Eduard’s new-tool Fw 190 is a delightful little kit. Good detail, solid fit and no headaches. If you’re after an early Wuerger, this is the kit to get.
The early Wuerger gets the worm
The Fw 190 is one of my favourite planes, up there with the F-15, Flanker, Spitfire, and Mustang. It’s hard to say just why some planes have such appeal, and in this case I think it’s a mix of aesthetics, performance, and design.
The Fw 190 was a step-change in German fighter performance, at least at low to medium altitudes. Its powerful engine, rugged construction and heavy armament made it a dangerous opponent: so much so that the RAF rushed the Spitfire Mk.IX into production to counter it. At high altitudes the BMW 801 engine lacked performance because it only had a single-stage supercharger (two-stage supercharging being widely used, and a three-stage system gave the Ta 152-H its extreme altitude capability). This was later addressed with developments of the airframe that used different engines, but that is out of scope for this blog.
The design was rugged, comprising far more redundant systems than was typical at the time. It was also designed to reduce the pilot’s cognitive load, featuring an engine management system as well as wide-train landing gear that reduced the risks of takeoff and landing accidents. While a US comparative test report rather denigrated the engine management system, with the test pilots feeling they could extract more performance manually, it must be remembered that the vast majority of Luftwaffe pilots were already inexperienced by 1941 as the organisation lacked the ability to effectively pass on experience. However it should not be forgotten that pilots did habitually overestimate their own skills and I don’t know whether these test pilots had actual combat experience: it is one thing to optimise an engine in a relaxed cruise, quite another to continually tweak it in rapidly shifting combat.
Aesthetically, I think the BMW 801 helps significantly: the annular oil cooler gives a clean, round look while the spinner reduces the visual effect of the flat-faced radial engine. Behind that the fuselage tapers in a robust-looking triangle while the square wings give a serious, no-nonsense look. Kurt Tank described his design philosophy as a cavalry horse rather than a thoroughbred, and that’s the aesthetic: solid, powerful, and effective.
This is Eduard’s new-tool Fw 190A. That’s new-tool as in the 2017 one, which is a completely different proposition to the 2006 one. They have very different philosophies: while the 2006 model was designed to be posed opened-up, the new one is simplified and designed to be built closed. Exposed engines and gun bays are available as aftermarket, but are not the default in this model.
If you’re wondering why you would pay for less detail, the tradeoff is improved detail and fit. The new kit broadly follows a simplified version of the parts breakdown of the old kit.
If there is one thing I wish Eduard would do, it is to put a bit more structure in their instrument and cockpit plastic parts. Their recent releases give you the choice of plastic or colour photoetch, but the plastic parts are never that good. It really helps to be able to see the details that you’re trying to paint, but instead they seem to make them very flat.
This one is most significant for a new step in my painting odyssey. Continuing from my work on the Kfir and F-104 of marbling similar-toned paints before blending with the final top colour, I worked three different colours into each part of the camouflage pattern. This time however, I first did a very rough marbling of the eventual top colour before starting. Camouflage was aided by a set of Topnotch masks.
I think that helped by giving a sense of what final colour I was aiming for. Thus when working other colours in it was quite straightforward to look at what I was spraying and decide where particular shades should go. I feel that this should also help with working faded colours into the scheme as well, but that is for another time.
A final effect that I really liked from this one was using RAF Middle Stone for the yellow recognition panels. A starker, brighter colour like a Marking Yellow might look good for a 1940 Bf 109 or maybe a tropical scheme where bright lighting could be expected, but I was aiming for a worn, Eastern Front example and the more subdued colour looks good.
Further detail photos: