The Fw190A-3 version began to come off the production lines in early 1942. It was externally identical to the A-2. It was powered by the BMW 801D-2 engine. Due to various refinements, this engine was capable of producing 1,700HP with the additional change from 87(B4) to 96(C3) octane fuel. It was designed to be equipped with factory prepared modification packages to convert the day fighter into a fighter-bomber. It was the first version of the 190 equipped to use the ETC 501 ventral pylon which could handle a bomb or drop tank and ETC 50 wing racks.

       Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, the A-3 version was also the first FW190 to be closely examined by the Allies. On June 23, 1942, only a few months after entering service, Oberleutnant Arnim Faber became disorientated after a dogfight and landed his Fw 190A-3 W.Nr. 000313 at Pembrey, in England, nearly out of fuel. The RAF was delighted to be able to examine an intact aircraft. And according to many sources, as the Fw190 was supposedly influenced by the Hughes H-1, the various advanced features of the A-3 were to influence many Allied aircraft designs. The wide track landing gear, the close cowlings with easy engine access, the power egg installation, design and layout of the cockpit and controls, engine cooling fan and armament gave Allied designers much food for thought. The engineers and pilots alike were impressed with the “Kommandogerat’ feature. It was early kind of computer which allowed the pilot to co-ordinate the engine parameters of fuel supply, prop pitch, supercharger speed, ignition timing and air-fuel mix in relation to the aircrafts altitude with one hand. This helped the pilot to keep his eyeballs out of the cockpit in a fight and allowed him to concentrate on flying.

       It also gave the Allies the chance to actually fly the A-3 against their own fighters. This confirmed their worst fears. The A-3 was superior to all current versions of the Allied fighters. Engine specialists also discovered that the A-3 was not yet using the full potential of the BMW801D-2 whereas the Spitfire Mk.V was pushing its version of the Merlin to its limits. Supermarine was pushing hard to get the Spitfire Mk.IX into service. Unfortunately in the summer of 1942, there were only enough Mk.IXs to equip two RAF Squadrons whereas the there were already nearly 400 190s in service with the Luftwaffe.

       On January 19, 1937, Howard Hughes flew his Model 1-B (commonly referred to as the H-1) to a new transcontinental speed record, averaging 332mph. In the crowd on the East Coast when he completed his record flight, was German aircraft designer Kurt Tank. He had been contemplating a new fighter design. The Hughes H-1 incorporated several aspects that he had in mind for a new fighter.

       Later in the fall of 1937, the RLM decided to ask the aircraft industry to develop another day fighter to supplement the Messerschmitt Bf109. The Heinkel 100, a rival to the Bf109 made it to pre-production status before it was cancelled. The official reason was never made clear. The few He100s built were used for factory defense. The Focke Wulf design team directed by Dr.Ing Tank and Rudolf Blaser began working up a new design. The RLM ordered two prototypes at the end of 1938 to be flying by spring of 1939. The German aircraft industry was having problems with supplies of inline engines. The new design was planned with the new BMW 139 radial engine. Some sources credit the general layout of the 190 prototype to the Hughes H-1, but other sources say that most of the ideas were already in Dr.Ing Tank’s mind. He understood from his WW I experience that complicated weapons could be trouble. He wanted the 190 to be strong, tough and easy to operate in the field. The engine layout was one of the first power egg applications with generous access panels. The wide landing gear addressed a major problem that the Bf109 suffered from with its very narrow gear track. The cockpit was organized with the pilot in mind. It was equipped with the “Kommandogerat “, an early mechanical computer system which allowed the pilot to control engine, prop and fuel for maximum performance with one hand control so the pilot could concentrate on flying.The canopy allowed 360 degree vision. The first prototype Fw190V-1 W.Nr.0001 was constructed at the Focke Wulf Bremen factory in the spring of 1939. Taxiing trials were conducted and on June 1, 1939, Hans Sander took 0001 up for the first time. The first flight revealed problems with engine cooling and heat and exhaust in the cockpit. Testing continued into the summer. At this time BMW announced that the 139 engine series was to be discontinued in favor a new engine, the 801. The 801 series was the same diameter as the 139 but it was longer and heavier. It also had better growth potential. Several of the prototypes were already too far along to accept this new engine. The fifth prototype was the first to be redesigned to be equipped with the new engine. This required moving the cockpit aft to maintain CG balance, reinforcing the engine mounts and beefing up the landing gear. Experiments were also ongoing with different wing spans.

       Preproduction A-0 aircraft began at appear in April of 1940. As the test program continued, engine fires became a common occurrence. Problems were also experienced with the Kommandogerat engine management system. The problems became so severe, that the RLM became worried that the FW190 might have to be cancelled. The commander at the test center at Rechlin, Oberleutnant Otto Behrens pleaded to continue. A committee was convened to look into it. Based on their recommendations, Focke Wulf and BMW together worked to overcome the problems. Redesign to improve cooling continued even as the 190 began to enter service.

