by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Eduard's decision to release an Fw 190 caught many people off guard. Here was a company that had previously content to spot niches in the WW2 market with types that had either previously not been released or were overdue for a modern kit. Now they were going head-to-head with the biggest names in the business and producing a kit of one of the most famous fighters in history. Many modellers doubted the wisdom of the move...
In fact, despite the popularity of the Fw 190 as a kit subject, it may prove to be one of Eduard's canniest moves. Looking at the obvious competitors, the classic (but tricky) Trimaster/Dragon kit has been around for nearly 20 years and the moulds are starting to show their age, while Tamiya's more recent '190 series (undeniably well-designed for easy construction) has attracted it's share of criticism over its accuracy. So the opportunity was there for Eduard to add a really high-profile subject to their range and, at the same time, aim to make it the most accurate and highly detailed Fw 190 kit available in 1/48 scale.
The kitWe've all looked at the pre-production CAD views and early test-shots in Eduard's Newsletters and it was clear from the start that this would be an ambitious kit. The finished product is certainly no disappointment; arriving in a study conventional box, the kit consists of:
171 x pale olive-green styrene parts
8 x clear parts
71 x photoetched parts, some pre-painted
A set of painting masks
Markings for 4 colour schemes.
It's important to state at the outset that this review is based on one of 20 final test-shots that Eduard released prior to full production. It differs from the product on sale in the following areas:
1. Some of the sprues show a little flash.
2. The etched items for the cockpit have been pre-painted in RLM 02 instead of the correct RLM 66.
3. There is an incomplete set of painting masks and no instructions for their use.
All these issues have been corrected for the finished kit.
The first impressions are excellent! Despite Eduard's concern over the flash on the review sample, there is actually next to none. The surface detail combines finely engraved panel lines with some raised panels and very delicate embossed riveting. Purists will no doubt query this on a mostly flush-riveted airframe, but it's subtlely done and, with careful weathering, I think it will look just right in adding to the "beefy" look of the Butcher Bird.
Ejector-pins have been kept well out of harm's way on the major parts and, encouragingly, there are none at all on the detail parts. I found a few minor sink-marks on some of the thicker interior details, but they are insignificant and, remember, this is a test shot, so they may not be an issue on the production version.
Test FitConstruction is fairly complex, primarily due to the large amount of internal detail included. The fuselage halves only join at the tail - the nose relies on the cockpit tub and firewall for rigidity - but the fit with the wings is nevertheless excellent. Even without the tub fitted to act as a spreader, there's no gap at the wing-roots and everything slots together in a very encouraging manner. Having built up some sub-assemblies, they all seem to be linking together precisely to construct an intricate interior. The cowling - troublesome on the Trimaster kit - is a cinch to assemble.
Eduard's special construction notes.Along with the test-shot, Eduard have provided the following advice for builders of the kit:
"Building the kit, there are couple of the important points, where is necessary to be very careful to get correct cross position of the connected parts.
First, check the position of the completed cockpit interior to the fuselage halves. Especially the back (upper) part of the cockpit tub must fit to the position given by the line on the fuselage halves. Also the weapon block must be carefully positioned.
The important point is the wing spar (part I16) installation. In this step, glue part K20 first into the wing, and then add part I16. This order will guarantee you the wing spar will be exactly vertical to the wing bottom. It is very important for wheel well assembly and whole wing geometry.
Another sensitive point should be the engine bed installation. In this point, find the exact position of the part K18 in the reverse (inside of the fuselage) side of the part H12 (wheel well). K18 fits exactly to the notch in the H12. If you will glue K18 carefully to the given position, the engine block will easy get the correct position when it will be glued to the engine bed.
What should you surprise is the wheel outlet for the undercarriage axe – it is quite big. It is because the wheel fits to the axe with some angle. Please use the instruction picture (page 10) to get exact angle of the wheel to the undercarriage leg. When talking about he undercarriage, when you will assembly the K7 (u/c leg) to the H1 (u/c cover), the allocation pins on the leg will give you exact position of the hatch (H1) to the leg. The similar is the assembly of the u/c to the wing – glue the leg to the fine lock in the wheel well, and immediately add the J30/J37 to the position in the wheel well and on the u/c leg (there is a fine allocation pin on the leg which fits to the small leak on the end of the tow bar). It will give you exact position of the undercarriage to the wing. This is a bit different system of the undercarriage assembly than on the other manufacturer´s kits, but ours one works well and gives surprisingly good result."
AccuracySomething of a bone of contention with the '190, not helped by the fact that there is contradictory data available from different sources! So, rather than get into the debate about which source is correct, I'll deftly sidestep the issue and simple say that laying the parts against A. L. Bentley's plans shows an almost perfect match.
DetailEduard have included a detailed cockpit and engine compartment, including fuselage guns, plus a nicely designed wheel-well and wing-root cannon bays. The detail in every area is superior to any previous 1/48 scale Fw 190 and really strays into the area normally covered by aftermarket resin producers.
I'm starting an On-line Build, so I won't go into too much depth for this preview - instead, I'll tempt you with the idea of a cockpit including a choice of etched or moulded details (both nice!), an engine area built up of over 30 parts and an undercarriage that includes treaded or smooth tyres and choice of tailwheel assemblies with separate or integral wheel.
The wings can be built with or without upper-surface cannon fairings, and Eduard provide a range of stores - 500 kg bomb, drop tank and W. Gr 21 rockets.
Clear PartsThe transparencies are thin and crystal-clear. At first it looks as though there are spares provided, because there are 2-each of the flat and blown canopies. In fact, Eduard have been very clever and designed open and closed versions to reflect that the full-sized canopy flexed and got narrower as it opened (there was a hinge at the top). I think this is the first time this characteristic has been depicted in a kit.
Instructions and DecalsThe assembly instructions are a 19-page A4 booklet printed in colour. The diagrams are clearly drawn with a number of detailed views keyed to the main views. The assembly sequence looks logical (noting Eduard's notes above). As usual in Eduard kits, colour refs are included for Gunze Sangyo paints.
Decals are provided for 4 aircraft:
1. Fw 190 A-8 - W.Nr u/k, flown by Walther Dahl, Stab JG 300, Jüterborg, December 1944
2. Fw 190 A-8 - W.Nr u/k, flown by Hans Dortenmann, 2/JG 54, France, June 1944
3. Fw 190 A-8 - W.Nr 350189, 12/JG 5, Herdla, Norway, 1945
4. Fw 190 A-8 - W.Nr 737938, JG 301, Leck, May 1945
Along with the markings, Eduard provide a comprehensive set of stencils on a separate sheet. The decals themselves are thin and glossy and printed in good register. I noticed a small misalignment on the JG 5 fuselage band, but this will be hidden in use.
ConclusionWhen Eduard announced their Fw 190, some modellers questioned whether we really needed a new kit of the Butcher Bird. Well, having seen the result, the answer is a resounding "Yes!". This is a superb kit - in my opinion the best Fw 190 ever released in 1/48 scale. The clever design and outstanding detail means that the average modeller will be able to build a real gem straight out of the box.
Eduard have been claiming a place at the top-table among kit manufacturers for some time; with the release of their Fw 190 they've made it clear their aim is to sit at the head of the table! Thoroughly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.