It's important to say at the outset that the book complements, rather than competes with titles like Squadron's excellent Walkaround; this volume concentrates on every aspect of the Dora's painting - and everything from primers, through camouflage to final stencilling and application of unit markings is covered in greater depth than I've ever found elsewhere.
The book is beautifully produced - hardbound with 207 pages printed on very high quality paper. The period photos are printed large and clear with extensive captions, while colour artwork is beautifully reproduced.
The exhaustive research which the authors, Marc Deboeck, Eric Larger and Tomáš Poruba, have applied to the Fw 190D is almost overwhelming for the casual reader and it's fair to say now that for anyone to gain the maximum from this work, they must be prepared to follow the detailed text as it traces a tortuous path. For those prepared to go the course, the book presents a fascinating study into the disintegration of the German aero-industry and the extraordinary lengths it went to in order to continue to successfully supply the Luftwaffe with combat-ready fighters in the final months of the war.
By the nature of the subject, the book is often quite technical - quoting from official specifications and intelligence reports - and this is particularly true of the first 74 pages, which broadly speaking, present a detailed background study of the production and painting of the Dora. This traces the various sub-contractors for each section of the aircraft, through the contractors for the major assemblies - establishing at each stage the disparate painting practices the individual companies applied. By comparing documents with dozens of period of photos (many presented here for the first time) the authors have been able to establish that four major sub-assemblies are critical to understanding any given Fw 190D camouflage scheme; namely the engine, the wings, the tail unit and the fuselage. All of these were delivered to assembly centres pre-painted to greater or lesser degree depending on their individual sources - and the extent to which they were integrated into an overall consistent painting scheme varied widely.
Following production painting, the book then outlines the operational markings in depth, covering Jagdgeschwader, Gruppenstab etc. identification symbols, along with various styles of spinner painting and theatre of operations markings and Werknummer typology.
Having established the basis for their research, the authors devote the second half of the book to an unprecedented series of case studies, which means in-depth analysis of over 50 aircraft spread over 6 Focke-Wulf (as against other Dora contractors) production batches, from the prototypes, through the D-9 to D-11. Most aircraft are illustrated with a series of photos and their appearance is reconstructed with excellent colour diagrams and a series of superb full-page colour profiles. A typical case-study takes the form of:
Aircraft - a description of the individual machine's manufacture, service history and ultimate fate.
Unit - identification of markings specific to the aircraft's unit and cross-referencing with other known examples
Camouflage - a detailed description of the paint scheme, including factory and unit application
Markings - the national markings
Stencilling - description of whatever servicing markings are visible in the photographs.
Depending on the number of reference photos available, the overall description can cover one or more pages per aircraft. Where there are a range of photos taken with different film-types and under different conditions, it illustrates the difficulties in drawing accurate conclusions from B&W photos, as the appearance can change quite distinctly. Particularly useful in a number of cases are some vintage colour photos, along with modern colour photos of recovered wreckage of W.Nr 210102 "White 3", 9./JG54, from which the pilot, Fw. Paul Drutschmann was lucky to escape when he was shot down during Unternehmen Bodenplatte on New Year's Day, 1945.
Rounding everything off, there's a 11-page table tracing the fate of known Focke-Wulf-built Doras and an extensive bibliography.
There are a lot of eye-openers for modellers - not least the use of late-war blue-green paint and the number of different styles of partially painted n/m undersides. The various subjects of the case studies provide enormous inspiration for some spectacular models - and serve to illustrate just how inadequate kit painting instructions are in the case of the Fw 190D. In view of the detail already presented, perhaps the scariest thing is that this is just Part 1 of a planned pair; the follow-up will include case-studies of Doras produced by other contractors, plus more detail on field paint applications and a study of the Fw 190D-15.
There has to be a catch... the book is quite expensive, but this represents a fair price for the remarkable depth of research into such a specialist subject. Nevertheless, the price may put off some potential readers, which is a great shame as the book makes for almost essential reading for anyone modelling a Dora who's interested in trying to replicate the original finish. If you're going to treat yourself to one book on painting the Dora, I recommend giving this very serious consideration - it's probably destined to become the standard reference for years to come.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on Aeroscale
One thing which never ceases to amaze me is the constant improvement in the breadth and depth of research into Luftwaffe WW2 subjects. Focke-Wulf Fw 190D Camouflage & Markings Part 1 is a case in point. Most of us with an interest in the Luftwaffe will be acquainted with the research of authors like Kenneth Merrick and Michael Ullmann, but this latest work takes the in the whole gamut of the latest colour research and focuses it on just one aircraft type - and the result is a study of unparalleled depth.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...