SWISS AIR FORCE 1918-1945 in 1:48 SCALE


by George Grasse


PROLOGUE - in German Service 1933-1945
This photo is taken from the Classic Colours volume Fledging Eagles - Luftwaffe Training Aircraft 1933-1945 by Barry Ketley and shows Fw.44f B0+CC of a Luftwaffe Flugzeugf�hrerschule A/B (FFS A/B) sometime in the mid to late 1930s.  Note silver overall finish typical of Luftwaffe training aircraft through the early years of WW2.
The Focke-Wulf Fw.44 series was the first commercially successful design of the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH headed by chief designer Kurt Tank.  It first flew in 1932 and entered Luftwaffe training service in 1933.  It was powered by a 7-cylinder Siemans-Schukert Sh.14A radial engine giving 150hp.  Over 900 machines were built of which a few were license-built by Austria, Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, and Sweden.

Classed as an A2 aircraft (501 to 1000 kg) it weighed fully loaded with crew and fuel 870 kg.  Wingspan was 9 meters (29 feet, 61/4 inches); length was 7.3 meters (23 feet, 11-3/8 inches); maximum speed was 185 km/h or 115 mph.

Pilots advanced from basic flight training to the A2 class which, at the time, consisted of the Bucker Bu.131, Bucker Bu.133, Bucker Bu.181, Focke-Wulf Fw.44, Heinkel He.72, Klemm Kl.25, and Klemm Kl.35, two-seat, tandem aircraft.  The advanced trainee had to complete between 150 and 200 flight hours to qualify with an A2 certificate from which he advanced to specialized training on fighters, dive bombers, or bombers.  By 1939 there were 50 A/B Schulen producing Luftwaffe pilots including those for maritime service.  The Focke-Wulf Fw.44f was the last and most widely produced version named "Stieglitz" or "Goldfinch".

PROLOGUE - Landing and Interned in Switzerland
This photo was probably taken not long after Fw.44f NV+KF was interned.  Note the dark camouflage scheme which was reported as having the upper surfaces painted in a two-color scheme with pale blue undersurface.  It was assigned Swiss number A-95, refurbished, and  repainted in Swiss yellow trainer colors and markings.  Photo from Die Flugzeuge der schweizerischen Fliegertruppe seit 1914, page 264 (see also bibliography below).
This Focke-Wulf Fw.44f  marked NV+KF landed at Dubendorf, Switzerland, on 26 April 1945, flown by German Major Arno Albrecht from Konstanz near the Swiss border to avoid capture by the Allies.  It was interned and purchased from the Allied Control Commission and placed into service Swiss service with the identity number black A-95 and used as a utility aircraft in the role of a tow plane and smoke test aircraft, for example.

As a Luftwaffe training aircraft, NV+KF belonged to Flugzeugfuhrerschule (FFS) 71 (A/B), a primary and advanced flight training school for single-engined aircraft based at Prossnitz.

PROLOGUE - in Swiss Service 1945-1953
This photo is not dated and could have been taken anytime between 1945 and 1953.  A-95 is shown in its Swiss trainer scheme with black trim. 

In Swiss Air Force service it accumulated only 52 flight hours.  On 19 June 1953, it was sold to a civil flight school at Birrfeld where it received its civil aircraft serial of HB-EBN, modified to a single-seater, and operated as a tow plane for gliders.  On 2 October 1962, it was sold to Luigi Santa of Zurich who operated the aircraft privately from the Birrfeld airfield.  At the end of 1965, it was scrapped by the owner and its serial number was cancelled on 29 December 1965.

This color plan view shows the general layout of the two-seater trainer in its yellow scheme with Swiss national insignia.  Yellow H99 refers to Humbrol HUM099 Lemon Yellow Matte, Red H60 is Humbrol HUM060 Scarlet Matte, and Dark Grey H67 is Humbrol HUM067 Tank Grey Matte.  Note black wheel covers and exhaust arrangement.  Markings and wheel covers are black.
7 January 2012
PROJECT UNDERWAY:  After cleaning flash off all parts, the front edge of both wings had minor pits that were filled with putty and sanded.  The fuselage halves were glued together with super glue and filled with putty (sanding has not occurred in the photo).  The engine was assembled which involved gluing each of the seven cylinders to the crankcase.  The fuel injection ring was glued next.  The propeller was carefully cut away from its sprue and gently sanded. 

