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Book Review
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190D Dora
  • DORA-Cover-V-2

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Written by Jerry Crandall and illustrated by Thomas A. Tullis. Hardbound A-4 with 344 pages, printed on very high quality heavy-weight paper. The book includes 381 B&W photos, 46 colour, 72 colour profiles, plus a further 35 scrap views. There are some well-known photos but the vast majority are new (to me at least), being drawn from a number of personal collections. The scope ranges from snaps taken by Luftwaffe pilots showing the day-to-day lives in the winter of 1944/45, through to a huge selection of photos taken by the advancing Allied troops posing by abandoned wrecks. In both cases the subtle details often missed in "official" photos is amazing. Typical is the series of shots taken of the pilots and groundcrew of 9. Staffel, JG 54 as they posed with their mascot "Struppi", a little wire-haired terrier. In the course of the photo session(s), they posed him on virtually every part of a pair of 'D-9s - and unwittingly left us with what almost amounts to a mini walk-around of an in-service Fw 190!

The book breaks down basically into two halves. Part One combines vivid eye-witness accounts of events and combat with plentiful photos and superb colour artwork. Modellers could be tempted to skip over the written accounts, but this would be a mistake as they include many (almost incidental) details that help bring a model to life, be they passing comments on camouflage (usually not a pilot's first priority) to details of armament and other equipment carried and the descriptions of airfield scenes in the unfolding chaos at the end of the war in Europe.

Part One
The Birth Of The Dora. This forms the introduction to the book and is brief and to the point. As the author points out, the background development has been well-covered elsewhere and the primary focus of this volume is to concentrate on the production versions. Nevertheless, this section includes clear photos of the primary prototypes, complete with detailed captions picking out colours and details essential to anyone modelling the aircraft.

Of particular interest to modellers will be a section dealing with the five main cowling variations, each attributed to the various subcontractors and quite distinctive once you know what to look for. With such details of interest to modellers and Dora enthusiasts alike, again the book serves the modeller well with lists of the W.Nr. batches appropriate to each cowling style and with pointers to particular aircraft displaying the cowlings in photos.

Rounding off this opening section is a brief discussion of the difficulties inherent in judging the colours in B&W photos and the rationale behind the choices in the book's colour profiles and the manner in which the RLM colours are described.

The New Doras Are Delivered. "Before us we see the Fw 190, with no radial engine but an inline job, a Jumo 213.... They are insane, completely insane. We veterans have a bellyfull of anger at being saddled with such junk..." Such was Hans Dortenmann's initial reaction to the Dora! But the early disappointment and real anger felt among such pilots was soon replaced with grudging appreciation for the new aircraft as they conducted their first familiarisation flights and got the feel of their new mounts: "It takes some time before we are familiar with our new birds. But really, even now the machine proves its superiority with every flight. Enormous climbing ability, far better acceleration in a dive, significantly higher cruising speed and definitely improved turning capability compared with to a Fw 190 or a 109. Slowly we are getting enthusiastic about the Dora 9."

Another short chapter, this deals with the reaction of the pilots of JG 54 as they took delivery of the first production Doras in September 1944. Almost unbelievably, the very first Dora delivered to an operational unit - W.Nr. 210003, Dortenmann's personal aircraft - survived to the end of the war with no less than 98 flight hours in the logbook.

Photographically, star of the show is the aforementioned "Struppi" posing on early Doras which are brought to life with the first of the volume's impressive colour profiles by Thomas Tullis. Each profile is accompanied by a half-page description listing equipment details and describing the camouflage and markings.

Baptism By Fire, as the title suggests, covers the initial combats, including the catastrophic events of Oct 15 when six Doras of 9./JG 54 took off in some confusion, minus their Staffelführer and other senior pilots, only to be bounced by Thunderbolts in what amounted to a "turkey shoot". Just six pages long, the chapter really serves as the lead-in to the major part of the first half of the book - Diaries and Doras.

The next 109 pages take the form of really fascinating diary extracts and eye-witness recollections, interspersed with numerous photos, logbook extracts and reports, plus more high-quality profiles of the aircraft featured. Just a few gems among the diary extracts include Dortenmann's colourful clash with ground controllers when faced with near-suicidal orders (this almost resulted in his court-marshal), he and his comrades' dismissal of absurd orders from Admiral Dönitz in May 1945 to fly to Norway to keep fighting and, finally, his poignant account of having to destroy his trusty Dora as he awaited the arrival of Allied troops Some of the personal accounts are somewhat reminiscent of the venerable old ".... In Action" books published by Ian Allen Ltd. in the 1970s, but what really makes Jerry Crandall's work stand out is the quality of the photo captions. The depth and attention to detail is unrivalled, describing each aircraft in detail, naming the personnel and location and, crucially, from a modellers perspective, highlighting colour and equipment details that might otherwise be missed.

