Hasegawa 1/72 FW-190A
KIT #: A7
PRICE: Dirt cheap at swap meets
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: Still a reasonable kit for its age.

Rather than cover the history of an already popular airplane I'll focus on the history of a rather unique one that was the subject of this build. How many of you (raise your hands class) have ever wondered what it would have been like to see aircraft that normally would have never met each other in combat during WW2 go at it? Think of it, Bf 109s versus Wildcats, (well that may have happened during Operation Torch) Brewster Buffalos versus Ta 152s, (okay I'm in la-la land with that one), Gloster Meteors vs. Me262s, or say a Focke Wulf 190 versus Hellcats and Corsairs? Well the latter did basically happen but not in actual combat, keep reading. This particular FW 190, an A5 model was captured and brought back to the United States during WW2. It was requested by the Technical Air Intelligence Section of Naval Intelligence. It arrived on January 24, 1944 at the Captured Enemy Aircraft Unit at the Naval Air Station in Anacostia Washington D.C. The aircraft which had formerly been with the Luftwaffe was said to have been in good condition overall but had been stripped of its radio, armament and other assorted parts.

Over the course of the next month the CEAU made all kinds of necessary repairs to the to the engine, wings, fuselage, canopy and electrical systems. It was then repainted in a bright paint scheme with a striped rudder and star and bar US insignia. On February 25, 1944 it was then flown to the Naval Air Center at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This aircraft is most likely thought to have originally served as an A5/U8 fighter-bomber equipped with bomb racks and minus it's cannon armament to save weight. A captured German handbook was then used as a guide to bring the former German aircraft to its proper gross weight and balance that would have been standard for a Luftwaffe 190 of this type. This was accomplished by adding ballast to bring it up to its "fighting weight".

It was then repainted in a standard three tone US Navy paint scheme at Patuxent.

Three pilots, Lieutenant Commander F.L. Palmer and Lieutenants C.C. Andrews and W.C. Holmes were some of the lucky ones who were fortunate enough to fly and put the 190 through it's paces in a rigorous set of tests against an F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair! The Focke Wulf was reported to easily out-climb both fighters and on the deck compared with the Hellcat it had an identical top speed of 334 mph. The 190 was said to get progressively faster at higher altitude and at 25,000 feet it reached a speed of 410 mph compared with the Hellcats 391 mph. The Corsair did better at lower altitude being nearly 30 mph faster on the deck but was still a little slower at 25,000 feet reaching 403 mph compared to the Focke Wulfs 410 mph speed. The Corsair and 190 were said to be about even in rate of roll since the F4U had mechanically boosted ailerons, while the Hellcat was a little behind. In maneuverability both Navy fighters had superior turning characteristics and there was no move that the 190 could do that the other two couldn't easily follow. The 190 however was said to stall out at times while trying to stay on the tails of either of the Navy fighters. Further stories of its turning performance as recalled by German pilots were it's tendencies to sometimes skid in a turn and dangerously flip over on its back and go down if pressed too hard in a tight right hand turn. It's not hard to understand why some moves were not recommended below altitudes of 3,000 feet so that the pilot would have time to recover.

Some further notes were a well laid out cockpit even if the American pilots considered it a little cramped for their tastes. Seating was said to be comfortable and the pilots legs were seated forwards and high which would prove beneficial against blacking out during tight maneuvers. Forward vision out of the cockpit when taxiing was so-so at best due to the position of the windscreen over the aircrafts nose and overall forward vision was noted as lacking when compared to the F6F and F4U. Rearward visibility in the 190 was superior to the aforementioned and though it was lacking its armament when brought back to the US, all pilots agreed it would make an excellent gun platform. The overview by the US pilots was that the 190 was a delight to fly and well engineered but was not the equal of the F6F and F4U in combat. They said that if attacked by a 190 in combat they could use the superior maneuverability of their planes to outturn it and get away from it if followed by the use of tight loops where the 190 might stall if trying to keep up. Caution would have to be taken with it due to the 190s superior rate of climb and to not sacrifice any edge in altitude when trying to close with it.

