Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Main Landing Gear

Part Two - 1/48 Scale Model Issues


by Robert Stephenson and
E. Brown Ryle III

HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron.com




Once Bob got to work on the specifics of the different manufactures Fw190 model gear, it quickly became clear that the only way to really settle the 1/48th scale accuracy issue was with actual measurements of the Fw190 landing gear.  I made a phone call to Malcolm Laing.

We needed measurements that would apply to a model.  Simply having Malcolm measure the gear from end to end or end to wing wouldnít give us what we needed because of the differences in the way the real gear installed and the way the model gear attaches. 

We settled on a measurement from the point where the gear leg emerges from the wheel well to the center of the top link pivot point.  We realized that trying to measure to the axle center would be unreliable.  The strut is compressible and the overall length of the gear would vary depending on the weight of the aircraft and the internal pressure of the strut (as prescribed on the pressure chart painted on the Fw190ís landing gear cover).

At the end of the week Malcolm provided a hand drawing with the Fw190 landing gear measurements.  I emailed this information to Bob and he took it to the hobby bench along with his micrometer.

The three 1/48th scale Fw190 landing gears in question were: the DML/Dragon (L), the Trimaster, (M) and the Tamiya (R).  (Photo 10)  I decided to determine how the gear legs compared with each other, then with our actual measurements.


Photo 10 

I tried to measure the gear legs in the Fw190 models I had already built.  This method was unreliable.  It was too difficult to get my calipers into position and get repeatable results. 

I broke out my un-built kits and tried another approach.   I marked each leg with a marking pen and installed them in their respective wings. The legs were marked at the point where they emerged from the wheel well using a 20x jeweler's loupe and a sharp scriber.  I tried to get reliable measurements by using my calipers but again I considered the results untrustworthy. 

At my job we have a really cool measuring system that we use to check our close tolerance work.  Basically, itís a microscope/ video/ computer measuring system.  It will magnify a .025 drill bit to about 5 inches on the video screen and measure in three dimensions calibrated to .0001.  By hovering the crosshairs over the points to be tested and clicking the mouse the computer will do all the trig or geometry and produce the sizes.  While I didnít use all the available amplification, it did give me highly reliable measurements:  


Wing Bottom                   Top Link            Retraction Strut Point               Axle Center


Tamiya                        .786 in. (19.96 mm)                  .421 in.                              1.179 in.

Trimaster                     .764 in. (19.41 mm)                  .439 in.                              1.183 in.

DML                            .819 in. (20.80 mm)                 .465 in.                              1.226 in.

Real Fw190                 .817 in.  (20.75mm)


Included is the distance from the wing bottom to the center of the axle.  This was done for comparison purposes but because of the reasons listed above, this distance will be variable on a real Fw190.  The wing bottom to retraction strut point is also included for comparison purposes.

The DML leg is almost exactly right.  The Tamiya is .031(.79 mm) short.  The Trimaster is .052 in. (1.32 mm) short.

Overall, from wing to axle, the DML is .047 in (1.19 mm) longer than Tamiya and .043 in. (1.09 mm) longer than Trimaster.  So, why the big difference in stance when the models are displayed on the table?  There are several factors.



Gear Assembly


The main reason for the large difference in the kitís stance lies in the way the kits are engineered.  The Trimaster/DML/Dragon and the Tamiya landing gears do not assemble the same way.

The Trimaster and DML/Dragon gear have difficulties: When assembled, the legs have almost no forward rake.  Further, installing the DML/Dragon wheelwell insert can be troublesome and incorrect part placement will create additional problems.  (Photo 11).  As far as we can tell, this DLM/Dragon problem, resulting in pointy-toe landing gear with no forward rake, is where the rumor got started about the Tamiya landing gear being short.


DML (no correction)                                 Tamiya (no correction)

Photo 11

 Installed without any modifications, the gear on the Trimaster and DML/Dragon hang almost perpendicular to the bottom of the wing.  (Photo 12, TRIMASTER, and Photo13, DML leg)  The gear should rake forward about 15 degrees from a line drawn perpendicular to the centerline of the fuselage.  (Photo 14 Tamiya leg) 


Trimaster DML Dragon
Photos 12, 13 & 14

As mentioned previously, a good visual clue that the gear is raked correctly is the bottom of the gear door should run parallel to the ground.  (Photo 15).


DML (no correction)                                   DML (corrected)

Photo 15

 Although the Trimaster gear is metal, it presents less of a problem than the DML gear.  When DML changed the legs from metal to plastic they also lengthened them.  As the measurements show, this is not really a problem, but the drag link part that accompanies the DML kit was not lengthened.  This does create a problem.

 The Tamiya gear goes together without much trouble.  While this is great, and Tamiya kits are known for their ease of assembly, not all of it is cake.  The gear stance, if you simply assemble the gear, is not guaranteed to be correct.  You must take your time and ensure that the gear is aligned to the proper forward rake.

