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Meng Fine and Flat tip Tweezers


Being a watchmaker, I handle fine tweezers for hours a day 5 or more days a week. Then there is the modeling side which takes the same tools and puts them to other sometimes more challenging tasks.

When I saw that Sprue Brothers had some new tweezers made by Meng it was time to step up and check them out. With many years of experience, it is easy for me to tell what works and what doesn't and what little things will cause the most trouble.

Here is a quick photo essay showing what was found.

The steel quality seems good and they are probably going to be quite decent tweezers. For the cost they should have much better tips than they currently have. While the tips can be corrected with little work, there are other options out there that are better quality and will work correctly from the start.

For a quick run through on tweezer basics, handling, and how to restore and maintain the kind of tips that will allow handling fine photo etch with less part launches, refer to this thread:


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PZL P.24 A-G: 3D Edition 66 by Andrzej Glass & Tassos Katsikas

This is the fourth book, in my library, on the PZL P.24 written by Andrzej Glass as one of the authors. It is the second offering from Kagero on the subject and their first with 3D art. Within the 172 pages, we find nineteen chapters, scale plans on A3 and A4 sheets, 155 archival photos, 150 profiles, all within a perfect bound card stock covers. The draw of this particular book, from me (since I have the three previous tomes on the subject) are the 3D views which uses perspective to enable one to understand the relationship of one item to another. The text is in Polish on the left column and English on the right but note that the page headers are in English but keyed to the Polish text.

Zygmunt Pulawski designed a series of fighters incorporating features such as gull wings and corrugated skin. Several of these fighters were put into production and even saw action in WWII. Manufactured under license, the fuselage was the inspiration for the Romanian IAR 80.

The chapters include:

  1. Development of Design
  2. Puławski's concept fighter
  3. Puławski's imitators around the world
  4. Puławski's fighter planes with in-line engines
  5. Puławski's fighter planes with radial engines
  6. The PZL P.24 fighter plane
  7. The PZL P.24A and P.24C in Turkey
  8. The PZL P.24B in Bulgaria
  9. The PZL P.24E in Romania
  10. The PZL P.24F, P.24G and P.24H in Greece
  11. The PZL P.24J and the export program
  12. Production of the PZL P.24
  13. An evaluation of the PZL P.24
  14. A technical description of the PZL P.24
    1.  The wing
    2.  The fuselage
    3.  Control surfaces
    4.  Undercarriage
    5.  Armament
    6.  Engine
    7.  Painting
  15. Seventeen sheets of plans covering every detail and in various scales from 1/244 for the family tree, 72nd for variants and details, plus 48th and 32nd for major variants.
  16. Technical Data and Production Statistics tables
  17. Annex with archival photos and older postwar photos of a surviving P.24 in Turkey
  18. 3D artwork by Mr. Katsikas on 77 pages
  19. Side color profiles by Janusz Światoń on seven pages, including rear cover.

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Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway


Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway
David Rigby
Osprey Publishing
Hardcover, 384 pages, 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
ISBN 9781472834737

From the Osprey Website:

During the Battle of Midway in June 1942, US Navy dive bomber pilot Wade McClusky proved himself to be one of the greatest pilots and combat leaders in American history, but his story has never been told - until now.
It was Wade McClusky who remained calm when the Japanese fleet was not where it was expected to be. It was he who made the counterintuitive choice to then search to the north instead of to the south. It was also McClusky who took the calculated risk of continuing to search even though his bombers were low on fuel and may not have enough to make it back to the Enterprise. His ability to remain calm under enormous pressure played a huge role in the US Navy winning this decisive victory that turned the tide of war in the Pacific.
This book is the story of exactly the right man being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Wade McClusky was that man and this is his story.

What’s Inside…

When I first heard that Osprey was releasing this book, I felt a twinge of remorse I couldn’t review it for AMPS since its not an armor book- but I had plans of putting it on my wish list to purchase later. Lucky for me, Osprey sent it along in the next shipment of samples anyway, so I have decided to give it a review as a way of thanks for the sample. The Battle of Midway has always fascinated me- especially since it featured the SBD dive bomber, which has always been my favorite aircraft from WWII. I’ve devoured every book I could find on the subject and Wade McClusky has always been among the most interesting pilots for me personally knowing how much the success of the battle was credited to him. Some authors and historians have not given him the credit due to him and have instead questioned his actions and decisions, despite the amazing results. Mr. Rigby has strived to set the record straight in this book.

