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1:32 Focke-Wulf Fw 189A-1 HpH Catalogue # 32030R Available from HpH for €210 If there was one country that didn’t mind defying convention with their aircraft design, it was Germany. Unlike some of the more unusual projects created by the Allied nations, the Germans really didn’t mind pushing the experiment further and as a result, a number of pretty unorthodox airframes entered regular service. One of these was the Focke-Wulf Fw 189, designed by Fw’s chief design engineer, Kurt Tank. This specific machine was the winning design for a requirement to provide the Luftwaffe with a tactical reconnaissance and army cooperation aircraft that was also able to carry a light bomb-load. Another notable machine which the Fw 189 competed against was Blohm und Voss’s unusual and asymmetric Bv 141. The Fw 189 was generally referred to as the Uhu (owl) and the ‘flying eye’, and consisted of a twin boom layout with a heavily glazed fuselage nacelle sitting on the centre wing section. Powered by two Argus As410 engines, the Fw 189 was perhaps a little underpowered, and relatively slow in comparison to fighter aircraft. Despite this, the sheer manoeuvrability of the type, with its incredibly small turning circle, made them relatively hard to shoot down, and the Uhu became a successful aircraft, operating mainly on the Eastern Front, with great effectiveness. A crew of three was carried, and defence was provided by MG15s fixed into two gun cupolas. A further two MG17s were positioned in the wing roots, firing forward. Externally, up to four SC50 bombs could also be carried. Almost 900 Fw 189 were built, with only one surviving today, in a state of severe disrepair (under rebuild at time of writing), and several other nations operated them, including Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Norway actually operated the Fw 190, post-war. It’s often been said that large-scale modellers are living in a truly golden age. Who would’ve thought, only a few short years ago, that we would see even one quarter of the amazing and ambitious releases that we are being offered on a regular basis. A number of particular subjects are of course classed as a Holy Grail amongst certain modellers, and the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 is one of them. Great Wall Hobby have given us two wonderful 1:48 kits in injection plastic, and now HpH have stepped up the mark with this new resin-based multimedia kit. As soon as this was announced, I really had to register my interest. The real Fw 189 had a wingspan of 60ft, which means that in 1:32, this model has a span of no less that 570mm. That means this model is no shrinking violet. With that in mind, it might surprise you to find that this kit is packed into a relatively small box, measuring 410mm x 260mm, and with a depth of only 55mm! HpH have decided to use an action artwork on this release, instead of the profile art of previous kits, and I have to say that it’s a smart move. The box itself is quite a rigid type, and inside, it’s compartmented in order to keep parts from sliding around. This also adds further rigidity. If you are ordering this kit from long distance, I have to tell you that HpH pack their products superbly, and this arrived safely, wrapped in corrugated card and bubble-wrap. Open the lid, and sat on top of the mass of bubble-wrap protected packets, sits two zip-lock wallets. One of these contains a set of HGW-made seatbelts, vinyl canopy masks, turned brass parts, single decal sheet and a CD that contains the instructions manual. I quickly printed this in colour, as it’s far friendlier for workbench use. The other zip-lock wallet contains two large brass photo-etch frets and a single colour-printed one, protected by a piece of cardboard. All smaller resin components are bagged into zip-lock wallets that reflect the parts groupings printed in the manual. The larger airframe parts are inserted within the compartments, and bubble-wrapped for protection. Firstly my apologies, as having fumbled through these parts in order to asses and understand them, I seem to have possibly put some of them back into wrong bags prior to taking photographs. I’m sure you’ll still understand what I write though. Parts Bag A I quite like HpH’s solution of casting their parts on ultra-thin wafers. Some decry this, saying it makes it difficult to remove, but I prefer it to casting blocks. This bag contains TWELVE wafer casts and one part on a casting block. Four of these wafers are duplicated once, for those many multiple parts that are required, such as internal undercarriage bay structures, multi-part engine cylinders, rudder counterbalances, internal canopy framing, gear bay wing spar sections, engine bulkheads etc. Generally, parts are grouped onto wafers which are specific for certain areas of construction. Where they aren’t, this can still be pretty easy to locate what you need. There are so many parts here that it wouldn’t be feasible to list them all. Other wafers include cockpit floors and sidewalls, instrument panel, gun cupola rings, and also rods that runs along the leading edge of the landing flaps. The single cast piece in this pack is the rear fuselage deck. If you’ve never seen an HpH kit before, then you’re in for a treat. All detail is excellent, with the minutest trace being there to see. Casting is sharp and among some of the best I’ve seen. Without a doubt, this must go to create one of the best cockpits I’ve ever seen. Take a look at the images for yourself. HpH isn’t relying on resin alone for some of the key parts, like the multipart cockpit floor. These are supplemented by photo-etch parts such as tread-plates. This will look incredible when assembled and painted, and with that large greenhouse glazed area, it really has to be very good indeed. Parts Bag B Another nine wafers are packed into here, but not as large as those in the first bag. Predominantly, this package contains cockpit parts, such as padded cushions, seat buckets, control column, rudder pedal assemblies, armour plate framing, ammunition saddles, compressed gas cylinders, canteens, camera mount, equipment bags etc. The camera itself is to be found in the previous bag of parts. The design