1/72 Focke-Wulf FW-186 Autogyro








Brian R Baker
Jim Baker


Conversion using Heller Fw-56


    German helicopter development began with Focke Wulf’s acquisition of the rights to manufacture Cierva autogyros during the 1920’s.  Over 30 Cierva C.19 and  C.30 autogyros were built during the late twenties and early thirties, and from this experience,  Heinrich Focke, the engineering half of the Focke Wulf organization, decided to develop an original autogyro
design to compete in the Luftwaffe’s contest to provide a utility-liaison aircraft. 

    The Focke Wulf entry,  designated FW-186,  was essentially a FW-56 “Stosser” parasol wing advanced trainer, with wings removed, tail unit and landing gear redesigned,  and configured for two seats in tandem.  The engine remained unchanged, with a clutch arrangement installed to start the blades rotating for takeoff. An autogyro,  similar in principle to today’s gyrocopters, uses the main powerplant for forward thrust,  while the rotors freewheel in flight.  The aircraft could take off and land in very short distances, but it could not hover or take off and land vertically.

    Although the FW-186 was successfully flown,  it was beaten out by the Fieseler Fi-156 Storch for the Luftwaffe contract,  and disappeared from the scene shortly afterward. Only one was built.


    Heller’s Focke Wulf FW-56  kit is one of the better kits.  Excellently molded in dark grey plastic,  the kit offers excellent detail and an accurate outline and interior that makes this conversion very easy.  Quite a bit work is required, however, to change this aircraft into an autogyro.


    The first problem in this conversion was to get adequate information about the aircraft.  One photo, a front one half left view of the completed prototype,  as been published in numerous sources.  More detailed photos escaped me until I found a number of photos on an internet site.  This series of photos shows the FW-186 under construction, including one interior view and several photos of the aircraft with the covers off.  These photos were invaluable in constructing the accompanying
three view drawing.

    The conversion consisted of restructuring the fuselage to make a two seater. The location of the front cockpit appears to  line up with the original, but a rear cockpit must be constructed. Both were similar in layout.  The tail unit had to be removed and replaced with an entirely new unit. Windshields were made from flat clear plastic, bent and cut to the correct shape.  The engine and propeller were used in original form.
    The major problems were the rotor blade assembly and the landing gear. The landing gear struts were built up from plastic rods of varying sizes, along with one vertical strut  from plastic strip.    Alignment proved to be quite a problem, but trial and error  eventually prevailed.  The rotor blade assembly, along with its mounting, was comparatively simple.  A high
pylon held the rotor hub, and this was fashioned from scrap.  The top of the unit had to be  scratch built,  as it is a peculiar shape. 

The blades seemed to pose a greater problem until I discovered that the hub looked just like a standard three bladed prop hub,  which, indeed, it was.  The scrap box yielded a prop from an old   Monogram  Curtiss P-6E. Blades were made of plastic strip, suitably sanded  to airfoil section, and attached to the hub with piano wire and super glue.


    This was an easy model to paint.  The  entire aircraft,  including propeller, was silver.  The usual red banner tail marking of the Nazi Party was carried on the fin and rudder,  and the registration letters, D-ISTO, were painted in black on the fuselage sides.  I used Testors Model Master aluminum with flat black for the rotor blades. The tail banner was insignia red, while the white disk and swastika were Micro-Scale decals.  After all paint and decals were applied, I oversprayed the whole model with  Glosscote lacquer,  which resulted in a very realistic looking model.


    This was an easy conversion, and more fun that most because it  was so uncomplicated. It is a unique aircraft (you can only build one unless you  want to go to fictitious color schemes) and  looks good on the shelf next to other early rotorcraft.

Brian R Baker

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