There is a brief opening chapter that offers a synopsis of the decision to keep flying to search for the Japanese fleet when good sense would signal a turn back to the home carrier with low fuel. The author sets the record straight that it was not just pure luck that led to the sinking of three of the four carriers on the morning of June 4th not far from Midway Island, but a conscious decision on the part of McClusky to lead his flight north where he felt the Japanese were steaming slower than was expected. This turned out to be true, and so dive bombers from two carriers- Enterprise and Yorktown, found themselves over the Kaga and Akagi with no aerial opposition around to stop them from setting up their dive runs over carriers laden with aircraft and aviation fuel on the decks below.

From there, the book delves into McClusky’s background growing up in Buffalo, NY through to his training to be a naval aviator. There is a thorough rundown of his pre-war naval career flying early dive bombers and fighters in Fighting Six-- and participating as a member of the Nine High Hats flying team. The author sets up well the fact that even though he was relatively new to the SBD bomber on June 4th, he had already established himself as a skilled dive bomber pilot long before. Critics focused on his switch from fighters directly to dive bombers when he was promoted to command Enterprise’s entire air group in March of 1942- mistakenly assuming he was new to the concept of dive bombing.

The book does a great job of introducing us to Wade McClusky the man, and not just the pilot. His family and rise to commander of Air Group Six. At this point, there is quite a bit of discussion of build up to the battle and the decision to fly north and find the fleet. This section spends a good amount of time debating the confusion surrounding who dived on which carrier- and how many dived on each carrier. It seems to go off the rails a bit here-- I felt I got the point right away, but this is one of the longest chapters and seems to go on and on about the issue of whether McClusky dove on the correct carrier or interfered with Dick Best, commander of Bombing Squadron Six. There is thorough extrapolation of approach vectors, supposed numbers of bombers, and where they supposedly dove. It gets a bit difficult to muddle through and I’m not sure we come to a clear and concise conclusion to the matter.

The controversy continues following him back to the carrier after the mission- with whether he followed procedure for landing back on the carrier. To his credit though, they had flown beyond their supposed range, bombed successfully, and when they returned to Point Luck where the carriers were supposed to be, they weren’t there. When they did find the carriers, and landed on the deck, they had a mere two gallons of fuel in the tanks. All of this with bullet and shrapnel wounds to his shoulder to boot. We continue with an overview of the afternoon attack- but McClusky sat that one our due to his injuries.
The book continues with a chapter about McClusky and Admiral Spruance’s chief-of-staff Miles R. Browning. Apparently Browning’s plans for the afternoon attack called for the dive bombers heading out farther away and with larger bomb loads than they had in the morning attacks. Considering how critical the fuel situation was, this seemed like poor planning and McClusky told Spruance the same. Spruance sided with McClusky and disaster was averted.

The remainder of the book deals with McClusky and historians and then goes into brief detail of his eventual transfer back to the States to train pilots, as well as his eventual command of the USS Corregidor, a Casablanca Class escort carrier. Sadly, his career seemed to see a lot of bouncing around and no real dramatic action following his success at Midway. The postwar section spends more time describing his son’s career and Wade’s eventual promotion to rear admiral as he retired. What was later to be known as the real turning point in the PTO was just a matter of course to the higher-ups as the war drew to a close.

Mr. Rigby’s book is an excellent resource for those wanting to get a better picture of the man who truly turned the tables in the Pacific War. It was mentioned a few times in the book that June 4th dawned with the Americans badly losing in the Pacific, but as the day drew to a close- it was the Japanese turning tail and trying to hold off disaster. They managed to fight ferociously for another three years-- but never with the same tenacity after losing the cream of their naval aviators. While some parts get a bit bogged down in the details, finishing the book gives you a better picture of the man and the pilot in Wade McClusky.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy of the book.

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Bobcat Il-28 1:48

Bobcat Il-28 1:48



(From Wikipedia with some changes)

The Ilyushin Design Bureau began development of a new jet-powered tactical bomber in late 1947. The twin-engine Ilyushin Il-28 was created to meet a requirement for a bomber to carry a 6,600 lb bomb load at 500 mph. The new design took advantage of the sale of a number of Rolls-Royce Nene jet engines by Great Britain to the Soviet Union, which allowed Soviet engineers to quickly produce an unlicensed copy of the Nene, the RD-45, with Ilyushin designing the new bomber around two RD-45s.