The kit's only PE component is the propeller boss at far left.  I made a floorboard from .010 plastic stock, measured the location of the seats, and glued them in place.  You will see more cockpit detail in the following panels.
15 January 2012
FUSELAGE PREPARATION:  The fuselage has been prepared: the seam lines were filled with putty sanded down and primed.  One more application of putty was necessary, then more sanding and a final priming coat to check for any discrepancies.  The cockpit floor now has two sets of rudder pedals, two sets of the kit's PE seat belts, and the bucket seats have been painted in Vallejo VC0865 Oily Steel.  The small square "boxes" in front of each seat are the scratch-built control column box (painted in Model Master ME2071 Gray RLM02).

Wheels are painted in Andrea ANAC01 Flat Black.  the tires will be painted in a dark shade of gray-black.  The engine has one coat of a mix of Vallejo VC0863 Gun Metal Gray and my acrylic "semi-gloss" black. 

7 February 2012
FUSELAGE AND LOWER WING ATTACHMENT:  The lower wing had to be re-shaped.  Resin components tend to warp and the lower wing was noticeably out of shape.  The correction was done by simply dipping the warped wing section into a cup of scalding hot water for about 20 seconds.  It is then removed and easily bent carefully back into shape and held until it cools, about 20 seconds.  The lower wing was then glued to the bottom of the fuselage.

The top decking of the fuselage cockpit has been glued in place.  It was a poor fit as shown above.  In subsequent photos, filling and sanding will smooth things out.

7 February 2012
ANOTHER VIEW:  This is a left front view of the aircraft model at the same stage as Photo #3.  Note the putty filled areas along the leading edge of the lower wing.  Pits are somewhat common in resin castings.  These were easy to fill and sand with fine sand paper.  Again, note the poor fit of the fuselage cockpit top decking.  All of this will be filled with putty and sanded. 
19 February 2012
COCKPIT:  The upper half of the cockpit has been filled with putty and sanded, three times to get the contour and all of the poor fit eliminated.  The streaking of the primer will not effect final painting however, it has been sanded with 600 grit paper.

TAIL PLANE: The next step was the gluing of the horizontal tail plane, a one-piece part, to the top of the cut-out on the upper rear fuselage.  However, the cut-out was cast too deep and had to be built up with card stock, yet another minor but timely step.  Some minor notching had to be done to fit the vertical tail plane. 

LANDING GEAR: The next sub-assembly is the landing gear.  The only original kit parts are the wide strut covers and the wheels.  The strut covers had all of their weak resin locating pins cut off and sanded.  In their place, I inserted brass rod at the top for locating pins and at the bottom for the axle.  Next, I hand-fitted Strutz material for the landing gear support as shown in the next panel.

19 February 2012
LANDING GEAR SUPPORT:  In this close-up view, you can see the two "V" support struts joined by a single central strut that attaches behind the landing gear on the fuselage underside.  The axles were copied from the resin axle that was removed.  You can see the shadow of the part of the axle that is inserted up and into the strut fairing.  You can also see the two brass locating pins at the top of the strut fairing. UNDERSIDE VIEW: This shows the rigid all-brass structure that replaced the flimsy resin components.  Note the sanded-down putty along the leading edge.  The kit was plagued with these annoying casting errors and have added a great deal of time to the construction of the model.  The landing gear structure is now quite strong.
8 March 2012
WINGS AND STRUTS:  It sounds simple enough: "wings and struts".  Well, it's not.  This was an extremely difficult step because a whole new set of brass struts had to be made, each one was custom fitted for its specific location because both wings were slightly warped throughout their wingspan and chord.  Each strut was made from Griffon Model Brass Hollow Tube.  The wing struts were slightly larger, the tube measuring 1.2mm.  The cabane struts were made from 1.0mm tube.  Each tube was perfectly sized for its location.  A K & S Engineering brass rod was inserted and the tube was carefully pounded with a small hammer to its oval cross-section.  The brass rod insert kept the tube from being crushed flat and served as anchor pins for attachment.  The finished structure is quite sturdy.
28 March 2012
PAINTING THE "STIEGLITZ":   The shade of yellow used on Swiss training aircraft in the 1940s appears to have been from stocks of U. S. No 4 Yellow, the same Yellow-Orange used on the wings of late 30s aircraft both frontline and trainers.  The yellow specified in Swiss sources appears to have been called "Berry Lloyd U.S. Army 04".  Using .05 plastic card stock, I primed two large 4" x 6" pieces for sample painting.  On one I sprayed three light coats of Tamiya #34 Camel Yellow and on the other 3 light coats of Tamiya #16 Yellow.  When dry, I compared them to my Federal Standard 595B Colors Fan Deck of July 1994.  The Tamiya spray paints are gloss so I checked the "13---" section and found that 13415 is nearly dead on with 13507 and 13542 on either side close alternatives.  So, I sprayed the "Stieglitz" overall in Tamiya #34 Camel Yellow as shown in the above two photos (the cockpits are stuffed with tissue).  I started a little further painting by darkening the lines that delineate the rudder, elevators, and ailerons.  It appears that Tamiya has to conform to new and/or revised paint content guidelines and stocks of the "old" Tamiya are dwindling.  Not much of the "new" Tamiya has reappeared yet although their new "Fine" spray primer is available.
4 April 2012
SWISS NATIONAL INSIGNIA RED PANELS:  This view shows preparation for application of the Swiss national insignia.  The red panels on the wing (including the underside of the lower wing not shown) and the rudder were hand-brushed with a thinned coat of Vallejo VC0957 Flat Red.  A second coat will even out the panels.  The kit's fuselage lacked quite a bit of detail.  To simulate the small cockpit access doors, a cut each one from .005 plastic stock and glued them in place.  I have determined the size of the white Swiss cross and will make these decals on white decal paper.
18 April 2012
DETAILS ADDED:  The engine was assembled, painted, and glued to the front of the fuselage.  The extended exhaust was poorly cast in the kit and had to be "rebuilt".  One somewhat triangular support was made from scratch plastic.  Just above the exhaust are three details added:  a hole drilled to match a drawing, another hole with a brass rod (evidently, a drainage tube), and small rectangular panel.  Note the "glass" fuel level indicator in the maze of cabane struts.  This was a simple glass tube with marks indicating fuel in the main tank located just forward of the first cockpit.

