Tamiya 1/48 FW-190A-3
|PRICE:||1800 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Fw 190 A-3 was equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, which increased power to 1,700 PS (1,700 hp; 1,300 kW) at takeoff by improving the supercharger and raising the compression ratio. Because of these changes, the A-3 model required a higher octane fuel—100 (C3) versus 87 (B4). The A-3 retained the same weaponry as the A-2. The A-3 also introduced the Umrüst-Bausätze factory conversion sets. The Fw 190 A-3/U1 and U2 were single experimental Fw 190s: U1 (W.Nr 130270) was the first 190 to have the engine mount extended by 15 cm (5.9 in), which would be standardized on the later production A-5 model. The U2 (W.Nr 130386) had RZ 65 73 mm (2.9 in) rocket launcher racks under the wings with three rockets per wing. There were also a small number of U7 aircraft tested as high-altitude fighters armed with only two 20 mm MG 151 cannon, but with reduced overall weight. The A-3 variant was the first fairly reliable version of the 190 as most of the issues with engine overheating had been cured.
In autumn 1942, a political decision diverted 72 new aircraft to Turkey in an effort to keep that country friendly to the Axis powers. These were designated Fw 190 A-3a (a=ausländisch (foreign), designation for export models) and delivered between October 1942 and March 1943. The Turkish aircraft had the same armament as the A-1: four 7.92 mm (.312 in) synchronized MG 17 machine guns and two 20 mm MG FF cannon. There was no FuG 25 IFF device in the radio equipment.
This was one of the earlier kits that Tamiya produced during their revival of doing aircraft kits back in the early 1990s. It is so very typical of Tamiya kits in that the engineering is excellent and the kit does not provide multiple little parts when one larger one will do just as well.
Once the cockpit is built, it can be installed from the underside into a completed fuselage. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and a pilot figure is also included. Note that the cockpit opening is quite small so little can actually be seen in there once done. The engine is two pieces with a front cylinder face and a front section. This latter item holds a polycap so one can simply push the prop in place after painting and decaling.
The lower wing is a single piece and there is a separate main gear well to be installed. Guns are molded on the leading edge of the upper and lower wings so are fairly easily broken. Same for the pitot. Once the wing and tailplanes are installed, construction moves to the main landing gear. The kit provides the proper early wheel style. Some have stated that the wheels on Tamiya 190s are undersize, but they look OK to me. Though the instructions show the gear being installed at this point, most of us will hold off until after painting.
Construction then moves to adding the cowling pieces and the area behind the cockpit. Then the head armor is built and installed and the prop with fan blades piece are assembled. These items are attached along with the windscreen and that is it. The lone option is having the canopy open or closed. None of the aircraft on the decal sheet had a drop tank so that item is not included.
Instructions are well done with detail images provided where needed. All three options are in RLM 74/75/76 with light mottling along with yellow lower cowling and rudder. Markings are for three aircraft; two are with JG 2 and one with JG 26. Decals are nicely done and despite their age, are probably still viable. A nice addition is the inclusion of full scale camouflage plans which can be cut out to use as masks.
This is still a great kit despite its age. Both Hasegawa and Eduard have released A-3 variants since this one was produced. Both have more parts (which apparently equals more detail in the minds of many), but few will be able to tell them apart from the Tamiya kit once they have been built.
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