by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu ("Eagle Owl") was a German twin-engine, twin-boom, three-seat tactical reconnaissance and army cooperation aircraft. It first flew in 1938 (Fw 189 V1), entered service in 1940 and was produced until mid-1944. It should not be confused with the Heinkel He 219 night fighter also named Uhu. Any confusion will not be helped with this release as this is a night fighter that utilise the A-1 airframe. For this role a MG 151 machine gun was fitted firing diagonally upwards.
Itís been a while since I have seen an ICM kit, when I resumed modelling ten or so years ago, I built several 1/48 ICM Spitfires. Although a little challenging to build, the detail I thought at the time was pretty good. Looking at the contents of this kit the initial thought is how fine the recessed and raised detail is. The rivet detail and the access hatches are exemplary. The three grey plastic sprues are bagged together. The clear sprue is bagged by itself. Decals are loose in the box. The packaging is impressively robust, good news for those acquiring kits via the post.
The fuselage is made up from a number of parts. The nose, rear cone and most of the upper fuselage is created with clear plastic parts. The fuselage glazing forms the bulk of the clear plastic parts. The quality of the plastic is very good: clear and thin plastic. Some care will be required in assembly to keep the glazed area free from finger marks, dust and glue. The cockpit has some good detail including rudder pedals, control column, instrument panel, various consoles and the FUG 212C box for the nose. The pilot seat is well shaped and there is a tea tray seat for the observer/radar operator. The only thing missing are some seat harnesses. The floor of the cockpit features some refrained detail. I would imagine a pre coloured photo etched cockpit detail set would make this area sing. The upward firing MG 151 looks convincing and appears to be the only weapon carried on the aircraft. Although there are six other machine guns for the spares box. The aerial array for the FuG 212C radar is built up from six parts. ICM have made a very good attempt to capture the delicate look of the antennae.
The nacelles and boons are made up from three sections: engine bay, undercarriage bay and the boons themselves. There are three parts that make up each nacelle. The props and distinctive spinner are nicely moulded. There is no representation of the Argus As 410 engines, which simplifies the build. The exhausts are shrouded for obvious reason. The wheel bay sections are built from two parts. There is no detail in the bays, although you may feel the need to eradicate the raised ejector marks inside. The two part boons attach directly to the wheel bay section. There are lugs on the boons to help with location. The rudders are separate and feature fine if unrealistic ribbed detail representing the stretched fabric.
The wings are divided into three sections: the centre and two outer sections, the latter commencing from the engine nacelle. The flaps on the centre section of the wing are separate and have some rib detail on the inside. However there is no detail in the area where they fit. So if you display the flaps in the dropped position the inside of the fuselage will be on view. The outer wing sections have separate flaps and ailerons. There is no detail at all on the inside of these flaps. To be fair the instructions do not mention the option of being able to show the flaps dropped. The ribbed detail on the ailerons is just a tad overdone and will benefit from rubbing down if it bothers you.
The horizontal tail surface is in two pieces as is the elevator. A thoughtful touch is the fine internal detail in the recess for the retracting tail wheel and a separate part with a pressure bottle and hydraulic jack.
The main parts of the undercarriage legs look like the forged pieces of the real thing. The two part main wheel look good too with typical tyre tread for Luftwaffe aircraft. The inside of the main gear doors has some recessed detail. The tail wheel and strut is one piece, the quality of the mould making creates a fine looking unit.
Included is a small decal sheet with insignia, walkways and some stencils, but lacking in swastikas.
The A4 instruction manual is nicely presented. The large parts map is very useful and it notes the parts not required for the build. The build takes you through sixty three stages. Which seems a lot but each diagram clearly helps with the location of each part. Painting guide is in colour and paints indicated are Revel and Tamiya as well as RLM numbers were relevant.
Marking options includes three aircraft:
-FW 189A-1 in standard camouflage Ė in standard camouflage RLM 70/71/65 with yellow wing tips
-FW 189A-1 in standard camouflage Ė in standard camouflage RLM 70/71/65
-FW 189A-1 Stab 1/NJG 100, 1944 Ė standard camouflage RLM 70/71/65. The splinter camouflage is overpainted with RLM 65
I reckon the folk at ICM were pretty chuffed when the sprues first came out of the moulds for this kit. Rightly so as this a superb looking kit for this most unlikely of night fighters. Because of the more than average number of clear parts to assemble this is not a kit for the beginner. I have not compared this to any plans simply because I donít have any of the Fw 189, but it looks every inch like the type itís modelled on.