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James Hatch

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About James Hatch

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  • Birthday 26/02/1970

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  1. Photo Etched Parts Bender DSPIAE Catalogue # AT-PB Available from Breveco Modelling for €69.50 There are some really good photo-etch bending tools on the market, with my personal preference thus far being the 5.5 inch Hold and Fold from The Small Shop. I’ve used numerous different folders over the last year, some being good and some being a little iffy, in my personal opinion. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Chinese tool manufacturer, DSPIAE, released their own into their high-quality tools range, and here is that very tool. We’ve looked at quite a few of their tools over the last year or so, such as the Glue Bottle Holder, CA Glue Applicator, Aluminium Alloy Scale, Hand Drill Set, Craft Tools Rack, Stepless Adjustment Circle Cutter, and the Single Blade Nipper 2.0, so now it’s time to delve into their very latest. DSPIAE tools are packed into robust and attractive boxes of MDF construction, with rather random Aztec-style imagery that really doesn’t bear any relation to the product within. Still, there’s no faulting the presentation, along with the excellent packing that can be used to safely store the tools for many years to come. The box states that the contents within, or at least some of them, are a result of high-pressure forging. The box sides show the parts included within the tool set, plus the ID Code used to identify this as a genuine DSPIAE tool and not a pirated copy, with this latter being something that even the respectable Chinese companies have had to do to separate themselves from their more unscrupulous countryfolk. Taking a look at the back of the box, we see some general product information and rationale for specific product design choices. Got to love the inclusion of the Ghostbusters logo! Lift that heavy lid and you’re already getting a thank you from the company for your tool purchase decision. Another product authenticity check is included in the form of a Q-Code that can be scanned with an appropriate app on a smartphone. This red packaging is actually a sleeve that contains one of the tools working tables, as named by the manufacturer. Yes, this PE bender has a choice of two working tables, and the one in this sleeve is manufactured from a shot-blasted piece of anodized aluminium that has a sort of graphite colour to it. This is also protected by a foam cut-out within the sleeve. On the rear of the sleeve is a little more of the same product information we saw on the rear of the box, alongside line drawings of the product. One thing that can never be criticised with DSPIAE is their packaging. The tool and parts within the box are sat in foam cut-outs with another insert being used to span the area between the bending plate release knobs. A silica gel sachet is included to prevent any moisture damage. With other PE benders, I’ve been used to a metal blade to assist folding any of the longer bent edges. Unusually, with this tool, the folding tool (or bending plate as described by DSPIAE), is constructed from clear acrylic sheet which has been neatly and evenly ground down to a wedge end, and with a black plastic cap strip along the other edge. In fact, they actually supply two folding tools here, with one of them being quite short in relation to the main folder. It remains to be seen how these bear up to continued use as opposed to a metal item but remember that it’s not much effort is generally needed to make these bends, and you aren’t pushing and grinding these parts together. More rationale for product design is also given on a foam insert, and also some information on how the tool is used. Time to get our hands dirty and take a closer look at this. No doubt, this tool must surely win a prize for the most beautifully finished and aesthetically pleasing tool that will end up on your workbench. The main bed of the PE bender is machined from high-grade aluminium which has been finished in black anodising and has a recess into which the switchable working tables will fit. Four hex-key screws hold the default working table in place. Unlike the shot-blasted, anodised aluminium plate that was packed into the sleeve, this plate is constructed of stainless steel and has a high mirror finish that was a little difficult to capture clearly in my photography. The bending face is constructed from more high-grade aluminium, this time anodised in the companies trademark red colour. This has more bending options than my default 5.5inch Hold and Fold, with the various shaped being precisely machines, as with the US-equivalent tool. Two knurled knobs hold down this pate onto the working table, with the plate itself being sprung-loaded. The being plate can also be lifted off and turned around 180 degrees so that the long straight edge is the principle bending face. This unit is also larger (and heavier) than my usually tool. The larger size does account for that generally, but the stainless working table adds to this, unlike my usual tool which is simply a two-part item which is also sprung-loaded. DSPIAE’s tool has a length of 177mm and a width of 91mm. Note here the smaller machined bending locations that can be used in conjunction with dowel or metal rods/drill shanks. A hex key is also supplied for you to tighten the threaded knob screws, should they ever come loose. Here you can see the difference in the working tables. There is some notation about the mirror finish being easier to scratch (obviously) but that won’t impair the quality of the tool and how it works. I think the choice between these two items is more one of personal choice than how the tool actually works. If you ever inadvertently damage one of these, then at least you’ll have a backup. To help maintain that mirror finish and keep things clean, a neat polishing cloth is also included, as are a set of sticky feet made by 3M. In the same wallet are the two hex-keys that we’ve seen in use in this review. Aluminium or mirror-finished working plate, the choice is up to you! Here you can also see the bending face turned around 180 degrees. Conclusion An extremely robust and high-quality tool with unusually high levels of beauty for a functional item. The two choices of working table are a nice touch, and the large overall size of the tool lends itself to some of those longer folds that we something see in our photo-etch parts sets. It’ll be interesting to see how the acrylic folding tools hold up under use, but these can be swapped for something else, should the need arise. The folding tool I got in my 5.5inch Hold and Fold eventually started to rust, so that wasn’t perfect, and I really didn’t want to look at introducing oil to things, especially when I have to paint the folded parts later! Perhaps acrylic is an inspired choice in that respect. Overall, a stunning new release from DSPIAE and one which, cost-wise, is about on par with other contemporary releases from other companies, but with those little extras thrown in for good measure. Very highly recommended. My sincere thanks to Breveco Modelling for the sample seen in this review. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  2. Looking real good so far. This one really isn't as hard as it looks, so I know you'll pull it off easily.
  3. 1:32 Hispano HA-1112-M1L Conversion (for Hasegawa/Revell Bf 109G-2/4/6) Attitude Aviation As Catalogue # BUC-32002 Available from Aviation Megastore for €59,95 The Hispano Aviación HA-1109 and HA-1112 are license-built versions of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 developed in Spain during and after World War II. In 1942, the Spanish government arranged a manufacturing licence with Messerschmitt AG to build the Bf 109G-2, the DB 605A engines, propellers, instruments and weapons were to be supplied from Germany. This proved impossible as Germany was incapable of meeting its own needs let alone Spain's, and only twenty-five airframes (without their tails) and less than half the necessary drawings were actually delivered. In May 1951, a developed version, the HA-1112-K1L, improved the Spanish Hispano-Suiza, HS 17-12Z engine installation, carried either one or two 12.7mm Breda machineguns and Pilatus eight-packs of 80mm rockets and its three-bladed de Havilland Hydromatic propeller earned it the nickname Tripala ("three blades"). The final variant was the HA-1112-M1L Buchón (Pouter), which is a male dove in Spanish. It first flew on 29 March 1954 with a 1,600 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 500-45[4] engine and Rotol propeller, both purchased as surplus from the UK. This engine had a chin intake, that altered the lines of the Bf 109's airframe. It carried two 20 mm Hispano-Suiza 404/408 cannon and two Oerlikon or Pilatus eight-packs of 80 mm rockets and remained in service until 27 December 1965. Due to their longevity, Buchóns have appeared in several war films masquerading as Bf 109Es and Gs. in movies such as Battle of Britain (alongside CASA 2.111 bombers, a Spanish-built version of the Heinkel He 111), Der Stern von Afrika, Memphis Belle, Dunkirk, and The Tuskegee Airmen. Remarkably, Buchóns also played the Bf 109's opposition, the Hawker Hurricane, in one scene in Battle of Britain. Extract from Wikipedia The conversion set Why a conversion? Well, firstly, why not! Secondly, there is no injection moulded Buchón in large scale, and despite the moans from some that it isn’t significant and that they wanted to see something else, the Buchón is a subject that many of us have wanted to model, and especially in the colours of the BoB film veterans. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a conversion for this intriguing machine. Indeed, Grey Matter Figures did release one some years ago (2012/13), and I tried to convert a model with it, unsuccessfully, due to all manner of quality issues including bad shrinkage. I also have to say that the breakdown and actual parts vary, to my eye, quite a lot from that other resin set. Most definitely in final appearance of the Buchón. This set is provided in a resilient and deep corrugated cardboard box that has a product label that extends to both the front and rear, showing the finished model and a layout of the resin parts. Pulling out the tab opens the box to reveal, firstly, the numerous instruction sheets that we’ll look at a little later. Removing this, several layers of bubble-wrap can be seen, protecting the three clear and re-sealable bags of light grey resin parts. A small wallet is also included with two PE frets. You will note that there are no decals in this release. They will shortly be available from the Attitude Aviation As, as a separate product. You will be able to purchase either the German or Spanish decals. It also has to be noted at this point that the parts in this release are only really capable of building one of the German film veterans and not one of the Spanish machines. The reason for this is that the cannon fairings, wing fences and underwing rockets are not included in this set. However, it also has to be said that the tail struts of the German film veterans also aren’t included in this release, but I had heard they were scrapped from the film aircraft due to them falling off in flight. Ok, onto the resin etc. Bag 1 The first bag I’m drawn to contains the real centrepiece of this set, namely that new Merlin-engine cowl/nose. Unlike the single-piece nose in the GMF conversion set, this one is moulded in three parts, with the main cowl itself being hollow. This most definitely will help keep down the