Faced with the increasingly powerful stacked formations of B-17s and B-24s, the Luftwaffe day fighter arm adopted a radical solution that dispensed with the inherent advantages of the single-engined fighter in order to bring sufficient firepower to bear on the enemy for long enough to ensure a kill.
While many nations had experimented with the idea of the heavy fighter, these had traditionally been twin-engined aircraft which proved slow and cumbersome. The new concept was to add armour and heavier weapons to the Fw 190 and, rather than using the aircraft’s speed and manoeuvrability to perform fast, slashing attacks on the enemy bombers, to instead advance steadily from the rear in line-abreast formation, relying on the heavy armour to hopefully withstand the massed defensive firepower until the attack could be delivered at almost point-blank range.
A sign of just how close the pilots of the new units (named Stumböcke
- battering rams) approached the bomber formations was that they adopted a pair of eyes as their insignia - signifying that they’d wait until they could see the whites of the Allied tail gunners’ eyes before opening fire.
The aircraft were modified with two related Rüstsätze
(conversion sets) - the R2 and R8. Most sources I've consulted list the R2 as installing 30mm MK 108 cannons in place of the existing outer wing guns. Just three or four hits by this powerful weapon were often sufficient to bring down a bomber. With the R8, along with the heavier cannons, external armour plate was added to the fuselage, with armoured glass fitted to the sides of the canopy. In an effort to counter the extra weight of the armour and new cannons, the nose-mounted guns were removed and the openings covered with streamlined fairings.
When the Stumböcke
were able to attack as intended, the results could be devastating for bomber formations, but they were no match for fighters and the arrival of long range Allied escorts made their missions increasingly dangerous. Standard Luftwaffe fighters were tasked with keeping the escorts at bay, but the growing superiority of the US escorts meant this was often impossible
Eduard's 'A-8/R2 is the latest in an extended series of new-tool 1:48 radial-engined Fw 190s. The range marks a complete break from Eduard's first effort at the fighter in this scale, being not only more accurate, but also massively simpler to build.
The new boxing uses the bulk of the parts from the others in the series, but introduces two new sprues for the fuselage and wings. This is one of the strengths for me in Eduard's approach, because many manufacturers rely on mould inserts to produce different versions of a subject, which often results in unwanted moulding seams. Instead, Eduard use a complete new tooling specific to the subject.
The kit arrives in typical ProfiPACK style, with a sturdy and attractive top-opening box and all the sprues and accessories protected in resealable plastic bags. The sample model reached me in perfect condition, despite two journeys in the mail.
The kit comprises:
109 x grey styrene parts (plus a further 76 not needed)
7 x clear parts (plus 3 unused)
47 x etched metal parts, some of which are pre-painted
A sheet of die-cut washi tape painting masks
Decals for 5 colour schemes
Using the generic Fw 190 sprues obviously results in masses of unused parts to stock up your spares box.
Examining the mouldings, the first thing that strikes me is the sheer quality of the surface finish. Eduard use multiple depths of engraving to depict the panel lines, fasteners and rivets, and the overall effect is truly excellent - arguably the best of any of today's mainstream manufacturers. It's prominent enough to give plenty of eye-catching detail and scope for weathering, but doesn't fall into the trap of "shipyard-style" rivets and trenches for panel lines.
There's no sign of any flash or moulding issues with the sample kit, and sprue attachments are quite light and generally well placed. Clean-up will be quick and straightforward.
Having built several of Eduard's new Fw 190s and found them a total breeze to put together, a test fit seemed almost superfluous with the 'A-8/R2. Almost, but not entirely, because there's always the chance that something might have gone awry with the new fuselage and wing mouldings. Happily, the new parts fit together beautifully, so I think it's fair to assume the rest of the build will be just as straightforward as the other new-tool '190s.
Since I've already reviewed the standard Fw 190A-8
and done a full build
of the first release in the series, the 'A-4, I'll stick to what's new in this boxing.
The most obvious difference with the new mouldings is naturally the applique armour on the fuselage sides. Staying with the fuselage, the optional top cowl panel comes into play, with faired-over openings for the nose guns. With the wings, the access panels for the outer guns have been revised, with new spent catridge openings for the 30mm cannons.
Technically not new parts, but unused until now are the distinctive external armoured glass side panels for the canopy. These are actually only required for two of the featured colour schemes, but if you do use them, a nice touch is that Eduard provide painting masks for both the inner and outer surfaces.
Instructions & Decals
As usual with a ProfiPACK kit, Eduard's instructions are printed in colour as a glossy A4 booklet. The 16-page guide features clear assembly diagrams that break construction down into easily manageable stages. Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are keyed to most details throughout.
There a full page diagram for placing the comprehensive set of servicing stencil decals.
Eduard provide decals for 5 colour schemes which offer a good variety of interesting markings:
A. "White 7", W. Nr. 680747, flown by Oblt. Hans Weik, CO of 10.(Sturm)/ JG 3, Memmingen, Germany, June 1944
B. "Blue 21", W. Nr. unknown, flown by Hptm. Gerhard Schröder, CO of II.(Sturm)/JG 4, Welzow, Germany, September 1944
C. "Yellow 15", W. Nr. unknown, flown by Fw. Adalbert Koch, 6./JG 300, Löbnitz, Germany, Fall 1944
D. "Black 10", W. Nr. unknown, flown by Lt. Karl Spenst, 8./JG 300, Germany, Löbnitz, Germany, leden 1945
E. "White 21", W. Nr. 682989, 5./JG301, Germany, May 1945
The decals appear to be printed by Eduard themselves and look to be excellent quality, being thin and glossy, with closely trimmed carrier film except where it's used to group elements as a single item. I've had excellent results with Eduard's recent decals, and these promise to be just as good.
As noted above, the references I've consulted describe the full combination of armour and guns as an R8 (rather than R2) but, whatever, Eduard's new Sturmbock
is an excellent addition to their extensive range of new-tool Fw 190s. Based on my experiences with earlier kits in the series, I can recommend it to all modellers with a reasonable amount of experience, because the styrene parts fit together like a charm and the etched details are well thought out and straightforward to use.
At less than £25, the kit also offers superb value for money, packing in sufficient detail to satisfy the most demanding Luftwaffe enthusiast, while also providing a great platform for upgrade sets like exposed engine and guns. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE