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Experten Decals ED-1 August 2001


Fw 190 D-9 "Rote 1", JV 44

Clearly, the identity of Rote 1's underside colour has generated a fair amount of controversy over the years. During the preparation of our first book (1), we agonized over this point for some time. The easiest thing to have done was to say "red" and be done with it. However, we had the nagging suspicion that it wasn't quite so easy. We found that the grey tone of the known red portion of the foot step shown in one of the photos was noticeably lighter than the number "1" on the port side of the fuselage. This observation thus caused us to interpret the aircraft's undersides as being black.

We also believed that it was rather unlikely that ALL other known photos, from many different sources, would all have been taken orthochromatic film and/or various lens filters, all of which would render red colors as black. We were further troubled by the front shots that showed the faint image of a simplified black Balkenkreuz on a black-painted underside. How could this be explained? Detailed examination of photos from many different aircraft reveal a peculiar feature of national markings on all portions of an aircraft, in that they have a distinctive sheen and thus are more reflective. This we believed explained our ability to 'see' the underwing cross.

Therefore, red undersides seemed to make perfect sense, yet nagging doubts caused us to state that we thought it slightly more likely that they were instead black. Our colleagues Eddie Creek and Robert Forsyth also thought long and hard about this too and came down in support of red for the colour profiles in their book (2).

Like for Rote 13, the discovery on several new photos indicated that Rote 1's main underside colour was in all probability red (4). Thus, the ring in the unit crest would also have painted red. In addition, clearer images of the fuselage inscription showed that the last word was spelled "himmel" with an exclamation mark and not the "himmeil" variation we originally interpreted.

As noted previously, in 1995 we published an 8-page article on the JV 44 Dora-9 unit in the German magazine Jet & Prop that included colour 4-view drawings and many new photographs (4). In subsequent issues, several excellent Letters to the Editor were submitted by readers that discussed many points raised in the article. Most important was one from a writer from the former East Germany who identified himself as a hitherto unknown former pilot from the unit, and who flew the JV 44 Doras along with the other known pilots.

Herr Bodo Dirschaurer stated that he remembered there were a number of other aircraft in the unit and that they wore a variety of "different patterns and colour on their undersides". This is a significant point vis-à-vis the above argument. Could we be turning full circle here? Regardless, he also recalled that all the aircraft had red numbers, identifying them as Rote 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 13. This was additional supporting evidence that the aircraft's number, and undersides, were painted red.

His listing of six aircraft raised some interesting questions. Official Luftwaffe returns for April 26th, 1945 indicate that JV 44 had "5 Fw 190 D-9/11", of which 3 were serviceable. What of the sixth one Dischaurer notes? Did it exist? If so, why was it not counted in the official records?. Regardless, it was a real coupe to have him surface and as a result, his expanded commentary was published in Robert Forsyth's JV 44 book (3). As an aside, Dirschaurer stated that Rote 13 was the fastest of all the Doras and he recalled that Lt. Heinz Sachsenberg often flew Rote 1. This confirms what it is now accepted that he was the leader of this small unit and this aircraft was his personal mount (3, 4).

Regarding the other aircraft, the photographic evidence known to date indicates that only two Doras were discovered by US forces at Munich in late April 1945: Rote 1 and Rote 4. Interestingly, a US Army document from the National Archives, which lists all the aircraft found a week later at Ainring, states that there were "3 Fw 190 'long-noses'" found abandoned on the airfield. As stated above, on April 26th, 1945, 2 of 5 Doras at Munich were listed as unserviceable, these being Rote 1 and Rote 4. Rote 13, and the remaining other two Doras, Rote 3 (4) and an unidentified aircraft, ended up at Ainring. Hopefully, photos of this last aircraft will someday surface in a veteran's photo album.

For modellers, two 1/72 scale decal sheets are provided with this publication. With a little trimming, modelers will be able to replace the black portions of the numbers and unit marking with red ones, and correct the spelling in the inscription.

To summarize, we acknowledge that several of our interpretations regarding these two aircraft were not 100% correct in our original publication and Jet & Prop article. In hindsight though, we were rather close given the data we had to work with. The passage of time has provided new information to ourselves, and fellow Luftwaffe historians and enthusiasts that permitted us to refining our knowledge of this unit and its aircraft. It is thus likely that new information will be discovered and add to the story of this fascinating unit and its aircraft.


  1. Brown, D.E., and Wadman, D., 1993: History, Camouflage & Markings of JV 4 and JG 6 Focke-Wulf 190D-9s - Experten Decals No.1. Experten Historical Aviation Research, Calgary, 30p.
  2. Brown, D.E., and Wadman, D., 1995: Bunt schützt vor der eigenen Flak - Die Geschichte der Papagei-Staffel im Jagdverband 44. Jet & Prop, Issue 3/95, pp.29-44, 66.
  3. Forsyth, R., 1996: JV 44 - The Galland Circus. Classic Publications, Burgess Hill, 356p.
  4. Crandall, J., 1999: Doras of the Galland Circus - Eagle Files #1. Eagle Editions, Hamilton, 74p.
  5. Brown, D.E., and Wadman, D., 1995: History, Camouflage & Markings of JV 44, JG 6 and JG 1 Focke-Wulf 190Ds - Experten Decals No.3. Experten Historical Aviation Research, Calgary, 36p.

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