The Dutch company Koolhoven designed and flew the F.K.58 in just three months in response to France's desperate requirement for modern fighters to re-equip the l’Armée de l’Air. France ordered 50 aircraft and agreed to provide engines and instruments for them, but due to the chaotic state of the French aviation industry prior to the outbreak of war, these couldn't be supplied in time and the aircraft were delivered with borrowed Dutch equipment, which was subsequently removed. By the spring of 1940, just 17 complete aircraft had been taken on charge, while another 23 airframes still awaited engines and other equipment.
The only unit to operate the F.K.58 was the patrouille DAT (Défense Aérienne du Territoire) based at Salon and Clermont-Aulnat and comprised of Polish pilots. When delivered, the fighters lacked armament, which the Poles had to acquire and fit themselves. There is no record of the unit scoring any confirmed victories, but at least one F.K.58 was lost, possibly shot down. After the invasion, the remaining aircraft were unceremoniously scrapped, as the Luftwaffe could find no use for them.
Planet Models' 1/48 scale F.K.58 is entirely cast in resin, with the exception of the vacuformed canopy. The kit arrives in a rather flimsy box, but none of the parts was damaged in transit so, looks notwithstanding, the box must be up to the task. The parts themselves are sealed in a plastic bag which is further heat sealed to produce individual "pouches".
The 70 beige resin parts are superbly cast, with minimal "flash" and the the only blemishes I found on my sample were a couple of pin-pricks on one wing which will take all of 5 seconds to fill. Surface detail consists of finely scribed panel lines plus a subtle fabric effect on the rear fuselage and control surfaces.
Construction looks very conventional; if you didn't know this was resin, you'd mistake it for a well engineered short-run injected kit. The fuselage halves are warp-free and clean-up will be very straightforward, with just a couple of pour-stubs to deal with at the nose and tail. The one-piece wing is perfectly straight with thin trailing edges and captures the prominent dihedral of the original. The wings feature a nice deep wheel well with some basic detail (fair enough, because I doubt there are any references for the original). A quick test fit shows the wing/fuselage joint should be very good.
Instructions and construction breakdown
The instructions are neatly presented and begin with a history of the aircraft and a parts map. With so many individual resin parts, it's well worth spending a few minutes checking the parts against the diagram; I found a couple of spare, alternative, styles of air intakes not shown.
The main diagrams are clearly drwan and assembly is broken down into 10 stages, labelled A to J.
- deal with the first cockpit and engine.
Looking inside, the cockpit is nicely done. A basic framework is cast inside the rear fuselage to avoid an empty look and ahead of this are added a well-detailed cockpit floor and side walls, plus a throttle quadrant, rudder pedals and control column. The seat is a very delicate casting with a finely detailed integral harness, while the instrument panel has neat raised bezels and switch consoles. Rounding off the cockpit is a roll-bar and cross-frames - most of which must be cut to length using the dimensions quoted in the instructions. All in all, the office should look busy enough to satisfied most modellers.
Up front, the engine is a real beauty, with a separate crankcase and cylinders. The detail and casting is excellent - hardly surprising when you see the CMK logo on the cylinders' casting-plinth. The engine attaches to a firewall which in turn slots neatly into an amazingly thin-walled one-piece cowling - I wish most mainstream injected kits had cowlings moulded this well. The exhausts and intakes are hollowed out.
- cover the assembly of the basic airframe, plus attaching the engine assembly, aerials and tailwheel. As mentioned earlier, the wing / fuselage joint looks a very good fit, while the engine firewall forms the front of the main undercarriage well. Various intakes are added to the cowling at this stage and, for once, the instructions are rather vague as to where they should fit.
- deal with the main undercarriage, propeller and canopy. The gear legs will need a bit of a clean-up, but they are cast with a metal insert to support the weight of the model. The wheel doors have some neat interior detail, while the wheels themselves have detailed hubs and weighted tyres.
The propeller has separate blades, so it will be a good idea to use a simple jig to ensure the angles and pitch of each are equal. The vacuform canopy includes a section of the rear fuselage, so some careful trimming and filling is likely to be needed. The canopy itself is nice and clear with crisply defined framework. Planet Models have thoughtfully provided a spare, so the option is there to slice it up to display the canopy open. And finally what is, for me, the pièce de résistance - the ring and bead gunsight; surely one of the most delicate resin castings I've ever seen... it's quite amazing!
Painting and Decals
Basic colour notes are included throughout the assembly, but there's no colour given for the interior. "Light Grey" is indicated for one of the landing gear retraction arms - so I guess that's as good a choice as any for the rest of the interior when they are so few references.
Decals are included for 2 colour schemes - a/c #6 and #11 - both painted in similar (not identical) disruptive patterns of Grey-Blue and Mid Green topsides with the undersurfaces painted Light Grey-Blue. It's not clear whether French paints were originally used or Dutch equivalents. A/c #6 is shown in it's delivery scheme with a civil registration and the wing roundels and rudder stripes covered with white masks.
The decals themselves are thin and glossy. The registration is good for most items, but the centres of a couple of the roundels look slightly off - seeing as the rest are fine, I assume this a design (rather than a printing) error. A nice touch is that the rudder stencilling is printed separately from the stripes - a bonus for modellers, like me, who prefer to paint rudder stripes.
This is another fine kit from Planet Models. I was impressed by their earlier Fw Flitzer
, but the F.K. 58 is even better in both detail and sophistication.
Admittedly, the kit is quite expensive but, when one considers the amount of work involved in producing a kit of this quality for a relatively limited market, I think it represents excellent value for money. Planet Models' F.K. 58 is not suitable for absolute beginners, but any modeller who has experience of short-run plastic kits should have no problem and it would actually make an ideal choice for anyone who wants to try building their first all-resin kit. Highly recommended.