Great Wall Hobby 1/48 FW-189A-2

KIT #: L4803
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.

Though it is number 4803, I believe this is Great Wall Hobby's first 1/48 aircraft kit. 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. Though each of the sprues is individually packaged, the mails managed to crack the forward upper canopy section. It can be used, but has a big crack running through it.

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 instructions are very well done with well drawn construction drawings along with some smaller detail drawings to be sure you got everything together OK. One thing that is missing is any hint of color information for the interior pieces. No paint call outs at all until one gets to the overall decal placement and camouflage sheet (which is in full color). I can only guess that Great Wall figures that modelers who buy these kits will intuitively know what colors to paint the interior, instrument panels, seat harness, wheel wells, flap wells and so on. Hopefully they will read this section and realize that we need interior color information as well.

The camouflage and markings instructions are, as I mentioned, in full color with both Gunze and RLM color information. Both aircraft are in RLM 70/71/65 and with either 1 or 2 (H)/31 in Russia during 1942/43. Both have yellow lower wing tips and boom bands. The 2(H)/31 aircraft has a patchy winter whitewash over the upper surfaces. The decals are superbly printed and come with swastikas in sections as well as stencils and wing walk areas.

Great Wall should be very pleased with their first aircraft release in this scale. It is a kit I know I've wanted to see in 1/48 ever since I bought the Italeri/MPM FW-189 thinking it was 1/48! This one has already had bits cut and glued so stay tuned for a full build review. From the look of this one, when it hits the shelves it is going to go pretty quickly.


October 2010

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

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