of this kit has the camera pointing down through a hole in the fuselage floor, yet the centre underside wing panel has the aperture cast as closed. There is some PE to use as what appears to be a door here, so I assume you can drill out that section and pose the model with the camera door in an open position. Non-cockpit parts include the undercarriage, main gear wheel hubs, and underwing ETC bomb racks. Parts Bag C There are a small number of wafers here. One of these holds the two engine crankcase blocks onto which the cylinders fit. Full engines aren’t supplied for this model, but no doubt that it could be achieved with a little ingenuity. An option to provide for this would have been a nice tough. tail wheel leg with wire reinforcement Immediately recognisable are the amazing looking engine cowls, cast as single pieces into which the engine cylinder assemblies will slide. You can appreciate here the rather beautiful lines of the Argus As 410 engine cowls. Very impressive. External detail is itself worth noting. Panel lines are fine and even. A fine wall of resin needs to be removed from the rear circumference of each cowl, and this is designed to be easy to do. Each of the four 50kg bombs are also cast as single pieces, complete with stabilising fins, and the non-glazed upper fuselage section is also a single piece, connected to its block by another thin resin wall. HpH have cast the spinners as a single part, minus the attractive fins which will be added as photo-etch parts. Propeller blades are cast onto a wafer, and jointed down one of their edges. Care should be taken in removing them for use. All wheels are cast as single parts, and the main gear doors are to be found, two per block, with excellent detail both outside and within. The single piece main gear struts are a beautiful piece of casting, and are made rigid by the insertion of a steel rod. Some clean-up will be required of course, but certainly nothing more than you would expect. Parts Bag 4 If the thought of lots of clear resin parts was to make you wonder about their quality, then fear not. These are probably the best I have ever seen, including those seen in their other kits (and I thought THOSE were good too!). There are fourteen parts here, and the most obvious, the nose, is certainly attention-grabbing. This single piece unit, like the other parts, is crystal clear, with beautiful external framing detail. Like the other parts, it is connected to its casting block by a thin resin wall which will be easy to saw through. I’m still drooling at the nose, but onwards! Framing detail and clarity are standard across the whole of this bag. For the rear gun ring, HpH has cast this in two parts, allowing the modeller to choose the final position of being either opened or closed. Of course, the parts can also be placed in any position on that ring, as it of course swivelled in actual use. You really will need to make an outstanding job of that cockpit, as you’ll see little bit of detail though this canopy. The crew access doors can be positioned in either an open of closed position too. My only reservation here is that all these fragile parts are in the same bag. It would’ve been better to use a few smaller bags in order to prevent scratching. A few clear and coloured resin pieces are included for wingtip lights, plus a few smaller parts for underwing light etc. Parts Bag 5 A lot of key parts here, with the central under-wing/fuselage panel, rudders, stabiliser, elevator and ailerons being found here. Again, external detail is amazing, and as good as any you will find on a top-quality injection moulded kit. Detail consists of fine panel lines and port access plates, as well as restrained riveting. Fabric and rib detail on the ailerons and rudder are subtle enough and will need no further work, and the stabiliser is a two-piece item, being cast as upper and lower panels. You will need to remove the resin webbing from the tail gear well area. Well detail is cast on the upper inside of the stabiliser, and this is enhanced further with photo-etch inner rib detail. Wings Whilst the wing upper and lower panels seem conventional, they aren’t. Upper wing panels also contain a portion of the fuselage nacelle sidewalls. Cast into them is also the tail boom fairing and forward engine cowl. The lower wing panels are shorter, stopping at the tail boom junction. Ailerons and landing flap areas are separate items. I find the surface detail absolutely gorgeous. Look at the photos and see how precise and even the panel lines are, and the other engraved detail. The full airframe is also riveted, and it looks impressive. A lower landing light is provided as a separate inner reflector and external lens, with a PE plate. PE is also used for the aileron actuator and hinge covers. Detail is comprehensive. Of course, there are casting blocks to remove, and these lie along the wing leading edge with the upper panels. These are connected so as to cause minimal disruption to external detail, whilst not affecting the lines of the forward-most leading edge lines. Lower panels have the blocks connected along the rear edge, where the ailerons etc. will fit. Three inner wing spars are also included here, cast onto a wafer. The main spar is reinforced with steel rods. The instructions clearly show their positions, plus there are channels and ribbing within the wings which provide a position location for these parts. Tail Booms Construction is conventional here, with each boom consisting of port and starboard halves. Notice that they insert within the gap left by the lower wing panels, and include the wing cross section at that point, meaning they should be easy to align. Rudders are separate, and we saw those earlier. External detail matches the other parts beautifully, with some very neat rows of rivets. You will need to replace any of these that could become lost when removing seams. External detail is supplemented by photo etch detail, such as the strakes that run along the spine and belly of each tail boom, and the strap that covers the bolts which hold the tail fins to the booms. Like a number of parts in this kit, there are positions within the parts that are designed to accept resin locating pins that will help with alignment. HpH’s