Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8/R8
Reviewed by Brett Green
Rutman Productions have expanded their range of Fw 190A-8 full kits with a new 1/32 scale Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8/R8 Sturmbock, often referred to as Rammjager.
American B-17 bombers had effectively penetrated German air defences in 1942 and 1943.
Even without a fighter escort, a single "Flying Fortress" could fire 12 x .50 calibre heavy machine guns at an attacking aircraft. A new method was therefore devised that would offer a better chance of survival and success for Luftwaffe fighters. By attacking in a group from the rear at close quarters, a formation of fighters could dilute the defensive capabilities of a "vierbomber" by spreading fire across several aircraft. Furthermore, greater firepower would be brought to bear on the vulnerable wings and engines of the B-17 by this group of attacking fighters.
There seems little argument about the logic of this tactic proposed by Hauptman von Kornatzi. However, he also proposed that fighters should ram the bombers when they ran out of ammunition. This was not rhetoric - the pilots of the new unit were volunteers who understood the requirement and had to sign a pledge to fulfil it.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8/R8 variant was designed as the ultimate heavily armed and armoured anti-bomber aircraft to execute this dangerous but essential tactic. The heavy cowl ring and air-cooled engine already suited the Fw 190 to the task. Typical additional equipment included 30mm cannon fitted to the wings; with additional steel plates on the fuselage and thick armoured glass secured to the canopy. Some R8s had the cowl armament removed and the cowl troughs faired over, while others were fitted with air-to-air rockets.
However, there were a number of variations in armour and armament to this basic configuration. Also, many Fw 190A-8/R2s and Fw 190A-7/R2s were fitted with similar equipment. This model will be suitable for these variants with minimal modifications - check your references carefully!
(Eric Mombeek has written an excellent book on the formation and operation of Sturmstaffel 1 until April 1944. Check the review of this Classic Publications title elsewhere on HyperScale).
The kit comprises around 80 resin parts, 3 parts in white metal, 2 steel tubes, 1 perspex piece and 14 photoetched parts. All the major parts are resin.
The resin parts are cast in a high quality, lightweight material. The large parts (fuselage and wing halves) are impressively thin and free of warpage. Surface detail is very good. Panel lines are crisply and evenly engraved. Fabric rib detail on the wings is equally well done.
The model represents a "standard specification" Fw 190A-8/R8. However, if you want to build a Sturmbock with different armour or armament, contact Jerry Rutman (details below). I am certain that he will customise the contents to match your particular subject.
The fuselage is a new casting with the characteristic A-8/R8 armour plates in-place. It is cast in two main parts. This breakdown should simplify construction - no six-piece jigsaw-puzzle engine cowls here! The armoured front cowl ring is supplied separately. Slots need to be opened for the exhaust stubs. The fuselage has upper fuselage structural detail cast onto the inside surfaces. The wheel well is designed to be trapped between the fuselage halves and protrude out from either side.
The wings are supplied as left and right, upper and lower halves. The lower halves are different to the original R-2 kit - they are moulded with the appropriate 30mm cannon bulges and shell ejection chutes.
A raised spacing bar is cast onto the inside surface of the wing forward of the ailerons. This will assist the task of maintaining the correct wing thickness before the ailerons have been added. The trailing edges of the wings will need thinning before assembly. Don't forget to continually test fit the wing with the wheel well before the wing is committed to glue.
When completed, each wing should slide onto the protruding sections of the wheel well, which will act as a wing spar. With careful preparation this should lead to trouble-free fit and positive dihedral. Control surfaces are supplied separately except for flaps. Even these may be dropped with minimal extra work as structural detail is cast onto the inside trailing edge of the upper wing. The wings and tail feature recessed joining surfaces to make assembling and positioning ailerons, elevators and the rudder. The horizontal tail surfaces simply butt up against the empennage, so reinforcement with brass or steel rod will be required.
The wings include upper cannon bulges and brass barrels as separate parts.
Cockpit, Engine, Undercariage and Details
The cockpit is nicely detailed without being over-engineered. The cockpit tub is a chunky resin casting that incorporates the front of the rear decking and the pilot's stowage bin. Sidewall detail is cast on to the main tub. The seat is nice too. A textured cushion rests on the seat, and the lumbar roll is also depicted. Buckles, harness attachment points and rudder pedals are supplied as photo-etched parts. The top instrument panel is cast as part of the instrument coaming. The lower panel is supplied as a separate part.
The canopy is supplied as a resin frame for the windscreen and base of the rear sliding section, a vacform piece for the clear canopy and separate resin frames for the Sturmbock armoured glass frame. This frame has a recessed inner lip to permit the installation of an extra layer of acetate to represent the thick side armoured glass.
The engine face and crankcase cover are well depicted, although they will be mostly hidden by the fan. The propeller spinner cap, backplate and pitch collars are cast as a single part. The propeller blades butt against the flat surface of the pitch collars. This join should be reinforced with wire.
The undercarriage will be solid thanks to the white metal gear legs. The main wheel well is very nicely detailed, but the modeller is left to their own devices to build a bulkhead on which to secure the tailwheel strut.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:
A centreline rack is provided. A 300 litre drop tank is available separately from Rutman Productions. The Morane mast and FuG 25 IFF antenna will have to be sourced by the modeller too.
Instructions are supplied on five sheets of letter sized paper. These sheets are actually labelled "Construction Tips", and this is a good description of the nine exploded-view drawings and associated notes. Some aspects of construction are not specifically described, but experienced modellers will not find too many challenges identifying parts and figuring out the best method for assembly.
No decals are supplied, but there are aftermarket items available for the Fw 190A including specific Fw 190A-8/R8 markings on Eagle Strike decals release 32013
Notwithstanding the high quality and straightforward engineering of this kit, it is not a "shake and bake" proposition. Some modelling skills will be required to prepare the parts for assembly by cleaning, trimming and sanding. If care is taken with this preliminary stage (with particular attention to the wheel well fit inside the wing, and ensuring that the fuselage is the correct width when assembled), the kit should be fairly straightforward to finish.
Rutman Productions continue to cater for the large-scale Luftwaffe enthusiast with this terrific release. With the Hasegawa 1/32 scale Fw 190 and the Revell reboxing in wide circulation, it is hard to imagine that we will see another mainstream Wűrger in the near future.
Furthermore, Rutman's 1/32 scale Fw 190 range is far superior to the old Hasegawa/Revell offerings in terms of accuracy, detail and finesse.
Modellers will have to apply some extra effort in terms of parts preparation and dry-fitting - some experience will be required. However, as I said about the original Rutman Fw 190A-8 release, this should be a great looking kit straight from the box. Surface detail is authentic, parts breakdown is quite straightforward and the sheer size of the model will make this Wűrger a real head-turner.
The price tag of USD$90.00 reflects the large amount of resin and the labour-intensive production method.
Thanks to Jerry Rutman for the review sample.
The full range of J. Rutman's kits and accessories may be viewed and ordered from his new website at http://jrutman.playnet.com/
Review and Images Copyright © 2002 by Brett