by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Alex Sulla’s North Star Models has released the first in a series of highly detailed upgrades in 1:72 and 1:48 scales. The 1:72 sets are recommended for the Airfix, Italeri and MPM/Revell kits, while the 1:48 upgrades are designed for the popular new Great Wall Hobby models, although they may also be suitable for the old short-run MPM version with some extra work.
Sets 72001 & 48001 - Landing Flaps. A single etched brass fret in each scale provides a very impressive set of flaps and their bays. In fact the 1:72 version is basically identical to its larger stable mate, with all the detail scaled down.
Of course the GWH kits already include the option for dropped flaps, but the kit versions totally pale in comparison to what Alex has produced. If you’ve assembled etched flaps before, North Star’s should hold few surprises in how they are built up, but the layout of the Fw 189 means something of a marathon metal-working session with a total of six reasonably complex assemblies for new flaps and bay-liners for the outer wing and centre section flaps.
As with most etched flaps, the flaps and bays aren’t actually as daunting to fold to shape as they first appear. Working carefully and methodically, reasonably experienced modellers should have few problems even on their first attempt. The real secret of success comes when it’s time to install the bays; you must thin the interior of the wings evenly, and as much as you possibly can to accept the metal parts. It’s a little laborious, but the results are truly fantastic.
72001 costs 4,85 EUR (7 USD)
48001 costs 8,3 EUR (12 USD)
Sets 72002 and 48003 - Mainwheels. These are the simplest items, containing a pair of beautifully cast resin mainwheels. The wheels are "unweighted" and feature very fine hub detail that appears to be produced using CAD technology, and in the case of the GWH model, the resin tyres are a significant visual improvement over the kit's rather exaggerated “tractor treads”. In both scales the new wheels are bald, but treaded versions are also evident in many photos of full-sized Fw 189s, so I wonder if Alex will consider also producing these too at some point.
72002 costs 2,8 EUR (4 USD)
48003 costs 3,5 EUR (5 USD)
Set # 48002 – Mainwheels and Tailwheel. Available only in 1:48, this set contains the wheels as above, but adds a highly detailed resin tailwheel assembly and photoetched well. Of particular note is the excellent packaging, with the delicate resin tailwheel parts protected by a little custom-made cardboard packet within the main package.
The sample's resin parts are perfectly cast with just a wafer of flash to clean off. The wheel and leg are made up of 5 x components, to which are added brass hub inserts, while the etched wheelwell and doors should look really spectacular, closely following the construction of the real thing. The set is fairly complex, so this isn’t suitable for beginners, and even experienced modellers will want to take a little extra care. The crucial point will be when it comes to installing the well; to achieve true scale appearance, you should cut out the entire panel containing the tailwheel opening. Obviously, this is a point of no return, and if you mess up you’ll have effectively ruined the tailplane. If you are worried at the prospect of that, a compromise solution might be to thin the interior side of the tail as much as possible to accept the well.
North Star Models' colour printed instructions are clearly drawn and quite straightforward, with assembly broken down into numbered sequences of manageable "chunks". English notes accompany each stage, so you should have few problems if you follow them carefully.
Set 48002 costs 6,6 EUR (9,5 USD)
ConclusionNorth Star Models’ Fw 189 upgrades are beautifully produced and represent great value for money. Whether you're working in 1:72 or 1:48, they are definitely worth obtaining. But the best is yet to come; the next 1:48 sets will be highly detailed replacement cockpits for both the GWH Fw 189A-1 Nightfighter and the ‘A-2 kits. On the basis of the quality and detail we’ve already seen here, I can hardly wait! Highly recommended.
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