The Il-28 was smaller than the previous designs and carried a crew of only three (pilot, navigator and gunner). It was also smaller than the competing design from the Tupolev design bureau, the three-engine (i.e. two Nenes and a Rolls-Royce Derwent) Tupolev Tu-73, which had been started long before the Ilyushin project, and flew before the design of the Il-28 was approved.

The Il-28 design was conventional in layout, with high, unswept wings and a swept horizontal tail and fin. The engines were carried in bulky nacelles slung directly under the wings. The nose wheel retracted rearwards, while the main wheels retracted forwards into the engine nacelles. The crew of three were accommodated in separate, pressurized compartments. The navigator, who also acted as bombardier, was accommodated in the glazed nose compartment and was provided with an OPB-5 bomb sight based on the American Norden bomb sight of the Second World War, while the pilot sat under a sideways opening bubble canopy with an armored windscreen. The gunner sat in a separate compartment at the rear of the fuselage, operating a power driven turret armed with two Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23 mm cannons with 250 rounds each. In service, the turret was sometimes removed as a weight saving measure. While the pilot and navigator sat on ejector seats, the gunner had to parachute out of a hatch in the floor in the event of an emergency. Two more fixed, forward-firing 23 mm cannon with 100 rounds each were mounted under the nose and fired by the pilot, while a bomb bay was located under the wing, capable of holding four 220 lb bombs in individual containers, or single large bombs of up to 6,600 lb slung from a beam in the bomb bay.

One unusual design feature of the Il-28 was that the wings and tail were split horizontally through the center of the wing, while the fuselage was split vertically at the center line, allowing the separate parts to be built individually and fitted out with systems before being bolted together to complete assembly of the aircraft. This slightly increased the weight of the aircraft structure, but eased manufacture and proved to be more economical.

The first prototype, powered by two imported Nenes, made its maiden flight on 8 July 1948, with Vladimir Kokkinaki at the controls. Testing was successful, with the Il-28 demonstrating good handling and reaching a speed of 518 mph. It was followed on 30 December 1948 by the second prototype, with Soviet built RD-45 engines replacing the Nenes. After the completion of state tests in early 1949 the aircraft was ordered into large scale production on 14 May 1949, with the Klimov VK-1, an improved version of the RD-45 to be used in order to improve the aircraft's performance. The first pre-production aircraft with VK-1 engines flew on 8 August 1949, and featured reshaped engine nacelles to reduce drag, while the radome for the navigation radar was moved from the rear fuselage to just aft of the nose wheel.

Full production in three factories started in September 1949, with service deliveries starting in early 1950, allowing 25 Il-28s to be displayed at the Moscow May Day parade of 1950 (as ordered by Joseph Stalin when it was ordered into production in 1949). The Il-28 soon became the standard tactical bomber in the Soviet forces.

The Il-28 was widely exported, serving in the air arms of some 20 nations ranging from the Warsaw Pact to various Middle-Eastern and African air forces. Egypt was an early customer, and targeting Egyptian Il-28s on the ground was a priority for the Royal Air Force during the Suez Crisis and later by the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War, and Yom Kippur War. The Soviet Union was in the process of providing the type for local assembly in Cuba when this was halted by the Cuban Missile Crisis, after which Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove them. The type also saw limited use in Vietnam and with the Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Four ex-Egyptian and two ex-Soviet Il-28s (all with Egyptian crews) were operated by the Nigerian Air Force in the Biafra Wars. Yemeni Il-28s took part in the civil war in that country. Finland also had four examples of this type delivered between 1961 and 1966 for target-towing duties. They remained in service until the 1980s.

The Soviet Union withdrew the type in the 1980s, while the last Soviet-built examples were still flying in Egypt into the 1990s.

The People's Republic of China received over 250 Soviet built Il-28s from 1952, and when the Sino-Soviet split occurred in the late 1950s, it decided to place the Il-28 into production, despite no manufacturing license being obtained. Chinese built aircraft differed from the original Soviet aircraft in that they have a redesigned wing structure, abandoning the horizontal manufacturing break, saving 240 lb at the cost of more difficult construction. Chinese aircraft also used a different tail turret based on that of the Tupolev Tu-16, and fitted with faster firing AM-23 cannon.

