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James Hatch

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  1. Focke Wulf FW190A-4

    Got one here. Got to say it's a nice kit. We truly are in a golden age!
  2. Craft Tools Rack

    Craft Tools Rack DSPIAE Catalogue # AT-R Available from Breveco Modelling for €44,50 My workbench is always a clutter, despite it being fitted with a whole array of HobbyZone modules that store paint, brushes, tools etc. As modellers, we always tend to pull the same small number of key tools and things back to our bench as soon as we start work on our next project, or after a well-needed mid-project tidy. I’d been after a small tool rack so that I could keep just a few regular bits and pieces together. My good friends at Breveco Modelling told me that they had such an item in stock, from DSPIAE. This is the same company whose Stepless Adjustment Circular Cutter and Single Blade Nipper, that I recently reviewed here on Brexitmodeller. As luck would have it, Breveco were visiting Scale Model World 2017 at Telford, so I took the opportunity to pick one up from them in person. Now, this is no flimsy or lightweight box. This little package is actually quite heavy, and the box is built to withstand a nuclear blast, or so it would seem. The same high-quality presentation has gone into this product as it did with the others. Box art is a little unusual from the lid, with only a small number of words, and a side drawing of the rack is present. The box sides do give a little more away, with photos and some explanation of the product itself. The extremely robust lid took some effort to remove from the tray, such is the airtight fit of this. Underneath this lies a removable panel which shows the various parts within, and instructions on assembly of the tools rack (not that it’s too difficult to fathom yourself!). Lifting out the foam backed panel reveals a precisely cut foam block into which the various components are inserted, and each is named, just in case you had become confused at some point. All along, there’s no doubt at the level of quality that DSPIAE has employed here, but does that carry over onto the tool rack itself? Well, the answer is a resounding YES! Each part is now lifted carefully from the box, including a small wallet with a number of screws, sticky feet and a hex-key. All of the main components of the rack have a super smooth finish and a red-anodising to them, creating a striking appearance. For an extra touch, the outer edges of the main rack are bevelled, removing the anodising, and allowing the shine of the aluminium to come through. Assembly is very straightforward. I start by taking the baffle plate, and slotting this inside the rear part of the main rack. Two knurled screws now hold this in place from the rear of the rack, with two plastic washers to protect the red anodised finish of the parts. This baffle can be moved up and down within the stand, due to the slotted nature of the fixing point. This can be suited to fit your own particular tools. The two large openings in the front part of the rack now need to be tackled. A tool tray (bottom case) slots into the open side of the rack, and this is secured from underneath with three countersunk screws, tightened with the hex-key. Whilst I’m at this point, I also peel off the 3M sticky rubber feet and add these to the underside so that the rack isn’t scratched by any workbench debris. I am pretty fussy about things like that, and want to maintain something in the best way possible, for as long as humanly possible. Lastly, there is an optional module which can fit into the smaller of the two tray areas (well, it’s designed for the smaller, but will fit the larger area if you wish), and this is the modularised slot block. This is designed to fit brushes etc. What I like about the areas at the front is that the larger one fits a bottle of Tamiya Extra Thin Cement perfectly, so you won’t knock it over on your bench and melt your work in the process. Conclusion I’ve already got this stuffed with all manner of tools that I want to keep close at hand, including my razor saw, small brushes, sprue cutters etc. This takes the desk-tidy idea a step further and makes it both flexible and elegant. The weight of it, plus the rubber feet, means that it won’t skirt and slip around your bench accidentally. It firmly stays put, which is also useful if you store your cement bottle in there too. Putting the lid back on and screwing tight whilst in the stand, is straightforward. This is a quality tool, and that is reflected in the price, which I still think is very, very reasonable for a chunk of heavy, precisely machined metal and the other included parts. These aren’t something which I tend to see every day, but I’m sure if you drop Evert or Corien a message at Breveco Modelling, they’ll be able to sort out your requirements. My sincere thanks to Breveco Modelling for the sample seen here. This item isn’t yet on the website, but please contact them to register your interest.
  3. Stepless Adjustment Circular Cutter

    I'm sorry, you're right. The magnet holds the blade in situ. I should've updated things a little. It's a cracking tool. Very useful!
  4. 1/32 Revell P-51D Mustang TEST SHOT First Look I've been asked to build a test shot of the forthcoming P-51D from Revell. This will be for TMMI, and be finished in the kit decals for LOU IV. Permission has been given for me to publish these images of the test shot here on BxM. Please remember though that there are quite a few scuffs on this model as they aren't treated with the same kid gloves as a production standard kit, and the plastic is also darker, harder and a little more brittle than what you will see in your own kits. So, take a look at what we have here and ready your wallet for a right royal bashing.
  5. 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang

    1/48 North American P-51D Mustang Airfix Catalogue # A05131 Available from P&S Hobbies for £21 The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in 1940 by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission. The Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation to build Curtiss P-40 fighters under license for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Rather than build an old design from another company, North American Aviation proposed the design and production of a more modern fighter. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed, and first flew on 26 October. The Mustang was originally designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which, in its earlier variants, had limited high-altitude performance. It was first flown operationally by the RAF as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber (Mustang Mk I). The addition of the Rolls-Royce Merlin to the P-51B/C model transformed the Mustang's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, allowing the aircraft to compete with the Luftwaffe's fighters. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 two-stage two-speed supercharged engine and was armed with six .50 calibre (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning machine guns. From late 1943, P-51Bs and Cs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF's Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944.[10] The P-51 was also used by Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean, Italian and Pacific theatres. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed to have destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft. At the start of the Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters, including the F-86, took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After the Korean War, Mustangs became a popular civilian warbird and air racing aircraft. Except for the small numbers assembled or produced in Australia, all Mustangs were built by North American initially at Inglewood, California but then additionally in Dallas, Texas. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit This is my third Airfix review in the last week or so. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been interested in their output, but they seem to be pushing all of my buttons at the moment. I have to say that when I saw this in P&S Hobbies in York, I knew it was going to leave with me. Whilst the artwork style of these new kits is very different to the Airfix kits of my youth, they still manage to draw the modeller to them with their gorgeous computer-generated imagery. Again, this is another sturdy and glossy box with which incorporates a parts tray and separate lid, and one where you need to get your fingernails under the lid to prise it off. Inside, all of the six frames of light grey styrene are packed into a single heat-sealed polybag. Another bag within this contains the single clear sprue. I’m always very vocal about all parts frames being packed into a single bag, and with good reason. My sample kit had a few parts that were skewed on the frames due to the packing. A reasonably large decal sheet is included, as is the instruction manual, printed in Airfix’s new format. Airfix don’t include any PE in their releases, but the detail within should be more than enough for the average consumer. If you want a further detail-fest, then Eduard has a full suite of resin and PE for this particular release. Frame A It’s interesting to see the part’s breakdown and engineering of this kit. Airfix seem to be offering some very nice options with their new kits….even single seat fighters such as this one. Note the fuselage is moulded without a tail section? If that’s a hint that we might see an early un-filleted tail in a future release, then that would only be an extra bonus to us, as this kit offers two styles of the later filleted tail. Yes, two styles. Modelling is certainly an education in itself. Looking at the exterior of the fuselage, you will see some very neat panel line depiction and fairing and fastener details. I think these panel lines are perhaps a tad heavier than they could be, but certainly not in the realms of a few of their kits of recent years. I also think my photography seems to emphasize it a little too. It’s certainly not a deal breaker for me, in the slightest. Note that the exhaust manifolds fit into a recessed slot from the outside of the fuselage, meaning you can add them after painting. The cowl also has a hole into which one of two options of breather plate can be added. Within the fuselage, there is no detail, but a recessed area indicates where the separate cockpit wall panels will sit. The most unusual part on this frame is the cockpit floor area and fuel tank section, which extends back to, and incorporates the tail wheel well. Coincidentally, this is pretty much the same method that Revell has employed with their new P-51D Early release in 1/32. Anyway, this part forms the base into which the various other parts will sit, including the battery and radio gear. There are some ejector pin marks, but these are in the area to the rear of the fuel tank, and don’t form part of anything that can be seen. Mustang wings. This is always a subject that draws debate and argument, pretty much every time a P-51D kit hits the shelves. To putty, or not to putty, is undoubtedly the question at all times. Now, whilst this model isn’t riveted, per se, it does have key rows of rivets and fasteners that are recreated. This also includes the wings. We have to remember that Tamiya’s own Über-kit had riveted wings, albeit very faint. You can of course choose to fill this particular detail if it goes against your own personal taste. It can also be seen that the leading-edge MG section is a separate piece. Internally, there is no wheel well detail moulded as this will be separate too. Both regular and paper drop tanks are included. The texture on the paper tanks is very nice. This will probably be the option I use. I also quite like the texture on the fabric rudder, although it could benefit from