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Captured Butcherbirds Vol.1

by Jacek Jackiewicz & Robert Bock

 

 

S u m m a r y

ISBN:

978-83-924914-2-2

Media:

128 pages, softback cover

Price:

USD $49.90

Review Type:

First Read

Advantages:

Good coverage of history and operations of nearly all, if not all, captured Focke Wulf Fw 190’s as examined by the US and RAF. Almost 330 photos,  more than 120 full colour side profiles and 28 four view drawings.

Disadvantages:

None

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended


Reviewed by
Sinuhe Hahn

 
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FirstRead

 

Hyperscale visitors may recall that I was enthralled by the previous volume in this series, namely that on “Captured Me 109s”. Well, I am very glad to report that the latest addition on “Captured Butcherbirds” does not disappoint. In the first of a two-volume treatise the focus is on those Fw 190’s captured and examined by British and US forces.

As with the previous volume, a quick perusal makes it very clear that the authors have done an astonishing job in collating information on a large number of, if not every Fw 190 (whether intact or wrecked) which landed in British and US hands from 1942 until the cessation of hostilities in 1945.

 

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As expected, the authors treatise starts off Armin Faber’s Fw 190 A-3 W.Nr 135313, which landed at Pembrey on 23 June 1942: probably the most precious war prize at that time.  At this time the Fw 190 was introducing a new “Fokker Scourge”, as in March the RAF lost 32 Spitfires and 27 pilots, which escalated to 107 Spitfires and 95 pilots in April. Luftwaffe losses were significantly lower. Clearly, something needed to be done, and plans were even made to “steal” one from a Luftwaffe airfield. Hence, Faber’s unexpected booty was a great assistance in assessing the combat abilities of the new Spitfire Mk IX and in developing strategies to counter the threat posed by the Butcherbird.  A detailed description of these tests in related in Capt. Eric Brown’s “Wings of the Luftwaffe”. It should be noted that Faber’s motives have been questioned by a number of historians, and it is not clear of his landing on British soil was entirely “erroneous”.  Particularly useful to the modeler is that the evaluation of this aircraft by the RAE (Royal Aircraft Establishment) is documented by a series of profiles and 4-view diagrams which illustrate the various changes in camouflage that the aircraft underwent prior to demolition in 1943, where the airframe was fired at and the engine removed for further testing.

As with the previous volume, no clear chapter structure exists, rather a chronological narrative is offered with the next aircraft discussed being Otto Bechtold’s Fw 190A-4, famous for its “DO NOT TOUCH” inscription on the sooty black fuselage. Again its use as PE 882, is covered by 4 profiles and one 4-view drawing. British use concludes with several Dora-9’s, two Ta 152’s and a two-seat Fw 190 S-8.

The major part of the book is devoted to use of the Fw 190 by US forces, including those of the US Navy at NAS Anacostia and NAS Patuxent River. Although my British friends may regard the schemes in which these aircraft were painted as being too garish (my Texan friends would probably regard them as being mildly colorful), they are in no doubt of great interest to the modeler.

The first Fw 190 in the US was a G-3 Wrk. Nr. 160043, which arrived at Wright Field in August 1943. The Americans did not seem to be interested in testing the machine as it was only flown in February 1944. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see a Focke Wulf fly in company of a captured Bf 109, a P-51 and P-47 Bubbletop. This aircraft was repainted in an attractive scheme of olive drab upper surfaces and neutral gray lower surfaces and fuselage sides.

The Focke Wulf’s tested by the USN are probably of most interest (to me at least). It should be noted that the USN seemed impressed enough by this agile compact bird of prey that they encouraged development of the F8F Bearcat, which itself was inspired by this pugnacious little fighter. A particularly attractive example is Fw 190 G-3 Wrk.Nr. 160057, which was painted in a striking white scheme with red spinner, cowling, fuselage band and USN striped tail. Later, in 1945, this aircraft was repainted in a standard USN 3 tone non-specular, intermediate blue and insignia white scheme. These two variants would be a stunning addition to any model collection. Again, these schemes are represented in full 4-view drawings, making it a delight for the modeler to emulate them.

The next section of the book deals with unauthorized use of captured Fw 190’s, a fairly common practice as the Allies pursued the retreating Axis forces from Northern Africa, to Sicily and then up through the Italian Peninsula. Here several examples as used by the 79th FG and 85th FS of the USAAF are covered, which to put it mild, as very colourful. Here, the authors provide helpful insight into the colours used, such as the sand and not yellow fuselage band on 85FS machines.

As to be expected the book concludes with machines captured in the last stages or end of the war in Germany, including the red and white striped Dora’s used as guardians for the Me 262 jets of JV 44. Here the authors also include a rare colour photo showing a GI nonchalantly lighting a cigarette in front of such a machine, thereby irrefutably proving that the true nature of the stripes.

The Focke Wulf Fw 190 must rank as one of the great designs of WW2, and even it does not share the graceful lines of the Spitfire, or the high-altitude performance of the P-51, this pugnacious and purposeful fighter proved more than a match for many Allied aircraft and pilots for a considerable period of the conflict.


 

Conclusion

 

I can heartily recommend this book as a valuable resource to anybody interested in WW2 history, not only that of the Luftwaffe, but also of the RAF or USAF/USN test services. The book is available directly from the publishers at:http://www.kecay.com or from www.fliegerbuecher.ch.  I, for one, am looking forward to the second volume, which will hopefully also deal with Butcherbirds captured by the SAAF. 


Review Copyright 2008 by Sinuhe Hahn
Page Created 28 April, 2009
Last updated 28 April, 2009

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