nose weight of the finished model. A nice touch here is also how the lower two chin parts have locating pins which fit the corresponding holes on the main cowl. All that needs to be removed from the parts are the well-placed casting blocks and some ultra-thin resin webs from the nose radiator opening and the exhaust openings. Detail is pretty commensurate with the original Hasegawa kit, with fine panel lines and also some exquisite latch detail. Note also the holes in the upper cowl. These are designed to accommodate the fake gun trough covers that were fitted to many of the BoB film veterans. If your machine wasn’t fitted with them, you’ll need to fill them in. Also nicely cast are the two rows of exhaust stubs with their neat hollow ends, weld seams and fastening bolts. There is an upper cowl fairing which is integral to these so it will be nice and easy to ensure correct location. A single casting block contains the cockpit radio set and the new undercarriage mounting blocks. Bag 2 You’re really spoiled here as there are not one, not two or even three….but FOUR different iterations of the spinner. Two of these are for the four-blade prop option, and the others for the three-blade. There is one spinner which is more or less a full shape, and the others have been cropped to represent the Emil of the BoB film, and these also vary somewhat in shape. These parts are to be married to one of two spinner backplate options, dependant on the numbers of blades used. An internal prop hub is included for each option too. There is a plate which forms the forward cowl ring, behind the spinner. Backplates and cowl ring are fully detailed too. Only a little clean-up will be required to prepare parts for fitting, and the casting blocks are connected via a then web. There were differences to the cockpit of the Buchón and as a result, there is a more or less complete cockpit tub included in this release, and it really does look gorgeous! You will need to supplement this with parts from the original kit, such as the rudder pedals etc. but you may want to use a little PE for some of these parts, where applicable, from a different aftermarket release. Also in this packet are a bulkhead for the fuselage, which sits behind the new nose, the lower cowl radiator outlet channel and the upper fuselage cowl which site in front of the windscreen. A small casting block contains parts for the cockpit. Bag 3 Our last bag of resin parts contains the four prop blades (with squared ends), a cowl to fuselage belly fairing, two fake gun trough covers for the movie aircraft, a prop shaft and dummy spinner gun. If you wish to model the three-blade prop machine, you will need to round the ends of these and create a profile akin to the Hamilton Standard prop. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to do the prerequisite work. The prop shapes are excellent with nice thin trailing edges and tips. Photo Etch There are TWO PE frets in this release. One of them, presumably made by Eduard, contains the multipart, colour-printed instrument panel which is of course specific to the Buchón. Print quality is typically Eduard with solid colour and nice instrument definition. The second fret contains the chin intake grille and also the radiator outlet flap, produced in bare brass. Production quality is also excellent. Instructions There are several loose sheets, printed on both sides, which form the instructions. Each sheet contains specific aspects of conversion, with photographs and accompanying text. Some of the photos are a little difficult to decipher unless you look at the parts and study things carefully. They also don’t address the shortening of the wingtips and the installation of the dummy wing cannon that are needed for film veteran aircraft. Conclusion You most definitely will need to either sort out decals for the German machine, and if you want to build a Spanish machine, then there extra parts to purchase, as well as the resin. Attitude Aviation As has made a compromise in terms of initial kit cost so that you only pay for what you will actually use. The design of the parts, rendered in CAD by artist Ronnie Olsthoorn, and 3D-printed and cast by SBS of Hungary, are flawless. You can actually see that the designers have thought about things in an intelligent way and pulled off what appears to be a fantastic conversion of the famous sibling of Messerschmitt’s famed G-series Bf 109. The only thing I need to add is that you will need to do a little reference hunting to ensure your finished Buchón will have the correct spinner and prop combo for the selected scheme, and that you will need to look at shortening the wingtips slightly and adding the fake wing guns that were used in the film. My set wasn’t provided with any colour scheme profiles, but these are available on their Facebook page. A seriously nice set! My sincere thanks to Attitude Aviation As, for the review sample seen in this article. For more info, check out the company’s Facebook page, here.
  4. I built mine in 3 weeks
  5. 1:32 Fifie – The Scottish Motor Fishing Vessel Amati Catalogue # 1300/09 Available from Amati for €220.00 The Fifie is a design of sailing boat developed on the east coast of Scotland. It was a traditional fishing boat used by Scottish fishermen from the 1850s until well into the 20th century. These boats were mainly used to fish for herring using drift nets, and along with other designs of boat were known as herring drifters. While the boats varied in design, they can be categorised by their vertical stem and stern, their long straight keel and wide beam. These attributes made the Fifies very stable in the water and allowed them to carry a very large set of sails. The long keel, however, made them difficult to manoeuvre in small harbours. Sailing Fifies had two masts with the standard rig consisting of a main dipping lug sail and a mizzen standing lug sail. The masts were positioned far forward and aft on the boat to give the maximum clear working space amidships. A large Fifie could reach just over 20 metres in length. Because of their large sail area, they were very fast sailing boats. Fifies built after 1860 were all decked and from the 1870s onwards the bigger boats were built with carvel planking, i.e. the planks were laid edge to edge instead of the overlapping clinker style of previous boats. The introduction of steam powered capstans in the 1890s, to help raising the lugs sails, allowed the size of these vessels to increase from 30 foot to over 70 foot in length. From about 1905 onwards sailing Fifies were gradually fitted with engines and converted to motorised vessels. There are few surviving examples of this type of fishing boat still in existence. The Scottish Fisheries Museum based in Anstruther, Fife, has restored and still sails a classic example of this type of vessel named the Reaper. The Swan Trust in Lerwick, Shetland have restored and maintain another Fifie, The Swan, as a sail training vessel. She now takes over 1000 trainees each year and has taken trainees to participate in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races to ports in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland as well as around the UK. Extract from Wikipedia The kit Fifie is packed into a large, heavy box that certainly hints that there’s a good quantity of material included to build this historic fishing vessel in all its glorious 1:32 scale. I do admit to particularly liking this scale, having built plastic models for many years and indeed for magazine publication. It’s definitely something I can relate to when eyeing up the various dimensions and features. Amati’s presentation is flawless and certainly stands out, with its large, glossy lid that captures an attractive view of the Fifie. It has to be noted here that the hull is usually fully painted, with green being common above the waterline, but this model was finished to show off the beauty of the walnut timber supplied in the kit. And why not! For those that don’t know, this kit, under the Victory Models label, was designed by Chris Watton. Many of you should be familiar with that name and his design pedigree. At 1:32, this kit is no shrinking violet in terms of size. Fifie is 700mm long, 470mm wide and with a height of 230mm (sans masts). Lifting the lid does indeed show a box crammed with materials. Inside, we have several bundles of timber, plus a packet of timber dowel/strip/metal rod/tube, a thick packet containing numerous laser-cut sheets, another packet with plans and photo etch, and underneath the main timber, we have sail cloth and fittings packs. Thick foam is included to stop the main materials from banging around in the box. Strip wood Fifie has a double-planked hull, with the first layer being constructed from 1.5mm x 7mm lime strips. These, like many of the other bundles, are 600mm long, and very cleanly cut with no fuzzy edges Sixty-five of these are supplied. The same quality goes for the second planking layer, which is supplied as 90 strips of 1mm x 6mm walnut which is some of the best I’ve seen in a kit. There is little colour variation in these, and they look pleasantly uniform. I’ve always found Amati’s timber quality to be exceptional and this is no different. As well as elastic to hold the bundles some labels are also included to help identity the material. Other strip wood is included (beech and walnut) for such things as deck planking, caulking (yes, caulk plank!), lining the various deck hatches, sheathing the deckhouse structures, rubbing strakes etc. These bundles are both taped and bound with elastic, with the deck planking having an identifying label also. Cutting is clean and precise. Dowel and tube/rod Various lengths of dowel is included for masting, false keel strengthening pins etc. and thicker strip wood for the timberheads. All is supplied in a nice uniform walnut colour….no nasty walnut dyes/stains in this kit! These latter lengths are also packaged into a thick clear sleeve, unlike the others. Note also various lengths of brass and copper wire, as timberheads well as some copper tube for the propeller shaft, which can of course be an integral part of building Fifie as an RC model, should you wish. Some mounting parts are included for RC conversion, but you will need to purchase other items to complete the model for radio. MDF sheet items Again, Amati has made extensive use of 4mm MDF for the hull false keel and bulkheads, and all are laser-cut, as are all individual wooden items in this kit. Cutting looks very precise with very little in the way of scorching, apart from very localised discolouration. I know many don’t like MDF as a material for our models, but MDF sands easily and is also warp-free, lending itself to a nice, true hull. You won’t see any of this when you start to lay planks. There are FOUR sheets of this material, and you’ll notice that there aren’t any parts numbers engraved on here. You will need to refer to the first two sheets of plans which contain the parts references. A single sheet of 2mm MDF contains parts such as the four-piece deck, cleats, and the bulkheads and keel for Fifie’s single launch vessel. There is also a single 6mm sheet of MDF (sheet 2698-B) which contains the four parts needed for the cradle. I’ve seen numerous sites which now sell this model claim that no stand is included with this model. Well, this sort of proves that statement incorrect. This is the same cradle shown on the box lid images. Of course, you’ll need a suitable MDF primer for this, and some nice coats of gloss lacquer to get the best from this. Ply sheet parts SIX sheets of thin ply are included for just about every other timber construction elements of Fifie, including the deckhouse, deck superstructures, keel