|KIT:||Pavla 1/72 Fa-330 rotor kite|
The ingenious but impractical FA-330 was developed by Heinrich Focke to be used by surfaced warships, especially submarines, as a means to detect possible enemies from a height of up to 700 feet above the sea. It had no power of it’s own, but relied on the special pitch of the blades to “auto-rotate”, while being pulled along, lifting the one pilot high into the sky, held to the sub by a cable and winch system and a long line to transmit information back to the crew below. Some 200 of these odd craft were built and tested on various platforms, from destroyers to trucks, but never really panned out as a viable military asset…they were too visible to the advancing allied radar, enemy line of sight, and had poor maneuverability…”sitting ducks” might have been an applicable term!
Nonetheless, the design was a marvel of compactness…it could be quickly assembled for observation, (just as easily disassembled for storage in two tubes along the conning tower of a U-boat) and launched easily from a small frame welded onto the rear guard rail of the submarine’s sail. I am sure they asked for volunteers…if the sub was spotted by an enemy plane or ship, the pilot was to un-attach his rotorkite from the cable, and ditch the 330 in the open sea…hoping that the sub could return to pick him up…not exactly a heartwarming thought !
The FA-330 was tested out in all of the operable waters, but was deemed unsuitable in the tricky Atlantic seas…many seemed to have worked out well in the Indian ocean, though, being used by long range Type IX boats.
Along with one sheet of single side paper instructions, you get a small sprue of plastic bits (9 pieces) molded in very brittle grey styrene…a fair amount of flash, but nothing abnormal from a limited run kit. The Extratech photo-etched plate is quite nice, 20 very well done little metal bits that make up the bulk of the kit…a pair of Xuron’s or a very sharp razor are going to be needed for this little gem ! The decals are simply well done by Tally Ho ! and consist of 6 small crosses…they appear to be nice and thin, and should settle well onto the smooth surfaces of the kit itself.
I don’t know if I would recommend this to someone who hasn’t done any photoetch at all…but it looks to be fairly easy to assemble, and it certainly is worth a little bit of extra work to have something so unusual on the shelf. The instructions are something of a let down, but the kit can be puzzled out, especially with all of the research material and photos available on the web.
I plan on building a nice 1/72nd ROG sub with this whirlybird in tow !
Review kit courtesy of my bank account.
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