by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
IntroductionThe Ta 152 was a development of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 aircraft, but the prefix was changed from "Fw" to "Ta" to recognize the contributions of Kurt Tank who headed the design team. It was intended to be made in at least three versions: the Ta 152H Höhenjäger ("high-altitude fighter"), the Ta 152C designed for slightly lower-altitude operations and ground-attack using a different engine and smaller wing, and the Ta 152E fighter-reconnaissance aircraft with the engine of the H model and the wing of the C model.
The first Ta 152H entered service with the Luftwaffe in January 1945. It seems as if about 40 exemplars of the H-0 variant and less than 20 of the H-1 variant were built. The latter was externally identical except for the underwing because of the presence of additional wing fuel tanks. Only some 43 production aircraft were delivered until the end of the war. This was too late to allow the Ta 152 to have a significant impact on the war effort.
( Sources: Wikipedia and Ta 152 book by T.H. Hitchcock, Eagle Editions)
The KitThe 1:32 scale Zoukei-Mura Focke-Wulf Ta 152 H-1 kit certainly has this "Wow!" factor when you hold it in your hands and even more when you open the box. Inside there are a lot of plastic trees of different colors (more about this later) each bagged separately as well as an incredibly large decal sheet and a superb instruction booklet which has a nice vintage flair. Below is a list of the kit's content:
- 7 sprues of injected plastic parts in black, grey and silver color.
- 1 sprue with transparent plastic parts.
- 1 huge decal sheet (A4 size).
- 1 small sheet with masks.
- 1 instruction book.
Once the first amazement is over, one soon realizes that the part number is not very high despite the fact that a full interior (engine, cockpit, fuselage, etc…) is provided and that some areas (wings) have been strangely designed with separate pieces. Overall, the number of parts has been kept under 200 which is only the half of what is present in the Tamiya Spitfire Mk.IX kit in the same scale and this not counting what is provided on additional etched steel frets. To be fair, there are almost no optional parts in the Zoukei-Mura kit while there are many in the Tamiya one. Having said that, this comparison is by no means meant to depreciate the former kit in comparison with the latter. To the contrary, I believe that if a similar level of detail can be achieved with lesser parts the better it is. In fact, the only purpose of this comparison is to say that the Ta 152 shouldn't be considered as some kind of "Überkit" only destined to very experienced modelers but that it can also find it's place on the workbench of an average modeler builder.
Like I said earlier, the plastic parts have been molded in several colors. While some could see this as some kind of Matchbox like extravagance, I suppose it must have made sense to the Zukei-Mura people to do so. The silver parts are mainly destined to the cockpit interior and the engine, the black parts are for details (propeller, tires, armament, exhausts, etc…) and the grey parts are mainly the external skin of the aircraft (fuselage, wings, movable surfaces, etc…). I don't know what impact the use of different plastic pellets has on the final price of the kit (probably not much), but working with different colors certainly makes it easier to find the parts on the sprues and the build will also be less monotonous for sure. In any event, it seems as if the Zoukei-Mura team has developed its own philosophy of modeling and while their production are indeed standard plastic models, they also reflect the company's vision of the hobby. For example, the fact that their kits feature a complete interior does not find it's origin in the need to give the super detailers a bone to chew, but rather to allow the modeler to understand how the real aircraft was built. So even if most of its detail will be hidden in the end, the kit will have served its pedagogical purpose.
Here is a list of what the kit features:
- Detailed cockpit with optional seat (with or without seat belts)
- Representation of the GM-1 tank behind the cockpit.
- Representation of the Fuel Tanks below the cockpit.
- Complete engine.
- Fuselage radio compartment.
- Compressed Air cylinders and Oxygen Cylinders in the tail assembly.
- Detailed wing spar visible through the landing gear bay.
- Complete armament in all positions including ammunition boxes.
- Detailed cockpit pressurization system.
- representation of the inner surfaces of the fuselage.
- Detailed frontal radiator and choice of cowl flaps in open or closed positions.
