Converting the Fw 190 D-9 to D-11
by Ingemar Caisander
1/48 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-11
The D-11 variant of the venerable Focke-Wulf 190 was designed as a much-improved low-level interceptor fighter refinement of the ”Langnasen Dora”, incorporating many of the features found on the powerful Ta 152.
Based on rebuilt Fw 190A-8 airframes the D-11 mounted a new MW-50 boosted 35-litre Jumo 213F inverted V12 engine rated at 2060 hp for take-off. The sturdier mountings for this powerful engine made the previously smooth contours of the engine cowling to be slightly bulged on both sides. The enlarged Ta 152 type supercharger intake and the VS 10 paddle-bladed propeller assembly were further characteristics of this sub-type.
Armament was also changed from the D-9; the two cowl-mounted MG 131 machineguns were deleted but the 20-mm MG 151/20s in the wing roots retained. In addition a 30-mm MK 108 autocannon was carried in each of the outer wing stations, the new spinner also being prepared for the later installation of a further MK 108 or MG 151 firing through the engine camshaft.
Only seven D-11 prototypes were built before the war ended and only five of these were actually ”real” D-11s (the other two being unarmed and carrying standard D-9 armament, respectively).
The amazing thing is that despite these machines only were prototypes many of them never the less were used in combat!
This is my second aircraft model in 1/48th scale.
Since the kit apparently would have pretty much fallen together on its own if built straight from-the-box (judged from earlier reviews of the kit) I decided to add a little challenge to the project by converting the aircraft into one of the late-war D-11 prototypes. This task was much simplified by the absolutely gorgeous resin conversion set produced by Mr. Robert Stephenson (if you are planning on building a D-11 yourself, or even a D-12 or D-13 be sure to check out his resin set; it will save you a lot of time and effort!).
This resin conversion set include parts for most of the changes needed in order to convert the D-9 into a D-11; new flat upper engine cowling without MG131 machineguns, enlarged Ta 152 type supercharger air intake, VS 10 paddle-bladed propeller and spinner and bulges and access panels for the outer wing 30-mm MK 108 autocannons.
Not included are the subtle bulges on the engine cowling sides; these are however relatively easily replicated by thin sheet styrene or putty sanded into shape.
The basic kit is is the Tamiya Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 and it is (not too surprisingly since it’s Tamiya…) very nice. You get a total of three sprues, one clear and two molded in grey plastic. The clear sprue holds two canopies, the standard one and the later blown type (the ”Galland-Haube”).
One of the other sprues is taken from the earlier Fw-190A/F kit; that is, you get some additional parts not actually needed to complete the D-9 (for instance a BMW 801 engine complete with cooling fan, exhaust stubs, spinner, propeller etc, as well as some other small details). Nice items to pass along to the spare parts box. A typical 300-litre drop tank is also included.
Panel lines are recessed and the general detailing of the model is very good.
You also get a rather comprehensive instruction sheet as well as a separate sheet with painting instructions (Tamiya colours only, no RLM codes!) covering the aircraft from all four sides.
Decals are provided on two separate sheets, representing ”Blaue 15” of 4./JG301, ”Schwarze <||”, Stab./JG4 and ” Schwarze 12″ of 10./JG54.
Swastikas for the rear fin are also included but Tamiya has choosed not to show these on the box art nor on the instruction sheet (their position is only indicated by rather anonymous squares).
I began by assembling the cockpit tub. This is really a gem; you get separate left and right consoles as well as a nicely detailed instrument panel. Fit is good as is the detailing.
Since I planned on having the canopy open I added scratch built seat belts made from thin paper strips and small pieces of copper wire to make the cockpit look more ”alive”.
The pilot was thrown away since he wasn’t very well molded; it would require too much work to get him look good (besides, if seated he would hide way too much of the detailing in the cockpit!).
The fuselage halves were cemented together without any problems, fit is good. Note that the cockpit is installed after the fuselage halves are joined, the entire tub being inserted from below through the open belly.
The resin panel of the conversion kit replaced the upper fuselage MG cover of the kit. Since my experiences of working with resin are very scarce (to say the least!) I worked ”as usual” and cemented the resin parts with standard Model Master liquid glue. This actually worked fine but some care is needed in order not to knock off the resin parts after attaching them to the model (the liquid glue doesn’t melt/dissolve the resin and so the resulting joint is a bit less rigid than when cementing ordinary plastic). Mayhaps two-part epoxy glue would have been a better choice.
