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Mike

Focke-Wulf Fw.190A-4 ProfiPACK (82142)

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Focke-Wulf Fw.190A-4 ProfiPACK (82142)

1:48 Eduard

 

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Introduced in 1941 to combat the ever-improving Spitfire, the Fw.190 was intended to supplant the Bf.109 if it reached a plateau in development, or run alongside it as a stablemate.  Its powerful twin-bank radial engine was installed with a close-fitting cowling and was initially edquipped with an oversized, ducted prop-spinner to keep the engine cool, which was discarded early in development in favour of a fan that ran on the prop's drive-shaft to push air through the cylinder heads, which also facilitated oil cooling.  It was also given a wide-track landing gear, which reduced the likelihood of a nose-over, a problem afflicting both the 109 and Spitfire, due to their narrow track and poor forward visibility.

 

When it first encountered Spitfires, it gave the Allied pilots a shock, as they were expecting 109s, not these agile little aircraft.  It caused an frenzy of development at Supermarine, which was just part of the leapfrog games played on both sides throughout the conflict.  The initial A-1 production version was equipped with a BMW 801 engine, and by the time the A-4 was signed off, it had two 7.92mm guns in the cowling, and a pair of 20mm MG151 cannons in the wing root, all of which were synchronised with the prop's motion, in turn mated to a more powerful version of the BMW engine.  There were a number of equipment fits used to give the Würger (Shrike) additional weapons and capabilities, including a pressurised cockpit, rocket tubes and reconnaissance cameras.

 

The A-4 also saw limited service as the F-1 in a ground-attack role, and was eventually replaced by  the A-5, which moved the centre-of-gravity forward to accommodate the larger load it was capable of carrying.

 

 

The Kit

Since the initial tooling of the basic A series airframe in 2007, there have been numerous reboxings, additional parts and re-releases of other variants, although the A-4 doesn't seem to have been available in a boxing on its own until now.  Eduard's 190 is a great kit, and has stood the test of time well over the last decade, and the moulds have seen additions that keep it current.  The ProfiPACK boxing includes extras to improve on the already excellent detail, and arrives in the traditional orange-themed box, which is adorned with a painting of the iconic Butcher bird engaged with a Spitfire.  Inside are five grey/blue sprues, one clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small sheet of kabuki tape masking material, two decal sheets and the instruction/painting guide in glossy colour printing.  Due to the pick-n-mix nature of the sprues there will be a fair quantity of spares left after construction, which are marked on the diagrams with a pale blue overprinting.

 

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Construction starts in the cockpit, which is augmented with pre-painted PE side consoles and instrument panels, but also retained are the decals that can be applied to flat panels, as well as the engraved panels for those that prefer to paint their details manually.  The tub includes the sharply pointed rear deck, to which you add the rear bulkheads, control column, seat, plastic or PE rudder pedals, pre-painted seatbelts and sundry other parts in styrene and PE.  In order to close up the fuselage the cockpit assembly is inserted along with a bulkhead that closes up the front of the tub, two exhaust inserts in the cowling, and the engine assembly, which is only an approximation of the front row of cylinders, plus the reduction gear, as not much will be seen once the cowling is in place.

 

The lower wings are full width, and have a spar fitted that runs to the ends of the gear bays, with detail on the face visible through the apertures.  This is augmented by the wheel trays, various ribs and the cannon barrels that protrude through, with the upper wings added after painting of the bay roof detail that is etched into their underside.  The completed wing assembly is then offered up to the fuselage, and the missing sections of the cowling with exhaust stubs, gun barrels and troughs are added to the top and bottom of the nose.  The two-piece ring finishes the front cowling, and the flying surfaces are glued into to place, including separate rudder and ailerons, and fixed elevators.

 

Two types of tyres are provided for the main gear, which have separate hubs, and fit onto the peg on the ends of the strut, with separate oleo-scissors and captive bay door parts.  The retraction gear is installed on the inner side of the leg, and the centre doors fit to the central bar that splits the bays.  The tail wheel slots into the rear, crew step, gun barrels and pitot probes are installed, then the three-bladed paddle prop is completed with spinner and fan behind it, with a peg at the rear fitting into a corresponding hole in the engine front.  Different open and closed canopies are provided, and are outfitted with head armour before being added to the airframe along with the windscreen part.  The last touch is to add the gear-down indicator pegs to the tops of the wings, which are made from tiny PE parts.  If you are rigging the aerial wire to the tail, remember that if you pose the canopy open, the wire can appear relaxed, although many photos also show it taut, so check your references.

 

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Markings

This ProfiPACK edition gives you five decal options, with plenty of variation between them, which should appeal to the widest of audiences, and don’t forget that you also have masks for the canopy and the wheel hubs to ease your painting job, which is always nice.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • W. Nr. 746, flown by Oblt. S. Schnell, CO of 9./JG 2, Vannes-Meucon, France, January 1943
  • Flown by Maj. J. Trautloft, CO of JG 54, Soviet Union, early 1943
  • W. Nr. 749, flown by Oblt. E. Rudorffer, CO of 6./JG 2, Sidi Ahmed, Tunisia, December 1942
  • W. Nr. 760, flown by Fw. R. Eisele, 8./JG 2, Brest-Guipavas, France, January 1943
  • Flown by Oblt. W. Nowotny, CO of 1./JG 54, Staraya Russa, Soviet Union, March 1943

 

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All the decals are printed in Czechia, have good registration, colour density and sharpness, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the edge of the printing.  Under magnification there is a little spidering on the edges of some of the black parts, but under the Mk.1 eyeball this isn't readily visible.  The stencils are catered for on a separate sheet, with a page of the instructions devoted to their placement, away from the markings options to avoid clutter.

 

As always with Eduard, the Swastikas are provided on one cut-off corner of the sheet, and in two parts on the body of the sheet to comply with local regulations regarding this contentious symbol.

 

Conclusion

The surface detail on the kit is excellent, with lines of finely engraved rivets adding to the visual appeal (yes, we know rivets aren't holes, but this technique works for most of us though!).  Add the extra PE detail, and quite a fun set of decal options (I particularly like option E), and you have a winner on your hands.

 

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Out of the box you can build a cracking model, but Eduard also have released a host of additional parts for those that either want to cherry-pick from the range, or go bonkers and add just about all of it in an attempt to create a singularity from the heaviest 1:48 model in the world!  I'll be reviewing those shortly, but in the meantime feast your eyes on the kit itself.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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