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Heller Fw 190 1/24; Cracking Me Up! FINISHED!


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For Christmas, I gave myself a present. It was walk into the stash, pick out a random kit and just build it. I will have some modeling time over the Christmas holiday and I just want to enjoy it with a no frills, out of the box, no particular reason build. Afterwards, it is group builds and back to clearing the shelves of doom. Now what I ended up choosing was the Heller 1/24 Fw190 A-5.


I will be doing the box art version. I think this is a reboxing of the Airfix kit. I am not sure when I bought this kit, but it must have been a used kit either through my local modeling shop or at a trade stand. The sprues are not in plastic bags and many of the parts are loose and it looks like they have been cut from the sprue.


I just hope it is all intact. I picked it as the fun build because it looked fun, the box was really beginning to deteriorate and it would create some space in the stash. First up, the cockpit.



Looks a bit sparse, but the IP detail looks like it will do. The parts are put together, painted and then weathered a tiny bit.








I did add a couple of placards, but everything else is just out of the box. I was really impressed with the instruments as they came up quite nice and are just the kit plastic highlighted with metallic silver rather than white. Next up the engine.


And did I mention the kit parts do have a bit of flash evident?


The engine is assembled.




I didn’t paint it or try to tackle the many gaps and mold seams as this kit will be buttoned up. I have some Eduard kits, Trumpeter and ZM kits that will be open with more detail. But, I had to assemble the engine as it is the mounting system for the propeller.

What is missing from the kit are some seatbelts. I did plan to have the canopy open and a kit this big really needs some seatbelts. I had a choice between Eduard and RB seat belts, but decided to go with the Eduard ones as I will use the RB ones on a Trumpeter 109 I have in the planning stages (Gunter Rall’s plane).



These look marvelous on the sprue; I hope my fat fingers can get them together. The side seatbelts are started first.


Man the detail on these are nice! But the design, I wonder about.


In the picture above, the instructions have you place the small belt portion over that lovely white manufacturing label and it will be hidden from view forever. Why bother with that detail? Oh well, it is done along with the rest of this side belt parts.


The other side belt is started


Then the first shoulder belt is built


And the second is built


Now, they have to be bent and manipulated to fit into the seat and cockpit.

Before the fuselage can be buttoned up, the rudder and tail wheel assembly has to be tackled. I started with the rudder; and that is where one of the problems with this kit and its age reared its ugly head. In addition to the flash that is present on a lot of parts, the plastic for this kit is very brittle. Not just a little cantankerous, but if you look at it wrong and sneeze in its vicinity, parts break. Removing them from the sprue is a chore. When I went to remove the rudder parts, one of the halves was already broken.


Given its size, you wouldn’t think it would be so fragile. So the pieces are put together and the broken part is not too evident and some filler will take care of it.


Now, with the tail wheel parts, that was another matter where the kit plastic was not my friend. Here are the plastic parts; absent is the vinyl tire.


Did I mention there was a bit of flash? And when cleaning the flash, the main tail wheel strut broke.


Now the instructions would have you carefully bend the u shaped piece to straddle the main strut and fit in some holes. Due to how brittle the rest of the parts are, I fully expected this part to snap in two when I was putting it on the main tail wheel.


It did not. Surprise, though, what did happen was the pressure the u shaped piece put on the main tail wheel strut caused it to break apart where the holes lined up as I was giving the parts their base silver paint.


So now, I have to piece together the tail wheel strut in 3 different places. I have very low expectations the undercarriage will last holding this kit upright for any extended period of time. The construction process to redo the tail wheel starts.


And finally, I got everything to line up and it has some semblance of strength. However, most of the strength is probably coming from the copious amounts of superglue that now make up the tail wheel strut!


With the cockpit, engine, rudder and tail wheel sub-assemblies done, each is put in its place in the starboard fuselage half and the the two fuselage halves are buttoned up.


I am glad I spent so much time working on the IP panel as with its position in the recesses of the cockpit coupled with the dark grey interior paint, it is so visible.


While I let the fuselage halves harden, I move on to the wing. It consists of a one piece lower wing to which the two upper wings are attached. Some items need to be placed in the lower wing before the upper wing halves are attached. The wing spars used to block off the wheel wells also act as the base for the main undercarriage to be attached. Also, there is a provision for the wing cannons to be displayed. Since this kit will be built with only the canopy left open, I only have to worry about the inner cannons that will show in the wheel well. However, the outer cannons will have to be redone as the brittle plastic struck again. As I was removing the outer cannon barrels from the sprue, one broke in two.


I will now replace these with metal tubing. As for the inner wing cannon, I give me no chance in trying to drill out the barrels, so they are cut off. I then very carefully, saying a silent prayer, drill out the cannon body parts so metal tubing can be insert later. This actually goes quite well and I am surprised.



To make sure the cannon bodies line up correctly I temporarily insert the metal tubing.


Next up, the main undercarriage has to be attached to the wing spar. Did I mention there was flash on the parts?