a few light strokes of a sanding sponge. Frame B This larger frame shows that Airfix has designed the wings to have a full-span lower part, which is complete apart from the separate front wing to cowl fairing that forms the leading edge of the inboard wing area and main gear bay. I’m not absolutely sure of the reason why at this stage of an out-of-box review, but nothing leads me to think that this isn’t done with good reason. Again, wing surface textures are very nice, depicting key panel lines and rivets. There are positions here for what look like rockets, but with this release, you are asked to fill these and sand these flush. Should you wish to install the bazookas, bombs or drop tanks, then you will need to open up the locations from within the wing panel. The upper engine cowl on this model is a separate part, meaning that it installs along a natural cowl panel line, and of course, you won’t need to remove any troublesome seams that would otherwise run right down the middle of this area. There is some nicely innovative engineering going on at Airfix, these days. Here you can see the tail wheel walls which fit into the rear of the aforementioned cockpit tub area. I’m still amazed that they did this in the same manner as the new 1/32 Revell kit. Great minds think alike! Detail is very good, despite you not really seeing too much in the way of anything once installed. Note the detail on the main gear bay doors too. These incorporate part of the main well wall details. Earlier, I did say that there are two versions of the filleted tail, and here they are. The differences here are fillets themselves, and the stabiliser fairing area. These parts will install along a natural panel line. The cockpit walls are moulded here. I am more than happy with the detail which is depicted, plus the extra parts which enhance them, but there are a couple of what appear to be ejector pin marks in awkward places. Not all of these circular marks are pin marks. Some are actual details, but I fear not all. That is a little disappointing. If you want to take this model to another level, then Eduard’s replacement pit will not only remove this issue, but improve things yet further. This is a very reasonably-priced kit, so you might have a few coins left with which to invest. Lastly, the scoop intake is moulded as halves and simply installs within the belly of the model, before you bring the fuselage together. Frame C Instead of moulding the gear bay detail on the ceiling of the upper wing, Airfix has chosen to engineer this as a separate part, as did Meng with their recent 1/48 release. This is quite nice in depiction, but could perhaps do with a little extra detail added, such as plumbing etc. Squared sockets exist for the main gear struts to locate to. Two landing flap options have been provided for this kit. Of course, these are for the neutral and deployed positions. The flaps themselves are identical, bar the angle of the plug tab that fits into the socket on the trailing edge of the wing. There’s no doubt this provide a very solid approach to fitting these parts. A little panel line detail is moulded here, as well as some leading edge detail, but no rivets. Another part on this frame is for the forward centre wing to engine cowl section with the same cowl fastener details as generally seen on both the fuselage sides and upper cowl. Lastly, Airfix has included a three-part pilot figure (quite average), a wing spar that incorporates gear bay detail for the rear face of this area, and also the four-blade, cuffed propeller. The blades on this are nice and thin too, but the connection gates are on the blade cuffs, so care will be needed when cleaning the part for use. Frame D We have quite a large parts count with this frame, with most of the cockpit being found here, plus the undercarriage and other extraneous airframe parts. I did say earlier that Airfix’s rendition of the cockpit is certainly more than adequate. In fact, it should look very good built straight from the box, with its fairly high parts count and nice detail. The instrument panel itself should provide a good centrepiece to your work, the seat being provided with moulded belts. Note the quilted effect on the backrest, along with the draped harness. You will also find the battery and radio pack plus frame here. There are two exhaust options here; shrouded and unshrouded. Neither are moulded with hollow stubs, so you’ll need a micro drill bit and some patience. Two breather plate options are also provided. If you want more options, then there are also two types of wheel with different tread patterns. The hubs on these are integrally moulded and the wheels are weighted. I think the undercarriage legs are reasonable….not great, but reasonable. They have a mixture of both sharp and soft detail and the prominent seams will need to be removed. This is where I hope Eduard have plans for a bronze alternative. It could certainly benefit from such. The tail gear strut is very nicely detailed. Other parts on this frame include bombs, belly scoop fairing, undercarriage trouser doors, two-part spinner, radiator shutter and numerous other cockpit parts. Frame E This frame is for the clear parts. Note that Airfix supply THREE hoods, all with slight variations in profile. I can’t see the Dallas hood, unless I’m mistaken. There are also two forward windscreen options. Both of these incorporate a small section of fuselage skin, as per Tamiya’s 1/32 kit, providing a better way to fit these parts without gaps or glue smears being had. Framing detail is sharp, and clarity is excellent. The parts are also nice and thin. You’ll notice this frame also contains wing underside lamps and gunsight options etc. Frame F One of the kit options provides for underwing bazookas. These are very reasonable, despite the seams you’ll need to remove, and there appears to be an indentation at the point where the connection gate is. Decals A reasonable-sized decal sheet is included with this release, and would appear to be printed by Cartograf (Italy). The sheet is split into common decals (national insignia and stencils), and the two schemes. The stencils themselves are numerous and will certainly take up a couple of bench sessions to apply. Included with the individual machine markings are the various black bars and stripes. I would probably mask these and airbrush them instead of using decals, but the option is there. Printing has a satin finish, and the decals are thin, with solid colour reproduction and minimal carrier film. Everything is also in perfect register. The two schemes are: P-51D, ‘Little Indian’, 2nd Air Commando Group, 10th Air Force, United States Army Air Force, Kalaikunda, India, 1945 P-51D, 44-15152, ‘Jersey Jerk’, Captain Donald Strait, 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group, United States Army Air Force, RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, England, 1945 Instructions A sixteen page booklet is included, breaking down construction into seventy stages. All illustration is CAD-generated, grey-scale shaded, with good use of red ink to denote new part assembly. Colour references are given throughout for Humbrol paints, and two glossy sheets are supplied which show paint and decal application, plus a stencil guide. Conclusion It’s nice to see Airfix revisit the subjects that I slavishly built as a kid when most of my money went on the old boxed and packet kits from this veteran manufacturer. They obviously know what should sell very well, and I imagine the Mustang is one such kit. What also sells this for me are the various options, such as the canopies and exhausts/breather plates too, plus some innovative engineering. The schemes are quite nice, but not particularly varied, although the addition of the underwing bazookas certainly adds to the mix. A very nice kit with plenty of detail and very well moulded. It’s not a perfect release with some softness here and there, but it’s most certainly worth £20 of anyone’s money! Give it a shot. My sincere thanks to P&S Hobbies for the review kit seen here. To purchase, contact them via their website, here, or visit them on Walmgate in York, or Castle Road, Scarborough, UK.
  6. 1/48 Gloster Meteor F.8 Korea

    1/48 Gloster Meteor F.8 Korea Airfix Catalogue # A09184 Available from P&S Hobbies for £36.99 The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during the Second World War. The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, pioneered by Sir Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd. Development of the aircraft began in 1940, although work on the engines had been under way since 1936. The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with No. 616 Squadron RAF. The Meteor was not a sophisticated aircraft in its aerodynamics, but proved to be a successful combat fighter. Gloster's 1946 civil Meteor F.4 demonstrator G-AIDC was the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world. Several major variants of the Meteor incorporated technological advances during the 1940s and 1950s. Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades. The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War. Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fought in the Korean War. Several other operators such as Argentina, Egypt and Israel flew Meteors in later regional conflicts. Specialised variants of the Meteor were developed for use in photographic aerial reconnaissance and as night fighters. The Meteor was also used for research and development purposes and to break several aviation records. On 7 November 1945, the first official air speed record by a jet aircraft was set by a Meteor F.3 of 606 miles per hour. In 1946, this record was broken when a Meteor F.4 reached a speed of 616 mph. Other performance-related records were broken in categories including flight time endurance, rate of climb, and speed. On 20 September 1945, a heavily modified Meteor I, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent turbine engines driving propellers, became the first turboprop aircraft to fly. On 10 February 1954, a specially adapted Meteor F.8, the "Meteor Prone Pilot", which placed the pilot into a prone position to counteract inertial forces, took its first flight. In the 1950s, the Meteor became increasingly obsolete as more nations introduced jet fighters, many of these newcomers having adopted a swept wing instead of the Meteor's conventional straight wing; in RAF service, the Meteor was replaced by newer types such as the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin. As of 2013, two Meteors, WL419 and WA638, remain in active service with the Martin-Baker company as ejection seat testbeds. The kit Airfix released their newly-tooled Meteor F.8 in 2016, and until I walked into P&S Hobbies in York a few days ago, I had no idea that a new incarnation had just been released. In fact, it was fresh into the shop and in the owner’s hands! I thank them for the review kit seen here. This is a reasonably large and very sturdy box with an artwork depicting a No.77 Sqn. Royal Australian Air Force Meteor F.8 having successfully engaged a North Korean MiG-15. The whole package has a superbly glossy and high-quality finish. The box sides depict the THREE schemes available, as well as some CAD renders of the completed model. It really does take patience to remove the lids of the new Airfix kits, such is the sturdiness and tight fit of things. Once inside, all SIX frames are packed into the same bag which is folded and heat sealed. I sound like a cracked record, but I really so wish they would bag frames in separate sleeves to prevent damage. There are a couple of very minor marks on my sample, and they will need a little buffing out. Nothing lost, but hey! Last year’s original F.8 release contained only 5 frames of plastic. The whole kit is identical to the previous release with the exception of this having a frame that contains the rockets. We now get chance to use the older, faired canopy, and to make