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Fa 223

Special Hobby 1/48 Fa 223 Drache Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2006 Manufacturer Special Hobby
Subject Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48020 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, PE
Pros Exquisite detail Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $47.00

First Look

Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223
Fa 223

The Foche Achgilles Fa 266 Hornisse was designed in 1939 as a follow-on to the Fa 61 that became the world's first transport helicopter for Lufthansa. The Fa 61 (sometimes referred to as the Fw 61) was a highly modified biplane airframe with two outrigger rotor booms.

The Fa 266 was larger than the Fa 61 to provide greater utility to the fledgling vertical flight market. It made its first flight in August 1940.

Since Germany was now engaged in a widening war, the Fa 266 was adopted into the military by the RLM as the Fa 233 Drache for the transport, anti-submarine patrol, reconnaissance, rescue, and training roles. Production was approved at the company's Bremen facility, but allied bombing negated that production facility, forcing the assembly line to relocate several times before the end of the war. While widespread production of the aircraft was authorized, only a handful were completed and fewer still entered service with Luft-Transport Staffel 40.

After the war, the Fa 223 was ironically the first helicopter to cross the English Channel during its ferry flight out of Germany over to England for further evaluations.

The Special Hobby Fa 223 kit has been released in 1/48 scale and I must say that this kit is a beauty. Some folks might mistake this aircraft as a notional design, and thanks to allied bombing, it didn't get too far into the war effort. If you really want so read some interesting history, Google the famous German woman test pilot Hanna Reitsch and how she flew the Fa 61 inside the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin in February 1938 only after three hours of experience on the type.

This kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Six resin parts and two frets of photo-etch round out the kit. Note that one of the two photo-etch frets is printed in color so your instruments, panel and seatbelts/harnesses come ready to roll.

Since these early helicopters were not well-powered, the airframe was usually welded tubular metal construction with a fabric covering to save weight. My first curiosity was the details in the cockpit inside that greenhouse nose. Special Hobby has done an outstanding job of recreating the tubular structure which will definitely be eye-catching after assembly.

You only have to look at the cover photo to know that this will be a very delicate model when completed. The twin booms will require care to avoid damage during handling.

The twin boom structure is built-up on either side of the assembled fuselage. I may have to do a few mods to the kit to allow for the rotor heads to be removable for storage or transport.

Markings are included for four different examples:

  • Fa 223E-0, V-16, DM+ST, 1944
  • Fa 223E-0, V-11, DM+SO, 1943
  • Fa 223E-0, V-11, DM-SO, as it appeared during a failed recovery attempt of a Do 217 resulting it its crash
  • Fa 223E-0, V-51, GW+PA, 1945

If you're interested in rotary-winged aviation and are looking for something a little different, this is the kit you've been waiting for. It should be a straightforward project for the experienced modeler and the results will be stunning with some patience and good preparation.

My sincere thanks to Hobbyshop.cz for this review sample!

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