The first strut went in fine and there were no problems. The second strut, as I was pushing the attachment peg through the main wing spar, I must have breathed incorrectly and it broke off. Did I also mention how brittle the plastic is? The broken stub was removed and a hole drilled in the strut so some metal rod could be used.


This went well, but the support piece broke off and that had to be lined up and a new metal attachment point for that made as well. After some finagling, chanting and a couple of small curses, I got the broken strut to line up at the same angles as the other strut. I know the 190 gear doesn’t extend perpendicular to the ground, but I think the angle the kit has for the main undercarriage is a tad overdone. I will wait to see how it lines up after the wheels are put on but I think some adjustments will have to be made to the angle of the main strut to the wing.

The wing flaps have a “working” feature, so this is needed to be done prior to the upper wing halves being placed on the lower wing.


Before I join the wings to the fuselage, I notice the exhausts area molded into the lower wing. In a kit this size, they look funny if not opened up and these are portrayed in the kit pieces as solid. I break out the drill set again and will attempt to drill the exhausts out on the lower wing.


This goes relatively okay with only a small piece breaking off due to the plastic’s brittleness. I get curious and decide to see how the side exhausts will be portrayed.


Yeah, this is not good. I guess I will create some sort of metal piping that is a little better looking than the kit part.

The wings are now put together and set aside to dry.


This is where I think I will stop for a while. Next up, I get to see how well the wing to fuselage joint is. I hoping for the best. As always, all comments are welcome.

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Hey George

Well that's looking rather good mate even with the frailties of the plastic. Question are those seat belts all p.e? I've used fabric ones on more than one occasion but I've never used metal ones, how easy are they to manipulate?

Keep up the good work, she should turn out to be a stunner.


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The seat belts are entirely PE. To get them to look somewhat right inside of the kit, you have to bend them around the seat and corners. This is fairly easy to do with some small pliers, or my choice, tweezers. Once you have bent a few to fit the cockpit, you get the hang of it. Most of the time, I will use a drop of superglue to secure the belts to the seat. I have made tape seatbelts before in a pinch, but you just can't beat the level of detail in Eduard's seatbelts. Now, I have some RB fabric seatbelts but have never used them. Are fabric seatbelts fairly easy to work with? The RB ones come with a tool to make the stitching. I am not quite sure how that will work. Any experience you have with them, please let me know. Thank you for the comments and thanks for looking at the build.

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If too many parts break you could always do something imaginative with it.

I have seen this done with some other kits before. I am not quite sure I have the skill level to pull this off. If not done properly with the correct type of scratch building, it just looks awful. I will just persevere through this build and use up a lot of filler. It has now become a challenge between me and the kit as to which one will break down the most! Because if you will read the next update, the brittleness is getting worse!

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Main body update. The wings were joined to the fuselage. The hopes regarding a possible good fit were not met.





Not only do I have gaps at the bottom and sides, but the brittle plastic does not like being put in place and any pressure on it makes it crack. There are cracks on the bottom join and a really nasty one on the upper starboard wing join. Filler and sanding are the next stage. This is done. In between applying filler and waiting for it to dry to sand, the propeller and rear canopy is put together. The propeller goes pretty well.


The rear canopy frame and section is then tackled and goes okay until the brittle plastic doesn’t like the head armor being placed and breaks.



I piece it back together, but it is still very fragile. I hope when the canopy is attached, it will help with its strength.

After spending a lovely time filling and sanding and sanding and filling, I get the seams for the fuselage and wings taken care of. Next up is tackling what looks to be a finicky engine cowl construction. This is a kit designed to have the engine displayed with the upper engine cowl and side cowls removed. Since I don’t want to do that, I have to piece 6 different parts together and line it up with the main body. And, there are 5 pieces that have to end up creating a perfect circle so the engine cowl ring fits properly. This will not be pretty. Using a combination of super glue, accelerator and regular plastic cement, I get a semblance of harmony; gappy harmony, but at least the general shape is doable.





More filler and sanding will need to be done. And this crappy plastic hated any attempt at trying to make it line up and has broken at the bottom of the cowl where it meets the wing on both sides. Lovely. I will have to determine if I will dig out the broken pieces and substitute Milliput or try to persuade them to blend in with the rest of the plastic and then fill the cracks with putty. I suspect Milliput will be called into play. Now, here is my question; did Heller borrow the molds from Airfix and use their own horrible plastic that seems to break if even the slightest bit of pressure is applied, or was Airfix’s kit’s plastic just as bad? Or, is it so brittle because of its age? I have built 2 Airfix 1/24 Stukas from the same time period and that plastic does not show any of faults of this kit’s. I am perplexed. After I fix the cowl gaps, the kit should be ready for paint and I can’t really think of any other kit construction that would result in me having to manipulate the plastic. This should be the last of the cracks and broken pieces. So much for an easy build!! As always, all comments are welcome.

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I'll admit to breaking parts off and cracking the odd bit when I forced it too hard, but I have never seen anything like this - are you sure you're not installing parts with a hammer and using nails to fix them in place? ;)

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I have seen this "cracking" of the model's plastic once before. That was on a model by Heller I bought on Ebay that was 30 years old. The plastic seemed to be extremely brittle and also cracked when it came into contact with CA/Super glue. Wasn't much to do about it but bring out the putty and repair things

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Commiserations to you.

