Thursday, August 15

Build Guide & Review: MiniArt's 35th scale Focke-Wulf Triebflügel Interceptor

Andy Moore has taken on MiniArt's brand new Focke-Wulf Triebflügel Interceptor in 1/35th scale. He has given us a multi-part build of the kit, and today the first parts shows us what is inside the box and then the first part of the build in his helpful guide thru this unusual model...

Build Guide & Review: Focke-Wulf Triebeflügel Interceptor
From: MiniArt 
1/35th scale 
Kit No #40002
Six marking choice in the box
Price - £43.99, US$53, €47 from Creative Models

MiniArt launched its new What If...? series last year with the quirky-looking Sharotank that we built a few months ago here on TMN. They've now expanded the series with another mad contraption in the form of the Focke-Wulf Triebflügel ram jet-powered interceptor. Despite its crazy looks, the design was real, albeit only on a drawing board, and now it can be real, at least in 1/35 scale, on your bench. In today's review, we'll start with a little background info on the original concept, have a quick rummage through the box, then make an initial start on the build.

The Triebflügel (Thrust-Wing) was a concept for a VTOL interceptor conceived by the German military towards the end of the war as a means of defending against the heavy bombing raids that Germany was experiencing at that time. With its novel vertical stance on the ground, it was intended for operation in areas where no regular airfields were available. The design reached wind-tunnel testing before Allied forces over-ran the development facilities and no full-scale prototypes were ever constructed.

Instead of conventional wings, the Triebflügel utilised three large rotors situated near the centre of the fuselage and mounted on a rotating ring hub. Each rotor had a ramjet mounted to its tip which provided the thrust to spin the rotors. Auxiliary rockets would have been used as basic 'starter motors' to get the rotors up to speed until there was sufficient airflow for the ramjets to take over.

Flown by a single pilot, the Triebflügel had a potential top speed of over 600 mph and a service ceiling of around 50,000 feet. Armament would have been in the form of two 30 mm cannon and two 20 mm machine guns.

The Kit
The kit comes in a standard MiniArt box, with a standard MiniArt ultra-tight fitting lid that makes it really hard to open. On the plus side, the lid does feature some lovely artwork of a Triebflügel engaging a formation of B-24s. Once you've fought your way inside, you find 12 sprues in light grey styrene and a further sprue in clear for the canopy. The way the parts are split across the sprues makes it clear that MiniArt has further versions planned for the future, and indeed, a night fighter version has just been announced. Rounding out the contents are a small photo-etch fret, a large decal sheet, and the instruction manual

Sprue A
The, and the following sprue, hold the two halves of the rear fuselage, together with some of the smaller details. The vertical split on the fuselage will mean some inevitable clean-up and re-scribing/riveting on the seams, but that's fairly routine for an aircraft kit. The seat and instrument panel are also present on this sprue, and have some excellent detailing which, to be fair, you'd expect at this scale.

The instrument panel has some very nicely rendered dials and controls. A full set of individual dial decals are supplied on the decal sheet to finish the panel off.

Sprue Ab
This sprue looks essentially the same as the previous one, and the two fuselage halves are indeed identical (apart from one having locating pins, and the other having the corresponding holes). It's the smaller details that differ though, with this sprue holding the cockpit bulkheads.

The level of engraved surface detail on the fuselage is excellent, with round fasteners and rivet lines. A few panel washes over those should all help to bring some life to the finished model, which is important when you're building at larger scales like this.

Sprue B
Here we've got the forward fuselage halves, which feature cut-outs for the four gun bays. You have the choice of either closing these up, or leaving them open to view the guns. Also on here are the parts for the central mounting ring for the rotors. MiniArt have engineered the kit quite cleverly, in that the forward fuselage, rear fuselage, and the mounting ring can all be finished independently, then brought together at the end. That should make handling and painting much easier.

Sprue Ba
This holds the main cockpit floor and an upper section that integrates the side walls, together with the panels for making up the gun bays. The side wall sections feature some further moulded dials and controls.

Sprue C (x3)
These three sprues hold the rotor wings and the internal engine details. The rotors are moulded with the ram jet casings in place. One of the rotor halves has a large round pin at the root end which simply plugs into the central ring so, again, you'll be able to fully paint and finish these assemblies before installing them at the end.

Sprue Ca & Cb (x2)
These are actually two sprues in one, with Ca holding the 20 mm machine guns, and Cb holding the parts for the 30 mm cannon. An alternative shortened barrel is provided for the 30 mm cannon, which is used if you have the gun bay's cover panel fitted.

Sprue Cd (x2)
These two sprues hold the tail fins and the landing gear. The wheels can be mounted in both an extended landing position or a retracted in-flight position. There's no provision for a stand if you go for an in-flight stance though, so you'll need to make your own arrangements in that regard, as well as sourcing a suitable pilot figure.

Sprue Db
The final grey sprue is just for the nose cone. Having this on its own sprue will allow MiniArt to easily swap it out for alternate parts for future versions, as they've already done with the night fighter release which comes with a radar nose.

