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1:32 Focke Achgelis Fa 330


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1:32 Focke Achgelis Fa 330
Fly Model
Catalogue # 32007
Available from Fly Model for 372.00CZK





Let me set the scene for you:

Sunday, 9th November, 2014, IPMS Scale Model World, Telford.


I was sitting at a table in the Hall 1 refreshment area with Webmeister James Hatch and administrator Jeroen Peters, both, I have to say, resplendent in their HKM/Large Scale Modeller 'T' shirts. We were having a general conversation on modelling – or was it the rather well-endowed young lady selling the coffees? Whatever, I am sure they won't mind me recording the fact that I detected evidence of 'tiredness' etched into their handsome faces. Could it be a sign of 'show weariness', or perhaps something associated with a 'great time had by all' the previous evening – I suspect the latter! Hey, it is Telford after all - it comes but once a year - they'll get over it!




Jeroen produced some kits for review and James handed me the Fly Models 1/32 Focke Achgelis Fa330 gyro/kite/glider. I love non-powered flight aircraft a.k.a. gliders (!) - and my immediate reaction was that perhaps this was one to build for next years 'glider' section in the IPMS Scale Model World competition – after all said and done, hadn't a glider just won top honours in the aircraft section this year? The Fa330 is certainly something rather different, but is a kite/non-powered gyrocopter a glider? That will be something for the judges to sort out?


For those who may not have seen this WW2 aircraft before, here is a very brief potted history: Following recommendations from German naval commanders who required greater forward surface visibility for their U-Boat captains, the Focke Achgelis design team produced this man carrying 'gyro-copter', 'glider' or 'kite' for towing behind a submarine to provide important distance viewing capability from height and target spotting – up to 25 miles – with the tethered pilot armed with nothing more than a pair of binoculars. Ingeniously, the surface speed of the submarine was enough to turn the rotors thus creating the required lift for man and machine. With natural line weight sag, the 500 feet tow line gave the gyro-glider a useful maximum height of around 400 feet, providing, on a clear day, the up to 25 mile line of sight vision previously mentioned. To return to the submarine, the pilot could gently return to the deck by decreasing the angle of attack on the rotors thus reducing the lift - co-ordinating with the line retrieval winch operator or, in an emergency, he could jettison the tow line and rotor head and parachute to the surface while still attached to the 'fuselage'. Brave lads. A waterproof canister on the submarine deck provided the facility for stowage with removal and rigging taking approximately 25 minutes. Around 200 aircraft were built but they were not too successful - the main criticism being the time it took to retrieve, dismantle and stow the aircraft in combat emergencies. There is only one recorded incident of a successful 'spotting' followed by the sinking of the target. Amazingly there are still a few examples of the Fa 330 in museums around the world.


To the kit: A 25 x 17.5 x 4cm end opening box has 'artwork' depicting the aircraft outside a hangar. On the reverse side, there are some very nice three views and other detailed drawings showing the marking locations and colour call outs. There is no indication as to what scale these drawings are, but they are smaller than 1/32.



Opening the box reveals one clear re-sealable plastic envelope containing:

  • One medium brown plastic sprue, un-numbered
  • An 8 page Instruction manual
  • Photo-etched sprue
  • Resin parts
  • Cartograf decals
  • Instrument dial acetate 'film'

It doesn't look an awful lot for the money, so, what is the quality like? It's OK – not spectacular, but OK and typical of a limited run production. There are some hefty attachment points that will need some very careful micro-saw removal, especially on the small 'rod' fuselage framework and links. This can be overcome of course, it just takes a little more time and patience, but as a basis for a more detailed build such as utilising some metal rod and tubing to add more realism to the framework, the parts will act as perfect 'patterns'. A certain amount of flash is in evidence but nothing untoward – we all tend to clean up parts anyway – don't we?




There is a tendency for some kit manufacturers to rather over-do rib locations on doped linen structures. Having been brought up in the balsa/tissue/silk school of flying model building which closely resembles full size practices, ribs do not protrude that much, especially not on full sized aircraft with rib tapes. A few minutes very careful sanding will reduce things nicely, but be careful if you do because there is an impression of linen texture on the 'open' structure of the rotor blades. For some strange reason the linen texture is not shown on the tail-plane surfaces. Looking at reference photographs, these items appear to be constructed of just outline frame-work with doped linen covering. With weight in this area being a critical factor for such an ultra-lightweight machine, I don't think there would have been much chance of solid structures aft of the pilot. Just be aware of this fact when it comes to giving an impression of realism to this area.




(In view of the above, the beauty of going to shows such as Telford is that you can see what useful bits and pieces are coming onto the market. For example, to rectify the lack of linen texture mentioned above, Aviattic are producing a plain linen textured 'decal' and Albion Alloys are bringing out some very simple (ingenious) joining attachments for their tube products to enable virtually any angle joints with C/A – ideal for the framework.)


The 8 mono pages of instruction sheets are very informative and the drawings look easy to follow. There is a part number illustration guide for the un-numbered sprue parts plus a full colour call out with RLM I/D. Interestingly they have also provided a very useful 'wiring' diagram for various 'linkages' – ideal for scratch builders. They also show how each rotor blade is 'marked' by a different painted pattern towards the tip to ensure the correct positioning of each blade for the hard pressed sub-mariners. Each white pattern location spans two rib positions and details like this could easily be missed from reference photographs. Well done Fly!














The photo-etched fret contains seat belts and various 'detail-up' attachments and linkages together with the instrument panel and dial bezels to be used in conjunction with the acetate dial faces. I quite like this system of building up the IP as I think it looks very realistic and I can see no reason why this one should be any different – I just hope the bezels don't ping off into the carpet. I am not too enamoured with P/E seat belts and, for preference, I would probably go for an HGW or RB Productions replacement set as, in my opinion, they are far more malleable and natural looking.






There is just one small resin block which contains a sprocket based rotor housing (which should look stunning once painted and weathered) along with some very small and yes, very pingable(!), airframe attachment parts.




The decal sheet is by Cartograf. What a relief it is to find this name associated with one of the most important presentation pieces of any kit. 6 Balkan Crosses and 4 'Nicht anfassen' notices is what you get - they are in perfect register and look very crisp as one would expect.




I am going to build this one – I think it has great potential to be just that something different and there are still a few dotted around in museums for reference purposes. Could the plastic parts have been a tad better quality and the sprue attachment points have been smaller? Of course they could, but I would suggest that this will not bother or worry those who decide to take this little gem on. I would have also liked to have seen another sprue with the water-tight stowage container and perhaps the towline winch, but that is just wishful thinking. Thank goodness for YouTube, plastic card and other scratch building materials!

My sincere thanks to Fly Model for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.




Peter Buckingham




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