Top Quality 757 at last!

Civil Airliner Boeing 757-200

Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7032

Another large box coming from the East, this one is bound to please many airline modellers, as the 757 from Boeing, despite being almost 40 years old, has not been well served by model manufacturers. The easiest kit to get hold until now was the Academy kit (757-200) first released in 1999 and re-released with different decals about 10 times since. This kit was a bit rough and did not offer much in terms of options nor details.

The new tooling from Zvezda is likely to see all those unbuilt Academy kits hitting the second-hand market over the next few weeks.. Zvezda has become a kind of ‘standard‘ now with their airliner kits, and this new 757 is certainly very nice to look at.

120 parts, including 9 molded in clear plastic constitutes this offering, but many will remain un-used since the number of options is rather high, with two different sets of main landing wheels, two sets of engines (Rolls-Royce or Pratt & Whitney), hinting at re-boxings with different decals to come. Also hinting at other 757s to hit us in the future are the fact that this kit is equipped with the blended wingtips that were introduced in 2005, and fuselage windows strips asking to be shortened… The longer fuselaged 757-300 should therefore be an off-the-shelf option in the future.

The engraving is fine and delicate, a far cry from Academy’s.

The cockpit is furnished (Academy’s was not) but it is a (slight) shame that Zvezda did not offer decals for the front instrument panel and side consoles which are very flat looking as is.. Of course little of that will be seen I know.

My other issue with the new kit is the way the wings are made up of three main parts with a section of the fuselage included with the bottom part of the wings. This had been an issue for me with Hasegawa’s Airbus A300 (1/200), demanding a different way to approach the painting, decaling and weathering of the model, when the rest of the series featured separate wings with an excellent final fit with the fuselage, post-everything. Easier. Nevertheless, Zvezda’s parts may be just fine and offer a perfect fit. Only time will tell!

Other nice touches include one-piece flap actuator fairings, separate engine nacelle lips (so helpful for their painting), neat front engine fan blades and wing (and fin & stabilators!) leading edges in one piece with part of the wing underside included on the uppersides, guaranteeing easy to clean and sharp trailing edges.

The wings provided in the kit are meant to be used with the blended wingtips but the standard tips are provided as an option, clearly for future boxings of the kit.

Two choices of engines, as previously mentioned; Zvezda offers for each type an inlet ring for each intake, but it is still made up of two parts, meaning some putty will still be necessary to hide the joints, but at least it can be done before final assembly of the engine nacelles!

Each main undercarriage is made up of 10 parts, while the front one, whose main leg appears at first very frail end up being a lot more beefier with additional supports, bits and bobs (totaling 9 parts altogether).

Decals-wise, Zvezda’s release only offers one livery, that of Icelandair, maybe not the sexiest, but not bad looking at all. The aftermarket decal providers are certainly going to be offering a lot more choice soon, no doubt!

The decal sheets (there are two) offer a decent number of stencils, fuselage doors outlines and the silver lining for each cabin window and windshield, and the fine black lines for the no-step wing zones. Quite comprehensive, really.

The option of displaying the model in flight is entertained with the presence of a large plastic stand (and separate u/c well doors).

It’s a great kit, just go and get (at least) one!

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul.

Snap-fit British Jewel

Hawker Hurricane IIC British Fighter

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7322

It’s a brand new Hurricane issued from a brand new tooling that Zvezda has had the good idea of releasing. Although marketed as a snap-fit kit, the kit is still made up of 51 parts, 5 of which are molded in clear plastic.

We have not checked accuracy of the details, but details abound for sure, first with a finely recessed engraving on the metal-covered areas and delicately portrayed fabric covering where it matters.

The wings are made up of two large parts (top & bottom). The upper half of the wings include portions of the underside leading and trailing edges, and with separate one-piece ailerons, allows for very fine trailing edges indeed! Very neat. Cockpit, radiator, landing and formation lights as well as the main landing gear wells are to be added to the wing assembly before the fuselage is grafted onto it. Very neat too!

