Pacific Coast Models 1/32 FW-190A-1
|NOTES:||Three variant options: A-1/2/3|
RAF pilots first reported encountering a new German radial-engine fighter on cross-Channel missions in August 1941, with increasing numbers in September, though their main opponents were still Bf-109Fs. Their reports of its incredible flying abilities were met with official disbelief on the part of RAF intelligence (which did in fact know about the airplane), and pilots were initially told they must have run across ex-French Hawk-75s being used by the Germans because they were “scraping the bottom of the barrel.” In his book “Wing Leader,” Johnny Johnson relates that the intelligence officer was run out of the room by the pilots who had just survived an encounter with these “Hawk 75s” when that announcement was made, as the pilots exclaimed that no pre-war fighter could perform like the airplane they had just fought. RAF HQ finally admitted that the airplane was the new Focke-Wulf Fw-190.
These first Fw-190s that arrived were Fw-190A-1 sub-types; they initially
equipped II Gruppe of JagdGeschwader 26, one of two Geschwadern
facing the RAF on the Channel Front in northern
In February 1942, the RAF finally came up against large numbers of the
Focke-Wulf during the “Channel Dash,” when the defending Germans decimated the
British attackers, in no small part due to the fact that
By April, 1942, all of the German units opposing the RAF on the Channel
coast - including JG1 in the Netherlands - were completely equipped with the new
fighter, and their ascendancy over their RAF opponents was comparable to that of
the Albatros D.
After a battle on June 1, 1942, that saw 10 Spitfires of the Debden Wing,
including the Wing Commander, shot down by JG 26, with another 10 Spitfires
badly damaged - for what turned out to be no losses on the part of the Germans
despite RAF claims of three shot down - the RAF was desperate to get hold of one
of these airplanes
and discover its secrets. Plans
were mounted for a commando raid on a German air base, with the goal of putting
a top British test pilot in the cockpit, and stealing a Fw-190 to fly it back to
The RAF got lucky on the evening of
The pilots and ground crews at RAF Pembrey were amazed minutes later to see a Fw-190 circle, drop its landing gear, and touch down on the field. Before the German could realize his mistake, an RAF officer leaped on the wing and pointed a flare gun at him. The RAF was now the proud owner of a brand-new Fw-190A-3, fully equipped.
The Hasegawa 1/32 Fw-190 has now been around for five successful years, releasing Fw-190A-5, A-6, A-7, A-8 and F-8 versions. Surprisingly, they have yet to produce two new fuselage halves 3/8 inch shorter (which is even clearly delineated in panel lines) to create the Fw-190A-1/A-2/A-3 and Fw-190A-4. Fortunately, Pacific Coast Models has now stepped in with a kit that makes up into a very credible early Fw-190, of a quality sufficient it can sit next to one of the Hasegawa kits when finished and be taken for the mainstream kit.
Examining the kit, it is obvious that it is based on the Hasegawa Fw-190, in a limited-run production version. As with most limited-run kits, fit is not so good as the mainstream kit, and there are no locating pins on any of the parts. A good point here is that this kit has a cowling of an easier design for assembly than the Hasegawa kit, and that the cannon bulge on the lower wing is molded integral to the lower wing part, so there are none of those annoying plugs to be glued in and then filled and sanded to get rid of the seams.
It is important to note that while the different cowling bulges are provided for a Fw-190A-0, one could only do the Fw-190V8 - the A-0 modified to have the MG-FF cannons in the outer wing - with the kit as it comes out of the box.
The kit also differs from the Hasegawa kit in that the inner gear doors are molded shut, and the flaps are molded in the closed position. This is accurate for the inner gear doors, which opened and closed in a manner similar to the P-51 Mustang - lowering to allow the gear to come down, then closing. As with the Mustang, these gear doors “drooped” if they were not locked in position on shut-down, so it is accurate to see them in virtually any position from full up to full down.
The very nice resin cockpit is also different, to cater to the differences specific to the cockpit of the early fighter. The instrument panel is a pre-painted photo-etch “sandwich” from Eduard, and the seatbelts are a pre-painted simplified set from Eduard.
Decals are provided for two aircraft of each sub-type.
Everything goes together easily, once the parts are cleaned up and the joints sanded smooth. All the seams will need Mr. Surfacer along them, to smooth them out and get rid of them. I also note that for the Fw-190A-1, you need to change the shell ejection opening on the lower wing. I used some Evergreen strip to close it off, then cut open the smaller chute that would be associated with the MG 17 weapons. The lower cowling panel needs care in test-fitting or you will have two seams in need of lots of filler. I found that sanding down the mounting plate for the engine really helped get this part to fit.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
While many (including myself) have thought that all Fw-190As were in 74/75/76, "Mr. Focke-Wulf", Jerry Crandall, informs me he has parts of an Fw-190A-2 that are clearly in 71/02 upper colors. According to Jerry, the early aircraft could have been delivered in either 71/02/65 or 74/75/76. He points out that Arnim Faber's Fw-190A-3 was confirmed by the RAF in the earlier camouflage colors. The color photo of an Fw-190A-1(clearly identifiably by the lack of the inboard cannon bulge on the upper wing) that appears on the cover of “Luftwaffe Colors, 1940-43" shows that it is in 74/75/76, though Jerry points out that the inboard wing color is likely 71 Dunkelgrun. While I gave my model a standard 74/75/76 camouflage scheme, it could have been in the colors suggested in the painting instructions. No one can really prove one way or the other since most photos are black and white. I did mine using Xtracrylix paints, after pre-shading with Tamiya “Flat Black.” I painted the lower cowling and rudder with Tamiya flat white, masked them off, and then hand-painted those areas with Xtracrylix “Yellow 04" after the camouflage was applied.
I attached the seatbelts, then installed the seat in the cockpit. I assembled and attached the landing gear, which does not have the “idiot-proof” alignment of the Hasegawa kit, and requires careful alignment in attaching it (I used a Hasegawa model as an alignment guide. I then unmasked the canopy and attached it in the open position. I airbrushed heavy “BMW 801" staining on the fuselage sides and belly for the final touch of “weathering” on what was otherwise a virtually brand-new airplane.
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