Revell of Germany’s 1/32 FW190A-8: Not bad, not bad at all.

Having recently finished Revell of Germany’s (“RoG”) 1/32 Spitfire MKIIa, I decided to crack into their 1/32 FW190A-8. The 190 was a far more ambitious effort by the German manufacturer, with a full engine and mounts included.

Part of what made the Spitfire a fun departure from my still in-progress Tamiya Spitfire MkIX was the simplicity of the build. Simplicity that was in no small part caused by a lack of cowlings to assemble over a complex engine like that found in the beautiful Tamiya Spitfire kit. Getting a perfect fit with those Tamiya parts is a chore that while undoubtedly better than most other kits could dream of pulling off, I’ve rarely seen executed flawlessly on a built model.

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Eduard’s Brassin Cockpit

Like the Spitfire, the detail in the cockpit is adequate, but this time I opted for Eduard’s Brassin replacement cockpit and HGW belts. The substantial but largely hidden increase in detail probably won’t be worth the cost to most builders, but I loved it. And, it fit perfectly. HGW fabric belts are the industry standard, in my view, and are a must-have purchase for any model I want to display with an open cockpit.

I also opted to replace almost anything that RoG intended to mold as a cylinder. As much good as can be said of the quality of the kit, RoG just hasn’t figured out how to mold small parts, particularly cylinders, in a way that won’t require prolific scraping of the mold seams to get something that resembles a circular cross section.  This means I ordered Master Model turned brass barrels and Eduards Brassin landing gear struts and wheels. All fit and worked as intended and added a splash of much needed detail in those areas. The metal landing gear were beautiful, added much needed strength, and fit perfectly.

The RoG propeller and spinner, to my eye, was wholly inadequate. This was replaced by what was ostencibly Eagle Parts resin.  After further review, I think my eBay purchase might have been a knock off of the Eagle Parts parts. Regardless, these look far better in accuracy than the kit parts, but they had their own issues. My resin props were tricky to assemble giving no real positive placement for the blades. You just had to plug the blade in to a hole on the spinner and try to align it correctly in all axis before the CA glue dries, while also doing the same to two other blades and hoping to get them aligned in a way that looks symmetrical. If you end up with the same blades and spinner I did, I’d suggest you make a jig, somehow, to get the blades aligned (or just buy the actual Eagle Parts, as it appears from the picture on their website that they have this issue solved).

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I initially contemplated having the engine completely closed in the cowling or I would have spent more time detailing, weathering, and wiring the thing.

Finally we get to the engine and cowling. Alignment issues here tend to propagate and magnify from the fire wall to the spinner. Then, you have to essentially build the cowling around the engine that likely isn’t aligned perfectly. This isn’t truly difficult, but is by far the most tricky part of the build. Its tricky enough that it will likely turn off many modelers who would find gaps and misalignment abundant if put together without multiple dry fit runs. Even so, I elected to display a cowling panel open, in part to display the better-than-average but could-be-better engine, but also to hide the gaps and misalignment that appeared around that final panel when everything else was aligned as good as I could get.

If I had to do this kit over again, I would certainly opt for the Eduard Brassin engine set. I think the substantial increase in detail, even if only visible through an open cowling, would really add that final pop to an otherwise very solid kit. And, if Eduard’s Brassin cockpit is an example, the fit of these parts would probably be better than the kit parts.

I wanted to do my 190 as one flown in the ETO. As such, I opted to use Kagero’s phenominal “FW 190s over Europe, part II“. I chose to do a FW190 A-7 as flown by Lt. Hans Ehlers, of 3./JG 1, from late 1943. To my eye, the back dating to an A-7 from the A-8 required moving the pitot in-board and leaving off the prominent upper wing bulges that would go over the cannon. I am certain that both Luftwaffe fan-boys and academics heads are exploding by my severe simplification and lack of understanding of the nuances between the two marks. Paint was Gunze RLM 74, 75 and 76 thinned 50/50 with Mr. Leveling Thinner over Mr. Finishing Surfacer black. Multi tone camouflage was completed using the Sotar 20/20 and free-handing the markings eyeing for a tight feather between the colors. Decals were a combination of those supplied in the Kagero book as well as HGW wet transfers and the kit decals.

With the RoG 190 as with their Spit IIa, the parts were well detailed and of generally high molding quality. The construction was a breeze with no real fit issues along the fuselage and wings, and the instructions are clear. A modeler with moderate skill, and significant patience, would be able to build this kit and end up with an impressive model capable of being displayed in flight with RoG’s included stand, or displayed in the usual parked configuration.

In sum, like RoG’s Spitfire MkIIa, this is a good kit, with some problems already addressed by the aftermarket. It’s generally a fun build that with an extra investment of time, and the sacrifice of some money to the AM gods, can really build into a stunner. In fact, my experience with these two Revell kits has been so positive, that I’m considering jettisoning the Tamiya 1/32 Mustang in my stash for RoG’s new tool D, ‘Stang.

