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Question on Luftwaffe fuselage numbers (caution: Ta152 content)


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Hope everyone is keeping well :) 

 

Just a quick question on Luftwaffe fuselage numbers - probably easiest to phrase it within the context of the Ta152H, as I'm about to make a start on one shortly...

 

Two well-known examples of the marque - JG301's Green 4 (which ended up in the USA) and Green 9 (which went to the UK).  Both relatively well documented (at least as well as any other Ta152).  The question is this:  does the existence of green 4 and 9 imply that there was also a green 1, 2 and 3, as well as a green 5, 6, 7 and 8..??  I know that JG301 was reckoned to have around 15+ Ta152s on strength (though not all necessarily serviceable).  There is also a pic of what is claimed to be a 'yellow 1' and possibly others with yellow codes, but not sure how much of that is conjecture.

 

Any thoughts welcome :)

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Righto Werdna

The Ta 152Hs in JG301 were initially allocated to 11/JG301 and wore yellow numbers. Confirmed are Yellow 1, 2 and 3 all with unknown Werknummeren. The famous picture of 11/JG301 at Alteno shows 6 aircraft at least, but the other tactical numbers are not visible. All wear a yellow horizontal III Gruppe band superimposed over the yellow/red RVD band on the fuselage. As here:

 

IMG_4068

 

Yellow 1, 3 and 2 are visible (in that order) and the caption identifies the nearest machine as 'Yellow 7'. 

Source: Hitchcock T (2010) The Focke Wulf Ta 152 Eagle Editions, Hamilton MT USA - uploaded for the purpose of discussion

 

After March 13th 1945 the JG301 Kommodore reallocated the Ta 152Hs into a III Gruppe Stabsschwarm. Numbers and horizontal bars changed to green. Green 6 and 9, plus White 7 are confirmed by photographic evidence. Green 9 was flown in the UK by Cmdr Eric Brown and appeared at the Farnborough captured aircraft show in late 1945. Other Green numbers, such as 3, are known from pilot logbooks (Willi Reschke in this case). 

 

I'm not convinced that the NASM machine was Green 4 as this airframe has had multiple repaints. I have a Czech monogram on the Ta 152 containing a picture of the NASM machine with no codes. I appreciate that I'm in a minority on this, and others will differ (for example Jerry Crandall). I remain open to be convinced.

 

IMG_4069

 

Source - as above

 

HTH

 

SD

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'HTH' - cheers SD, it certainly does !  :) 

 

I'm just trying to keep my options open in terms of aircraft numbers- and this gives me a few. 

 

Going back to another bit of my question though - if there was a '9' - would it be fair to say that there was also an '8' (for example)..?  Or does it not work like that?  I'm not looking to build an '8' in particular, but just trying to understand the logic - presumably the numbers were issued consecutively?  

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Postscript:

Having checked a number of sources, the Alteno picture is cropped above and other publications show it with a wider view as here:

 

IMG_4070

 

Source (1984) Fw 190D & Ta 152 JaPo Prague

 

The NASM pictures are here, showing this machine with two distinct repaints, neither of which features 'Green 4'.  It is the same airframe - check the mottles on the cowl and scoop. I do wonder if 'Green 4' is one of those errors repeated so often in print that it's now just accepted?

 

IMG_4071

 

 

 

IMG_4072

 

Source Krzyzan M (1995) Fw 190D Ta 152 A J Press Gdansk

 

SD

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2 hours ago, Werdna said:

Going back to another bit of my question though - if there was a '9' - would it be fair to say that there was also an '8' (for example)..?  Or does it not work like that?  I'm not looking to build an '8' in particular, but just trying to understand the logic - presumably the numbers were issued consecutively?  

Sorry @Werdna I missed this point in your post.

 

I'm not sure about this - in general aircraft numbers in active fighter units were below 15, which is entirely to be expected as a Staffel was nominally about 12 aircraft. I seem to recall that some Staffelkapitans favoured the number '13', but I can't remember where I read that, and I may be incorrect on that point. Some senior pilots had 'favourite' numbers that they wished to retain as they received new or replacement machines (for example Gerd Barkhorn favoured the number '5' and Klaus Faber of JV44 the number '13'). Of course, the counter argument that pilots flew what was available also has merit. There's no mention of a Green 8 in the Hitchcock volume (doesn't mean it didn't exist).