Note the cockpit entry doors from this view.  The tailskid was painted semi-gloss black.  Hand holds were made from thin brass rod, bent to shape, and glued to drilled out holes.  These were also painted semi-gloss black.  The Swiss national white cross was printed on white decal paper, cut out, and applied.  I have a range of crosses on a red background according to pixel sizes.  The rudder crosses are pixel size 40.  Those on the wings (not shown) are pixel size 85.   

30 April 2012
MORE DETAILS:  The tail unit support braces are made from brass rod.  The black "A - 95" aircraft number was printed on clear decal paper (Kartika 22 Bold).  The small first aid access panel emblem was hand-painted.  The Pitot tube under the top left wing is a small brass rod bent to shape and glued into a pre-drilled hole.  The double rigging wires are .007 music wire and need to be braced with spacers.

The black stripe is partially completed.  A template was drawn on paper using the radius of three different circles to approximate the design.  It was cut out, traced onto a black decal sheet, and applied.  One will be applied to the other side of the fuselage.  The area across the top decking of the fuselage will be painted semi-gloss black.

6 May 2012
FINISHING THE MODEL, PART 1:   The first step in finishing the model was to apply the right-side decorative black stripe and paint over the fuselage top with semi-glass black to connect the design.  The tail unit bracing struts were painted yellow-orange.  The entire model was over-sprayed in satin polyurethane and allowed to dry.  This protects the decals and smoothes out any imperfections in the overall paint job.

Cockpit windshields were cut from scrap clear plastic, bent to shape, trimmed to fit, and had just their front vertical frames painted yellow-orange.  They were glued in place with a few strips of white glue.  This allows for positioning.  When dry, small amounts of super glue were carefully applied for a permanent fit.  Areas around the windshields were touched up by brushing an acrylic semi-gloss to match the overall semi-gloss of the model.

6 May 20124
FINISHING THE MODEL, PART 2:   The interplane strut rigging is joined together at the "X" with a short piece of plastic sprue.  Aileron control wires have been added behind each "N" strut.   The propeller is painted a dark mahogany brown.  Wheel rims are painted semi-gloss black and tires are Vallejo VC0995 German Grey.  
6 May 2012


6 May 2012


------------------------------------------  FINIS  --------------------------------------------


Ketley, Barry.  Fledging Eagles: Luftwaffe Training Aircraft 1933-1945, Luftwaffe Colours Series.  Hersham, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Publishing, 2009.

Rosch, Barry C.  Luftwaffe Codes, Markings & Units 1939-1945.  Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military Aviation History, 1995.

Urech, Jakob (editor) and Emil Hunziker (drawings).  Die Flugzeuge der schweizerischen Fliegertruppe seit 1914 (Swiss Air Force Aircraft since 1914).  St�fa:  Verlag Th. Gut & Co., 1975.