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KIT REVIEW


Eduard #82142
Fw 190A-4 ProfiPACK Edition -- 1:48 Scale

The Fw 190 was one of the best-known aircraft of the 20th century and a key player in the air war over Europe during the Second World War.  The Fw 190 is also one of the most popular and most widely produced model airplane kits.  Eduard released the first of a family of 1:48 scale Fw 190s in 2006, and they were indeed among the best Fw 190 kits in any scale.  Yet, Eduard’s design and production standards have evolved over the last 11 years.  They’ve taken a new approach to the 1:48 scale Fw 190 seeking better ways to engineer and represent this iconic airplane.  In late 2017, they released a new-tool Fw 190A-4, and in this review, we sit down with the inaugural release of Eduard’s second-generation Fw 190.   

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In 1934, the German Ministry of Aviation (RLM) issued a call for proposal for a modern fighter design to definitively rearm and modernize the Luftwaffe.  Arado, Focke-Wulf, Heinkel, and Messerschmitt developed prototypes for a fly-off.  The Me 109 was selected in 1936 as the winning design and thus began a famous chapter in German aviation.  But by 1937, the RML saw a need for a second fighter to complement the Me 109.  Focke-Wulf designers led by Kurt Tank took another look at their losing Fw 159 prototype and began to develop a range of new designs, drawing on its virtues but also transcending its weaknesses.  Design studies reached maturity when they included an air-cooled, 14-cylinder BMW 139 radial engine and paired with innovations that achieved a low-drag cowling that also optimized engine airflow and cooling characteristics.  Other features included extensive use of electrical versus hydraulic controls, control rods (as opposed to cables) that made handling more crisp and responsive, and various airframe refinements including an increased wing loading.

The first Fw 190 Würger (or Shrike) V1 flew on 01 June 1939.  This marked the origin of the most prolific production runs of any WWII-era fighter involving some 20,000 airplanes that spanned (by my count) 77 variants and sub-types.  Many were powered by the twin-row BMW 801 radial engine, though other versions (e.g., the D-model or the Dora) fielded an in-line powerplant.  The Fw 190 and the Me 109 together formed the spine of the Luftwaffe’s fighter corps.  It was arguably the Luftwaffe’s most effective day fighter, serving in every corner of Europe and North Africa.  It also excelled as a fighter-bomber, dedicated ground-attack platform, and nightfighter.  And in the opinion of many pilots, the Fw 190 was superior to the Me 109 in terms of its heavier armament and superior low to mid-altitude performance.

The Fw 190A-4 was introduced in July 1942 and it was the most numerous (and the last) of the early-model short-nosed -190s.  It was conceived of as an improved A-3 while it was armed with the standard pair of 7.9mm MG 17s above and behind the engine and two MG 151 20 mm cannons in both wing roots.  Its BMW 801D-2 powerplant was equipped with a power boost system that injected a water‑methanol mix into the cylinders to coax additional horsepower and altitude from the engine.  The A-4 also featured a short radio antenna atop the vertical stabilizer.  At the time of its introduction into the war, it was evenly matched with the Spitfire Mk. IX, but by 1943, the appearance of new Allied fighters such as the P-47, P-51, and more advanced Spitfires progressively outclassed the A4 rendering it obsolete.      

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Eduard’s new-tool Fw 190A-4 comes in their standard top-opening box.  I’m not sure who did the box art for this kit, but it’s beautiful work and I’d say that Koike Shiego (of famed Hasegawa box art fame) was certainly an influence here.  The kit comes on five dark blue-gray sprues holding a total of 185 parts (about 100 will be used; see below).  Ten clear parts are on also found on one sprue.  As the ProfiPACK edition of the kit, there’s also one fret of pre-painted photoetched metal parts containing 46 parts and one pre-cut vinyl mask set for the masking of the clear parts and wheel hubs.  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 19 steps.  The decal sheets provide full airframe stencils and markings for five airplanes:

Strengths:  Eduard kits have long been on a developmental and production technology arc, with their injection-molded kits rising above nearly all other manufacturers in terms of quality, attention to detail, and accuracy.  In 1:48 scale, their Spitfires and re-tooled Bf 109s are to me among of the best plastic airplane kits ever made.  Their first-generation 190s were really good kits to be sure, but a few of the critiques levied against those kits had to do with some tricky assembly, particularly around the engine cowlings, wing spar placement, engine face and cockpit fit, and main gear attachment.  This re-tooled Würger appears to address and correct each and every one of these critiques.  Many kit manufacturers would not (and quite frankly, do not) return to rework subject matter as Eduard has done here.  This speaks to their unusually serious commitment to the hobby, scale model builders, and the pursuit of the best kit they can make.