sheathing, and bulwark capping strip. Again, all parts are laser-cut and will require minimal effort to remove any edge char. Fittings Two boxes of fittings are included in the very bottom of the Fifie kit box. Some of the weight bearing down has caused a small crack in the two vac-form fittings boxes, as you can see, but all parts within are absolutely fine. The first box contains the cast metal propeller, deck buckets, ship’s wheel, rigging blocks, life preserver rings and a whole load of beautifully smooth wooden balls for making the many buoys which sit on Fifie’s deck. These are perfectly circular, yet the ones on the box image are slightly shaped. Instructions show these as the balls, and you could perhaps opt to use a little putty to add some shape to these. The second fitting box contains seven spools of rigging cord in both black and natural colours, nails, various cast fittings such as bollards, plus rudder pintles, anchors etc. Copper eyelets, chain and ferrules etc. make up the set. Sail cloth Should you wish to add sails, then enough material is supplied for you, in bleached white cloth. Photo-etch Very few kits come without photo-etch parts these days, and this is no exception, with TWO sheets of 0.7mm brass with a very high number of included parts. A quick scan around the sheets will easily identify parts for the mast bases, steam winch, engine skylight, capstan, deck hand pump, wheel assembly, herring shovel, tabernacle, mast rings, etc. Acetate and card I have to say I’m not entirely sure what the card/cartridge paper is for except for maybe general use, but the thin acetate is obviously for the cabin windows. Instructions and plans Without a doubt, Amati produce some of the very best instruction manuals to come with any model kit. For reference, check out my Orient Express Sleeping Car review and that of Revenge. Fifie is no different with a luxurious and fully-pictorial, 64-page publication. Whilst this isn’t perfect-bound as with the previous reviews, it is in full colour and produced to a standard that’s still far higher than many contemporary manufacturers, with each stage being shown under construction so you get a perfect idea about what is required at that point in construction. Text is also in English, or at least in the sample I have been sent. The rear of the manual contains a complete components list. Backing up this publication is a set of seven plan sheets. The first two of these are for identifying the various timber and PE parts. The others show general profile and detail imagery, as well as masting and rig drawings. Remember that the hull itself is built entirely from the photographic sequences so everything you see on these drawings is for external details. Conclusion I have to say that you get a lot of kit for your money with Fifie, and when I first asked Amati what they envisaged the RRP to be, I was quite surprised at this. Everything about Fifie is quality, from the packaging and presentation, to the beautiful, photographic manual, fittings, sheet and strip timber, all the way to the superbly drawn plans. I’m very surprised that the gestation period has taken so long for them to bring this excellent kit to market. It’s also a Chris Watton thoroughbred. If you’ve seen his previous designs, then you’ll be familiar with the format of Fifie, which was quite the different vessel for Chris to tackle, when everyone seemed to think he would only design fighting vessels, armed to the teeth with cannon. I must admit that Fifie did take me quite by surprise too. The very shape of this iconic and historic vessel is so homely and welcoming and for me, invokes images of those times when fishing communities were happy and thriving. Whether you’re a fan of Chris’s work or not, Fifie is most certainly a kit that you should consider dropping into your virtual shopping cart next time you visit your favourite online model ship/boat retailer, and of course, if RC is your thing, then this kit will also suit your genre! VERY highly recommended! My sincere thanks to Amatifor sending out the sample kit you see reviewed here. To purchase directly click the link at the top of the article to take you to Amati’s online shop or check out your country’s local distributor. Plans are also available from Amati, for €21.00
  6. 1:35 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. D/B MiniArt Catalogue # 35213 The Panzerkampfwagen III, commonly known as the Panzer III, was a medium tank developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 141. It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside and support similar Panzer IV which was originally designed for infantry support. However, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, more powerful anti-tank guns were needed, and since the Panzer IV had more development potential with a larger turret ring, it was redesigned to mount the long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun. The Panzer III effectively swapped roles with the Panzer IV, as from 1942 the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 that was better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ceased in 1943. Nevertheless, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun until the end of the war. The Panzer III was used in the German campaigns in Poland, in France, in the Soviet Union, and in North Africa. Many were still in combat service against Western Allied forces in 1944-1945: at Anzio in Italy, in Normandy, and in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. A sizeable number of Panzer IIIs also remained as armoured reserves in German-occupied Norway and some saw action, alongside Panzer IVs, in the Lapland War against Finland in the fall of 1944. By the end of the war in 1945, the Panzer III saw almost no frontline use anymore and many of them had been returned to the few remaining armaments/tank factories for conversion into StuG III assault guns, which were in high demand due to the defensive warfare-style adopted by the German Army by then. A few other variants of the Panzer III were also experimented and produced by German industries towards the last phases of the war, but few were able to be mass-produced or even see action against the encroaching enemy forces of the US, UK and Soviet troops. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit This is now the sixth incarnation of MiniArt’s original Ausf.B kit since its original introduction in 2014, and if you’ve not delved into one of these then I think you could be in for a surprise. This new release, the second this year, concentrates on the ability to model this vehicle as either the Ausf.D or Ausf.B variants. Packaged into a deceptively small box with a typically attractive MiniArt artwork on the lid, this release really does pack a punch when it comes to sprue and parts count. Lifting the well-fitting lid, all of the plastic within is bagged into a single cellophane sleeve, with numerous sprues within separately packed too, but not all. A single PE fret and decal sheet, plus the 18-page manual, complete this ensemble. The decal sheet is packed into the same sleeve as the clear sprue. The PE fret is packaged into a card sleeve, and further protected itself with a thin film covering both sides of the item. In total, there are FIFTY-SIX sprues of medium-grey styrene and a single clear sprue. Now, before you get too excited at that figures, please remember that I include multiples of the same sprue, where applicable, and also individual parts that aren’t on a sprue, such as the turret and cupola. Sprue C and Cc are also moulded as one item, but for simplification, I have separated these for the photos and shown them individually. The kit itself does seem to comprise of between 1000 and 1100 parts, so this is no quick project, and some stuff will be pretty fiddly, such as the track assembly, plus all the spare links that adorn the front of the vehicle. The tracks are also workable. Other kit details from the MiniArt site say that the chassis is also workable, and the kit has an accurate turret interior with hatches that can be posed in either open or closed position. Instead of the bathtub lower hull we see on some armour, this section is built from three separate parts, including the lower hull sides. It does become pretty evident why when you see the level of detail moulded onto the latter. Even the best slide-moulding would have struggled with an all-in-one part! However, slide-moulding is a big feature of this kit, with many of the sprues having elements of this included, whether it’s to create simple things like open-ended barrels, but also for things you wouldn’t expect, such as the leaf suspension units and fire extinguisher. MiniArt have made some excellent use of this technology for parts that you simply wouldn’t have associated with this particular moulding. Whilst the Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. D/B doesn’t have a full interior, which seems to be vogue at the moment, it does have a nicely detailed turret interior with many of the structures that you’d expect to see within, such as crew seat positions, traverse motor, azimuth, detailed main gun and twin MG34 installation. Some PE is also supplied to supplement the turret interior. All hatches are also poseable, but of course this would only really work with the turret due to the lack of detail within the main hull…unless of course you wished to use the opening to pose a figure. Now to those tracks. Having seen some great solutions recently to assembling these things on contemporary kits, with this one, you’re on your own. There isn’t any track assembly jig that I can see, so you’ll have to do these one by one, and also the track pins will have to be fitted with the bare minimum of cement so that it doesn’t run down the locating hole and glue the links solidly together. If you take your time, you should have no problems, and you’ll have also learned some patience skills too. There must be around 500+ parts for the tracks alone (96 links per side, plus two pins per link, coupled with the main links that adorn the front hull). Moulding quality is exceptional, with no flaws, visible seams or other things to niggle and gnaw away at you. Sprue Ac (x4) Sprue Ad (x4) Sprue Ae (x3) Sprue Af (x2) Sprue B Sprue Bc (x2) Sprue Be Sprue C Sprue Ca Sprue F Sprue Bd (x2) Sprue Kd Sprue Hc (x2) Sprue K (x21) Sprue Ke Sprue Ka Sprue Bf Sprue L (x5) Sprues E, Fx, G Photo Etch Decals A single decal sheet, printed with nice, thin inks and solid colour. Carrier film is minimal, and everything is in perfect register. The schemes included are shown here: Instructions MiniArt’s instructions are a joy to read and follow and should present no problems during construction. A complete parts map is included, but if any parts aren’t to be used, they aren’t shaded out as they really should be. Some painting reference is included during the construction phase, such as for the turret internals, and all colours are supplied for Vallejo, Mr. Color, Life Color, Tamiya, AK Real Color, Humbrol, Revell and Mission Models codes. Some superb colour illustrations are provided for the FOUR schemes in this kit, with clear decal placement notation. Conclusion For what really isn’t too much money for a kit these days, MiniArt provide the modeller with a very comprehensive and nicely featured release, with some superb engineering and excellent detail. They sure are on the way to providing an excellent family of modern-tooled Pz.Kpfw.III kits and if you’re in the market for something to see out those last cold, dark evenings this winter, you could do far worse than to entertain yourself with this lovely kit! My sincere thanks to MiniArtfor the review sample seen here.
