21st Century Toys 1/32 Messerschmitt Bf-109 of JG 54 Geschwader Kommodore Hannes Trautloft
Here are some pictures of a model that I built several years ago. I have always liked the different colors that were used by JG 54 on the Eastern Front. I had some left over decals for some 1/32nd scale Bf-109's, and was able to piece together enough to complete this model. As luck would have it, shortly after I finished my model, I found a very good photo of the man standing beside his machine. The markings are very similar but it looks like the camouflage is a little different (as are probably the colors too).
Hannes Trautloft flew Heinkel He-51 biplanes with the Legion Condor in Spain prior to WW2. He scored two victories, but was himself shot down on August 30th, 1936. He was the first German pilot to be shot down in this conflict. He escaped and continued flying combat missions.
Trautloft gained more experience and several more victories over Poland, France and England.
Later during the Battle of Britain, Herman Goring relieved several Commanders of their duty because he wasn't happy with the outcome of the fight. Then Goring promoted Trautloft to Major and placed him in command of JG54. He flew another 120 combat missions over England and gained a few more victories that brought his total to 13.
The unit was later transferred to the Eastern Front and began combat operations there. On December 4th, 1941 he ordered that all of JG54 aircraft would have the now famous "Green Heart" symbol applied to the sides of the fuselage. This was the same symbol he had on his personal plane during his time with the Legion Condor in Spain.
In November 1943, he was placed in overall charge of the Luftwaffe day fighters.
Late in 1944 he heard of a rumor that there were a large group of Allied airmen being held in Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He then visited the camp to confirm the rumor. While he was about to leave the camp when captured US airman (Bernard Scharf) called out to him in fluent German from behind a fence. The SS guards tried to intervene but Trautloft pointed out that he out-ranked them and made them stand back. Scharf explained that he was one of more than 160 allied airmen imprisoned at the camp and begged Trautloft to rescue him and the other airmen. Trautloft's adjutant also spoke to the group's commanding officer, Phil Lamason. Disturbed by the event, Trautloft returned to Berlin and began the process to have the airmen transferred out of Buchenwald. Seven days before their scheduled execution, the airmen were taken by train by the Luftwaffe to Stalag Luft III.
This information in my last paragraph was taken directly from Wikipedia.
In early 1945 he was involved in the "Fighter Pilot's Revolt" where a number of pilots spoke out against how the precious fighters and other resources were being used in operations like Bodenplate. This got him relieved of his position and he was reassigned to a Luftwaffe training school where he spent the rest of the war.
Trautloft survived the war and later became a General in the new Bundesluftwaffe. He rose to the rank of Generalleutnant. He retired in 1970.
Hannes Trautloft died in Bad Weissee on January 11th, 1995 at the age of 82.
I'm not a professed 109 Guru, so I'm not even 100 percent sure this is a model of a late "Friedrich" or an early "Gustav". It was an inexpensive kit and a quick fun build. There are not too many parts with this one. It did require a little filler. In the end it looks like a 109 to me and was a nice canvas to display a theoretical JG 54 "Grunherz" camouflage pattern. I included a picture of another one I bought as the last photo. I can recommend this kit to anyone, beginners as well.
JG 54 used a variety of paint colors. I have included a rare color picture that was described as a FW-190 from JG54. It is the second to last picture. You can see the brown shades and various greens that were used too.
As usual, comments are encouraged.
Louis, my fave ME-109 scheme! Nicely done!
Thanks for the story about Trautlofts' intervention with the troops in Buchenwald. There is a bond among airmen, plus the overriding moral considerations.
I'd also heard that he was not as on board with the Nazis as some others.
Thanks Bernard. I appreciate the compliments and think you're right about him. Why else would he have been part of the revolt if he was on board with the others ? This basically cost him his job (and could have saved his life too, since he was no longer flying combat missions.) I thought it was remarkable how he looked out for the Allied airmen, especially considering what was happening in Europe during this time.
