The first flight of the Fw 190 took place on June 1939 and Hans Sander, Focke-Wulf's Chief Test Pilot, was given the honour to be the first one to take the 'V1 into the air. The design of the prototype was very different than the later pre-production "A" variant. In fact, it looked more like a Racer plane than a combat aircraft!
Ernst Udet said about it: "if it wasn't a military aircraft, it would have been perfect!" The most noticeable characteristic was the "bullet nose" spinner, which gave the plane a strange nose. But this was only a minor difference. More important were the smaller wing design, the canopy, which was located much forward, and the engine cowling of the smaller BMW 139 radial engine. All this gives the prototype a very unique look, which is nearly impossible to obtain by backdating a Fw 190 A kit.
Anyway, even if the test pilots were "delighted" by the V1, it was necessary to change the BMW 139 power plant and replace it by its bigger BMW 801C brother. Therefore, the fuselage was extensively redesigned on the V5.
Unfortunately, or should I say "fortunately", the new prototype was slightly damaged during a landing accident with a ground vehicle, providing the engineers with the opportunity to equip the machine with a newly designed wing of increased span and surface area. The plane was redesignated Fw 190-V5g (Grösser = large) and was the first one to look like the A pre-production variant. The rest is a well know story...
Legato's V1 kit comes in a small top opening box (picture 1). While the bottom is sturdy cardboard, the top is a color printed-paper sheet folded so as to make the top cover. While not as thick as cardboard, it was strong enough to protect the kit's content composed of two bags of resin parts and another bag with photo etched parts, a vacuformed canopy and a decal sheet (picture 2).
The resin parts are cast in grey resin, which makes them look like injected plastic! The bigger ones are the fuselage halves and the three pieces of the wing (picture 3). The fuselage halves are hollow and will be easy to clean up from their small casting blocks, which are located on the rudder. In fact they will be assembled in the same traditional way as in an injected kit with the exception of the use of CA glue. I dry-fitted the two fuselage halves and I expect no problems here: the parts have no warping and go together nicely. For the wing parts it will be another story I'm afraid. Their casting and detail are excellent, but the pouring blocks will be much more difficult to deal with (see last photo of picture 3). Careful cleaning and sanding of the parts will be required but again, the assembly should be straightforward.
The overall detail of the parts is good with nicely recessed panel lines and rivet detail all over the fuselage, wings, tail planes, ailerons and rudder. There are no relief details but the V1 prototype wasn't fitted with the later armament bulges of combat variants. It's also this smooth design that makes it look so unique compared to the production Focke-Wulf.
The smaller parts (picture 4) will allow you to build a detailed cockpit, wheel bay, undercarriage and engine. The cockpit is nicely done, but unfortunately the pilot's seat was broken in my sample. However, I think this will be easy to fix with a small drop of CA glue. All the parts are crisply done with a high level of detail (see engine). While looking at some of them (mainly the undercarriage) I can't prevent myself from feeling an impression of "déjà vu".
The kit gives you the possibility to build the early V1 with "bullet nose" as well as the later version with traditional spinner. This is nice, but who's gonna build this plane without the "bullet nose"? Not me, that's for sure! The cleaning of the smaller parts will also require some work, especially for the engine cowling. Take care, some detail parts are molded inside of it and will have to be removed!
As if the level of detail wasn't good enough, a nice photo etched fret is provided with the kit (picture 5). It will allow you to add the following to the model: thin gear doors, cockpit details, seat belts, engine cowling flaps etc... Obviously, some last minute modifications have been made prior to the release of the kit. On the instructions, it is said to use PE parts for the instrument panel, side consoles and engine wires. But all these are missing and were replicated directly on the resin parts. Likewise, an acetate instrument panel is present on the instructions but not in the kit. However this will not have an impact on the quality of the model, you will just have to read the instructions more carefully!
A one-piece (doh!) vacuformed canopy is provided in the kit (picture 6), and while it is nicely done, I wish Legato had included a spare one.
The decals have been printed by Aviprint and look good. Unfortunately, like on the kit's box, the Swastikas were obliterated with a marker and are unusable (picture 7). You will have to find some substitutes in your spare box. Very frustrating! A camouflage and marking guide (in color!) is provided which gives you the possibility to choose between an all RLM 63 decoration and the well-known RLM 65/71/71 scheme.
The kit's instructions are quite nice considering it's a resin kit (picture 9). They are printed on an A4 sheet and have been made with computer-generated illustrations. They are not to the level of Eduard but far better than some "drawings" one can find in similar kits. All in all, the construction steps are easy to follow.
I must be honest; I don't have perfect scale plans for the V1 prototype. In fact, I don't know if there are any! I know a set of drawings is available in a Japanese book (Burin Do N°78) but I don't have it and I don't know if they are 100% accurate. All I have are side views, so making comments about the shape of the kit is irrelevant. If someone has good 3-view plans of the V1, I would be very happy to have a copy to update this review!
Legato have produced a nice kit of one of the most important and cool looking prototypes of aircraft history. Unlike others of it's kind, the Fw 190 V1 looks more futuristic than its later production stablemates! With its unique looking spinner, small wings and simple design, it looks more like a competition aircraft than a combat plane! It's the perfect starting point for every Fw 190 collection and I highly recommend this kit to every Luftwaffe fan that doesn't fear resin kits. It's nice to see that such interesting aircraft are produced in 1/48 scale and I'm looking forward to seeing other prototypes. A Kestrel Bf 109 or the Spitfire Prototype maybe?
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The Fw 190, originally destined to be a supplemental fighter to the already proven Bf 109, remains the most historically significant aircraft produced by the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau G.M.B.H and it's chief designer, Diplom Ingenieur Kurt Tank. In fact, it was to become the best multi-purpose fighter of the Luftwaffe and roughly 20,000 machines were produced. Thanks to Legato, it is now possible to build the very first Fw 190 of all: the V1 prototype!