 Another small contributor to the different in kit ďstanceĒ is wheel (tire) size.  Trimaster/DML wheels are .585 in. (14.86 mm) while the Tamiya wheels are .545 in. (13.84 mm).  This means a .020 in (.51 mm) addition to the Trimaster/DML kits.  The correct Fw190 wheel size in 1/48 scale is .574 in. (14.58 mm).  So, the Tamiya wheel is slightly undersized.

 Also, all of the kits are blighted by what resembles a big square knot at the top of the strut (?).  (Photo 10, top of all struts)  As itís not on the real a/c, youíll want to at least reduce it in size for a better-looking part. 




The first thing you want to do on the Trimaster kit is thin the edge of the wheel well cut out in the wing.  This is simple, gives a more realistic appearance and helps with assembling the landing gear.

Youíll also have to do a bit of plastic removal on the outside of the wheelwell insert for the proper clearance of the upper wing and the wing leading edge.  Test fit the wing halves with the wheelwell in place until youíve removed enough material for a good fit.

I strongly suggest you cheat the wheelwell forward a bit.  This will allow you the necessary room, to correctly attach the gear drag links to the motor face in the main spar.  If you position the wheelwell too far aft in the wing opening, the drag link part will not connect when you attempt to glue it into place in the wheelwell part.  Again, test fit.

Once you get the wheelwell to fit into the wing, and moved it far enough forward, make sure that the sockets for the legs are centered (end to end) in the opening prior to gluing.  You can eyeball this or measure from the outside edges of the wing opening.

To build the correct landing gear rake, remove some material from the top back surface of the strut.  Removing this material will allow the strut part clearance into the socket at the correct angle.  While doing this: try not to remove any material from the very top of the strut.

As mentioned, the Trimaster strut is already a bit short.  While the Trimaster strut is a bit too short I donít recommend fixing it. As is, it is only about .004in (.1 mm) longer than the Tamiya.  I donít recommend lengthening the Tamiya either because if you get the rake correct I will look just fine, in my opinion. But if you have a terminal case of AMS follow the recommendations for lengthening the Tamiya strut further down the page. Just substitute the Trimaster difference for the Tamiya.  It will be a bit more difficult pull off as the metal legs will be less forgiving of mistakes than the plastic ones.

Use drawings and photos as a guide as you work on the proper rake of the gear.  Again, a good visual clue that the gear is correctly positioned is the bottom of the gear door running parallel to the ground.  (You might want to test fit the gear cover occasionally to check your progress.)  For me, this whole procedure is infinitely more difficult than mating the wings to the fuselage or the cowling to the fuselage.  I just donít have enough hands!

After you have aligned and attached the gear legs, attach the drag link part.  It will just fit.  But, if you find that itís not quite long enough: follow the up coming notes on the on the DML. 

The wheel axle on the Trimaster is cast at the correct angle.  (Photo 16)  Just attach the wheel perpendicular to the ground and align it straight ahead.  But, be sure you metal strut is straight!


Photo 16




When DML took over the molds of the defunct Trimaster Ltd., they redesigned all the cast metal bits in plastic.  So, the new plastic strut is not an exact copy of the metal strut.  It is .043 in (1.09 mm) longer with the additional length at the very top.  (Photo 10 of all three landing gear).  This extra length means that when you correct the rake in the same manner as mentioned for the Trimaster, the drag links, which were simply cloned from metal into plastic, will not reach their attachment point on the aft side of the strut.  Photo 17 shows a correctly aligned strut with an un-modified link.  Once the link is attached to the strut, it will no longer attach to the attachment point in the wheelwell.


Photo 17

The link does not reach its attachemnt point on the motor face in the wing when the landing gear strut is properly aligned for the correct Fw190 stance.

Fortunately, the fix for the DML/Dragon strut is easy: Cut off the strutís drag link attachment point and replace it with .045 in. plastic rod that has been flattened on one end to fit against the strut.  (Photo 18, DML original strut vs. DML modified strut).  Test fit for length.  This part can be detailed a bit more than I did for this article, but ďas isĒ; it looks fine in 1/48th scale.


Unmodified   (DML Link)   Modified

Photo 18

Using a Tamiya link part on the DML will not provide any more length than an un-modified DML part (Photo 19).  A modified DML part is required for the correct strut rake (Photo 20).


Too Short Correct Length

Photo 19                                                         Photo 20

Unlike the Bf109, the Fw190 wheels run almost square to the ground (the wheel top leans slightly outward, depending on oleo pressure).  Further, aircraft, like automobiles, have a bit of camber and toe-in to the tire.  The Fw190 was no exception.  These setting were made by various adjustments in the Fw190ís gear.  But, in 1/48 itís too small to be an issue.

