Sunday, 9 September 2012

Build Review - Italeri 1/48 FW190D-9

If you want to build an "Dora" in 1/48 - most people would point you straight to Eduard who have something of an obsession with this plane and have produced endless variations. But there are some good alternatives out there, notably Tamiya. But I managed to pick up this old Italeri offering relatively cheap and thought I'd check it out. It's a reboxing of the Dragon kit. I have had a love/hate relationship with Dragon for many years - they generally have good and accurate detail, but their fit can be appalling at times. An inspection of the kit indicated that Italeri have not done a particularly great job of moulding it - a fair bit of flash and even some gaps where the plastic did not quite fill the mould properly, rather shocking in this day and age, but nothing that could not be patched up. So let's go...

The cockpit which goes together first is not bad at all. In keeping with the structure of the FW190 "office", which actually is laid out more like a modern jet fighter than a WWII prop, a tub forms the basis onto which instrument panel detail is glued. The details are pretty good and came up nicely with some dry brushing and picking out the dials carefully with a fine brush. One issue is that the actual forward instrument panel appears to be somewhat undersized but I took the decision to go with it since it is well buried inside the cockpit and the gaps would not be visible. The seat is well constructed, but as ever benefited greatly from the addition of some etched seatbelts from my stash.

Next the wing section goes together "Spitfire" style with a single under wing and two over wing sections. Also, the undercarriage bay and associated details, including the gun tubes, go together as an inverted tub arrangement in common with most 190 kits. I chose to paint the bay interior at this point using my own concoction representing the "pale green" used in later Luftwaffe planes. It's not really green at all, more of a pale khaki. The undercarriage tub glues into the lower wing section but the rake of the wing did not match the angle on the undercarriage tub by some significant amount. Checking resources, the undercarriage tub appeared to represent the correct angles so I used this to force the wings up using clamps and let the glue dry thoroughly. The top sections of the wings went on nicely and I cleaned up the seams at this point. The tip of the port wing was missing a small chunk due to moulding problems and so this had to be patched up using some spare plastic and filler.

Now the fuselage halves go together and the main challenge here is that the forward section has little joining plastic due to the separate cowling pieces and this means that cleaning up the seams could not be safely done until it was glued to the wing section. But before that, the cockpit tub slots in nicely. When the wing assembly was attached, it immediately became clear that we had a significant wing root gap problem which needed some plasticard strips and a lot of filler. The tail planes fit well, although on this kit they appear to exhibit a slight rearwards downward slant that I am pretty sure is not entirely accurate. But there is little to be done about it without a horrendous amount of butchery so I let it go.

Next the separate nose assembly has to be put together and butted onto the front of the fuselage. I am trying hard not to call it the "engine housing", which of course it is not - even though it gives the impression of a radial engine. But the "D" version had an in-line engine which is why it's nose it extended from the "A" versions, indeed picking up the nickname "Langnasen Dora" ("Long nose Dora") as a result. I then added the air intakes and the main body was ready for paint after a bit of cleaning up, filling and masking.

I first sprayed the entire model with RLM76, or my interpretation of it which is a mix of Tamiya XF-23 and XF-19. This showed up a few blemishes which had to be dealt with. Then came the ever painful task of planning a Luftwaffe scheme. The one I had chosen was "Yellow One"  from the Aeromaster decal sheet "Late Doras Part 3" and this called for RLM82/83 upper camouflage. But as ever, identifying correct RLM colours is not an exact science. I checked my own colour sheets and references carefully, and the lighter green is definitely not the official RLM82 - it's much brighter. So I carefully mixed up my own potion from flat green, olive green and a little buff until I had what appeared to be the correct colour. The darker green was provided by the trusty old XF-27 Black Green. I decided to spray the pattern free hand as it was very diffused. However one still has to mask off the wing roots which is probably the most difficult shape in the world to do so. My technique is to apply a number of offset strips of thin masking tape along the fuselage side and this generally works pretty well. So I sprayed the wings and tail planes with the lighter green and then free handed the darker over the top.

I next sprayed the upper fuselage pattern free hand in a similar pattern and carefully applied the mottling down the sides and on the tail - and I was pretty pleased with the result. The whole plane got a couple of coats of Klear and was left to dry. Meanwhile I assembled and painted up the undercarriage using my "pale khaki" mix, and also prepared the remaining bits and pieces to save time later.

Once the Klear had cured, I applied the Aeromaster decals which went on beautifully and settled in with no complaints with the help of a little MicroSet/Sol for good measure. The spinner "spiral" decal was incredibly tough to get right, but then again I have never found one of these that isn't. Another coat of Klear and I then applied a black oil paint wash across the whole plane. Once dry, I sprayed it with two coats of my Flat Base/Klear matt varnish. Finally, some bleaching applied with highly thinned XF-19 on the darker sections and white on the underside subtly broke up the slightly "too perfect" finish.

I installed the undercarriage, and be aware that the Italeri instructions are very misleading in this area so a little common sense has to be used at this stage. The rest of the "furniture" was installed, although the down aerial wire section broke off and was replaced by a small strip of wire. The cockpit incorporates one of the "sliding" mechanisms often found on 190 models but which never really works and so I glued the thing into place in a "canopy open" position. This also allowed me to add a slack antenna wire without too much fear of it being pulled off by sliding the canopy. A final bit of pastel and dry brush weathering and she was all finished.

Considering the quality of the moulding, which called for far more corrections than I have bothered to mention in this article, I am extremely pleased with the outcome. This kit has built into a great looking model of this iconic aircraft and minor details aside, I believe it stands up more than well enough against the Eduard and Tamiya competition, and for a fraction of the kit price too. Sort the moulding process out and we have a winning kit here.

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