Sprue D
The clear sprue holds the cockpit glazing elements, together with parts for the gun sight. The canopy has been moulded in three parts and, although the instructions don't mention posing the centre section open, it would be very easy to do so.

Interestingly, there's a clear dome on this sprue that isn't used in this build. Possibly a glass-nosed version in the future?

Instructions, Decals and Photo Etch
The build manual comes as an A4 stapled booklet with full colour painting guilds inside the front and back cover. The build is covered in 22 steps using rather nice shaded line drawings that make the assembly steps very easy to follow.

The small photo etch fret comes in it's own protective card envelope, and supplies the seat harness, some throttle controls and the loop antenna.

There's no info as to who printed the decal sheet ( they are printed in the Ukraine tho), but it looks very well done nonetheless. The colours are bright and the printing is pin-sharp with excellent registry. As usual, the swastikas are split in two to avoid issues in counties where the symbol is prohibited.

MiniArt are always generous when it comes to marking options, and this release is no exception. Six different schemes are provided and, while they're, of course, purely fictional, they're very plausible all the same. Of course, being a “what if “ subject, you could go your own way with colour schemes and create something entirely original.

The Build
We'll finish off the review by making an initial start on the build, and that gets underway with the cockpit. The assembly here is pretty straight forward and, while there aren't masses of detail (you wouldn't see it anyway), what's there is very nice. One point to mention though -  the instructions tell you to add the seat and armoured back panel to the cockpit floor in step 1 – Don't! Adding the seat is fine, but if you attach the back panel at this stage, it will be impossible to slide the upper cockpit section into place later, as it won't fit over the panel. Best to leave both parts out for now, which will also make painting easier.

The only additional details I added at this stage were foil straps on the rudder pedals. Despite the very confined design of the cockpit, you can just about see these through the narrow cockpit opening, so they're a worthwhile addition.

I painted the various cockpit components with Vallejo Black Grey, having first masked off any areas where the parts would need to be glued together later on. The seat and back panel were first sprayed with Alclad Aluminium followed by a coat of hairspray. After the top coat was on, the paint was chipped to leave a worn appearance.

Before painting, I'd modified the back panel slightly by removing the two small tabs that were the attachment points for the photo-etch shoulder straps. I'll be replacing the supplied harness with a fabric aftermarket alternative and I opened up a narrow slot in the back panel which the replacement straps will be fed through and secured at the back.

The small details were picked out with appropriate acrylic shades, and the dial decals were applied to the instrument panel. These have been printed individually so the finished effect is very realistic, and they were less fiddly to apply than you'd think. A drop of gloss varnish over each dial simulated glass, and the cockpit was finished off with an oil wash to bring out the details, and a little dry brushing with silver to show some wear and tear.

The replacement harness came from HGW and, being 1/32, is slightly over scale, but not enough to look out of place though. The fabric material used for these belts makes them much easier to position compared to photo etch, and the pre-printed stitching looks fantastic. The lap belts were glued to the sides of the seat before it was cemented into place, while the ends of the shoulder belts were threaded through the slot I'd open up in the armoured panel earlier. The only thing remaining was to drape them in a realistic fashion.

Okay, all done! Alright, you might be thinking “why the hell have you placed them like that”, which would be a fair enough question if this was a regular aircraft. But this thing, to put it bluntly, sits on its arse, and the belts have to be draped accordingly.

Stick the cockpit on it's end, and the position of the belts, hopefully, makes a little more sense. The belt that's sticking out from the top of the armoured panel will, later on, drape down the panel that covers the rear of the cockpit.

The sides of the cockpit also form the gun bays. The instructions tell you to add the guns at this stage but, with some very slight modifications to the parts, it's far easier to add the guns after the fuselage is fully built up and painted. That way you'll be able to paint the guns separately and avoid any awkward masking.

There are a couple of bulkheads to add to the front and back of the cockpit, after which the upper gun bays are installed. These also form the upper wall to the cockpit, and you'll need to paint the inner sides in the cockpit colour before adding them.

With the cockpit built up, it's ready to be fitted between the forward fuselage halves. Before installing it though, I added the cover panels for the gun bays on the right-hand side (I'll be leaving the left-hand bays open). It's best to put the covers on before closing the fuselage up as it's easier to get them flush and the joints can be reinforced with a little Mr Surfacer on the inside. The fit of the panels was excellent and no filler was needed. The shortened gun barrel was also added at this point as it would be hard to securely glue it in place later on.

With that done, the cockpit module was installed and the fuselage closed up. The two halves lined up well, and the resulting seams along the top and bottom were simple enough to deal with. A couple of panel lines required some minor re-scribing across the joint and a few rivets needed reinstating, which was done with a needle. Lastly, the nose cone was added to finish off the forward fuselage. Again, that fitted very well and required no filler.

And with the forward fuselage together, we'll wrap up the first part of the build. In the next part, we'll get the rear fuselage and rotors together, and get everything ready for painting.
Stay Tuned.

Part II of this story is to be found here at this link

Andy Moore

IF you like this kit you can pick one up from Miniart's distributors - See the closest to you on the MiniArt Website.

Instructions of the kit: