In-Box Review
Fw 189A-1 - Ski-Undercarriage
Focke-Wulf Fw 189A-1 with Sonderaktion Schneekufen (Ski-Undercarriage)
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Company records suggest that Focke Wulf initiated studies for a “Sonderaktion Schneekufen” (special activity on skis) version of the Fw189 in August 1941. The propeller manufacturing company Heine was ordered to deliver these specially designed skis.

Ski testing was conducted in Doprat, Estonia, some 170km southeast of Riga between 1941 and 1943. A branch office of the E-Stelle Rechlin was opened for that special purpose. The ski trials for the Fw189 began with wind tunnel tests of a 1:12.5 scale model and full-sized skis were fitted to an unarmed test-plane, KD-RO.

It took a team of four mechanics took 10 hours to rigg the plane with skis, and take off weight increased by 120kg. While generally successful, the tests revealed mixed results: the skis reduced low level speed by 60kph, and the top speed was limited to 500kph. In flight maneuverability remained unchanged. Flying on only one engine with a 3-man crew, 50 kg ballast with no ammunitions posed no problem. At 2000m height such a ski rigged Fw189 would easily go half of it’s normal maximum range. Against this, the skis had a tendency to freeze to the icy ground and ground handling was awkward due to the lack of brakes. Additionally, the tail ski strut proved weak and the well prone to clogging with snow.

While E-Stelle Rechlin appears to have approved the use of skis for reconnaissance aircraft, to date no photos have been found of the Fw 189 so equipped in service.

Based on a translation kindly provided by Guido Hopp of an original German text.

the kit
GWH have reworked their popular Fw 189 to produce the most unusual variant yet - an 'A-1 equipped with a ski-undercarriage (and once again confounding everyone (including me) expecting a standard 'A-1.))

The kit arrives in a large and solid box, with the contents very nicely presented. Each sprue along with the accessories is bagged separately, and there's a print of the boxtop illustration protected in a stout plastic sleeve. The kit comprises:

171 x grey styrene parts
17 x clear styrene parts
32 x etched brass parts
A sheet of 77 x gummed paper canopy masks
Decals for a single colour scheme

I won't go into detail describing the parts of the kit which we've already covered in some depth on Aeroscale:
Fw 189A-2 Review
Fw 189A-2 Build by Jean-Luc Formery
Fw 189A-1 Nacht Jäger

Suffice to say, the moulding is still as crisp as with the first release and there's not a trace of flash evident on the sample kit. Most of the kit remains unaltered, so you have a nicely detailed cockpit with over 30 parts (although still lacking a few obvious points such as the main wing spar). The cowlings can be posed open to reveal a pair of well depicted Argus engines, and there's an option for dropped landing flaps.

The new ski undercarriage arrives on a pair of identical sprues, with some 20 parts in total. The moulding is once again excellent, and the assemblies look both straightforward and very solid, with a nice degree of detail evident. I don't know how much of this is based on "educated guesswork", but the only photos I've seen of the real aircraft (courtesy of Guido Hopp) are fairly long range, so it's hard to judge GWH's accuracy. I do, however, wonder whether one should add bungee restraining cords, as often seen on similar ski-gear of the era.

Instructions & Decals
The assembly guide is clearly illustrated and pretty straightforward to follow, although I did spot a couple of instances where parts are shown without an accompanying number.

The strangest thing, though, is that there's no overall painting or decal placement guide included. True, colour side profiles are printed on the side of the box, and these can be used in conjunction with the illustration on the top, but that's little help for top and bottom views and positioning the various stencil markings provided. Hopefully the omission is just a one-off slip in the sample kit, so I haven't reflected it in the review's score.

Markings are provided for a single aircraft: KD-RO – one of the aircraft tested.

The decals themselves appear to be good quality, being thin and glossy with minimal carrier film. Swastikas are included. Split into two sections to avoid problems in some countries, and a good selection of servicing stencil markings are provided, along with instrument faces for the control panel.

While some may question the financial wisdom of releasing such an obscure version of the Fw 189, GWH's ski-equipped Uhu will certainly build into a very attractive and unusual model - one which will really appeal to anyone looking for an oddball subject.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Well moulded and highly detailed. A very unusual and attractive subject.
Lows: No overall painting and decal placement guide (in sample kit).
Verdict: If you're looking for something decidedly "different", the ski-equipped Fw 189 will stand out in any collection of Luftwaffe aircraft. I must admit though, I'd still like to see a standard 'A-1 released...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: L4808
  Suggested Retail: £34.99
  PUBLISHED: Sep 23, 2012

Our Thanks to Great Wall Hobby!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Hello! It should be clarified that there are pictures of the testing stages for the Schneekufen for the 189. Several photos show the 189 equipped with the Schneekufen both on the ground as well as in the air. So there is factual evidence that the planes flew these. It is however unclear, if they were actually used in the field or in action. Cheers, Guido
SEP 25, 2012 - 09:21 PM
Cheers Guido I didn't reproduce the photos you sent me in the review for fear of breaching copyright but, as you say, lest anybody doubts it - the Sonderaktion Schneekufen version of the Fw 189 really did fly. All the best Rowan
SEP 27, 2012 - 09:02 AM

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