The result of this effort is one amazing kit.  Of course, a common refrain among many scale modelers to be heard is “Not another Fw 190!”  Yes, the market is indeed full of 1:48 scale 190s from Tamiya to RV Resin, but this kit arguably renders obsolete those earlier offerings, including the first-generation Eduard 190s.  If you want the best 1:48 scale Fw 190, this A-4 kit and the other variants that will be sure to follow look to be the best 190s you can build.  One might say Eduard is seeking to make a statement with this kit.  The engineering of the parts that led to many of the earlier tricky fits has been reworked so that ease and speed of construction should be greatly improved.

The parts breakdown and overall engineering result in a kit that is quite straightforward and easy to build.  Construction will not be particularly time consuming.  Surface detail is outstanding as expected from Eduard, with beautifully executed and restrained recessed panel lines and elegant recessed rivet details arrayed into complex (and as best I can tell) ultra-accurate patterns.  I snipped out the fuselage halves and wings to dry fit them, and they appear to line up in airtight fashion.  No filler required here.      

The plastic cockpit parts by themselves are simplified, but the pre-painted photoetched metal instrument panel, side consoles, and shoulder harnessed and lap belts (among other detail parts) add an impressive level of detail as it would seem Eduard intended.  Engine exhaust stacks are also quite good for 1:48 scale.  While the exhausts themselves are not hollow as a resin casting can achieve, they do feature recessed faces and a good wash of a dark color can achieve the illusion of a deeper exhaust.

The landing gear, tires, and tailwheel assembly are all very nicely detailed and molded.  The rudder, elevators, and ailerons are all separate parts.  At least for the rudder, the mounting tab seems to force a straight-in fit and a little modification might be necessary to fit the rudder in a deflected position.  The clear parts are gorgeous and possess pretty much perfect optical quality with no seams present.  Likewise, the pre-painted photoetched parts are beautifully made and appear perfect to my eyes.               

There are a lot of unused parts in this kit – about 84 in all.  These include an additional propeller, other MG 17 fairings, underwing stores including drop tanks and bombs, dipole nightfighter antennas, and alternate gear doors, rudders, and ailerons reflecting other Fw 190 variants.  It’s clear this kit is just the beginning of Eduard’s second generation Würger family in 1:48 scale.

The decal sheets cover the five schemes described above as well as a complete set of airframe stencils.  Printing appears perfect.  Everything is in register, colors look great, and carrier film is finely restrained.    

Weaknesses:  I really have very little to identify as a weakness.  The in-the-box and limited test fitting evaluation really suggest this is a superlative kit in all respects.  I can only identify two small disadvantages.  First, the landing flaps are not molded as separate parts. Second, the engine face, cockpit, and gear wells are simplified.  A scale modeler can certainly add the appropriate wiring/plumbing in the wells with very little effort.  For the cockpit and engine, one might surmise that Eduard anticipates many builders will be using the photoetched metal or Brassin detail sets to enhance or replace these parts, so it’s not a particularly substantive critique.

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Overall, this is fabulous kit that the fans of the Fw 190 will enjoy for many, many years to come.  I’m an admirer of the Fw 190 for sure, and this kit has me (as someone who specializes primarily in the jet age) really interested to build it.  If anything, it is a very inviting kit: quality, detail, and interesting paint schemes hit on all the right points to pique my interest.  For those interested in adding even more detail to their second-generation Eduard Fw 190, they have simultaneously released cockpit, engine, machine gun, and cannon bay detail sets.  We’ll have reviews of the cockpit and engine sets coming soon here at Detail & Scale.  These Brassin sets are pretty impressive…stay tuned!

We extend our sincere thanks to Eduard for the review sample. You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany/.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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