Fw 190D-11/13 Dual Combo. As Jean-Luc found when he reviewed that kit HERE
, the area under the wing between the wheel wells seems destined to be a bit of a bugbear with Eduard's Fw 190D range because the single, larger, spent shell port for the engine-mounted cannon is missing. Although the 'D-11 wasn't fitted with the cannon, drawing's in Jerry Crandall's definitive book on the aircraft still show the port, but this is a quick and easy fix to make if you desire.
I have to say I'm still not totally convinced by the propeller. Although the designers have modelled the broad paddle blades for the VS-9, once again the roots of the blades don't look quite right to me (the contour here is different to the 'D-9's prop, but the "fix" on the model is essentially the same). Eduard's VS-9 is designed to double for both the 'D-11 and 'D-13 , but in fact the blades were slightly different on each version. Those on the 'D-11's propeller featured slightly "clipped" tips - that's easily replicated with a quick swipe with a sanding stick.
Both the 'D-9 and 'D-11 make us of a comprehensive set of etched components on a single shared fret. The instrument panels, consoles and seat harnesses are beautifully pre-painted with the kind of petite detail that's nigh on impossible to produce by other means. Eduard already led the market with this technology, but their latest sets that I've seen actually seem even better than previously, with more opaque colours (particularly the yellow, where it's printed/painted over a dark background colour). I don't know what Eduard have changed (if anything), but I certainly approve of the results!
The Me 262
The 1:144 Me 262 is a very nicely produced kit. It's been around for a few years now, but the moulding is still pin-sharp and and the parts are very nicely detailed for this scale, with delicate engraved panel lines. It's cleverly designed too - the way the nosewheel well halves serve as weight to prevent it being a tail-sitter is very neat.
But I do wonder how much of a "bonus" the Me 262 represents for most quarterscale modellers. True, it can be justified as the raison d'être
for JV44's Protection Flight, but I can't help help feeling that many modellers would have preferred to see some of Eduard's Fw 190D aftermarket etched details, or perhaps a set of 1:48 Luftwaffe figures included instead. Just in terms of cost, the Me 262 can hardly be seen as a "bonus", because the Dual Combo is more than twice the price of a pair of individual Fw 190D-9s (the 'D-11 isn't available singly (yet)) - so you do pay for it, whether or not it's any use to you. And, of course, it could be that trying to squeeze in the Me 262 sprue was "the straw that broke the camel's back" and bent the fuselage of the 'D-11 in my kit...
Instructions & Decals
As usual with Eduard's major kits, the instructions are beautifully presented. The assembly diagrams are clearly drawn and laid out, shaded in colour to show where parts fit or should be modified to allow for different options. Colour details are provided at each stage, with Gunze Sangyo paint numbers keyed to the diagrams.
A half-page section shows how to apply the painting masks that are provided for the canopy, wheels and wing gun-bays, and finally a detailed diagram gives the positions of the comprehensive set of maintenance stencils included with the decals.
These decals are custom printed by Cartograf to their usual impeccable standard. A single large sheet contains all the items for the Fw 190s and the little Me 262. Markings are provided for all 5 of the Protection Flight Dora's - well, call that 4½ because the slogan for Red 2 isn't confirmed, so you can't really complete the scheme with any certainty. Decals are included for the Me 262 as JV 44's "White 5".
The aircraft are illustrated in full colour with a high quality set of profiles and plan views. It's worth double-checking references though - for instance, I noticed that Eduard show RLM RLM 82/83 camouflage on the wings for all the schemes, whereas a colour photo of Red 1 shows clear signs of RLM 74/75.
Eduard's JV44 Protection Flight Dual Combo is a very fine kit. Whether you consider it a great kit largely depends on how useful the 1:144 Me 262 is to you. Regardless of that, the pair of Doras will make for a really satisfying build and, as far as I know, this is the first time a mainstream kit has been released with options for all the unit's aircraft in a single boxing, so Luftwaffe enthusiasts should love it. Recommended.
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