Different camo markings/colors or not, this is an excellent job, Louis - and an outstanding series of photos as well. Nice work all around, sir.
Thanks buddy ! I am pleased with how this one turned out.
Interesting and great build. interesting story as well.
Thanks Robert. I thought his life story was interesting to say the least. I'm glad you enjoyed the article too. This is a nice kit for someone who doesn't want to fiddle with a bunch of little parts, plus back then it was inexpensive. Sadly I don't think they are available anymore.
Great on all counts !
Thanks Phil. I appreciate the kind words.
Great story and build Louis, i have heard and read accounts of Luftwaffe pilots coming across damaged allied fighters struggling to get home, fly right up next to them salute and fly off. Old friend of mine who has since passed was flying home in his P-47 after a strafing mission, damaged and out of ammo, when a Fw-190 comes up to him eyes him over as if it was his wingman. Scared to death he drops the landing gear and motions I am out of ammo to the German pilot. The German pilot understands and also motions he only has one wheel down and he is streaming smoke, waggles his wing and flies off. He looked at me dead in the eye and wonders if he would've done the same if he encountered a German fighter trying to get home damaged.
Wow Indeed ! That's a very interesting story.
I met a P-47 pilot who flew in the ETO from roughly Feb. 44 to the beginning of 1945. He shared with me some of his actual gun camera footage that he found in the National Archives and had a video made up of it. My wife used to deliver his mail. He gave me an autographed copy of an artists lithograph he had commissioned on his plane and a copy of a book he wrote about his training and wartime experiences.
No wonder these persons are called the "Greatest Generation"...
To answer your questions: The kit is a Bf-109F-4. Trautloft's Bf-109F-2 was painted in a dark and a medium green, with a yellow cowling to identify him in the air.
I built on of the 21st Century Tory 109s (the same one, I think) and they can be made into an acceptable model, as you have demonstrated.
Thanks for the info on Trautloft's plane. I was thinking that JG54 may have used something similar to RLM 02, 70 and / or 71 as possible colors. Some say the colors were custom mixed from various paint sources too. Naturally I didn't find this out until after I completed my build.
Didn't most German planes on the Eastern Front carry yellow under the nose and wingtips too? I know that JG54 used the color behind the fuselage "cross" insignia as well.
In the Mediterranean and North Africa theater they used white as a recognition feature.
Thanks again for the information and compliments Sir.
The second to last sentence should have read that the Luftwaffe in general used white in the Med. After reading what I originally wrote, it sounds like I was implying that JG54 was in service in the Mediterranean theater, where I'm pretty certain they were not. Sorry for any confusion...
Very likely, from the tonal differences, that it was RLM70 and "Russian Tank Green," which is what I used on mine.
Thanks for this link and additional information Tom. I checked out your build and it's amazing ! It looks really good... In the future I may revisit this one, or simply build another one and duplicate the colors as you have built yours. Thanks again friend...
Nice piece of history, and a really good-looking 109! I too like the color scheme - not one very often seen modeled.
Thanks Greg. I really like JG54 planes since they are usually not in your German standard issue colors. They did this with Bf-109's and FW-190's. Someday I plan on building a Butcher Bird similar to the ones from JG54 pictured in the second to last photo.
I'm glad you enjoyed the article as well.
Thanks my friend for the compliments.
Thanks George !
Nice work on this kit, Louis. Great paint job !
JG 54 aircrafts are always a good base for a more outstanding look on the shelf.
Thanks my friend. I agree that JG54 had some pretty awesome color combinations. They stand out among the crowd of RLM 74, 75, 76 colored birds.
I know as much about WWII camouflage schemes and colours as I do about WW1 schemes, i.e. zilch, but, as you say, it certainly looks like a ME 109, and the overall livery looks great, very nicely finished.
Thanks for the compliments George. I was very happy how this one turned out. I have another one and may build it like Tom Cleaver has suggested. His plane looks really good in the colors he picked.