use of the flashed over rocket positions on the wings. Note also that this styrene is darker than what we are currently seeing from Airfix, including their brand-new P-51D that I will look at very soon. Certainly strange in the current scheme of things, so perhaps an indication of a new moulding facility being utilised? There is a single clear frame, within its own sleeve. The windscreen has come adrift from the frame, but all is still in good order. In the bottom of the box is the now familiar styled Airfix instruction manual, some glossy sheets for the schemes, and a single decal sheet. Frame A As certainly tends to be the case with Meteor kits I’ve seen, Airfix also adopts the full span lower wing approach. They have moulded the landing flaps in the retracted position, but Eduard do have a very set of PE alternatives if that floats your boat. Airbrakes are moulded separately and can be posed, as can the ailerons. Note that the nacelles are without the front intake portion. We’ll look at the reasons a little later. Surface detail is very fine, as befits the improved trend that Airfix has adopted with their new releases. One thing I will mention is that the parts have the same slight patina as their light grey-moulded counterparts of recent, i.e. they haven’t polished the tools as much as Tamiya, Eduard or Hasegawa etc. I find it reminiscent of the degree that Revell polish their tooling to. Into the interior of the wing fit two spars, with rear one incorporating the rear engine bay firewalls. Yes….engine bay! This model comes complete with two reasonably detailed Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojets. A very nice touch. This spar, as with the shorter front spar, also contain detail that makes up two walls of the main gear bay. The remaining gear bay detail is moulded across four ribs that can be found on this frame. The first two cockpit parts are also moulded here and these form the port and starboard office walls with detail that is certainly commensurate with the larger scale HKM 1/32 kit. As a cockpit aficionado, I’m certainly more than pleased with what Airfix has presented here. Note that these connect at the rear, where the walls form the rear cockpit wall. Also on this frame are optional underwing drop tanks. To accommodate these, or the rockets included in this release, you will need to open up the moulded location points that exist inside the main wing lower plate. Frame B The eyes are immediately drawn to the fuselage halves. These are moulded sans nosecone, weapons panels and rudders. The MG fairing panels have a very slightly rippled texture, representative of stressed skin, and this also appears on the panel to the rear of the weapons bays. I originally thought they were minor sink marks, but can confirm they are not. The effect is very subtle and should look very nice with the high-speed aluminium that will be applied to this particular release. External details are extremely fine, including panel lines and access ports. Whilst the model isn’t riveted, it does have various fastener lines reproduced. Something I have noticed is the raised circumferential line which runs around the fuselage from the point of the trailing edge fairing. I must admit that I’ve not noticed this on a Meteor before. Internally, it also coincides with a stepped ridge. I really don’t know the reasons for this, nor the external raised line. No other internal detail is moulded as everything is added from the modular cockpit and gun bays. Also provided as separate parts are those rear wing roots. These are also moulded here with a raised rivet detail. Other parts on this frame include the exhaust pipes for each nacelle (split into halves and with scribed internal detail), rudder parts with more raised riveting, and also the elevators. These have the same raised rivet detail, and something I can’t discern…..this is whether they have stressed skin finish or maybe small sink marks. If they are the latter, then I’m not overly concerned as the finish looks quite nice. Frame C You can clearly see from the upper wing panels that the nacelles are moulding with separate engine access covers so you can display those Derwent engines. Note those engine panels moulded on this frame. Again, more airbrake area detail to facilitate the positioning of those parts. The wing leading edge extends across the intake area, as this forms a vane for the intake. All remaining wing flying/control surfaces are moulded here too, with the later having the same raised rivet detail that we saw before. Note that the nosecone is moulded here, as halves, with their forward gun channel trough. You will need to decide from the outset whether you will build your model with the gear up or down. This is because Airfix had designed the closed bat doors to fit from within the wing and inner cone. If this is your preferred mode, then also note that you may not be able to have the engine bay opened without surgery (and why would you with a model in flight!), because the main gear door looks like it would foul the spar areas for the other option. Should you wish to pose gear down, then note the two main gear bay ceilings on this frame. Again, detail really is excellent. Frame D This frame concerns itself almost entirely with parts that are required for either the cockpit, gun bays, and undercarriage. The cockpit tub itself, is constructed from the sidewalls we previously saw, fitted to a lower floor onto which the nose gear bay sits and the well protrudes into the pit, and the two gun bays that flank the outside of the cockpit walls. Onto this fits a nicely detailed rear turtle deck. Those gun bays are also very nice with some excellent constructional/plate/rivet details within. The guns themselves are separate, as are the ammunition drums and ammunition feeds. I quite like the moulded instrument panel in this release, but Airfix also supplies a decal for this. You’d struggle to get it to conform to the raised details, I fear. Eduard also has a colour PE option in one of their aftermarket sets. I also think the seat is a very nice representation, and two are included; one with and one without seatbelts. It appears that the undercarriage itself is simplicity when it comes to construction, with all units have a left and right half that includes the mudguard etc. I also think there will be enough spring in these units to allow them to be prised apart so that the completed wheels can be put in situ later in the build. Those wheels are also supplied weighted, and are moulded with hub detail. Other undercarriage-related parts here are the doors for open bay options as well as closed nose bay parts, nose gear mount frame and bulkhead, main gear door actuators and other well details. Frame E You can clearly see that Airfix has provided this kit with two different intake options. These are for the short-chord intake, and the narrower opening long-chord variety. Which you use will depend on which scheme you decide upon, and the options are clearly stated within the instructions. Both options have a common intake liner that must first be inserted before being fitted to the model. Apart from the gun bay doors and a very small number of other parts (internal and external), everything else here is dedicated to the engines, including a rather nice service cart onto which you may display one of these. Whilst the engines might not be the most detailed, they certainly do pass muster, with the majority of parts being more than adequately represented in styrene, along with ancillary pipework, exhaust vane, starter motor, pump, filter and oil tank. More than an admirable effort for an out-of-box build. The parts themselves are very nice with the combustion chamber depiction and the mesh filter intake area. A dark wash over a metal coat, should make this pop. Frame F Here we have the clear parts. Unlike the original release in 2016, we now get to use the faired canopy. This was included last year, but not slated for use. The windscreen on my sample has come adrift, but nothing is damaged, thankfully. All clear parts are beautifully thin and crustal clear. On the canopy parts, framing is very good, and it shouldn’t be difficult to mask these parts. Interestingly, there are a couple of clear parts here which look like they are scheduled to be used in a future PR version….or at least I’d like to think so. Frame G This frame is the real difference between this and last year’s initial release. In fact, apart from the decals (of course), it’s the only difference in plastic. Eight rockets are provided, along with their pylons. The rockets are provided as two parts each, with one part being a separate cross-fin. One of those fins is missing on mine, unfortunately, so I’ll need to contact Airfix’s spares dept. The only non-rocket part on this frame is an additional framework that sits underneath the windscreen, and is only applicable to the rocket-equipped versions (not surprisingly). Decals A single sheet is provided, printed in Italy (probably Cartograf), and this includes not only national markings for three schemes, but also a comprehensive set of stencils, and I really mean that! I’ve not counted them, but I imagine there are over 200 small decals here. There is quite a lot of orange on the Dutch machine, and forward fuse arrows and nacelle flashes. My own concern here is matching your orange paint to these, especially the flashes where the colours meet. I would perhaps mask and airbrush these instead. Decals have a satin finish, and are thinly-printed. They have solid and authentic colour and minimal carrier film. Decals are included for: Meteor F.8, A77-851, flown by Sergeant George Spaulding Hale, No.77 Sqn, Royal Australian Air Force, Kimpo, Korea, March 1953 Meteor F.8, No.77 Sqn, Royal Australian Air Force, Kimpo, Korea, 1953 Meteor F.8 (Fokker-built), No.327 Sqn, Ruiten Vier (Diamonds Four) display team, Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force), Commando Lucht Verdediging (Air Defence Command), Soesterberg Air Base, The Netherlands, 1952 Instructions I quite like Airfix’s new style of instruction manual. They are clear, concise and whilst printed in greyscale, a good use of red ink denotes new parts placement. Humbrol colour references are supplied throughout. Parts options for specific schemes are posing modes, are easy to follow. Colour schemes are supplied on two glossy sheets, along with a stencil placement guide. Conclusion I really do like the Meteor, having recently built the HKM kit with the T.7 Fisher conversion set, for the current issue of Military Illustrated Modeller. When I was handed this new release in York a few days ago, I really couldn’t say no, even though it wasn’t in my usual 1/32 format. I have quite a liking for the new Airfix 1/48 range, having recently reviewed the 1/48 Walrus that I’m now building, so I really couldn’t resist this. These current kits have everything…..lots of superb and finely portrayed detail, good parts options and some attractive schemes. They also play on my heartstrings for subjects that I fondly remember from my childhood, but being created in a state of the art way that I could only have dreamt of back then. Bravo Airfix! I really want to see more kits of this standard. My sincere thanks to P&S Hobbies for the review kit seen here. To purchase, contact them via their website, here, or visit them on Walmgate in York, or Castle Road, Scarborough, UK.
  7. 1/48 Supermarine Walrus Mk.1

    No worries. When work starts, I’ll show some images of the removal of those pin marks. Some can be rubbed away and others can be plated over. Yes...raised rivets too! I rarely venture into 1:48, but this one is special. For me, that Matchbox kit in the 80s, was what sparked my interest in the Walrus. This will put me on until I summon the courage to do the 1/32 HPH kit. You really should treat yourself. I’m feeling waves of youthful nostalgia!
  8. 1/48 Supermarine Walrus Mk.1

    Next to the Typhoon and Javelin, it's a strong contender.
