- Published on Thursday, 10 November 2011 05:00 James Hatch
Dragon Models 'Master Series'
Catalogue # 5573
Available from HobbyEasy for around £16.00
The Focke-Wulf Ta 152 was the logical successor to the Fw 190D series machines, incorporating numerous design similarities and duplicate components, as was RLM requirements at this stage in the war, plus other technological advancements over its predecessor. Borne out of the necessity for the Luftwaffe to intercept higher flying bomber streams, the Ta 152C had a lengthened nose due to the use of the DB603LA engine, and a lengthened rear fuselage and enlarged vertical tail surfaces to restore the centre of gravity to the airframe. The 'C' version sported short wing, reminiscent of the Fw 190 series, despite the lengthened fuselage, but several other technical changes crept it, such as hydraulic undercarriage, as opposed to the individual electrical motor actuators of the 190 machines.
Some sub-designation machines still lay on the drawing board at the end of the war, and the R14 was such, being a torpedo carrying variant, with this centre-fuselage weapon being carried on an ETC504 rack. Cowl weapons were to be deleted in an effort to yet again restore the centre of gravity. The R14 was eventually dropped as the RLM didn't consider this arrangement to be advantageous over other machines already being test flown within this period.
The Focke-Wulf Ta 152C-1/R14 comes in a very typical, sturdy Dragon top-opening box with an excellent piece of quite understated artwork depicting the aircraft, burdened with the torpedo, in level flight. Inside the box, I'm pleased to see all of the various sprues individually packaged, and including a backing card with the various clear parts, decals and photo-etch frets separately zip-bagged and affixed to this. The plastic parts are spread over NINE sprues of light grey plastic and two clear sprues.
First of all, this isn't entirely a 'new' kit. This kit, or at least parts of it, have seen daylight in previous incarnations, with the genesis of this being the old Trimaster Ta 152H kit which is now a good number of years old. Thankfully for us, the original Trimaster kit was a few years ahead of its time, sporting clean recessed lines, crisp access ports and a good level of overall accuracy which more than competes more recently tooled kits. The only thing that stopped me from buying the original Trimaster kit those years ago was the quite high price, whereas this kit is very reasonable in cost.
There are two major fundamental differences from the Trimaster 'H' to this 'C' variant. Of course, this has the shorter wing, but the engine cowl is also different. Dragon have moulded the cowl as separate parts, and to fit these, you will need to cut off the nose of the original 'H' sprue fuselage, and lots of care will be needed here if you don't want to end up patching this with card and filler.
The new cowls and older fuselage have been matched well in terms of style and how the parts are rendered. External detail is excellent throughout this area, with there being two radiator rings to choose from for open or closed cowl flap options. An etch metal strip fits within the circumference of the radiator ring to add a little extra radiator surface detail to the area. A reasonably accurate looking set of paddle-prop blades and a correctly profiled spinner finish this area off.
One area which Dragon haven't catered to is the nose gun troughs which should have been faired over as the R14 machine would have had these removed. I'm afraid you're going to have to crack the putty out for that.
The cockpit is well appointed, with plenty of detail, and a set of photo-etch seatbelts. Strangely, three sets of instrument consoles are included, with only one set shown for use, so I'll assume Dragon forgot to shadow the 'un-used' ones from the sprue plan. Having said that, these other parts aren't as detailed, and are clunkier than the ones which you need to use, according to the instructions. The console instruments are well-defined and the instrument panel is certainly more than passable. The turtle deck behind the pilot, as well as the armoured head rest, are also from photo etch parts.
The wing has a detailed central spar fixed to the lower portion before the upper wings are added. Wheel well detail is pretty good, having this moulded onto the inner face of the upper wing parts. A small series of ribs are added into the well before upper and lower wings are joined. These areas are reasonable, but could do with a little extra detailing, especially in the area where you would look up into the engine bay. Both ailerons and landing flaps are moulded in situ on this wing, and exterior detail is subtle with crisp panel lining and the MG doors looking particularly effective despite not being separate parts. I think the rib detail on the ailerons is a tad heavy, and I would reduce the effect a little with a sanding stick. Small photo-etch plates are included which form the riveted stiffeners located at the rear wing to fuselage juncture.
Horizontal tail surfaces are moulded as single pieces with elevators already in situ, meaning extra work if you wished to pose these. The fabric and rib detail on the elevators isn't quite as severe as it is on the ailerons, at least to my eye.
The undercarriage is certainly very passable, having the hydraulic retraction actuators depicted properly here as opposed to the electrical ones of the Fw 190 series. The legs are moulded with the scissors attached, and detail is good. Landing gear doors need to be shortened before they can be attached to the model while posed with the gear deployed. Wheels are single piece and aren't weighted, unfortunately.
Of course, this kit comes with the torpedo sprue. Detail here is excellent, down to the small propeller. A 'box' unit is supplied to fit to the end of the torpedo fin. This would have been used to allow the torpedo to skim just under the water surface and bypass any anti-torpedo netting.
All grey parts are very well moulded with only minimal flash in some areas, small seams and no sinkage. As I said, the original Trimaster moulds have stood the test of time really well.
Two canopies are provided, but for authenticity, only one should be used, despite the instructions saying it is an option. One canopy is distinctly 'H' variant, as it has the clasp positions for this might altitude version, moulded into place. This wouldn't be accurate for this 'C' version. The canopy is also shown with the decals added to simulate the desiccant plugs which fitted between the glass laminates. Again, this was something only fitted to the 'H' variant, so please don't use these.
Canopy clarity is good too, with framing being well defined. These parts are also well moulded with no flash or defects present. Notice the 'Fw 190' label on the canopy which you need to use. Dragon have simply carried over a part from a similar kit, luckily with the blown hood style, so we can only hope it does actually fit the Ta 152 fuselage.
A familiar looking 'Dragon' backing card has these clear parts attached, as well as the photo etch components and single decal sheet. The etch parts are stored in zip-lock bags whilst the canopies and decals are sealed in regular bags.
The two steel etch metal frets contains 19 parts in total, with the single etch strip for the radiator interior ring, neatly rounding this up to twenty metal parts.
Decals are printed on a single sheet and are by Cartograf, so you know these will have a pedigree of quality to them. The printing is in solid and authentic colour, with perfect registration. Carrier film is minimal and the decals are quite thin, which is always a bonus. A reasonable number of stencils are included on the sheet, but no cockpit instrument decals. Unfortunately, no swastikas are given, so you'll need to source your own. Try Fantasy Printshop for an excellent sheet at a reasonable cost.
As this aircraft never entered service, any scheme is going to be an invented one anyway, but besides that, the schemes given in this kit are:
• Prototype, Green '6' or '7', Germany 1945
• Prototype, GW+QA, W.Nr.110008, Germany 1945 (Options for CI+XM & VH+EY)
So what do we think?
Who'd have thought that the parts of the old Trimaster kit would still be resurfacing in 2011? Having said that, this is still a very good release with an admirable level of detail. Yes, you have to perform some careful surgery to graft the new cowling, but that's the only downside to the kit. I'd be interested to see how this release fairs in relation to the new 1:48 HobbyBoss Ta 152C-1.
Our sincere thanks to HobbyEasy for supplying the review kit. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.