1:72 Focke Wulf J10F1-G "フエルゲル" ('Fred'); "03-09", Yokosuka Naval Wing, August 1945 (Whif/Luft'46/Hobby Boss kit conversion)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The history of Focke Wulf's Fw 190 in Japan started with a rejection: in 1943 a single FW 190 A-5 had been supplied to Japan for evaluation, but at first, the type was not put into production by the Japanese. Anyway, the results of the study by Japanese engineers were incorporated in the design of the Ki-61 fighter. This evaluation did not go unnoticed, since the type received the Allied code-name 'Fred'.
By that time, the teething development problems of Mitubishi's J2M ‘Raiden’ (Thunderbolt) 'Jack' led to a slowdown in production. Biggest issues were the Kasei engine, an unreliable propeller pitch change mechanism and the main undercarriage members. Another drawback of the type was that its design put emphasis on performance and pilot protection rather than maneuverability. By the time the Fw 190 was tested, only fourteen J2M had been completed.
To make matters even worse, the Mitsubishi A7M 'Reppu' fighter was also behind schedule, so that replacements for the A6M 'Zero', backbone of the IJN’s air force, were overdue.
This situation left the Imperial Japanese Navy without a land-based interceptor. The first few produced J2M2 were delivered to the development units in December 1942 but further trials and improvements took almost a year, and it took until June 1944 that the ‘Raiden’ could make its combat debut, during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
While the Raiden was to be developed further for the high-altitude interceptor role, the IJN decided in January 1944 to adopt the highly effective Fw 190 as a supplementary interceptor for medium heights - only as a stop-gap at first, but the type quickly evolved into various sub-variants, much like in Germany.
License production of the adopted Fw 190 started at Hitachi in May 1944. The original airframe was modified to cater to Japanese needs and customs, and the most obvious difference of the J10F1, how the plane was officially called, was the use of the Mitsubishi MK4R Kasei 23c radial engine instead of the original BMW 801. It was a modified version of the engine in the J2M, but simplified and made more reliable. The engine produced 1.820hp and drove a four-bladed propeller. Another distinctive feature was a small fin fillet, which compensated directional instability due to the longer forward fuselage.
By its pilots, the J10F quickly became called “hueruge” (フエルゲル), a transcription of the Fw 190's German nickname "Würger" (=Shrike).
The original main variant with the MK4R Kasei 23e and armed with 2× 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns and 4× 20 mm two Type 99 Model 2 cannons, 354 aircraft produced.
While no official sub-variant was developed or designated, single machines differed considerably in equipment. This included field-modifications like reduced armament for better performance or ground-attack equipment, e .g. racks for a total of four unguided 60kg air-to-air missiles under the outer wings.
In late 1945 a few J10F1 were modified for the anti-ship role and night attacks, and they received the "-G" suffix for their new land-based bomber role. These planes had a reduced gun armament, flame dampers and an IR sight, similar to the German “Spanner” device.
Most of these planes were to carry special weapons, like a single indigenous Ke-Go 110 heat-seeking guided bomb under the belly, or, alternatively, a copy of the German Bv 246 "Hagelkorn" gliding bomb, which had been delivered to Japan in 1944 for tests and adopted for production. To allow more space under the fuselage while carrying these bombs on the ground, some of these aircraft had a longer tail wheel strut fitted. Additionally, tests were made with a torpedo on the centerline hardpoint. It is uncertain if these weapons were actually used in combat, though.
The only variant that was developed so far that it entered service, incorporating many detail modifications and improvements. These included thicker armored glass in the cabin's windshield (from 5.5 cm/2.2” to 7.6cm/3”) and extra armor plating behind the pilot's seat. The wing skinning was thickened in localized areas to allow for a further increase in dive speed. A water-methanol engine boost was added, which allowed an engine output of 2.050 hp for short periods, which boosted the top speed to 695 km/h. 52 were produced.
High altitude project with a pressurized cabin, a larger wing span of 11.96 m (39 ft 2 in) and a turbo-supercharged MK4R-C Kasei 23c engine, with the turbo-supercharger mounted behind the cockpit (itself made wider). This doubled the altitude at which the engine could produce its rated power, from 15,750ft up to 30,185ft. The J10F3 only carried two 20mm cannons in the wing roots, but had two extra oblique-firing 20mm cannon installed aft of the cockpit for use against high flying American B-29 bombers (much like the German "Schräge Musik" installments). Two prototypes were completed in June 1945, but the turbo-supercharger proved troublesome, and no further aircraft of this type were produced.