  9. 1/48 Supermarine Walrus Mk.1

    1/48 Supermarine Walrus Mk.1 Airfix Catalogue # A09183 The Supermarine Walrus (originally known as the Supermarine Seagull V) was a British single-engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft designed by R. J. Mitchell, and first flown in 1933. It was operated by the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and also served with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). It was the first British squadron-service aircraft to incorporate in one airframe a fully retractable main undercarriage, completely enclosed crew accommodation and all-metal fuselage. Designed for use as a fleet spotter to be catapult launched from cruisers or battleships, the Walrus was later employed in a variety of other roles, most notably as a rescue aircraft for downed aircrew. It continued in service throughout the Second World War. The single-step hull was constructed from aluminium alloy, with stainless-steel forgings for the catapult spools and mountings. Metal construction was used because experience had shown that wooden structures deteriorated rapidly under tropical conditions. The wings, which were slightly swept back, had stainless–steel spars and wooden ribs and were covered in fabric. The lower wings were set in the shoulder position with a stabilising float mounted under each one. The horizontal tail-surfaces were positioned high on the tail-fin and braced on either side by N struts. The wings could be folded on ship, giving a stowage width of 17 feet 6 inches. The single 620hp Pegasus II M2 radial engine was housed at the rear of a nacelle mounted on four struts above the lower wing and braced by four shorter struts to the centre-section of the upper wing. This powered a four-bladed wooden propeller in pusher configuration. Although the aircraft typically flew with one pilot, there were positions for two. The left-hand position was the main one, with the instrument panel and a fixed seat, while the right-hand seat could be folded away to allow access to the nose gun-position via a crawl-way. An unusual feature was that the control column was not a fixed fitting in the usual way, but could be unplugged from either of two sockets at floor level. It became a habit for only one column to be in use; and when control was passed from the pilot to co-pilot or vice versa, the control column would simply be unplugged and handed over. Behind the cockpit, there was a small cabin with work stations for the navigator and radio operator. Armament usually consisted of two .303 Vickers K machine guns, one in each of the open positions in the nose and rear fuselage; with provision for carrying bombs or depth charges mounted beneath the lower wings. Like other flying boats, the Walrus carried marine equipment for use on the water, including an anchor, towing and mooring cables, drogues and a boat-hook. Edit courtesy of Wikipedia The kit Airfix can’t be accused of putting their wares in crappy, flimsy boxes (take note, Revell), and this kit is packaged into a reasonable sized box that isn’t insubstantial in construction. It certainly takes effort to prise the lid from the parts tray. The box art on new Airfix releases certainly captures the atmosphere of the kits I remember from the 70s, but these are digital creations and do look great on the hobby shop shelf. The sides of the box contain CAD images of the finished model, as well as profiles of the THREE schemes that are possible with the kit decals. Inside the box, there are FIVE frames of light grey plastic, and a single frame of clear parts. Whilst the clear parts are individually bagged, the others aren’t, being packed into a single clear sleeve. Whilst my sample kit wasn’t at all damaged, I would like to see manufacturers bag frames separately to avoid possibility of damage. In the bottom of the box is quite a substantial instruction manual (which I’ll look at later), with a colour scheme chart sat within, plus a single decal sheet. Frame A The main players here are the hull sides (not fuselage as this is a flying boat, folks!), and a separate hull bottom. I know that some newly-tooled Airfix kits over the last years have suffered from panel lines that are way too trench-like, but this kit, as with many others of recent, most certainly don’t have that issue. Surface detail is superbly rendered with fine panel line and rivet detail. There is most certainly a lot of finesse when it comes to recreating the individual details, such as foot holds, wing root connection, radius arm and catapult spool locations. Those rivets I already mentioned also are very fine in their depiction. Note also that the upper, forward deck is separate, as is the upper rear deck, incorporating the upper MG ring hatch area. It can also be seen that the fin isn’t full height, with the top part being a separate entity that is fitted after the stabiliser is attached. Sensible engineering. Inside the fuselage, the various frames and other constructional elements are fully reproduced. You will see that there are a large number of ejector pin marks within here too. To do full justice to the sheer level of detail that this kit supplies, you will need to eradicate these marks. These are either just below the surrounding surface, or just above them. A little filler and/or a fibreglass pen can be used to remove these from view. If any panels seem troublesome, then a small piece of plasticard can be used to plate over the mark. A similar frequency of pin marks lay in the lower hull too, but I feel many of these won’t be seen as other parts obscure them. Other parts on this frame include the top sections of the wingtip floats and also alternative folding flap parts for the lower wing. These options are for flaps raised (to facilitate folding wings) or for neutral positioning. A very nicely rendered fabric and rib effect is to be seen on these parts. Frame B Here you will find the upper wings, split into traditional upper and lower panels, and with separate ailerons. Surface detail is first-rate, with very fine panel lines and a believable and authentic-looking rib and fabric representation. This looks properly pitched and not at all contrived. Rigging points are present and will just need drilling a little deeper with a micro drill bit. Strut positions are also very positive and should provide for an easy build. Turning the wings over reveals some engineering designed to give you alternative finishing options. Airfix has designed the Walrus to be displayed with the wings either folded or unfolded. Here you can see the tracks within the wings into which the wing positioning arms will fit. If you want to pose them folded, then you will need to clear a little plastic out from the entry point for those arms. Likewise, you will also need to remove a little plastic, depending on how you pose the arms, when it comes to the two-part centre wing section. Those arms are also provided on this sprue, along with the various end rib options for this. Note also the upper, forward hull, complete with interior detailing, and the lid which fits to this if you wish to pose that crew position as closed. Frame C The most obvious parts are those for the lower wings, again moulded as upper and lower panels, and exhibiting the same finesse and detail rendering as the upper wings. Of course, there are differences here, namely the separate folding flap adjacent to the aileron, and also the main gear wells. Whilst these are simple, circular openings on the lower panels, the inside of the upper panel contains the well ceiling details. Should you wish to add underwing bombs, then the locations are moulded here for you to fit the various racks for the internal and external bomb loads. If you don’t wish to fit them, then blanking plates are supplied for that purpose. Airfix’s approach to the wing top floats is superb. On Frame A, we saw the upper panels for these. Here you will find the left and right halves. All of these fit together either along the lower hull ridge, or coinciding with panel lines. As I said before…smart engineering. A single-piece stabiliser is also to be found here, and this simply plugs into the location on the fuselage fin. Elevators are separate parts, and channels are moulded into the stabiliser underside, for you to locate the strut. The top of the fin is also moulded here, and strangely, as a two-part item. Can’t fathom the rationale there. Of the same authentic style as the elevators and ailerons is the single-piece rudder, with integral trim tab. Whilst the hull exterior detail is quite exceptional, on the rear, upper hull part moulded here, you will find a small degree of stressed skin oil-can effect that we fell in love with on their 1/24 Hawker Typhoon kit. You will need to fit the hatch ring into position on this, followed by removal of the spacer that holds the front and rear sections of this piece together. This is well-illustrated in the manual. Again, this part is thoroughly detailed on the underside, and there are some ejector pin marks, but I really wouldn’t bother about the removal of these. Lastly, the single-piece ailerons can be found here too. Frame D You will find a large number of internal parts on this frame. Airfix really did go to town in this area and seemed to fit everything but the kitchen sink (I’m sure if there was a kitchen sink though, they would still have included it!). More or less everything is included here, such as the detailed duckboards, bulkhead frames with lightening holes, seats, tables, instruments, fully detailed pilot/co-pilot position, radio operator compartment, rear upper cupola hatch/gunner position, forward observer/gunner position, and also a padded section on the floor which I assume would be used for either a bed or area for rescued/downed aircrew. Other identifiable internal details include rope winch, anchor, fire extinguisher, instrument panel, compass, drogue case, and what I assume is a rolled up, deflated life raft in the very rear fuselage section. They really have pretty much nailed this. I have the 1/32 HpH kit too, and that is detail heavy, but this kit does an immense job in comparison, especially for 1/48. The rest of this frame is taken up with the engine, nacelle, strut mounts etc. The upper and lower struts for both front and rear position, are moulded as single-piece units and look incredibly sturdy. There are three main parts to the engine pod and one of the connecting strut parts contains the engines exhaust system. Detail is excellent, with the engine itself being moulded with very fine cooling fins, and the pod being detailed with the finest of rivets. Two two-blade props are included which of course plug on onto the other to create a 4-blade unit. To prevent ejector pin marks on many of these fine parts, a series of ejector tags are moulded in various locations, which will all need to be snipped off and cleaned up, of course, but it’s sure better than having to fill indentations with putty. Frame E This is a whole mish-mash of different parts, such as the wing and stabiliser struts, bombs, undercarriage struts, two wheel options (weighted and un-weighted), wheel hubs, cupola ring, cupola hatch (folded/open option), tail wheel etc. One note here is that the stabiliser struts are moulded with a spacer that is designed to help achieve the correct spread of the struts, and is supposed to be removed after the part is fitter. I don’t think this is really necessary as the locating points on the airframe are more than suitable, plus you may want to add these after painting anyway. Frame F The last frame contains the clear parts. Most noticeable is that there are two canopy options. One of these provides for a fully closed cockpit canopy, and the second is moulded whereby the upper glazing is slid backwards, and the port side window is separate and can be posed. A closed option is available for the rear, upper cupola, moulded as a single part. For the open option, a glazed part is moulded here, and this will be fitted to the grey part moulded on Frame E. Other parts here are for side windows, leading edge wing light etc.Moulding is beautifully clear, with reasonably thin parts and defined framing lines that will make masking this a fairly easy job. Eduard already has a set of masks available, as well as a swathe of other goodies for this release Decals A small decal sheet is included, and I’m not sure of its origin, although I can probably guess at Cartograf. The decals are printed with a mat finish to them. I do admit that I prefer glossy decals, but these do look nicely printed, with solid/authentic colour, minimal carrier film and perfect register. Cockpit instrument decals are also supplied, as are a full set of stencils. The schemes available in this release are: Walrus Mk.I, No.276 Squadron, Royal Air Force Harrowbeer, Devon, England, 1944 Walrus Mk.I, No.700 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Sheffield, 1941 Walrus Mk.I, Royal Australian Air Force, Australia and New Guinea, early 1943 Instructions A 24-page manual is included, breaking down the Walrus into 108 constructional stages. Illustrations are in greyscale, but with newly assembled parts being coloured with red ink. A small use of other colour is included which signifies parts that need modifying for various options etc. Illustrations are very clear to follow, and the modeller should have no issues with following them. Humbrol colours are noted throughout with reference to paint colour. The colour schemes are printed on separate, glossy sheets, with one side containing illustration for rigging the model. Conclusion I’m rarely ever tempted away from my preferred 1/32 scale, but the Walrus is one that will always break that rule for me. Airfix has created a seriously nice kit here that drips in detail and just looks correct. No nasty trench-like panel lines, and just a finesse that is readily expected from a modern-tooled kit. This one really ticks all the boxes for me. All I can say now is that I hope the forthcoming Bristol Blenheim is every bit as good. If so, that’s another scale-breaker! My sincere thanks to Model Kits for Less for the review sample. To enquire about this release, head over to their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/271077163071577/
  10. 1/32 Jeannin Stahltaube (1914)

    Be my guest! Lovely kit. Very impressed.
