by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
The Fw 190 A-5 historyIn late 1942, even if the Fw 190 A-4 was an aircraft which performed well, modifications were made to improve overall performance and to obtain a more versatile armament platform. Physically very similar to it's predecessor, the A-5 had the engine and cowling extended forward by 15,2 cm, and the most noticable difference between both variants was the addition of a curved fillet installed immediately in front of the wing roots. Other details changed, such as the structure of the ailerons and the rudder, the position of the port fuselage radio access hatch and the starboard first aid compartment. The A-5 also saw the standardization of the adjustable fuselage engine cowlings and the use of solid main wheels hubs (but some early A-5s were fitted with the perforated wheel hubs).
Armament remained the same as the A-4 (two MG 17s, two MG 151 cannons and two MG FF cannons), however, the outboard MG FF were often removed depending upon operational needs. Numerous conversion sets were tested, some of which were operationaly employed. Most were "Umrüst-Bausätzen" (from U1 to U17) or "Rüstsätze" (R1/R6).
Approximatively 1500 A-5s were produced, some even after the war by the French (SNCA) under the name NC 900.
The Fw190 A-5 kitHasegawa's Fw 190 A-5 with BMW 327 kit comes in a big top opening cardboard box with a nice cover artwork by Koike Shigeo. The grey plastic and transparent plastic sprues are bagged separately to avoid damage and are indentified by letters: A, B, D, E, G and M for the former and F for the latter. The sprues have nothing in common with those of the A-3/A-4 by the same manufacturer or their F-8 re-release of Dragon/DML's kit so this is a 100% new tooling.
Sprue A holds the fuselage halves, the propeller, the cockpit tub, the horizontale tailplanes, two landing gear doors, some parts of the cowling and the tiny Revi gunsight body. Sprue B has the two upper wings, the well known "dotted" gear bay panel and the frontal armored cowling ring. Sprue D is composed of the underwing part, two more landing gear doors (not to be used) and two different types of gun covers (early and late variant?). The bad news is that you will have to work with inserts which will leave seams that will need to be filled and sanded smooth. Sprue E features the most parts: complete forward engine, propeller hub with backplate and 12-blade cooling fan, main and tailwheels (very nice with separate fork), instrument panel and cockpit side consoles, fuel tank etc... A ventral FuG 16d/F aerial is also present (for future A-6 or A-8 versions?). The small Sprue labeled G is only made of two parts: the upper engine and the gun cowling. Sprue F is the transparent part tree. On it there is a windshield, a sliding canopy, the gunsight glass and very small wing tip lights.
The overall quality, as one would have expected from Hasegawa is excellent with delicate engraved surface details. I found no sink marks, flash or misalignments on the plastic parts in my sample. To the contrary of Eduard, there are no rivets present on the surface of the Hasegawa kit. I don't know if this is good or bad though, I suppose some like them and some not. The level of detail is quite good and I found the instrument panel's relief details rendering to be top notch for example. The clear parts are also superb, clear and distorsion free.
My impression is that this kit will be a lot easier to build than the Eduard one. There are no options to display the engine, the cowling guns and the wing root guns in the opened position. The ailerons, rudder, elevators and landing flaps are not separate. The engine, while nicely rendered, is only meant as a basic representation which is supposed to be mostly hidden behind the cooling fan anyway. I guess that for an average builder, this can be a reasonably relaxing build.
The instructions of the kit are printed on a single "panoramic" piece of paper. The 12 step assembly guide is clear and easy to follow but as I said before in another review, I don't like these long formats as they take away much of the surface of the bench once deployed. I prefer the smaller book like instructions but I guess this is a matter of taste. A four view painting and marking guide is provided for the only decoration of the kit: Black 13 flown by Major Josef Priller, Kommodore of JG26, Belgium, May-June 1943.
