Kit: Eduard 8173 1/48 FW 190A-8 Profipack edition
Price: £22.25 available from Hannants UK.
Decals: 5 Options.
Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.
Notes: Photo-etch and canopy mask included in the kit.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (English: Shrike) was a German single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s and widely used during World War II. Powered by a radial engine in most versions, the Fw 190 had ample power and was able to lift larger loads than its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Fw 190 was used by the Luftwaffe in a wide variety of roles, including day fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack aircraft and, to a lesser degree, night fighter.
When the Fw 190 started flying operationally over France in August 1941, it quickly proved itself to be superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force‘s main front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V, especially at low and medium altitudes. The 190 maintained superiority over Allied fighters until the introduction of the improved Spitfire Mk. IX in July 1942, and the Lavochkin La-5 and Yak 7 on the Russian Front in 1943, which restored qualitative parity. The Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front in November/December 1942; though Soviet pilots considered the Bf 109 the greater threat, the Fw 190 made a significant impact. The fighter and its pilots proved just as capable as the Bf 109 in aerial combat, and in the opinion of German pilots who flew both, provided increased firepower and manoeuvrability at low to medium altitude.
The subject of this Eduard kit review, FW 190 A-8 ‘Blue 8 of Unteroffizier Dietrich, 12 Staffel IV./J.G. 5 was based at Herdla, Norway in April 1945. IV./JG 5 and 14./JG 5 were transferred to the Arctic Front from Southern Norway in August 1944. JG 5 or Jagdgeschwader 5 ‘Eismeer’ was a LuftwaffefighterWing. As the name Eismeer (Ice Sea) implies, it was created to operate in the far North of Europe, namely Norway, Scandinavia and northern parts of Finland, all near the Arctic Ocean. Just over two dozen fighter aircraft that once served with JG 5 during the war still survive to the present day, more than from any other combat unit in the Axis air forces of World War II.
The Gruppe joined the first of several large air battles commencing on October 9, opposing the final Soviet offensive against Petsamo. Jagdgeschwader 5 was based at Petsamo Loustari airfield during the offensive. After the battle, III. and IV./JG 5 had claimed 85 Soviet aircraft shot down (among them the 3,000th victory for JG 5) against the loss of only one pilot killed.
After the armistice between the Soviet Union and Finland on 4 September 1944, the Petsamo region (though still largely occupied by the Germans) again became part of Russia, and the Finnish government agreed to remove the remaining German forces from its territory by 15 September (leading to the Lapland War). During the retreat of the German 20th Mountain Army, called Operation Birke, the decision was made by the German Armed Forces Command to withdraw completely from northern Norway and Finland in Operation Nordlicht. During the preparations for this operation, the Russians went over to the offensive on the Karelian Front.
The Soviets captured Petsamo on 15 October, but due to supply problems, had to halt the offensive for three days. For the rest of the campaign the Soviets advanced after the withdrawing Germans along the coast of Norway, with the Soviets trying to block and cut off German units during their retreat. But because of constant supply shortcomings and German delaying efforts, the Soviets were not able to achieve success and the Germans escaped with the bulk of their forces intact. The Germans abandoned Kirkenes on 25 October and finally on 29 October Soviet Commander Meretskov halted all operations except reconnaissance.
The Soviet offensive ended with a victory for the Red Army, however the Wehrmacht20th Mountain Army under the command of General Lothar Rendulic, successfully performed an orderly retreat, covered by Jagdgeschwader 5, with the bulk of their forces intact just like they were against Finnish forces during their retreat through Lapland carried out at the same time. The Soviet failure to inflict clear defeat on the withdrawing Germans was largely due to the supply issues caused by efficient German destruction of road connections in the area. With often the only road available being out of service due damage and mines. Both supplies and heavy equipment, like artillery, could not be transported to front lines in sufficient quantities while lighter equipped forces were at disadvantage against heavily armed German units.
Unteroffizier Wolfgang Dietrich and IV./JG 5 returned to Herdla, Norway, after the German defeat by the Soviet Union in the Petsamo-Kirkenes offensive. Dietrich’s aircraft, Focke-Wulf FW 190A-8, ‘Blue 8’ with the name ‘Erika’ below the cockpit, was one of several aircraft abandoned at Herdla in the spring of 1945. IV./JG 5 took part in the defence of the Northern sector of occupied Europe, but was not standardised within the Defence of the Reich system.
Before I begin, I must warn you. There is a great deal of talk on the web about Eduard’s series of Focke-Wulf kits in 1/48 scale. The consensus seems to be that these kits are over-engineered and difficult to build. I have wanted to build an Eduard FW 190A-8 for some time, when the kit arrived in the post, it was with trepidation and excitement that I lifted the lid and looked into a tray packed full of beautifully crafted parts, moulded in Eduard’s signature grey/green plastic.
There are six sprue frames of injection moulded parts, one frame of clear parts, a canopy and wheel mask and a photo-etch set. Additionally, Eduard supplies a 16 page instruction manual printed on high quality glossy paper with easy to follow step-by-step stages in ‘exploded-view’ format and a two-sided A4 sheet with stencil data on one side and masking instructions on the other.
Referring to my note of caution. I have made many kits over the years. This has by far been the most difficult kit that I have ever built. Luckily, a colleague was on hand to point out the pit-falls that exist in the construction process of this kit. Before you begin, I recommend that you get a red felt pen, fluorescent highlighter and black biro and go through the instruction sheet, highlighting the areas that you must not paint before you glue the parts together. This, seemed almost absurd to me, however, if you paint the engine, it will not fit inside of the cowling. Here is what I did with the help of my colleague:
The parts were washed in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release. Do not prime or undercoat any of the parts. The first part of the construction phase should be completed as usual. This is the completion of all of the cockpit components on page 3. All of the cockpit components can be primed and then painted in Humbrol Matt 67 dark grey and completed as per the picture of page 3 of the instruction booklet detailed below.
Page 4 begins with the construction of the forward compartment bulkhead. Paint the side facing the cockpit but not the side facing towards the engine. In the picture below you can see that in the top section of the page, there are three areas highlighted in green. Some parts (left of page) are not to be used, the rest are to be cut off with side-cutters. The gun holding clips (centre of page) and rear of the cowling cannon (right of page) were cut away. Place the gun barrels to one side to insert into the cowling later.
At the foot of the page, the green highlighted forward fuselage section must not be painted. However, the cockpit side walls should be painted, in this case in Humbrol Matt 67 dark grey.The tailwheel can be assembled and painted. Once the cockpit, bulkhead and tailwheel are complete, the fuselage can be glued together, taped and left overnight to dry.
The wings and wheel-wells on page 5 can be constructed as per the instructions. As you can see from the picture below, they too must not be painted. The lower wing contains drill points for you to drill holes depending on the version of the FW 190A-8 that you are building; i.e. a jabo (Fighter-Bomber), A-8 with under-wing rockets or a long-range fighter with centreline fuel-tank. Page 6 continues the theme of the wing build. I put a big red ‘X’ in the lower-left corner to remind myself that I must not use part J3, as I wanted the cannon hatches closed. Again, nothing is to be painted on page 6.
On page 7, the upper and lower halves of the wings are glued together, taped and left overnight to dry. Once dry, I fitted the fuselage, one-piece wing section and two cannon hatches in the wing-roots simultaneously. This was done because the cannon hatches have a tricky curve with ‘tongue and groove’ arrangement which makes fitting them impossible after the fuselage and wings have been glued together.
The engine is constructed on page 8. Follow the instructions but I recommend that you do not paint anything. On page 9, the engine support brackets are fitted; these are a little flimsy and take some patience. I used slow-setting glue in order to position the brackets to the correct alignment. Whilst this was drying, I glued cowling parts H4, H13, H25 and K25 together. When the cowling was dry, I sprayed the interior with grey primer from a rattlecan and sprayed the very front of the engine with primer, essentially the area that would be seen with the naked eye. Both the front of the engine and the cowling interior were then airbrushed with Humbrol 33 Matt black. There was a great deal of careful dry-fitting throughout this entire process and the fit is tight.
As I had chosen not to model the aircraft with the cowling panels removed, the exhausts were not added to the engine but the exhaust stubs were added later in the build.
Pages 10 and 11 are a straight forward ‘paint and build’. These sections include; fitting the horizontal and vertical tail-surfaces, building and fitting the undercarriage main-wheels, fitting (in the case of my kit) the fuel tank, and the gun barrels for the20 mm MG 151/20 E cannon fitted to the mid-wing mounts. The pitot tube and D/F loop were also added at this point.
Camouflage & Markings
Markings are provided for 6 aircraft:
- E-Black ‘10’, W.Nr. 380352, I./JG 11 Darmstadt, Germany, Spring 1945.
- Blue ‘13’, Maj. Walter Dahl, Stab/ JG 300, Jüterborg, Germany, December 1944.
- White ‘2’, Uffz. Julius Händel, IV./JG 54, Poland, August/September, 1944.
- Blue ‘8’, ‘Erika’, IV./JG 5, Herdla, Norway, Spring, 1945.
- White ‘6’, Lt. Gustav Salffner, 7./JG 300, Lobnitz, Germany, March, 1945.
I chose to model Blue ‘8’, ‘Erika’, IV./JG 5, Herdla, Norway, Spring, 1945 as this aircraft had taken part in the German retreat from Petsamo in Northern Finland to Herdla in Norway.
Once the canopy had been masked, fitted and the engine masked, the entire airframe was sprayed with grey auto-primer from a rattlecan. The next stage involved airbrushing the insides of the wheel-bays, undercarriage doors and undercarriage legs with Humbrol Matt 240, RLM 02. These areas were then masked before the undersides, fuselage sides and tail were airbrushed with Matt 247, RLM 76. The airframe was then set to one side whilst the propeller was painted with Humbrol Matt 241 Schwartzgrün. The spinner was airbrushed white and once dry, the rear of the spinner and front of the cowling was airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 89 blue.
The main-wheels and tail wheel hub was painted with Humbrol Matt 67 dark grey and the wheels with Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black.
The entire aircraft underside was masked and the upper-surfaces were airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 246, RLM 75. After this had dried, the camouflage de-markation areas were masked off and given three coats of thinned Humbrol Matt 245, RLM 74. The fuselage sides and tail were then given a ‘mottle’ camouflage, which was a combination of the upper-surface colours; RLM 74 and 75.
After completing the camouflage scheme, the decals were applied. I began by applying the stencil data with micro-sol and micro-set decal setting solution. These were left overnight to set, the next day the Balkenkreuz were applied to the wings and fuselage, as were the swastikas and Blue ‘8s’ on the fuselage sides. The JG 5 ‘Eismeer’ shield appeared on the port-side of this aircraft only.
The canopy mask was removed and the aerial wires were added, propeller and spinner fixed into place and fuel tank assembly fitted. The airframe was then given two coats of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish to seal in the decals, a heavily thinned wash of Windsor & Newton Ivory Black was ‘washed’ over the FW 190A-8 and carefully wiped down with a soft cloth, leaving the black thinners in the recessed panel lines. Finally, the areas most heavily used by the pilot and ground crew were highlighted using a Prismacolor Verithin Metallic Pencil.
This aircraft was challenging. However, I was extremely pleased with the result. Rarely do you see such detail in aircraft under 1/32 scale. Perhaps Eduard have over-engineered this aircraft, nevertheless, with thought and patience it makes a fine addition to the collection. Highly recommended.
- Bjørn Hafsten[et al.](1991). Flyalarm – Luftkrigen over Norge 1939-1945, Sem & Stenersen AS. (ISBN 82-7046-058-3).
- Luftwaffe.no, a reference site for the German airforces operating in Norway and Finland
- Girbig, Werner: Jagdgeschwader 5 “Eismeerjäger” (Motorbuch Verlag 1976).
- Bower, Charles F. (1998). World War II in Europe: The Final Year. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 321. ISBN 0-312-21133-3.
- Janowicz, Krzysztof (with Neil Page) Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Vols 1 & II. London: Kagero Publications, 2001. ISBN 83-89088-11-8.
- Jessen, Morten. Focke-Wulf 190: The Birth of the Butcher Bird 1939–1943. London: Greenhill Books, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-328-5.