When one thinks of "Luftwaffe '46" subjects, it's usually futuristic "paper projects" that were overtaken by the end of the war and had no chance to be developed. The Focke-Wulf Ta 152C-1/R14 is somewhat different in that it was a still-born design that would have employed Ta 152V-7 (W.Nr 110007) for testing, but in reality never left the drawing board.
"By Christmas 1944, Focke-Wulf had completed detailed design drawings of the Ta 152C-1/R14, a special Torpedoflugzeug (Torpedo Aircraft) employing auxiliary apparatus "R14" which included an ETC 504 munitions rack with attendant electrical connections capable of carrying a single LT 1B or LT F5 aerial torpedo. The requirement for such an aircraft originated in response to an earlier effort to combat Allied coastal shipping.
Following extensive trials earlier with radial engine Fw 190s, "… by December 1944, it had been finally recognized that the Fw 190A and F series were simply unsuited as aerial torpedo carriers. Attention then shifted to the new Fw 190D series, in particular the Fw 190D-9/R14 and D-12/R14.
Concurrent with these developments, it was decided to investigate the possibility of adapting the Ta 152C to carry an airborne torpedo. The model chosen was the Ta 152C-1 equipped with a new multi-purpose ETC 504 munitions rack… Because of the increased take-off weight and center of gravity issues, it was further decided to delete the two cowl weapons and limit armament solely to the two wing root mounted cannons. However, after preliminary calculations… indications were that this exotic version would have been inferior to the Fw 190D-12/R14. All further work on the Ta 152C-1/R14 was stopped.
Souce: The Focke-Wulf Ta 152
, by Thomas H. Hitchcock. Eagle Editions, 2010.
I should begin by declaring a minor interest in the development of this kit as part of Dragon's established group of modellers and historians around the world who offer feedback and provide references and leads.
Dragon's new Ta 152C-1/R14 arrives in an attractive conventional box bearing an illustration of a fictional operational aircraft. The kit is well presented in Dragon's now customary style, with each sprue bagged separately, and the clear parts, accessories and decals further taped to a cardboard liner for protection in transit. The kit comprises:
120 x grey styrene parts (22 unused)
10 x clear styrene parts (2 not needed)
20 x etched items
Decals for 5 x aircraft
Just as with Dragon's earlier Ta 152C-0
, the kit is based around the classic Trimaster Ta 152H. So, the old fuselage and interior parts are updated with new-mould wings, nose and propeller. This time things go a bit further, with a new torpedo, plus sprues from various Fw 190 kits in the Dragon range to provide additional items (hence the number of unused parts in the kit).
With such a mixed pedigree and vintage, it's impressive how well most of the parts all tie together, the 20 year-old fuselage still looking just about as fresh as when it first appeared. There's no flash on the sample kit, and no sign of sink marks. The surface finish comprises neatly engraved panel lines throughout, with reasonably subtle fabric-effect control surfaces.
Not surprisingly, a basic fit of the major components shows nothing's changed since the earlier 'C-0, with a nice snug joint at the wing roots. As before, the only real hurdle to overcome is removing the old Ta 152H's nose to fit the replacement DB 603 cowling. Here you need to be careful not to cut away too much material, as the thinned area on the inside extends too far back - so work to the forward edge and go by the panel lines on the exterior when trimming and sanding.
So what's new?
Well, the torpedo, obviously. This is simply, but neatly, moulded in four pieces. It's accompanied by an ETC 504 from the old TriMaster/Dragon Fw 190D.
Less obvious at first glance is a new front cowl, which Dragon have reworked under the guidance of Jerry Crandall. The new-style annular radiator core is accompanied by an etched band to line the inside of the cowl.
When I reviewed Dragon's 'C-0, I was concerned that they still used the Ta 152H's canopy with external locks, when the 'C was unpressurised. This time the designers have also included the blown hood from their Fw 190D. This is perhaps something of a compromise, as the base of the windscreen supports seemed to differ slightly between the two aircraft, but it's preferable in my opinion. In fact, the Ta 152H-style canopy parts are the only old items that are really looking their age, being a bit scuffed and looking rather "milky" in the review kit.
While the radiator has been corrected, and the canopy addressed, the rest of the basic airframe is unchanged from the earlier release. This means the ailerons and flaps still look rather odd to my eyes, and the wings' leading edges could do with sanding and re-scribing to correct their noticeably blunt profile, especially towards the tips. If you intend to build a prototype aircraft, you'll need to fill the flare-dispensers on the fuselage sides (although these could well have been fitted to later machines, had the aircraft been accepted for service).
Dragon have retained the cowl guns, which would have had to have been removed to overcome the weight and centre-of-gravity problems inherent with carrying the torpedo. As the prototype was never modified for the role, there's no indication as to how the gun troughs would have been removed - either just faired-over, or a new cowl fitted, so you can use an educated guess there. The former is obviously simpler, both in real life and on the model.
Instructions and decals
The instructions are pretty straightforward, breaking assembly down into just 9 main stages. The assembly sequence is logical, and Gunze Sanyo paint matches are keyed to most details. It's nice to see that Dragon have dispensed with their unnecessary "home-brew" mixes for the internal colours – this time, standard RLM matches are quoted.
The decals are custom-printed by Cartograf, so the quality is assured. The items are printed in perfect register with minimal carrier film and a satin finish. As usual with Dragon kits, no swastikas are included, but there is a useful selection of stencil markings provided. Markings are given for no less than 5 aircraft.
The three Ta 152C-0 prototypes:
Ta 152V-6 – W.Nr. 110006
Ta 152V-7 – W.Nr. 110007
Ta 152V-8 – W.Nr. 110008
Additionally, there's a pair of fictional operational Ta 152C-1/R14s: "Green 6" and "Green 7" of an unspecified unit.
The camouflage schemes of all five are basically identical, with partially unpainted undersides, but there's plenty of scope for Luftwaffe '46 modellers to go to town with more radical field-applied paint jobs.
As attractive as the Ta 152C-1/R14is, history shows it seemed likely never to see the light of day, but of course the decision could have been reversed. Either way it makes for an interesting "What If" that should appeal to Luftwaffe enthusiasts who want to model a real design study or enter the weird and wonderful realms of Luftwaffe '46.
For those who want to stick strictly within the confines of what actually saw the light of day, with its corrected parts and markings for all three Ta 152C-0 prototypes, this is actually a better release than Dragon's earlier 'C-0 kit itself.
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