Chinese-built Il-28s designated H-5 and built by HAMC were also flying in the 1990s with several hundred in China itself, and a smaller number in North Korea and Romania. The three main Chinese versions are the H-5 bomber, followed by the HJ-5 trainer, and the H-5R (HZ-5) long range (in comparison to the reconnaissance version of Shenyang J-6) reconnaissance aircraft, and later, the HD-5 ECM/ESM version. The latter two types have been phased out.

The type is known to still be in active service with the North Korean Air Force in respectable numbers, although little is known as to whether they are a mix of survivors from the batch of 24 Soviet manufactured aircraft delivered in the 1960s and some of the newer Chinese built H-5 variant, or are solely H-5s. Some of these are probably used for spares to maintain a small group of around a dozen serviceable aircraft. They give North Korea a means of strategically bombing targets in South Korea and Western Japan, although they would be vulnerable to modern anti air missiles and interceptors.

Several Ilyushin Il-28s are preserved in museums and as monuments in Russia, Germany, Hungary and in other countries. Over 6,635 were built.

The Kit

The Bobcat Il-28 comes in a large top open tray type box with a thin cardboard lid and the bottom made from thin corrugated cardboard. The box is filled to the brim with sprues so only a little unused space at each end of the box. There are four large nearly box sized sprues and two slightly smaller ones in gray and a single sprue of clear parts. Each sprue is individually wrapped in resealable cellophane bags. Finishing off the contents is a large sheet of decals and the instruction booklet. While the kit is labeled as a torpedo bomber, all the parts needed for a standard bomber are included in the kit. The parts are molded in light gray and feature recessed panel lines and fastener details. We are spared from the mad riveter on this one as the only fasteners are those on access panels. Some raised details are provided where applicable. The surface has a matte finish and there is a small amount of flash present but not so much as to be a concern. Mold alignment is good with only minimal seam lines to clean up. The sprue attachment points are quite heavy on many of the parts, especially the larger ones and I would recommend sawing these off rather than using sprue cutters. The molding is sharp and clean and the panel lines are consistent and uniform. I did not find any surface defects or sink marks on my kit. Ejector pin marks appear to have been kept away from visible areas. I did find a couple on the main gear struts but these will not be all that easy to see once assembled.

Starting with the fuselage there is a lot of nice detail included in the box. First off there are a lot of holes that need to be opened before assembly for the external stores so you need to decide before hand what you intend to use. From the pilots position forward the fuselage is packed with details, consoles, panels and other equipment. The bulkhead behind the pilot features a simulated pleated effect. The instrument panel just has recesses for the instruments as well as some raised details and the back side has the instrument cases represented. No decals are supplied for the instrument panel or any of the other panels so hopefully Eduard will bless us with some photo etch for these. Many of the small knobs and levers supplied will quite honestly be very difficult to remove from the sprues and clean up let alone handle for assembly. The front office will be quite busy when complete. No harnesses are supplied for the ejection seats. The rear turret area is also very well detailed. Although the kit is intended to represent the torpedo variant a shallower radome used on the standard bomber version is supplied but not mentioned in the instructions. Due to the length of service of this aircraft, the total number built and the large number of countries that operated it, a good reference will be necessary if you want to create an accurate specific version. The bomb bay doors are supplied as separate pieces in the closed position. As there is no bomb bay detail in this kit that makes sense. Maybe a future kit will provide that. The forward bomb bay door section provides a place to use a stand by cutting an opening and adding a strengthening piece on the inside but no stand is supplied.

Moving on to the wings they are molded with a half span top piece with the bottom half split with sections inboard and out board of the engine pods. Ailerons and flaps are molded separately. As with the fuselage there are holes that need to be opened depending on version being modeled. There are two spars that are inserted in the fuselage prior to assembly that should provide solid support for the wings. Wing tip tanks are provided but these can be left off for versions other than the torpedo bomber. The engine pods are divided into front and rear sections divided just ahead of the landing gear bays. Being the skeptic that I am I would think gluing the front and rear portions together first would be a better way to avoid seam issues but I guess time will tell. The forward section has a clear inspection port and the engine nose cone and vanes. The rear portion contains the main gear bay and engine. The engine is pretty featureless with a turbine blade front and and hollow rear portion. Nothing but those parts will be seen so it's not an issue as there is no option to display the engines. The main gear bays as well as the nose gear bay are very well detailed with separate actuation struts and cylinders and torque links. The roof of the bay has raised rivet detail and some additional parts are added to partially box in the area. The main gear wheels are molded in halves and feature a very nice looking block tread detail. Unfortunately one will need to deal with a seam down the middle of them. The hubs are separate for easier painting. The nose gear wheel is in halves with radial tread and the hub is molded as part of the wheel. The tires are not weighted. The main gear doors have some nice recessed detail and raised rivet detail. The gear doors are also supplied as one piece closed doors if you wish the gear retracted.

