Thursday, March 19

Review: Valiant Wings opens our eyes to the Owl in their latest Airframe Album book...

The latest Airframe Album has landed on our desk - we had some spare time so we gave it a read and thought we would like you to know what's inside as well - What better way than a good ol' fashioned review? Let's see what Valiant Wing's new book on the Fw-189 "Uhu" has in store for us..
Read n’ reviewed:
Airframe Album No.6: The Focke-Wulf Fw-189 Uhu
– A Detailed Guide to the Luftwaffe’s ‘Flying Eye’

by Richard A. Franks
112 pages
A4 portrait softcover format
ISBN 978-0-9575866-8-0
Available from Valiant Wings Directly & their Distributors
Price: £15.95

Time for their sixth title (already) in the Airframe album series? Valiant Wings have now entered their fifth year in business with a book that complements their Airframe Detail title on it’s the Uhu’s rival, the Blohm & Voss Bv 141 which we reviewed a little while ago here on TMN.

This book promises to be an “all–in-one” essential companion for anyone tackling the MPM/Italeri/Revell, Great Wall Hobby and forthcoming HPH kits. Maybe even just those who just like to look at this peculiar looking aircraft. Now we like the Uhu very much and so we are very pleased to see this unique looking plane featured in this series. Let’s see what Valiant Wings has in store for us...

This title follows the format already laid out in this series already, you could say it follows the tried and true format very closely, it is a good thing too – as we have been very impressed by all of the books in the series so far. Even though some of the aircraft are sometimes obscure, more often than not the interesting points about each of these kites are revealed by this warts and all approach. 
The book is an A4 portrait format in softcover. It weighs in at 116 pages and included are mostly black and white photos for the historical stuff, some coloured shots and several isometric and colour profiles and aircraft artwork. Included is the book is information on the models of this aircraft and their markings as well as technical illustrations and walk around images of the aircraft. The text is in English and there is a fair amount to get through so let’s make a start.

Valiant Wings sixth title in the Airframe Album series is divided into four main parts. Technical description, Evolution of the Fw-189, camo and markings and then into the modelling of the “Uhu” where we look at kits, books and aftermarket items to make your own version after getting so knowledgeable (hopefully.)
We start with the introduction and preface of the book. In this the author, Mr Richard A. Franks. Richard has been involved right through and you can see that he has found his groove in this format. The book explains the genesis of this twin boom unusual type. From Conception of wire, wood and canvass (James May eat your heart out) to the first prototypes, the small nosed attack version and the round nosed types to the multi-glaze panelled aircraft we have come to associate with the type.

We also look at aircraft specifications in a detailed table and a limited look at the service life of the Uhu. Right through from training in 1939 till the desert and then late war in the east where it was successful as a reconnaissance aircraft. The high value of the aircraft and the later loss rate and switch to night operations is briefly discussed in this part. We also look at the ally states of Nazi Germany and their use of the Uhu in operation service. I certainly did not know that the Slovaks used this plane. Lots of interesting facts in this all too brief section. 
The technical Description of the Fw-189 then follows. This major part of the book draws on several sources to try and give the reader an inside out understanding of this type. From manual illustrations, photographs of isolated parts and sub-assemblies and complete airframes, to armament and technical equipment it is all described in detail (in English as often these are in Russian or German only.)
Rare and sub-types are also shown with several shots of unfamiliar parts well described and explained. The detailed Argus engines and internal structures and fuel tanks, equipment and electrical parts are all there for the reader.
Next we get to the really helpful part when you want to understand how the initial aircraft became what it was and the differences in-between. The isometric views by Wojciech Sankowski of all prototype and production airframes is a great part of these books and one that helps you understand how and when small and large changes happened and often WHY they were adapted. Ground attack, ski equipped and floatplanes are all part of the many types listed here in these pages.
Next we get colourful with the help of some useful black and white along with some (very rare) colour period photos of this bird. Richard J. Caruana adds aircraft art to these mixture of pictures and descriptions as the author takes us through the variations of this bird in service. Although many people think it had just a splinter camo the Fw-189 features squiggles, the blotched night fighter scheme, all-over RLM02 birds and several variations on these. Aircraft from the customer states’ colours are also talked about in brief detail as well.
The colour does not end there – as Mr. Caruana then gives us six pages of colour profiles. Each with four kites on them chowing a great variation (well as many variations on a theme of splinter camo as you can get) and a few others I haven’t seen before. There are also pictures of an Argus engine in a Si 204 which is the same as the Fw-189’s. A shame we do not have pictures of the Uhu being restored in the Flying Heritage Collection in the U.S.
Next is the section for the modellers out there. It is a chapter that shows two lovely models – a Condor Model in 72nd by Libor Jekl in a white winter distemper version of the Uhu, the other by Steve Evans of the good Great wall Hobby Fw-189 in 48th scale. It is comforting that Steve skipped over the ejector pins inside the cockpit gondola as they are a painful part to remove. This chapter explains all of these foibles of these kits. It also shows of the still warm fresh of the boat kit in 32nd from HPH. It looks like a very nice kit and one that would interest many modellers. Nice score guys!
Next there is a list of all Fw-189 kits, accessories and decals produced in all scales. Also there is a list of all the known books on the Uhu and lastly we have an attractive profile of a colourful Owl on the rear cover.
OK that is it from No#6 – Knowing this aircraft so well from my own model making of the Great wall kit I think that the authors and contributors have done a great job in getting the relevant points on this aircraft together in one place. Sure it follows the formula but in this case if it ain’t broke…

A great book on an interesting aircraft that will entice a lot of converts.

Adam Norenberg
The book is available from all good hobby stores and specialist bookshops. This Publication is scheduled for mid-February 2015.
Pre-orders can be made via the Valiant Wings website, or by ‘phone on 01234 273434 (+44 1234 273434 if calling from outside the UK) or by writing to:

Valiant Wings Publishing
8 West Grove
MK40 4BT