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Sikorsky’s Workhorse

Sikorsky H-34 in Europe

Mark1 Models 1/144, Ref. MKM144146

Mark1 Models have been kind enough to provide us some pictures of their forthcoming 1/144 H-34 helicopter, a much welcome subject in a scale that is slowly but surely becoming ever more ‘mainstream’ with each passing years. Mark1 Models catalogue is now pretty extensive and offers a wealth of original subjects that main manufacturers are still shying away from producing in injected plastic.

Their latest releases include kits as diverse as the Mil Mi-2, the Curtiss H-75 and the Piper L-4 to name but three. We’ll get back to those soon enough. In the meantime, we turn our attention to a series of four kits depicting the almost universal Sikorsky S-58 under the H-34, HH-34, HS-34, UH-34, HUS-1, HSS-1, CH-134 designations (MKM144145 to 148) and one further ‘special edition’ kit featuring civilian S-58s (MKM144163).

We have not yet seen the kits close-up, but judging from the pictures we received, the kits are all consisting of the same plastic sprues, one in a dark-ish grey plastic and two smaller ones in transparent plastic and differing decal sheets. The engraving appears fairly restrained; it is certainly out of scale but will not shock if compared to the products of larger concerns at the same scale.

The cockpit appears a little spartan but will be sufficiently furnished for most; no doubts after-market manufacturers will soon be offering PE or resin adds-on for the inside and the outside of the aircraft. Note that the bulged side windows are provided separately from the main part of the cockpit glazing.

Of special interest to us in Belgium is boxing MKM144146 Sikorsky H-34 in Europe that offers the markings for a Belgian machine based on the Belgian coast during the 1960s. Other options in that particular boxing include a Dutch, an Italian and a German aircraft. Markings for French, Canadian, South-Vietnamese, Israeli, Japanese, Philippino, Brazilian and of course US aircraft are offered in the other three ‘military’ boxings.

It would be very sweet to see someone releasing suitable markings for a SABENA S-58..! In the meantime, those hankering for a civilian-looking bird will no doubt be interested in the special edition boxing containing markings for two ship-borne Japanese aircraft (ice-breaker Soya).

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Mark1 Models.

http://www.4pluspublications.cz

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Tiny Toon Panzer

German Light Tank Panzer II

Meng, Ref. WWT-019

19th release from Meng in their World War Toons series, this Pz II is made up of 70 parts moulded in a dark grey plastic; a set of two one-piece vinyl tracks accompanied by a tiny decal sheet and an instruction booklet in a sturdy and attractively illustrated cardboard box complete the offering.

It may not be WWT’s best caricature but it still does look pretty good, I particularly liked the over-sized turret and the overal height of the finished kit. All in all, it is recognisable as a Pz II and should provide many modellers artound the globe with another great reason to either extend their Chibi AFV collection or to get involved! No doubt, some people out there are already planning some conversions for this little kit.. Wespe and Marder II come to mind, in particular!.

As with their earlier WWT releases, this Pz II can be built without glue, the breakdown is ingenious leaving few, if any, seams or gaps to deal with. Some parts are small and fiddly, others are very fine and delicate and it may not be the best WWT offering to give to a newcomer in the hobby but with supervision or with a few similar builds under one’s belt, there will be no issues at all. Pure fun. In fact, for some younger people maybe, the running gear, unless glue is used of course, remains fully functional. The tracks are, as usual with this series of kits, the weaker point, but the external detail is very good, very pleasing if not 100% accurate (but should it be in a caricature!?). Modellers will find ways to deal with this, no doubt, as they have done with the earlier releases. 1/48 and above all 1/35 accessories, figures, tracks from other kits (Tamiya, HobbyBoss, Trumpeter,..) or aftermarket sets have been known to be used with great success on and with those WWT caricatures…

As mentioned earlier, the decal sheet is minute with markings for just one Blitzkrieg-style ‘Panzer Grey’ vehicle, but again spare decals, or just plain imagination, can be the base for other interesting schemes.