(A note here on Mr. Stephenson’s resin kit; all the parts are a true drop-fit on the model, they are also very nicely molded so almost no cleanup is needed. Only the carrier blocks of some parts have to be trimmed away, other than this the parts really are ready for use ”as is”. Detailing is also very crisp and convincing.
The rearmost part of the resin upper cowling panel includes the rear of the subtle bulges for the new sturdier mountings of the F-engine; I made up the rest of these bulges from small pieces of stretched sprue ”melted” in place with liquid glue. After this had cured for about two days the bulges were sanded into their final shape. As Robert mention in his instructions the bulges gradually blend into the cowling, ending just about below the small cooling air scoop (hollowed out with a needle).
The kit upper cowl hinges were sanded away too.
When happy with the upper nose I moved on by plugging the kit air intake (a resin piece is included for this in the conversion kit) and attached the new resin Ta 152 type intake. This needed a tiny amount of putty and some sanding to blend smoothly into the cowling.
I also deepened the opening of the intake a bit: check your references, though; apparently some aircraft could have had a protective intake screen/mesh attached.
The kit supplied exhaust stacks are nice. There is a small molding line running across the length of the stacks, by trimming away this line on everything except the pipes themselves you can get a nice replication of the quite prominent weld bead of the real thing. The ends of the pipes were also drilled open.
Don’t forget to thin and bend down the small exhaust shroud; the real thing is made from sheet metal and should be almost paper thin.
After the fuselage was about done it was time for the wings. Besides from the new upper engine cowling the wings require the most work when converting the Tamiya kit into a D-11.
I began by cementing the upper bulges for the 30-mm cannons in place, their position is clearly shown on Robert’s instruction sheet. When these had cured I scraped and sanded the inside of the upper wings under the bulges until you could see the resin ”through” the wing; this was done in order to provide room for the scratchbuilt MK 108 autocannons.
The resin conversion set provide replacement panels for the lower wing too, these panels include access hatch, a spent casings ejector chute and the lower bulge for the autocannon. However, I decided not to use these resin panels (mostly since they required some rather tricky cutting of the kit wing) but instead I opened up the chute present on the kit wing and built up the lower bulge from sheet styrene and liquid glue (using the same technique as for the engine bulges).
The blanked-over gun ports for the MK 108s at the wing leading edge was also cut open and a small bulge added just below the ports (the opened ports may look a bit big but this is ok, remember that the MK 108s were more like very powerful grenade launchers rather than cannons, sporting quite short, fat barrels).
Finally the scratchbuilt 30-mm autocannons were cemented in place (be sure to dry-fit them first so they really fit between the wing parts!).
Then it was time for the inner part of the wing and the undercarriage bays.
Here Tamiya has made an unexplainable error; part A7, the central wheel bay part, has the dimpled inner panels! This is incorrect, not only for the D-11 but for the standard D-9 as well. Only radial-engined Fw190s had these dimpled panels installed so they have to be removed no matter what D variant you are building.
As a consequence you get visual access to the rear of the engine compartment, meaning an engine has to be installed. I used a resin Jumo 213E/F engine cloned from the Trimaster Ta 152H (thanks Robert!) and fixed it up with sheet styrene, stretched sprue and some copper wiring. This engine is a bit under-scaled (in order to fit properly inside the thick resin cowling of the Trimaster kit) but this only means it will be a trouble-free fit inside the roomier Tamiya nose too. Since only the lower rear part of the engine will be visible, the slightly inaccurate size won’t be that obvious.
Apologies for the poor quality picture… The cloned Trimaster Jumo 213F resin engine and the two scratchbuilt MK 108 cannon. The engine is not yet fully plumbed and wired.
BTW don’t cement the cockpit tub in place until after you have mounted the engine, otherwise there won’t be enough space to slide in the engine from below. Believe me, I learned this the hard way… 🙁
Returning to the central wheel bay, Tamiya has molded the barrels of the wing root MG151/20s in two parts; the rear part is molded on part A7 while the front part is molded on the wing leading edge. As a consequence the two (four…) barrel parts don’t line up terribly well nor does the front barrels look very realistic, they are just sticking out of the wing.
