Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Nightfighter
by Cees Knol
This article about the Messerschmitt Me 262 was previously published in Issue 5 of the Nightfighter journal "Nachtigall". Nachtigall is produced by Anthony Oliver and is the journal of the Nightfighter Special Interest Group and is affiliated to the IPMS UK. For information about the SIG you can email Tony Oliver on email@example.com
Toward the end of World War Two, British Mosquito nightfighters, bombers and reconnaissance planes harassed German ground and air forces. Owing to it high performance, the Luftwaffe decided to test the potential of the Messerschmitt Me262 as a nightfighter.
The Me 262 was not the only nightfighter guinea pig. Virtually every new plane that could reach the high speed of the Mosquito was also tested with varying degrees of success.
In November 1944 an experimental nightfighter, V056, was built by mounting FuG218 radar in the nose of a Me262A-1a. The aircraft was also tested with the FuG226 radar and this radar system was later used in the two-seat nightfighter Me262B-1aU1. The first attempt to use the Me262 as a nightfighter was the initiative of Oberleutnant Kurt Welter.
This is Dragon's 1/48 scale kit built straight from the box with the addition of some small details.
I chose the trials aircraft V056 fitted with the FuG218 Neptun radar due to the availability of published pictures. The interesting colour scheme for the tail results from the white test stripes on a black background for airflow evaluation.
I left one of the cannon bay doors open and added new barrels in the nose. On the inside of the doors I placed some styrene strip for structural detail.
The Junkers Jumo 004A turbojet needed frequent maintenance. I therefore left the engine cover open. In doing this I had to add extra detail to the turbojet. The kit supplies two very nice turbojets but I used only one of them. I will use the second for my next project - the Arado 234 nightfighter.
Details of the Jumo are easily found in a lot of books and magazines and painting must be done carefully with details picked out in black, metal, silver and gold.
The flaps at the trailing edge of the wing were cut out and replaced in the extended down position. I also carefully cut out the leading edge slats and filled the resultig gap with styrene strip. After that I replaced the flaps in open position with a small gap between the wing and flap. You have to do this four times because each wing has two separate flaps. There is a complete resin update kit from Verlinden but I prefered to make this detail by myself. I know that a lot of modellers are using resin update kit even I use them but if it is possible to made it by my self from styrene strip and other parts from the spare box I prefer this.
The cockpit includes such extras as seatbelts, handles for throttle and trim, and the Revi gunsight is updated. For the FuG218 antenna and the other antennas I used different thicknesses of copper wire. This gives a more realistic impression. Most of the antennae supplied with the kit are too thick.
I followed the painting instructions. I used RLM paints from the X-tra colour range. The panel lines are highlighted with a dark brown waterpaint wash. I prefer this method because if something is going wrong you can easily clean up and try again.
After the water paint is dry (some minutes) you can easily remove the spilled paint with a tissue. The number V056 is made from dry transfer letters and the others come from Superscale Decal set no 48 552.
After the model was finished I created a scenic base. I put some figures around the plane including one representing Kurt Welter. He is wearing the black leather flying jacket and sunglasses. This is not an affectation but used by many nightfighter's to accustom their eyes to darkness. The other pilot is discussing combat tactics. The figures come from the Preisser kit in scale 1/48. They are painted using enamels although this is not my speciality.
The fuel truck is from Revell with some extras and carefully painting and weathering. This diorama finished the model. It is a pity that you can not see the underside of the plane because there is a lot of detail in the wheel well as supplied with the kit.
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