“Fake News 1940” The Me 209 in propaganda use!
The phenomenon of “fake news”, which is quite a popular term today, has existed before. As not surprising as this statement is, it becomes as catchy when you stand in front of a concrete example: the Me 209 V4 shown here as a model may be considered a classic example of propagandistic disinformation. I would like to briefly outline the history behind it in the following.
The 209 was designed by Messerschmitt as an experimental racing machine with one goal in mind: to bring the world speed record to Germany – which was achieved in April 1939 with the V1, piloted by Fritz Wendel.
After the outbreak of war and at the latest with the rather sobering experiences of the “Battle of Britain” the limits of the Bf 109 became visible. At Messerschmitt they started to look for alternatives. One option was assumed to be the record machine Me 209.
In the interpretation as a racing machine, whose uncompromising design was based on the susceptible and in no way suitable for everyday use surface cooling and with which the built-in high performance engine had only scrap value after a few flights, a series production could not be considered.
Therefore a number of measures were taken to make the Me 209 suitable for front line. Among them was the enlargement of the wings, on the undersides of which conventional radiators now also found their place. To increase lateral stability the tail fin was enlarged. Furthermore a possible armament in form of a 20 mm motor cannon MG FF/M and two 7.62 mm machine guns MG 17 were installed and tested.
What remained, however, were the more than critical flight characteristics, which made the Me 209 a difficult to control aircraft, suitable only for true test pilot natures. The deathblow of the project was probably the fact that through all the compromises and installations, the flight performance did not exceed that of the Bf 109F that had just entered service. The project was discontinued after a short time.
However, the National Socialist propaganda at least tried to gain added value from the failed project by lying. Even before the V4 was tested, Goebbels insisted on naming the aircraft “Me 109R” in the media, in order to let the fame of the world record holder shine on the standard fighter of the Luftwaffe.
With the V4 they went one step further: the Me 209 V4 now got a fictitious unit designation and flew as “Rote 14”, completed with a red and white snake painted on both sides of the fuselage. My model shows exactly this paint scheme from the summer of 1940.
Similar to the competition project Heinkel He 100, which flew at about the same time as a picture motif for Nazi propaganda with “faked” unit markings, an unassailable superiority of the Luftwaffe was to be asserted – even if one had to resort to a bare lie.
The kit from Special Hobby, however, does not specify anything that could not be kept. The sturdy box with an attractive lid picture contains, not surprisingly, only a few parts. But these are of high quality and satisfying fitting accuracy throughout. Except for one circumstance, the construction does not cause any problems and is quick and easy to handle.
What holds up a little is the difficulty of obtaining a clean and continuous contour of the fuselage behind and in front of the cabin section. Here, indeed, active filling and sanding is required, as the clear part protrudes upwards over the back of the fuselage and the front does not lie flush with the fuselage either. With a little putty and sensitive sanding, however, it is only a question of time and skill until this challenge is also solved.
Finally, I would like to repeat my summary of the construction of the Me 209 V1: my thanks go to Special Hobby, who wonderfully take care of the exotic patterns in such a dignified way!
13 additional images. Click to enlarge.