The wheel axle on the DML/Dragon is 90į to the strut.   It will incorrectly slant the tire when the strut is correctly canted inwards.  You can simply adjust the tire to the angle it is supposed to be and CA it in place.  Or, you can cut off the axle, drill a hole that will be parallel to the ground, and install a .045 in. plastic rod axle.  I suggest the axle.  Remember to keep the tires perpendicular to the ground and parallel to the fuselage centerline.



The Tamiya strut is .031 in (.78 mm) short in comparison with a real Fw 190 part and .047 in. (1.19) shorter than the DML overall.  Iíll go over a couple of different suggestions for correcting the Tamiya gear but first I must say that Iím not too troubled by the fact that the Tamiya gear is short.

The Tamiya gear is shorter from the top scissors link to the axle by .014 in. (.36 mm) than the DML gear.  This is only .67 in. (17.1 mm) in 1/1 scale!  Iím willing to accept this difference as a weight /pressure issue on the real a/c.  If you feel the gear needs lengthening here are a couple of ways to go about it.

To lengthen the strut, cut between the drag link attachment point and the uplock pin.  Remember to calculate and include the thickness of the saw you are using.  If your saw is .10 in (.25 mm) thick, then add that amount to your overall correction.  This will usually add up to between .040 and .045 in. (1.02 mm and 1.14 mm).

Sandwich the ďsizedĒ plastic plug between the cut, check your alignment, and glue.  You can strengthen the joint by pinning it through the center with sections of a small drill bit or a bit of straight pin.

Another approach is the one taken by Ian Robertson in his D-9 build-up (as posted here on Hyperscale).  Briefly, Ian grafted the upper Tamiya strut with the DML scissors and axle section.  Ian did a nice job, and I suggest you check his article for the complete story.  This method will also give you some additional overall length.

Personally, I donít plan to modify any of my Tamiya Fw190ís landing gear.  There is just not that much difference when you compare a Tamiya kit to a correctly built Trimaster/DML kit.  And, if you replace the undersized kit tires with some correctly sized after market ones, that is about all the help needed with the Tamiyaís stance/height issue. (See Photo 21, correct tires on Tamiya kit vs. DML kit with corrected strut)


Tamiya (correct size wheels)                                     DML (corrected strut)

Photo 21

 If you are not inclined to modify the Tamiya kit, the landing gear assembles almost trouble free.  As when building any model donít take it on faith that everything will turn out correctly by gluing parts to their attachment points.  Double-check the rake and inward cant of the gear before making a permanent attachment.  As was said prior: using the gear door as a guide can help you check the rake and attain the correct stance.  Carefully push and/or pull as necessary.

Another nit-pick item on the Tamiya needing attention is the wheel axle.  It is not parallel to ground after assembly.  Follow the suggestions made to correct the same problem for the DML/Dragon strut.



Gear Covers - Strut, Attachment and Shape


One thing that is not done very well on all the kits is the gear door attachment studs (Photo #10A).  The DML studs are overstated and do not line up with the holes on the doors.  The Trimaster and Tamiya are more to scale, but are in the wrong position.



Photo 10A 

Having said that, Iíll also say that the placement of the studs may not be much of a problem.  On the real Fw190s the holes on the outside of the doors were usually patched over with ďpinkingĒ (fabric, glued in place, for areodynamic reasons) and painted over with a red-brown fabric dope then RLM 76 (or just the red-brown if the covers had been worked on).

 Another thing is the shape of the main gear cover.  While the outline of all the covers is not so bad as to disqualify your kit from judging at the local hobby event, those of you possessing a few good photos of Fw190 gear covers might want to compare those photos to your kit parts.  A bit of time studying and reshaping quickly provides a more accurate gear cover.





We hope the real Fw190 landing gear information has been of help.  The landing gear fixes offered here are easily attained by modelers with average skill or above average patience and persistence.  These minor gear problem fixes will help modelers achieve an accurate look to their Fw190 kits.

Thank you for reading the entire article.  Bob and I understand that it might be overkill for such a specific subject but we hope this information removes some of the urban legends that have surrounded the Fw190 landing gear and these kits for years. 

Happy modeling. J





The aircraft and aircraft parts photos are owned by Brown Ryle.  The model and model part photos are owned by Bob Stephenson.

Brown Ryle completed the line drawings for the figures.  Please excuse the poor quality of the drawings.  The pencil drawn lines and the paper on which the drawings were made did not duplicate well into electronic medium. 

The authors whole-heartily suggest that the reader obtain copies of the published references for a much better graphic presentation of the figureís subject matter.

Fw190 Rivet Manual, dtd 1940

Fw190D Walk Around

Fw190A/F/G Walk Around


Return to Part One

Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Robert Stephenson and E. Brown Ryle III
Page Created 26 June 2003
Last updated 26 June 2003

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reference Index