I removed all barrel parts and opened up new ports in the leading edge of the wing. Then I made new gun barrels from plastic covered paper clips: simply ”open” the clip and trim it into a straight rod, then cut off a piece slightly longer than the barrel. Now cut off the plastic cover a few millimeters from one end and carefully pull the metal wire back while holding the plastic cover. When the metal wire has been pulled a few millimeters (the other end of the wire should now be ”inside” the plastic cover) cut off the excess wire (at the end without plastic cover), trim the other end (plastic) straight and voila! You have a very convincing looking hollow, thin walled, gun barrel.
Finally the ejection chutes for the inboard autocannons were opened up and the scratchbuilt MG151/20s installed.
The gun camera imitation was also removed and replaced by a clear plastic lens.
The wings were cemented together with no problem, fit is good. A very small amount of putty had to be used at the innermost part of the leading edges but otherwise a little bit of sanding was all that was needed in order to get an absolutely smooth joint. Aileron actuating rods were replicated by small pieces of thin copper wire.
When cementing the completed wing to the fuselage I noticed a gap at the wing root; this doesn’t have to be a fault of the kit, though; it is quite possible I carved away too much of the inside of the wings during the conversion work. Some putty was never the less needed to get a smooth joint.
The tail planes were cemented in place after the rudders had been cut off and re-cemented angled downwards (yes, the control stick in the cockpit is also pushed forward…).
The taillight on the lower part of the rear rudder was cut off and replaced by a clear plastic lens.
The landing gear was completed per instructions with the addition of a hydraulic brake line made from thin copper wire running down each leg.
The kit main wheels are good but not great, I replaced mine with new resin ones manufactured by Mr. Stephenson. These resin wheels of his are absolutely amazing; even the small locking pin in the hub is present! Truly divine detailing (thanks again, Robert!)
All wheels were sanded down on the underside to represent the weight of the aircraft.
Finally it was time for the engine radiator assembly. You get the choice of either closed or opened cooling flaps, I choosed opened.
According to some sources the D-11 used the toroid shaped radiator of the Ta 152 but this is not true; all D-11s used the standard circular D-9 radiator so the kit supplied item will work fine.
Assembly is simple and straightforward but be sure to paint the rear of the radiator and the inside of the flaps before you attach the whole thing to the fuselage since it will be almost impossible to reach these areas after mounting.
The Tamiya kit give you two complete propeller assemblies; the standard one of the D-9 and the earlier one used on the radial-engined variants.
I used neither, instead preparing the VS-10 type supplied in the resin conversion set. This is a huge paddle bladed affair with separate blades and an impressively large spinner. According to my references the spinner is not entirely correct, though; in photographs the real thing appear almost ”chopped off” at the front while the resin part is more like the standard smoothly almost pointed D-9 spinner.
The ”chopped off” appearance of the real thing most likely is a result of the spinner being a universal type prepared for the internal mounting of a coaxial autocannon (firing through the hollow engine camshaft). To further mystify things no D-11s had this coaxial cannon installed but some aircraft could have had the barrel/camshaft tube installed.
So…I used the resin spinner but drilled a large caliber hole in the center and then inserted a small piece of styrene tubing as a replication of the internal barrel.
Just prior to painting I added the pilot entry step, the pitot tube (replaced by pieces of copper wire), the tail wheel, the IFF and the Moraine-antenna. The DF loop was replaced by a small piece of thin copper wire bent into shape.
Painting and Markings
Since I was building a D-11 and very little documentation about these late-war ”Doras” is available I had to do quite a bit of guessing in addition to the usual ”detective’s work” in order to find out some information regarding the painting and markings of my aircraft. (Please note, though, that I in a similar way as to when building my earlier Bf 109 are more interested in getting the completed model to look good rather than being absolutely accurate in all aspects; as a consequence my choices regarding paint schemes etc are based on my own assumptions and conclusions and may not be entirely correct).
Out of the seven (or possibly eight) D-11s produced I only managed to find operational information about three;
- V-58 W.Nr.170933 ”red 4”, JV 44
- V-61 W.Nr.350158 (or possibly 220004) ”white <61”, JV 44, Bad Wörishofen
- (unknown) W.Nr.220005 (or possibly 220009) ”white <<”, JV 44, Bad Wörishofen
Since all these three aircrafts were ”late” prototypes (mayhaps even pre-production aircrafts) and most likely not used for engine tests and the like and they all flew with JV 44 and they probably all were stationed at Bad Wörishofen, I came to the conclusion that this would make it quite likely that at least some (if not all) of the other ”late” D-11 prototypes (not used for initial engine tests and carrying standard D-11 armament) also serviced with JV 44.
