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In-Box Review
148
Focke-Wulf Fw 189A-2
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Background
"For some indefinable reason certain aircraft fire the imagination of certain pilots. Such pulse-quickeners are not necessarily aesthetically-appealing hot rods flaunting artistic contours that owe nothing to utilitarian considerations, or way out aberrations from the mainstream of aeronautical design, bristling with innovatory features. Such racier forms of seductive hardware are, it is to be admitted, usually the stuff of which dreams are made. But there are also the quieter seducers; those aeroplanes offering little in terms of conventional beauty, exoticism or scintillating performance; that possess an aura which, defying analysis, renders them quite irresistible to some. To me, one such aeroplane was Germany's "eye in the sky", the Focke-Wulf Fw 189.

This product of the drawing board of Dipl.Ing Kurt Tank had little claim to glamour. Indeed, by some standards it was considered a caprice of aeronautical design, with its match-stick-like tailbooms, tiny powerplant and bulbous nose; a supreme example of utilitarianism overcoming aeronautical artistry. Yet, as the old adage asserts: "Handsome is as handsome does"; the Fw 189 was to prove itself supremely versatile, outstandingly reliable and almost universally popular with its pilots.
"

Capt. Eric "Winkle" Brown - Wings Of The Luftwaffe

The kit
The preparation of Great Wall Hobby's Fw 189 must rate among the best kept modelling secrets of recent years. Not only had the company managed to keep a very tight lid on the development of this particularly kit, but the modelling world at large was unaware that they were even working on aircraft models at all!

The packaging and presentation are very good. The kit arrives in an attractive and sturdy top-opening box, with the sprues bagged separately, and the model's delicate accessories packed with a sheet of card for extra protection. The Fw 189 comprises:

175 x grey styrene parts (6 spare)
19 x clear styrene parts (1 spare)
32 x etched brass parts
Canopy masks
Decals for 2 x colour schemes

I've never seen any of Great Wall Hobby's armour kits, but I understand they have an excellent reputation. Seeing the parts for their first aircraft model, I can understand why - basically, the moulding is quite superb. There's not a hint of flash anywhere and, try as I might, I couldn't find any sign of sink marks despite the fact that a few of the parts are quite thick. The only flies in the proverbial ointment are a number of awkwardly placed ejector pin marks in the cockpit and wheel wells. They are mostly only quite light, but the ones in the cockpit will be visible on the finished model unless dealt with, especially if you use a wash that will only serve to highlight them.

The exterior finish is very nice, with the main parts displaying a fine silky sheen, with crisply engraved panel lines and fasteners, with neatly raised hinges. There seems to be to weights of engraving - one depth for the aircraft's basic skinning, and heavier for access panels. There's no attempt at depicting rivets - either flush or raised. The fabric covered control surfaces are rather heavily done for my liking, the rudders and elevator particularly so. I realise it is very much a matter of taste, but I'll definitely reduce the saggy look when I build the kit. A slight disappointment is that the prominent grab-handles on the crew's nacelle are moulded solid. That's fair enough for the sake of simplicity, but considering that an etched fret is included in the kit, it would be nice to have metal parts as alternatives.

All the control surfaces are separate - hinged, in fact - and the kit allows the landing flaps to be built raised or lowered, with etched liners for the interior of the wings in the latter configuration.

Test Fit
A test fit of the major parts is very encouraging, with a good positive fit. The crucial thing with any twin-boom aircraft is getting everything lined up to sit square, and it looks like the designers have done a good job ensuring a trouble free build from this point of view. The tail booms themselves interlock with the wings and stabilizer very cleverly to form the interior of the wheel wells, but I was surprised to find that the distinctive flange along the spine of each boom has only been included on the top, whereas photos clearly show it both top and bottom. Still, it'll be simple enough to add the missing ones with a fine strip of plastic card.

Turning to the crew compartment, the floor locks firmly into the wing lower centre section and gives a solid foundation for the nacelle sides. These are a little unusual, with a bevelled insert each side on the interior. This avoids hollow wing roots, but disguising the joints may take a little work.

A Few Highlights
With all that glazing, the Fw 189 is an open invitation for a really detailed cockpit, and Great Wall Hobby have done a fine job straight out of the box. Over 40 parts include beautifully moulded consoles and instrument panels, a camera and machine guns. Photoetched seat harnesses, rudder pedals and gunsights are included, and individual instrument faces are provided as decals. Oddly, considering that there's an etched fret, there are no throttle levers for the quadrants that have neat little slots all ready and waiting for them.