I built a couple of Airfix Vulcans in the past

with exactly the same problem. The general

view seems to be that they were moulded in

India using the wrong proportion of recycled

plastic. (Or something similar).

I'm sure you can work your magic with this.

Love those seat belts.

Jessica, Thanks for the link. Most impressive.

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I have seen this "cracking" of the model's plastic once before. That was on a model by Heller I bought on Ebay that was 30 years old. The plastic seemed to be extremely brittle and also cracked when it came into contact with CA/Super glue. Wasn't much to do about it but bring out the putty and repair things

Hmmmm. I had not thought about the CA glue making it crack more. Guess I will stop using it and see if that will help. Thanks.


Commiserations to you.

I built a couple of Airfix Vulcans in the past

with exactly the same problem. The general

view seems to be that they were moulded in

India using the wrong proportion of recycled

plastic. (Or something similar).

I'm sure you can work your magic with this.

Love those seat belts.

Jessica, Thanks for the link. Most impressive.

I have no idea where this was made, but even stressing it a little tempts receiving a nice crack. I have to be careful holding the kit while I sand it as I've seen a crack develop where I was holding the frame too tight while sanding.

Hopefully, you won't lose your mind when you find out the fan is too far forward, and sticks out of the cowl. i built 2 of these things, bad engineering and warpage almost had me bin them.

Well, I am glad I have something to look forward too!! I haven't had a problem with parts being warped. It does seem the more I handle the kit, the more fragile the plastic becomes. I put the bottom coat of paint on and some hairline cracks showed up. Pictures to follow; right now more puttying, oh joy!
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I have some parts from (an Airfix) one of these

in my spares boxes. A quick check

shows that they are perfectly fine.

So it does come down to a bad batch.

Thanks to your pioneering foray, George,

We now know this (Heller version) is

probably one to avoid.

(Sorry, no medals)

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Have built a couple of these in the past and had all the cracking problems that you are having especially on the Hellar kit...seem to remember terrible fit issues with the fan on the engine as well ...a shame really as it's the only gig in town as far as 1/24 goes....Your thread has bought the whole sorry nightmare back to me in flashbacks....LOL.....Kevin

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An update revealing the chinks in my armor. Seems this build is not all it is cracked up to be. It doesn’t consist of hills and valley, more like fissures and crevices. I put the light blue undercoat on to begin the painting.


Once the paint dried, I found these wonderful little hairline cracks.



Out comes the filler and another round of sanding. Then another go at some paint and . . .



Now, during the handling of the kit to get paint on the bottom side, apparently, the top side got jealous and fell to pieces!!


This will require some more extensive reconstruction, probably Milliput. More filling and sanding. While waiting for the Milliput to harden, I started to tape the bottom in preparation for the yellow nose and tail. Now I know I’m not the gentlest person in the world, but this is getting to be a bit ridiculous. In just trying to put on tape, I broke off one of the flaps and one of the main landing gear struts (nope, wasn’t the one I had already had to work on, it was the other, oh joy).


I am just setting those aside until the end of the build. Why bother to put them back on, if they will only break off again, right? While paint and Milliput are drying, I thought it would be nice to do some sub-assemblies of the end parts that will need to be put on. The propeller looked like an easy candidate to paint and lightly weather. The hub and radiator fan were done in silver with a black wash and the propeller blades and hub done in black green.



Somehow, with the ferocity and force I was using painting the radiator fan blades with a black wash, I broke off one of the blades which was then promptly eaten by the carpet, never to be seen again. (I know carpet monsters eat plastic. But, when you find one of the many pieces they have devoured months after it has been consumed, is that just a carpet monster dropping?)


I am at the point with this kit that every time I touch it, I expect either a crack to appear or something will break. One of the benefits of working with kits in this scale is they aren’t as fragile and can be manhandled a bit more. Frustrating!!

Somehow, I managed to assemble, paint and weather the wheels and propeller without breaking any of them or creating a crack in one.



The nose and rudder was then given a coat of yellow.



Another coat will be necessary. I really dislike painting yellow as it always seems to fight me. So far, this has not been too bad of a yellow experience. Maybe that is because of all the other stuff happening with this kit. What I thought was going to be a relaxing end of year build has turned out to be anything but. (One of my other choices for this relaxing build was the 1/32 Revell Fw 190 F-8, why didn’t I choose that one?) I have decided this kit will be a dirty bird to hide all of the cracks, so expect some weathering. Once the yellow dries (days from now I would assume) then the upper coat of different greys will be done along with another attempt at mottling. As always, all comments are welcome. Just, wait for it . . . no wise cracks!!!

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Wow. I certainly don't have the patience to deal with a kit as problematic as this one. But you're doing a fine job. Be sure to bring it to the next IPMS-North Central Texas meeting to regale us with the saga of your build.

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George, I think I would be tempted to use that as an experimentation kit - scratch-building, painting techniques, weathering techniques etc.

I would most certainly have binned it by now - you have more perseverance than me, that's for sure!

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