Great Wall Hobby 1/48 FW-189A-1 with Skis
Scott Van Aken
In 1937, the
(RLM) issued a specification for a short-range, three-seat reconnaissance
aircraft with a good all-round view to support the German army in the field,
replacing the Henschel Hs 126, which had just entered service. A power of about
850-900 hp (630-670 kW) was specified. The specification was issued to Arado and
Focke-Wulf. Arado's design, the Ar 198, which was initially the preferred
option, was a relatively conventional single-engined high wing monoplane with a
glazed gondola under the fuselage. Focke-Wulf's chief designer Kurt Tank design,
the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 was a twin-boom design, powered by two Argus As 410
engines rather than the expected single engine and a central crew gondola, while
Blohm & Voss proposed as a private venture something even more radical: chief
designer Dr. Richard Vogt's unique asymmetric BV 141. Orders were placed for
three prototypes each of the Arado and Focke-Wulf designs in April 1937.
Possibly the best reconnaissance aircraft to operate
during World War II, the Fw 189 was produced in large numbers, at the Focke-Wulf
factory in Bremen, at the Bordeaux-Merignac aircraft factory (now the Dassault
Mirage plant) in occupied France, then in the Aero Vodochody aircraft factory in
Prague, occupied Czechoslovakia. Total production was 864 aircraft of all
Called the "Flying Eye" of the German army, the
Fw 189 was used extensively on the Eastern Front with great success. Its Russian
nickname was "Rama"
(Frame), referring to its distinctive tailboom shape. Despite its slow speed and
fragile looks, the Fw 189's maneuverability made it a difficult target for
attacking Russian fighters. When attacked, the Fw 189 was often able to out-turn
attacking fighters by simply flying in a tight circle into which enemy fighters
could not follow. Its ruggedness was demonstrated when Fw 189s routinely
returned to bases with one tail shot or torn off.
friends at GWH (previously Great Wall Hobby) have added another interesting
variant to their first, and very nicely done, aircraft kit the FW-189. There is little difference between
this and the previous kit aside from some minor things and I'll cover those when
the time comes. If you have seen or built any of their armor kits, then you are aware of the
quality of their kits. This one is no exception. Thankfully, there are not the
usual mass of rivets as you often see on other kits developed in China. I do
appreciate that. The kit comes on six sprues, one of which is clear and two of
which are identical. The clear bits are very well done and quite clear. This
time, Great Wall has placed them in a padded bag as my first kit suffered from
some broken clear bits (which Great Wall quickly replaced).
Molding on the rest is very crisp and clean. I did find ejector pin marks on the
inside of flaps, upper gear wells and some other areas. Most of these will either
be easy to remove or will be difficult to see when the kit is complete. I should
also mention that the fabric flight control surfaces many have more 'hills and
valleys' than some will want, but to me it looked fine. The kit comes with a
photo etch fret that is used for seat harnesses, rudder pedals, upper flap
wells, engine wiring, tail
wheel door, gun sights, and a few other small pieces. Another real bonus is that
a full set of canopy masks is included. With all that 'glass', masking in the
normal way would be time consuming and tedious. Great Wall has not only given
the masks, but each one is numbered and the kit comes with a full placement
guide, making things almost easy.
The kit provides several nice features. First of all, it has separate control
surfaces, including the two section ailerons. The rudders and ailerons are
hinged and designed to move. I'm not sure how receptive most modelers are to
this sort of thing. Personally, I'd not mind if they were not movable, but from
the look of things, it will not detract from the overall presentation. The tail
wheel is also hinged, which is a bit odd as the gear door is photo etch and has
to be bent in a specific manner when attached. In case you were wondering, the
superbly detailed main gear is not designed to retract. The kit also comes with
a crew figure, something one doesn't always see in modern kits.
Included are two nicely detailed Argus engines. There are engine
covers in case you do not want to display them open, but you'll have to build
them up anyway in order to attach the exhaust and the propellers. These engines
have a photo etch ignition harness for each side. Something interesting I
noticed in the instructions is that one attaches the lower outer wing section to
the booms first, then the upper wing section. The center lower wing section is
part of the fuselage nacelle. This is very nicely detailed with about anything
you'd ever want from a kit of this type. There are decals to fit over the
instrument faces providing us with nicely raised instruments and face detail as
well. Other options are the ability to carry bombs under the wings, two wheel
chocks and two maintenance/boarding stands. The difference in this boxing from
the previous one are the inclusion of a pair of sprues that have the skis and
their fairings. If you look on the parts guide, these are the F sprues. There is
no standard landing gear included.
instructions are very well done with well drawn construction drawings along with
some smaller detail drawings to be sure you got everything together OK. On the
initial kit I commented on the missing interior color information.
I'm very pleased to note that they have taken that to heart and not only provide
Gunze references but RLM ones as appropriate.
as kitted comes from an unknown unit in the standard RLM 70/71/65 scheme with
yellow rear boom bands and outer lower wing tips. Just an omission on
my kit, but there was no overall color and markings guide, but an e-mail to GWH
had one sent to me via computer. The kit includes a full
color representation of the box art without the printing atop it. This is
provided in a protective plastic cover. The decal sheet is superbly printed and come with swastikas in
sections as well as stencils and wing walk areas.
If you read the build review I did on their first
release, you know what a great kit this Great Wall Hobby version really is. I'm
pleased that they have continued with different variants and the ski equipped
kit will make for something quite unusual on your display shelf.
My thanks to Great Wall Hobby for providing the preview kit. Visit
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