Not to be out done by their sister squadrons, the 79 th Fighter Group / 85 th Fighter Squadron “Flying Skulls” restored at least three Fw 190s to flying condition. Here are two which they discovered at Gerbini, Sicily in August 1943.
One of the aircraft was this Fw 190A-5 of II Gruppe of Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 (II./SKG 10), Werk Nummer 181550. Mechanics of the 85 th FS have already begun painting out the Luftwaffe markings.
“B” wore the standard Luftwaffe camouflage of RLM 74/75/76 when captured. The US insignia is applied over a yellow band and the Hakenkreutz on the tail has been painted out. The rectangular patch just aft of the “B” within the yellow band on the radio access panel was retained even after the aircraft was repainted.
A nice view of the starboard side showing details of the original Luftwaffe camouflage. The Wk.Nr is visible on the tail.
A color photograph after repainting showing the fuselage was repainted with a dark camouflage color. Wings and horizontal tail planes are yellow with red tips, the forward cowing and spinner are also red. The Flying Skulls unit insignia appears on both sides of the fuselage and there is evidence of an inscription below the cockpit which has been painted out.
The 85 th toured their prize to other Allied units in Sicily. This and the following photographs were taken by Bob Hanning while the aircraft was visiting the 57 th Fighter Group. Three sets of red, white, and blue stripes now adorn the rudder.
Details of the paintjob are visible in this stern view. The fuselage color extends over the wing roots. US insignia were applied in all six positions. The tips of the wings and of the horizontal stabilizers are trimmed in red. Note the backs of the propeller blades have been stripped of paint by dust, a very common occurrence.
In addition to tail stripes, “Jones’ Flying Circus” has been added to the cowl. The inscription which was overpainted on the fuselage sides is unknown.
A similar view giving a good look at the 85 th FS Flying Skulls insignia. A small rectangle under the windscreen carries lettering which unfortunately cannot be made out in the photograph.
A nice side view as the aircraft taxis. The fuselage color could be any one of several choices, as the ground crews would have had access to Luftwaffe, Regia Aeronautica, RAF, and U.S. paint stocks.
A fine color study of a second aircraft, a Fw 190A-5Trop, Wk.Nr. unknown. The tropical air filters are obvious on the sides of the cowling and this aircraft has a red fuselage instead of the dark fuselage of the first aircraft. In black-and-white photographs both aircraft appear quite similar and this has resulted in many researchers confusing the two.
Compare the details of this photograph with the earlier color picture of W.Nr. 181550 and you will begin to notice differences. The Flying Skull insignia is placed higher and further aft on this aircraft. The fuselage band is narrower, and is actually a color similar to ANA 616 Sand or RAF Middlestone with yellow trim. Also there is a lighter patch forward just under the fuselage gun cover.
A nice perspective view confirms the yellow wings and stabilizers with red tips, just like the previous aircraft. Note that there is not as much wear on the back side of the propeller blades.
A nice view of the aircraft in flight. The fuselage red extends over the wingroots but does not go as far onto the wing as Wk.Nr. 181550.
Another aerial shot showing the port side. This aircraft does not appear to have carried the “Jones’ Flying Circus” inscription. The yellow fuselage band lacks the rectangle on the radio access panel.
In this view the inscription block under the windscreen is visible. The two aircraft appear quire similar in monochrome photographs but quite different in color.
The third 85 th Fighter Squadron Focke Wulf was this Fw190G-3, Wk.Nr. 160057, note the drop tank fairings under the wings. This is also a schnell bomber, it is possible all three aircraft served with II./SKG 10 before capture. This aircraft carried the red bordered and barred US insignia in four positions. The red cowling and cockpit have been covered, but the camouflage netting is doing little to conceal the rest of the aircraft.
The overall white finish really stands out. The cowling and spinner are in red, as is the fuselage band. The anti-glare panel is in black. The tail is striped in the pre-war USAAC convention of thirteen red and white stripes with a blue vertical band.
This aircraft was shipped back to the United States in January 1944 where it was assigned Foreign Equipment number FE-116 and evaluated by the U.S. Navy. The Navy gave it the standard “three tone” paint scheme (which was often more than three tones).
Wk.Nr. 160057 was first evaluated by the Technical Air Intelligence Unit at NAS Anacostia and later flown to NAS Patuxent River.