The cockpit is made of of 5 parts, with the instrument panel offered with raised instruments for painting, or flat to be used with a decal. Two multi-part pilots are offered, each with different flying gear to match the proposed colour schemes. The main landing gear is offered as a well-detailed 8-part down option (not counting the wells) or a rather ingenious 2-part up option.

Zvezda could have provided the canopy with a separate windshield, but they did not. The transparent parts are, however, crystal clear.

Decaling options include a RAF two-tone grey-green aircraft and a black-overal machine, both based in Tangmere in 1942, and a Soviet of the Northern Fleet in 1943.

This looks like a stunning little kit, remains to be seen if the build will be as easy as it seems it should be. Whether it will meet the expectations of the rivet-counters amongst us, that also remains to be seen. But for that price, it will be a hard one to beat!

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul.

Black/yellow/red-marked Trainer

Gloster Meteor T.Mk.7

Azur-FRROM 1/72, Ref. FR0045

The transition from propeller-driven fighters to the twin-jet engined Meteor fighter was soon considered too complicated, especially for pilots with little experience; the need for a two-seater trainer was soon felt. Thus was born the Meteor T.Mk.7, a two-seater aircraft specifically designed for training and to facilitate the transition from piston to jet engines.
When the Belgian Air Force took delivery of its Meteor Mk.4 single-seaters to replace the Spitfire Mk.XIV, three Mk.7 two-seaters were also delivered. When the Meteor Mk.8 replaced the Mk.4, a further nine two-seaters were ordered and by 1952, twenty former Mk.4s were converted to two-seaters by Avions Fairey. Finally, at the end of 1953, ten more two-seaters were acquired from RAF stocks.
The Belgian aircraft were registered ED1 to ED43 and were mainly used by the Fighter School. There was also a hybrid version called T.Mk.7A (or T.Mk.71/2) with the Mk.4 tail section replaced by the Mk.8 one.

For some years now, we have been used to FRROM coming up with goodies for those interested in Belgian aircraft. The SV-4bis, Nieuport 29 and more recently the superb Renard R.31 come to mind. They continue with this two-seater Meteor kit by providing a Belgian livery among the three proposed.

The kit’s 76 parts (of which only two will not be used) are spread over two sprues of medium grey injection moulded plastic, with the single piece canopy and the collimator on a third, clear sprue, in a separate plastic bag that ensures adequate protection for the excellent transparency of these parts.

The assembly guide, in A5 notebook format, shows about twenty steps. The layout of the parts is quite classical: left and right half fuselages, tail planes in two parts above and below, etc. Note that the wing is in two parts, also top and bottom; once assembled, it fits into the bottom of the fuselage. The cockpit is fairly spartan but given the number of canopy frames and the fact that everything is painted black inside, there shouldn’t be much to see once the canopy is installed. The instrument panels have raised instruments and details and there is no decal alternative. Those who wish to present the canopy open can indulge in the joy of super-detailing! It is also worth noting that some (very) fine parts have to be scratchbuilt, e.g. small rods for the landing gear to be cut out of stretched sprue or the whip antenna on top of the fuselage. It is true that the technology of injection moulding does not (yet) allow the casting of such parts. As for the options, you can choose whether or not to install the drop tanks under the wings. Finally, there is a mask fret for the canopy with no less than 19 stickers to place, thank you for having thought of that!

As already noted, the decal sheet offers three schemes: a T.Mk.7 of the Armée de l’Air at Tours in 1956, n° F9 coded 30-MY, an Israeli Mk.7, n° 15 of Sqn 117 in 1957 still wearing the black and yellow stripes of the Suez crisis. And then of course, the icing on the cake for us belgian modellers, the T.Mk.7 ED-42 of the Belgian Air Force Fighter School at Coxyde in 1958, an aluminium aircraft with yellow fuselage stripes and yellow engine nacelles. The school insignia is painted on the front of the nacelles and a red winged arrow on each side of the nose.

This is another great addition to the FRROM catalogue that will enrich our collection of aircraft with black-yellow-red roundels! Thank you Gilles for thinking about us.

Review and pictures by Didier Waelkens.

Little-known Kitty

German Medium Tank VK.3002 (DB) with suspension type I

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72089

Some time ago, I reviewed the German Medium Tank VK 3002 Daimler Bens (DB) with suspension type II produced by OKB Grigorov under the reference 72086. Just to remind that this VK 3002 (DB) was in competition with the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nurnberg (MAN) prototype (the future Panther) for the introduction of new 30 to 35-ton class vehicle with sloping armor, wide tracks to move on soft ground and a gun with a high muzzle velocity. The VK 3002 DB showed several features ‘borrowed’ from the T34/76 and was fitted with a turret equipped with a 75mm 48 caliber, located towards the front of the chassis, a running gear made of large road wheels mounted on external leaf springs and a MB 507 diesel engine. The slow development of the DB’s chosen engine and turret, along with the unusual use of diesel fuel lead to the MAN project to be selected and mass-produced. It seems that the VK 3002 DB displayed 2 types of suspension, the type I with four double T34-style road wheels and the type II with interleaved Panther-type road wheels.

The VK.3002 DB Suspension type I kit (Ref. 72089) includes 76 parts that are common for to the Suspension type II kit (Ref. 72086). Most parts are made of a high-quality grey resin with very fine details, particularly on the chassis, hull and tracks.

12 photo-etched parts and a turned metal barrel are also included.

The instructions are clearly drawn and the assembly should be fairly simple, even if the tracks must be bent around the drive sprockets and idlers..

I could not find reference in my own extensive library about the two different types of running gear but OKB Grigorov are not known for making things up, so I think we can trust that this ‘variant’ was indeed once being considered.

All in all though, this looks like another well detailed and well-fitting product from the Bulgarian artisan.

Bibliography: Panzer, The German Tanks Encyclopedia Caraktère presse & éditions, 2015, and: The Spielberger German Armor & Military Vehicles Series. Vol. I, Panther & its Variants Walter J. Spielberger Schiffer Military/Aviation History 1993

Review and pictures by Jean-Paul Oudinet.

Robot-like SPG

2S35 “Koalitiya-SV” Russian 152mm Self-propelled Howitzer

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 5055

The 2S35 « Koalitiya-SV » is the most recent artillery system in the Russian army. This self-propelled howitzer was designed at the Burevestnik Central Scientific Research Institute and was officially presented for the first time at the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow. It is designed to solve a variety of tasks: shooting of tactical nuclear weapons, attacks on enemy artillery and mortar batteries to the destruction of armoured fighting vehicles and fortified installations. Equipped with a 152mm gun it has a maximum range of 40 to 80km depending of the ammunition used. The 2S35 is not a classic SPG, but rather a highly robotised system, with a high degree of automation.

171 parts for a completed model length of 19,4cm in 1/72, the kit looks very impressive! Two large runners of grey parts that include the hull and the gun, two smaller runners of grey plastic with notably the wheels, plus a runner of black parts in a softer plastic for the tracks is what awaits the modeller inside the box.

The instructions direct us to start with the lower part and sides of the hull onto which the running gear is installed before the upper hull, and eventuaslly the turret are added. The softer black plastic allows for relative ease of bending the tracks around the idlers and drive sprockets.

The gun is in three parts but the tube itself is a single item, dispensing from the need of any filler.

This is the Zvezda quality we are now getting used to ! The b&w instruction booklet is clear and easy to follow. Colour schemes and markings positions are detailled onto a full-colour A5-sized leaflet ; the decal sheets offer marking for two different Russian vehicles, including one fairly colourful as seen at the 2015 Victory Parade.

Beware that as such, the kit represents what we could call the pre- or early-production vehicle based on the T-90 chassis, when later vehicles are expected to be built on the T-14 Armata chassis.

A pretty impressive, size-wise, and very well designed and detailled kit that will surely finds it way into the stash of those of us interested in modern armour!

Review and photos by Daniel Clamot.