One point to watch out for is the ammunition stowage - the kit includes very neat drum-canister's suitable for MG 15s, as per the Fw 189A-1 - but this is an 'A-2, armed with MG 81Zs which were belt-fed. Likewise, the exterior ejectors for the spent cartridges from the MG 81Zs are absent.

To show off the nicely detailed interior, the kit includes a crystal clear set of canopy parts that allow for open entry/exit panels. The framing is arguably a tad heavy, but the clarity is really excellent. Of course, with so many individual panes, painting the canopies would normally be a total nightmare - but the designers have thought of this and included a set of pre-cut painting masks. These are gummed paper (not kabuki tape, so they might not stretch much) and a nice touch is that each mask has its number printed on it to avoid confusion - and to give you an idea just how big a time-saver the masks should prove, there are no less than 77 of them!

Staying with the transparencies, a clear RDF cover is included as an alternative to the solid version moulded onto the bottom of the nacelle. It's nice, but maybe it's an a last minute addition, because it will require some very careful surgery to fit without damaging the surrounding detail. One point that the designers seem to have missed is the landing lamp under the port wing, which is engraved but moulded solid.

The next highlights of the kit are the engines. In terms of the number of parts they are only simple - just 6 per engine (including the exhausts and engine-bearers), plus an etched ignition harness - but the moulding is amongst the best I've seen. Each engine crankcase is just 2 pieces, split vertically with the cylinders already in place, yet the detail is fully up to what I'd expect to see if it was built up from multiple parts. The propellers are equally nice, crisply moulded with pitch control vanes on the spinners.

The cowls feature separate inspection panels to show off the engines, but a sacrifice to simplicity of construction is that they are moulded integrally with the tail booms, so the cooling vents at the rear are only hinted at. If you like a challenge, it should be possible to slice off the parts, thin the edges and sort out a means to support the cowls, but I think average modellers will be happy (and probably well-advised) to leave things alone.

The main undercarriage and tailwheel are designed to give plenty of detail despite their simple construction (the tailwheel is moulded integrally with its strut). The wheel wells are boxed-in with the interior structure depicted. The mainwheels are "weighted" with quite a prominent tread on the tyres - both arguably a little overdone, but I'm personally really pleased to see the weighted wheels, and the tread should look fine if filled a little.

For underwing stores there are 4 x 50Kg bombs on simple, but very effectively detailed racks. Remember what I said about the absence of sink-marks? - well, it's on the bombs that you really notice it, because they are moulded solid, which would be just asking for trouble in many kits. The fins are good and thin despite being integral with the body of each bomb.

By way of bonuses, Great Wall Hobby have included some very welcome extras that will really appeal to anyone wanting to build a diorama or vignette around their Fw 189. First off is quite a well sculpted multi-part standing pilot figure (I suppose some people may regret that there's not a full crew, but that does seem a little carping), but what I think will prove most useful are a pair of wheeled inspection platforms and a set of wheel chocks.

Instructions and decals
The assembly guide takes the form of an 11-page A4 booklet. A correction sheet is included for one of the sections where the original drawing was incomplete. The construction stages aren't numbered, but are clearly laid out and the sequence looks straightforward and mostly logical. Where a little experimentation could be in order is with the construction of the wings and nacelles, because the way Great Wall Hobby show it is goes against standard practice. Of course, their method may work perfectly well, but it could also be a case of showing things in the most convenient way for the layout of the diagrams, rather than ease of construction. No painting details are included in the main instructions, so you'll need to find your own references for the interior (MBI's book on the Fw 189 is a very good place to start).

Decals are included for a pair of aircraft, depicted in colour on a separate sheet. This time, Gunze Sangyo paint matches are included:

1. 5D FH, 1(H)/31, Russia, 1942, in standard splinter camouflage.
2. W.Nr 2317, 5D CK, 2(H)/31, Russia, 1943. This is shown in a scuffed temporary winter finish, with the white extending across the undersides. Without seeing a photo of the actual aircraft, I would have thought bare RLM 65 would be more standard.