The one piece horizontal stabilizers have the elevators molded in the neutral position and have a nice deep demarcation for elevators. The vertical tail is molded in halves as a separate piece rather than being molded as part of the fuselage. The rudder is molded separately in one piece.

There are two different style torpedoes supplied, a conventional type which is quite well detailed and a rocket powered torpedo. There is a plethora of small antennas and other protrusions to be added to the fuselage once it is assembled.

Lets look at the sprues... The first one has the fuselage halves, bomb bay doors, crew hatch, wing spars, some of the external antennas and the standard bomber radome.

The next sprue has primarily the wing parts.

The engines and nacelles.

The tail parts, tail turret parts and many of the interior cockpit parts.

Landing gear parts, open and closed gear doors.

Wing tip tanks, torpedoes, torpedo mounting racks and the radome for the torpedo variant.

The clear parts are not as thin as those found in many contemporary kits. They are clear enough but have a lot of optical distortion. The main canopy is supplied as either a single piece or with a separate windscreen and side opening section if you want it open. Two different open canopies are supplied but only one is called out. Two nose sections are supplied, one of which is called out and it has a lot more optical distortion than the non specified one and for the life of me I don't see any difference between the two. I find it very frustrating on kits like this that are not that well known to supply parts without more of an explanation of what the optional parts are intended for. The frames are raised which should ease masking tasks, now we just need Eduard to make a mask set for this kit.

The decals are are glossy in finish, in register and appear sufficiently opaque. They have a bit more excess film than I like to see and there is no information as to where they were printed. I have no experience with decals supplied by Bobcat. Markings are supplied for 6 Soviet aircraft and three Chinese. All but one of these is natural metal with one of the Chinese being OD over gray.

The instructions are in an A4 portrait style booklet, 20 pages long and stapled at the spine. The front page has a halftone print of the box art, a brief history, the usual safety warnings, decal application instructions and an icon chart. The history is only in English but the other stuff is also repeated in Chinese. Page two is a sprue map. Page three has a paint chart giving references for Mr. Hobby, Tamiya and Model Master numbers where applicable. Each color is also called out by name and each color has a letter assigned which is referenced throughout the instructions. The assembly steps begin on the lower half of page 3. The assembly starts with building up sub assemblies, which is the way many modelers like to work anyway. The bomb sight is first, followed by the ejection seats and wing tanks. This continues on page 4 with the nose gear and gear well followed by the two main gear and wells. Page 5 then shows the bomb sight assembly from two perspectives, the assembled nose gear from two perspectives and the main gear assembly from a side view. This is a good check to make certain the gear angles are correct. Also on page 5 is a diagram showing holes that need to be drilled out on the fuselage for the various external munition racks. Page 6 has the main wheel assemblies and assemblies of the two different torpedoes supplied. Page 7 starts with the exterior munition racks then goes through the complete rear fuselage / ball turret assembly. One might want to glue this rear fuselage extension to the main fuselage first to minimize seam work but there is a lot going on inside this section so doing that could be tricky. Page 8 starts the engine and engine pod assembly. They are handed so there are duplicate assemblies for right and left. This continues on to page 9 and from here on things get a bit scatter shot, at least from my perspective. It completes the engine assembly and has you mount one completed assembly to one upper wing half. Also on the page is a small step showing assembly of one of the interior details. Page 10 shows the completion of the basic wing started on the previous page then jumps to building cockpit parts and adding them to the fuselage. Page 11 jumps back to the engine to wing assembly for the other wing. Page 12 goes back to working on the cockpit and interior. Page 13 continues this with an inset showing assembly of the vertical tail. Page 14 finally brings the fuselage together. Page 15 is really busy. The wings get installed as does the tail, rear gun turret and lots of the external fiddly bits which are probably best left till after painting and decal application. Page 16 is equally busy adding all the bits on the underneath side plus the flaps, ailerons and wing tip tanks. Page 17 shows installation of the external munitions. Page 18 has the side profiles of the nine different aircraft for which markings are supplied. And lastly page 19 has top and bottom views for markings. Over all the instructions seem clear enough but the last few pages are really busy and you need to study carefully. Not sure why some of the smaller assemblies were scattered about with other things.

