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Tamiya's 1/48 scale conversion
Fw 190D-9 "Big Tail"

by Marc Rocca




Having just recently gotten back into the hobby after a very long break, I am amazed at the progress that has been made and how different the hobby is compared to 30 years ago. Photo etched and resin after market accessories, and a host of other after market accessories just simply did not exist. Even the advent of the internet making research and reference materials a few clicks away are nothing short of incredible.

I wanted to try my hand at a full blown detail PE detail set so I picked up the Eduard set for the 1/48 Tamiya JV44 kit and the kit at my LHS. I thought it was a cool subject due to the red underside but then noticed there were a lot of examples of these aircraft already beautifully done. I went thumbing through the stack decal sheets and came across the “Late Doras” Aero Master sheet that has Yellow 6 which caught my eye for being a little off the beaten track. The use of RLM 84 and the natural metal finish for the underside seemed like it would make an interesting subject.

Yellow 6 was flown by an unknown pilot of 9./KG(J) 27, Germany, and was shot down on April 1 1945. References that were found are speculative on details.



It is said to have been part of a group of at least 3 aircraft that had the Ta-152 wooden tails added but before engine mods that lengthened the front of the plane. So along with my first ever PE detail set I decided to try my first ever conversion and make this a “big tail”.


Construction / Conversion

Using a horizontal line through the stabilizers on some profiles as my base line and measuring the angle of the vertical stab leading edge for the regular and big tails, I calculated the difference in the slant of the leading edge to be about 7 degrees. I know if someone took a ruler to my model it may not scale out exactly but, hey, a lot of the kits out there don’t scale out exactly either and this is my first crack at this. But I of course did try to be as accurate as possible.

After tracing the old vertical stabilizer on a piece of sheet styrene I added the 7 degrees and cut out a spine hat was glued to the front of the tail. I colored the leading edge with w red permanent marker to as I added styrene and putty to fill and was sanding to shape the red coming through would let me know to stop. After all the filling and sanding were done, some scribing was needed for the new vertical stabilizer.


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The kit itself goes together very nicely and there weren’t really any issues beyond what would normally need to be done as far as filling and sanding. Most parts needed little attention after a dry fit.


Next I start cutting, trimming and folding the PE part for the cockpit. This was all straight forward and the Eduard instruction sheets were clear and the reference drawings plentiful. Some of the kit detail on the cockpit had to be removed but the cockpit fit was excellent. The pre-painted details really make the cockpit an impressive looking assembly. I added some “dimension” to some of the pieces like levers and knobs with thick CA and accelerator.

I did not like the appearance of the open cowl flaps since the bottoms looked very thick. I always keep a 1/48 scale pilot figure sitting on the shelf so if I want to get an idea of what the scale appearance of something is I will compared to the figure. The cowl flaps looked like they were almost “2 fingers” thick at the base. Then I look at my fingers and realize that is not a cowl flap… it is armor plate. These were cut off and discarded. The disc that is left was sanded smooth and reduced a little in circumference to allow for the thickness of the new cowl flaps cut from strip styrene. A simple metal jig was made to cut all the new flaps to the same length. The front edge of each flap has to be sanded so it is a little concave so when it is given the right curve, it will be flush with the cowling for the open position and not have a gap. Short pieces of 28 gauge craft wire were glued to the inside of each for the flap actuators.

Landing gear gets PE oleo scissors that are a nice look. Brakes lines were added as were strut springs made from craft wire wrapped around a small drill bit shank and painted red. The craft wire comes in roll available from art and craft stores and usually comes in silver or gold finish and very shiny. I take short length and roll it between 2 piece of very fine sandpaper mounted on sanding blocks. This takes the shine off and a lot of the time does not need to be painted but when paint is required it gives the surface some “tooth” to help it stick. Tires are held close to a lit candle t soften and gently pressed to the table top for the bulge produce by the A/C weight, then painted with a mix of flat black and rubber.

The rest of the model was built with much else being done. This of course does not include the extra work that was my fault due to gluing in the lower wings and realizing the finished cockpit was still in the table. Ultracast exhausts are used and really add to the finished product.

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Painting and Markings

All paints are Model Master enamels using RLM 82 & 83 on upper surfaces. The side and underside are RLM “84” mixed using info on the decal sheet as a starting point which suggests RLM 76 with a bit of RLM 02. Nearly all references to the unofficial color RLM “84” describe it as a blue/green or straw color. It needed yellow for the shade and white for the hue to get to what I liked. The NMF is Model Master Metalizer buffing aluminum plate. Bottoms of the ailerons and the rudder are RLM 76.


3 coats of Future that were allowed to cure before applying decals, using some of the kit sheet stenciling that is missing from the Aero Master sheet, followed by a sealing coat of Future. The panel lines were given a wash of Model Master flat black with some Testor rubber. After this thin wash dried it was wiped, always toward the rear, with a paper towel pad barley damp with thinner. I change to a clean spot as needed but will go back to a dirty spot on the pad if I need to add a bit more streakiness. Remember to use good ventilation for this method. After drying, 2 coats of flat lacquer were applied. Panel lines are further accented with post shading using pastels in dark grey and black, using a ¼” wide flat brush with stiff bristles to hole a nice edge.

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Exhaust stains start with dark gray then brown over that. Paint is given a faded look with some white pastel lightly applied with a blush brush. Paint chipping is done with a sharp Prismacolor Metallic Sliver pencil.

Finishing Touches

Navigation lights for the wings tips are stretched clear sprue held close to a flame so it rounds over to make a bulb shape and painted with clear colors after gluing into a pre-drilled hole. Landing gear indicators are sanded 28 gauge craft wire dipped in flat white and allowed to dry. I shaved a fine point on a red permanent market, chucked the wire in my Dremel and on a slow speed just touch with the tip of the marker for the red stripes. Wing canons are hypodermic needles.


The project was never intended to turn into what it did. Now I wish I had done something about the oblivious omission of the visible engine plumbing in the wheel wells. Next time for sure.

More Pictures

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Copyright © 2005 by Marc Rocca