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1:48 Hasegawa Focke Wulf Ta 152 H-1 JG. 301

 by: Anthony Manzoli


In 1944, the Reichluftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry or RLM) decreed that all new fighter aircraft designations must include the chief designer's name. Thus was born the Ta 152, named for Kurt Tank, chief of design at the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau G. m. b. H. Except for designation, the Ta 152 series is directly related to, and a natural development of, the Fw 190. It was probably the fastest and most capable production, propeller-driven, fighter fielded by Germany during World War II.  In May, 1942, the RLM convened a meeting with representatives of Focke-Wulf and Messerschmitt to discuss the requirements for a Spezial Höhenjäger, a special, high-altitude fighter. Later, the RLM identified an offshoot concept known as the Extremer Höhenjäger, or extreme high-altitude fighter. To meet this need, the Messerschmitt designed the Me 155B and after a clumsy, protracted development period, this project evolved into the Blohm & Voss BV 155 (also in the NASM collection). Meanwhile, Tank hewed to the earlier Spezial Höhenjäger requirement a design called the Ta 152 began taking shape in 1943.  There were many technical challenges to overcome to field an airplane that could fight effectively at altitudes about one-third higher than either the Bf 109 or Fw 190 types already in production. By summer, the need for the new airplane was becoming acute. American heavy bomber raids were increasing and the bomber's fighter escort was operating at higher altitudes. The RLM pressed Focke-Wulf to modify existing designs to operate comfortably at about 12,500 m (40,000 ft). Relatively simple structural modifications were made to existing wings and fuselages to produce the Ta 152. Getting reliable performance from the various subsystems including the engine and supercharger, pressurization equipment, and even the landing flaps, proved much more difficult.  Kurt Tank chose the same workhorse Jumo 213 power plant used in the Fw 190D. For the Ta 152H, he selected an updated version, the Jumo 213E, equipped with a 2-stage, 3-speed mechanical supercharger and MW 50 engine boost. The MW 50 system used methanol-water mixture to boost engine output from 1,312 kw (1,750 hp) to 1,537 kw (2,050 hp) for short periods. Because of aluminum shortages, Focke-Wulf made the wing spars from steel and built the rear fuselage and empennage. The wing contained two steel spars. The front spar extended slightly beyond the landing gear attachment points but the rear spar spanned the entire wing. The wing twisted 3° from the root to the flap-aileron junction. This 'washout' prevented the ailerons from stalling before the center section. This allowed the pilot to maintain roll control during a stall. Armament consisted of one 30mm MK 108 cannon firing 90 rounds through the propeller hub and one 20mm MG 151 cannon firing 150-175 rounds from each wing root.  During the fall of 1944, Tank converted an existing Fw 190 prototype airframe (Werk-Nummer or serial number 0040) into the Ta 152H prototype. This aircraft and several other Ta 152 prototypes crashed early in the test program, due largely to intense pressure from the RLM to field production airplanes. Critical components suffered quality-control problems. Superchargers failed, pressurized cockpits leaked, the engine cooling system gave trouble, the landing gear failed to properly retract, and oil temperature gauges gave false readings. These problems, combined with Allied bombing attacks, which disrupted transportation and caused severe fuel shortages, slowed the whole program. Test pilots conducted just 31 hours of flight tests before full production started in November. By the end of January 1945 this figure had not climbed above 50 hours. This was not nearly enough time to refine subsystems and debug major components but production forged ahead. Premature though it was, the Ta 152 had tremendous potential. Unlike the BV 155, a highly experimental, flying test-bed, Tank's design simply joined a powerful engine, already proven in the Fw 190D, to an existing airframe tweaked to perform at higher altitudes. The result was an airplane faster and more maneuverable than the P-51 Mustang and the P-47 Thunderbolt. Chief designer Kurt Tank was flight-testing a Ta 152H when he encountered a flight of roving Mustangs. He simply turned toward home, applied the MW 50 system to boost his engine, and gave his pursuers the slip. Between October 1944 and February 1945 when production ended, Focke-Wulf managed to roll 67 completed Ta 152 aircraft (H-0, H-1, and C-1 models) off the line but these fighters put on a disappointing show. Some aircraft were lost to engine fires while a variety of other engine problems and spares shortages grounded most of the fleet. By April 30, 1945, only two Ta 152C-1s remained operational. The Luftwaffe had grounded all H-models--an ignominious end for combat aircraft with great potential.

As the Soviets rolled over eastern Germany, many Luftwaffe pilots took off and steered their mounts west. They preferred to be captured by the West. The British recovered "Green 4" in Aalborg, Denmark, at the end of hostilities. They turned the airplane over to "Watson's Whizzer's, the U. S. unit charged with collecting German aircraft for further study. Lt Harold McIntosh flew '020 to Melun, France, where it was loaded aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Reaper and shipped Newark Army Airfield, New Jersey. From Newark, McIntosh flew this Ta 152 to Freeman Field, Indiana. The airplane was later transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, to undergo extensive flight testing as Foreign Equipment number FE-112 (later changed to T2-112). After testing, the Army stored the aircraft and then turned it over to the National Air Museum in 1960.

