Tamiya's 1/72 FW-190A3

By: The Mad Norseman (a.k.a. Steve Hustad)

Tamiya FW-190 Stock Number: TM60766

 

My friends and I have been waiting for this kit for years - ever since Tamiya announced their entrance into 1/72nd scale WW II aircraft. And finally it's here!

Before this, the only way to make an early (A3 variant) 1/72nd butcher bird was to: a) Hunt down and build that old Matchbox thing (no thanks), or B) Beg, borrow or steal the ancient Frog kit (yuck!), or C) convert Hasegawa's very nice late model A/F5-9 kit using the Cooper details (now Hawkeye Designs) A3 resin conversion kit (which results in a VERY nice model, but is a lot of extra work too…).
Tamiya has saved us from all that work and pain by releasing this extremely nice kit.

Background: What more can be said about the early model '190s? Not much that I can add, except that it is a very significant aircraft, changed the air war in 1942 and is one of the coolest looking airframes ever designed! If you want the histories of the various subtypes, those are available in a thousand different references - several of the better ones used to evaluate this kit are listed below.

References used: I used three references when reviewing this kit, they are:
1) Koku-Fan Illustrated No. 57 - "Me 109 vs Fw 190", Bunrin-Do Co. Ltd., 1991.
2) Model Art No. 316 - "Focke Wulf Fw 190A/F/G", Model Art Co. Ltd., (no date indicated, circa 1988).
3) Aero Detail No. 6 - "Focke Wulf Fw 190A/F, Nippon Kaiga Co. Ltd., 1993.

First looks:
An overlarge box (aren't they all nowadays?) with a photograph of the model on the cover (sadly, instead of a neat inspiring painting!) contains the 37 medium gray plastic parts, 2 clear parts and the 2 polyethylene parts. These are all individually bagged - not together in one bag. Also includes is a decal sheet for three different schemes and a fold out style 8 page instruction sheet showing ten construction steps and the color guide for the three schemes contained on the decal sheet.
What can I say? It looks terrific. Neatly and precisely engraved panel lines, no flash, sharp molding edges and a thoughtful breakdown of parts that tells me that Tamiya really cares about what they're doing here.

Let's get started then!

Starting with the wings:

These lay over the plans in reference No. 1 almost perfectly, but better yet, they just look right. One continuous lower section mates with two upper halves trapping a very nicely fitting third piece which is the wheel well insert. All superbly detailed. I taped the parts together and the fit will require no putty. The wheel well is maybe *a bit* shallow, but not as shallow as other '190 kits I've seen. The cannon shell ejection holes in the lower wing will need opening up, but this shouldn't be a problem. The cannons themselves are provided as separate parts of course, they're nice - and to scale.

Tail Surfaces:
Left and right horizontal stabilizer sections are provided and match the required shape. What else is there to say?

Wheels & Undercarriage:
These are especially well done. They appear accurate down to the last detail (see drawings in references No. 2& 3. The main gear doors are nicely detailed on their inside surfaces though each has two shallow ejector pin marks present. The kit correctly contains the early style wheels. Note that the inner gear doors are molded 'in situ' with the lower wing piece (see above), as these were always in the up position when this plane was parked on the ground. The tail wheel is a separate piece and is also accurate compared to the cited references.

Fuselage:
I love fuselages. It's my favorite part of building model aircraft! I mean the wings, landing gear, etc. are 'okay', but it's the fuselage that gives soul to a cool looking fighter! This model's fuselage is typical in that it's split vertically and has the upper forward cowl guns molded as a separate piece. The engine/cowling insert shows cylinder detail(!) and has two more parts that fit in front of it - including a very usable cooling fan. Interestingly, the section of the top fuselage directly behind the cockpit is molded as a separate item too. Probably so Tamiya could represent that detail properly (this is what I mean about by Tamiya really caring about what they do…). The propeller looks like the correct type for the variant (not always the case with too many kits) and the spinner looks good also.

My left fuselage half shows a molding flaw (a tiny hole) in the forward cockpits 'coaming' over the instrument panel which is likely only on my example. Don't worry about it (and no, it's NOT the pilot's hand hold opening!). This same forward section also has molded into it the gun sight which is delicate enough to use 'as is' with only a little trimming.

The fuselage sides show the classic features of the early A3: engine cooling slots ('not flapped'), short nose, smaller left side fuselage access panel and the tell tale antenna receptor shape built into the vertical stabilizer. All appear accurate. An interesting feature is the delicate way that Tamiya has opened up the area where the exhaust stack stubs should show from. These are left open on the kit, so you'll have to provide your own from rod stock or Moskit metal (if they ever make them that is!).

I taped all these parts together too and fitted them to the wing. Wow. This thing builds itself. Perfect fit, no gaps, no built in stresses and perfect alignment - all look guaranteed.

Cockpit Interior:
Do we need to slip in an Eduard photo etch set?, or Hawkeye designs resin cockpit tub? - maybe, but  only if you're REALLY obsessive about it - it's that nice. Tamiya gives you a cockpit 'tub' with the tops of the side counsels molded as separate items - yes, I said *separate! (Are you starting to believe me now about the 'Tamiya's doing it right' thing yet?). Okay then, just checking…
Also included is an accurate seat (thin the sides a bit though) with molded in cushion. And an actually useable control stick - which is to scale - which is hardly EVER the case with control sticks. Head armor and supports are included.

Canopy:
As mentioned, this comes in two parts. The forward windscreen couldn't be a better fit, while the rear-sliding portion looks the part too. The rear portion has some support tabs molded into the bottom rail in order to support the head armor which MAY still show once everything's painted, but I can't be positive about that. Both parts are separately bagged and are crystal clear.

Decals:
Typical Tamiya: beautiful color, well printed, nice scheme selection, but way too thick to actually use on a model! Too bad. Markings are included for three planes; one from 8/JG2, France 1942, another from III/JG 2, France 1942 and the last from Stab. /JG 26, Hptm. Wilhelm Gath, France 1943.

It would be a snap to convert this into an A4 - just add some brass sheet cooling flaps on the cowling sides, reshape the vertical stabilizer's antenna receptor and modify the wing armament. Easy right?

My final grade for this kit (on the usual "A" through "F" school scale) is a very solid "A". It's only downfalls (and admittedly it's a VERY short fall!) are the thick decals, missing exhaust stubs, and it's 'huge' box with boring box "art". Woulda otherwise been an A+, but you know…

Now go build!