The multi-language instruction booklet is well designed and with 9 stages (including painting & decalling), easy to follow.

With resin and 3D-printed animal or human (chibi) figures being available from numerous sources, the possibilities for dioramas or small vignettes are plentiful and this Pz II will find itself at ease with earlier WWT releases such as the Somua S35, the Pz 38(t), the Pz III or even Pz IV to name but five others in the series.

It’s very good to see Meng still investing some more resources in this series of caricaturised AFVs. Those caricatures are not everyone’s cup of tea but to those shying away from them I say: let yourself be tempted, this can be a real stress relieving experience and a great way to get back to having fun with the hobby. By the way, a M10 Wolverine is coming up next in the series!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul and Meng.

http://www.meng-model.com

Short-lived Scout

Soviet Light Tank T-70B

Zvezda, Ref. 3631

Amongst the recent Zvezda releases is this 1/35 T-70B light tank, a vehicle that reminds me, with its rather less ‘typically soviet brutish’ look, a certain ‘Pz III’.

The kit consists of 206 parts spread out on four large green plastic and one much smaller transparent plastic runners. The latter only counts three parts. The tracks are spread out over the various sprues.

This is a brand new kit, not a rehash of an earlier one by another manufacturer and the current ‘Zvezda’ quality shows. There is no flash to be seen, small parts are exquisitely rendered, the mouldings are faultless. A few ejection marks show here and there, but none mar the tracks and only those on the underside of the mudguards may be an issue for some.

The largest of the runners mostly deals with the bottom of the hull : bottom, side, rear and front plates. It also includes a really fine-looking towing cable. It is shaped to fit the hull and giving it another look will be tricky given its extreme thiness. Another sprue brings in the top of the hull, the turret, a single piece gun barrel, the external machine gun and the preformed sections of the tracks. Two types of gun mantlets are provided.

The other two (identical) runners contain the various wheels, smaller sections of the tracks, individual track links and more smaller parts. The clear sprue deals with episcopes and the headlight.

Options include two types of gun mantlets, two types of turret rear plates, early or late production front hull plate, open or closed crew hatches, but no interior detail is included in the kit.

Four painting options are given, all Soviet vehicles in green and/or white schemes spanning the years 1942 to 1944. Paint references are given for the Zvezda and Tamiya ranges. The small decal sheet offers the options of additional tactical numbers.

The instructions are very Zvezda-esque, only black & white but very clear and easy to follow.

The build should be pleasant and deliver a very fine replica of this unsung Soviet AFV.

Review by Daniel Clamot. Pictures by Zvezda and Daniel Clamot.

Review sample kindly supplied by Zvezda.

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

Maid of all Trades

US Military Multipurpose 3/4T Vehicle WC-51 “Beep”

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3656

As with the earlier Sherman M4A2 and M4A3 releases that I was given the opportunity to review, this new Zvezda offering is very well presented in its strong cardboard box and full colour sleeve showing off, almost obviously, a Soviet vehicle.

Upon opening the box, I see that part E52 (upper chassis) is nevertheless broken in one location ; if this is a ‘common’ issue to all WC-51 kits, do not worry, this should not be too much of an issue for most modellers I know. But it may just be ‘my’ kit that was damaged !

The plastic is, as is usual with this manufacturer, light grey-coloured. Injection rings are present here and there but they all are very intelligently located and all in all very discreet. The parts are all very finely detailed.

The decals bring two choices, that of a Red Army vehicle and that of a Free French vehicle belonging to the 2nd Division Blindée.

The instructions are clear, precise and still in black & white. 37 steps constitute the build. A full-colour A5 sheet offers the painting and decaling information for both options.

There are no photo-etched parts, nor resin parts included here, all we get is plastic ; no frills but frankly, out of the box, this kit is a winner. The front grille is simply amazing!

Interestingly, the cab floor features the location and associated detail for the winch lever… This is good news, Folks, this means that a WC-52 must be on the cards at Zvezda’s ! The tilt is really well represented and the side panels can be shown open or closed. As an option, a Soviet driver is included along with a seat that bears the its body imprint.

For those who cares, this kit is a Dodge WC-51 ‘early production’, as shown by the small petrol tank cap and the characteristic left side-mounted storage box that reaches the level of the driver’s running board and the spare wheel.

If the engine appears pretty complete, some might notice the missing petrol pump on the lower part of the right side of the engine bloc and the missing distributor on its left side between the air cleaner and the oil filtrer. Speaking of the air cleaner, the one offered would be better off fitted onto a later production model WC-51.. But this is nitpicking.. !

The hooks moulded onto the rear body panels should really be replaced with finer items. A few other parts (D16, D20 and D21) are also best replaced since the markings on the jerrycans were not raised as offered, but embossed.

This looks like a most welcome kit, well designed and decently priced at that !

Review by Renaud Labarbe.

Photos by Zvezda and Renaud Labarbe.

Review kit generously provided by Zvezda.

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

A Welcome Stretch

Boeing 757-300

Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7041

Zvezda is once again filling in the gaps in modern 1/144 airliners with the recent release of the stretched 757 in injected plastic. This is of course a kit based upon their 2021 Boeing 757-200 kit that received good reviews from the airliner modelling community. The differences from the earlier kit are obviously the longer fuselage halves, instructions and the decal sheet.

Although very welcome, this kit may not be overly popular since only fifty-five 757-300s were manufactured (out of a total of 1,050 757s) and were (or still are) operated by only a handful of airlines, including Condor (launch customer of the type in 1999), Arkia, Azur Air, American Trans Air, Icelandair, Thomas Cook, JMC Air, Delta, Northwest, United and Continental. Nevertheless, the kit includes the tail skid added to the longer-fuselaged variant, plus the options that featured in the original kit, including the two engine options and ‘normal‘ wings or winglets-equipped.

The fuselage windows (and windshield) are provided as clear plastic parts, something that many airline modellers will regret, and if there are no cabin interior details, the cockpit is rather adequately-furnished for the scale.

The wings are made up of three main parts (the tips being separate smaller items) and include a section of the lower fuselage, which again may be an issue for some. The good thing though is that the trailing edges are razor-sharp since the are integral part of the upper halves of the wings. Comparing to their recent Airbus A321neo kit, this latest release do not offer the separate flaps, slats nor a choice of compressed or decompressed landing gear.

The landing gear is still very well represented and represent a large part of the total number of parts.

The tailplanes are moulded with a fairly large chunk of the fuselage and this will prevent (unless churgery is done) showing them in any other position than the ‘neutral‘ one.

The engines are nicely done, with a two-part insert that will ease the removal of joint lines in the intakes, and include separate lips too, easing their painting.

The decals provided are those of the prototype/demonstrator, in a neat Boeing house scheme. Alternative decals can already be obtained from a few sources, and hopefully more will follow as there have been quite a few interesting schemes worn by the 757-300s over the years, those of Condor particularly coming to mind…

Several companies have also released add-ons for the Zvezda 757-200 that can be used with the longer-fuselaged aircraft: landing flaps (LACI), coroguard panels (26Decals), undercarriage (Welsh Models), weighted wheels (BraZ Model),.. to name but a few.

All in all, if it does not bring any revolutionary step in airliner modelling, this is a good kit that was missing in this popular scale and Zvezda should be commended for taking the plunge and releasing it.

Kit review by Domi Jadoul; photos by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul.

Kit review graciously provided by Zvezda.

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

Snap Yak

Yak-9D Soviet Fighter

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7313

The long-range version of the famed Yak-9 is the latest aircraft release from Zvezda. Although labelled as a ‘snap fit no glue required‘ kit, it is still made up of 57 parts, two of which are molded in clear plastic. The amount of detail is impressive, shaming some other not so old, not so ‘snap fit‘ releases from other manufacturers.