Though these events give us a pretty fair idea, one never knows for sure what might have happened had the 190 met either of these two fighter planes in actual combat. The American pilots tended to sound pretty confident of their machines and abilities which is only natural especially during these highly patriotic times. Lets not forget how many excellent pilots Germany also fielded during WW2. It would have been interesting to have seen and read reports from former 190 pilots had they ever gotten the chance to fly the Hellcat and Corsair immediately post war and heard what they would have had to say. Fortunately though at least we have this opportunity to have and recall.

From everything I have read this kit supposedly dates back to 1970. If that is true then this kit was light years ahead of its time. I would almost have to think it's more from the mid to late 1970s myself as it compares with similar Hasegawa kits of that time. (If anyone is certain on this please let me know) The kit is molded in dark green plastic and features two sprues plus one for the clear parts. All of the panel lines are recessed and the overall quality is very nice and what one would expect from a Hasegawa kit of this era. Items like the cockpit and frontal radiator area are a bit simplified, the cockpit being one of the familiar "stone throne" types featuring a chair with the "backboard" and floor molded around it. Hey, at the very least it works. As sparse as this sounds at least it comes with an instrument panel and pilot to help fill the area in. The frontal radiator area features no separate parts like the fan blade that is unique to the FW 190 but one does have to take into account the age of the kit.
The wheel wells may be a little shallow for some but they do feature some raised detail and are at least boxed in all around. A nice feature of the kit is that it gives you the choice of two versions to build, either an A5 or an A7. Markings are provided for the colorful yellow and red  tulip nose A5 flown by Herman Graf in 1943 as depicted on the box art and an A7/R3 from JG3 "Udet" in 1944. Both of these were most likely in the RLM 74,75 over RLM 76 scheme though the instructions suggest Black Green and Dark Green over Light Blue for Grafs machine which is most likely incorrect. Optional parts are provided like two types of canopies, the normal standard style and the later "blown hood" type. You also get two different cowl insert pieces, early style and a later one with the enlarged gun blisters for the A7 as well as the choice of a bomb or drop tank. Nice. Supposedly this kit has some inaccuracy issues that I think center around the profile and shape and lack of detail in some areas. Since I had no 1:72 plans to compare it to I can't comment on this but overall it looks like a nice little kit from Papa Hasegawa considering its age. Time to see how it builds up.

Since I wanted to do an A5 version from the start I knew I would have to remove the pitot tube from the right wing tip, moving it further inwards and use the cowling insert with the smaller gun blisters. Simple enough. The cockpit tub and related areas/parts had been previously painted in RLM 66 while doing another Luftwaffe build a while back so that was one less thing that needed doing. Sometimes it pays to stretch the paint a bit rather than dump it out in your trash pail right? A hole was then drilled in the floor and a generic control column was added from stretched sprue and was painted to busy things up a bit. I brushed the instrument panel with some Future to prep it for the decal and surprisingly they were still useable for as old as they were. Now complete, the cockpit tub and instrument panel were then trapped between the fuselage halves and the whole assembly was set aside to dry. The wings came next and features the familiar one piece lower section with separate upper halves for each side. The wing assembly was later glued on followed by the rear stabilizers and it was now starting to look like a FW 190.

