by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
IntroductionWhen Tamiya announced the imminent release of kit n°100 in their 1/48 scale range of aircraft models, it caused some speculations about what subject they would have chose to reproduce. The fact that it was the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was a bit surprising for some because it was a liaison and not a combat airplane. But when we think about it, it's not an innocent choice since Tamiya as decided more and more to focus on subjects which can be associated in dioramas with ground vehicles, probably to promote their new 1/48 scale Military Miniatures kits. So in that regard too, the Fi 156 is a liason kit!
The kit boxFor their "Milestone" kit, Tamiya have decided to do something particular in that they designed a special packaging for it. Indeed, this time the standard box is enclosed within a glossy black sleeve wich features gold letterings, making it look like a mix of the Monolith from the "2001 Space Odyssey" movie and an Eduard Royal Class box. Once the black sleeve is removed, one can notice that the inner cover artwork is vertical. Here too Tamiya chose a different way than usual. Things continue when you finally open the box and take a look inside, since other packaging surprises are waiting for you: two fuselage halves have been separated from the rest of the kit in a special compartment and metal parts are displayed behind a "window" for good effect. It seems like Tamiya wanted to make the discovery of this kit an event and I must say it's a total success!
The kitOnce the "opening box ceremony" is over, it's time to actually take a look at the content of the kit. Tamiya's new Storch kit is composed of 8 sprues of light grey and transparent styrene parts, all separately bagged. The overall quality of the plastic is typical of what we can expect from the famous japanese manufacturer: perfect mouldings, subtle engraved or relief surfaces, plenty of details etc... But the "highlight" of the kit is probably the fuselage halves I mentionned earlier. Indeed, Tamiya managed to bond the clear plastic of the canopy sides with the grey plastic of the fuselage. A real technical achievement which will make the build easier for sure.
The kit features a detailed cockpit interior with photoetched instrument panel, a complete engine and the following options:
- three different canopy roof glazings.
- choice between wheels or skids for the main landing gear.
- choice between three tail wheel/skids.
- external fuel tank.
- 6 figures (2 seated and 4 standing of which 3 represent Erwin rommel).
- a complete set of german accessories (3 fuel drums, 8 Jerry Cans, several bags, a bucket etc...)
To that, Tamiya added a metal spar to give the wings the right dihedral, a metal landing gear strut to give more strentgh to the model, a set of masks for the canopy and five decal options!
The instructions are also different this time in that they are printed within a 20 page booklet. Yes I said "booklet", not "panoramic sheet"! I'm glad Tamiya chose to do the assembly guide that way and I hope they will continue to do them like that in the future. The instructions are superb with 4 pages of history (japanese and english text in my sample with B&W illustrations), one page with a list of required paints (from Tamiya of course), a 34 steps (!?) assembly guide spread out over 12 pages and a painting guide for the figures.
Decals and painting guideDecals are provided on two decal sheets for five aircraft:
A - Fi156 C-3 trop SF RL used by Erwin Rommel, 1st Desert Rescue Squadron, 1942, North Africa.
B - Fi156 C-3 trop DL AW used by Erwin Rommel, Unit unknown, 1942, North Africa.
C - Fi156 C-3 SJ LL used to free Mussolini, September 12, 1943, Gran Sasso Italy.
D - Fi156 C-7 RR KN, Unit unknown.
E - Fi156 C-5 VK GS, Unit unknown, winter 1942, Eastern Front.
Options A and B are Afrika Korps machines in desert camouflage over a light blue underside. Options C and D are European machines with splinter camouflage over a light blue underside. The last machine (E) has a winter wash applied over the splinter camouflage and is fitted with skids. The decal and painting guide is printed in color on both sides of a big A3 paper sheet. If only all the instructions were made like the ones of the Storch kit! Painting references are given for the Tamiya range of acrylic colors only.
The decals look good on the sheets and in my sample, swastikas are present, as well as instrument dials and seatbelts.
Perfect kit?Most people will probably be wildly enthusiastic about Tamiya's new Storch and they will be right, but while the kit is very close to perfection indeed, in my opinion there are still things that could have been improved. I must admit however that I'm only speaking about small details:
- there are ejection pin marks on the cockpit sidewalls which will have to be eliminated for a better finish.
- The masks for the canopy are not pre-cut.
- the seatbelts are provided as decals and not as photo etched parts.
- the elevators are not separate (while the other movable control surfaces are).
ConclusionTamiya's 100th release in their 1/48 scale range of kits is a fantastic product in every aspect. If you like well engineered plastic models then this one is made for you. The fact that it is possible to display the Storch in a diorama with German ground vehicles or even Armor, makes it even more interesting. Maybe a Piper Cub next Mister Tamiya?
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