Copyright © 1998-2000 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (revised 8/15/00 S. Wille and R. E. Lee)

Reference: Aircraft of the Smithsonian / National Air and Space Museum



Type and year: Fighter / 1945

Wing Span: 14,43 ms

Length: 10,70 ms

Height: 3,35 ms

Weight at takeoff: 4 744 kg

Max. Speed : 759 km/hr to 12 500 ms

Max. Altitude : 14 800 ms

Autonomy: 1 215 km

Armament : Two 20 mms machine-guns, one 30 mms gun

Crew: 1 man

This is Hasegawa's  reboxed Dragon Ta-152H-1/ Trimaster kit.  The kit is molded in shiny grey plastic and features photo etched parts, and an Jumo 213E-1 motor.  Dry fit of the  Fw Ta152 H-1 reveals minimal gaps, not too bad for an ex-Dragon kit.  The photos below show the engine mounted in the fuselage.  A tight fit but it will definitely be viewable from the open wheel bays.  Note the ejector assembly for the 30 mm cannon.  So far I have painted the cockpit, which got a couple of coats of Gunze RLM 66 then I picked out the details with flat black, white red and yellow and dry-brushed it with RLM 02 and silver.   I also painted the inside of the fuselage RLM 66 and the engine compartment and wheel wells RLM 02.   Since I have never built a plane with a motor in it, I was wondering if the motor was necessary or not.  After dry fitting the fuselage and the wings, I noticed that the engine would be viewable so I decided to include it.  The kit offers the engine, so it can either be installed and viewable through the open cowlings which are provided.  Or  it can be displayed on an engine stand.  I painted the engine  Tamiya Field Grey, and picked out details with Model Masters Burnt Metal and metallic grey.  The next steps will be gluing the engine and cockpit to the fuselage halves and then the wings to the fuselage. 


Assembly:  The assembly went according to the instructions,  carefully installing the engine and cockpit and gluing the fuselage halves together. I assemble everything that will be painted the over all colours omitting some of the details, so that they do not get broken. The Air intake for the supercharger has a small photo etched grille which adds to the realism.   The fit of the kit was pretty good up to the wing to fuselage joint.  This ended up giving me some trouble and required a bit of filler and sanding.  I chose to build the wings first and then attach them.  I have talked to some people and they attach the upper wing first and then attach the lower wing to the upper wing.  I have yet to try this technique but it might prevent the gaps that sometimes are noticeable when the fit isn't precise.  After the wings were glued in place and mended, I masked the wheel wells as well as the cockpit.

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Painting:  I started off by painting all of the panel lines with Gunze flat black, when this was completed, I followed up with Gunze RLM 76 light blue.  When preshading, you are trying to get a subtle effect, spraying to thick of a coat, you will end up losing the panel lines you have shaded.  Once the undersurface was painted, I moved on and painted the tail section and sides fuselage side with RLM 76 as well.  The kit was left to dry over night.  The next day I pulled out Gunze RLM 75 grey violet, RLM 82 light green, and RLM 83 dark green, (luckily I have four paint cups for my Aztec.)  I started by masking the leading edges of the wings with a wavy pattern, and also the wing roots.  I painted the RLM 82 first and then followed it with the RLM 75.  (Since I am modeling Green 3/ Stab JG. 301)  this is the plane that was piloted by Josef Keil, he was the only pilot of JG 301 to achieve acedom by scoring 10 kills which 5 were in the Ta 152.  When the wings were finished I removed the mask and started on the fuselage.  I carefully painted the RLM 82 first spraying the front of the fuselage as well as the tail section, I also mottled the sides of the plane and the tail.  Next was the RLM 83, dark green this was sprayed in the middle section of the plane as well as mottling on the sides.  At this point the plane has been left to dry and the next step will be clear coating it with "Shine Magic"  in preparation for the decals.  After spraying a few coats of Shine Magic and allowing it to dry for 8 hours, I began to apply the decals.  I am not sure if all of Hasegawas's decals are similar or I happen to get an old sheet, but they did not cooperate as well as I had expected them to.  A few of them came apart and luckily I was able to salvage them.  For the red and yellow RV band, I gave up hope of using it after it wrinkled up and tore in three places, so I masked the fuselage and painted the bands on with RLM 23 and RLM 04.  I am glad I took the time to do this, the finish was much more realistic then using the decals.  Once the decals were all on I reapplied a bit of Solvaset to make sure they  all settled down as best as possible before I would give it the final coat of gloss.  The same evening I sprayed a few coats of the Shine Magic mixed with Tamiya flat base for a smooth matte finish.  The model was then left to dry over night.  The last stages were adding all the bits and pieces that I did not want to risk breaking off while painting it, this included the antennas, the canopy, pitot tube, and Morane antenna. I should mention that the wheels are True Details, "weighted tires" and that I added brake lines as well.   The aerial was made from a strand of hair and Crystal Clear was used for the insulators.  The prop was painted black green and the nose cone medium green.  I spent roughly three weeks on this kit, luckily I was on holidays or it would have taken a bit longer.  The kit is pretty detailed and has allot of depth to it, with the engine and the cockpit details.

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