 

As always, there were exceptions. The Bf 109G-10 nightfighters of NJG11 used white numbers in the 40s for instance, with JG301 (the same unit as the Ta 152s above) using white numbers in the 20s, 30s and 40s on their Fw 190s and Bf109G-10s as well. However these exceptions above are both late-war examples and not that typical. The Kommodore of JG301 in 1945 is thought to have intentionally deviated from the established colours for Gruppe bars on the unit's aircraft as a means of deceiving Allied intelligence about available aircraft numbers - perhaps the high numbers I mention might be a part of that ploy? Just speculation on my part...

 

An important exception to the above principle is the training units which used higher numbers (often much higher using 3 digits) as a means of identification. 

 

HTH

 

SD

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The two photos immediately above (sourced from Krzyzan M (1995) Fw 190D Ta 152 A J Press Gdansk) are actually from the same photo.  One of which has been retouched to depict the aircraft in its presumed wartime configuration.  Note the two aircraft are in the same exact position on the tarmac, the location of the trees on the horizon, and the location of the tie down ropes establish that  they are one and the same.

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You may be correct to say that one pic has been re-touched, but the pictures are not identical aspect.  If you look at how the wingtip trailing edge lines up in front of the cockpit frame, the angle is noticeably different.  That's not to say that the two pics were not taken consecutively though...

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The tie down cable superposition over the landing gear cover clearly established that it is the same photo.  If the photo was taken from a different position the superposition would be altered...and it is not.

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52 minutes ago, Vonbraun said:

The tie down cable superposition over the landing gear cover clearly established that it is the same photo.  If the photo was taken from a different position the superposition would be altered...and it is not.

 

Study the line of the wing trailing edge and follow the 'vertical' line it tracks through the image..  In pic #1 it is in line with the canopy frame upright.  In pic #2 it is in line with the windscreen frame upright.  On that basis it cannot be the same image.  There are several other minor angle/alignment mis-matches which also indicate the two pics are not from the same transparency.  

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On 12/09/2020 at 14:30, Werdna said:

'... Going back to another bit of my question though - if there was a '9' - would it be fair to say that there was also an '8' (for example)..?  Or does it not work like that?  I'm not looking to build an '8' in particular, but just trying to understand the logic - presumably the numbers were issued consecutively?  

I think it would be "fair to say" but not "safe to assume".

 

If number "7" got shot down (or strafed or destroyed in an accident) I doubt there would be a reorg / repaint be launched. (Even if "Ordnung muß sein" does (and did) apply to anything German, who would repaint "9" to fill the gap between "6" and "8" when there was a war to be won?)

On the other hand if the Staffel would receive "four" new planes (of a new type) and the pilots would have their "lucky numbers" ("1", "5", "8", and "13") since flying for Legion Condor in Spain, I'd assume they might insist to have their lucky number again as a carryover in April 1945.

 

But if the staffel get's equipped with a dozen new Ta 152 it would be quite logical to have the "green 8" - and it could be hard to prove the non-existence of "green 8" nowadays.😉

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14 hours ago, Vonbraun said:

The two photos immediately above (sourced from Krzyzan M (1995) Fw 190D Ta 152 A J Press Gdansk) are actually from the same photo.  One of which has been retouched to depict the aircraft in its presumed wartime configuration.  Note the two aircraft are in the same exact position on the tarmac, the location of the trees on the horizon, and the location of the tie down ropes establish that  they are one and the same.

That's a very interesting (and helpful) observation. I suspect the slight differences noted by @Werdnamay be due to perspective - I photographed the book page with my iPhone rather than scan the image, so there is some image distortion present as a result.  Look at the spinners of both aircraft. 

The retouched picture would seem to be the origin of the markings used by Frog for their 1/72 Ta 152H. 

The lower picture still shows the British roundels in place (already overpainted with replica Luftwaffe crosses), but no number 4. However the remnants of the Stammkenzeichen CW+CJ can be seen - hence my scepticism about this being 'Green 4'. 

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1 hour ago, SafetyDad said:

I suspect the slight differences noted by @Werdnamay be due to perspective - I photographed the book page with my iPhone rather than scan the image, so there is some image distortion present as a result.  Look at the spinners of both aircraft. 