- Cockpit hood can be attached in closed or opened position.
- Flaps can be attached in raised or lowered position.
- Movable control surfaces.
Here is a list of the panels and hatches that can be left open:
- Radio access hatch.
- Tail wheel access hatch.
- Left and right engine cowling.
Strange is that neither the panel in front of the windscreen nor the wing gun access panels have been designed to be left in the opened position without doing some surgery on the parts. This despite the fact that there is a lot of internal details that can be left visible in these areas.
The moulding of the plastic parts is superb. I found only very little traces of flash on some of the smallest detail parts and no sink marks. However, there are ejector pin marks here and there, especially inside the fuselage halves. In the cockpit area at least they will need to be removed. It seems as if the detail is softer on the pieces molded in silver but I've read that under a coat of paint things look much better so it may only be a visual effect. The surface of the plastic is rather smooth with a crisp and well defined representation of the panel lines and rivets of the real aircraft. I have also noticed that a lot of slide molds have been used for the production of the kit (at least in six different locations) and this actually explains the limited number of parts. The wing spar (part C-38) in particular is very impressive and the exhausts, as well as the machine guns are hollowed.
The clear parts are excellent as well and distortion free. A sheet of masks is provided to protect them during painting. The transparent sprue also holds the instrument panel. It would have been more logical to do it in black in my opinion.
InstructionsIn this kit, the instructions really deserve their own chapter. Zoukei-Mura have really made something special here and I can only see the Wingnut Wings ones being slightly better. The Ta 152 "Bauanleitung" is printed in color and consists of a 36 pages booklet with an History of the aircraft, the engine and the armament, a color table (Vallejo), a building sequence divided in 9 chapters (cockpit, engine, fuselage, wings, main assembly, radiator and cowling, horizontal stabilizer and tail wheel, main landing gear and final details), a painting and decal guide and a parts layout.
The instructions are illustrated with drawings, computer renderings and photos of a model taken during construction. There really shouldn't be any problem to get the parts in the right positions with such an exhaustive guide. Colors information are given for every single part, as well as decal placement when necessary.
Painting and DecalsOnly a very limited number of Ta 152 were delivered and very few photos of operational aircraft were taken so it is not surprising if only one plane is featured in the instructions. It is the famous "Green 9", W. Nr. 150168, of Willi Reschke which can be seen on every kit box art or book cover. But Zoukei-Mura had the good idea to include additional numbers in several colors (green, red and yellow) as well as numbers to do every possible serial, so if you want to go the "What If" route, what is provided in the kit will be a good starting point.
The quality of the decals is quite good. However, if you look closely, you will notice that they have not been printed in serigraphy but rather in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). This means that colors such as green for example, are in fact obtained with a mix of Cyan and Yellow dots. It is almost invisible though and one has to be VERY close to see it. Nevertheless, the white is more a light grey and the green is a little too dark in my opinion. The instrument panel and side consoles are included as decals but one can also choose to apply the gauges separately since they are present as well.
The camouflage colors are open to debate. Zoukei-Mura suggest RLM 81 Braun Violet and RLM 82 Light Green over RLM 76 Light Blue or RLM 82 Light Green and RLM 83 Dark Green over RLM 76 Light blue. T. H. Hitchcock in his book suggests the later is correct but who knows with certainty?
ConclusionWhile the Ta 152 may not be the most important Luftwaffe aircraft of the Second World War it certainly has a typical and distinctive look and Zoukei-Mura have superbly captured it with this spectacular scale model. However, despite the fact that it is 1:32 scale and that it features a full interior, it isn't a too complicated kit and with the help of the excellent instruction booklet provided I'm sure most modelers will enjoy building it. I'm sure I will!
NoteThe Zoukei-Mura Ta 152 H-1, like all other products from the company, is only available from the manufacturer's own distribution system. Orders can be made via Volks Japan (in Yen) or Volks USA (in Dollars).
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale.