iModeler Review: Airfix 1/72 Focke-Wulf Fw-190A-8
First flying in 1939, the Focke-Wulf Fw190 proved to be an immediate threat to RAF fighters when introduced in late 1941, being faster and more maneuverable than the Spitfire V then in service. This A-8 version was the most numerous and heavily armed variant, which entered service in 1944, as an attempt to stop the Allied daylight raids, however, by then the new Allied fighters had begun to outclass it.
The kit comes in an end-opening box, and the sprues are sealed in a clear plastic bag. The clear parts are sealed in their own, small clear bag. The instructions are typical of Airfix, with the color callouts matched for Humbrol's new Luftwaffe range. As far as I know, however, this paint line is not yet available. Regardless, concessions can be easily made for your favorite RLM colors. But, still… The markings and painting guide is a four-view color affair on the back of the box. Decals seem to be in excellent register, and markings are for one machine; Black 11, Jagdgruppe 10, Pachim Airfield, Germany,1944. No swastika or “spiralschnauze” are included in the decals. You'll note that the markings guide shows the spiralschnauze present. Commission of these two key markings is a let-down.
As with almost all of their new releases, the panel lines are very restrained – dare I say, “fine”. The Hasegawa offering of the “-A8” has finer panel lines, but that kit is not without it's own issues. I like the direction that the Airfix kits are heading in. The grey plastic is rather soft, which I have come to expect from this manufacturer. Most, if not all parts have flash and/or heavy molding seams. In fact, the kit is reminiscent of a limited run Eastern European kit, not a mainstream manufacturer's product. This will make cleanup a chore. The sprue gates are still heavy and thick. This can be an issue for some of the more delicate parts.
The transparent parts are very clear, and options for an early style “flat “canopy or a late-war “blown” Erla style canopy are provided. The canopy can be positioned in the open or closed positions. One thing provided, that I haven't yet seen on the newer Airfix kits, is a gun sight molded in clear styrene. I think that this is a nice touch. The headrest armor and frame strike me as heavy and out of scale. The instrument panel has no detail, and will be provided for in the form of a decal. The cockpit tub has some raised detail, which will represent the side panels acceptably.
Compared to Karaya drawings, Airfix has made a very accurate representation of the FW-190A-8. However, they made a pretty obvious error – the inspection hatch on the port side of the rudder is also present on the starboard side (!). This is a simple fix to fill in and sand smooth, but leaves me scratching my head. The wings are a top-and-bottom assembly, with the top wings molded around the nicely detailed wheel well. The pitot tube is molded in place, making it vulnerable to handling damage. It also looks a bit heavy and thick. The wing's trailing edges are markedly thick. I'm not one who is in the habit of thinning trailing edges, but for this kit, I think it will be necessary. Additionally, the fabric patterns of the flying surfaces are overdone and heavy handed. Light sanding will improve this, but I'm surprised to see it to this degree.
The exhausts are molded in a manner of clever engineering - The side pipes are molded onto a bulkhead which gives the fuselage some rigidity. The lower pipes are molded on a flat plate. All pipes are visible behind the cooling vents after installation.
Two options are provided for the landing gear – extended, or “in flight'. The in-flight option has both gear doors molded as one piece, allowing for a simple fit. The extended option, however, is another issue that this kit suffers from. The main gear legs appear to be molded in the unloaded, fully-extended oleo link position. This will potentially cause the stance to be stork-like, or spindly. The gear legs are very fragile, so if the modeler decides to take out 2 or 3 millimeters to correct it, it may end up being more trouble than it's worth. The main wheels strike me as anemic at best. Resin aftermarket parts would benefit this project greatly.
• Very accurate in outline.
• Price point is great.
• Canopy options.
• Landing gear options.
• Very thick wing trailing edges.
• Exaggerated fabric effect on control surfaces
• Anemic main wheels.
• Landing gear is too long.
• Glaring omissions from decal sheet.
• Flash and heavy mold lines on most parts.
• Some parts seem “heavy” and out of scale.
• One marking option.
My sincere thanks to iModeler for the review sample.