  7. 1:35 Faun L 900 including SdAh 115 Das Werk Catalogue # DW 35003 Available from around €69.00 (RRP) The Faun was one of the heaviest German trucks in service at the time. It weighed 8,800 kilograms and was 10.4 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, and 2.6 meters high. It required a crew of only one, that being the driver. It was powered by a 1,501hp Deutz F6M5171 diesel engine and could carry a total cargo load of up to 8,800 kilograms. The Faun had no armour protection or armament, and it had six wheels, four of which were the drive wheels. Its primary purpose was transporting and carrying small tanks and armoured vehicles, hence the abnormally long body and powerful engine. The Faun could carry up two small tanks at a time using a special vehicle trailer. The Faun was produced by a variety of manufacturers, including Büssing-NAG, Vomag, Faun, Fross-Büssing, Krupp and MAN. Not many of these trucks were produced, and even less were converted into SdKfz 4 half-tracks. The Faun was mostly used from the early to mid-part of World War II, as it was primarily used to carry and recover small German tanks such as the Panzer I and Panzer II. It's usage throughout the war was then mostly limited to the transportation of heavy equipment, troops, and other light vehicles. Extract from World War II Wiki The kit Thanks to Uschi van der Rosten and Das Werk, those of us with a Facebook presence have been watching this kit come together for a short while now, with regular updates on CAD, packaging and also a test shot build from Alex Glass himself. As I write this, this kit is on the cusp of release, and modellers should be able to get their hands on it later this month or early January. You can see why Das Werk are proud of their product. The presentation alone is a bold statement of their faith in the product with an attractive artwork by Jason Wong, who also produces artworks for the likes of Takom. If you look carefully at the lid, you’ll note the product name and company logo are finished in gloss, while the remain is a nice satin finish. On the box side we see profiles and schemes for the vehicle. For those of you who don’t know, Das Werk is a collaboration between Uschi van der Rosten and MBK Distribution. In the case of this release, work has also been done in conjunction with Pete Hamann and CustomScale. The box itself is quite weighty, as it should be as it contains two model kits; the Faun L900 3-axle truck, and also the SdAh 115 flatbed trailer. Inside the box, all sprues are separately packed, except for the two which are supplied twice. In total, there are NINE sprues of light grey styrene, and one of clear. There are also two packets of vinyl tires, a number of brass rods and a small decal sheet. An instruction manual is provided for each of the models, both Faun and SdAh 115. Instead of rolling through text for each sprue, bearing in mind that I’m fairly unfamiliar with the characteristics and breakdown of such vehicles, we’ll look at each sprue in photographic form, but now I’ll also explain some of what features this kit offers in terms of options etc. From the outset, it became pretty clear that the Das Werk team wanted to create a model that could be used in any scenario that could be thrown at it, and as a result, the load bearing elements of this kit would need to be able to be modelled in a fashion that was realistic of the completed scenario. With the Faun, there is always the possibility that this flatback vehicle could be travelling empty, or with moderate or heavy load. To that end, the designers of this kit have included three separate sets of leaf-spring suspension arms so cater to all three possibilities, and of course then allowing the finished model to sit lower on that suspension when carrying heavy equipment. That is a fantastic little touch. You’ll also see that the kit has some lengths of brass wire. These are designed to be bent around a supplied plastic former so as to create the metal hoops that optionally sit over the rear of the Faun, and would possibly be covered by a soft skin. When the soft top wasn’t deployed, the hoops are stowed further forward. It is of course possible to build the model without the sides fitted too, and just the open back. There are so many possibilities. What the instruction manual also provides is a series of load images which will give you an idea about which suspension parts to add vs the weight carried. Whilst the Faun has a very nicely detailed cab, detailed underside/chassis and some excellent wood grain finish to the appropriate parts, no engine is supplied, so that really isn’t an option unless someone releases an aftermarket solution for this. The SdAh 115 trailer is also no less featured, with numerous options for the modeller. These include three load options and the ability to pose the rear axle away from the trailer and fit ramps for loading the trailer itself. Like them or loathe them, both the Faun and the SdAh 115 trailer have vinyl wheels, but these are actually very good! Seam lines are extremely minimal or even almost invisible, so shouldn’t be a concern for the average modeller. Now to the plastic! Faun L 900 Sprue A (x2) Sprue B Sprue C Sprue D Sprue E Wire Wheels Decals A single decal sheet is included which contains markings for the exterior as well as cab instruments. Printing company is unknown, but the decals are nice and thin, have minimal carrier film, solid colour and perfect register. SdAh 115 trailer Sprue F (x2) Sprue G Sprue H Wheels Instructions A separate manual is provided for both the Faun and the SdAh 115 trailer, and whilst there are some commonalities between them, there are some inconsistencies, such as no parts/sprue map for the SdAh 115 trailer manual. No real biggie though. Generally, both manuals are very easy to follow with the various illustrations reminding me very much of Wingnut Wings in their style and colourisation. There is also plenty of annotation throughout and notes on the various options. There are plenty of paint references given throughout too, with codes for RAL, Tamiya, Mr Hobby, Ammo, Vallejo, Humbrol and Mission Models types. Various schemes are also supplied, attributed to unknown units. Conclusion Production quality really is superb, rivalling other high-end contemporary kit manufacturers. I think I saw one little bit of flash that wasn’t bigger than a pinhead, and there are no defects such as sink marks etc. A major-league effort has not only gone into some very nice engineering, but also into the research and development of this new kit, and it really shows. With the jig to bend the soft-top support hoops etc. it’s pretty obvious that building this kit will be an absolute joy. If you have some money left in the run-up to, or after Christmas, you should consider treating yourself! My sincere thanks to Das Werkfor the review sample seen here. Watch out for this kit soon, from your favourite online model retailer.
  8. 1:32 ‘The Duellists’ – Halberstadt Cl.II & RE.8 “Harry Tate” Wingnut Wings Catalogue # 32804 Available from Wingnut Wings for $229USD, plus postage The Halberstadt Cl.II was a highly successful lightweight German two-seat escort fighter and ground attack aircraft that entered service in July 1917. It was initially tasked with escorting traditional two-seat C type reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft up until March 1918 when they transitioned to infantry support. The RE.8 was designed as a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft and entered service with the RFC in late 1916 and remained in use until after the Armistice. Aircrew gave it the affectionate nickname ‘Harry Tate’, RE.8 rhyming well with the popular Scottish music hall comedian’s name and, possibly, because of its similarly comic appearance. In the hands of confident and aggressive aircrews the RE.8 was capable of putting up a fight almost as well as the great Bristol Fighter. Late in the morning of 9 June 1918 the crew of RE.8 D4689 “P” from 3 Squadron Royal Australian Flying Corps encountered late production Halberstadt Cl.II 15342/17 “III” from Royal Prussian Schlasta 13 over the Somme battlefield... The kit This is the fourth ‘Duellist’ release from Wingnut Wings, and of course, featuring two more protagonists that met in combat on the same day in history. You’ll notice with this release that WNW have simultaneously released their brand new Halberstadt Cl.II as a part of this package, but alongside the currently out-of-production RE.8 “Harry Tate” kit. I know that the latter kit is very much lamented since it became unavailable some 5 years ago, so for that reason alone, this new kitset will become a very attractive purchase. The box for this is large. Whilst the same depth as either the Halberstadt and RE.8 boxes, it has twice the footprint of either, due to the nature of the release. Steve Anderson’s very attractive and evocative artwork adorns this large lid, showing the rear gunners of these two aircraft opening fire on each other above the fields of the Western Front. Being a Duellist release, there is only one scheme available for each of the aircraft, and these are depicted on the side of the box. We’ll look at these a little later. Lifting that lid reveals a compartmented interior, with each section being given over to the sprues for one particular aircraft. Whilst all of the sprues for the Halberstadt are all individually bagged, the RE.8 has further packaging with all bagged sprues being packed into a large, clear bag. A single PE fret contains the parts for both machines, and three decal sheets are also provided, with one of them having decals printed for both aircraft, and another being a lozenge sheet which is common to the other Halberstadt releases. A small, additional sheet contains just a handful of decals. In total, this release contains fourteen light grey styrene sprues and two clear ones. The spiel from WNW gives the following statistics: 496 high-quality injection moulded plastic parts for 2 aircraft. Halberstadt Cl.II plastic parts are the same as new model 32062 Halberstadt Cl.II (Late). RE.8 “Harry Tate” plastic parts are the same as 32012 RE.8 “Harry Tate” which sold out in June 2014. 18 photo-etched metal detail parts. Highly detailed 180hp Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa and 150hp RAF 4a engines. 36 page fully illustrated instruction manual. 2 high quality Cartograf decal sheets including fitted lozenge camouflage and markings for 2 aircraft that met in combat. Halberstadt Cl.II Now, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here as I only just reviewed the Cl.II (Early) release in this last day or so, and you can find the full suite of photos and that review HERE. However, the Halberstadt in this particular kit is actually the LATE version, so there is a slight difference in supplied sprues. This LATE version doesn’t have Sprue F of the previous review, but instead has a new Sprue G, and that is the one we’ll be looking at here. Everything else remains the same, with the exception of a few parts from the common sprues which aren’t to be used here. Sprue G Like the Sprue F of the EARLY kit, this also contains parts which are not too dissimilar, such as cowl parts and guns. However, we also have many parts which further set this one apart. Here you will find the standard/late production instrument board, magazine and empty belt container, grease pump, gun rings (not used), magneto fairing, radiator header tank and bracket, late aileron control rods, and late radiator shutter etc. Apart from those gun rings, everything else on here is for use with this release. RE.8 “Harry Tate” Out of all the sprues in this set, the RE.8 is the one with most plastic real-estate, so to speak, with 10 sprues in total. It’s hard to believe that this particular part of the package is now 9yrs old, but of course, such are the standards with these kits, that the plastic quality and detail could make it look as if it was released only recently. Sprue A This sprue mainly, but not exclusively, deals with the multitude of cockpit parts for Harry Tate. The largest and most obvious are the cockpit sidewalls. As with numerous parts on this kit, you’ll note little tags that need to be removed here and there. This is designed to keep ejector pin marks away from delicate details and is an elegant solution that the frustration that those marks usually incur. Rifling through the cockpit parts here, you’ll notice the firewall, ammunition drums, 6-gallon oil tank, foot boards, rudder bar, flare case, instrument board with integral frame, RL tube, flare pistol, control column assembly, wireless accumulator, passenger seat, wicker pilot seat, 37 ½ gallon fuel tank, camera, etc. We aren’t solely limited to cockpit parts, with the two exhaust manifolds moulded here. Note the end of these has a separate part, creating the hollow appearance required. Sprue B A number of parts on here aren’t to be used, such as various permutations of lower engine cowl, optional set of undercarriage v-struts and some cowl parts. The one to be used has a series of holes at its rear, and it’s suggested that these be drilled out for more realism. What will be used is that gorgeous 4-blade airscrew, engine bearer frames, centre plane struts, interplane struts, and upper cowl parts. The parts map doesn’t show part B7 as shaded out. This is an alternative undercarriage spreader bar and NOT to be used with this release! Sprue C This large, clear sprue has a number of parts on it, including some upper wing centre section parts, but there are only TWO parts that will be used, and these are the forward windshield and a lens for a camera. Clarity is excellent, as can be seen on the unused wing parts. Sprue D (x2) Where duplicate parts are to be used, WNW usually splits these across two identical sprues, such as this. Here we have the wheels and separate outer hub, elevators, wing struts, alternative engine cylinder parts, king post struts, pulleys, Brown & Barlow carburettor, control horns etc. Sprue E The Royal Aircraft Factory RAF 4a air-cooled V12 engine is a project in itself, and this sprue is dedicated to building the engine which slightly underpowered this beautiful aircraft. Sprue F A large sprue, this moulding contains both fuselage halves and the outboard, upper wing panels. The RE.8 had a fabric covered fuselage, and this is superbly recreated in plastic, with lacing details along the sides of the fuselage, and also where the fabric has wrinkled under tension at specific points, much like they recreated on their SE.5a kits. Of course, the engine cowls are separate items. Internally, there isn’t anything to really see as the detail is provided with the cockpit tub installation. When it comes to the wings, these guys know how to render that specific fabric and rib appearance, as you can see here. Notice also the shorter leading-edge ribs between the main ribs. It can be hard to get the camera lighting right for this, but you can see it in these photos. Wing strut location points are also shaped, making strut orientation a cinch. Holes also exist for rigging, but you might want to just use a small drill bit to deepen them slightly. Be careful if you do as these wings are moulded as single-piece items and not upper and lower panels. They are also reasonably thin. Ailerons are moulded separately too. Sprue G The lower wing of the RE.8 is a much shorter span than the upper, but here you can see the lower wing moulded as a full-span item, with fuselage centre section. Even with the shorter span, it’s still quite large. This is again moulded sans ailerons, with are included on this sprue, along with the upper wing ailerons. All surface details are commensurate with what we saw on the upper wing panels just now. Also included here are the wing centre section parts, rudder and two fin options, although only one of the latter is destined for use. Sprue R (x2) This sprue is also labelled as ‘R.F.C. Armaments’and contains a variety of parts that are common to other releases too. That being, most of this sprue will not be used on this kit, with only the scarff ring, ammunition and bomb carrier parts to be used. Photo Etch I don’t know why WNW chooses to manufacture a joint PE sheet instead of just using the original release ones, but it certainly shows some attention to detail for what is essentially a new release. Here you will find lap belts, MG jacket for the high detail version of the Spandau LMG, Vickers gun cocking handle and parts, Lewis gun ratchet mount for scarff ring, and rudder cable grommets. Two plates are also included for displaying your finished models. As per usual, production quality is first rate, with just small tags holding the parts in position. Decals As with the PE, despite there being two separate models in this release, the decals are on a shared sheet. The top half of this first sheet concerns the RE.8 and contains decals for almost the entire model, such as the national markings, serials, cockpit instruments and some stencils. National markings are split into sections where they overlap from wing to aileron etc. making application far easier to handle. The lower section of this sheet contains all national markings, stencils, instruments etc. for the Halberstadt Cl.II, again with national markings that are split to cater to ailerons, rudder etc. You will also see how these have been printed to portray the change from the old-style cross to the straight-sided later cross, including the painted-out portions. Some of these also have indicators pointing to orientation. A small supplementary sheet contains a few decals for the RE.8 Lastly, a large sheet contains all of the large lozenge panels required to cover the upper and lower wings, ailerons, fin/rudder, stabiliser and elevator, plus the wheel hubs. Everything is printed with rib tape strips in place. All printing is of high quality with solid and authentic colour, nice thinly printed inks, and perfect registration. Carrier film is also minimal. The two schemes in this release are: Halberstadt Cl.II 15342/17 “III”, Kuesler & Müllenbach, Royal Prussian Schlasta 13, 9 June 1918. RE.8 “Harry Tate” D4689 “P”, RC Armstrong & FJ Mart, 3 Squadron Australian Flying Corps, 9 June 1918. Instructions The manual for this release is a hefty 36-page effort, in WNW’s usual, sumptuous style. Starting with some info on each type on the front page, we are then presented with a paint reference guide which has codes for Tamiya and Humbrol Paints, plus FS codes. The following two pages have the sprues, decals, PE map for each kit. Any parts not to be used are shaded out, making reference a lot easier from the outset. Construction then begins with the Halberstadt Cl.II, taking over a total of 12 construction sequences that also contain numerous other stages. A rigging diagram and Ronny Bar profile is then supplied to help you complete your model. The RE.8 construction begins next, and takes up almost the remainder of the manual, in the same style as the Halberstadt. Interspersed amongst the assembly illustrations are also full colour graphics which depict painted sub-assemblies, plus some nice period imagery for reference. Decal placement illustrations are simple to follow, and painting references are supplied throughout construction. Conclusion As I said earlier, it’s great to see the RE.8 making another outing. I suspect it’s only a few eBay scalpers that won’t be too enthused! Both models are superbly detailed and will provide countless hours of pure modelling pleasure. Add to that the historical element of these particular machines, and you know you really are recreating an actual snapshot of aviation history, gone forever except for the old records and photos that are now there for us to see. I really would go and treat yourself to this one before it too becomes hard to find! My sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  9. 1:32 Halberstadt Cl.II (Early) Wingnut Wings Catalogue # 32049 Available from Wingnut Wings for $129USD plus postage The Halberstadt Cl.II was a highly successful escort fighter and infantry support aircraft that entered German service from late July 1917. It was very well regarded for its good visibility, climb rate, manoeuvrability, stability and ease of internal communication afforded by the close nature of the pilot and gunner. Early production aircraft had the main gun mounted to the left of the engine while late production aircraft had it mounted to the right. Halberstadt Cl.II were initially tasked with escorting traditional two-seat reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft, often being assigned to a specialised Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron) which were renamed Schlachtstaffel (Battle Squadron) following their transition to infantry support from March 1918 until the Armistice. 193 high-quality injection moulded plastic parts including 14 that are exclusive to early production aircraft. 9 photo-etched metal detail parts. Optional Daimler-Mercedes 160hp D.III, 180hp D.IIIa or 200hp D.IIIaü engines. Optional radio, generator, rudders, propellers and armament. 28 page fully illustrated instruction manual. 