Tamiya's Fw 190F-8 first appeared way back in 1995 and, for years, was the only 'F that was easily available in 1/48 scale. I haven't seen it on the shelves of hobby shops for quite some while and in the meantime, Eduard has brought out its own state-of-the-art kit. Perhaps this has spurred Tamiya into action, because the designers have taken a fresh look at their kit, re-releasing it with extra parts to both add to the value and also allow an Fw 190F-9 to be modelled.
The kit arrives in typically attractive Tamiya-style, with all the sprues and accessories bagged for protection in the conventional box. The kit comprises:
135 x dark grey styrene parts
4 x clear styrene parts
A pair of poly-caps
A set of canopy masks
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Despite the age of some of the moulds used, all the parts are moulded beautifully, with no sign of flash or sink marks, and knock-out pins kept mostly out of harm's way. The surface finish consists of precisely engraved panel lines, a few raised details such as hinges etc., and quite subtly depicted fabric fabric control surfaces. Two sprues remain from the original kit, but the wing lower surface has been replaced with a new version (taken from the A-8) with separate gun panels and slightly revised details. An entirely new sprue provides 55 additional parts.
Tamiya's '190s have been criticised a bit over the years in terms of the accuracy of the rear fuselage / tail and the undercarriage. The details have been argued over quite extensively elsewhere on-line, but I couldn't resist comparing the kit with three sets of plans - A.L. Bentley's (scaled up from a magazine), Kagero's and scaled up HT Model Special's to remind myself of what was going on:
- The rear fuselage - the kit matches A.L. Bentley's plans pretty well, is close to Kagero's, but with the tail and rudder undersized, and short against HT's, with the tail matching.
- The undercarriage - the legs are maybe a tad short (but not nearly as much as some critics would have you believe). They match the Bentley and HT plans much better than Kagero's. Personally, I'm happy with the length of the legs - especially for a loaded aircraft, but where the kit does fall down compared with all the plans is the mainwheels, which look distinctly undersized. The kit has treaded tyres, whereas photos of 'Fs also often show the aircraft fitted with smooth tyres, so it's a shame Tamiya have missed the opportunity to include new wheels in both styles on the new sprue.
Bearing in mind the usual warnings about relying on plans scaled up with domestic equipment, and without climbing all over a full-sized aircraft with a tape measure(!), it seems to be a bit of a toss-up which set of plans to go by. What's the old modelling joke? "What's worse than only having one set of references? Having more than one - because you can almost guarantee they won't agree!". Anyway, most modellers will be perfectly happy with the kit as moulded, but adding a pair of correctly sized mainwheels from the spares box or an aftermarket set is certainly worth considering.
A few details
Where Tamiya's Fw 190 still scores is in its "buildability". It's definitely simpler than Eduard's model and ideally suited for average modellers looking for an easy build. With the bulk of the kit unchanged, I won't describe it at length.
The cockpit is simple but effective, with 9 parts showing pretty good detail. The instrument panel has raised bezels which will paint neatly, and decals for the faces are included as well. There's a seated pilot figure and, alternatively, a decal harness.
The engine is made up of just two parts - a blank for the cylinders and a separate crankcase which traps a poly-cap to hold the propeller in place. Despite its simplicity, the moulding is very crisp and the engine should look fine hidden behind the cooling fan.
The original sprues supply a set of stores comprising:
An ETC rack and drop tank
4 x SC50 bombs
2 x racks of 80mm Panzerblitz rockets
These are augmented by the new sprue with an additional:
1 x SC250 bomb
1 x AB 250 cluster bomb
The new parts also include a very nice bomb-loading trolley along with a pair of beautifully sculpted groundcrew figures. There are wheel chocks, underwing panels and cut-off gear covers and, last but not least, a new paddle-bladed propeller and associated cooling fan. Comparing the new propeller with the unit included in Eduard's kit, the blades are shorter, but match the diameter of the 3300mm wooden propeller as drawn in the Bentley plans.
Rounding things off are a set of painting masks taken from the 'A-8 for the crystal clear canopy.
Instructions and decals
It's no surprise to find the assembly diagrams well drawn and clearly laid out. The construction looks extremely straightforward. Colour matches are included for Tamiya's own brand paints along with an overall description of Fw 190F-8/F-9 camouflage. Additionally, there's a useful stencil placement guide.
Decals are included for 3 x colour schemes:
A. Fw 190F-9, "Green <", II/SG1, Munich, Spring 1945
B. Fw 190F-8, "Red 9", I/SG2, Hungary, Winter 1945 (presumably the aircraft depicted as "Black 9" in many publications)
C. Fw 190F-8, "White 6", I/SG4, Northern Italy, 1944
The decals look excellent quality - thin, with a silk finish and printed in perfect register. There's an extensive set of stencils for the airframe and stores. For years I shunned Tamiya decals, thinking them rather on the thick side, but having used them on the company's excellent new A6M5/5a Zero I was surprised by how well they worked, so I'll be happy to use those included here.
Bearing in mind the accuracy issues, Tamiya's Fw 190F is still a very nice kit, ideally suited for the average modeller. Eduard's 'F may well be more sophisticated, but it's also more complicated and more suited for experienced builders. Tamiya's addition of new parts - especially the bomb loader and groundcrew - makes for a very attractive kit with everything you need to construct a neat stand-alone vignette, or to incorporate into a larger diorama.
Tamiya's Fw 190F-8/F-9 was kindly provided for review by HobbyLink Japan. Visit HLJ for Japanese kits at Japanese prices.
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