Spanish Messerschmitts and their colors

This blog post is part of my research that I always do in preparation to build a scale model. The current model project is sort of a continuation of my Grand Messerschmitt Project.

Spanish aircraft manufacturer Hispano Aviación built a version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G that eventually was powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, called HA-1112 Buchón. Yep, more or less the same engine that was used in the Spitfire and the P-51 Mustang. The history of the Spanish Messerschmitts is long and troubled, mostly because of the engine choices and engine availability. It was not until well into the 1950s that the Spanish Air Force was able to use these aircraft; they served until the mid-1960s.

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So what’s a “Cornell” anyway…?

The recently formed Commemorative Air Force New England Wing just received its first aircraft, a Fairchild PT-23. The aircraft arrived at its new home, the Hampton Airfield (7B3) in NH, yesterday afternoon, after being diverted to KMHT on Friday.

A fly-by for the awaiting crowd before landing.

Some people refer to this aircraft as “Cornell”, so let’s figure out why.

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First completed Arado

The first model from the “Grand Arado project of 2022” has now been completed! It is an Arado Ar 96B-7, built from the old Heller 1/72nd scale kit. The model depicts a captured aircraft marked “AIR MIN 120” serving with the No.435 DSRU of RAF in Germany in December 1945. The history of the aircraft is documented in the book “War Prizes” (p.120; see our previous blog post for a list of reference sources) as well as Mark I Publications’ book “Arado Ar 96 colours & markings”.

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New model projects: Arado

After the successful completion of my “Grand Messerschmitt project” I thought about starting another project where I build several models in parallel. For a long time I have really wanted to build the Arado Ar 196 -floatplane, an iconic representative of German maritime aircraft from World War 2. My “stash” of unbuilt kits yielded plenty of raw material for a project, and so I have decided to build the following:

  • Arado Ar 196A-2 on loan from Luftwaffe to the Finnish Air Force, sometime in 1943.
  • Arado Ar 196 V3 prototype; this will be a conversion from a twin-float to a single-float configuration.
  • Arado Ar 96B-7 captured by the RAF and used after the war a “unit hack”.
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Grand Messerschmitt project: Conclusion

I am happy to declare that the “Grand Messerschmitt project of 2021” is finally finished, with the completion of the fifth and final model a few days ago. The idea of the project was to study whether models could be built “assembly line” style, taking advantage of the economies of scale. The results are generally positive, the project was a success, but I learned a number of things too.

First, I think building five models is too many. I think the sweet spot is probably three. And second, to really take advantage of this approach, all the kits should be the same. I used three FineMolds’ kits, one Premium Hobbies’ (ex-Academy) kit, and one Airfix kit (of a completely different variant of the Bf 109, also not a good idea). One idea I have for doing this again is to take three Hasegawa Brewster Buffalo kits and build them all as aircraft of the Finnish Air Force, then there will be sufficient similarities to yield benefits. Nevertheless, in this project I was able to take advantage of painting four aircraft with the German RLM 74/75/76 camouflage, painting three identical propellers all at the same time, five sets of landing gears, etc.

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Taking scale model photos

I take photos of real aircraft to support my scale model projects (as reference material). Once a model project is completed, I usually take pictures of the model and produce a Web page that describes the model, its construction, etc. Some people have asked me how do I take those model pictures, and how do I edit them afterwards. This blog post is my answer.

Here are some examples of my recent models:

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Confusion over RLM colors 81/82/83

Over the past year I have been working on a model of the Dornier Do 335A. The 335 is the unconventional late-war design that used two DB 603 engines with two propellers, one pushing and one pulling. The model will eventually nicely complement my model of the Göppingen Gö 9, the experimental prototype Dornier designed to test the new concept. The project has now progressed to a point where I am painting the airframe. I am building the model to represent the 7th pre-production A-0, Werkenummer 240107. There are plenty of pictures of this aircraft from the time when it was being initially test flown by Dornier; for example [1, pp.74-75].

In the title I used the word “confusion”… I could also have said “frustration”. Here’s why: one of the late-war camouflage schemes used by the Luftwaffe consisted of the RLM colors 81/82/65. Color 65 is easy, it is the darker shade of light blue that Luftwaffe used a lot. The problem is with the definitions of 81 – often called “braunviolett”, sometimes “dunkelgrün” (dark green) – and 82 – called either “dunkelgrün” or “hellgrün” (light green, go figure). When I look at the black-and-white photos of the Do 335, I can hardly see the difference between the two greens, but when I look at the – thoroughly researched – aircraft preserved at the NASM, the greens seem quite garish, almost cartoon-like. And even though not used in Do 335, the color RLM 83 is also called “dunkelgrün” and is almost identical to 81.

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Grand Messerschmitt project: First completed model

At long last, the project has yielded its first completed model, Ilmari Juutilainen‘s Bf 109G-2 “MT-213”. Juutilainen, of course, was the highest-scoring Finnish fighter ace, and also the highest-scoring non-German ace of World War 2.

A full-write-up (with more pictures) can be found here. An index to all the stories (so far) can be found here.

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