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Tamiya 1/48 scale Fi 156C Storch light plane

Kit: No. 61100
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Tamiya, from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922,
Price: $61
Comments: Injection-molded, 233 parts (7 metal, 8 vinyl), decals
Pros: Spectacular engineering; fine clear parts and decals; many extras; excellent moldings and fit; paint masks
Cons: Lack of parts map
Issue Published: April 2008
One of the best-known light planes of World War II, the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, with its short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities, could operate from almost any field.

Tamiya's Milestone 100th Release in its 1/48 scale aircraft series celebrates the hobby with surprising innovations: Clear cabin windows are prewelded to the gray plastic fuselage for alignment; a stamped-metal spar holds the wing panels in alignment; the landing gear is supported by a spring-steel strut; a rivet-style propeller shaft is held by a polycap; and so on. Parts are provided to pose the flaps and ailerons. The rudder is a separate part, but elevators are molded with the horizontal stabilizers.

The kit supplies six figures along with assorted gear. Most remarkable is the way parts are held in place by pins, slots, square holes, platforms, and precise fit. The kit aligns itself - marvelous engineering!

A special Milestone sleeved box contains flash-free gray and clear plastic parts with minimal mold seams. The fabric detail is clear but restrained. Engraved panel lines and raised reinforcing plates are precise and consistent. With all those clear parts are 49 self-adhesive paint masks. Two sheets of 84 decal images, thinner and easier than Tamiya's norm, provide markings for five different versions. A large, glossy sheet shows four-view color drawings and decal placement.

The error-free, 20-page instructions present the 34-step assembly procedure clearly and include a brief history of the Storch, a Tamiya paint color list, tool recommendations, and Fi 156 version choices. Directions for decal application, painting, use of super glues for the metal parts, and masking are provided.

The precise engineering and fit is exemplified by the 19-part engine. Parts lock into each other, and there is only one way they will fit. However, do keep track of which parts go with what version. I chose to build an Fi 156C-3/Trop used by Erwin Rommel in North Africa in 1942.

A parts map (not provided) would have helped me find the metal-rivet propeller shaft for Step 3. It is not a numbered; I found it in the bag with the polycaps.

Painting the clear parts requires cutting out self-adhesive masks by hand; use a new blade for this.
Decal quality is manifest in the instrument panel dials. The panel is recessed slightly and has raised bezels, but with a little Solvaset the decal fit perfectly.

The metal wing spar simply locks into place. The metal landing gear strut fits into notches in the clear windshield and into the ends of the outriggers on each side of the fuselage; again, no glue is required. Two of the photoetched-metal parts fit notches in the cockpit frame; the other two are part of the pilot's seat, one, the armored back plate, the other, the seat base (it's the only part that needs folding).

A polycap holds the propeller to the shaft. It could have been my fault, but the tips of my wings' upper and lower panels did not line up perfectly.

After a preparatory coat of Testors clear gloss, decals were easily applied to the mostly flat surfaces. In warm water, they came off the backing paper in seconds. On the model, a drop of water permitted easy placement. I blotted them with a paper towel and there was almost no silvering. I finished with a coat of Testors clear flat.

The model matches Squadron/Signal's Fieseler Storch in Action. Despite a fairly simple assembly, I spent nearly 40 hours on the build, mostly painting. However, the model is a gem. I enjoyed it, and I hope Tamiya continues in this vein.

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