Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Yellow 4, flown by Gefreiter Werner Merz, 11./JG 54, Odenburg/Germany, early October 1944

On 20 September 1944, after weeks of waiting, III./JG 54 finally received its first new Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9s. Four of the new fighters were delivered directly from the test facilities at Rechlin. Although the pilots knew that a new improved type of Fw 190 would equip the Gruppe, the veteran pilots where however not impressed as they had hoped for an even hotter bird, the Me 262 Turbinjäger.

They were openly sceptical and did not approve of the lengthened fuselage and liquid-cooled Jumo engine. However after the Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Robert "Bazi" Weiss had test-flown the aircraft in the afternoon these suspicions evaporated. Especially since Weiss praised the excellent turning capabilities and the exceptional climb rate of the D-9. Later the pilots came to appreciate the diving and cruising speed of the Fw 190 D-9, and universal approval quickly replaced their initial scepticism.

As more Doras arrived at the Gruppe a pilot training program in the new type was initiated. During early October 1944 the unfavorable weather restricted flight activities, although the Staffeln in the III Gruppen continued their training on there new machines. Fortunately for the 11 Stafflen led by the experienced pilot Oblt. Rudolf Patzak with 11 abscussen under his belt did not have any plane or pilots losses registered util 29 December 1944.

On this day what the pilots in the III./JG 54 later would dubbed "Black Friday" when the Brittish 2nd Tactical Air Force were active all over Emplaned and Münsterland. During this day the Gruppen would lose their Gruppenkommanduer Hptm, Weiss and with him another 12 pilots killed and another three wounded, Including 4 pilot killed and one wounded from the 11th Stafflen. And with them losing a staggering 15 Dora-nines. This all for eight own claims of which three went to the 11th Staffeln for their first victories in their new fighter, not a particular god start. Later after an investigation was conducted, it was made clear that the Luftwaffe air-controllers had led the Gruppe in at too low a altitude, resulting in easy targets for the British fighter units who could bounced them from above.

Not much is know of the pilot of this machine others than he eventually was promoted to Unteroffizier. Finally on 18 March 1945 while flying in 14./JG 26 he was shot down and killed in air combat with P-51s from 339 FG 4 km vest of Twistringen. By the time of his death Werner Merz had not filed any confirmed victories.

As a very early D-9 produced at the Focke-Wulf Bremen-Neuenkanderfeld factory it was camouflaged in the grey RLM 74/75 combination with all side and under surfaces painted in a light blue-grey variant of RLM 76. It is known that many of the first machines to arrive at JG 54 were sparsely camouflaged. Parts of the upper surfaces therefore, in particular the fuselage sides, were over-sprayed at the unit level. The "Black men" in JG 54 simply applied a darker shade of the camouflage color on the fuselage top and sides, to enable the aircraft to blend into the vegetation better when being concealed on the ground. It is speculated that this color was RLM 81 brown or RLM 82 green. Both are possible but it could also have been RLM 71, a color that by this time was available in abundance. Note the name "Bums" in white under the cockpit as well as a four-leaf clover for good luck.

This is one of the 29 profies captions written during the week, it would first be proof read and and fixed before beeing included in Profile Book No 13. A book that is to be published in April 2023.

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