  11. 1/32 Jeannin Stahltaube (1914) Wingnut Wings Catalogue # 32058 Available from Wingnut Wings for $119 + shipping The Taube. Now there’s a story, indeed. I think it would be fair to say that most people with a reasonable knowledge of WW1 aviation would immediately think ‘Etrich’ when the word Taube (Dove) was mentioned. That is of course entirely fair, and I fall squarely into that category too, but behind the beautiful and graceful lines of the Taube comes a story of one man’s lack of foresight when it came to his aircraft design that was based on the publication of German papers concerning the aerodynamic theories behind the gliding abilities of the Alsomitra Macrocarpa seed. Sound bizarre? Igo Etrich was a wealthy Austrian industrialist who wanted to use those flight capabilities in his own aircraft design, and together with his engineer, Franz Wels, designed a number of gliders and engine-powered aircraft. The Etrich II Taube was a beautiful design that was very reminiscent of both a bird and the shape of the seed from the 1897 papers. It flew superbly, being operated by a warping system that twisted the bamboo trailing edges of the wings and tail. The rest of the aircraft was wooden, with Spruce and Ash being used in the wings. So, everything was going great so far, and in 1910, the successful design attracted another Austrian, Edmund Rumpler. Rumpler of course went on to become a main protagonist in aircraft design and manufacturer during WW1, but seeing the Etrich Taube, he obtained an exclusive 5yr licence to produce the aircraft himself in Germany, and then going on to sell militarised versions to the Germans. Now things start to unravel for Igo Etrich. As his design was based upon principles that were published in the German public domain in 1897, his design patent application in Germany was rejected. This now caused numerous companies to essentially copy the Etrich design and build their own versions. Being a little aggrieved at this, Rumpler didn’t see a reason to honour licence payments to Etrich, and the two men ended up in court several times over the original agreement. In the meantime, Taube-influenced aircraft, using the name Taube, were becoming more common. The Stalhtaube was of course another similar design, but as the name suggests, this military aircraft had a steel fuselage framework, with the de rigueur flexible bamboo warping surfaces for the wings, and tailplane. The wings and main tail were again constructed from wood. This was actually designed by a Frenchman, Emile Jeannin, whose home territory became part of Germany after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, and his design impressed the German military so much that his company became one of the main Taube manufacturers, despite Jeannin’s own imprisonment during WW1 (due to his French heritage and a minor charge that provided an excuse for internment). These Taube aircraft were unarmed reconnaissance machines, but it wasn’t long before their crews would improvise by using pistols and small bombs to finally sow the seeds of the lethal air war that was to happen. After mid-1915, remaining frontline Stahltaubes were relegated to other duties. Model features High quality Cartograf decals with markings for 5 aircraft. 165 high quality injection moulded plastic parts including very fine 0.3 to 0.5mm thick wing warping control surface areas. Optional propellers, exhaust manifolds, engines, header tanks, gravity fuel tanks, wire wheels in injection moulded plastic or photo-etched metal, 20kg Carbonit bombs and Luger pistol armament. Highly detailed 100hp Daimler-Mercedes D.1 and 120hp Argus As.II engines. 21 photo-etched metal detail parts including optional wire spoke wheels. Fine in scale rib baton detail. Full rigging diagrams. The kit I’ve long wanted Wingnut Wings to release an Etrich Taube, as have many others, but I’m pretty sure that the Jeannin Taube is a more than acceptable alternative. Finally a change to build something that looks more like a bird than a military machine. As usual, Steve Anderson’s beautiful artwork adorns the box lid, with an image of this two-seat creation flying high over fields in the vicinity of Adlershof-Johannisthal, as the wings hadn’t received their paint at this stage. Ronny Bar’s profile work shows the five schemes available for this model kit. Inside the box, there are a total of SIX sprues of light grey plastic, and ONE small sprue containing two clear parts. All of these are individually bagged to prevent damage, and in the bottom of the box is a single decal sheet, PE fret and of course, the instruction manual. I think I’ll do a sprue-by-sprue of this release, so let’s take a look. SPRUE A It’s standard practice for WNW to use the first sprue for the lion’s share of internal and other small, key parts. This is no different here. The Taube’s cockpit is by its very nature, a simpler affair when compared to other aircraft of the period, and this is reflected here of course, but in amazing detail. All cockpit parts are to be found on this sprue, and the cockpit itself is built upon the lower fuselage floor instead of being a separate module. The floor is on Sprue F, but here you will find the rear and forward bulkheads, instrument board wall, fuel tank, map board, rudder pedal bar, magneto, tachometer and fuel filter frame, throttle, control column with separate wheel, seats and pilot’s cushion, and the short sidewall frame that sits across the two crew positions. Detail is extremely fine, with nicely clean holes for rigging cables on the sidewalls. Instrument board detail has the bare gauges, with instrument decals being supplied for these, as well as a map decal for the map board. Other parts on this sprue include the undercarriage V-struts and spreader bar, engine mount, external radiators, turnbuckle clusters, Integral propeller, engine side panels with fastener detail, optional access hatch for specific machines, parts for two different gravity-fed fuel tanks, and wing/fuselage mounted cabane struts etc. SPRUE B We are firmly in Taube-land here with this sprue, containing just the two elegant wing panels, moulded as single piece, port and starboard units. These really have to be seen to be appreciated, but the elegance of the wings is entirely captured here with the thin panels and their under-camber, fabric and rib representation and the rib capping strips. Note the positions for the cabane struts and the two rods that extend from each tip, which are rigging aids for the wing warping system. You’ll also see little pulleys on the leading edges. The trailing edges are a real feat of moulding. They are incredibly thin, and light is clearly seen through them when held to a window or my photography lamps. I’ve photographed this for you to see. Just make sure you don’t damage these fragile surfaces as you construct/paint your model. SPRUE C Here we have the only clear sprue, containing just two parts. One of these is the windscreen with its delicate framing, and the other is a sight window for the fuel level in one of the gravity tanks. Both parts are crystal clear with no visual flaws. SPRUE D You will note that this is an Albatros B.II sprue, but in reality, you will use very little from this set of parts, as most of them are NOT for use with this release. In fact, the only parts for use here are either the plastic spoke wheels (moulded as halves so to replicate the two rows of spokes), or the spoke-less type which enables use of the photo-etch spoke option, plus the hubs. Oh, there are a series of bombs here too, but these are entirely optional as they were only every carried internally by the crew, and then lobbed over the side when they wanted to hit either a ground or air target. They certainly weren’t standard issue! SPRUE E (both engines) This kit allows the modeller to build his/her Stahltaube with either a 100hp Mercedes D.1, or a 120hp Argus As.II engine, depending on the scheme you choose. Not only this, but scheme-dependent again, there will be a number of options for the exhaust (elephant, high and individual pipes), and also variation in the header tank plumbing. Both engines are very similar to assemble, with highly detailed crankcases, cylinder banks, magnetos, camshaft/rocker box, water pump, intake pipes, plug lead tubes, etc. A very small amount of surgery will be needed on a couple of parts to make these engines suitable for use on this machine, but this consists mostly of a little snipping and scraping. Nothing at all too taxing for the average modeller. Each engine is a project in its own right, and you could maybe complete the other engine and display on a stand, or simply keep for spares. A small number of decals are set aside for each engine too, such as data plates. Alternative propellers are to be found here too, such as the Niendorf, Garuda and Reschke. To which scheme these are fitted, is clearly seen. SPRUE F You tend to get an idea about the size of this model when you see the fuselage halves against the very long tail-plane. The exterior of the fuselage doesn’t have too much in the way of detail due to the method of construction, but what detail there is, is finely executed, such as the lower edge stitching, the cockpit leather coaming, leather grommets, and the detail around the open engine panel area. Tabs are present onto which the wings will sit. A long slit exists where the super-thin tail-plane will slide into. Fin and rudder detail is only moulded onto the port-side fuselage, due to how incredibly thin this is. Here you will also see the tail skid moulded in situ. One rigging bar on my rudder was snapped backwards, but this was easily fixed with a quick brush of extra thin cement. There isn’t really much in the way of internal detail due to the method of construction, but you will note a series of location points for internal rigging/bracing wires to be added. The fuselage is moulded with the front underside supplied as two separate, interlocking parts, containing the cockpit floor. These parts are also moulded on this sprue, with the forward most part having some excellent open louvre detail. A small number of Stahltaubes had a hole in the underside cowl, and sometimes this was in cross-form. Instructions, and a PE template are included for those schemes that had this feature. You will also need to carefully trim the upper, forward engine cowl so that the Argus As.II engine fits without fouling the sides. A crowning glory on this sprue is that seriously long but thin and streamlined tail-plane. As with the wing, this is very, very thin, with light easily being seen through the part. Detail is excellent again, with the flexible, warping portion clearly having the bamboo and fabric construction. Rigging posts and loops are present too. You sort of get a real idea for the rigging task ahead, and I feel this one will be time-consuming. Other parts on this sprue are the pilot and observer’s seats, and the single tube row of exhausts, with the ends being slightly hollowed out. You may want to go a little further. Photo-Etch A set of lap belts are included for both the pilot and observer. Detail is great, and you’ll just need to anneal them in a candle or lighter flame so that you can manipulate them into a realistic pose. The wheel spokes are also here, with a broken circumference that allows you to bend these into a very shallow cone shape before fitting to the wheels. There are then some outer wheel hub rims that sit over the circumference and hides the joins. These parts look quite delicate, so again, take your time here. A small number of rigging aids are supplied here, through which collective lines will run, as well as the template for creating the hole in the underside of the engine cowl. Production of the PE is consistent with everything I’ve seen from WNW, and the gate attachment parts are suitably thin so that parts will be easy to detach. Decals A single, Cartograf-printed sheet is included (dated 2016!), and this contains all of the permutations of national markings and serials, including decals for the cockpit, engine, propeller, grommets and numerous other external areas. Printing is glossy, thin and with minimal carrier film. Colours are solid and authentic and the printing is in perfect register. Decals are provided for the following schemes: Jeannin Stahltaube 172/14, Lt. Fritzlohn(?), Adlershof-Johannisthal, late 1914 - early 1915 Jeannin Stahltaube 180/14, Deutches Technikmuseum, Berlin Jeannin Stahltaube 271/14, Emil Wendler, Adlershof-Johannisthal, late 1916 – early 1917 Jeannin Stahltaube 284/14, Adlershof-Johannisthal, 1915 Jeannin Stahltaube 319/14, Armee-Flug-Park 9b, early 1915 Please note that 271/14 can be built with alternative exhaust and header tank details. When WNW send review kits to websites, they always include a covering letter which contains some useful details. In the case of the Stahltaube, one piece of information is quite pertinent. This relates to the differences between machines, and that no two Stahltaubes were the same. This means that whichever machine you choose to model, ensure you have the photographic material for that specific machine. It simply isn’t enough to have a photo of ‘machine X’, and then go onto build ‘machine Y’ using incorrect photographic references. Instructions Wingnut Wings always produce the most gorgeous instruction manuals in the business, with a slick, glossy publication that starts with the history of the type and aircraft data, followed by a sprue plan and colour chart with paint references given for Tamiya and Humbrol paints, plus a series of FS codes. All constructional sequences are superbly illustrated in greyscale, with the use of colour for newly added parts, as well as defining photo-etch addition etc. Numerous full colour assembly illustrations are also supplied, and reference to paint colour is supplied throughout. Internal rigging is also tackled as the project progresses. Period images are used to illustrate specific areas of construction too, making things very easy for the modeller, as well as providing great historical interest. The last pages of the manual are given over to the Ronny Bar profile illustrations, complete with more historical imagery. Ronny’s work is clear to follow, and decal placement is clear and precise. Some historical and modeller-specific details are supplied with each profile illustration. A full rigging diagram is also provided. Conclusion A Taube is something I’ve wanted to see in my preferred scale for a long, long time, along with a Dr.I from WNW. I sure hope to still see the latter aircraft. This is a very, very nice kit, and the building should be quite straightforward, despite the amount of bare wood in the cockpit. Where the modeller will be challenged here is in making the thin wing trailing edges and wing section look translucent (paint shop trickery), and also the many, many rigging wires that warped the various flying surfaces. Detail is everything you’ve already come to expect from Wingnut Wings, and nowhere at all does this disappoint. I’ve already planned to cut plastic for an article in Military Illustrated Modeller. So, WNW….how about that Dr.I now, please! My sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample shown here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.
