The Fieseler Fi-156 Storch (Stork) was used as a
German reconnaissance/liason aircraft during World War Two.
First flown in 1936, the Storch's ability for STOL (Short Take
Off and Landing) made it ideal for crude battlefield locations.
Its 46.75' wingspan, fixed leading edge slats and slotted
aileron/flaps (which extended the length of the wing) allowed
the Storch to take off in as little as 200 feet in a light head
wind, and only needed 70 feet of runway to land. On one occasion
a Fieseler Storch was stripped of all non-essential flying
equipment and the motor was modified to 300 hp. During this test
the Storch lifted off the ground with no ground roll. The prop
blast over the wing was enough to create the needed lift. The
Storch featured a greenhouse type cockpit that bulged over the
sides of the fuselage, and offered good fields of vision for
At only 5 feet tall, Hanna
Reitsch was probably the most famous Storch pilot. Hanna was
sent in to rescue Hitler and others with a Storch at the end of
the war, and she landed in a street in Berlin. She was the only
female German pilot to ever receive the Iron Cross for her test
pilot bravery in the many German flying inventions of the time.
Academy's kit was released in the fall of 1998. Fifty-four parts
are molded in light gray plastic and arranged in three separate
trees. A seven-part clear tree is included. The kit builds
either as a German Storch or a French Morane-Saulnier M.S. 500
(virtually identical to the Storch except for the powerplant: a
Renault 6Q in place of Fi-156's Argus AS 10) or M.S. 502 (with a
radial engine and no cowling.) Decals are provided for the
Fi-156 and the M.S. 500.
As with most kits, I started with
the cockpit area. The kit cockpit consists of a floorboard,
pilot's seat, observer's bench seat, instrument panel, and
control stick. While this might be adequate for the typical 1/72
WWII fighter cockpit, the result in this model will be a very
sparse looking cockpit.
I therefore decided to use the
Eduard photoetch set (72 292) which contains sidewall and
overhead framing, seat belts, seat mounting hardware and
instrument panel for the cockpit area, various support
struts/bracing for the wings and horizontal stabs, tail wheel,
and actuator links for the flaps.
The Eduard sidewall parts went in
fairly easily. A with all 1/72 scale photoetch sets, you need to
pay careful attention to the diagrams to make sure you are
installing the parts correctly. Even so I managed on first
attempt to put the right sidewall framing in backwards, and had
to pull it out and reinstall it. No big deal. The seat
mount/framing was attached to the bottom of the pilot's seat and
then the seat was glued in place on the floorboard, along with
the kit control stick and rear seat. I then glued the completed
floorboard assembly to the left sidewall using a slow setting
glue (Testors), and temporarily put the fuselage halves together
to ensure that the floorboard was seated properly. After this
had dried, I separated the fuselage halves and airbrushed the
interior RLM 02. The instrument panel is a combination of
photoetch and photofilm instrument faces and looks much better
than the original plastic part. The photoetch panel was
airbrushed faded black and the film was attached from behind
using Microset Krystal Kleer. Take your time and test fit the
instrument panel into the fuselage. I had to do some light
trimming on one side of the instrument panel to ensure a good
fit. This is not noticeable once the cockpit halves are in place
since the instrument panel is recessed and so small. Next the
fuselage halves were joined and left to dry. Some light sanding
was needed both on the dorsal and ventral fuselage surfaces.
This is most problematic on the underside, as the resulting seam
line runs right down the middle of raised detail which is
apparently meant to represent fabric stitching. This stitching
effect appears grossly overscale on the model, so don't worry if
you have to sand it down a bit to fill that seam. There is a gap
where the back of the cockpit tub does not meet the fuselage
properly. This gap was too large and too precariously located to
putty and sand, so I covered it with an appropriately sized
piece of plastic card painted to match the rest of the interior.
So far so good. Minor annoyances,
but nothing I couldn't live with. Then came the assembly and
attachment of the greenhouse canopy, which is where the real
headaches started. I use the word assembly because the
greenhouse is comprised of no less than 5 separate clear parts.
Fortunately these parts are all joined along actual seam lines
and the width of the framing on either side of the seam is such
that minor overflows of cement can be hidden once the canopy
framing is painted. I used small amounts of clear, non-marring
liquid cement placed on the tip of a piece of small diameter
copper wire to precisely locate the cement. Nevertheless I
managed to get enough cement on the window portions of the
canopy to render them (in my opinion) useless. So it was back to
Hobbies Plus for a second kit. It was now becoming a "me
against the kit" issue, and I wasn't about to lose!
Fortunately, I usually learn from
my mistakes, and the second attempt at canopy assembly went
better. This time I used minute amounts of superglue placed
carefully along the joint seam lines and did not get any
overflow. For those of you who have the kit, I first glued part
D6 (left side) to D1 (top). Then I glued this combination to the
fuselage over the cockpit area and worked my way around, adding
the remaining canopy pieces as I went. After it was on, the
canopy looked pretty rough, so I polished it out with a
progression of polishing cloths running from 3200 through 12000,
and finished with a liquid plastic polish. One other potential
problem area with the canopy - be sure that it sits straight;
i.e., the top of the canopy should sit level from side to side.