The BMW 327 historySince I'm not a car specialist, here is what Hasegawa wrote in their instructions for the kit:
"In November 1937, BMW brought out the 327 as a "super sports car" having the best features of the earlier 326 and 328 designs. The 327 was based around the 328 chassis, with front and rear suspension from the 326 and 328, respectively, and powered by the engine of the 326. With its elegant lines and superb interior finishing, the 327 can be considered stylistically to be an upgraded luxury version of the 328 model. The personal coupe version had a total production run of 1396 vehicles, with additional 410 for the cabriolt body version. The next year, 1938, saw the debut of a further upgraded 327, known as the "327/28", which was powered by the high performance 328 engine, giving the car a top speed of 135 km/h. Total production of this top-class luxury sports car ran to 596 vehicles."
The BMW 327 kitThe car kit is bagged in separate plastic bags and is composed of several sprues of white, clear and chrome parts. The two main body parts are labeled A and B. Sprue C holds most of the details of the kit such as the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, engine underside, radiator fan, inner door structures, driver's door (the passenger door is molded in closed position), the springs, the driveshaft, the wheels etc... The clear plastic parts are located on tree J while two more sprues (D and E) have been coated with a shiny chrome paint. The latter will have to be treated with great care! Finally, a figure of a German WW2 pilot is included (sprue R) which in this case represents Major Josef Priller. The figure is very nice with plenty of small details (figures painters will be happy, the others maybe not) and comes in four separate parts (body, arms and head). There is a small ejection pin mark on the back of "Pips" so he will have to suffer a little to look perfect.
The fact that Hasegawa used white for this kit is a bit surprising. Even more so if you are used to the standard grey color of most aircraft plastic kits. But I suppose it was made so to help the modeller to achieve a perfect bright red finish for the car. In this case it probably won't be necessary to spray a white primer first. Good point for this.
The kit looks great on the sprues and the level of detail and the overall quality is on par whit what Tamiya did previously with their "Traction" or "Käfer" kits. Construction doesn't seem too complicated but only time will tell...
The instructions sheet is rather big for such a small kit. In fact it is identical in size to that of the Fw 190: one big panoramic piece of paper. Oh no, not again... Doh! The drawings are clear and well done though and here also the build shouldn't represent a too difficult task for an average modeller. Two straps for the engine covers will have to be cut from a piece of fabric and the antenna made from wire (both included). Be carefull when gluing the chrome parts, you MUST remove the plating before if you want to use plastic cement. A painting (both for the car and the figure) and decal guide is also present in the instructions.
DecalsThere is one single decal sheet in the kit with complete markings for Priller's aircraft (including stencils) and his car. The visual quality is very good even if the carrier film appears a little thick. In my sample, four swastikas are present on the sheet but it is possible that the kits destined to the European market will not have them (I purchased mine from HLJ). The big stylised "eagle wings" for the fuselage sides are present as well but it would have been better if the white edges would have been separated from the black. I'm sure many modeller will prefer to paint these rather than try to conform the decals over the wing roots and their relief details. One thing I've also noted is the presence of many spare werknummer numbers. These can always be useful.
ConclusionLet's go ten years back in 1997: a modeller wants to do a small diorama with a Fw 190 A-5 and a BMW 327 car. For the plane, he would have had to find a DML kit and then fight with it to get a nice model or use the newer Tamiya F-8 kit and modify it using resin conversion sets. For the BMW 327, he would have had to wait for a hypothetical limited resin kit by IPMS France which to my knowledge never saw the light of day.
Today in 2007 the same modeller has the choice between two fantastic models of the A-5 version: one by Eduard which is hyperdetailed and the other by Hasegawa which even includes an injected model of the car and the figure of the pilot! Isn't this fantastic?
Really, we do live in a Golden Age of modelling and this Fw 190 A-5 with BMW 327 car kit is another proof of it. It will please all WW2 aircraft diorama builders and also those who want to build a more relaxed model of the A-5 than the one produced by Eduard. Highly recommended!
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