  12. 1:48 F-4S Phantom II

    1:48 F-4S Phantom II Zoukei-mura Catalogue # SWS05 Available from BlackMike Models for £69.95 The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air wings. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hard-points, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with five countries. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. The F-4 remains in service with Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. It has been used in combat against the Islamic State. The kit Zoukei-mura’s F-4S Phantom II kit comes in a sizeable and weighty box with the box-art depicting Bu.No.153808, VF161, USS Midway, 1981, taking off from the deck of the carrier. This is actually the only scheme available in this release, so if you wanted variation, you will need to look at aftermarket decals. Inside the box, there are TEN runners of medium grey plastic, and a single runner of clear plastic. All of these are individually wrapped so as not to risk any breaking or scuffing of parts. A single decal sheet and an instruction manual complete the contents inventory. Note that ZM don’t include photo-etch parts, as they deem the kit contents to be sufficient for the average customer. If you do want to adorn your model with extras, you can purchase photo-etch and resin parts separately. As I write this, Zoukei-mura has just released the F-4C version of this kit, and I’ll bring you that as soon as I can get my hands on it. Sprue A Unlike the Academy releases, with their single-part fuselages, Zoukei-mura has chosen the traditional method of moulding these as halves. The jury was sort of out for me until I saw the first builds of this, and the approach works very well. ZM has produced the whole spine as a separate piece which fits along panel lines, and when assembled, you really can’t tell that it’s an insert. Another insert is supplied for the point at which the spine and base of fin meet, plus the small panel to the rear of the cockpit. The only seams to remove are the narrow fin seam, a small length in front of the canopy, and the area on the rear underside. A nose cone is supplied as a separate part, so no seams there. External detail looks just perfect, with subtle and even panel lines, port access details, and fasteners/rivets where appropriate. I’m quite taken with the representation of the plating at the tail end, forming the exhaust tunnels. Note that the rudder is integrally moulded to the fuselage, and the intake sections are separate parts, also included here with slide-moulding technology. Internally, the cockpit is moulded with vertical ribs which just seem to be supportive for the cockpit tub sidewalls. If you want to pose the tail planes where they angle downwards towards the front, you will need to drill out the panel that is moulded on the fuselage, and insert two new parts from this sprue. This seems odd. Why didn’t ZM make inserts for both positions? Other parts on this sprue include the tail pipe seals, arrestor hook, extended nose-gear for catapult take-off position, centre drop tank, forward cockpit ladder fin top section, etc. Sprue C This is pretty much a cockpit sprue, with parts here for the seats (6 parts each, but no belt representation), lower consoles, bulkheads, rudder pedals, ejector seat guide rails, upper coaming, etc. No instruments or console apparatus are moulded here. Detail is first rate, with plenty of scope for detail painting without the need to add anything further. The ZM kit certainly excels in this respect, as the Academy cockpit is fairly basic and in need of Eduard’s goodies to make it shine. Sprue D The most obvious part here is the single-piece nose cone, thankfully held in place by three gate points so that it doesn’t twist and cause damage to those areas. You’ll also notice the intake vanes for both sides (2 parts each), pitot tube, undercarriage doors and actuators, part of the undercarriage bay liner, RAM air intake, blade antenna, air brakes, air brake actuators, auxiliary air door, rear facing lens, etc. Both external and internal detail for the gear doors is exemplary, as are the textures applied to the intake vane forward sections. You will note that dotted around the various parts are little nodules that will need snipping off. You’ll see these on more or less every sprue. These are mentioned clearly in the instructions, and they should be snipped off. These are ejector pin points, instead of having your parts festooned with marks you’d need to fill and sand away. Sprue E This almost certainly stands for engine, as the main parts for both of the General Electric J79 axial flow turbojets, are to be found here. These are typically moulded as halves, with all of the external details being moulded in situ. You will of course need to remove seams across some awkward detail, so patience and care will need to be exercised in large amounts. Intake vanes, and the turbine frame/afterburner ring are separate parts that fit within the engine tube. If you want to display one of these engines by itself, then as with their Ho 229 kit, parts of the sprue can be made up into a nifty little engine stand. For later in construction, you can also see the engine nozzles. These look a little clunky to me, with the various petals looking thick and ill-defined, so maybe you can swap these out with Eduard’s resin parts, designed for the Academy kit. At this point, I don’t know how displaying an engine outside of the model will work in terms of leaving a large internal gap within that could be seen from within the nozzles etc. Still, I’m sure that the creative modeller could fathom that. Another obvious pair of parts are the main intake channels, moulded as upper and lower halves. I don’t think the intakes are suitable wide enough to see any seams in there, but you can easily remove at least a portion of it from the forward area. A good number of parts for the wheel bays and undercarriage are to be found here. Note that the main gear bays are moulded from a single detailed part that just needs to be supplemented by the liner part I mentioned just before. Again, detail really is very good, with this being added to with the nicely detailed main bay ceilings that are moulded on the underside of the top wing panels. Further gear well parts are included here, as well as the wheels themselves, moulded without hubs, but also without any weighted effect. Sorry, but you’ll need to sort that yourself, or buy an aftermarket solution. Sprues F & N (x2 each) These are weapons, tanks sprues, and contain parts for the various load-outs. Available are parts for: AIM-7 Sparrow AIM-9 Sidewinder Under-wing drop tanks The AIM-7 and AIM-9 have their bodies moulded with separate fins, and sprue gate attachments are thankfully unobtrusive. Detail is as everywhere on this kit, beautifully rendered. Sprue G This is the clear sprue. What I really like here is that ZM has provided separate options for both open and closed canopy, with the latter being provided as a single-piece glazing. Of course, the open option provides each section separately. Canopy clarity is excellent, with the parts being suitable thin, and with small sprue attachment gates. Other parts on this sprue are for the position light, landing lights, etc. Sprue H This one is a mixed bag of parts from numerous construction areas, but the long centre part that you see is for the spine of the Phantom, covering up the seam line. In a similar vein, you also find the panel for the area to the rear of the cockpit. Other parts here include the DECM Antenna, electrical box for landing lights, front gear door, under-fuse antenna (3 options), catapult hooks, refuelling probe/door/actuator, pylons, launchers, sway braces, radar antenna controller, etc. We can also see the detail expended on the instrument consoles, but be careful as it appears that a number of parts on this and other sprues, aren’t for use with this particular version. I would’ve liked to have seen these greyed out on the parts plans. Sprue I More cockpit parts are found here, such as the instrument panels, control stick, radar scope, rear cockpit sidewall, etc. Detail is king in the cockpit, and these look superb, with details being pronounced enough to be able to tackle them with a fine paintbrush. Decals are supplied for the consoles and instrument panels, but these are as an alternative to painting as they cover the whole part. I would also ignore these decals as they look poor in detail. You are best to punch out some instruments from the Airscale range of cockpit decals, and take it from there. The stabilisers are also moulded here, with minimalist panel lines and only specific rows of rivets on the forward, inboard panel. These are moulded as single parts, so no clumsy upper and lower halves. Sprue M As tends to be the case with Phantom models, ZM has moulded the lower wing panel to include the fuselage centre section, but in this case, the outboard angled wing panels are moulded separately. The modeller will need to open specific holes in this part, so suit the pylon arrangement being fitted to their model. This sprue also contains the upper wing panels and the outboard, angled wing panels. The slats are also included here, as are the various actuators for them, and the flaps and ailerons. Of course, it was the slats that were specific to the F-4S. External detail consists of many fine panel lines and appropriate rivet/fastener lines, plus some raised detail too. Note the riveted, recessed area to the rear of the gear bay area. This is where the auxiliary air flaps will fit. I have to say that the detail on these really does beat the Academy kit, hands down. Absolutely stunning! Decals A single decal sheet is included, printed by Cartograf. I really am thankful for them using this company to make their decals, as their own tend to be thick, with poor definition. No problem here though! Remember…this is a large sheet, and only for the one scheme too, so everything you see here, more or less, will have to be added to your model. Factor in some serious bench time for your decaling. Printing is thin, in register, and with minimal carrier film. Colours are solid and authentic. The only decals I don’t like are the instrument and console ones, as I have already mentioned. As you can see, a full suite of stencils is included. I hope you have good eyesight and lots of patience. The single scheme is: F-4S, Bu.No. 153808, VF-161, USS Midway, 1981 A colour chart is included to help you with paint reference and as a guide for decaling. Instructions This is the second 1/48 SWS kit I’ve had, and I note that in this scale, all printing is black/white/greyscale, with no colour as per used in the 1/32 kits. Apart from that, everything remains the same, with excellent CAD-generated constructional sequences that are chock full of not only tips for building, but notes on the real aircraft too. The instructions do look rather busy, with them being an assault on the senses in parts with so much annotation, but this is very much their style, and I’d rather have too much information than not enough. Paint references are given throughout in Vallejo and Mr. Color codes. Conclusion Zoukei-mura’s new range of Phantoms really does usher in the next generation of this aircraft in quarter scale, having an entirely different constructional approach to the Academy kits that were the best on the market, until now. Of course, you can opt for one of the Eduard re-boxings, complete with resin and photo-etch accessories, and whilst these are still highly desirable kits to build, I think it’s fair to say that the ZM kit piques them in many ways, in terms of detail, approach and buildability. My only negative is the single decal option, whereas with an Eduard release, you are spoilt for choice. At least the decals are Cartograf this time though! Highly recommended My sincere thanks to BlackMike Models for the review kit seen here. To buy directly, click THIS link.