If it doesn't there will be problems with the alignment and
level of the wings, since each wing is joined to attachment
points on the top left and right sides of the canopy.
Whew! I took a breath and then
proceeded to glue the cowling halves together and then attached
the cowling assembly to the front of the fuselage. The nosepiece
for the cowling was then attached. This piece is slightly larger
in diameter than its mating surface at the front of the cowling.
Consequently, sanding and then minor rescribing was needed to
even things up.
Next on to the wings. The molded
in flap actuators (actually nothing more than small triangular
shaped protrusions) were cut off in preparation for the much
better looking photoetch pieces from Eduard. The wing halves
were joined and the leading edge slats were glued into place.
Eduard includes some miniscule photoetch pieces which can be
used to replace the plastic attachment point for the slats.
However, these were just too small for me! The slats seemed
overscale in thickness, but I did not take the time to try and
thin them out. The horizontal stabs were glued into place next.
Be careful about their alignment. There is only a very small
single tab and corresponding hole on each side of the fuselage
to indicate where they set.
The locator holes in each wing
attach to locator stubs which protrude from the top left and
right sides of the green house canopy. I test fit each wing and
found that the fit was quite good. I decided to paint and
weather the wings before attaching them to the fuselage as this
would make painting easier. The greenhouse canopy was masked
using Scotch tape and a very sharp number 11 blade was used to
removed the tape from the framing. I first painted the rear area
of the fuselage where the yellow fuselage band was located. This
was then masked off. All paints for the fuselage and wings were
lightened by about 15% using flat white. The fuselage, wings,
wing struts and landing gear strut pieces were then airbrushed
with RLM 76, which acted as both a base coat and primer. The
lower fuselage was then masked off and the upper fuselage and
upper wing surfaces were airbrushed RLM 71 (dark green). Note
that the kit instructions call for RLM 83 (light green), which
is clearly inaccurate for an aircraft based at the eastern front
in 1942. After the RLM 71 had dried I masked the appropriate
areas using drafting tape. I then airbrushed RLM 70 (black
green) to reproduce the splinter pattern. When the wings and
fuselage were dry, the masking was removed and a gloss coat was
hand brushed using Future and a soft flat brush. After this was
thoroughly dry (about 12 hours) I applied a wash of black artist
watercolor heavily diluted with water and a few drops of
dishwashing detergent. I have tried various kinds of washes but
this is my favorite because the wash can be selectively removed
when dry using a cloth or Q tip dampened with water (see the
February 1999 issue of Fine Scale Modeler for a good article on
Wings were next attached to the
fuselage using small amounts of Testors tube glue. Be careful
not to get glue on the clear parts of the greenhouse canopy. I
also was careful to ensure that the wings were situated so that
they were parallel to the horizontal stabs and perpendicular to
the tail. Using slow drying tube glue allows you time to
position the wings. When the glue was cured I dry fitted the
wing struts and found that they were both too long. I shortened
each one little by little at the end that attaches to the
fuselage. When I was satisfied with the fit, I glued the struts
in place using small drops of superglue gel. I was not satisfied
with the interplane struts which came in the kit as they seem
much too large for scale. I made a simple jig and used one of
these kit pieces to create new struts with more appropriately
scaled styrene rod.
Decals were applied. The kit
decals are thin and will not tolerate a lot of handling. They
were also out of register which required considerable trimming
both before application and after they were on the model.
Additionally the kit decals appeared to have a minimal amount of
adhesive on them. I found that they rapidly lost their adhesion
if the decal needed to be moved around on the surface to secure
the correct location. I solved this problem by placing a small
pool of Future beneath each decal. The Future acted as an
adhesive and also pulled the decal down into panel lines and
surface irregularities as it dried. This is a great little trick
that also works well for small decals which would otherwise
appear silvered when dry. There were no swastikas for the tail
so I used several from an old Allmark swastika decal sheet.
After the decals were dry I gently washed off the model's
surfaces with a dampened cotton ball. The aircraft were then
airbrushed with several light coats of Polly Scale Flat. Using
multiple light coats is important because if a heavy coat is
used initially, it will cause the water-based wash to puddle-up
and run. I next removed the Scotch tape from the canopy. To my
disappointment I found that a small amount of paint had seeped
under the tape in several places and created small etchings on
several otherwise clear areas. I was able to solve this by
carefully polishing out the areas with a plastic polish on a
Q-tip. I then applied a small amount of Future to the clear
areas using a brush.
The landing struts were then
attached with much cursing and swearing. Each wheel strut
assembly is composed of three pieces which makes alignment
difficult and made me wish I had at least two extra hands.
Wheel hubs were airbrushed gloss
black. They were then masked off with Parafilm and the tires
airbrushed Testor flat black which was lighted by about 15%
using flat white. Final bits and pieces such as the pitot tube
and rear wheel and photoetch rear wheel bracing were attached.
Some final weathering was done
using black and brown pastels and lightly dry brushing the upper
wing surfaces to emphasize the fabric effect.
This kit builds into and attractive model but is hampered by
complex assembly requirements of the greenhouse canopy, wings
and struts, and landing gear. Additionally, the decals are of
less than stellar quality. I would recommend this kit to a more
experienced modeler who wants to build a Storch in 1/72 scale.
Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich, Galahad
Books, New York (1970).