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ETC 501 Rack Improvement Project

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  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Newnan, GA
ETC 501 Rack Improvement Project
Posted by benzdoc on Saturday, January 5, 2013 11:18 AM

Hello All,

I took a stab at improving the ETC 501 rack included with the Tamiya Fw 190 A/8-R2 kit in 1/48th scale. As a bit of back story, work started on this model back in 2006, right before Eduard released their version of the 190. Between that development, and a few construction hurdles I hit, this kit ended up in the box… Recently, I took a look at it, and it’s not so bad. Either way, it’s so close to being finished it would be stupid to let it rot.

Coupled with the fact that I got burned out a little bit on the Eduard Fw 190 D–9 project, I went back to this one. When I pulled the rack out of the sprue, I was pretty disgusted. Well, disgusted is a strong word, maybe disappointed would be more accurate. So I decided to take a stab at improving it; in the end it does look better than the kit part, however it’s not that great.

The reason I wanted to share this with the group is that maybe this will spark your own creative juices to make something even better, and maybe learn from my mistakes. So here we go.

Firstly, this is what the rack looks like in 1/1 scale, from the Fw 190 F–8 (the bomb rack version is missing the longitudinal braces that the fuel tank version gets) at the Udvar-Hazy Center:

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center IV 2012-04-22 at 13-32-43

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center IV 2012-04-22 at 16-19-39

Here’s the other 1/1 scale rack from the Imperial War Museum Fw 190 A–8 (Sorry for the lousy pics, I had no idea what I was doing back then…)

Imperial War Museum 2005-01-22 at 17-50-48

Imperial War Museum 2005-01-22 at 17-51-03

Imperial War Museum 2005-01-22 at 17-51-45

I have a couple of the Eagle Editions 300L drop tank parts in resin that I wanted to use as well. However, here are a couple of 1/1 pics of the same:

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum 2012-12-15 at 11-43-23

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum 2012-12-15 at 12-29-23 HDR

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum 2012-12-15 at 11-32-09 HDR

Hindsight is better than 20/20, but I really wish I had taken better pics of the drop tanks…

With a decent idea of what the real one looks like, I was off to the races. Here is the first step, cut off the arms:


Fast forward a bit, here is the rack cleaned up, center hole filled (to be drilled out smaller), and the Eagle Editions tank cleaned up and ready for assembly:


The rack is made of three parts, the front and rear halves and the strap that bears the weight to the aircraft. The would have you glue the two halves together, trapping the strap in between. While that is probably fine, I wanted to add a bit of insurance in the form of a brass pin to add a bit of strength. Here you can see the strap bonded to the front half of the tank, and both sides drilled out ready to be finish joined:




So, the big challenge was, how to add the support arms to the rack and expect / hope for them to end up where they belong? My less than perfect solution was to use white glue to attach the rack to the top of the strap so that the beginning and end of the strap was defined:


I couldn’t resist using my new favorite tool / toy as a backdrop. It’s “The Cutter” from Albion Alloys, and although it’s being under utilized to cut sprue, this is a fabulous tool. Such heft and quality - and it’s going to come in handy with the Albion Alloys micro tube in future projects…

With the rack attached to the strap defining the beginning of the arms, I made sprue replacements for the longitudinal braces; to locate the, I added a sliver to styrene sheet to fit into the ‘guide’ on the rack and then used white glue to attach them to the tank, leaving the beginning and end points defined:



Then it was a matter of adding the support arms into place; I used 5 minute epoxy and tried to remove as much excess as possible as it firmed up although I have since seen there there is some unwanted excess in places, after adding all four of the primary supports, this is what it looked like:




So now it was time to separate the rack and tank, and the beauty of white glue was revealed. I just soaked the unit in warm water for a few minutes, and they separated easily, leaving this:



If you look at this from the right angle, you can see that the supports aren’t all even, which is down to imperfect work on my part. However, an additional problem is caused by the drop tank; the longitudinal supports should be parallel to each other in the X axis, in other words the distance between them should be the same at the rear as the front. However, the mounts on the tank were not that way, and I didn’t see any fix that would take a reasonable amount of time, so I just let it be.