Belgian Defenders

WWI Belgian Infantry 

ICM 1/35, Ref. 35680

The Ukranian ICM company is known for their original and unexpected choice of themes as regards their 1/35th range of figures. Some months ago when they unexpectedly announced the release of a brand new set of Belgian WWI soldiers, a mixed feeling of excitement and of confusion hit the small community of modelers interested by Belgian subjects because the picture announcing WW1 Belgian Infantry actually depicted WWI Belgian cavalry soldiers…

Today, when we open the box we can only be happy with the outcome because the superb boxart matches the content of the box and features early WWI Belgian line infantry which is a subject that has never been treated by any plastic model kits manufacturer in 1/35th scale.

The set contains three plastic sprues with 125 parts allowing us to build four figures with their full equipment and still have some useful little extra’s for the spare box. Three soldiers and one officer, all in fighting action, are included in this kit.

At first sight the uniforms and the equipment are correctly sculpted and depict early Belgian line infantry from 1914 that can for example accompany the Minerva armoured car from Copper State Model (since these started being used in September 1914). A quick look at the two sprues with the accessories and weapons draws our attention on some extra parts featuring some mid- and late-war equipment which is a nice addition for the spare box especially if you plan to build a Belgian Lanchester or a mid- or late-war Minerva.

The numerous details of the equipment look good and some of the faces feature a moustache, typical for the WWI period. Even if these are not yet up to the standard of some quality resin productions they still show some expression and you will not necessarily need to replace them to make the figure more lively. A good paintjob will bring them to life from the box. Also the hands look crisp enough and do not need replacement.

The content of the kit is original and very promising and I warmly recommend it to any Belgian and / or WWI subjects fans. Another reason for being positive about this kit is that usually ICM’s products are good value for the money that you spend on them and that such a set includes four figures and extra equipment for less than the price of a resin figure. Last but not least early WW1 Belgian subjects are really not the easiest topics to work on because there are so many subtleties to take into account and documentation is rare. Nevertheless ICM seems to have been well inspired on this one and provides the modeller with an interesting and altogether very correct set. Well done ICM!

Review and pictures by Thierry Tish.

New Potez Feathers, Part.2

Potez 25 Europe & America

Azur/Frrom 1/72, Ref. FROX03

Azur/Frrom have kindly sent us samples of their forthcoming decal releases, two 1/72 sheets destined to grace the lovely Potez 25 kits released during 2019, and later re-issued under the Special Hobby label.

It’s time to have a look at sheet FROX03 Potez 25 Africa & Asia:

Just like the other ‘Potez 25’ sheet, the first thing one notices is the sheer number of markings offered on this A5-sized decal sheet.  Still not a bad thing, really, lots of options for your money, Folks, but care will still be needed when choosing any option as the Potez 25 was declined in a number of variants (mostly different engines, but not just that).  Let’s remind us that the ‘basic’ kits are indeed offering numerous alternative parts, and it must be said that great care must be taken while building the kit as the instructions are sometimes a bit confusing.  References will be needed and need to be carefully examined! 

We have not been provided with the instructions for the forthcoming decal sheets, so can not comment just yet on the info provided on those documents.

What is included on this FROX03 sheet is:

  • Ethiopia:  markings for three different Lorraine-engined aircraft coded 1, 2 or 3 or two Hispano-engined ones; national markings included;
  • French Africa: markings for Lorraine or Salmson-equipped aircraft based at Thies (Dakar) and Atar (now in Mauritania); the Salmson option will require some scratchbuilt work as this option engine is not offered in any of the kits (so far!);
  • French Mandate in Syria / Lebanon: markings for a Potez 25 TOE with non-standard colours; the white stripes for the upper wing are not offered;
  • French Indochina: 5 possible options;
  • Manchuria: markings for three Lorraine-powered aircraft; national markings included;
  • Japan: identical to the Manchurian aircraft, but with with Japanese roundels (not provided);
  • French North Africa / Spain: markings for a French Potez 25 TOE that defected to Spanish Morocco in August 1936 and wearing a mix of French (partly erased) and Spanish Nationalist markings.

The decals are well printed (by Fantasy Printshop), with the white and colours that are intense that will adequately cover the camouflage colours.  The decal’s finish is satin to glossy and a coat of varnish may therefore be required to obtain a good ‘blend’ with the rest of the model.

