Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe Album No. 11: The Fieseler Fi 156
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
Valiant Wings Publishing has just released the 11th instalment in their Airframe Album series, entitled The Fieseler Fi 156: A Detailed Guide To The Luftwaffe's Versatile Storch. In common with previous titles in the series, this one is authored by Richard A. Franks, a well-known name in modelling and aviation publishing.
The first thing that strikes you with this book is the terrific cover art by Seweryn Fleischer. The presentation of material in this book is impressive throughout. Photographs are generally clear and crisply reproduced, as are the 3D isometric line drawings by Chris Sandham-Bailey. The colour profiles by Richard Caruana are handsomely rendered.
The content itself is organised into four main sections plus an introduction and appendices:
- 1. Technical Description
- 2. Evolution - Prototype, Production and Projected Variants
- 3. Camouflage and Markings
- 4. Models
- I. Fieseler Fi 156 Kit List
- II. Fieseler Fi 156 Accessory
- III. Fieseler Fi 156 Decal List
- IV. Bibliography
It should be evident from the list of contents alone that this title is aimed squarely at the modeller. There's plenty here for aviation enthusiasts and Fi 156 aficionados too, but the emphasis is on providing the modeller with copious data and as much detail as possible.
The Technical Description section of the book is packed with period photographs, technical drawings, and photos of several restored examples. The airframe is covered pretty comprehensively from nose to tail, with special emphasis on those areas of the most interest to modellers: cockpit and engine.
The section on the evolution of the airframe gives a concise but very clear overview of the development of the Fi 156, from the initial prototypes and pre-production airframes, right through to the French- and Czech-built post-war variants.
The Camouflage and Markings section covers the type's use by both the Luftwaffe and foreign air forces, and was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The sheer breadth of liveries and air forces the Storch flew under is quite amazing, and this affords modellers a great range of distinctive choices for finishing their models. A decent selection of period photographs is included, along with some terrific colour profiles.
I'd like to see larger versions of some of the photos, but that's a perennial constraint that all aviation publications have to deal with, and hardly a criticism.
The last of the main sections of the book features three model builds, two in 1/72 scale, and one in 1/48 scale. This is a little light on compared with previous Airframe Album titles, and it's disappointing to see that one of the extant Storch kits in LSP scales hasn't been included.
The first build is by the ever-impressive Libor Jekl, and utilises the Směr boxing of the Heller 1/72 Fi 156. Libor does an excellent job with this kit, turning out a white-washed Eastern Front machine, complete with a scratch-built engine. An amazing build given the tiny scale.
The second build is also by Libor Jekl, and sees him converting the Academy 1/72 Fi 156C kit to a post-war Czech K-65 Čáp. Another instructive build from Jekl, and another impressive result. It's also refreshing to see some builds finished in a relatively clean style, with only modest weathering if any at all.
Steve Evans takes us up to 1/48 scale for the final build, which features Tamiya's terrific Fi 156 kit. The jump in quality of the base kit from the previous two builds is evident, but Evans handles the build with aplomb, and delivers an outstanding result.
The final section is the Appendices, and these follow the customary pattern for this series of books, in outlining what options the modeller has in terms of kits, accessories and decals for producing a scale replica Storch. Only a smattering of 1/32 scale items is available, unfortunately.
The book rounds things out with a bibliography of existing titles covering the Storch, which serves as a handy launch pad for further research into the type.
Here's a small selection of sample pages, courtesy of Valiant Wings:
This is a detailed, comprehensive and modeller-friendly title. If you're building, or intend to build, a model of the Storch in any scale, this book will prove invaluable, and I highly recommend it. I must admit that I've now starting eyeing off the Hasegawa 1/32 scale kit in my stash!
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review sample.
© Kevin Futter 2017
This review was published on Saturday, March 18 2017; Last modified on Saturday, March 18 2017