My 2¢ worth

I've waited a long time for a kit of this in 1/48 so I bought this without hesitation. The kit did not disappoint ! Only a build will tell how well it all fits but it certainly looks good in the box and has a very good level of detail. It looks like a main stream kit but I would treat it more as a limited run type and do lots of test fitting. The difficult part will be choosing the markings and studying documentation to determine the proper configuration of the outside details. The Il-28 was to the Communist Block countries what the Canberra and B-57 variants were to the Western Allies. If you want one in this scale this one is your only choice at this time.

As always, thanks for looking !


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1/48 Italeri F7F-3 Tigercat

 1/48 Italeri F7F-3 Tigercat 

Yes, this is an oldie but I was curious to see what if any changes Italeri had made to it, and yes this is the kit that stigmatized an entire generation of modelers on the use of rubber tires. :o


Based on the earlier Grumman XP-50 that was eventually canceled, the company developed the XP-65 (Model 51) further for a future "convoy fighter" concept. In 1943, work on the XP-65 was terminated in favor of the design that would eventually become the F7F. The contract for the prototype XF7F-1 was signed on 30 June 1941. Grumman's aim was to produce a fighter that outperformed and outgunned all existing fighter aircraft, and that had an auxiliary ground attack capability. Armament was heavy: four 20 mm cannon and four 50 caliber machine guns, as well as underwing and under-fuselage hardpoints for bombs and torpedoes. Performance met expectations too; the F7F Tigercat was one of the highest performance piston-engine fighters, with a top speed well in excess of the U.S. Navy's single-engine aircraft — 71 mph faster than a Grumman F6F Hellcat at sea level.
All this was bought at the cost of heavy weight and a high landing speed, but what caused the aircraft to fail carrier suitability trials was poor directional stability with only one engine operational, as well as problems with the tailhook design. The initial production series was, therefore, used only from land bases by the USMC, as night fighters with APS-6 radar. At first, they were single-seat F7F-1N aircraft, but after the 34th production aircraft, a second seat for a radar operator was added; these aircraft were designated F7F-2N.

The next version produced, the F7F-3, was modified to correct the issues that caused the aircraft to fail carrier acceptance and this version was again trialed on the USS Shangri-La. A wing failure on a heavy landing caused the failure of this carrier qualification, too. F7F-3 aircraft were produced in day fighter, night fighter and photo-reconnaissance versions.

Marine Corps night fighter squadron VMF(N)-513 flying F7F-3N Tigercats saw action in the early stages of the Korean War, flying night interdiction and fighter missions and shooting down two Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes. This was the only combat use of the aircraft. The F7F-3 was the most numerous version built with 189 aircraft built.

