Fw 58B "Weihe"
Kit : Focke-Wulf Fw 58B "Weihe"
The Fw 58 "Weihe" (Kite) is one of the lesser-known types in use with the Luftwaffe before and during WWII.This was proved to me when I took this aircraft to a club meeting with the question if anyone knew this "mystery plane".
It was designed as a successor for the Junkers W34 as a trainer for radio operators / navigators, bomb aimers and air gunners but also as a transport, liaison and medical evacuation. It existed in 3 versions; A and B were identical with the difference that the A version had no glass protection in the nose for the nose gunner / bomb aimer (cold!); the C version had a closed nose and back and was mainly used for light transport duties.
Karo-As Modellbau was unknown to me until I bought this kit second hand from a club member. I do not know if Karo-As did make other models of aircraft and do not know if it still exists although I think their moulds are now used by an Eastern block company.
On opening the kit one finds a small clear sprue with the windows (that will prove to be useless), a star shaped sprue containing the smaller parts, a sprue with the body halves and one with the wing parts. The glass nose part lies loose in the box.
It all gives the impression of a kit of the "short run" type, has a lot of flash and so needs a lot of cleaning and intervention.
the body halves, you can see that they are meant as for the C version but that
they also have provisions to change them with ease to a B version, simply by
cutting away the part of the back where the gun position must come. Although the
body is provided as a C, there is no nose part for this C version.
Work started with the cockpit area consisting of a floor plate, bulkhead, two seats for the pilots and a third seat for the rear gunner / radio-operator, two control columns, a dashboard and a very simply mid console.
The instructions give no precise detail about the correct place of the floor plate. Normally, the bulkhead stands just behind the glazed part of the cockpit but you can see that there is a part missing where the rear gunnerís position is. This needed to be rectified and I made a new floor plate, a longer one.
The pictures in my possession showed that the interior colour of the aircraft must have been some kind of dark grey. I painted it Humbrol 71.
The windows provided in the kit did not fit at all and were replaced by Kristal Klear; not so clear but filled.
Adjusting the body halves showed that we had no easy throw-together-kit in our hands.
A dry run of the wings confirmed this. I decided to work in the opposite way as normal i.e. I wanted to construct the aircraft first and then decide if I would bother putting interior detail in it. As long as the nose was not fixed, I could reach almost everything.
One of my modelling principles is that a kit was made in order to be build but not on behalf of everything. So: first put it together and see if the rest is worth it.
Both body halves were glued together as a starter followed by adding the lower central part of the wing. Then the engine bulkhead was added as well as the wheel bay walls. This was followed by the rest of the wing parts resulting in an almost perfect fit on the left side and a 3 mm opening on the right side. Re-measuring proved that I was not wrong; the body was in the centre. Only the height of the wing tips was differing and this was solved by opening the bottom side of the wing by putting a razor saw trough it so that the wing would hang down a bit. The rest was filled with putty followed by sanding.
Once this was done and it looked good, the tail planes were added. The Weihe is of a strange concept and that is also shown on the tail because the tail planes have their place in front of the rudder. Two small vertical stabilisers need also to be added.
The tail planes have struts underneath in their support. Watch out that you add those supports on the fixed part of the tail, not the moving part. This may sound ridiculous but there are no attachment points on the kit and the aircraft had big moving parts.
The wings also have big struts starting from the top of the body just behind the cockpit right to the engine bays. Halfway those struts comes a smaller strut running from the main strut to the wing. Imagine a triangle with a 90į angle in which runs a vertical line from the mid of the sloping edge to the bottom.
All of those struts were left to dry for a night and then some putty was added and some sanding done. The aircraft than got a coat of Graupner primer (spray can). This was cleaned up using water abrasive paper permitting the restoration where needed.
The next phase was checking out if the cockpit and the nose part fitted well onto the rest of the model. Disaster!! The nose part is in fact not clear enough but fits rather well. The cockpit is more like a vac-form type and was way too large and too big, so what to do?
I first started thinning the sides a bit and then decided to open up the cockpit. Fortunately, a lot of pictures showing Weihes show them with their cockpits open and so was seen that they had a very special type of cockpit to.
I first cut away the front window, cleaned it up and slowly reduced the size until it fitted. The glass doors were cut away from the central cockpit beam. I glued this beam between the front window and the body so that the windshield had a support.
The glass doors really act as doors, they bend in the middle to the top and they are also fixed to the central beam. When viewed from the front, they look like the M of McDonalds but with a small flat piece in the middle.
Rear gunners position:
The rear gun is a problem on its own, way too thick and without any detail.
