Great Wall Hobby 1/48 FW-189A-1 "Nacht Jäger"

KIT #: L4801
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New mold kit


In 1937, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (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 variants.

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.

The Great Wall Hobby 189 kits have been released out of sequence a bit as this kit is 4801 and 4803 was their first release. 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
us 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.

The kit also comes with 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 differences in this boxing from the previous one are the inclusion of the exhaust dampers and nose radar bits. There etched sprue is slightly different in that there is an additional gun sight pieces so the arrangement is a bit different from the one shown. But basically, they are the same.

The 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.

The camouflage and markings instructions are, as I mentioned, in full color with both Gunze and RLM color information. The lone markings option is for an NJG 100 plane in 1945 painted in RLM 75 upper with RLM 76 lower and this same color squiggled all over the upper surfaces. Yellow lower wing tips and tail booms. 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 there have been improvements to the instructions and packaging and know that it will make into a superlative model with a bit of patience and careful construction. I know you will like it.


June 2011

My thanks to Great Wall Hobby for providing the preview kit. Visit for more on Great Wall kits.  

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