The decal sheet supplied with the Tamiya kit provides W.Nr.210079; a little cutting and re-arranging of the figures will give you W.Nr.170926 (minus the last digit) that correspond to V-57, the third D-11 prototype. From what I have found this aircraft carried standard D-11 armament and was not used for engine-tests, thereby (based on my earlier guesses) it was probably also at some point serving with JV 44 at Bad Wörishofen.
I have no idea about the painting scheme and markings of this particular machine, though, but I guess it would be pretty much camouflaged like the other ”Doras” stationed at Bad Wörishofen. Most of these aircraft featured a rather ”patchy” appearance with some panels and items in different color shades or even in bare metal. Most also had the underside painted red with white stripes for quick friend-or-foe identification by the notoriously trigger-happy German FlaK-crews.
I decided however not to have the red-white underside on my model.
I began by painting the entire aircraft in light Lichtblau 76 save for the rear rudder which was finished in a slightly darker shade.
The fuselage extension plug and a few selected underwing panels were covered with aluminum foil to imitate bare metal. I applied the foil (actually ordinary kitchen’s foil) one panel at a time by first painting each panel gloss red and then attaching the foil when the paint was still tacky. After a couple of days when the paint was thoroughly dry and the foil panels had been wiped clean and polished, any trace of red paint in panel lines and such was removed with a tiny drop of silver.
Then the upper wings and tail planes were camouflaged in Grauviolett 75 and Dunkelgrün 83, while the upper fuselage was painted in Dunkelgrün 83 only except for a single wide ”band” of Grauviolett 75 just behind the canopy. The tail and rear rudder were mottled in Braunviolett 81 while the fuselage sides and the Grauviolett ”band” received a rather heavy Dunkelgrün 83 mottle.
As I always brush paint my models I used an almost dry brush in order to imitate the sprayed-on appearance of the paint.
Finally the trim tabs on the rudders were finished in red and the propeller/spinner assembly in Schwarzgrün 70 with graphite powder heavily brushed onto the blade inclination mechanism. The leading edge of each propeller blade also got a slight touch of silver to imitate chipped paint.
The underwing Moraine-antenna was painted wood brown with the ”whip” itself in silver.
I used the below listed Humbrol colors to represent the RLM range:
- Schwarzgrün 70 Humbrol 91 + black
- Grauviolett 75 Humbrol 27 + a little black
- Lichtblau 76 Humbrol 175 + 121 (mixed about 50/50)
- Braunviolett 81 Humbrol 160
- Dunkelgrün 83 Humbrol 116
Now it was time for the decals.
The kit decals are nice but mayhaps just a little bit on the thick side. I experienced some silvering, especially with the fuselage Balkenkreuz, but I think this could have been avoided if some sort of setting solution or the like had been used. I fixed it with some touch-up paint instead, though.
Weathering was next. I began with a medium dark wash over the entire model, followed by a light grey drybrush on the raised areas and details. Most panel lines were ”filled in” with a lead pencil, when the final layer of flat varnish is sprayed on the metallic sheen of the lead will darken and thereby nicely accentuate the panel lines.
The areas behind the gun barrels and shell ejection chutes were given streaks of flat black, simulating soot from extensive use of the cannons. As with my earlier Bf109 I also heavily drybrushed the fuselage sides behind the exhausts with brown and black. This was to simulate very extensive exhaust staining from the large Jumo 213 engine; this late in the war the German aviation fuel often was of a rather sub-standard quality making the engine exhaust very thick and sooty.
The left wing root, some removable panels and the area around the canopy received small streaks of silver, simulating chipped paint.
To complete the model all remaining details were added and the canopy cemented in the opened position. I used a very thin strand of copper wire for the main radio antenna; this was attached to the canopy when still in the closed position and then the canopy was slid back, thereby making the antenna sag. Some sources claim that the antenna had some sort of tensioner installed (as in most of the radial-engined variants of the Fw190) but I have found no photographic evidence of this.
This D-11 is my second 1/48th scale ”bird” and it was a very fun model to build. I think it turned out rather nice and this is most of all thanks to Mr. Robert Stephenson’s great resin conversion set. If you are interested in purchasing this excellent set you can email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tamiya kit itself is highly recommended for both experts and beginners alike; it is very easy to build and can be used as the base for a number of variants and conversions. Even if completed straight from-the-box you will get a truly beautiful model of one of the finest late-war Luftwaffe fighters.
This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in January 2001.