 

Hi SD - image distortion due to page curvature (which is present here, as you say) would not affect the way two angles (for instance) line-up and bisect each other within the image.  If they bisect on a flat image, they will still bisect in the same place on a curved one.  Bending the page distorts the image, but it does not alter the content.  Using your 'spinner' example - the spinner is distorted, but it remains in the same position relative to everything else in the image.

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12 hours ago, Werdna said:

 

Study the line of the wing trailing edge and follow the 'vertical' line it tracks through the image..  In pic #1 it is in line with the canopy frame upright.  In pic #2 it is in line with the windscreen frame upright.  On that basis it cannot be the same image.  There are several other minor angle/alignment mis-matches which also indicate the two pics are not from the same transparency.  

There is something not quite right about the trailing edge of the "wartime" photo. It looks to me as if it has been tweaked during the alteration of the photo, the very distinctive taper of the wing is not so obvious in the "wartime" photo. To my eye it does look like the same photo with some tweaking to the background etc. and to add in details like the wing gun barrels. The position and relative angle to line of sight of the prop blades looks identical as does all the angles around the tail and the angle the DF loop is at relative to line of sight.

 

Duncan B

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Look again at the prop, especially the lower blade where it meets the rim of the cowling.  I see a small but consistent difference there too.  Possibly one of the minor angle/alignments mentioned.

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26 minutes ago, Duncan B said:

It looks to me as if it has been tweaked during the alteration of the photo, the very distinctive taper of the wing is not so obvious in the "wartime" photo.

 

Clearly the image has been enhanced and the wing trailing edge line seems to have been boldened.  But the wingtip dimensions seem identical in both pics and they would have to be different in order to explain the alignment issue which I mentioned earlier.  Also, there is a small white 'dot' just below where the front windscreen frame meets the fuselage, the alignment of which does not reconcile between the two pics.  So, two options:

 

1. If we don't accept that one of the pics is 'altered' - then they must be from a different roll, taken at a different time, but from a similar position - simple as that.

 

2. If we consider the notion that one of the pics has been altered, then the likelihood is that these are simply two consecutive pics from the same sequence, but there is a fractional difference in position of the camera aperture - either that or the guy taking the pics simply took a half-step to the left (or right - depending on which exposure is first in the sequence).  I attended enough location photo shoots in my previous career to notice that photographers don't tend to stay still for very long ;) 

 

Either way, my feeling is that there are too many subtle differences in angle and alignment for them to be from the same transparency, as I mentioned before.

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Not the same image, but clearly taken at the same time.  (Look at the tie-down of the port wing, for example.)  So yes, one has to have been "photoshopped".

 

A completely tangential (well nearly) comment: I'm glad that in days such as early 1945, someone still thought it worthwhile to take a photo of a handsome lineup of Ta 152Hs!

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The slightest change of position and the angle we see the DF loop at would alter, same with the props. Both are identical and if the images were overlapped I'm sure we would see that there are only local alterations to the image around the trailing edge of the wing and the wingtip. Just my opinion but it looks like the same basic image to me.

 

Duncan B

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31 minutes ago, Duncan B said:

The slightest change of position and the angle we see the DF loop at would alter, same with the props. Both are identical and if the images were overlapped I'm sure we would see that there are only local alterations to the image around the trailing edge of the wing and the wingtip. Just my opinion but it looks like the same basic image to me.

 

Duncan B

 

The biggest differences with such a change in position are going to be the angles that are closest to the camera lens (ie the wingtip and trailing edge line) and the angles that are furthest away (ie the trees in the background).  Relative positions of items like the DF loop, props, etc, which are nearest to where the focal point is, are likely to be too subtle to be noticeable.  You'd only have to move the camera about 6 inches either way to achieve that.

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51 minutes ago, gingerbob said:

(Look at the tie-down of the port wing, for example.)

I missed this earlier - but this is a good spot.  The path that the tie down rope takes on the port side - and how it 'emerges' from behind the starboard undercarriage leg - is different in both images.  

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To add to the confustion, there is yet another stage in the evolution of this aircraft's markings.  The old Monogram Close-up 24: Ta 152 has across its centrefold an A3 photo of "Green 4".  No, it is not colourised (published 1990).  The location is given as Wright Field and the date "late 1945".  Essentially it is a the 2nd photograph in post 4 but with FE-112 in bold black characters across the RAF fin flash, a rather nicely rendered black and white Swastika at the top of the fin and a rather nicely rendered 4 (green with black border) forward of the cross.  It appears to have been taken on the same piece of concrete as the other 2 photos with the same row of trees in the background but not necessarily at the same spot or at the same time.  A major difference is that there is nothing like as much exhaust staining: the exhausts stand in a painted black rectangle with soot stains back from only the last two ports.

