Theme Build 4


What happens when an aircraft is captured by an opposing combatant? No surprise the best answer may be “it depends”. The vast majority of captured aircraft will be wreckage. Either brought down in combat or captured in a damaged or disabled state. So often in these cases the wreck is simply parted out and melted down.

But occasionally an aircraft in flyable, or at least repairable condition is captured. At the most obvious level such aircraft are thoroughly examined by air intelligence people. Especially if the type is new or rarely seen, a captured (mostly) intact aircraft will be treated as a major source of valuable information. Everything from how does the aircraft perform, what are its strengths and weaknesses, what does the enemy’s technological and industrial ability look like and a whole host of similar findings.
Most major combatants had whole departments that specialized in gathering as much of this sort of information as they could. Smaller militaries might consider re-using the aircraft for themselves, especially if they acquire a type in enough quantity to equip a squadron (Finland comes to mind as doing a lot of this against the Soviets).

The Germans, uniquely as far as I know, captured hardware in such quantities they even reconditioned and resold much of it. They ultimately re-tasked whole captured industries.

For this theme build we’ll look at four examples of aircraft flown by “the other side”. These are all fairly simple kits and the theme could go quickly, but with the caveat I brought up a few weeks back: I am still busy with some family business and a lot of travel is involved, so some simple three week builds may get drawn out over several months. We’ll see!
Our four subjects will be a Messerschmitt Bf 109, a Dewoitine D.520, a Mitsubishi A6M, and a Dornier Do 335.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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10 Responses to Theme Build 4

  1. jfwknifton says:

    Quite a few German aircraft were used by the RAF in North Africa as squadron hacks, and Wikipedia often includes “the other side” when listing the operators for warplanes, such as the Heinkel He 115 page to take a random example.
    There is an old book called “The Captive Luftwaffe” which is very interesting.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah it seems like especially in North Africa there were a lot of captured aircraft used as squadron hacks. One of the decal sheets I’m using includes a He 111 used for errands and joy rides. Those aircraft often wound up with colorful and outrageous markings just to avoid friendly fire accidents.

    • I can recommend a similar book, “Strangers in a Strange Land” by Hans-Heiri Stapfer, 1988. It covers many of the downed American aircraft listed as missing in action over Europe. It’s lavishly illustrated with b/w photos and fifteen pages of color profile illustrations. There is a chapter entitled “How An American Bomber Becomes A Messerschmitt” The book is a fascinating read at 80 pages. My copy is well-thumbed for research purposes.

      • atcDave says:

        That is a fun and colorful book, I believe there is also a “Part II” out there. It particularly covers the large number of captured aircraft operated by Switzerland, I may eventually do one of those Mustangs!

  2. There are quite a few photos about of captured allied and German aircraft. I’ve not come across many soviet or Japanese examples so it should be interesting.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ve seen a lot of Japanese subjects, but not as many Soviet. Of course that likely says a lot about my reading choices!

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    This looks like an interesting topic. I’m pretty sure I know which Zero you’ll build. The first one captured by the Americans landed in the mud on one of the Aleutian Islands.

    As for my chortle about low production numbers in the Nashorn post, that goes double for the Do 335. I can’t recall exactly but my brain says they never broke 100. I could be wrong on that, but again, as there was only one ever captured, the only surviving one ever produced by Germany, I’m pretty sure I can guess the one you’ll build there too. Not that it will make it any less interesting.

    I am however curious to see who captured the D.520 from whom.

    • atcDave says:

      But if I don’t say you don’t really know!
      Of course there is one particular captured Zero that has a well known story. But we did capture and fly quite a few.
      I think total production on the Do 335 was actually below 20? There were a number partly, or even mostly done so the number may be sort of squishy. I think 3 or 4 were captured and flown at least briefly.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I know the initial pre-production of the Do 335 was 10. From then on they were proposing so many variants and involved other manufacturers so it gets tough to tell what counts as a Do 335.

      • atcDave says:

        According to Wikipedia the total production was 37. Obviously more than I guessed. But yeah, they did a lot of different variants on the base configuration. And of course some of the variants were rebuilds, so I’d want to see something with the actual werk numbers before I felt sure of a total.

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