|KIT:||Airmodel 1/72 FW-58|
|REVIEWER:||Carmel J. Attard|
Bulgaria had an eventful history as well as a dramatic one. Although boasted as a neutral country it was in fact a very pro-German state long before the outbreak of the Second World War until it eventually joined the axis on the 1st of March 1941. Between 1936 and 1941 the RLM itself supplied Bulgaria with a total of 203 aircraft of various types including fighter-bombers and trainers, light attack and reconnaissance aircraft.
The earliest known involvement of the FW-58 Weihe, which is more commonly known as Gulub, (meaning Pigeon) in the Bulgarian Air Force inventory goes back to 1937. This was some time after the Air Force received the 12 Dornier Do-11c heavy bombers along with two FW-58Bs, which were delivered from Germany. The twin-engine trainer/communication aircraft also came along with 12 Arado AR-65. The Gulub as it came to be known in fact formed part of the small Army Air Force among the eight Orliaks (Air Regiments) that evolved by September 1939, the period when Germany invaded Poland. Eight FW-58 formed within the 5th Polk (air-group) assigned to the Instrument Flying School at Plovdiv. NOTE: the 5th Bomber Polk controlled two Orlyaks with a total of five Yata (squadrons) that includes one for training. The FW-58 was used for a variety of roles, the primary ones being photo mapping, instrument and multi-engines trainer roles. Eventually apart from the Liaison /trainer duties the two versions FW-58B and C-2s were armed and until 1944 were used in anti-partisan/ anti-guerilla role. This gave rise to some losses and over-work and further small-scale delivery of replacement aircraft, consisting of three FW-58 among other types, continued until 1944. So the FW-58 could be used as a light bomber, recce aircraft, and multi crew trainer. Fighter defense comprised a dorsal gun turret and a nose attachment for rapid-firing rifle-caliber anti-aircraft weapon.
The order of battle in December 1949 suggested that among the reorganized units of the now pro-Russian air force was still equipped with the FW-58with the 6th fighter attack division. In fact four FW-58s were listed operating among Tu-2T, FW-189, assigned to the Mine-Torp Aviapolk based at Balchick. Another two formed part of a contingent of the 3rd. Advanced Training Squadron based at Talish.
When I first started to build vacform kits it used to be a mere challenge when compared to the more conventional injection moulded kits. I say this because I soon realized that in fact once you make two or more of these kits you will be so much hooked on them that you start to look for kits offered in this category. One will soon recognize that the little extra effort invested in building these kits is indeed a worthwhile effort and rewarding since certain kits are only produced in this manner. Until recently the FW-58 was a typical case for a long time as only in past years a resin kit appeared on the market.
The Airmodel vacform kit of the FW-58 is one of the earliest kits to be released by this company. It is very unfortunate to note that the kit is no longer in production although the Airmodel new owner expressed with me the possibility of this kit being re-released at some time in future after some rework and possible resin detail parts added. One starts to wonder why it takes so long for even the injection moulding kit manufacturers to ignore and refrain from producing such a popular and graceful little twin engine WWII dual-purpose aircraft. The FW-58 has been neglected in preference to 109s, Spitfires and 190s etc which has been reproduced several times over. In spite of the rarity of the kit I managed to locate an example of one of these in a UK shop for a reasonable price.
Moulded in .7mm thick white plastic there are enough parts to make either of the two versions, i.e. the B version with its glazed nose and the C version, which had a solid nose front and faired over at rear of crew cockpit. The vacform components, moulded on a sheet of plastic, provide for eight wing half pieces, two fuselage halves, other six small components to form the Argus AS10c engines and four clear acetate pieces to cater for the glazed nose and clear cockpit canopy. A set of main wheel halves and tail wheel gives an indication of the size of wheels required in case one prefer to replace these with an alternate set from the spares box. There is enough detail for the less conspicuous pieces as wheel oleo, struts, aerials, guns, and tail plane finlets to produce your own from the extra sheet of plastic backing or using Contrail struts etc.
As the different versions carry different antennae and colour schemes one will preferably refer to photos of the particular aircraft type being modeled. A generic layout and side views are included in the instruction sheet to enable one to make the necessary alterations required to build either of the two versions that served with the Luftwaffe AF. For instance the clear perspex cockpit is extended to include the faired over aft in order to make the liaison version, etc. Alternatively a gun emplacement is provided if the light bomber version will be preferred. The same applies to the nose area. This can be retained solid or cut to take a clear Perspex nose to correspond to the bomber/recce version.
The fitting of the glazed nose which I preferred to do, is not quite as straightforward as one would desire and with a little care this can be made to one’s satisfaction. Interior detail is non-existent and one has to refer to photos to arrive to reasonable detail information. One can therefore place compartment sections and floor to take the basic seats, instrument panel, control column, rudder pedals and some side levers or consoles. The undercarriage well has to be detailed as it looks too bare if left as it is, I have attempted to detail mine as shown with addition of door webs, and a scratch built detailed undercarriage assembly shown in photo made from different thickness and short lengths of stretch sprue. I used Contrail struts to make the upper wing struts and under tail-plane struts. No loop antenna is supplied with vacform kits unless a kit comes with resin detail parts. The FW-58 carried a sizeable loop antenna and I have produced mine simply by stretching a heated sprue coiled around a pencil with a diameter that matches the interior space of the loop. Nose and dorsal guns were added from the spares box.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
As for the decals I have used ones produced from the Insignia range of decals with Maltese style roundel, which I made in preference to the X style ones in which I finished the kit as a first attempt, while lettering came from the spares box.
Considering that it was a straight from the box vacform kit it would be fair to say that that each stage required careful alignment of parts and that a certain amount of surgery was required during fit of parts. The end result was pleasing as the photos would indicate, which bring another model to represent a FW-58 B version that served with the Bulgarian Air Force, and was placed alongside other aircraft kits like the Ar-65, and Do-11 of the same era. Somehow I have a soft spot for aircraft that operated in the Bulgarian inventory. There was such a variety of military aircraft in operational service especially over the war years and also the Bulgarian air force seemed to have been overlooked for a long period of time and much more information is emerging on the air forces of Eastern Europe past history much of which was shrouded in secrecy during the soviet era.
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