  13. Stepless Adjustment Circular Cutter DSPIAE Catalogue # HRC64~75 Available from Breveco Modelling for €62,50 I was recently lucky enough to be sent the Thinnerline circular cutter for test. If you don’t know what these tools do, then it’s quite simple…they allow the modeller to cut out discs in masking paper and very thin plasticard etc. from around 1mm to 50mm in diameter. Having found the Thinnerline an amazing tool, I couldn’t turn down the offer to try out the brand new DSPIAE tool kindly sent to me for review from the Netherlands, by Corien and Evert from Breveco Modelling. DSPIAE’s new Stepless Adjustment Circular Cutter (long name!) comes in a very attractive, robust and heavy box whose quality is pretty reminiscent of the way Apple packages its products. The box lid contains a line drawing illustration of the circle cutter, and the edge of the box has a unique 16-didgit identifier that you can use to verify that this is a genuine DSPIAE product, and not a counterfeit. Certain elements of our hobby have succumbed to piracy, so this is a very nice touch. The only thing I can pick up on is that the box lid states the minimum size is 1mm, whilst the maximum is 7.8! I am pretty sure that this is more like 50mm. The lid is a seriously snug fit, and once you overcome the suction when you remove it, you’ll find a removable tray with foam cut-outs. This contains three different cutting tools in their own plastic box, tool assembly components and a screwdriver. Yes, you will need to assemble this cutter, but it won’t take more than a few minutes. For information, the tray lid tells you the cutting angle for each blade. These are colour-coded for ease of recognition. Assembly After lifting out the tray, you will find a foam-backed instruction card, with everything clearly shown in line drawing format. The cutter is assembled in six easy stages. Unlike the Thinnerline tool which is essentially based upon a bearing, with internal parts, the DSPIAE tool is also enveloped in an aluminium case that protects the bearing. This is machined in high quality material and has a red/crimson appearance to it, applied probably through anodization. The sharp corners are then machined at 45 degrees, exposing the metal again. Very attractive indeed. The two-part aluminium housing is now bolted to the exterior of the bearing, and tightened with the supplied tools. Four grub screws are now applied, securing the bearing so it doesn’t slide. Don’t fasten these too tight. They only need to nip. Now the adjuster and gauge are fitted. I did find a washer left over and a small neodymium magnet. They aren’t on the instructions. Use After fitting the blade into the tool (yellow 45 degrees) and adjusting its position, I dial the size of circle I want into the cutter, and the cutter is sat on a sheet of masking paper. I then use the small handle to turn the inner bearing and a perfect circle is cut. It really is that simple. The gauge works so that the close to the centre of the bearing you adjust the pointer, the smaller the mask. Move it outwards towards the circumference, and your masks are larger. The cutting tools are amazingly sharp and should be kept in their plastic protectors when not in use. Conclusion Does exactly what it was designed to do, and flawlessly. An amazingly high quality tool for which you will find endless masking applications in your hobby, from wheel hubs to inner radius curves for canopies etc. You really should treat yourself! My sincere thanks to Breveco Modelling for the opportunity to try out this new tool. To buy it directly, click HERE.
  14. Single Blade Nipper 2.0 DSPIAE Catalogue # HRC58~64 Available from Breveco Modelling for €34,50 Without a doubt, my finest pair of cutters was a 80s pair of Lindstrom electronic side-cutters. These seemed to be built to last an entire lifetime, and their cutting edges, even after time trimming resistor and capacitor legs, were still like brand new. They weren’t cheap either. I remember in the 1990s, these were still around £70. Unfortunately, they now seem lost, and for a while now I’ve been using a Xuron sprue cutter. Very recently, Evert and Corien at Breveco Modelling, asked me if I would like to take the new DSPIAE Single Blade Nipper 2.0 for a spin. I’d heard good things about these in terms of quality and operation, so thought this was a perfect opportunity to lay the ghost of my old lost Lindstrom to rest. This tool comes in a box which I can only say is as good as anything Apple produce, and very reminiscent of the Beats headphones I recently got with my MacBook Pro. Construction of the packaging is hard-core, with an explosion-proof tray with a lid that holds itself almost through air suction! The attractive packaging has an outline drawing on the lid, and an ID number on the side, to indicate this is a genuine DSPIAE tool. When you lift the lid, the first thing you see is a removable tray that contains a holster for the tool. This appears to be leather, or something similar, and it’s embossed with the company name. An explanation is also given for the design of the tool, having only a single blade. More on that soon. This tray also contains an inventory that says there is a cleaning cloth in the packet, although I can’t see one in mine. Also in this tray is a plastic cap for the cutter, presumably in case you don’t use the leather holster. Removing this tray reveals the tool itself, sat neatly into a foam cut-out, plus an adjustment tool. The tool is there so you can a small limit regulator that prevents the user from forcing the cutting edge and cutting face together too hard, and possibly lessening the life of the tool. This is adjusted by holding the tool to the light, and setting the screw so that the blade and face only just come together. One thing that hits you is that the spring on these isn’t particularly high tension, meaning that little force is needed to close the cutter and cut plastic. The handles are also very ergonomic and extremely comfortable to handle, unlike the square appearance of my old Lindstrom tool. As for the cutter part, only one blade is present, and this is super sharp. The opposing face, instead of being another blade, is simply a flat, stopper surface. To test, I cut plastic from various manufacturers. These were Zoukei-mura, Eduard, Hasegawa and Tamiya, and what I found with all of them was an almost zero-resistance result during cutting, even with the low tension spring. Generally, you could barely tell you were cutting through any plastic, and that includes some of the thicker sprue plastic. Removing individual parts, from fuselage halves, down to small detail parts, was less than effortless. Quite remarkable. The cuts themselves are very neat, with no crushing, and if you look at the cut sprue image, you’ll see that both faces are practically vertical, almost as if separated with a razor saw. Of course, you need a clean cut, and this is exactly what this tool delivers. Conclusion You can probably tell that I’m very impressed with these. In fact, I’d say these are the most precise cutters I’ve used in 40yrs of modelling, and it’s actually a total pleasure to use and handle them. If you are doing a lot of parts removal, it could well be worth investing a little time during each session to ensure that the limit regulator is still set correctly so that you can’t force the cutting edges together too hard. I really can’t praise this useful tool highly enough. It really is superb. Very highly recommended My sincere thanks to Breveco Modelling for the opportunity to road-test this cutter. To purchase directly, click THIS link.
  15. 1/32 J2M3 “Rai Den”

    1/32 J2M3 “Rai Den” Zoukei-mura Super Wings No.5 Available from Black Mike Models for £79.95 The Mitsubishi J2M Raiden (雷電, "Thunderbolt") was a single-engine land-based fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Jack". The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the A6M Zero, to meet the 14-Shi (14th year of the Showa reign, or 1939) official specification. It was to be a strictly local-defence interceptor, intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of manoeuvrability. The J2M was a sleek, but stubby craft with its oversized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with an extension shaft. The first few produced J2M2s were delivered to the development units in December 1942 but severe problems were encountered with the engines. Trials and improvements took almost a year and the first batch of the serial built J2M2 Model 11 was delivered to 381st Kōkūtai in December 1943. Parallel with the J2M2, production of the J2M3 Raiden Model 21 started. The first J2M3s appeared in October 1943 but deliveries to combat units started at the beginning of February 1944. The Raiden made its combat debut in June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Several J2Ms operated from Guam and Saipan and a small number of aircraft were deployed to the Philippines. Later, some J2Ms were based in Chosen airfields, Genzan (Wonsan), Ranan (Nanam), Funei (Nuren), Rashin (Najin) and Konan under Genzan Ku, for defence of these areas and fighting against Soviet Naval Aviation units. Primarily designed to defend against the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the type was handicapped at high altitude by the lack of a turbocharger. However, its four-cannon armament supplied effective firepower and the use of dive and zoom tactics allowed it to score occasionally. Insufficient numbers and the American switch to night bombing in March 1945 limited its effectiveness. (Edit Courtesy of Wikipedia) The kit As you probably already knew, unless you live in a cave, this kit isn’t a new release. In fact, this kit first hit the market in 2013, having been demoed at Scale Model World, Telford, in November 2012. I was then one of the ZM team who wore their voices out in showing the test-shot to many, many hundreds of people over that weekend, prior to its release a few months later. Despite this, I never actually reviewed this one, having skipped to the later Ho 229. I’m also going to take advantage of the fact that it’s possible that numerous looks at this kit may have prematurely died when Photobucket started to ransom its members and cut off external-linking (BxM hosts its own images). Zoukei-mura’s J2M3 kit comes in a fairly sizeable and attractive box with a pretty atmospheric painting of a J2M3 diving back into night-time cloud cover after a strike on a B-29 Superfortress. Probably one of the most evocative contemporary images of the Raiden that I’ve seen. Congratulations to ZM for using that image. The box sides show various images of the test shot that is oh so familiar to this writer. That lid is also pretty airtight and takes some effort to remove. Inside, we have NINE sprues, moulded in light grey plastic, and TWO in clear. All sprues are separately bagged to prevent scuff damage, and to complete building materials, a single set of vinyl masks is included. ZM kits don’t contain photo-etch parts as standard, with the idea being that the model can be built perfectly well without such extras. Lastly, a single decal sheet is included, as well as ZM’s instruction manual with its historical and informative instructional content. Two plastic sprues are very fragile, and these are the parts which include the canopy glass and separate frames. To protect these further, the lower inside of the box has its own cardboard wrap that separates these from the rest of the parts. Looking at those parts, that was an essential move. Sometimes, I write reviews by looking at each individual sprue, but as this one is quite complex, I’ll look at each area in turn, and the features/options available to the modeller. Engine Construction starts in this area, with quite a remarkable representation of the Mitsubishi MK4R-A Kasei 23a 14-cylinder two-row radial engine that was the beast at the heart of this rather clunky looking aircraft. Both rows of cylinders are separate, with each row being supplied as halves. In line with ZM’s quirky design policies. The inside of these parts has the pistons within. Of course, you won’t see this when assembled, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. Pushrod rings, intake pipe and collector ring are also separate parts that will need