 

At least 4 stages in the evolution of the aircraft's markings are apparent from this one photo:

- factory delivery scheme: last letter J of Stammkennzeichen still visible

- operational service: traces of a red/yellow Reichsverteidigung band just visible.  

- RAF ownership: German markings (except for the glimpses of the RVD band) obliterated by a coat of nondescript grey-green covering the area from the position of the 3rd Stammkennzeichen character back to just forward of the fin.  RAF roundel in roughly A Type proportions where the cross would have been.  RAF flash on fin, orientated so as to be vertical for an aircraft standing on its wheels.

- US ownership: black cross with white outlines superimposed over the RAF roundel, completely obliterating the red centre. but leaving a lot of white.  FE-112 in black across the lower fin, B/W swastika added to top of fin, green 4 numeral added forward of cross.  The evidence from some of the other photos in this thread suggest there was more than one stage in the evolution of the aircraft's markings while in US hands.

 

I find this picture confusing.  If the idea was to restore it to something like wartime configuration, why slap FE-112 across the fin and why leave untouched the ghastly apology for a German cross partially obliterating the RAF roundel?  The colours and style of the "4" are both convincing to me but look too fresh to be original: added at the same time as FE-112 and swastika?  If so, why?

 

In War Prizes (Midland, 1994) Phil Buttler identifies this aircraft as 170003 "believed to have been '6' of JG301 although later exhibited at Wright Field as  'Yellow 4'".  It was at Freeman Field, Ohio, by 16 May 1946.

 

BTW "White 4" in post 4 is not FE121 which was a Fw 190D-9 (source Buttler: War Prizes (Midland, 1994) and War Prizes - The Album (Midland, 2006).

Edited by Seahawk
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Thank you very much @Seahawk!

It's been a while since I looked at that publication even though I have a copy! 

The picture you refer to is here:

 

IMG_4073

 

 

Source Ethell J (1990) Monogram Close Up 24 Ta 152 Monogram Publications Boylston Mass USA

 

As Seahawk has described, here is a genuine (if slightly washed out) colour picture of the NASM Ta 152. It seems to have been taken later than the lower picture in post#4, only now it has a green 4 marking! This I now recall is what I considered to be the real problem in the NASM machine actually being accepted as Green 4 - the number seems to have been added at Wright Field! It's crooked in application and too fresh to be convincing in my view. 

Now there are other possibilities here (such as the aircraft may have been marked as Green 4 and then this removed as part of a repaint), but I remain to be convinced (as I said earlier) that this machine was actually Green 4 with JG301.

 

And also mindful of hijacking @Werdna's thread about Staffel numbers I think that's all I'll say about this particular airframe at this point.

 

SD

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Agree with SD.  As far as 'authentic repaints' go, that's a pretty bad one ;) I can't see how that '4' could ever be considered as original.

 

I came across an interesting thread earlier on the ww2a/c forum.  The thread is from 2009, but contains some interesting info on Ta152 tactical codes and notes apparently from Willi Reschke's log book, link here: https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/willi-reschke-s-ta-152-h-0-kit-1-48.16315/

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11 hours ago, Werdna said:

Agree with SD.  As far as 'authentic repaints' go, that's a pretty bad one ;) I can't see how that '4' could ever be considered as original.

 

At the time authenticity of scheme was not considered a priority. The war was over, people were pleased to be looking forward, and on both sides of the Atlantic there were displays of captured aircraft scheduled to showcase the technology involved.

 

If you are sceptical about the authenticity of the Ta 152 scheme, then what about this? :tmi:

 

IMG_4075

 

Source Smith R. & Creek E. (1982) Jet Planes of the Third Reich Monogram Publications Boylston Mass USA p.319

 

I have to admit that a small part of me would like to build this He 162. After all, the colour scheme is real and documented here. 'Authentic' in the sense that it really existed. No different to other models of captured Luftwaffe aircraft eh? :giggle:  And certainly not a scheme you see every day either. I wonder who does decals for this? 

 

Well off track now on this thread. Sorry @Werdna

 

SD

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