Focke Wulf FW-189 A2
Thanks first go to Dragon USA for providing us this excellent new release; Can’t say enough as to how generous our suppliers are who provide these kits, which we at IPMS sincerely appreciate!
The Great Wall Hobbies FW189 first hit the shelves last fall/early spring here in the U.S... Previous reviewers in other countries raved about the kit. They were correct… this is a gem of a model. When you open the box, you find five gray runners filled with finely-detailed parts, one extremely clear runner of canopy, armored fascia, and two types of windscreen, hinting at future cannon-armed releases. An excellent photoetch fret is included, with flaps, wiring harness for the engines, gunsights, rudder pedals and seatbelt/harness assemblies. Decals cover two versions, illustrated on a full-color flyer inside the box, with two Russian-front birds, with one having white distemper temporary camouflage, overpainted on a base color of RLM 71/70 Greens over RLM 65 light blue scheme. And best of all, a set of pre-cut canopy masks to take care of all those nasty little window panes! The masks are numbered, with a diagram accurately showing where each mask goes. Excellent.
With all that, Great Wall steps to the head of the class. A model, complete except for cement/glue and paint! It’s obvious there are other versions coming, as a 20mm cannon and supporting structure are included along with a second canopy, but not used. Included in the kit is one figure of a pilot preparing for flight and ground support equipment: metal frame wheel chocks and maintenance stands.
Construction starts with the center pod and cockpit; a camera, well detailed MG 131’s, (I think), and individual decals for the instrument panel.
Careful assembly yields a strong center section, ready for attaching the wings. You can cement the access windows in the open position if you like, in which case I’d recommend you wait until all painting is complete before attaching.
Engines are next; when painted and installed, with ignition harness attached, you have an excellent view of these gems when you leave the side panels open.
Landing gear, wings and props are assembled next; I waited until the model was complete to install the gear. Takes a bit of prying, but it can be done. I did opt to leave off the mudguards, as I was going to do this model as a winter bird. They may not have done this, but I remember the same thing happening with Stuka’s and spats being filled with mud and snow, so it made sense to me. The gear was the only difficulty I had on the build; it’s very “scale-like” and there is an extra actuator that I was not able to install. It’s just me…. Not the kit.
Wing and engine booms are next; all control surfaces except for the flaps can move if that is your thing. The flaps may be installed up or down; the upper wing interior is provisioned for by photoetch detail with the actual flaps in plastic. A better option with more durability than PE flaps, in my opinion. The tail wheel is trapped between the upper and lower stabilizer section; it is moveable except the gear door is PE and therefore is NOT moveable. I learned later that I should have just cut off the gear pivot pegs on the strut and waited until the model was complete to glue in place; it’s fragile, and one sideways movement on the bench broke it off.
A bit of sanding down the seams on the booms, and it was off to paint. I did the whole model in Tamiya acrylics, and then lightly airbrushed the white distemper over the whole model. A large paintbrush acted as a mop, and I splashed some “whiter” areas on the model. A bit of denatured alcohol on a swab served to wear off some of the distemper on the top of the wing, and then it was gloss, decal, and finish up. Decals were great; the moved just enough, but didn’t slide all over the model once I squeegeed them in place. Even the stencil decals behaved! No curling, but you can’t move them inches over the surface unless they have plenty of lubricant water. Overnight dry, flat-coat, and remove the masking on the windows. A bit more denatured alcohol took care of the few places where the masking lifted up during the airbrush session, and touch-up with a brush finished the model.
For detail purists, there are some microscopic cowl fasteners on the PE fret for those who like to plink things off into the carpet. I wasn’t so bold. The last items I installed were the upper gun fascia with twin mount guns, and gunsights along with pitot tube and props. The props have their fascinating louvers on the spinners; very delicate and cool looking. (They are either for cooling or deicing, I haven’t figured out which). Bomb racks and bombs are simple… if you drilled the holes they fit into like the instructions would have you do when the wings were assembled. (I did!)
Final tally: an enjoyable build; We FINALLY have a decent FW 189! Maxed out at 10 for Great Wall Hobbies. What’s next?...