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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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Mit der Kamera an der Front

Today I will review a new book from Luftfahrtverlag Start, Mit der Kamera an der Front. Als Kriegsberichter bei der I.(J)/LG 2 und dem JG 77. The title is quite a mouthful and the book is quite a book.


Read more: Mit der Kamera an der Front

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Nuts and Bolts No 41

I recently received the newest Nuts and Bolts book Bussing's schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper (sWS) armoured and unarmoured variants.


Read more: Nuts and Bolts No 41

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Airfix Hawker Sea Fury


The Sea Fury's development was formally initiated in 1943 in response to a wartime requirement of the RAF, thus the aircraft was initially named Fury. As the Second World War drew to a close, the RAF cancelled their order for the aircraft; however, the Royal Navy saw the type as a suitable carrier aircraft to replace a range of increasingly obsolete or poorly suited aircraft being operated by the Fleet Air Arm. Development of the Sea Fury proceeded, and the type began entering operational service in 1947.

Following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Sea Furies were dispatched to the region as a part of the British Commonwealth Forces Korea, Britain's contribution to the United Nations multinational task force to assist South Korea following an invasion by North Korea. Sea Furies were flown throughout the conflict, primarily as ground-attack aircraft, from the Royal Navy light fleet carriers HMS Glory, HMS Theseus, HMS Ocean, and the Australian carrier HMAS Sydney. After a Fleet Air Arm Seafire was shot down by a United States Air Force Boeing B-29 Superfortress on 28 July 1950, all Commonwealth aircraft were painted with black and white Invasion stripes.

The first Sea Furies arrived in theater with 807 Naval Air Squadron embarked on HMS Theseus, which relieved HMS Triumph in October 1950. Operations on Theseus were intense, and the Sea Furies of 807 Squadron flew a total of 264 combat sorties in October. During a brief rest period at the Japanese port of Iwakuni the catapult was found to be excessively worn, necessitating the launch of Sea Furies with RATOG assistance until it was repaired. In December 1950, Sea Furies conducted several strikes on bridges, airfields, and railways to disrupt North Korean logistics, flying a further 332 sorties without incurring any losses. At this early point in the war little aerial resistance was encountered and the biggest threats were ground-based anti-aircraft fire or technical problems.

In addition to their ground attack role, Sea Furies also performed air patrols. In this role a total of 3,900 interceptions were carried out, although none of the intercepted aircraft turned out to be hostile. During the winter period, the Sea Furies were often called upon as spotter aircraft for UN artillery around Inchon, Wonsan, and Songiin. In April 1951, 804 Naval Air Squadron operating off HMS Glory, replaced 807 Squadron, which in turn was replaced by HMAS Sydney in September 1951 with 805 and 808 Squadron RAN. The Australian carrier air group flew 2,366 combat sorties. In January 1952, HMS Glory with 804 NAS returned to relieve Sydney following a refit in Australia. For the rest of the war Glory and Ocean relieved each other on duty.
In 1952, the first Chinese MiG-15 jet fighters appeared. On 8 August 1952, Lieutenant Peter "Hoagy" Carmichael, of 802 Squadron, flying Sea Fury WJ232 from HMS Ocean, shot a MiG-15 down, making him one of only a few pilots of a propeller-driven aircraft to shoot down a jet. The engagement occurred when a formation of Sea Furies and Fireflies was engaged by eight MiG-15s, during which one Firefly was badly damaged while the Sea Furies escaped unharmed. Some sources claim that this is the only successful engagement by a British pilot in a British aircraft during the Korean War, although a few sources claim a second MiG was downed or damaged in the same action.

The Kit

The Airfix kit comes in a sturdy box a little oversized for the contents. Both the top and bottom are made from thin corrugated cardboard and it is a top open tray type box. Inside we find five sprues molded in Airfix's signature pale blue color. The sprues come in a single sealed bag with the clear parts separately bagged but in with the rest of the parts. Everything survived the shipping with no damage or parts knocked from the sprues. The parts are cleanly molded for the most part. A hint of flash was found on a few parts and the mold separation lines on some parts were heavier than I like to see. Some of the sprue attachment points are a bit heavy as well. Some of the earliest kits had areas that were short shot but this problem seems to have been addressed with later runs and mine had none that I could find.

Surface detail is a mixture of recessed panel lines and raised and recessed rivets and panel fasteners. Most of the raised fastener detail is on the fuselage around access panels and wing fillet and on the horizontal tail surface and the rudder. None of them are in areas where seam sanding would threaten. The panel lines are a nice size, small enough to look good under a coat of paint but not so small as to disappear under the same paint. I found no surface defects on any of the airframe parts. Some ejector pin marks were found, most notably in the wheel wells there are a half dozen that would benefit from being cleaned up. I also found a couple of very light ones on the inside of the main gear doors.

The cockpit is well enough detailed to suit most since it is to be painted flat black it will become a black hole anyway. The instrument panel is nice with raised detail and clock details inside the instruments. Decals are provided for the instrument faces. The seat is void of belts and harnesses. There is a bulkhead ahead of the cockpit that has wing spars that extend out to the ends of the wing center section. A separate wheel well is provided with nice detail (except for the ejector pin marks). The wings can be built either extended or folded. A substantial spar piece is used for the extended wings. A plethora of holes need to be opened on the bottom side of the wings for the under wing armament. So you need to decide what you plan on using under there early on. All the flight control surfaces are separate except the flaps which are molded up. The landing gear is very nicely detailed and except for the chore of cleaning up the mold separation lines should look quite nice. The wheels and tires are molded in halves with the outer rim being molded to the back half with the tire making the most visible portion easier to paint. The tires are weighted.

The engine is pretty skimpy detail wise but with the tight cowl and spinner only the tops of the cylinders will be seen so that's all that has been provided. The propeller is a nice one piece casting with a separate backing plate and spinner. The cowling assembly seems to the worst part of the kit assembly. According to most builders the assembly is very finicky, does not fit well and is not correct detail wise. There is an after market fix for this which will be
discussed later. OK, lets look at some plastic.

The first sprue shown has the fuselage halves, rudder, horizontal tail plane and elevators, the engine front and forward cowl parts and the wing spars.

The next sprue has the wing center and outer sections, center cowl parts, gear doors and two bombs.

A close up of the lower wing center section showing the surface detail.

This sprue has the propeller, spinner, hub and backing plate, two more bombs, exhaust stacks, tail hook, intake ducting, wing fold parts and a couple of other misc. parts.

Next one up has the underwing rockets, rato packs, some cockpit parts, tail wheel and doors and part of the landing gear struts.

This sprue has the main gear doors, ailerons, two different sized drop tanks, a camera pod, more cockpit parts, main wheels, main gear bay and more cockpit parts.

The clear parts are thin and clear but do have some optical distortion on the curved parts. Other than the canopy there is a lens for the camera pod and two wing tip lights.

The decals are glossy in finish and in register. Most except for the larger numbers and letters had a minimum amount of excess clear film. There are a huge number of stencils provided. Markings are provided for two aircraft; No.801 Naval air squadron, HMS Glory, Korean War, 1952 and an aircraft restored in the markings of 802 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton, Northern Ireland, 1948. Operated by Roayl Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset, England, 2017.

The instructions are the standard new style, a 16 page booklet stapled at the spine with cad style 3D renderings in gray scale with red designating parts to be added. The front page has multilingual brief history and specifications. The second page has multilingual basic assembly instructions and an icon chart. Assembly drawings start on page 3 and continue through page 13 in 80 steps. A number of the steps won't be needed depending on your choice of wings folded or extended. Pages 14 and 15 have the painting and markings diagrams in color and page 16 has a location diagram for placing the stencils.

After Market Goodies

As I mentioned in the kit description the kit supplied cowling parts are fiddly to assemble and not all correct. This set from Barracuda Studios solves both of these issues plus provides some nicer looking exhaust stacks. The parts simply replace the kit parts. Part number is BR48350.

While the kit supplied cockpit will satisfy most I decided to opt for a resin cockpit set from Barracuda Studios. A nice set which includes a gun site that the the kit doesn't supply. You also get seats with and without belts which save buying separate photo etch parts. Not shown but included are instrument decals for the instrument panel. Unlike some aftermarket makers Barracuda sets are much easier to install requiring only minor modifications to the kit parts which are well described in their instructions. Barracuda part number is BR48347.