The Kit

The Italeri kit is not new, its roots go back to a release by AMT/ERTL in 1995 and it was released in several different boxings until 1997. In 2007 Italeri pick up the ball and re released it under their name and again in 2016 with new decals. They didn't bother to redo the badging on the sprues a they are still embossed with the ERTL name. The original kit was released about the same time as their A-20 kit and from a level of detail and quality is very similar to that kit. Considering its age it still can hold it's own detail wise. The first release of the kit managed to stigmatize an entire generation of modelers against the use of rubber tires on models. What ever compound AMT/ERTL used had the effect of melting any plastic it touched over a period of time. In spite of the fact that there have been few if any reports of newer kits with rubber or vinyl tires causing any issues many modelers still either avoid them or put a protective layer between the tires and any plastic parts to which they are attached.
The kit comes in an average sized top open tray type box of thin cardboard. The kit parts pretty much fill the box. Inside the box one finds three sealed plastic bags. One large one with four sprues, one large one with the fuselage halves and engine nacelles, two medium sized ones with the wings and tire halves and one small one with two bombs and the engine cowlings. One medium sized bag with three medium sized sprues with the balance of the kit parts. A third bag contains the clear parts. Good news for all is that the tires are now molded in styrene !
The parts are molded in a medium gray color and feature mostly recessed panel lines with recessed fastener detail. The panel lines are actually quite fine for the time and certainly equal to or finer than some found on newer kits. There is some raised detail where applicable. In spite of the age of the kit the molds appear to have held up well with only a few spots of flash here and there. Mold separation lines are about average indicating good mold alignment. The only surface anomalies I found were some very light sink marks on the outer fuselage in the area where detail is molded on the inside. This could easily be considered oil canning if you are not inclined to fill. There are ejector pin marks, the most annoying in the center of the cockpit side wall detail although as narrow as the cockpit it they might be difficult to see. They also exist in the nose gear bay side walls and the main gear bay side walls. Again they will not be that visible when assembled.
The fuselage side walls as well as the gear bay side walls have molded in detail that should satisfy most modelers. The cockpit is fairly basic as were many kits at the time this one was released. A floor, rear bulkhead with separate seat, joy stick and instrument panel. Seat belts and shoulder harness are supplied as decals as is the instrument panel. The instrument panel features recessed instruments with clock details and various raised knobs and dials which look like they would be challenging to get a decal to fit over. If you are so talented it would look really nice painted up.
The engines have completely molded front and rear cylinder banks with fine fin detail, push rods and separate gear cases and ignition harness for the front. The propellers are one piece moldings and nicely done. One in my kit had some molding debris on one blade that will need to be cleaned up.
The landing gear are rather complex but nicely molded and feature molded on brake lines.
The tires are molded in halves with nice tread detail. The hubs are separate and nicely molded making paining easier.
Eight rockets are provided as are two bombs for under wing stores. If you intend to either of these the wings need to be drilled out before assembly. The instructions on show drilling the holes for rockets. The kit also supplies an center line fuselage drop tank. The rack for this is molded on one of the fuselage halves. A boarding step is supplied to attach to the fuselage. The wing mounted guns are separate parts but the fuselage mounted guns are just molded into the gun recesses. No mention is made of adding a fuselage weight to prevent tail sitting but a 55 gallon drum with a box on top of it is supplied to hold the tail up.

OK, lets look at the parts...
First up are the fuselage halves and nacelle halves. The top antenna is molded to one half, never a good practice in my opinion and on mine it didn't survive the review process.

The next two photos show the molded on detail in the fuselage and nacelles. Note the prominent ejector pin marks.

Wings and tires next, there are two of these sprues.

The next small sprue has the bombs, two gear strut parts and the cowlings.

The next two sprues both have the horizontal stabilizers and props but the balance of them feature a variety of parts.

Engines, drop tank, bomb stabilizers, cockpit floor, instrument panel, drop tank, gear struts, wheel hubs and forward nacelle/engine mount parts.

Photo shows the back side of the forward nacelle parts with the engine exhaust stubs. These would benefit from being drilled out a bit.

The clear parts are reasonably thin and clear but does have some optical distortion.

The decal sheet is huge nearly filling the bottom of the box and contains markings for 6 aircraft, all in overall blue. The sheet is nicely printed, in register, glossy and at least on the sheet appear opaque. This is sometimes hard to determine on white and light colors. Excess film has been kept to a minimum where possible although the large combined numbers and letters would probably be better cut out and applied separately. The sheet is printed by Zanchetti Buccinasco or so it says on the sheet. A new name to me. Markings are for the following aircraft: U.S.M.C., MAG-33, Phoang, Korea, 1953;
U.S.M.C., MAG-33, VMF-312, MCAS El Toro, California, 1946: U.S.M.C., VMD, Oakland, California, 1946; Naval Air Station Livermore, California, 1946; Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington DC, 1950; U.S.M.C., VMP-354, MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, 1949. A note concerning the markings, the first one listed and the last two listed are F7F-3P photo reconnaissance aircraft and the kit does not have the camera doors which were located on the lower portion of the aft fuselage.

My 2¢

This kit reminds me a lot of the AMT/ERTL A-20 kits, done at about the same time. It's a relatively simple kit, nicely detailed and most reports indicate it assembles reasonably well. The most challenging part will be finding room for enough weight to keep it from being a tail sitter. For now it's the best (and only one) in this scale.

As always, thanks for looking !


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