The successor to, and last incarnation of, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was the Ta 152. After the Ta 152A fell by the wayside at an early stage, it was envisaged in a number of versions:
Ta 152B - Sclachtflugzeug (ground attack aircraft)
Ta 152C - Normaljäger (standard fighter)
Ta 152E - Aufklärer (reconnaissance aircraft)
Ta 152H - Höhenjäger (high altitude fighter)
The 'B and 'E series seem never to have reached fruition, but the 'C and 'H trickled off production lines in small numbers for a total of just 67 Ta 152s. Most of these were 'Hs, which have long captured modellers' imaginations with their elegant long-span wings.
But what of the Ta 152C? Seemingly, at least a pair of 'C-1/R31s reach Stab JG 301 at Welzow by the end of April 1945, but what would arguably have been the most important of the '152s, in its designated role as a standard fighter has been largely overlooked as a mainstream quarterscale kit - until now.
Of course, this isn't the first time that Dragon (in their old guise as Trimaster) have tackled the aircraft. Their first version, 20 or so years ago, was a limited edition of their Ta 152H with new resin parts for the nose and wings. A novel kind of Hi-Tech conversion produced at a time when even etched parts were often seen as daring. I well remember sneaking a peek inside the box at Beatties' old Holborn shop, but it was too exotic and expensive for my pocket, and has long been a highly sought-after collectors' item.
Since then there have been a number of aftermarket conversion sets - notably, Fusion Models' excellent resin set
- but it seems fitting that Dragon should bring us the first mainstream quarterscale Ta 152C.
Arriving in a well presented and sturdy box, with all the sprues and accessories bagged separately (and the etched details, clear parts and decals further protected on a cardboard insert) there's an immediate sense of déjà vu, because the fuselage and most of the details such as the cockpit and undercarriage are taken straight from Dragon's existing Ta 152H. New sprues are provided for the wings and nose.
The kit comprises:
92 x grey styrene parts (23 not needed)
5 x clear styrene parts
(Note: treat the parts map with caution, as it indicates a few parts as "not for use" that are in fact needed, as vice versa)
19 x etched parts
Decals for a single colour scheme
For anyone disappointed that the kit isn't an all-new tooling, I think Dragon's decision to use 'H sprues is well justified; the kit was an excellent one, and the Ta 152C-O prototype will arguably have an appeal limited primarily to dedicated Luftwaffe enthusiasts.
I've already reviewed Dragon's Ta 152H
, so I won't go over old ground other than to say that the fuselage and detail parts are still looking in excellent shape for their age, with no apparent signs of mould wear creeping in. Sadly, the canopy doesn't fare quite so well in the sample kit, and mine can certainly benefit from polishing and dipping in Klear/Future.
The new parts occupy two sprues and are very crisply moulded with a silky finish and neat panel lines and a few subtle embossed rivets. Fabric surfaces are quite subtly depicted.
In a way the kit is something of a ready-made conversion set, because you'll need to do some surgery to remove the old Ta 152H nose to fit the new cowling and radiator for the '152C's DB 603. There's a choice of front cowls with open or closed cooling gills. The necessary cuts follow existing panel lines and I found the fit to be very positive, but it still probably isn't a job for absolute beginners. The area on the Ta 152H fuselage along which you cut is already partially thinned (to allow the cowls to be posed open to reveal the engine that was included in some boxings) so some additional support with plastic card on the inside might be advisable to give a really secure foundation for the Ta 152C's new nose.
The new wing matches the old fuselage very well, with a nice tight fit at the roots so, all in all, it promises to be a pretty straightforward build. The new wing also features good thin trailing edges, but the leading edge seems a bit blunt so I'll give a few swipes with a sanding stick.
The only disappointment in terms of the parts provided is that the new nose is empty, leaving a yawning void visible through the wheel well. A blanking plate with some details to give some sense of the rear of the engine and its accessories would have been welcome to busy things up a bit. As it is, some creative "gizmology" is the order of the day.
Outline-wise the parts match my plans (Model Art, 1989) pretty well and most details bear up against the photos of the 'C in that book and Monogram's Close-Up #24 - Ta 152.
A couple of points do stand out though:
The chord of the ailerons seems very narrow on the upper surface. I think this is because the designers haven't included a curve towards the tips. I'll re-scribe the hinge-line about 1mm or so further forward.
Likewise, the shape of the landing flaps seems rather suspect - although this is less noticeable, their being hidden underneath.
The canopy features the external locks of the Ta 152H, but photos of the V7 prototype W.Nr 110007 don't show these.
The Ta 152H fuselage has flare dispensers that should be filled to depict '007.
Instructions & Decals
Apart from the small muddle on the parts map, the instructions are clear and easy to follow with well drawn assembly diagrams. Colour matches are provided for Gunze Sangyo and Model Master paints.
Decals are provided for just one aircraft:
Ta 152C-0, W.Nr 110007 (V.Nr V7), CI XM.
A small sheet of decals is very good quality, printed by Cartograph with excellent registration and a comprehensive set of stencils. Sadly, no swastikas are provided.
The painting guide for '007 features RLM paint matches, but disagrees with most of my references as regards the fuselage spine, calling for RLM 83 and 75 instead of the RLM 81 & 82 usually shown (oddly, Dragon's box-top painting does depict the RLM 81).
Dragon show the entire undersides painted RLM 76, but photos of the aircraft seem to show partly n/m under the wings, with the paint only reaching back as far as the main spar-line.
Despite a couple of niggles, I think Dragon have done a good job with their Ta 152C-0. It's a subject that has deserved to be kitted conventionally for a long time, and Dragon's version promises to offer a far more straightforward build than using a resin conversion set - with the added bonus of being considerably cheaper. Dragon's Ta 152C-) will be available worldwide very soon, with suggested prices as folows:
USD 31.95 (MSRP)
JPY 3200 (Tax Excluded)
GBP 27.99 (Ref. Retail Price)
EUD 30.99 (Ref. Retail Price)
Recommended for Luftwaffe modellers with a little experience who want to add the last of the "Butcher Birds" to their collection.
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