Looking at pictures of other German aircraft with an open rear gunnerís position, as are the BV 138 and Ju 52 I could see that the gun mechanism was mounted on a cogwheel. The cupola was driven electrically because there was some kind of box partially placed over the cogwheel. It had to be scratch build.
One of the parts on the sprues is a plastic circle for which I could not find any destination on the plan. I decided to use it as cogwheel and to mount the rest of the mechanism on it after those pats were thoroughly cleaned up.
The Squadron Signal publication on the Ju 52 has a drawing of such a gunnery station. One can see that some kind of seat was attached to it. I recreated this using a piece of scrap plastic in triangular shape from which the corners were sanded. Each corner then received a length of Evergreen 0.10 x 0.20.
Once dry, the pieces of strip were bend upwards, cut to size (4 ft on 1/72) and glued to the inner side of the cogwheel.
I only needed to add the machine gun and a few smaller details on its support, a small handle and something that resembles a spiral spring. These were made from small copper wire.
The main landing gear is made of five parts and the wheel. It looks rather fragile and this made me decide to construct the first 3 parts (wheel base, double oleo and V-frame) and glue them together without fixing them to the aircraft. They seemed to be good the day after and so they were then fixed to the aircraft as well as the next part, a rod that connects to the construction. After another night of setting, the wheel and wheel cover were added followed by the wheel bay doors that needed thorough cleaning up.
The tail wheel was friendly enough to split in two and I needed to use a few layers of Zap-A-Gap, gap-filling superglue in order to give it extra strength. This glue is very good to fill gaps, to reinforce and is easily painted over.
With the exception of the nose, the aircraft had its main parts fixed by now. I thought it was time to add some decals in this stage and to put on the smaller parts later.
There are indeed a lot of smaller parts to add: a wind generator on the lower side of the hull, a landing light beneath the left wing, a small step at the end of the left wing, an antenna on top of the body and one on the bottom side as well as a DF loop antenna.
The antenna on top makes no problem. According to the documentation, the C type had antenna wiring in the form of a washing line, i.e. two wires running parallel to each other. The B type however had one single wire running from the antenna mast to half way the middle of the aircraft where it splits in two and runs to each of the tail planes. Three other wires run from the antenna mast to the hull. Quite some rigging.
The aircraft nose proved at the end to be the biggest disaster and I have to admit that, should I remake the aircraft, I would have constructed the hull and nose first before adding the other parts. I think adjusting the nose would have been simpler in that stage.
Strange enough, the nose part (without gunners position) proved to be too big and is difficult to adjust. Adjusting also means retouching the paint.
The gunnerís position on the other hand seemed to be too small in relation to the nose and working with putty is out of order. Using Zap-A-Gap was better but gave no miracles.
Fortunately, the matt effect of the plastic was cured using Humbrol Clear Cote on the in- and outside.
Instructions suggest a simple RLM 02 for the entire aircraft. Pictures show some aircraft in a two-colour schema but rarely in a camouflage pattern.
I decided o stay as close as possible to RLM 02 and used Light Aircraft Grey from Precision. The wings received a small mat black band as a walkway.
Details on wings and rudders were accentuated with a pencil.
The kit normally provides two options, one for an Austrian machine and the other for a German one. Unfortunately the Austrian decals were deleted when I bought this kit second hand and I fell back to the German version. Swastikas are provided in halves.
Regarding their age, the decals were cut out very carefully but this could not prevent the fact that some of them broke when placing them. Inspection the day after showed one of the decals simply falling of. Putting them back on again worked out and they were then sealed with a coat of varnish.
All in all a very special and to my eyes beautiful machine and I wonder why no other manufacturer has ever produced this rather unique aircraft that was a frequent sight in its time. The Weihe was not only used by Germany but also by Brazil, the Netherlands, Austria and a few others in small numbers.
An easy one? Certainly not. There are no better words to describe this aircraft than those that I read in a French magazine about models of the "short-run" type from which I quote after translation "it is better to say this from the start: this kit is intended for those who have already experience in making injection moulded kits of the short-run type. Engraving is good (...), but the adjustments are difficult in every stage of construction: parts too big for the places intended for them, difficult alignment, the use of putty, problems in symmetry, etc..
Those points will demand all your skills, time and patience".
And time you need because, if you do not allow the parts to dry overnight, you will strike disaster, especially with the landing gear.
MPM showed in its 2003 program that they intended the release of a Fw 58. I hope it will not be the reissue of the Karo-As kit.
But, none less the nose part and the amount of work, the end result is, to my opinion, well worth it. Look at it this way: how many modellers have a Fw 58 Weihe in their collections?
Keep Ďm building.