       The A-1 series aircraft began to equip II./JG26 in August of 1941. By the end of the war, over 20,000 examples of the Fw190 in all versions had been produced. The Fw190 served in all theatres.

       The basic Fw190 airframe was very adaptable. As the war caused shortages, Focke Wulf equipped the D series with a Jumo 213 series inline former bomber engine. A high attitude fighter was also created from the basic 190 airframe with a long span wing, designated Ta152 in honor of Dr. Ing Tank’s contributions to the war effort.

       This is my first Tamiya kit. There are a total of 37 parts on two sprues of light grey injected plastic. The two clear canopy parts are packed separately in a light blue bag. There are two polycaps for mounting the propeller to turn. The decal sheet provides for servicing stencils, national markings including two styles of swastikas and three different individual aircraft. The white portions of the decals are yellowing and the carrier film seems a bit thick. (More on the decal problems later.)

       TTD: Comparing dimensions of kit parts to 1/72 scale drawings by Maciej Noszczak in Kagero FW 190 Vol. I Monograph No.1 by Krzysztof Janowicz shows the kit to be spot on. The A-3 version was designed as a fighter-bomber and therefore equipped to use the ETC ( Einszeltrager C-Munition) 501 ventral weapons pylon and ETC 250 wing racks. Tamiya does not give you the ETC 501. Darn. The instruction booklet uses step by step exploded views for construction. Since this is to be hopefully an OOB build, I plan to build it by the numbers. Painting and decal placement uses multi-views. Paint guide is keyed to Tamiya paint codes. The colors are also described in Japanese, English, German and French. I started by “Future”ing the clear parts. The kit supplies the seatbelts as a decal. Strange. I floated it on to the seat and let it start to dry to fit better. I applied some Micro Set and put it off to the side to dry.10 minutes later I looked to see how it was doing and discovered it had rolled itself up. It was impossible to get it to lay flat again so I pulled it off and chucked it. I checked my spare parts inventory and discovered I still had an old Model Technologies photo-etch German WW II seatbelt buckles and rudder pedal set. I took the harness buckles from it and fabricated paper straps to replace the decal. IAS: I was surprised when I got to Step 7, the wing and fuselage attachment. The fit was not all that good. There were small gaps in several locations between the wing roots and the fuselage and the trailing section of the ventral fuselage and the rear fuselage section. Getting the various access panels smoothed out along the wing roots was a pain in the ***. My bad: when I glued the fuselage halves together, I messed up the rudder trim tab. While fabricating a replacement, I noticed that there was no formation light on the rudder, so I made one up. The ventral antenna for the FuG 25a needs to be fabricated. Other than that, construction went smoothly and only minor sanding was required. Note: The landing gear is very delicate. Much care must be taken in getting proper alignment and angles correct. Gun barrels are drilled out using a # 79 bit.

       Painting: I painted the interior fuselage, seat and cockpit tub and interior canopy frameworks RLM 66. The gear bays, gear doors, main and tail wheel struts are RLM 02. The prop blades are RLM 70. The spinner and various cockpit panels and instrument faces were detailed with RAL 7021. The basic airframe is finished as a standard factory paint job consisting of RLM 74/75/76. I followed a color diagram for the basic Fw 190A series that appears in Histoire & Collections Planes and Pilots No.9 Focke Wulf 190 From 1939 to 1945. I also used it for locating the important airframe stencils. In applying the RLM 76, I prepped small amounts of paint and masked off sections of panels to paint. I also added a few drops of white or black to several batches to get slightly different shades on different panels. As part of my prep work to build this kit, I picked up some RLM 23. Described as Rot (red), I bought Model Master # 2073. At the store, I remember thinking that it didn’t look like the right color, but since it was in the display for a while, I figured I’d take it home and give it a thorough shake and then decide. After much shaking it still doesn’t come close to matching the red listed in Sundin & Bergstrom’s Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft books, so I picked up a tin of Humbrol #153. Being an A-3, I wanted to paint it in the very early camouflage style. The rudder and lower engine cowling are painted RLM 04, in line with JG 26 standards. It will hopefully be part of a multi-mark Fw 190 collection (string theory).

       Markings: I tried to use the kit swastikas and they rolled up as they dried (exactly the same effect as the seatbelt decal), so I elected to substitute Microscale sheet #72-481 and Eagle Strike sheet #72053 and Kagero Fw-190 Vol. II Monographs No.4. Decals were treated with the Micro Set/Sol system with no problems. Note: the kit decal instructions tell you to put the first aid kit symbol in the wrong place. It actually goes on the small door just ahead of the fuselage cross. The location they suggest is where the first aid kit was moved to when the fuselage was lengthened in the A-5 series and beyond. Because I want this kit to wear a very early version of the 74/75/76 color scheme, I picked markings which depict the JG 26 Stab/ Gruppenadjutant in early 1942, the chevron comes from the Kagero decal sheet. Fuselage crosses and swastikas came from the Microscale sheet, upper and lower wing crosses from the Eagle Strike sheet, maintenance stencils were also taken from the Eagle strike sheet. The stabilizer incidence stencil is from the kit sheet. I kept it from rolling up by brushing Future onto the decal as soon as it was in position.