And lastly some nice resin cast wheels and tires. Barracuda number is BR48344.

My 2¢

This is another winner from the new Airfix and is certainly the best Sea Fury in this scale. The kits short comings should not be that hard to deal with by modelers with a moderate amount of experience.

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Pit Road 1/144 Me 323D-4

Pit Road 1/144 Me 323D-4


The Me 323 was the result of a 1940 German requirement for a large assault glider in preparation for Operation Sea Lion, the projected invasion of Great Britain. The DFS 230 light glider had already proven its worth in the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium (the first ever assault by gliderborne troops), and would later be used successfully in the invasion of Crete in 1941.

However, in order to mount an invasion across the English Channel, the Germans would need to be able to airlift vehicles and other heavy equipment as part of an initial assault wave. Although Operation Sea Lion was cancelled, the requirement for a heavy air transport capability still existed, with the focus now on the forthcoming Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

On 18 October 1940, Junkers and Messerschmitt were given just 14 days to submit a proposal for a large transport glider. The emphasis was still very much on the assault role: the ambitious requirement was to be able to carry either an 88 mm gun and its half-track tractor, or a Panzer IV medium tank. The Junkers Ju 322 Mammut reached prototype form but was eventually scrapped due to difficulties in procuring the necessary high-grade timber for its all-wood construction and, as was discovered during the Mammut's only test flight, an unacceptably high degree of instability inherent in the design. The proposed Messerschmitt aircraft was originally designated Me 261w — partly borrowing the designation of the long-range Messerschmitt Me 261, then changed to Me 263 (later re-used for Messerschmitt's improved rocket fighter design) and eventually became the Me 321. Although the Me 321 saw considerable service in Russia as a transport, it was never used for its intended role as an assault glider.

Early in 1941, as a result of feedback from Transport Command pilots in Russia, the decision was taken to produce a motorized variant of the Me 321, to be designated Me 323. It was decided to use French Gnome et Rhône GR14N radial engines rated at 1,164 hp for take-off as used in the Bloch MB.175 aircraft; using French engines was thought to place no burden on Germany's over strained industry.

Initial tests were conducted using four Gnome engines attached to a strengthened Me 321 wing, which gave a modest speed of 130 mph – 50 mph slower than the Ju 52 transport aircraft. A fixed undercarriage was fitted, which comprised four small wheels in a bogie at the front of the aircraft with six larger wheels in two lines of three at each side of the fuselage, partly covered by an aerodynamic fairing. The rear wheels were fitted with pneumatic brakes, and could stop the aircraft within 660 ft.

The four-engine Me 323C was considered merely a stepping stone to the six-engine D series; it still required the five-engine Heinkel He 111Z Zwilling or the highly dangerous, "vic-style" Troika-Schlepp formation of three Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters and under wing mounted Walter HWK 109-500 Starthilfe rocket assisted takeoff units to get airborne when fully loaded, but it could return to base under its own power when empty. This was clearly not much better than the Me 321, so the V2 prototype became the first to have six engines and flew for the first time in early 1942, becoming the prototype for the D series aircraft.

The selection of the six engines, and their specific placement on the wing's leading edge, were fitted to reduce torque – a trio of counterclockwise rotation engines mounted on the port wing, and a trio of clockwise rotation engines on the starboard wing as seen forward from behind each engine, resulting in the props rotating "away" from each other at the tops of their arcs.

Maximum payload was around 12 tonnes, although at that weight the Hellmuth Walter Werke-designed Walter HWK 109-500 Starthilfe RATO (rocket assisted takeoff) units used on the Me 321 were required for take off. The RATOs were mounted beneath the wings outboard of the engines, with the wings having underside fittings to take up to a total of four RATO units. The cargo hold was 36 ft long, 10 ft wide and 11 ft high. The typical loads it carried were: One 15 cm FH18 field artillery piece (5.5 ton) accompanied by its Sd.Kfz.7 halftrack transport vehicle (11 ton); two 4 ton trucks; 8,700 loaves of bread; an 88 mm Flak gun and accessories; 52 drums of fuel; 130 men or 60 stretchers.

Some Me 321s were converted to Me 323s, but the majority were built as six-engine aircraft from the beginning; early models were fitted with wooden two-blade propellers, which were later replaced by metal, three-blade variable-pitch versions.

