Fw 190A-8 Profipack
The Fw 190 was a shock to the Allies when it arrived, and was a trigger for evolution of the Spitfire once it became known. It was designed to be small, consisting of little more than a radial engine and space for the pilot, but its diminutive size belied its offensive power that was concentrated around the centreline of the aircraft with guns installed in the engine cowling and wing-root that fired through the propeller.
The A-8 was a late war variant, but was still the most produced of the A series aircraft, and had a more powerful engine with emergency boost that increased speed for a short time at the expense of fuel economy, a new wooden wide-bladed prop as well as a bulged canopy to improve the pilot's vision to the side and rear. An additional fuel tank was also housed in the fuselage to improve endurance, which necessitated movement of other items and the access hatches that serviced them. Additional armour was added to the front of the aircraft, with 10mm plate protecting the engine during head-on attacks, and an elongated centre mounted bomb rack could also carry an additional fuel tank if required.
This is one of Eduard's Profipack kits, so is loaded with plenty of goodies that will appeal to those that like extra detail and plenty of choice of markings on their models. The kit arrives in the usual top-opening Eduard box with the orange Profipack branding stripe running across the front of a rather nice painting of a 190 in the midst of an attack on a bomber-stream of B-17s and Mustangs. Anyone that has an Eduard 190 in their stash will know what to expect in the box, and a few of the sprues should be familiar at least. There are six sprues of olive green styrene in the box, bagged in trios using resealable film bags. There are two decal sheets, plus a sheet of pre-cut kabuki tape masks, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) metal, and a clear sprue in a ziplok bag. The instruction booklet is Eduard's usual full colour glossy affair, and there is an additional sheet of lower grade paper that contains stencil placement and mask placement instructions that are common to all decal subjects.
Comparing the A-8 to the A-9 boxing, the kits appear to be almost identical in terms of build, so I won't reproduce that in great detail, however it does raise a question in my mind that as the A-9 was supposed to be slightly longer than the A-8 due to a longer annular radiator for the oil cooler, but I'm sure of the difference, so perhaps an "experten" could chime in with a number to see whether it was even worth tooling different cowling parts?
To summarise, a well-appointed cockpit can be made with a choice of PE or styrene panels, although decal panels aren't included with this one. A set of PE seatbelts finishes off the detail, and the gun bay is built up in the same vein. Wings are full-length on the underside and have the familiar spar running along the back of the gear bay to give it strength. A couple of holes will need to drilled out here if you're going to use the rockets that the 190 could carry under its wings. The options of open or closed gun bays, offset rudder and ailerons is present, while the elevators will need to be cut free for offsetting.
The big radial BMW engine is provided in its entirely, and detail is as good as always, with the same caveats about fitting the engine to the fuselage on those realistically thin, but delicate engine bearers. The cowling is in three parts plus the underside that is moulded to the lower wing, and has the two cowling rings to provide the correct shape and aperture at the front. The gear is long and sturdy, with separate styrene oleo scissor-links, and again a scrap diagram helps you set the correct angle of the wheel to the strut.
The weapons load for the A-8 consists of a choice of a centrally mounted bomb or additional fuel tank, and two single rockets mounted to the underside of the wing just outboard of the wheel bays. These Werfer-Granate 21 were used from summer 1943 to disrupt bomber streams and provided more of a psychological effect than a physical one, as they were wildly inaccurate, especially if fired from their 1km maximum range. The correct fitting to the wing shows them pointing upward quite significantly in a scrap diagram, which is confirmed by photos of the time, with a roughly 15o rise to counter the drop of the rocket as it made its way toward the target. The consequent drag and the difficulty in aiming due to their slow speed probably made them an unpopular weapon to be armed with, although they did succeed in breaking up formations quite well.
The prop differs from the A-9 by not having the bolted on balance weights at the base of the blades, which are missing from the PE sheet. The narrower prop is the standard for all the markings options too, although the wider one is supplied on the sprues. The earlier canopy with the lesser head armour protection is also present, and is used for three of the supplied marking options, although the later improved version is used on the other two choices. The masks are supplied for the canopy, for the wheels, and for the small section of unpainted (metal coloured) wing that lies under the gun bay door when closed. That's quite a nice touch that shows attention to detail from Eduard's designers.
There are five options for this kit, and quite a variation in colours and identification stripes that should please most people. As usual with Profipack editions, the last option is displayed on the front page of the booklet, with the other views usually available online. At this point however, the link doesn't show the other three profiles, which might make that one a difficult choice to do well. From the box one of the following options are possible:
- Blue 13, Maj. Walter Dahl, Stab/JG300 Jüterborg, Germany Dec 1944 - RLM70/74/75 soft edged splinter over RLM76 with heavy mottle, black/white spiral spinner and red tail band.
- White 2, Uffz. Julius Händel, IV./JG54, Poland, Aug/Sep 1944 - RLM74/75 soft edged splinter over RLM76 with light mottle, yellow spinner and cowling lower panel.
- Blue 8, "Erika", IV./JG5, Herdla, Norway Spring 1945 - RLM74/75 soft edged splinter over RLM76 with heavy mottle, black/white/blue spiral spinner and blue cowling ring.
- White 6, Lt. Gustav Salffner, 7./JG300, Lobnitz, Germany Mar 1945 - RLM75/83 soft edged splinter over RLM76, very heavy mottle fading aft, blue/white/blue fuselage band and black/white spiral spinner.
- Black 10, W.Nr. 380352, I./JG11, Darmstadt, Germany Spring 1945 - based on limited information available from the instructions, RLM81/83 soft edged splinter over RLM 74, with mid demarcation, yellow fuselage band and tip of tail, and black/white spiral spinner.
The decal sheets are both printed locally in the Czech republic, in good register, colour density and clarity. Carrier film is minimal and of glossy texture, but there are a few specks of white on a couple of the darker decals that might need touching in with paint or by overlaying with some spare decal from the other options.
The stencils common to all airframes cover the whole of the second sheet, and their placement guide is on the back of the masking instructions.
Another fine Fw.190 kit for your collection, with much to recommend it over the alternatives. Out of the box you get masks, additional PE detail, plus a choice of five marking options, and some very nicely moulded styrene make a pretty compelling package. If you feel like you wouldn't use all those extras however, there will doubtless be a weekend edition along shortly.