       Paints used: The basic airframe color scheme is the standard Luftwaffe day fighter camouflage officially introduced in the spring of 1941. The under sides and fuselage sides are RLM 76 Lichtblau(or Weissblau)/ Model Master # 2086 with the upper wing and fuselage RLM 74 Graungrun/ Model Master # 2084 and RLM 75 Grauviolett/ Model Master # 2085. Inside of the cockpit and the inner canopy framework is RLM 66 Schwarzgrau/ Model Master # 2079. The prop blades are RLM 70 Scwarzgrun/ Model Master # 2080. The gear bays, inner gear doors, main and tail wheel assemblies are RLM 02 Grau/ Model Master # 2071. Tires are Weathered Black/Floquil # F110017. Tactical identification markings are RLM 04 Gelb/ Model Master # 2072. The spinner and a couple of cockpit panels are RAL 7021 Panzerschwarz/Model Master # 2094. ( I like to use RAL 7021 Panzerschwarz to contrast RLM 66 Schwarzgrau.) Engine facing , cooling fan blades, gun barrels and wheel hubs are Classic Gloss Black/Model Master # 2721. The mounting step is Insignia White/Model Master # 1754 and Signal Red / Humbrol # 153. Wingtip lights are Chrome Silver/Model Master # 1790 with a coat of unmixed Jade Green/ Testors 1530 and Crimson Red/ Humbrol # 20 For weathering I used a number colors to give a “operational” look to the airframe. These include Flat Black/ Model Master # 1746, Chrome Silver/Model Master # 1790, Grimy Black/Floquil # F110013, Wood/Model Master # 1735, Aluminum/Testors # 1181, Rust/Model Master # 1785, Dark Earth/ Model Master # 2054, Steel/Testors# 1180 and Neutral Gray/ Model Master # 1725. Note: some of the Testors paints I still use are marked “35 cents” on the cap !!!

       Conclusions: This being my first Tamiya kit, I expected it to be a “shake and bake”. I was therefore surprised that it was not. Wing and fuselage fit was poor and required some tricky bodywork. The rest of the kit fell together. The overall attention to surface details is excellent. The landing gear detail is amazing. The kit decals were unusable the clear parts were thin and clear. The finished kit looks very faithful to the real thing and that’s what is most important in the end. This kit will be an important addition to my Fw 190 string theory as the first “A” series anchor leading eventually all the way to the Fw Ta 152H.

Bibliography:

       Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile, Authors Claes Sundin and Christer Bergstrom

                   Published By Schiffer Publishing Ltd., ISBN: 0-7643-0291-4

       More Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile, Authors Claes Sundin and Christer Bergstrom

                   Published By Schiffer Publishing Ltd., ISBN: 0-7643-1559-5

       Focke Wulf Fw 190, Authors Robert Grinsell and Rikyu Watanabe

                   Published by Crown Publishers Inc. ISBN: 0-517-542552

       Focke Wulf Fw190 From 1939 to 1945, Planes and Pilots No.9, Authors Dominique Breffort and Andre Jouineau

                  Publisher Histoire & Collections-SA, ISBN: 978-2-915239-25-6

       Focke Wulf FW 190 Vol.I, Kagero Monograph No.1, Author Krzysztof Janowicz

                  Publisher Oficyna Wydawnicza Kagero, ISBN: 83-89088-11-8

       Focke Wulf FW 190 Vol.I, Kagero Monograph No.4, Author Krzysztof Janowicz

                  Publisher Oficyna Wydawnicza Kagero, ISBN: 83-89088-37-1

       Focke Wulf FW 190 Vol.I, Kagero Monograph No.5, Author Krzysztof Janowicz

                  Publisher Oficyna Wydawnicza Kagero, ISBN: 83-89088-56-8

       Aircraft of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces I, A Chronicle in Photographs, Author Bernd Barbas

                  Publisher Schiffer Publishing Ltd., ISBN: ISBN: 0-88740-751-X

       Aircraft of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces II, A Chronicle in Photographs, Author Bernd Barbas

                  Publisher Schiffer Publishing Ltd., ISBN: 0-88740-752-8

       Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 9 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front, Author John Weal

                  Publisher Osprey Publishing Ltd., ISBN 1-85532-595-0

       Squadron Signal Aircraft No. 19 Focke Wulf FW 190 In Action, Author Jerry L. Campbell

                  Publisher Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN: N/A

       Squadron Signal Aircraft No. 170 Focke Wulf FW 190 In Action, Author Brian Filley

                  Publisher Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN: N/A

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