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Eduard Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model aircraft kit
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 really needs no introduction to anyone interested in World War II. It was a formidable foe to those who flew against it, and it commanded respect from the pilots of the Allied air forces. As a result, there have been many kits brought to market by virtually every kit manufacturer in virtually every common scale.

This new-tool kit of the Fw 190A-4 is not Eduard’s first kit of a 190 variant in 1/48 scale, but it does represent a change in Eduard’s approach to engineering and molding. Some of the 195 injection-molded parts have been seen before in previous Eduard kits, and many of those parts are suited to other 190 variants, so will be fine fodder for those who like to keep unused parts “just in case” for future use.

Surface detail is absolutely beautiful, with fine rivets and sharp, clean, well-defined panel lines. Cockpit detail also is wonderful, with Eduard presenting three options for representing the main instrument and side-panel details: prepainted photo-etch (PE) panels on a flat underlying part; a decal (again on a flat panel); or you may paint a panel with raised, molded detail. There are pluses and minuses in each option; I chose the PE parts as they give a quick, relatively easy yet good-looking result.

I found the PE belts tricky to bend and drape realistically. It may be possible to anneal them with a lighted match, but there would be a high risk of destroying the prepainted surface. For my future builds, I will use either a resin seat with molded-on belts or another type of aftermarket belt that is more malleable and forgiving.

Construction goes quickly, with very little to challenge even a novice builder. Engineering and fit is superb throughout, and I used no filler at all on this model (although I could have used a tiny smear on the longitudinal seams on the top and bottom of the fuselage just to really finish off those areas). All of the internal structures align perfectly. The only parts that could have been improved were the top instrument panel and panel shroud, as both of these could use more positive location and attachment aids.

The fit of the wings to the fuselage is perfect. This is probably the biggest departure from the previous 190s kitted by Eduard. Earlier kits featured separate wing-root gun-bay doors, which can be tricky to align and install. Of course that makes displaying an open gun bay much easier, but if you don’t do that it creates more work. In the instance of this new 190A-4, Eduard sells a separate set of wing-root gun bays in its Brassin line. This makes sense to me, as there are many modelers who would rather have their model “buttoned up” with closed access hatches. (Eduard also offers a slew of other Brassin and PE sets should you wish to “go to town” and detail your model beyond what is in the box.)

The mounting of the main undercarriage legs is very clever and ensures a solid, strong, correctly aligned assembly. The wheels, on the other hand, are a little ambiguous in their attachment; care must be taken to ensure they are straight and vertical once installed.

The inner gear-bay doors are molded to be mounted open. The 190A-4 had a mechanism that kept the inner doors closed when the aircraft was on the ground, cycling open during undercarriage retraction and lowering. As a result, the doors require modification to close. So, I removed the mounting lugs and alignment pins on the wing centerline to close the doors.

Keep in mind that while there are photos showing the inner doors open, it is not that common. Either way is valid: The insides of the doors are beautifully detailed, and it is a shame to hide them!

All of the control surfaces are separate items, and with minor modification could be mounted in a deflected position if desired. Finally, two canopies are provided for an open or closed pose. The canopy on the real aircraft flexes and is wider when closed than open. Eduard correctly depicts this feature, and you must make sure you choose the appropriate part for the pose you want.

The kit-supplied masks make painting the canopy a breeze, as they fit the windscreen and hood perfectly, and adhere very well with no signs of lifting during extended painting sessions.

There are five marking options provided in the kit. I chose to build the aircraft flown by Rudolf Eisele of 8/JG 2 in France, 1943. These aircraft were the pride of the Luftwaffe at this time and were very well kept — some were even waxed to gain 1 or 2 more kilometers per hour in flight — so I used fairly restrained weathering, just a light panel-line wash and exhaust stains. The decals performed very well, settling into the recessed details to reveal the underlying surface textures. But they do look more flat in finish than the surrounding paint, even though they were sealed with clear gloss before the overall semigloss clear.

To sum, this is a brilliant little kit — arguably the finest 190 in any scale. It was a thoroughly enjoyable project, and I will be building more of these! Both JG 52 and
JG 54 used Fw 190A-4s on the Eastern Front, and the extreme weathering opportunities presented by such aircraft are quite appealing to me.

Well done, Eduard!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2018 issue.
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