All in all, another extensive and much welcome release from Azur/Frrom.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Quarterscale Hind

Soviet Attack Helicopter Mi-24P

Zvezda 1/48, Ref. 4812

One of Zvezda’s latest release is a quarter-scale Mil Mi-24P, featuring the double 30mm gun ‘pack’ on the right side of the front fuselage.  This version has been around for some time, produced in large numbers between 1981 and 1989, and has been or is still used in many countries around the globe, opening up the number of possible schemes and decorations.

The kit comes in a large cardboard box (the kit has a ‘span’ of 44,7cm), with 326 parts spread over 7 light grey and one clear plastic sprues.  A little bit of flash is visible here and there but mostly only affects the runners, no big deal.  Details abound, with comprehensive furnishing of the two cockpits, cargo bay and engine deck.  Of course, extra details can be added if one feels like doing so, but the base kit is a very good starting point.  The instrument panels and other consoles’ details are provided as decals, something that may have been better reproduced in plastic, but no doubt, after-market detail sets can be soon purchased as substitutes.

The crew is included in the kit, as two four-part figures.  

The blades are ‘weighted down’, another good point.  Interestingly, this is the first kit of the Hind I’ve seen taking account of the asymmetric nature of the fuselage as can be seen from the shape of the cabin’s rear bulkhead.

A number of options are offered, including the use of sand filters or not, use of heat diffusers or simple exhausts, access doors and panels open or closed along with a fairly comprehensive array of gun pods, rocket pods, missile launchers,…

The clear parts (the canopy is a 5-part affair) are commendably transparent, another reason to improve on the kit’s cockpit details!

Two decal sheets provide markings and numerous stencils for 5 Hinds, including an East-German machine and a rather sleek-looking, post-communist era Hungarian one.  Of the three other options, two are for post-Soviet-era Russian helicopters. 

This looks like a neat kit that should be a very good base for some stunning hyper-detailed kits to be seen on competition tables over the next few years!

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul.

Sticky Subject!

Ciano Cleaner Gel Formula

Green Stuff World

We all have experienced some kind of disaster while using super-glue type of adhesives, be it ruining your favourite T-shirt, the dining table or even your latest ‘work in progress’ model…

Green Stuff World has come up with a gel that is meant to help repair some of this damage, and we tested it for you. 

First of all, sticky fingers.  The gel, applied directly onto the skin has a definite and rapid impact on the ‘joint’, loosening it and preventing skin bits to be torn in the process of un-sticking said fingers.  Excellent job!  Mind you, the instructions at the back of the label does recommend a good cleaning and calling the doctor in case of exposure to the skin…   In fact, no ‘after effects’ were felt and subsequent cleaning up with water and soap did seem to work for us, the doctor may wait a bit longer for the pleasure of our company.   

Added onto the super-glued joint between two plastic parts did help with a clean break up, with no plastic bits ton away to be seen, but some dried-up super-glue still left to remove, which led us to try removing those…

Having had issues with our favourite plastic softening after the use of super-glue activators, we were rather curious to see the effect, if any, of this gel onto said bare plastic…  Some super-glue was applied onto a bit of styrene, left to ‘take’ overnight and the gel was applied early in the morning and left to ‘act’ for a couple of minutes.  The cyano certainly softened up, but removing (with a rag) the cured glue was a long process requiring several applications of the gel and some rubbing down with the rag.  The gel definitely had an effect on the bare plastic, not a positive one, leaving a slight recess wherever the gel had been applied to.  The rubbing of the softened glue onto the softened plastic also made a bit of a mess (glue + fabric fibers + plastic), that would require eventual fixing with putty and/or sanding.  The use of a micro-brush would thus be better suited for any ‘rubbing down’. Tested on recently applied superglue, with immediate removal, the effect of the gel on the bare plastic was certainly lessened.  The best option, it would seem would be to act with small amounts of gel as quickly as possible, light rubbing down of the offending area with a micro-brush, followed by a little bit of sanding once the whole area has ‘dried up’. 

