by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
BackgroundThis unusual reconnaissance airplane was developed and manufactured by the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH in the late thirties. The first prototype made its maiden flight in July 1938 and the first pre-production serie Fw 190 A-0 was delivered in September 1940. production continued until the August 1944 and some machines were produced in the Czech Aero company as well as in French factories at Bordeaux-Mérignac. From 1941, the plane was known by the Allies as "the flying Eye" and most of the Fw 189s were used on the eastern front. The Fw 189 A series proved to possess just the right attributes of performance, ability to use short unpaved airstrips, outstanding manoeuvrability, basic simplicity, toughness, ability to carry useful armament and operational equipment. Apart from the Luftwaffe, these excellent aircraft served also with the Slovakian, Hungarian and Rumanian Air Forces.
The KitThe MPM kit comes in a rather small side opening cardboard box. I say small because this is a Limited HI-TECH Edition and there are many additional parts included in the kit wich barely fit into the standard packaging (picture 1). It's a Typical Short Run Multimedia kit with injected plastic parts, additional resin detail parts, photo etched frets and vacuform parts. Of course an assembly guide is provided as well as a decal sheet.
The plastic parts are located on five sprues of different size (picture 2). On some (pictures 3 and 4) you will find numerous detail parts, and on others only a small number of bigger ones such as the fuselage halves (picture 5).
The overall quality of the injected trees is good but this is obviously a "first generation" MPM kit as the plastic is quite hard. This results in the presence of some flash here and there as you can see in picture 6 around the landing gear bays openings. However, this is no big deal and in most cases cleaning the parts won't be too much of a problem.
The surface detail is quite nicely rendered with finely engraved panel lines and delicate fabric structure (picture 7).
Unfortunately, at least on my sample, the molds suffered a bit and maybe you will have to rescribe some areas such as the wings' ailerons (picture 8). "Weak points" of the injected trees are the engine dummies wich look awfull (picture 9) and the propeller/spinner parts wich will need to be thinned down (picture 10). Fortunately, replacement resin engines are provided in this Limited Edition boxing.
At the origin, only a few number of resin parts were included in the kit. But the HI-TECH boxing has much more to offer (picture 11):
- two complete Argus As 410 A-1 engines
- four engine side panels (the engines can be displayed open)
- complete armament with ammunition boxes
- cockpit detail parts
- four bomb racks (unfortunately without the bombs)
Highlight of the kit are the two Argus engines wich look extraordinary! The level of detail here is stunning and these castings are really additional value to the whole package (picture 12). If you want to try out hyperdetailing, you can start here!
The transparent parts are numerous! (picture 13) This is no surprise given the unusual design of the aircraft. The basic kit only came with the injected parts (picture 14) while the vacuform parts (picture 15) are an additional bonus of this special kit. You can eather choose between the plastic parts and the vacuform ones or use both to open some panels, the choice is yours. But, in both cases, it's good to have replacements because the glazings are a very important aspect of the build. A good work on the transparencies is important to have a nice looking model at the end. The injected parts are probably easier to work with but the vacuform ones are thinner and clearer. I would use the latter but again, it's up to you to decide.
Four photo etched frets are provided in the kit (picture 16). Initially, only one was included (the small one down left) so here also the Limited Edition is a real improvement. The additional PE parts will give you the possibility to put some plastic parts in the spare box... or in the dustbin where they should belong. The rudder pedals for exemple look much better in brass as in plastic. The HI-TECH parts also include seatbelts, levers, handles, gunsights, sun visor, engine wires, engine cowling flaps etc...
A small acetate sheet is present in the kit and will prove useful to replicate the instrument panel's dials.
The decal sheet included in the kit is the one that was printed for the original boxing. Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- Fw 189 A-1, W.Nr.2100, Luftwaffe, 1.(H)32, Finland, Pontsalenjoki base, 1943.
- Fw 189 A, 3/I Hungarian reconnaissance squadron, German Luftflotte 4, Ukraina, 1943.
The first paint sheme is interesting as it is based on a machine that was discovered in 1992 near Loukhi (Finland). Sole survivor of the crash was Uffz. Lothar Mothes (pilot), while both Ofw. Kurt Lebrecht (observer) and Obgfr. Günther Albrecht (radio-gunner) died while trying to escape the P-40 of Major Skiijarenko of the 760th Fighter Regiment. The Fw 189 was painted with the typical RLM 65/70/71 colors but carried a winter white wash at the time it was shot down. It appears that the aircraft was in fact a A-1 version converted to a A-2 because it was retro-fitted with twin barrel guns for defensive armament. On pictures taken in 1992, it seems the plane had KM QX code letters on the underwings. However, in 1943 these were overpainted and they probably only showed through because of 50 years of weathering!
The instructions are composed of three A4 sheets folded so to make a 12 page booklet (picture 18). There is a small history on page 1 and a complete parts layout on pages 2 and 3. The assembly guide is nicely done and enhanced with drawings taken from the original maintenance book of the plane. In pages 10 and 11 you will find precise camouflage color and marking guides.
A second booklet (in fact a simple A4 sheet) is provided and will give you the neccessary instructions for the HI-TECH upgrade parts (picture 19 and 20). Here also, original drawings will help you a lot, especially for the cockpit interior.
ConclusionMPM's 1/48 scale Fw 189 A-1 is an awsome kit... even more in this HI-TECH version! I purchased mine in a Hobby Shop for 40€ and I found it was a real bargain. If you see a sample for a good price, don't miss it, but be warned: it will require many efforts to do it justice. However, if you are searching for a challenging kit, or if you want to try "super-detailing", this is a good choice as everything is provided in a single box for a more than affordable price.
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