Captured Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop “Irmgard” of the 79th Fighter Group

Highlanders examine Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop W.Nr 10605 assigned to 2.(H)/14.  The aircraft was flown by Leutnant Wernicke, and was named “Irmgard” by his mechanic, Uffx. Bopp.  On 20FEB43 while on a photo reconnaissance mission near Zarzis, Tunisia the aircraft was damaged by ground fire.  Lt. Wernicke made a successful wheels-up landing and evaded capture.
The aircraft carried a camera in the underside of the fuselage aft of the wing.  Camouflage was the standard RLM 78 / 79 desert scheme with areas of the fuselage overpainted in RLM 76.  The spinner was 1/3 Weiss and 2/3 RLM 70.
The aircraft survived her landing in good condition and was deemed to be repairable.  Mechanics of the USAAF 79th Fighter Group soon had her up on her landing gear and replaced the propeller.  Markings have already begun to evolve.  The German Balkenkreutz have been overpainted with yellow on the fuselage and a dark brown on the upper wings.  U.S. insignia have been applied to the fuselage but do not yet appear on the wings.  The aircraft has also received an RAF fin flash over the Hakenkreutz along with red wingtips and propeller spinner.
A color photograph showing that the fuselage number was retained for a time, and was in fact Black 14, not Red 14 as claimed by some sources.  Note the extent of the yellow area under the fuselage.  The entire undersurfaces were repainted yellow as evidenced by the aileron mass balance and landing gear cover. 
Irmgard is seen here parked next to a P-40F of the 86th Fighter Squadron / 79th Fighter Group.  The 79th Fighter Group had a penchant for restoring and flying captured Axis aircraft, each of the Squadrons operating several examples.
Here mechanics crank the inertial starter prior to a test flight.  The pilot appears ready to go, despite the missing canopy.  Squadron pilots who were deemed unlikely to “prang” the captured aircraft were given a chance at the controls.  In many pictures of Irmgard the canopy has been removed.  Fuselage codes and American wing stars are in place in this photograph.
A beautiful color shot which shows off Irmgard’s new paint.  She now bears the fuselage codes and squadron insignia of the 87th Fighter Squadron / 79th Fighter Group.  The rudder shows signs of overpainting, and the yellow on the underside of the fuselage extends all the way to the tail.
Badge of the “Skeeters” of the 87th Fighter Squadron.  There are differences in the details of the insignia applied to Irmgard.
A nice photograph of Irmgard on the 79th Fighter Group’s flightline.  The forward fuselage code “x8” has been partially removed revealing the Black 14 code which still remains underneath.  The P-40F in the background wears the badge of the 86th Fighter Squadron, another Squadron within the 79th Fighter Group.
A close up of the 86th Fighter Squadron unit insignia which replaced the 87th FS insignia on Irmgard.  The canopy is still missing in this photograph.  A P-40 is visible in the background.
The 79th FG gave up their prize in November 1943, turning her over to Wright Field in Dayton Ohio for testing.  Here she has apparently suffered anther belly landing, and reveals still another modification to her markings.  The forward fuselage codes are entirely removed, and she now bears the squadron badge of the Comanches of the 86th FS / 79th FG.  Her original port wing is in the background, replaced by another in RLM 74 / 75 and full Luftwaffe insignia.  Note the wheel bulge on the replacement wing.  The ultimate cowl and spinner markings are anyone’s guess.  Certainly a number of options for a modeler!