2 high-quality Cartograf decal sheets including fitted lozenge and markings for 5 colour schemes. The kit This particular release, along with the Halberstadt Cl.II (Late) and the new Duellist kit, were unleashed onto the model-buying public in the weeks running up to Christmas 2018, as WNW’s usual seasonal model kit launch that we have now become accustomed to. Not only was it good to see a whole new type making it to plastic in the form of the Halberstadt Cl.II, but also the return of the very popular RE.8, along with the Cl.II, in the Duellist. We’ll be looking at the latter double kit within the week. Today though, we’ll peruse the in-box contents of the Halberstadt Cl.II (Early). Steve Anderson’s emotive artwork really sets the mind running here, with a dusk encounter with what appears to be a Camel in head-on view, and another unknown aircraft trailing smoke, somewhere over the war-ravaged Western Front. Of course, the silver gilt edging of the art, along with the same style used for the aircraft name, always gives these kits that special feel of quality to them. On the edge of the box can be seen the Ronny Bar profiles for the FIVE schemes that are offered with this release. Whilst four of these have that spatter/speckle finish that we’ll look at later, for those who feel they can’t achieve this, a simpler yet stunning scheme is also provided which will doubtless be the option you’ll choose. This particular release contains FIVE light grey sprues, and one clear sprue, all individually packaged so avoid damage, plus a single PE fret to complete the parts count. Two decal sheets are included, as well as the beautifully designed instruction manual that we get with each release. As with many WNW kits, you will need to choose which machine you will build from the outset due to a number of changes/options that you will need to initiate from the outset. Let’s get our hands dirty and take a look at the plastic. Sprue A Without doubt, this is the most parts-heavy sprue and one which you will need to take care when it comes to removing a number of these elements due to their fragility or proximity to the sprue itself, via a short sprue gate. A good quality razor saw is what I tend to use for these specific sprues, and I’ve never had a part break yet. Like most sprues in this kit, this one is included in both of the new Halberstadt Cl.II releases (both Early and Late), and there are only three parts not for use with this particular kit. With the exception of the base interior parts, such as the cockpit floor, two-part fuel tank and rear bulkhead etc, pretty much the rest of the interior is represented on this sprue. Parts on this sprue include pretty much everything for the cockpit, such as the crew seats and associated parts, wireless aerial cardboard tube, control column assembly, highly detailed sidewalls, wireless set, wireless aerial reel, fuel tank pressurising pump, rudder pedal bar, forward engine bearers with integral forward fuselage former. Other parts include engine flywheel and generator belt pulley, undercarriage spreader bar, outer wheel hubs, spinner, flare pistol and flare rack options, etc. Sprue B All four wing panels are moulded here, in single pieces, so no upper and lower panels due to the section and thinness of these parts. This means that the trailing edges are superbly thin too. Upper wing panels are moulded without ailerons, and these parts are also included on this sprue. One of the many things that WNW has honed to perfection is the depiction of the rib/fabric details, and this is no exception, with suitable textures and details such as the rib capping strips. Also note the compass position in the lower port wing panel. Some machines had these external to the cockpit so as stop any local interference. Some of the sprue attachment points look a little wide, but they are actually fairly thin. Note also the shaped holes for the wing struts, plus the adjacent rigging holes. I would opt to drill these out a little more if you wish to add something like Gaspatch turnbuckles. This kit contains two rudder options, and the production version one is to be found here, along with the standard and universal fin, also exhibiting the same restrained fabric and rib details. Sprue C We have just two small pieces on this little, clear sprue. One of them is for the dainty and curvy windscreen, and the other for the glass fuel tank sight gauge that’s located on the upper wing centre section. Optically, these are about as clear as you could ever wish for, with superb moulding quality and minimal sprue attachment points. Sprue D The kit’s big-hitter parts are to be found here, such as the fuselage halves etc. Before I look at those, the one part that really draws my attention is the single-piece tailplane. Not only has this been moulded with the stabiliser integral with the elevator, but also the cable attachment horns and the tailskid rear bumper fork. That is a seriously nice and very impressive piece of moulding, right there! The undercarriage v-struts are also moulded here, with the rubber bungee wrap nicely depicted. Here is the upper wing centre section with integrally moulded radiator and fuel tank details. This part is moulded as upper and lower panels, but the lower panel is more of an insert that won’t interfere with the leading or trailing edge details. A Garuda airscrew option is provided on this sprue, accompanying the two further options available on the engine sprue that we’ll look at next. These are moulded with hub details in situ. Here we see the fuselage port side with its cut out for the protruding generator access cover. Of course, we don’t have the typical panel line detail we see on a stressed metal skin, but instead we have access port, strap, nail and foothold details, plus leather trim coaming running around the double open cockpit area. Of note is the separate engine panel details, allowing the modeller to show that engine off in its full glory. Internally, details are limited, but that’s because this is more or less just a covering skin, with the real details being provided by the cockpit tub assembly that locates here. Other parts to be found on this sprue include the cockpit floor, fuel tank, rear cockpit bulkhead, engine cowls. Sprue E E is again for engine, as this frame contains the various generic parts for different versions (160hp and 180/200hp) of the Mercedes D.III/a/aü. Of course, a number of parts here aren't to be used, including two propeller options, electrical generator and drive unit, etc. Pretty much everything else is though. Two crankcase options are included, again depending on which D.III engine you build. A page each within the manual is dedicated to both engine variants. Sprue F This sprue is specific to this release only and won’t be found in the Late version of this kit. It contains the very early rudder option, alternative rear cowl parts, early cockpit instrument board, two options for forward-firing Spandau, radiator water pipe, early radiator shutter. Photo Etch One fret is supplied, containing parts for the detail versions of the Spandau/Parabellum guns, plus two sets of crew lap-belts. Another part is included for an optional flash guard which fits to the engine cowl. Production quality is first rate, with nice, small tags holding things in place. Decals TWO sheets of Cartograf-printed decals are supplied with this release. The first sheet contains the necessary markings for the individual five schemes, with each machine being sectioned off in its own area, making them easy to locate. Also note a section which contains decals for the instruments and various emblems/stencils. National markings are split where they overlap the fun/rudder separation, and the same for the wing/aileron markings. There are also cut-outs for cable horns etc. The second sheet is common to both the early and late incarnations of this kit and provides the large lozenge panels required to cover the upper and lower wings, ailerons, fin/rudder, stabiliser and elevator, plus the wheel hubs. Everything is printed with rib tape strips in place. All printing is of high quality with solid and authentic colour, nice thinly printed inks, and perfect registration. Carrier film is also minimal. The five schemes supplied for this release are: Halberstadt Cl.II 5720/17 “3 Martha & Else”, Max Niemann & Rudolf Kolodzicj, Royal Prussian Schlasta 21, October 1918 Halberstadt Cl.II “4 Rosi”, Royal Bavarian Schusta 23b, early 1918 Halberstadt Cl.II “4”, Royal Bavarian Schusta 26b, late 1917 Halberstadt Cl.II “1”, Fridolin Redenbach, Royal Bavarian Schusta 27b, September 1917 Halberstadt Cl.II “4 Dora”, Royal Bavarian Schusta 27b, March 1918 Instructions These are always something very special in their production, and this glossy, 28-page production is no different. Starting with a concise history of the Halberstadt Cl.II, and then a detailed parts map and colour reference chart, the model itself is broken down into 13 constructional sequences. That doesn’t sound a lot, right? Well, that’s true, but each step contains several sequences, such as Nos 1 and 2. These, for example, illustrates the complete cockpit construction, comprising around half a dozen separate stages. There is certainly a good amount of building to be had with this kit, and the levels of detail could never possibly disappoint. Whilst the construction illustrations are in a drawn, grey style with blue to illustrate new parts additions (and red for modification), several colour illustrations annotate the manual, showing what assemblies should look like under a coat of paint. Of extra use are the numerous period images that are dotted throughout the manual, illustrating specific points of construction/detail. A full rigging chart is included, with two colours used to define the differences in cord type. It is crucial with these kits that you decide exactly which machine that you will build from the outset, due to the numerous differences that can pertain to one or more scheme. The last pages contain the scheme illustrations, ably presented by the amazing Ronny Bar. Technical and historical notes are supplied with the schemes, as is a little period imagery. Some options will clearly require some minimal surgery too, such as for various engine installations, and where required, this is clearly shown in the manual. Conclusion It really is great to see these key gaps being filled by WNW, when it comes to important German types, and the Halberstadt Cl.II is, in my opinion, one of the more graceful from the period. Like other WNW kits, this is stuffed to the gills with details, and there really is no need to buy aftermarket from the outset, as everything you will need is right there in the box. Whilst it’s true that most of the schemes will need you to master the application of that splatter camo, WNW have provided an attractive alternative scheme for those who dare not tread in that area, and I admit the stripy one is actually very tempting. Totally delicious! My sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  10. Axial wooden propeller (for Mercedes 160hp) Proper Plane Catalogue # WP-001 Available from Proper Plane for $25.00 There are numerous things that can make the average modeller shy away from building a Great War aircraft. The first one that comes to mind is rigging. Another is simulating wood grain. Another, and one that has frustrated me in the past is making those plastic airscrews look like laminated timber. I eventually settled on a rather nice masking method that James Machin taught on the WNW Fans Facebook page. With some work, that creates a rather nice representation. Then there is the Laminated Propeller Mask from RB Productions. This is a little trickier, but when mastered, produces some very nice, organic effects. Ok, but these still only create a representation. So why not go the obvious route and actually use a wooden propeller? There are several companies on the market which make these, and they vary massively in price and cost. Some are very nice but expensive. Some are relatively poor, and still not cheap. Today, we introduce to you a company from the Ukraine, called