Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-15
by Lance Braman
When I got the Aero-Details book on the D-9, I was surprised to see that there were several variants of Langnassen Dora that were either planned or actually made it into production. One of these was the D-15, which consisted of converted A-8s onto which a Ta 152C nose and tail had been grafted. Whether or not this plane actually existed is a subject of debate. The Aero Detail book states "At least two were known to be assigned to operational units and one, W.Nr 500645, was found by the U.S. Army, though in badly damaged condition." The Japanese text goes on to say that the picture clearly shows a Defense of the Reich band of either JG6 or JG2. Unfortunately, Aero Detail did not print this photo so one can see whether the plane in question is indeed a D-15 or a D-9 that had a Ta 152 tail.
In any event, armed with the drawing and information from this book, I set out to build a D-15.
This could also be titled "How not to best do this conversion in 1/72 scale." I was making several Doras at the time, and in an effort to save a little money I opted to convert Hasegawa's F-8 model to a D-15. This was because I wanted the bomb racks to convert a D-9 to a D-9/R5. In hindsight, it would have been much less painful to just have bought yet another D-9.
I started by cutting off the nose of the F-8 at the rear edge of the depression for the exhaust and cooling gills, leaving the wing roots intact. I also cut off the tail at the tail unit seperation line. I made sure to save both the rudder and the tailwheel before trashing the rest. The Dragon tailwheel, while better detailed, has 4 microscopic parts, none of which seemed to fit together well at all. The rudder is also almost perfectly smooth, and doesn't look much like a Focke-Wulf rudder at all.
The Dragon Ta 152C kit has the complete engine cowl as seperate pieces (so the same fuselage can also be used in the H kits), so I just had to cut the tail off at the front of the tail extension and remove the rudder. The tail fit the F-8 kit almost perfectly. Only a little sanding was needed to clean up the seam. The nose was a different matter.
While the overall width of the nose matched up to the F-8 kit pretty well, getting the proper length proved to be a bit of a chore. I had cut a bit too far back on the F-8 fuselage, which meant aside from building up a new decking just in front of the windscreen, filling in the F-8s ventral exhausts and adjusting the belly panels around the wing leading edge, I also had to build up new sides to the nose. Partly as a result of this error, the nose on the kit seems to droop a bit too much. It's not too noticeable at first, but if you examine at the profile, it looks a bit wrong. Unfortunately, I missed this until I had the thing all together and primed. Maybe I still could've fixed it at that point, but the thought of trying to seperate the nose and air intake, not to mention all the epoxy putty, put me off. I left it be.
The other addition needed to the nose was the stringer reinforcements on each side of the nose from the firewall to the cockpit. These were quite easy to scratch from some thin sheet styrene.
The only modification to the wings, aside from fairing the belly to the Dragon nose, were to replace the outer MG 151 ejection chutes with some bevelled rectangles of sheet styrene to represent the covers for the MK 108s the D-15 carried.
Gunze paints were used throughout. Since the D-15 is a semi- mythical bird (Luft 45.5?) one can get away with just about any scheme carried by a late-war Dora. In my case, I chose to paint the kit RLM 76/80/81 and apply Barksdale's markings from the Hasegawa kit. My rationale is his unit (JG6) was one of the two possibilities mentioned in the Aero Detail book, and since he was the skipper, why shouldn't he get the 'hot rod'?
This was, despite a few errors around the nose, a simple conversion. The finished kit looks good sitting next to my D-12/R-14 and D-9/R-5 (I still haven't built a straight fighter D-9!). If you have an extra Dragon Ta 152C lying around, or can get one cheap, give it a try. I would recommend, however, that you use a D-9 as the base for your conversion. Maybe the new Tamiya 1/72 Dora, since it has better details in the cockpit and landing gear than the Hasegawa, but the wrong nose!
Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Lance