The curious way the wings are split top/bottom allows for impressively thin trailing edges and little fuss in removing an often pesky joint line along the leading edges but instead relocate the problem on the underside of the wings. Of course, this means that those who purchased this kit with a view to use it as a gaming prop, or those new in the hobby will not necessarily be bothered about a joint line that is little visible under the wings. Those with a little bit more of the ‘rivet counter‘ gene in them may be less pleased with a joint line or a panel line that should not exist there.. Having said that, I have not tested the actual tightness of the said joint and it may not be a major issue at all after all..?

Far more interesting are the bits that furnish the well-appointed cockpit and the pretty convincing 3-part pilot. The cockpit is built onto the central portion of the wings and is inserted into the fuselage once the wings are put into place. The inside walls of the cockpit area could have benefitted from a little more detailing but this is nit-picking.

Other interesting items, because rarely seen separate in other kits, are the front bit of the Karmans, fin and main undercarriage well walls. The undercarriage is well represented but those shying away from using 15 separate parts can instead reduce the workload to three parts to have their Yak in flight (though no stand is provided in this kit).

The canopy is suitably thin and transparent but only comes as a single, closed unit.

Zvezda offers three schemes for this aircraft, three Soviet machines from the later part of the Second World War, including of course, a Normandie-Niemen bird. All are shown wearing the typical grey-green over light blue scheme that was prevalent at that time on Soviet aircraft. Zvezda show the top colours applied in a splinter scheme rather than the long accepted wavy way apparent on most period pictures. A generous amount of stenciling is also provided on the decal sheet.

All in all, this looks like a little gem of a kit that could easily be brought to competition standards (unless you want to have the flaps down in which case the wings design will become a real issue).

Review kit generously provided by Zvezda.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul & Zvezda

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

Razzle Dazzle

Agusta Westland A109 & the Belgian Air Force A109 Display Team

HMH Publications, Duke Hawkins Aircraft in Detail 24

ISBN 978-2-931083-16-1

It’s a superb new title that’s just been added to the Duke Hawkings series of monographies. The subject of this new book is the Agusta Wesland A109 with numerous excellent colour pictures illustrating the helicopter in action, but also, and more importantly for us modellers, the whole airframe, the cockpit, the undercarriage, the rotors, the external stores and, for those who may want to pack yet more details into their model, the machine under maintenance.

The various users are also well illustrated : Sweden, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italiy, South Africa and of course, Belgium. The final part of the book is focussing on the Belgian demo team, the Razzle Blades.

The book is a must for all interested in helicopters and should have its place in the library of anyone interested in the Belgian Air Force.

Review title kindly donated by HMH Publications.

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot

http://www.hmh-publications.com

Bush Flyer

Cessna C-185 Skywagon

KP 1/72, Ref. KPM0234

That is a VERY welcome release from the Czech manufacturer, one of those ‘unsung heroes’ type of aircraft, built in large quantity and gracing many airfields across the globe for over 60 or so years, one that should have been available to us in kit form a long time ago. Even KP took their time to finalise the kit, yours truly having seen the partially completed pattern in Petr Muzikant’s office several years ago..

So, was it worth the wait? I’d say ‘DEFINITELY YES‘ though I must admit not knowing the subject as well as other aircraft, so some of my comments below might need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The kit, so far at the time of writing, is declined into four separate boxings, is made up of a single medium grey coloured plastic sprue and a smaller clear plastic sprue, an A5-sized, 4-page instruction leaflet and a decal sheet, the latter being of course different in each boxing. I assume that at least one boxing, the Cessna C-180/185, Ref. KPM0232, may have a slightly different instruction leaflet.

The mouldings are typical of this type of short-run production, flash is visible here and there, some of the pouring gates are a tad large and sometimes not always best-placed for the easiest cleaning-up job. Some may look a little on the thick side, like the wing fences, but being separate, they are therefore easier to replace!. I must tell you that we are not talking about a CAD design here, this was done the old-fashioned way and as such, some little imperfections are visible here and there too.