The decal sheet is quite small and looks very good quality. The items are printed in perfect register on the sample sheet and have a high-gloss finish with minimal carrier film. Swastikas are included in a split form, but aftermarket alternatives are easy to find if you prefer.

Conclusion
Great Wall Hobby's Fw 189 is quite a superb kit - all the more so because it's the company's first attempt at an aircraft model. The model is beautifully moulded and detailed, and seems straightforward enough for modellers of most abilities to enjoy an easy build. Despite the couple of points noted above, it's easily the best kit of the Fw 189 yet to appear in this scale - in a different league to the old MPM multi-media kit and the Karo-As vacuform before that - and Luftwaffe enthusiasts should love it.

Overall. it's probably one of the most impressive debuts you could hope for, and I really hope the model is sufficiently successful for Great Wall Hobby to continue to produce model aircraft. Encouragingly, the spare parts on the sprues make it pretty clear a nightfighter version will appear at some point, and the kit is number L4803, so who knows what else is planned. Highly recommended.

Great Wall Hobby's Fw 189 is due for release in the UK in mid December and will be available from The Airbrush Company, the UK distributors for all Great Wall Hobby / Lion Roar kits and accessories.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent moulding and detail. Clever design should ensure a trouble-free build. Etched details and painting masks included. Decals appear to be good quality.
Lows: Missing flange along the bottom of each tail-boom. No provision for ammunition for the MG 81Zs.
Verdict: Great Wall Hobby's Fw 189 would be an excellent release kit from any established aircraft kit manufacturer. Coming as it does from a company that's never produced an aircraft subject before, it's really quite amazing, and simply begs to be built!
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: L4803
  Suggested Retail: £34.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 26, 2010
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.09%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.63%

Our Thanks to Great Wall Hobby!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

..fantastic work Jean-Luc .. perhaps I missed it somewhere ..but please tell us how you achieved that finish !
DEC 27, 2010 - 07:55 AM
That's a really great model Mr. Jean-Luc I have a few questions: Have you added any extra Is there any point that I must take care of it I will make a Faded white camo' too. What colors should I spray before white And a last question: How is the weather like In France Cheers Nick
DEC 27, 2010 - 07:55 AM
Agreed, absolutely fantastic build!! great work Jean-Luc! can you bring it when we meet in February? ... BTW I got the job , but details have to be worked out.... I will try to visit Marc in January because I'll have to move soon... all the best Steffen
DEC 27, 2010 - 08:00 AM
Whoa- absolutely kick-as, Jean-Luc! I'm shivering from the Russian cold... Cheers! chuk
DEC 27, 2010 - 02:31 PM
Hi all, Thanks for the kind words. The finish was achieved with the "hairspray technique": - the model was painted first in RLM 65/70/71 - then it was protected with several coats of Klir (Future) - the markings were applied and protected with Maskol - a coat of hairspray was sprayed all over the uppersurfaces - a coat of Tamiya white acrylic (XF-2) was randomly sprayed next - with a moistened hard brush the white paint was removed in places - another coat of Klir, some flat varnish (Gunze H20) et voilą! Nick, yes I have added some more details, especially in the interior (see above in the thread) and for the exposed engine. But the kit wasn't altered externally so I think even out of the box it will look great once finished. It is better I give you some advices when you start the build, step by step... We have plenty of snow here in the nort east of France. Perfect conditions for a winter sheme aircraft! Best news of the year (decade?) Jean-Luc
DEC 27, 2010 - 09:47 PM
Thank you very much Cheers Nick
DEC 27, 2010 - 10:09 PM
I'll echo others Jean-Luc - fantastic modelling. And thanks for the pointers on the hairspray technique. I've got to give that a go! Simon
DEC 27, 2010 - 10:38 PM
I'll echo others - fantastic build Jean-Luc. And thanks for sharing the hairspray technique. I must try that out. Simon
DEC 27, 2010 - 10:45 PM
Congratulations Steffen and all the best in your new place. I'm affraid you will have to say farewell to 16 finished models in 2011 I also have to congartulate to Jean Luc for a fantastic build, as usual. I'am waiting for the feature, I hope to will reveal at least few of your top secret tricks Anyway no matter what, problably as many other Aeroscales, I'm still waiting for Rowan to finish his Focke-Wulf.
DEC 30, 2010 - 06:32 AM
   

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