Either way, it was time to try to add the secondary supports; I knew going in that there was no way I could get them small enough to make them scale size. So the choice was to have them, but thicker than they should be or leave them out. I went with “there, but thicker”:



Here it is dry fit; I’m glad the alignment was maintained throughout the process:


So there it is. Not perfect, but better than stock. Thinking about it, I may give it another shot, especially in terms of fixing the angle of the longitudinal supports, and also going thinner on the secondary supports. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!

Thanks for taking the time to look.

Best regards,


  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Newnan, GA
Posted by benzdoc on Sunday, January 6, 2013 8:36 PM

Hello All,

Yesterday, almost as soon as I was done posting this, I realized that I had to give it another try. There’s no way I can sleep at night if I don’t try, and the first attempt was pretty bad.

Although the second attempt isn’t perfect, I do feel a lot better about it; at least it won’t bug me anymore.

I tried a different approach this time. Since getting the longitudinal supports parallel was a big failure on the first go round, I decided to start there. I have to say, the Eagle Editions tank caused me some problems here, as each ‘stay’ point on the tank should be in a U shape, where a ball type end bracket would sit, with some play involved. The front points were in a U or V shape, however the rear points had only one side of the U or V, which made things a bit more complicated. Regardless, it took me a while to find the right combination of strip and or rod cemented to the longitudinal struts to help it sit in place. And of course, once I had that set, they were cinched down with white glue:



And while these weren’t parallel in every way, this was much improved over the first attempt.

Next, I got the upper part of the rack cleaned up and drilled out and then glued it to the tank with white glue as well:



This time around, I also decided to use thinner brass primary support rods. Being thinner meant it was more difficult to work with, and naturally the secondary support rods would have to be thinner as well, but this matches up a lot better with the reference photos that I’ve taken.

Getting the angle consistent across for parts was not easy; this is probably something that a person like Paul Budzik could do in his sleep, however I’m not there yet. In the end, I decided to use my JLC saw to scribe a line to bend the strip, and found a suitable fixture to measure the parts against so they are pretty well consistent. Note to self: get an adjustable protractor!!

Here is the assembly with the primary supports attached, before final trimming:



I have since cut off the excess brass at the top of the rack. Next steps are to separate the tank from the rack, add the secondary supports and trim the longitudinal supports to final length and round the ends. Not too far away!

Thanks for taking a look!

Best regards,


  • Member since
    March 2010
  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Sunday, January 6, 2013 11:35 PM

Nice job Mike. Your scratch building looks way better than that Eagle parts drop tank. I've contemplated buying some, but the resin looks poor and the panel lines in the tank look rough. But your work, just stunning. I've got some great refs of the etc rack on A-8s including factory drawings if your interested.



  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: here, not over there
Posted by Dre on Monday, January 7, 2013 10:22 AM

That's a really good mod, Mike.   The rack looks so much better for your effort, but you ought to consult a doctor about that skin color- it may be something serious!Wink

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Newnan, GA
Posted by benzdoc on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 8:00 PM

Hello my friends,

Nathan and Dre, thank you for the kind words. This second try is a lot more like what I had in mind, even if it’s still far from perfect.

Nathan, you’re right about the drop tank. It is rough in areas, but the good news is I think I’ll be able to clean that up with some work. I’m guessing that it was their attempt at showing how beat up these things would get in service, but it seems like the wrong way! There would be dents, dirt and stains, not bulging seams. Oh well, by the time I’m done with it, hopefully it will be better than the kit tank to go along with a much improved rack.

Here are the photos of the completed rack, the first ones with the top excess brass strip trimmed off and free of the tank (with semi-rough sanding stick and patience!):



Now here is the completed rack sitting on the tank. The secondary supports are pretty obvious:






And finally, here’s the comparison between the first attempt and all of the scrap generated by the project:


Now I’ll work on the tank a bit, but for the most part I’m satisfied that this is a big improvement.

Thanks for taking a look!

Best regards,



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