The Me 323 had a maximum speed of only 136 mph at sea level and speed dropped with altitude. For defensive armament, it was armed with five 13 mm MG 131 machine guns firing from a dorsal position behind the wings and from the fuselage. They were manned by the extra gunners, radio operator and engineers.

The Kit

Note: This kit appears to be the same as the one released under the Great Wall Hobby brand, going so far as using a modified version of the same box art, So I am assuming they are the same kits. I'm not sure which one was the chicken and which was the egg. The Pit Road kit was available from Hobby Link Japan before the Great Wall kit so that is what I'm reviewing.

The Pit Road kit comes in a sturdy top open tray type box with a thin cardboard top and a corrugated bottom half. The box is about the size that 1/48 scale fighters typically come in and is pretty well filled with sprues. The box features nice artwork on the top and the two longer sides feature photos of the competed kit on one side and profiles of marking options on the other. All in all a nice package. Inside the box one finds 11 sprues molded in a light greenish gray color. Each one is in it's own cellophane bag which is stapled closed, even the duplicate sprues. High marks for that ! There are also two sprues of clear parts also individually wrapped. There is one large sprue that pretty much fills the bottom of the box and contains the wing parts but the balance of the sprues are all fairly small.

The parts are crisply molded with a smooth matte finish. The parts are virtually flash free and the sprue attachment points are either placed on mounting surfaces or where possible on edges that won't be seen when assembled. I like this feature but it's not universally liked, at least the ones on mating surfaces. The attachment points are reasonably sized and should be easy to clean up. Mold parting seams are very fine and should be easy to clean up as well. The surface features recessed panel lines which seem to be a bit smaller than I've seen on other kits in this scale. I question the panel lines supplied on the wings as the wing was plywood and fabric covered and photos I've seen show a fairly smooth surface. That said I'm probably not inclined to fill them in. The fabric surfaces are probably a bit exaggerated for the scale but photos of the prototype seem to show the fabric a bit more saggy than is the norm, possibly due to the wider spacing of the support structure underneath. In any event I think it will look just fine when painted.

The kit is reasonably well detailed for a kit in this scale. The cockpit is pretty basic but won't be that visible. The inside features structural detail molded on and there is a floor for inside. Two side doors are supplied separately and can be posed open and the main nose doors are designed to be displayed open or closed. The gunners position in the upper fuselage needs to be cut open and there are thinned areas to make this easier. There are some ejector pin marks on the interior walls but they are so light I doubt they will be that noticeable even if you leave the front doors open.

The control surfaces are supplied as separate pieces and on the wings there are a plethora of hinges and actuators to install. Many of these are probably oversized but will make things look quite busy. The wings are each in two sections with top and bottom halves, the inner section with the six engines and an outer section. I suspect it was done this way to allow the pure glider version to be done. The outer wing sections overlap a tab on the inboard section which should create a strong assembly.

The bogie assemblies for the landing gear are well detailed but won't be all that well seen as they hide beneath a fairing. The wheels and tires are one piece moldings with an almost imperceptible hint of a mold seam. The tires are not weighted.

The engines are way better in detail than any I have seen in this scale, the two engine banks are molded separately. The banks are then mounted to the rear portion of the nacelle which has exhaust stubs molded into it. A separate cowling then covers them. The propellers are one piece moldings and look very nice and feature separate spinners. As on the prototype they are molded to rotate in opposite directions depending on which side of the wing they are on so one needs to check the pitch when installing.

OK, lets take a look at the plastic. First up are the fuselage halves, note the large mounting hole for the tab on the wing. No spar is supplied but there are ample gluing surfaces which should provide a strong bond.

The inside detail, you can see the injector pin marks, once painted should not be that noticeable with the nose doors open and no issue at all if you close them up.

The next shot shows the rather unusual way these were molded and that the attachment points are all on the mating surfaces.

The next three are the wings, tail and control surfaces.

Next up are the landing gear fairings and internal detail parts.

Landing gear parts, control surface actuators, wing and tail braces.


Engines, wheels, more control surface actuators, guns, control column for the cockpit, there are two of these sprues.

The next two are close ups of the engine parts.

The next two are the nose door parts.

