In late 1942, even if the Fw 190 A-4 was an aircraft which performed well, modifications were made to improve overall performance and to obtain a more versatile armament platform. Physically very similar to it's predecessor, the A-5 had the engine and cowling extended forward by 15,2 cm, and the most noticable difference between both variants was the addition of a curved fillet installed immediately in front of the wing roots. Other details changed, such as the structure of the ailerons and the rudder, the position of the port fuselage radio access hatch and the starboard first aid compartment. The A-5 also saw the standardization of the adjustable fuselage engine cowlings and the use of solid main wheels hubs (but some early A-5s were fitted with the perforated wheel hubs).
Armament remained the same as the A-4 (two MG 17s, two MG 151 cannons and two MG FF cannons), however, the outboard MG FF were often removed depending upon operational needs. Numerous conversion sets were tested, some of which were operationaly employed. Most were "Umrüst-Bausätzen" (from U1 to U17) or "Rüstsätze" (R1/R6).
Approximatively 1500 A-5s were produced, some even after the war by the French (SNCA) under the name NC 900.
Eduard's Fw 190
The Fw 190 A-5 kit by Eduard is of course very similar to their A-8 boxing reviewed on Aeroscale earlier this year. Therefore I won't go too much into detail and invite you to check the Fw 190 A-8 review
by Rowan Baylis (Merlin) for further informations about the overall quality of the kit. All I can say is that the statement I've often seen written in reviews that this is "the ultimate Fw 190 kit in 1/48 scale" is not exaggerated! The engineering of the kit and the "package" is simply extraordinary. Eduard is the only manufacturer to provide such standards currently and thanks to the photo etched parts, paint masks, decal options etc... they are today even one step ahead of Tamiya and Hasegawa in my humble opinion...
Eduard have improved their kits, but their packaging have also been ameliorated over the years. The Fw 190 A-5 box is rather big and very strong, so you really don't have to worry about the content being damaged if you plan to order the kit via a webstore (picture 1).
The first noticable thing are the numerous plastic sprues (picture 2). There are 6 injected trees in total, wich will allow you to display the plane with the engine cowlings and cannon access panels in the opened position. A lot of parts are destined to detail the BMW 801 D-2 radial powerplant so the kit is composed of a surprisingly high number of parts when compared to the Hasegawa, Tamiya, Dragon and Fujimi offerings.
Some sprues are identical to the A-8 kit and some are of course different. It's the case of the fuselage and upper wing sprue (A) you can see on picture 3. The wings don't have the typical rectangular MG 151 cover Plate introduced on the A-8. In the detail picture you can see the adjustable fuselage engine cowlings. Spue D is also different and represents the underwing fitted with the 20mm MG FF bulged access panels (picture 4). However, as I said before, these cannons were often removed and these panels disappeared with them. Sometimes they were replaced by bomb or fuel tank racks or "Waffenbehälter" (weapon containers), so check your references. Fortunately, Eduard didn't hollowed the back of the underwing bulges, so sanding them away won't be too much of a problem in case the aircraft you want to model wasn't fitted with the wing's cannons.
Spues J and K are identical to the ones found in the A-8 kit (picture 5 and 6). Almost all the parts for the detailled engine are located on those sprues and, as you can see, there are many! Even if the kit is well engineered, I think modeling skills are required to get all those tiny parts together.
Sprue L (picture 7) is new in the A-5 kit. It has the wheels with the perforated wheel hubs (with smooth or threaded tyres), different gear doors, different fuselage cannon panels etc... The sprue I (picture 9), to the contrary, is identical as the one of the A-8 kit. It is composed of various parts such as the cockpit floor, the propeller (one spare), the wing root cannons assembly, the external armament (bomb - rockets) and fuel tanks etc...
The quality of the injected plastic parts is excellent! I found no problems on my sample, no flash, no sink marks, no ejector pin marks in wrong places, nothing! As the policy of Eduard is to provide more in their kits rather than less, you will have three pair of wheels for your spare box once your model is finished (picture 9)! Now I hear you say "what the hell are we going to do with those unused parts?" I will answer that if, like me, you have several other FW 190s (including some short run and resin ones), they will make into nice replacement parts. And if you plan to do a Luftwaffe diorama, you can use them to do a pile of damaged wheels near the maintenance area of an airfield.
Picture 10 shows you the transparent parts similar to the ones of the A-8 kit. And in picture 11 you can see how Eduard have designed open and closed versions to reflect that the full-sized canopy flexed and got narrower as it opened (last sentence courtesy of Rowan's review).
A nice photo etched fret (picture 12) will allow you to detail the cockpit and other areas of the model. It is to note that the PE parts are mainly alternative parts, so you can choose to build the kit without if you prefer (with the exception of the seatbelts of course), and I think this is important, because there are still many modelers who simply don't like the "flatness" of PE.
A nice addition is a small set of masks for the canopy, wheel hubs and... wing cannons (there were places were the aluminium was visible when the access panels were opened). A guide for the application of the masks is provided and there is also a data guide for the stencil decals on the sheet's back (picture 13).
Nice decals (perfectly printed and in register) are provided for 4 aircraft:
1 - Fw 190 A-5 - Hptm. Walter Nowotny, Commander of I./JG54 Grünherz, Orel, fall 1943
2 - Fw 190 A-5 - Hptm. Egon Mayer, Commander of III./JG2 Richthofen, France, spring 1943
3 - Fw 190 A-5 - Uffz. Walter Köhne, I./JG1, Deelen, the Netherlands, July 1943
4 - Fw 190 A-5 - Oblt. Rolf Strohal, Stab I./JG1, Deelen, the Netherlands, april 1943
The assembly instructions are a 16 pages A4 booklet printed in color. The computer generated drawings (not 3D like fortunately...) are simple and clear and the profiles in the painting guide are very well done. Colour references, as usual for Eduard, are given for Gunze Sangyo paints.
After the release of the A-8, Eduard have produced another superb kit of the Fw 190. This time it's the lesser known A-5 version, but it's nevertheless an important aircraft, especially for Luftwaffe and Fw 190 fans. A lot of A-5s were used over Russia and some wore were uncommon and spectacular paintshemes. Add to that the overall quality of the kit and you have another winner.
The guys at Eduard have raised the bar very high, to such a level that some modeler will probably buy their kit because of the Czech manufacturer's reputation and not because of the subject! I'm looking forward to their Bf 110, Avia B-534 and Hellcat kits announced for 2007. In fact I'm looking forward to all their new kits!
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