Proper Plane, and an example of their own airscrew range. This is the text from the Proper Plane website, specifically for this Axial: Recommended for use on several German planes including WnW: • Halberstadt Cl.II (32049 D) • Albatros D.V/D.Va (32009 A B E / 32015 B E) • Fokker D.VII (32011 AB / 32027 E / 32030 BE / 32031 ACDE) • Junkers D.1 (32065 ABCD) • Pfalz D.XII (32019 C) • Pfalz D.IIIa (32006 • Roland C.II (32026 ABCDE / 32041 ABCD) and other with Mercedes 160/180/200 HP engine. Hand carved wooden propeller with resin boss. The propeller is made up of veneers of maple and pear and these are very delicate and look in scale. The balance is excellent as is the shape. The centre hub with eight bolts were modelled in 3D and cast specially for this propeller. The propeller diameter is 87 mm and matches the kit part from Wingnut Wings. It has a beautiful satin lacquer finish and is super smooth to the touch. This cute little package was sent to me for fitting to a Junkers D.1 for a future magazine project, but it also really deserves to be shown in a review article. The airscrew itself is packaged into a very robust, clear acrylic tube that can’t be buckled or squashed. A label at one end denotes the type of prop within. In my case, this is an Axial, designed for the 160hp Mercedes engine (although I don’t doubt it will be compatible with other permutations of Mercedes etc.). My sample is production number #97. Each end of the tube has a small, laser-engraved wooden cap, showing the Proper Plane logo, and these are fastened to the tube by means of a felt disc glued to the underside, providing a snug fit to the tube and preventing the product from slipping out, and also protecting the tips of the delicate wooden airscrew. Inside the tube, another foam disc is used as a separator, keeping the resin prop hubs from rattling around again damaging the fine tips of the airscrew. The airscrew itself is most certainly the best I have seen since we first started to see companies release these to the market. As per the real thing, this is produced from a number of laminates of alternating colours. In this case, there are EIGHT laminates involved in production, all with a suitably fine grain to them, and looking representative of the colours that we would expect. The overall finish is incredibly fine, with no grain being felt through the layers of varnish, and of course no pitting anywhere. The effect is glass-like. What really has to be mentioned are the incredibly fine edges and tips, again, smooth to the touch, and precise. In comparison with the kit plastic part, the shape looks perfect, and of course, a little more refined. For me, the colour of the airscrew is very, very nice, but you can of course shoot a little clear orange or yellow acrylic over this if you want a slightly warmer appearance. Note that the hub areas have a series of small, partially drilled indents around their circumference, allowing the modeller to properly align the resin hub bolt details, both front and back. Those front and rear hubs as mentioned, are cast in a light grey resin, and both onto a small casting block. You will undoubtedly need a very fine razor saw and come care in removing these from the block. Casting itself is very nice, with sharp details. Conclusion This is one of those simple upgrades that anyone can initiate, which will immediately enhance the appearance of your stick and string (and corrugated metal!) aircraft. It’s certainly an answer to the sometimes difficult to achieve woodgrain paint techniques, and for a product of this quality, the price is also very reasonable. Check out their website for more wooden airscrews for other WNW model kits. My sincere thanks to Proper Plane for the sample seen in this article. To purchase directly, click the link in this article.
  11. 1:32 P-51D upgrade sets (for Revell kit) RB Productions Catalogue # see article for codes, links and price Available from RB Productions It’s been about a year since Revell released their newly-tooled 1:32 P-51D Mustang, and although we have had numerous aftermarket sets from the likes of Eduard, RB Productions has now released two new sets for this affordable kit of one of the most iconic WW2 fighter aircraft. These new sets were recently launched at Scale Model World 2018 (Telford) and I got my hands on them for this article. The sets in question are: RB-C32008, P-51D Bomb Racks, €15,01 RB-C32009, P-51D Undercarriage Doors (for Revell kit), €18,00 Bomb Racks This set, of course, could actually be used for any qualifying Mustang kit, and not just the Revell release. Presented in a small blister packet, this set contains an instruction sheet which double as the display materials, a single casting block with the two bomb racks, and a single PE fret with the swing arms. Parts are secured within a zip-lock wallet. The resin itself is a light grey material and the connection to the casting block is made on the underside mating surface, meaning that you don’t have to restore any details when removed. Clean-up will be a breeze. Detail is superb and refined, and the casting (I suspect MDC) is flawless. Of course, be very careful with protruding details. The racks themselves aren’t handed, but how you apply the swing arms will be crucial when it comes to how the bomb will hang. A single PE fret contains eighteen parts. The obvious elements here are the swing arms themselves, which will be bent to shape using the template printed on the instructions sheet. The rest of the parts are for the discs which will hang off the end of the arms and come into contact with the munitions. A small length of wire will be needed to connect these to the swing arms. I would also fully drill out the arms to accommodate the wire. Spare discs are supplied, in case you lose one or two. Instructions are simple to follow and nicely printed in colour. It’ also important that you note the orientation of the munitions, again shown on the sheet. Undercarriage Doors Packed into a similar blister as the previous set, this contains a single zip-lock wallet with each of the four light grey resin elements being cast on their own block. Connection to those blocks is my means of a thin, easily defined web of resin that could be cut through with a couple of passes of a sharp blade. Externally, the doors don’t really have details (as can be seen from reference photos), but internally, they most certainly do. Again, in comparison to reference images, RB Productions seems to have got these on the nail, with excellent pressed metal detail, rivets and access port to what I presume is the hinge mechanism. Again, the instructions are superbly illustrative, even if these direct replacements are fairly self-explanatory. Conclusion Two very nice sets that can be used with the 1:32 pocket moneyP-51D Mustang from Revell, and of course, very easy to install. Excellent quality all-round, from casting to PE manufacture, and simple to understand instructions. What’s not to like! My thanks to RB Productionsfor the review samples seen here. To purchase directly, click the links in the article.
  12. Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 “Gustavs over the Balkans” Exito Decals Catalogue # see article for codes, links and prices Available from Exito Exito recently sent me two of their debut releases in both 1:72 and 1:48 scales. Today we look at the second from this Polish company, concerning the Bf 109G-6 ‘Gustav’. For purchase, here are the links to both scales. 1:48 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 “Gustavs over the Balkans”, €10,82 1:72 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 “Gustavs over the Balkans”, €7,20 Exito’s decal sheets are presented in a re-sealable A4 clear sleeve with a standard printed profile insert at the front. In this case you can see that there are three scheme options to choose from, and all quite startling in their differences. It’s also to be noted that each pack is quite weighty too with a serious piece of stiffening card sat within. This protects not just the decals but also the high-quality poster art within. The back of the packet shows a simple paper insert with some contact details, plus you can also see the decal sheet that’s included. Having three schemes means that Exito has provided each of these on light grade card with a satin finish, and the printing on them is absolutely superb! In fact, very much akin to what I would expect to see in a high-quality publication. I don’t just mean that in terms of the quality of print, but also the profile rendering and artworks themselves. For me, I’ve not seen anything quite this good when it comes to aftermarket decals. Whilst the front of each scheme sheet contains both port and starboard profiles of each scheme (one with gear down) plus the emblem for the machine and name of pilot etc. (unadulterated with annotation for decal placement), the reverse of the sheet contains an upper planform for the aircraft, and wing lower panels, plus a section showing the tail. All of these graphics are annotated for decal ID, plus an RLM chart is provided, with paint reference codes for Mr Hobby and AK-Interactive paints. A single decal sheet contains everything that you’ll need for these schemes, with the exception of the stencils that you’ll need to either source yourself or have provided for you in the kit (such as Eduard). The sheet itself is clearly broken down into sections of which each contains decals for a single scheme. It has to be noted that my sample has both full swastikas as well as the halved ones which I presume will be for those lucky customers in Germany. The sheet has been designed so the corner, with complete swastikas, can be cut off for those particular countries, in much the same way that Eduard do. Printing is by Cartograf too, and these glossy-finish decals are nice and thin, have minimal carrier film, plus solid and authentic colour. Registration is also perfect. The machines depicted are all G-6 types as denoted by the title, and as none of these relies on shared decals, you can build three complete models from this release. The three schemes provided in this release are: Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, coded ‘White 12’, flown by Uffz. Anton Riemer of 7./JG 77, Mizil, Romania, January 1944 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, coded ‘Black 5’, 3./JG 53, Borovo, Croatia, May 1944 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, W.Nr.166133, flown by Capt. Constantin ‘Bâzu’ Cantacuzino, San Giovanni (near Foggia), Italy, 27thAugust 1944 Conclusion For Exito’s debut on the decal market, this is mighty impressive. Not only do we have poster-quality prints that really are worth framing, but the subject choice and schemes will prove to be highly popular. The fact that three models can be built from one release also increases the value for money even further. I really can’t wait to see their future releases, and I hope they also extend to 1:32 scale in future. My sincere thanks to Exito Decals for the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the links in the article.