Tested on painted plastic (yes, we admit that tiny droplets of super-glue sometimes find their way onto our ALMOST completed model…  Aaaargh!), we found that the gel did soften up the paint too, adding to the earlier mentioned mess, to be, eventually, cleaned up the usual ways…

Fabric?  Cured super-glue certainly softened up but several applications of the gel still could not remove all the glue from the cotton fibers and the eventual rubbing and twisting of the fabric ended up tearing the fabric altogether…  Applied onto freshly stained clothing, the results were far better with the fabric retaining its ‘twistability’, but the garment still needed an immediate good wash to bring out the ‘stickiness’ that was still being felt.

Conclusion: try to be more careful while using super-glues..!  This product could indeed be useful to us all at some stage or another, worth keeping in sight, but it’s no miracle cure (no pun intended!).

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Potez Galore, Part.1

Potez 25 Europe & America

Azur/Frrom 1/72, Ref. FROX04

Azur/Frrom have kindly sent us samples of their forthcoming decal releases, two 1/72 sheets destined to grace the lovely Potez 25 kits released during 2019, and later re-issued under the Special Hobby label.

Let’s have a look at sheet FROX04 Potez 25 Europe & America:

The first thing one notices on this offering is how tightly the various markings are crammed together on the A5-sized sheet.  There is barely any spare space anywhere.  Not a bad thing, really.  The number of options is high, but extreme care will be required when choosing any option as the Potez 25 was declined in a number of variants (mostly different engines, but not just that).  The ‘basic’ kits are indeed offering numerous alternative parts, and it must be said that great care must be taken while building the kit and following the instructions that are sometimes a bit confusing.  References will be needed and need to be carefully examined! 

We have not been provided with the instructions for the new decal sheets, so can not comment just yet on the info provided on those documents.

What is included on this FROX04 sheet is:

  • Aéropostale: markings for three complete aircraft (out of the four operated): F-AJDX, F-AJDY, F-AJDZ, F-AJZS. F-AJDX was the first Potez 25 to fly over the Andes with Mermoz and Daurat, F-AJDY was the second Potez 25 entering service with Aéropostale, F-AJDZ is the most famous of all, the plane flown by Guillaumet during his epic flight, crash and six day-long walk back to safety, F-AJZS was another Aéropostale Potez 25.  Note that the basic kit being ‘military’, some slight mods will be required to complete any Aeropostale aircraft (based on either the A2 or TOE variants);
  • Air France: the previously mentioned F-AJDY at a later time, with Air France titles having replaced the Compagnie Générale Aéropostale ones, and the Air France logo painted on the forward fuselage.
  • France: anchors and markings for an alternative Aeronavale aircraft (than the one provided in the Potez 25 ‘Lorraine’ boxing – French roundels from the kit required;
  • France: aircraft 2221 White 10, V489 flown during the Croisiére Noire raid (Potez 25 TOE) – French roundels from the kit required;
  • Greece: national markings for Epsilon 14 (or 1 or 4)-coded aircraft – Hispano-powered Potez 25;
  • Paraguay: national markings for a Lorraine-powered aircraft used during the Chaco war, featuring the extra fuel tanks;
  • Poland: badges for 34, 35 & 55 squadrons., LWS-built Lorraine-powered aircraft with codes 42-68 (White 4), 42-310 (White 7), 42-295 – national markings from the kit required;
  • Uruguay: national markings, Tero insignas (small and large), codes to represent one of the following aircraft: White 1 (Hispano-powered Potez 25 with a ‘Lorraine-like’ cowling and inverted roundel), White B1-2 (Lorraine), White B1-5 (TOE), White 5 and White 8 (TOE with small flag); White 1 is very unusual with the inverted rudder red  stripes; external tanks may be used on those airplanes too.

The decals are well printed (by Fantasy Printshop), with the white and colours that are intense that will adequately cover the camouflage colours.  The decal’s finish is satin to glossy and a coat of varnish may therefore be required to obtain a good ‘blend’ with the rest of the model.

All in all, an extensive and much welcome release from Azur/Frrom.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

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