From late 1944 on, the J10F1 was quickly thrown into service and became a nasty surprise for Allied aircraft. The modified Focke Wulf design proved to be agile, fast and much tougher than earlier Japanese fighters, coupled with a relatively heavy armament. Beyond interception duties, the J10F1 was frequently employed in close support and anti-shipping tasks, since its low level handling and ordnance load was excellent.
Its only drawback was - as with the original Fw 190 - that performance dropped at heights above 6.000m. This should not have posed a problem with the J2M, but that type's delay left the Allied high-altitude bomber attacks relatively unharmed, so that the J10F3 version was hastily developed, but failed to realize. In Germany, the similar situation resulted in the Fw 190 D-9 variant and finally in the superb Ta-152.
Length: 9.29 m (30 ft 6¾ in)
Wingspan:10.51 m (34 ft 5 in)
Height: 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
Wing area:18.30 m² (196.99 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,490 kg (7,694 lb)
Max. take-off weight: 4,840 kg (10,670 lb)
Maximum speed: 656 km/h (408 mph) at 19,420 ft (5,920 m)
Rate of climb:17 m/s (3,300 ft/min)
Range: 800 km (500 mi)
Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
Engine: 1 Mitsubishi MK4R Kasei 23e radial engine with 1.820hp
2 × 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns, 300 rpg, in the nose
4 × 20 mm two Type 99 Model 2 cannons, 200 rpg, two in the wing roots, two outside of the landing gear.
Three hardpoints, one under the fuselage (max. 500 kg/1.102 lb) and one under each wing for 250 kg/550 lb each for bombs or fuel tanks. Total external ordnance load of 1.000kg (2.205 lb).
The kit and its assembly
The 'Japanese Fw 190' is a popular what-if topic, so I wanted to add my interpretation to the plethora of whifs and replicas of the real test machine. Actually, a clean Fw 190 looks pretty Japanese with its radial engine and sleek lines. When I recently came across a similar build at britmodelers.com, I thought that painting a Fw 190 green/grey and putting some Hinomarus on is logical and simple, but there's more in the subject than just cosmetics. I wanted a bit more... And while the concept remained simple, I had enough ideas and spare parts for a twin combo! In the end, the J10F was built as a pure interceptor and as a 'special purpose' night strike aircraft.
Basically, my limiting design idea for the J10F's design was the idea that Japan would not have received the Fw 190’s original BMW 801 radial engine, so that an alternative powerplant had to be fitted. I had hoped that this would have set the 'new' plane outwardly a bit apart from its German ancestor, and also make you look twice because the result would not be a 1:1 "Japanized" Fw 190 A/F. I tried, but I suppose that the effect is not as 'powerful' as intended – but judge for yourself?
The basic kits for both conversions come from Hobby Boss. It is a simple and clean kit, but with very good fit and engraved details. In an attempt to change the plane's look a little, I tried to transplant other engines - radials, too. Donation parts for both kits come from an Italeri Ju 188, which features two pairs of engines. The radials I used are actually BMW 801’s, too, but they lack the typical cooling fan and the cowlings are 3-4mm longer because they'd carry the engine mountings on the Ju 188's wings. Actually, the fuselage is minimal longer now, maybe 4-5mm, but the shape is still very close to the original Fw 190, so I think that this mod hardly is recognizable at all?
The change was a bit tricky, due to the massive fuselage of the Hobby Boss kit, but it worked. The new cowlings received new cooling louvres and exhaust pipes. New, four-bladed propellers were added, scratch-built from leftover Mosquito NF.30 propellers from the Airfix kit and drop tank front halves.
Otherwise, though, not much was changed, the two kits just differ in equipment details and received Matchbox pilot figures in order to cover up the bleak and very deep cockpit.
As an interceptor I left the plane clean, without external ordnance. I wanted to emphasize its elegant look, which makes it look like a Ki-43 on casual glance, or even an A6M. The plane carries the normal gun armament (from a Fw 190 A-8), this is supposed to be the original/standard J10F mentioned above.