Several alternative parts are included, the main one being the shorter, smaller C-180 fin. About this C-180, only the later production models (180G onwards) can be modelled straight from the kit as a conversion to an earlier variant requires a little bit of work since those featured only 3 side windows per side, not 4. Although the late-production 180s and most of the 185s are 6-seaters (one pilot, five passengers), KP only offers seating for 4… All in all the cockpit detail is a bit spartan and most will want to replace the seating and add a few things in there to plump it up. Back to the optional parts, we also see alternative wing tips, a second set of main wheels (they seem a bit small for the so-called ‘tundra tyres‘), rocket launcher tubes and their supports, a 2-bladed propeller without spinner and a three-bladed propeller (also sans spinner), various antennas and last but not least, the ventral belly cargo pod.

The clear parts include the windshield, a little on the thick side (but it could be used for the making of a vac-formed replacement), and side windows that are, however, commendably thin.

The decal sheet included in the KPM0234 reference offers two options, both civilian aircraft operated in Canada and in France. The decal sheet comes with seat belts (including those for the rear bench) and main instrument panel. The other three boxings come with Polish, Czech and US civilian markings (KPM0232 – Cessna C-180/185), Greek, South African and Jamaican military markings (KPM0231 – Cessna U-17A Skywagon) and Thai, South Vietnamese and US military markings (KPM0235 – Cessna U-17B Skywagon). The painting/decaling instructions are, as is the case with all KP kits, shown on the rear of the box (though some painting notes are included in the instruction sheet(s)).

There has already been a lot of talk about those new releases on the net, about the not ‘up-to-date‘ quality of the mouldings, about some possible mistakes made and shortcuts taken by the designers, about possible size issue (be real, Folk, a quick check online showed me no less than 6 different advertised lengths and wing spans..!), but we should be happy that a cheap injected-plastic 1/72 kit of this truly universal aircraft is at long last available (the other option is a vacform..). Of course I have not built the kit just yet. It is probably not one for the beginner, but if you have like me a few short-run kits under your belt, it should not cause too many issues. Let’s hope aftermarket providers are quick to realise the potential of those new kits, the possibilities for markings, both civilian and military, are almost endless, while resin, PE and CAD printed parts could help turn them into little jewels. Some conversions are also possible though KP may still release some extra boxings in the future featuring, for instance, floats or skis..?

Such general aviation kits are so few and far apart, let’s not take them apart, let’s buy and build them instead, it may push KP (and others!) into releasing yet more… A Cessna 172, the most successful aircraft in history, would be nice, for instance.. Hint, hint!

Review & Pictures by Domi Jadoul

http://www.kovozavody.com

The Fly is back!

Douglas Dc-9-30 ‘Adria Airways‘

Sabrekits 1/144, Ref. SBK14003

Fly’s 1/144 DC-9-30 makes another welcome return thanks to fellow Czech company Sabrekits, this time with markings for the recently (2019) deceased Adria Airways of Slovenia.

The kit dates back to 2009 and has been released since by a number of companies such as 26 Models, Karaya and AZ Model, the latter introducing a small PE fret (replacing a huge array of resin antennaes provided by Fly) that we also find in this second re-release from Sabrekits; the first one, back in 2020, featured markings for Swissair and JAT.

The plastic has not changed since 2009, the kit still being made up of a single sprue. No clear parts are included which will be OK for a lot of airline modellers with a liking for decals as windows and windshield. The ‘feel‘ of the kit is that of a short-run one, with a little bit of flash visible here and there and relatively large and sometimes annoyingly-located pouring gates. The location tabs are few and small, some strengthening may be required at some places such as with the elevators. The air-conditioning intake at the base of the fin is not quite properly contoured but this can easily be fixed with good references and a little bit of Milliput. The engine pylons are part of the fuselage halves; they may be the weaker point of the kit as they do not look wide enough to me, so the advantage of not having a joint between them and the fuselage may be lost if one has to extend their chord a little..