careful alignment in order to progress to later stages. As the engine was sat further back in the nose, presumably to facilitate a correct centre of gravity and the semi-streamlined cowl, an extender shaft had to be fitted to the engine, and this is represented here, along with its housing. ZM has made some extensive and clever use of slide-moulding in this kit, with all of the eight separate exhaust pipes having hollow ends, saving you from having to work on these yourself. With these parts in place, you can start to fit the engine mount and the rather large mount cover, plus ancillary features, such as the carburettor, water injection pump, mixture adjustment valve and fuel injection pump, to name a few. Another real bonus with the tooling of this kit is the single piece main mounting bracket for the engine. Whereas other companies may tool a number of brackets to build this item (the new Revell 1/32 Fw 190A/F series, as an example), ZM has included this as a single part, meaning you won’t have any tricky alignment problems that multipart assemblies can introduce. Parts are supplied to pose the cowl flaps open, as default. If you want to keep these closed, you will need to trim plastic from the actuator arms, as shown in the manual. The flaps themselves are moulded in both open and closed positions. Cowls can be left off the model, so you can display the engine. These have simplistic rivet divots on the outside, and no real representative internal detail. The four-bladed propeller also has some nice hidden detail within the spinner, in the shape of the main fastening nut and the prop pitch counterweights. A nice touch if you plan to pose this with the spinner removed. Cockpit This really is an event with this kit, and also highlights just how spacious the cockpit of the Raiden was. This seems to have even more room than its American namesake, the Thunderbolt. The width of the cockpit floor is impressive! As with the engine, there is plenty of detail here that you also won’t see, unless you start to build this as a cutaway model, such as the underfloor bulkhead, linkages, valves, CO2 and oxygen bottles, and the control stick linkages that are moulded onto the stick part itself. As for the office itself, two versions of the seat are offered, as they did in the later Ho 229. These are for a plain seat, and one moulded with belts in place. Before you think that the latter option is probably terrible, I can tell you it isn’t. It’s actually quite neat, and I used that option on my Ho 229 that I built for Military Illustrated Modeller. The cockpit is built around a solid and detailed floor, highly detailed sidewall frames, a rear bulkhead, and an instrument panel bulkhead. Other parts to cram into this area include a multipart seat adjustment shaft/leaver/support, rudder pedal bar, head rest, oil pump lever, oil pump, landing gear lever, instrument consoles, oxygen bottles, and various avionics panels that fit to the sidewall frames. In all, a very comprehensive effort. Two instrument panel options are given. One of these is the standard grey plastic one with moulded dial detail (yuck!) and the other is a clear panel with bare lenses. I would opt for the latter, and punch out the individual decals for the instruments, from the sheet supplied. A far better option. In order to maintain the finesse of the parts without pesky ejector pin marks, a series of small ejection points are moulded externally to some parts, and you’ll need to clip these off and clean up any remains. This is same tried and tested system that is now seen on brands such as WNW, and indeed ZM put it to good use on the Ho 229 release, with its numerous tubular frames. With the tub complete, a forward firewall will fit to the cockpit, complete with a fuel tank and an oil tank. The completed engine assembly will eventually mount to this firewall. Another cockpit assembly area concerns the radio turtle deck behind the pilot. This includes the radio itself, rear bulkhead, roll bar and even the antenna which does appear to require installation as this stage. When I mentioned the clever use of slide-moulding, the radio set is an example of this, with the unit being moulded as two parts, and the joints being hidden around the edges of the unit. The moulding here allows for two faces to be moulded with full detail, at right angles to each other. Fuselage interior and exterior detail Behind the cockpit, there is a vast area of emptiness that has been detailed with internal fuselage constructional elements, such as the tail wheel linkage. I’m a little bit at a loss here as to why ZM didn’t also include the elevator and rudder pushrods too. It makes sense if they are going to include the one supplied. Still, there’s plenty of scope to do that if you wish to go that route. There are a few ejector pin marks inside the rear fuselage, and these look easy to remove, if you are that way inclined. With the fuselage assembled and the cockpit installed, there is a whole raft of detail underneath the cockpit floor, and this corresponds with detail that is fitted within the wing section. ZM has moulded the forward wing fillets as separate parts. Whilst I found this problematic on their Ta 152 kit, completed models of the Raiden show this to be a better fit. There are slots on the wing to allow correct placement of these parts. Externally, the fuselage is quite sparse, apart from neat panel line and port access detail, a ‘la Hasegawa’s style. I quite like a riveted surface and would look at adding this detail with a flush rivet tool. Japanese aircraft were known for their flaking paint, and of course, this would also centre around rivet lines, so these are a must for me. MDC’s flush rivet tool is perfect for this. The rudder is moulded separately to the fuselage, as are the elevators to the stabilisers. With a little bit of work, they could be made poseable too, by removing the square plug that they would fit together with. Please note that the lower, rear fuselage is also separate to the main fuselage, much in the same way that Airfix did their 1/24 Typhoon kit. This joins along a panel line, and from the finished thing, this appears to work very well. Internally, that lower part has the same internal, constructional details as the main parts. Wings There are only two main wing parts; full span single piece upper and single piece lower panels. Ailerons are separate parts, and the gun bays are moulded with the panels off, allowing you to pose them and display the detail within. Work begins by gluing in a full span main spar into the lower wing part, followed by a small series of ribs that form the lower part of the cockpit tub. More linkage detail is to be fitted, as well as port and starboard wing fuel tanks. Again, you’ll not see the latter unless you cut panels away. The weapons bays are formed around more spar and rib details, along with some beautifully moulded Type 99 20mm machine guns. These have nicely detailed recoil springs etc and it wojld be a shame to close those bays up and ignore this detail. Of course, the guns also have their ammunition magazines and feed belts. Multipart wheel well walls help to create this area, along with a very nicely detailed gear bay roof that is moulded onto the underside of the top, full span wing panel. Before you can finally glue the upper and lower panels though, the oil cooler needs to be installed. Wing external detail is commensurate with the fuselage styling, and again will benefit from some work with a riveting tool. You will be able to pose the landing flaps too. They are moulded with a series of plugs that are suitable for the default down position, and you will need to snip them off for raised. The instructions have this the wrong way around, so beware. A correction sheet is included, but as this kit is now 4yrs old, I’m surprised ZM hasn’t corrected the manual itself. A very nifty bit of slide-moulding has been used to mould the machine gun ports into the upper wing panel. This negates having to use a separate leading edge insert for this purpose. Undercarriage No provision is made for a model with a retracted gear, so if this is what you want, you will need to do some work. I think the one thing that annoys me here is that the wheels aren’t weighted. Not a problem really, but if you wanted them weighted, you’d need to fork out more money for their own resin wheel set. Wheels are moulded as halves, complete with separate hubs. The struts are crisply moulded as single pieces, with a two-part oleo scissor to attach. Brake cables are also supplied, and the undercarriage doors are superbly detailed. Wheel door actuators are supplied for the inboard doors, with clean and positive placements provided for these. Canopy Two options are provided here. A standard set of clear parts are included, whereby you mask the panels as per usual, and then paint. The other contains the glass and separate frames, which are incredibly fragile. This is quite an attractive proposition, but I still feel you would need to mask the canopy as normal, as it’s pretty common to fit the glass before you paint the airframe. I’ll have to work out how I approach this. If you want to pose the canopy in a closed position, then the standard canopy parts supply a single piece hood and rear canopy for this purpose. This option isn’t available in the separate glass/frame style. Masks A single sheet of green vinyl is supplied, with sharply cut masks for the canopy only (traditional style), and not the wheel hubs. That’s a shame. My experience of this masking material from other ZM kits is that you really need to make sure it’s firmly applied as it can lift in places. Decals All decals for the two schemes are printed on a single sheet. These seem to either be in-house, or from somewhere in Japan maybe. They certainly aren’t Cartograf. I find ZM’s decals to be a little disappointing in that they have poorly defined details and are fairly thick. That applies here too, although they aren’t unusable. Maybe think of doing the markings with aftermarket decals or masks. Stencil and instrument details are also included here. The two schemes on offer are the same as those in the Hasegawa kit, so nothing original in the slightest. Thankfully, separate numbers are included to change the serial for one of the options. These two schemes are: J2M3 Jack, 352nd Naval Air Group, 3rd Divisional Officer Lt. JG Yoshihiro Aoki, March 1945, Ohmura AB, Nagasaki J2M3 Jack, 302nd Naval Air Group, 2nd Divisional Officer Lt. Susumo Ito, April 1945, Atsugi AB, Kanagawa Instruction Manual ZM has their own style of manual, in the same way that WNW has their specific approach. For ZM, it’s all about educating the modeller as to the internals of the aircraft, and the design. A history of the J2M3 is included, followed by a treatise on the Raiden, along with a sort of X-ray of the aircraft. Each chapter deals with a specific constructional section of the model, with more SWS explanations throughout, along with some superb illustration that should make assembly straightforward. Colour references are made throughout for both Gunze and Vallejo paints. The last pages are taken over with the two schemes, printed in colour. These are rather dark and murky in places, but easy to overcome. Decal placements suffer a little from the gloom too, so use any references you have. A parts plan is also included. Conclusion Has this kit withstood the last 4 years in terms of approach? Yes, without a doubt. This is most certainly the best J2M3 in any scale, and most certainly in 1/32. Some details are quirky, but that’s the name of the game when it comes to Zoukei-mura’s SWS approach. I think that the engineering approach to this is sensible, and a little novel in places. This certainly isn’t a perfect kit, but can you name one that is? I’m a little disappointed about the lack of weighted wheels, especially for a premium product, and the rather substandard decals. However, this is still a gem of a kit, and one I’d been chasing down for a little while now. I really can’t wait to crack this one open and commit some glue and paint. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Duncan at BlackMike Models for getting this out to me so quickly. To purchase, head over to their website.
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