A full photo journal of the build process is available here.

 

 

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Trumpeter’s 1/32 Tropical Fritz – almost but not quite.

As I’ve often mentioned in these very pages, I tend to build kits based on books I have read or currently reading.  At this point in my life, the subject has to interest me intensely to keep my attention across months long builds.  To that end, Pierre Clostermann’s “The Big Show” inspired a love for the Tempest Mk V, and rekindled an interest in the Spitfire Mk IX (a long over-due project now on the bench).  Robin Old’s autobiography “Fighter Pilot” bloated my stash with a 1/32 P-38, P-51, Shooting Star, Meteor and F-4C Phantom II.  Pertinent to this discussion is Dan Hampton’s seminal history of air combat “Lords of the Sky“. Hampton introduced me to one of the most interesting characters in the history of air combat, rivaling the original most interesting man in the world Robin Olds.

Hans-Joachim Marseille was a Luftwaffe pilot in the early stanzas of World War 2 and his famous “Yellow 14” is a fixture at any gathering of modelers.  Admittedly it is often a difficult exercise to applaud any man who voluntarily fought under the banner of Nazi Germany, but some warriors left an indelible mark on history for their exploits, bravery, chivalry, and skill.  Marseilles is inarguably one of those men.

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Trumpeter’s kit of the same is an impressive mix of modern tooling and detail to build into a very impressive model.  Insofar as part layout and complexity it falls between most of Tamiya’s large scale offerings and Hasegawa’s.  That is just enough more complexity and detail to make it catch your eye, but not enough to require a dozen steps to build the cockpit or engine.  The majority of the kit fits together as well as anything you would find from either of the big two.  That said, the finicky fit of the engine makes this kit impossible to recommend to anyone unless you want a kit with a basic DB 601 engine displayed.

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The problems all seem to stem from the construction of the engine itself. Specifically the attachment of the individual exhaust manifolds. While it builds to be a convincing replica of an important historical engine, there are problems. The exhaust are the one place in this whole model that should require a tight positive fit to assure proper orientation but the exhaust themselves have several degrees of play in their vertical orientation. As they have to protrude out through slits in the fuselage halves, this is a critical alignment.  As I found out, a slight and even imperceptible, misalignment of the exhausts can cause the flimsy fuselage nose to warp out of true making alignment of the prop hub, or the cowlings positioned in the closed position, almost impossible without significant modification. If you are planning on building this kit, I strongly suggest ignoring the instructions and finding a way to attach the exhausts after the fuselage is together, even if you want to leave the cowls open.

Another problem is that for all of the effort Trumpeter put into providing a nicely detailed engine, and cowlings with nice internal detail, they also decided to have multiple and prominent injector pin marks on the interior of each cowl.  These are difficult to remove without destroying. With some careful sanding and filling an acceptable result can be achieved.

IMG_0351Beyond that, construction was relatively simple and straight forward. It took me about as long to get the cockpit and engine built up as it did to finish the rest of the model.  Modelers should be aware that if you want to pose the lower cowl open, the drop tank cannot be installed.  This is not mentioned in the instructions and I didn’t find out until too late into the build. Further, beyond a few placard decals for the cockpit and engine, I would highly recommend aftermarket wheels and the Quickboost tropical filter.  The difference between the kit and Aires wheels is breathtaking.  The fit is flawless with no modification (a rarity with anything Aires, and aftermarket wheels in general) and it allowed me to wait until the end to install the tail wheel. The kit tropical filter is unnecessarily complicated with too chunky and out-of-scale mounts.  Both are worth the money and effort to upgrade.

One mistake I made that I can’t really blame on the kit was that I went against my usual process to install the wing-tip navigation lights.  I had presumed, given the relatively minor fit issues with the rest of the kit (engine notwithstanding it is a great kit), that the wing tip lights would simply drop in with a little glue after paint.  This is wrong assumption on almost every kit, and especially wrong on this kit.  Not only do the sprue mounting points on the lens require buffing of the part itself (and resultant minor changing of the shape of the lens), but the notches on the wing tips for the lights don’t particularly fit well without some help, and or filler.  The better method would have been to install the lights before paint, and sand/fill to fit, then mask as is per my usual. Instead I was left trying to cobble together an acceptable fix with bondic that left the port light a bit misshapen in appearance.

Overall my recommendation for the modeler who simply wants a representation of Marseille’s “Yellow 14” for their collection would be to find the Hasegawa kit (note: I haven’t built that kit specifically but have built enough Hasegawa kits of similar vintage to extrapolate).  On the other hand if you want a bit more detail than Hasegawa out of the box, and a more challenging build with a displayed engine, this kit won’t let you down.

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