Me 262 B-1a/U1 Red 8

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 Nachtjäger

UPDATE August 6, 2012

Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke-Wulf 190 night fighters received further research by Jean-Yves Lorant and Neil Page, FalkeEins Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 Nachtjäger. Drawing on personal accounts of JG300 members and remastering the photograph of the aircraft with the individual number "1", they establish that this is in fact Yellow 1, with a small red N and the Werknummer 340300. The other aircraft pictured with Klaus Bretschneider is identified as Red 3 or 8, again with a small red N.

Assessing colors on seventy years old photographs printed in books, even highest quality ones like the Jagdgeschwader 300 Wilde Sau Eagle Editions, is a challenging task and in the best case results in well based interpretations. Taking recourse to additional sources like flight logs, personal accounts and so forth, enhances our understanding of these camouflage schemes and markings. I am very pleased and honored that the expert on Jagdgeschwader 300, Jean-Yves Lorant, has indirectly responded to my initial interpretation and has shared this insight with Luftwaffe historians and hobby researcher, like myself.

With the digitally enhanced version and Claes Sundin artwork, we have an excellent representation of an early radar equipped single seat night fighter.

In early 1944 at Rheine, Leutnant Klaus Bretschneider of 6. Staffel JG300 flew at least two different Focke Wulf 190 of which photographs exist: 1 N, a FuG217 equipped aircraft, and 3 or 8 N (see Lorant & Goyat, pages 156, 157, 161).

The colors of the markings are somewhat contentious however: 1 N is shown either as yellow 1 with red N (Lorant, p. 329) or as red 1 and N (see Bretschneider chapter in 3 or 8 N is considered as yellow number as well as yellow letter N (Smith & Gallaspy, Luftwaffe Colors, Vol. 3 1943-45, p. 181).

For the lack of other sources, the photographic records offer the following observations.

Focke Wulf 190 A-7/R11 with FuG217 Neptun, 1 N
  • The regular color code of 6. Staffel aircraft would be yellow. As has been noted elsewhere, at JG300 pilot´s Staffel affiliations and aircraft Staffel marking do not match in a number of cases during this period. According to the memoirs of Leutnant Norbert Graziadei, pilots occassionally shared aircrafts, e.g. he with Bretschneider (see, FW 190 rote "2", Ltn. Norbert Graziadei).
  • The number 1 has a small black surrounding line. From other photographs of JG300 of that period, it seems that a black surrounding has been regularly used with yellow numbers, but also with red ones.
  • The aircraft carries a red Reichsverteidigungsband around the fuselage as it was common on aircraft in defense of the Reich until individual Geschwader bands were introduced in late 1944.
  • No vertical bar associated with II. Gruppe is discernible on the photograph on page 161 of Jagdgeschwader 300 Wilde Sau, Vol. 1. However, the II. Gruppe emblem on the cowling can clearly be seen in both photographs.
  • Close examination of the color shades of the number 1, the letter N and the fuselage band seem to support the claim, that the later was of a darker color than the former two. However, the existing photographs do apparently not support the claim that number and letter were of different colors.
  • Unfortunately, the Werknummer is not fully readable.
Thus, Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 with FuG217 was most likely yellow 1 N, both the number and the letter being yellow.

Focke Wulf 190 A-6, 3 or 8 N
  • Both photographs show only the right edge of the number. JG300 period photographs demonstrate two styles used for the number 3, one with rounded upper parts, one with a more straight element. Equally, the number 8 has been painted with apparently identically sized upper and lower parts, making a distinction from 3 very difficult if not impossible. 
  • The number is surrounded by a white line. Other photographic record of JG300 aircraft indicates that white surroundings were used for numbers in red, green, black and blue.
  • The aircraft carries the red fuselage band as well as a vertical bar within it outlined in white. Band and bar seem to be of the same color, thus rendering the bar red, the color associated with a 5. Staffel.
  • The number and the letter N appear almost identical on the two printed photographs; at least there does not seem enough difference between them to attribute two different colors like red and yellow to them.
  • There is a perceptible difference between the fuselage band and the other markings, the later being of a lighter shade.
Apparently, Bretschneider´s other aircraft carried a yellow 3 or 8 N.

These interpretations leave open several questions. Why does the 3 N or 8 N group bar not reflect the 6.Staffel color? Why does the yellow 1 N lack a II. Gruppe bar? Why is the yellow number in one instance surrounded in black, in the other in white?

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