  13. Scribing Ruler 15cm/6in RB Productions Catalogue # RB-T049 Available from RB Productions for €4,50 Sometimes, it’s the simplest of tools that we get the most workbench satisfaction from. This tool is one of those that will probably be on your bench quite a lot due to its multirole purpose in aiding the marking/scribing/measuring of various aspects of your model’s surface. Packed into a slim, clear wallet, the Scribing Ruler is carefully taped to a card stiffener which protects it from bending and rolling around loosely. The rule itself is manufactured from very thin stainless steel and is already presented without the need to remove any fret, although I do suggest carefully removing the fret connection tabs from each end of the rule. A small jeweller’s file should easily do this. One edge of the rule is calibrated in metric divisions, whilst the opposite is measured imperially. For the metric, small holes are provided at every 1mm point, with pointers etched to show full centimetres and also 0.5mm positions. For the latter, you would need to gauge the position between two adjacent points. For the imperial side, holes are provided every 1/24 of an inch, with etched positions identifying every 1/12 and 1/48 of an inch. For the latter, again you will need to gauge this from adjacent hole positions. With this tool, you can of course wrap it around the surface of a model due to the very thin gauge of the stainless steel, and after marking the start and finish positions of your line to scribe, you can then use the straight edge to run a scriber along, providing a sharp, clear guide as you go, in the same way that some modellers would use plastic Dymo tape. Of course, you can just use the edge for casual scribing or marking your surface with a pencil, or just mark relative positions using the holes. The holes themselves are quite small and ideally you would need a very sharp pencil to be able to use the tool properly, but hey, that’s accuracy! Conclusion A simple, yet very nicely executed and manufactured tool which I don’t doubt will be immensely useful to the average modeller who likes to add rivet lines or scratch details to their models. My sincere thanks to RB Productionsfor the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  14. 1:35 Wooden Boxes & Crates MiniArt Catalogue # 35581 Boxes. Crates. We all need them. Whether it’s in moving house, packing up your ammunition before going on campaign, or simply for mail or consumer goods, the humble packing crate is the hero of the day. This has most certainly crossed the minds of the good folk at MiniArt, who now bring us this set of the same, designed for all of your carrying and product transportation needs. This new set is packed into MiniArt’s familiar glossy, end-opening package, and has an artwork, strangely enough, of boxes and crates on the cover. Hang on…isn’t that a sack truck too? It certainly is, and this set does include one. We’ll look at that soon. MiniArt has been savvy enough to include boxes of different colours and with different stencilling too. You’ll note a quasi-Nazi stencil for Deutsche Post (minus swastika), and also a crate for the U.S. Mail. Flip the box over and you’ll see the same image but with the boxes and crates in different hues and guises. There’s some there with frightening-looking biohazard and radiation warning symbols, and we as the Toxic sign. These images also show the standard fragile label imagery and some First Aid/Red Cross cases. Underneath these images, which have the decal placement annotation clearly shown, is a guide to paint colours, although I imagine these are pretty fluid and non-binding. Colour codes are supplied for Vallejo, Mr Color, Lifecolor, Tamiya, Testors, AK Real Color, Humbrol, Revell, and Mission Models. The supplied artwork also denotes the colours to be used per box/crate. Inside the box, there are SIX sprues of light grey styrene, packed into a single clear sleeve, plus a decal sheet. Of the sprues, two of them are duplicates, meaning there are four unique sprues. Sprue Af Remember me mentioning that sack truck? Well, here it is. This small sprue contains just seven parts. These are the main frame with push handle, wheels and axle, and also the brackets that can be used to both tie up the truck or for it to safely lean against walls and crates etc. There is actually a part on this sprue which doesn’t seem to be used, and that’s Part 5. I can’t see any use for it in this set. Perhaps aficionados of the sack truck will know what it’s used for! Sprue Ha Crates. That’s what we have here. Actually, two of them. One of them is a larger, shallow crate and the other is more akin to a cube crate. Not all crate parts are actually on this sprue, as the end panels and lifting batons are on Sprue Hd, in both cases. Moulding detail is excellent, with a nicely rendered wood grain texture and timber baton/nail detail. If tackled properly, these will look superb, especially if weathered so the paint is flaked down to the bare wood. Sprue Hd (x2) As well as parts for the crates on the previous sprue, this one contains the cross timbers that give some rigidity to the crates on their end faces. Note that there are full diagonal lengths and some part lengths, allowing the modeller to make an ‘\’ or ‘X’ out of the bracing parts. Sprue Ke (x2) You know what I’m going to say? Yes, more boxes and crates, but these two sprues carry parts for the smaller units, from general carry boxes to long boxes that could carry anything from machine parts to rocket launchers etc. These are moulded with their carry handle detail in situ, and again, these should look great when finished, with the convincing wood grain textures and appearance of having been fashioned from narrower lengths of timber. Decals Just one decal sheet is included, but it is pretty packed out with more decals than you’re likely to need for the set. As well as many standard, international symbols for such things as ‘Fragile’, ‘this way up’, and ‘do not forklift’, ‘recycle’ etc. you will also notice markings for U.S. Mail, chemical warning symbols, weight stencils, Cyrillic text, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Reichspost, etc. There’s probably something here for whatever you intend to depict. Decals are nice and thin, have minimal carrier film and also are in perfect register. Instructions A single sheet is included, printed on both sides, and show assembly by means of simple line drawings that are easy to follow. Construction takes place over 7 stages, inclusive of where there are multiples to be built. Conclusion A very simple set, but very nicely executed. This will cater to modellers who produce dioramas in just about any era, and they will also be very simple to build. It does just what it says on the tin, or in this case, crate! My sincere thanks to MiniArt for the sample seen here.
  15. Focke-Wulf Fw 190A “Wulf Pack vol.1” Exito Decals Catalogue # see article for codes, links and prices Available from Exito Exito are perhaps a name that you’re not familiar with. They are a Polish company that has a retail online store selling the sort of things that we’d expect from such an entity. I know that I’d never heard of them until I was asked to do a little text for them, announcing the launch of their very own decal brand. Exito set themselves apart from regular aftermarket sets in that they provide A4-sized, print-quality posters as the profile sheets instead of regular weight paper with standard printing. The really good thing to add to this is that these sets don’t seem to really cost any more than your standard decal fayre. So, let’s take a look at these offerings from the new kid on the block. 1:48 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A “Wulf Pack vol.1”, €10,82 1:72 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A “Wulf Pack vol.1”, €7,20 Exito’s decal sheets are presented in a re-sealable A4 clear sleeve with a standard printed profile insert at the front. In this case you can see that there are three scheme options to choose from, and all quite startling in their differences. It’s also to be noted that each pack is quite weighty too with a serious piece of stiffening card sat within. This protects not just the decals but also the high-quality poster art within. The back of the packet shows a simple paper insert with some contact details, plus you can also see the decal sheet that’s included. Having three schemes means that Exito has provided each of these on light grade card with a satin finish, and the printing on them is absolutely superb! In fact, very much akin to what I would expect to see in a high-quality publication. I don’t just mean that in terms of the quality of print, but also the profile rendering and artworks themselves. For me, I’ve not seen anything quite this good when it comes to aftermarket decals. Whilst the front of each scheme sheet contains both port and starboard profiles of each scheme (one with gear down) plus the emblem for the machine and name of pilot etc. (unadulterated with annotation for decal placement), the reverse of the sheet contains an upper planform for the aircraft, and wing lower panels, plus a section showing the tail. All of these graphics are annotated for decal ID, plus an RLM chart is provided, with paint reference codes for Mr Hobby and AK-Interactive paints. A single decal sheet contains everything that you’ll need for these schemes, with the exception of the stencils that you’ll need to either source yourself or have provided for you in the kit (such as Eduard). A small bonus stencil is included for the rear fuselage door, so I assume this is normally missing in the stencils provided with kits. The sheet itself is clearly broken down into sections of which each contains decals for a single scheme. It has to be noted that my sample has both full swastikas as well as the halved ones which I presume will be for those lucky customers in Germany. Printing is by Cartograf too, and these glossy-finish decals are nice and thin, have minimal carrier film, plus solid and authentic colour. Registration is also perfect. The machines depicted are A-3, A-4 and A-5 types, and as none of these relies on shared decals, you can build three complete models from this release. The three schemes provided in this release are: Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3, flown by Oblt. Detlev Rohwer, Kapitän of 6./JG 1, late spring 1942 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4, W.Nr.0799, coded SK+OU, probably belonging to I./SG 101, France 1943 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-5, coded “Yellow 5”, flown by Fw. Karl ‘Charly’ Willius of 3./JG 26, Dno, Soviet Union, early April 1943 Conclusion For Exito’s debut on the decal market, this is mighty impressive. Not only do we have poster-quality prints that really are worth framing, but the subject choice and schemes will prove to be highly popular. The fact that three models can be built from one release also increases the value for money even further. I really can’t wait to see their future releases, and I hope they also extend to 1:32 scale in future. My sincere thanks to Exito Decalsfor the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the links in the article.
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