Rounding the section off is a discussion of JG 301's unique tactical marking system, introduced to confuse Allied intelligence and, finally, a truly spectacular aircraft - ironically not a Dora, but an overall orange-red Ta 152 flown by the unit's Kommodore, Obslt. Fritz Auffhammer, to meet Focke-Wulf officials to discuss the continuing delivery hold-ups. Fed up with excuses, Auffhammer exclaimed "I don't care about your problems, you can kiss my arse! I need these machines right now!"

Part Two
Captured On Film. The bulk of the second half of the book takes the form of a series of photo studies, each backed up by more of Thomas Tullis's profiles - 42 in all. What's really impressive is the way the author has been able to trace so many previously unpublished photos and has organised them in a way that provides the most detailed coverage of the Dora that I've yet seen. While Part One of the book presents the Luftwaffe's view of the Fw 190D, this section is made up of photos taken mostly by advancing and occupying Allied troops. As such, the majority of the Doras are in various states of disrepair (what are fascinating are the series of photos showing the progressive damage by vandals and souvenir hunters), but there are also some spectacular airworthy examples. The variety of field-applied colour variations is huge and these are dealt with in detail in the excellent captions and the accompanying profiles.

Backing up the B&W photos are a number of colour shots. These include some famous period photos, plus a series of still frames from original colour footage taken at the end of the war. Together these are an invaluable aid in determining the camouflage colours used on 'D'9s. Among the well-known aircraft is "Blue 12", W.Nr. 5007570 of 8./JG 6 which the pilot landed and surrendered at Fürth in May 1945. This is covered in depth as the aircraft was photographed in both colour and B&W and the book features no less than 14 shots in all. These include the well-known colour "portrait" which has appeared many times - but the difference this time is that the picture is treated to careful colour analysis. This not only helps solve the debate as to whether the aircraft number was painted in blue or black, but also reveals a number of smaller colour details which I'd missed, despite looking at the photo many times in other publications over the years.

A very useful section includes a set of photos taken in 1967 prior to the restoration of the Dora now on display at the USAF Museum. These form the basis of an extensive analyis of the colours and include the restorers' original Munsell colour matches. Among the surprises here is the is the revelation that paint supplier Warnecke and Böhme altered their formula for RLM 66 at least eight times, resulting in slightly different colours each time! The endless debate about RLM colours looks set to continue...

The final aircraft covered in this section comes in a very unusual form - a wooden model of a 'D-9 carved for Hptm. Roderich Cescotti by his crew chief. This is both surprisingly accurate but, more importantly from a modeller's point of view, was painted at the time in the original paints with Light Green undersides and RLM 81/82 topsides.

Appendices
Concluding this volume are a set of Situation Reports and excerpts from a number of pilots' logbooks. Last of all, there's a nice 8-page set of 1/48 scale drawings by Koichiro Abe. These are detailed and annotated with details of armament and equipment variations, plus a cutaway internal view. The drawings should prove very useful to modellers, and I suspect many builders will prefer to photocopy the plans rather than risk damaging the originals with glue or paint. Perhaps the plans section could have been made more "modeller-friendly" if the drawings had been reproduced in a variety of scales as separate sheets, but that seems a carping criticism of a book of such quality.

Conclusion
It's not cheap, but a book of this scope and quality and can't be and, as you can tell, I'm hugely impressed. I've a number of books on the Dora on the shelf, including JaPo's impressive work, and Jerry Crandall's latest work is right up there with the very best of them. Even if you already own the JaPo book, lovers of the Dora will still want this latest book as it forms an admirable companion and counterpoint. I still feel I've only scratched the surface, as it's the kind of work where you can continue to find new points of interest in weeks of browsing. Aimed at enthusiasts and modellers alike, it gets the balance just right, as the comprehensive photo coverage and detailed colour notes are an absolute goldmine for anyone building a model Dora. Perhaps the most daunting aspect of this book is the realisation that it's just volume one of a pair that will add up to quite possibly the most comprehensive account of the Fw 190D available. Along with still more photos and colour artwork, Volume Two will cover the D-9, D-11 and D-11 and will feature an extensive section devoted to analysing preserved paint samples, along with more details of paint production and application. I can hardly wait!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Superbly detailed with high quality B&W and colour photos backed up by comprehensive captions and excellent colour profiles and scale plans. Eye-witness accounts are vividly translated.
Lows:
Verdict: An absolute goldmine of information - this is a must-have book for Dora enthusiasts.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 978-0-9761034-5-1
  Suggested Retail: $85.00
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 24, 2008
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.09%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.86%

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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...

Copyright ©2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. All rights reserved.



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