Tamiya 1/48 Fieseler Fi-156C Storch: Foreign Air Forces

KIT #: 25158
PRICE: 4500 yen SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2012 release. Includes etched parts and masks


In 1935, the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Reich Aviation Ministry) invited several aviation companies to submit design proposals that would compete for the production contract for a new Luftwaffe aircraft design suitable for liaison, army co-operation (today called forward air control), and medical evacuation. This resulted in the Messerschmitt Bf 163 and Siebel Si 201 competing against the Fieseler firm's entry. Conceived by chief designer Reinhold Mewes and technical director Erich Bachem, Fieseler's design had a far better short take off and landing ("STOL") performance. A fixed slat ran along the entire length of the leading edge of the long wings, while a hinged and slotted set of control surfaces ran along the entire length of trailing edge. This was inspired by earlier 1930s Junkers Doppelflügel, "double-wing" aircraft wing control surface design concepts. For the Fi 156, this setup along each wing panel's trailing edge was split nearly 50/50 between the inboard-located flaps and outboard-located ailerons, which, in turn, included trim tab devices over half of each aileron's trailing edge length.

A design feature rare for land-based aircraft enabled the wings on the Storch to be folded back along the fuselage in a manner similar to the wings of the U.S. Navy's Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter. This allowed the aircraft to be carried on a trailer or even towed slowly behind a vehicle. The primary hinge for the folding wing was located in the wing root, where the rear wing spar met the cabin. The long legs of the main landing gear contained oil-and-spring shock absorbers that had a travel of 40 cm (15-3/4 inches), allowing the aircraft to land on comparatively rough and uneven surfaces; this was combined with a "pre-travel" distance of 20 cm, before the oleos began damping the landing gear shock. In flight, the main landing gear legs hung down, giving the aircraft the appearance of a long-legged, big-winged bird, hence its nickname, Storch. With its very low landing speed, the Storch often appeared to land vertically, or even backwards in strong winds from directly ahead.

About 2,900 Fi 156s, mostly Cs, were produced from 1937 to 1945 at the Fieseler Factory in Kassel. In 1942, production started in the Morane-Saulnier factory at Puteaux in France. Due to the demand for Fieseler as a subcontractor for building the Bf 109 and the Fw 190, Storch production was shifted to the Leichtbau Budweis in Budweis in 1943.

License production was undertaken in Czechoslovakia, France, Romania, and the Soviet Union with most plants still producing the type post war. French production did not cease until 1965.


This particular boxing is a Limited Edition one from Tamiya that is for Foreign Air Forces. I picked it up because it was less expensive than the standard boxing (which was released in 2008). A few interesting features of this kit are that the clear side windows are molded in with the standard grey plastic fuselage halves. This is a real boon to ensuring good alignment.  The kit also includes metal parts. These are an etched fret for some interior details, a flat metal wing spar, and metal landing gear strut. These are not brass but etched stainless steel. A set of canopy mask are also included. These are not precut so you have to cut each one out from the sheet. Other options are a pilot figure, the ability to model the flaps raised or lowered and a set of skis. You can also build a variant without the rear gun; a flat panel piece being provided for this.

Tamiya provides a fairly complete engine and that is the first thing one builds up. Then one moves to the interior, and this is where you use much of the photo etch. I had thought that the masks included interior ones, but apparently that is not always the case so when painting the inside, you have to be very careful to mask off the inside. You do, however, get inside masks for the separate door, which you can pose open.

The instructions recommend a special metal primer for use on the metal bits so that standard paint will stick. Once the base fuselage is built, then one starts adding things like the wing spar, engine, windscreen, and the pilot/seat. Several construction steps are dedicated to building up the landing gear before moving on to the flight surfaces. As mentioned, you can do flaps up or down and there are separate hinge pieces for this. Some of the last steps are for the wing struts and underwing bits before adding the prop. Note that throughout the build, you are provided with a guide as to which parts are for use with which of the markings options. Only one of these is armed though most have the gun port.

Instructions are very well done with detail images provided where needed. As usual, only Tamiya paint references are provided. There are three Swiss options; two are RLM 71 over 65 while a third is overall silver. Two of the three have the red and white markings used during the war. Some of these markings will need to be painted on though the fuselage bands have been provided. . The silver option has the flat upper canopy section. The other two are in the splinter pattern of RLM 70/71/65. One is an Italian plane from 1942 with a white fuselage stripe and yellow forward nose. The other is a Hungarian version with yellow fuselage band and lower wing tips. The fin and tailplanes are in red, white, green making for a very colorful plane. Tamiya provides a separate set of painting instructions in a fold out format. Decals are nicely printed and should offer no issues.


I faintly recall this kit receiving some flak when it was initially released in 2011/12, but don't remember what the issue was. It does look fairly complicated in the box, but Tamiya's engineering and building sequences seem to remove all of that once you are under way. If you don't like the kit markings there are several aftermarket sheets available for it. One thing for sure, this beats the heck out of the old ESCI kit and will make for a rather nice and fairly large model.




June 2019

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