The night attacker:
The J10F1-G variant saw more modifications, including a new exhaust system with flame dampers built from scratch. Other special equipment comprises an IR sight in front of the canopy, flare protectors, the fuselage hardpoint and the scratch-built Ke-Go 110 bomb. In order to cover the deleted gun access panels under the wings, I added streamlined bomb shackles for two Japanese 60kg bombs each, donated from a Matchbox Ju 87 kit.
About the Ke-Go bomb
This bomb, which looks like a penguin, is a fantasy derivate of a real Japanese development series until summer 1945. In a nutshell, the Ke-Go bomb actually was one of the first “fire and forget” weapons I have heard of. With the guidance of a bolometer seeker and a self-correcting steering mechanism, the bomb would (only) be useable against strong and clear heat sources – a ship’s kettle at night, when surrounding heat level was low, would qualify, and the bomb would be guided by deviation and correction from that heat source - if it locked on correctly, though! My Ke-Go 110 is a smaller version of the original Ke-Go bombs, suitable for lighter planes.
Being an IJN plane, paint scheme choices for the J10F were rather limited - and since it is a whif plane I stuck to my policy that I rather use a simple/subtle paint scheme.
For the clean and rather conservative interceptor I settled for a simple IJN Green/Gray livery (N. 2 ‘Aomidori-iro’, a bluish, very dark green and N.10 ‘Hairyokushoku’, respectively), with Testors 2116 and 2117 as basic tones. Yellow wing leading edges were added, cut from an aftermarket decal sheet. As a design twist I painted the engine cowling black, A6M-style. The propeller spinner was painted in red brown (typical Japanese WWII primer color), with an orange tip, matching the arrow symbol decal on the tail fin. The propeller blades were painted with Testor’s ‘Rubber’, #1183.
A slightly worn look was achieved through a light wash with black ink and some dry painting with paler shades of Green (Humbrol 91 and 185) and Aluminum, plus light exhaust marks and gun smoke residues with flat black. Some bare metal spots were added, which also highlight some details and add to the worn look.
All decals for the green fighter come from a Hobby Boss A6M, only the arrows come from the Hobby Boss He 162. Finally, everything was sealed under a semi-matte varnish, for a light shine to the surface – typical IJN machines appear to be rather shiny?
The night attacker:
This variant received a more fantastic and stealthy paint scheme - I wanted to set the plane apart from the clean and shiny interceptor: a grunty, desperate strike aircraft against overwhelming sea forces.
AFAIK, there had not been specific nocturnal cammo schemes at the IJNAS, except for all-green aircraft? A bit boring, I thought, esp. with a typical green/gray sister plane.
So I made up a personal variant: In a first step, upper surfaces were painted in a brownish-grey basic tone, AFAIK called ‘Ameiro’ – it is the color which was used on early Zeroes which were based on carriers, and the tone faded quickly to a light gray. This color is very similar to RAL 7014 ‘Fenstergrau’ and reminds of B.S. ‘Hemp’. I improvised it with a mix of Humbrol 141 (60%), 83 (35%) and a bit of 155 (5%). On top of that a dense array of dark green blotches (Humbrol 185, Chrome Green, at first, and later also with Humbrol 116 for more contrast) was applied, breaking up the plane’s lines and covering the light gray tone almost completely.
Undersides originally sported ‘Ameiro’, too, but they were painted as if they had been covered with a very dark gray tone in the field (Humbrol 67), even leaving out the hinomarus and flaking off everywhere. The black engine cowling was retained.
Hinomaru and squadron emblems come from the same Mitsubishi A6M from Hobby Boss as mentioned above, featuring even less markings. As a side note: I have never seen Hinomaru with a black(!) rim before? I am not certain if this is correct or an authentic modification - it matches the night fighter role perfectly, though. This time I chose a matte varnish, except for the cowling which received some streaks with more shiny semi-matte varnish.
In both cases, cockpit interior surfaces and landing gear wells were painted in ‘Aodake Iro’, simulated with a base of Aluminium (Humbrol 56) and a coat of translucent blue lacquer on top.
All in all, these pair of rather simple model kit was built in a couple of days, taking the pictures and waiting for good light took almost the same time! I am not 100% happy, because the engine mod is not as obvious as I expected, even though the four-bladed prop and the slightly elongated fuselage give the J10F a menacing and fast look, like a “Baby Tempest”.