attention to detail extends into the main gear wells, where you’ll see some very nice rib and stringer detail. Along with the other components, just a little wiring is all that will be needed to create an amazingly detailed area. Resin summary All parts are cast in a light grey resin, unlike some of the releases I’ve seen where this has a pale green/yellowish hue. Surface finish is superb, looking very akin to an injection kit. External surfaces are polished. This kit appears to have no defects anywhere, or any breakages. Quite simply, an ultra-high quality resin product. Clean up and block removal should also prove to be very simple, in comparison to other resin releases I’ve seen over the years. Turned brass parts MG15 gun barrels are provided here, and look like MASTER parts. If you’ve seen these before, you’ll know just how realistic they are. A small PE fret also provides parts for the reticules. The remaining parts are for the pitot, and two sets of slide-fit tubes for the prop shafts, allowing the finished item to rotate. Photo-etch parts A single colour-printed fret contains the instrument panel and the fascias for other instrumentation units within the cockpit, including various levers etc. A number of non-colour parts are also included for general cockpit use, such as the rudder pedals and observer’s feet racks that sit within the glazed nose. The largest brass fret contains parts solely for the landing flaps. All photo-etch in this kit is produced by Eduard, and these flaps follow their typical design whereby you fold and twist the small ribs within the flaps, to 90 degrees. The skeletal framework is fitted to a separate outer skin, and you will need to add the leading edge tubes to complete them, as well as various other small parts. I did say this fret was solely for flaps, but I can also see the tail-boom spine and belly strakes here too. Lastly, a slightly small fret contains parts which are general to the model. These include the anti-glare panel from the cockpit, ammunition saddle parts, alternative PE bomb fins (requiring removal of resin cast parts), plus various straps, plates and other minor detail. Production standard is as high as is to be expected from Eduard, with everything clearly numbered. Masks With a canopy with so many panels, you’d be correct in assuming that this would be a killer to mask. Thankfully, a beautifully cut set of vinyl masks is included. Mask material exhibits no shrinkage, and appear to be high quality. Either way, you’ll be thankful that HpH included these! Decals HpH’s decal inclusion has undergone its own revolution. In previous releases, standard decal sets have been included, but recently, a fellow Czech company, HGW, have been using a new technology called Wet Transfer. These started with stencil sets, and progressed to actual markings. The beauty with these, as opposed to regular decals, is that they contain ZERO carrier film! Each decal is soaked in water, and then applied to the model. After a few hours, the carrier film is peeled off, leaving just the ink on the surface. HPH have decided to include a custom set of these in this kit, including both national, individual, and stencil decals. Printing quality is high, and in perfect register. Check out those stencils, and they are readable too! Three schemes are available in this release, and these are: Fw 189A-1, 1.(H)32, Pontsalenjoki airfield, Finland, 1943 Fw 189A-1, 1.(H)32, Finland, 1942 – 1943 Fw 189A-1, 1.(H)32, Finland, 1943 Seatbelts HGW’s second collaboration with our kit manufacturer is for the inclusion of some seatbelts, specifically designed for the Fw 189. These are made from a combination of printed and laser-cut textile parts, and a small number of buckles and clasps that are included on the colour PE fret. These belts are simply the best available, and can be posed in a natural way by scrunching the material before assembly. They can also be weathered with oils. Instructions A CD is provided which contains all the high-resolution colour JPG pages that you will need. Ideally, you should print a copy of these and work from that. I hate staring at computer screens whilst I work. Also, as I use a Macbook Pro, I didn’t have a CD drive, and needed to dump the files to a pen drive whilst at work. The instruction files are very high resolution, and start with showing the contents of the parts bags, all numbered. Clarity is very good. Instructions are then shown for assembling the seatbelts, and then construction begins with the wing and spar assembly. These first steps are critical and need to be followed closely. Assembly drawings are in line drawing format and look easy to understand. These are punctuated with colour photos of the test assembly. Colours are indicated, but in simple terms, and not in manufacturer codes. Instructions to add the decals are also given, and of course, each scheme is illustrated in various profile format. In all, a very clear and concise publication that you should have any trouble with. Chocolate What chocolate? Looks like HpH decided to discontinue that little treat. It’s a shame as it softened the way with my wife when I introduced yet another kit to her! Conclusion For me, this is HpH’s best release yet. I know the subject is one that really appeals to me anyway, but I do own a few other earlier kits, such as the Walrus, He 111, Me 410 and Sea Hornet. Those are all masterpieces, but I think this piques even those kits. Yes, this one is slightly more expensive than was originally projected, but the increase in PE accounted for that. This is also no beginner’s kit. In fact, unless you’re well-versed with resin, I would think twice about it due to the unusual layout and the critical factor in getting everything to align properly. As a kit, it’s simply outstanding; highly detailed, and a superb piece of model engineering and casting, along with those seatbelts, photo-etch and turned brass parts. I really couldn’t resist this one, and the main exterior parts indicate this was #03 from the moulds! If this at all appeals to you, treat yourself, and tell them you saw it at Large Scale Modeller. VERY highly recommended My sincere thanks to HpH Models for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link. James H