Comparing to far more recent 1/144 airliner kits, this is a ‘no-frill‘ offering: slats, flaps, airbrakes, ailerons and elevators all are set and fixed in their closed or neutral positions. The undercarriage wells are featureless (but little of them can be seen since the aircraft stands very low on its legs), while the undercarriage and wheels are simple (but adequate) and can easily be improved. The engine faces and exhaust cones are likewise adequate but filling in the inside seams of the engine nacelles will still be a tedious job, typical of an earlier generation of 1/144 airliner kit. The undercarriage doors are way too thick and should be replaced. Having said that the engraving is fine and regular all over the airframe and areas that have let down other earlier DC-9s, such as the double-bubble of the fuselage, have been well addressed by the original designer.

The provided new decal sheet is small but provides what’s necessary, including door outlines, various ‘stencils‘ for the fuselage and wings. The decals are however printed on a continuous sheet and markings will need to be cut apart. Adria used DC-9-30s from the late 1960s to the late 1990s and the offered livery is that of a late 20th Century aircraft. Various antennas are provided in plastic, some of them not to be used on this kit, but the above-mentioned PE parts will advantageously replace those needed for our Slovenian airliner.

So, even if the Adria ‘billboard‘ livery is not your cup of tea, it is still a decent idea to get the kit that is all in all very correct and pretty cheap and treat yourself to one of the many other liveries available from a large number of decal manufacturers the world over! Its low price is also a great incentive to those wanting to convert a DC-9-30 into one or several other variants (-10, -15, -20, -40, -50) of the Douglas best-selling airliner..!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul

http://www.sabrekits.cz

Bulldog Revival

S.A. Bulldog T.1 ‘Overseas Services‘

KP 1/72, Ref.KPM0301

Having just recently started working on the old Airfix Scottish Aviation Bulldog kit, it was with great interest I heard about the upcoming release of a similar kit from KP in the Czech Republic. The wait was not long and I’m happy to share my views on the new kit.

All in all, the two kits are very similar, which in a way is a good thing. The fuselage halves are almost identical, the very fine rivet lines following fine raised panel lines from the Airfix kit having been replaced by fine engraved lines. Is that a plus? The real machine shows very faint rivet lines next to proper (recessed) panel lines, so I guess none are ‘right‘. The same change appears on the wings but here, both manufacturers have different approached, with KP providing everything as a single part while Airfix had part of the lower half of the wings as separate items.

The cockpit details offered by KP are better but still incomplete: the two front seats are much closer to what they really look and decals are provided for the seat belts and the main instrument panel, replacing inaccurate raised details on the Airfix kit. Missing from the KP kit is the third jump seat normally located at the rear of the cabin. Both kits provide a central instrument panel but none are properly detailed.

Speaking of cockpit, we can not forget to compare the clear parts: the main canopies are identical but KP has the edge for the quality and thickness of the side windows.

The front end of the fuselage is better represented on the KP kit, with would-be cylinders to be seen through the openings, and the KP prop comes in two parts, propeller proper and spinner which will ease painting. A number of smaller extra parts, including the antennaes and the undercarriage are almost identical in both kits.

Not surprisingly, KP also has the edge when it comes to the decals, the ‘Overseas Services‘ boxing containing markings for Malaysia, Hong Kong and Jordania-operated aircraft, plus a comprehensive number of ‘stencils‘. As of writing, the kit is available in 3 other boxings, ‘Swedish Service’, ‘RAF’ and ‘RAF Special’.

All in all, even if the lineage to the Airfix kit shows, a very welcome release from the Czech manufacturer. The extra markings could indeed be very useful to complete your older Airfix kits..

Review & pictures by Domi Jadoul.

http://www.kovozavody.cz