The insert cowl piece was fitted next and the cowl ring was such a tight fit that it merely was press fitted into place. Don't forget to include the prop shaft pin though before attaching the cowl ring though. I'd have to say the part that had the worst fit was the aforementioned insert piece that sits forward of the windscreen. It was just a little wider than the fuselage and I aligned it as best I could, getting one side basically even and the other side ended up sticking out a bit. Some sandpaper easily took care of that though and a little Milliput was used for the rest of the gaps around it and worked like a charm. Mr. Surfacer was my main filler for the rest of the kit but overall everything fit dandy well and after a few sessions it wasn't long before I was done with all the body work. In fact I didn't even use any filler on the wing roots. The molded in head armor was painted RLM 66 and the cushion was painted with some Leather both from the Model Master range. Lastly some seat belts were made from Tamiya tape and the canopy being masked off with some more of the same was attached and the model was now ready for a trip to the paint shop.
Originally I'd had in mind to do a 190 from JG 1 in the familiar scheme of RLM 74, 75 over RLM 76. While looking through a book I came across a FW 190 A5 that was wearing US markings and in a three tone Navy scheme. Once I saw this, I knew I had to do it, done deal. It's one thing to see an Axis aircraft with the markings painted over and retaining the original camouflage scheme yet to see one especially a Luftwaffe bird totally all repainted and in US Navy colors? Like I said I had to do it. For the rest of the model Gunze Sangyo acrylic paints were used throughout and H11 Flat White was used first for the undersides and to prime any seam areas as well as the landing gear struts, wheels and gear doors. I used H56 Intermediate Blue next after masking off the bottom of the model and encountered no problems. The prop spinner was also painted in the Intermediate Blue color as well. It was hard to discern from the photographs exactly what color the spinner was but it seemed to match up with the Intermediate Blue on the sides of the cowling so that's what I used.
H54 Navy Blue was the final color and rather than try and freehand this with a single action airbrush I decided to try a new method and that was to use Silly Putty as a mask. I have to thank my good friend Bill Arnold for this tip as he uses it all the time and has recommended it to me. It took me a number of tries to get it right with the placement and all but the more you use it the better you'll become. I simply tore off pieces and rolled them into "sausages" (or kobasis if you prefer) of equal lengths and thickness and cut them with a sharp razor blade. The silly putty was like a flexible mask that you could place just about anywhere you wanted. I'm no "old hand" with it yet but finally trying it has given me the courage to try it again for future projects. Once all the painting was done a coat of Future was sprayed on and allowed to dry before applying the decals. No "decaling" for me, ha! (take that DG)
There's not much to say about the decals other than it was probably the easiest part of the whole build. A total of 4 U.S. "stars and bars" were used, one on each side of the fuselage and one on the upper port wing with one more on the underneath of the starboard wing. The decals came from an Aeromaster sheet featuring WW2 US insignia and were a breeze to use working well with Micro Set & Micro Sol setting solutions. A few hours later with the decals now dry I wiped down these areas with a damp cloth and then sprayed on another coat of Future to seal them in. A coat of Testors Acryl clear flat came last and the masking from the canopy was removed and the model was now almost finished.

The tires and machine guns were painted with Gunze H77 Tire Black and the landing gear were glued in place, with the main gear doors added last. The fit of the doors to the legs was a bit violinish (fiddly) and once they were in place I secured them with a very minute amount of some more super glue. I had to nip off a good 1/8" or so off the tops of these parts guestimating from the instructions, there was no clear point at where to cut so it was just a little at a time, check, nip a little more etc, you get the idea.

The propeller had some deformities to it in the form of some "blisters" on the fronts of the blades which looked like a molding issue. Since I had nothing that looked like a possible heir for the Focke Wulfs prop shaft I would have to settle and use the kit part, gasp! However with a little sanding and a pinch of salt thrown over my shoulder for good luck as well as some black paint to hide them they weren't as noticeable as before. Again Gunze paints were used for the prop and tips. To accent the detail of the cooling fan area at the front of the cowl I used my home brewed flimflam mans method of taking a bottle of unstirred flat black acylic paint. If you take some of the paint from the top of an unshaken bottle ofacrylic paint you'll have a watery mixture that works almost like a wash and without the mess! A couple applications of this and I was all done and followed it up by giving myself a pat on the back at having remembered to use this neat little trick. Ahh it doesn't take much to make us modelers happy right? The prop was pressed into place after enlarging the hole for the prop shaft with an Xacto knife and the spinner glued on immediately afterwards. A hole was drilled in the starboard wing for the pitot tube which came from a 190 "spares" kit that was given to me by a friend just after I'd finished the kit (thanks DG) and this was painted and glued in. A little weathering with some pastels and the model was now truly complete and I now had a "horse of a different color" Focke Wulf to add to my collection.
Though this kit may be a little "long in the tooth" for some it still results into a reasonable facsimile of the original and no doubt looks the part. Fit of the kit was surprisingly good and trouble free for its age as well. When I had the opportunity I placed it next to a friends recently completed new tool Hasegawa FW 190 A5 and you could see the differences between the two, most notable being in lack of detail and crispness compared with the newer kit. We do have to remember that there's some near 15-20 years between the two and that's to be expected. Were I to build another A5 version down the road I'd go for the newer kit but building this one was an enjoyment nevertheless and they can be picked up fairly cheap at swap meets and shows.
Wings Of The Luftwaffe by Captain Eric Brown          Airlife Publishing Limited
Other reference works from the library of my friend Steve Forster, thank you Steve!

January 2007

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