The clear parts are clear but rather thick, I don't think the thickness will be all that noticeable. The first sprue contains lots and lots of tiny windows.

The second smaller sprue as the main cockpit glazing and the two gun blisters for the nose.

The decals are thin appearing and have a matte finish. They are all nicely printed and well registered. The letters for the bottom wing are combined with the wing wing crosses resulting in a massive amount of opportunities for silvering, my advise would be to cut them apart and apply separately. No clue on the sheet as to who printed them so I can't speak as to how well they might work. Markings for three aircraft are supplied, aircraft from Germany, Tunis and Corsica in 1943. The Swastika on the main sheet is assemble type but a second small sheet with full Swastikas is also supplied, nice !

The instructions consist of a 7" x 10 1/4" 12 page booklet stapled at the spine. All verbiage is printed in Chinese and English. The front page has a brief history with basic aircraft specifications, basic safety instructions like don't put paint or glue in your mouth, an icon chart and the start of a parts map. The second page has the balance of the parts map which includes a decal sheet showing decals not used. Page three starts the assembly which continues through page twelve in 16 steps. Assembly diagrams are of the cad style in halftone and are nicely sized and easy to follow. Options are noted where required. Color call outs are present throughout the assembly, black rectangles with a white number. These refer to the paint chart which is provided as a separate sheet. The color chart along with the painting and marking information is provided on an 11" x 16" glossy page printed in color on one side. The color chart lists the colors by a 'C' number which relates to GSI Creos Mr. Color paints. The generic color or RLM colors are listed for these as well.

OK so how does it go together ? Well, this kit kept bugging me all the time I was reviewing it and I finally gave in to urge. I started out a little different on this kit. I decided up front that I didn't want the front doors open so that eliminated a number of parts that detail the inner portion of the doors and the door hinges. I also decided to attach the nose doors to the fuselage halves before assembling the fuselage. The fuselage nose door join was very good as shown below.

I went ahead and installed the two separate side doors which also fit quite well.

I next assembled the basic wing structures. The clear parts must be installed prior to assembling the inner wing sections. The fit of these was also quite good. Once both inner and outer sections were done they were joined and the flap and ailerons were attached. Fit again was very good.

Next I assembled the engines. These are real jewels with a very high level of detail for the scale.

Much of that detail gets hidden with the cowlings on but it still looks better than the rather one dimensional look of engines typical in this scale.

The bogies for the landing gear are also very well detailed even though they will be mostly hidden under shrouds.

The clear parts were installed in the fuselage prior to closing it. They all fit very snugly but better than some kits where the clear parts fit very loosely or not at all. I only hope Eduard does a mask set for this as there are a lot of little windows to mask. I did lose one of the smaller ones to the carpet monster but some crystal clear should take care of it. The hole in the top for the gunners position also needed cut out. There was a recessed line on the inside to guide in cutting. I left out the main floor but did install the upper level floor behind the cockpit in case it could be seen. The cockpit can be installed after the fact and the floor alignment pegs can be reached through that opening to align them when gluing the fuselage together. Once the fuselage had cured I installed the wings and tail group. The wings have a nice solid mounting tab and all the parts fit together very well.

The cockpit, though simple isn't bad for the scale with separate control columns and instrument panel, I added some shoulder harnesses from tape. The cockpit drops in and rests on a rail on each side.

No attempt at seam work has been at this point which illustrates how well everything fit.

I'm going to leave off all of the wing and tail bracing until after painting as well as all of the under wing detail which consists of a plethora of control surface hinges, actuators and mass balances.

Although there is no mention of a nose weight being required in the instructions it will be a tail sitter. Photos can be found that show the prototype sitting that way when not loaded and there is a brace on the rear fuselage that can be lowered when the aircraft was being loaded to keep the nose down. This is supplied in the kit and can be mounted either up or down.

That's all the farther I'm going for this review. When I get it finished up I'll post it up in the forum.

My 2¢ worth

I'm quite impressed with this kit, molding and fit is very good, much better than any other kits I have built in this scale. It's not exactly small even in this scale and certainly nice for those who don't have room for one in a larger scale. I would be really happy to see kits as nice as this one of large aircraft like the B-36, B-47, B-49, B-52, etc.

As always, thanks for looking !


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