Solo Rafale 10.0

SyHart Decal 1/72 & 1/48, Ref. 72-142 & 48/142

The 2019-20 airshow season was the tenth during which a solo display Dassault Rafale was shown wearing a very colourful scheme, this season’ scheme consisting of a large number 10 (the zero encompassing the French cockade on the left wing) over gold, black and the basic grey tones of the operational aircraft. A large ‘Armée de l’Air’ title featuring on the right wing.

SyHart Decal, who are no strangers to the Rafale and their special schemes, have recently added this golden scheme to their catalogue, this in both 1/72 and 1/48.

The markings are inteligently divided in order to ease application over the curvaceous Rafale. Masks are provided to help the modeller apply the various colours gracing the aircraft. Masks are also provided for the anti-slip areas near the canopy.

A must for any Rafale fan !

Review by Daniel Clamot ; pictures by SyHart Decal.

Frank-ly Amazing!

Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate ‘Expert set’

Arma Hobby 1/72, Ref. 70051

Arma Hobby are in the process of becoming big in this small world of ours. Their kits have a very good reputation in terms of quality. I have been looking forward to get my hands on their 1/72 Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate, first released as an ‘Expert Set’ under the 70051 reference. The kit will shortly be available as a ‘standard’ boxing without the PE and canopy masks sets.

The recently released kit is made up of 69 plastic parts, including four clear plastic ones, a PE set, a mask set, a decal sheet (plus a small one featuring some corrected markings) and an instruction booklet.

The plastic parts are very nicely designed and detailed. Only part no.42, on my kit, shows signs of a little bit of flash. The fuselage is classically split in two but the area around the canopy is missing and is provided as two separate and optional parts, one for a closed-off cockpit, the other for an opened-up one. The wings are made out of just two parts, upper and lower sides.

Out of the box, the canopy is very well furnished, as is the engine, but of course the latter will still benefit from the PE parts offered in the special edition. The tires are weighted down.

The building instructions are clear. In terms of colour scheme, six liveries are offered :

– 104 Sentai, Ota Air Base, Japaon 1945 (green over grey) ;

– 2 Chutai 11 Sentai, Philippines 1944/45 (same colours as above) ;

– 10 Rensei Hikotai, Lt Takata, Japan, Spring 1945 (overall natural metal) ;

– 3 Chutai 47 Sentai, Narimasu Airfield, February 1945 (green over grey) ;

– 57 Shimbu-tai, Mijokonojo Air Base, Kyushu, Japan, May 1945 (green over grey) ;

– 2 Yuso Hikotai, Summer 1944 (grren spots over grey).

The masks allows for the painting of the canopy and the main wheels.

After having seen this kit, one can not just add it to the stash : it begs to be built !

Review & pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Blue Lightning

Bugatti 100 “Racer”

Special Hobby, Ref. SH72457

The same way the Bugatti racing cars had been winning races after races througout the 1930s, the Bugatti 100 racer, at least according to the original plan, was designed to compete and win the 1939 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe competition. The overall concept of the low wing monoplane with butterfly tail unit and retractable undercarriage was the brainchild of Louis de Monge, while Ettore Bugatti’s responsibility was the power plant, an eight-cylinder 450HP Bugatti 50P engine located behind the pilot driving the propeller via a long shaft. During the construction in 1938-39 the project had to be reworked as the new requirements called for a plane capable of also breaking the world speed record. A second engine was thus added to an enlarged airframe. Both engines drove two bladed counter-rotating propellers through a common gear box unit. Missing the September 1939 deadline for the race, work on the aircraft stopped and the airframe and engines were hidden away for thirty years, and following a number of purchases and sales, the aircraft was eventually displayed at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. A proposed (and ordered by the French air force) fighter version was never completed.

Special Hobby recently released a 1/72 multi-media kit of the twin-engined Bugatti 100. It is made up of 52 parts, of which 44 are molded in a light grey plastic, seven in resin and one in transparent plastic.

The parts are flash-free and finely detailled. The fuselage is a two-part affair while the wings are made up of a single part for the underside and two upper sides. The kit includes numerous small parts, including enough to amply furnish the cockpit. The resin parts include exhaust pipes, air intakes and the undercarriage wells. The canopy is, maybe unfortunately, a single piece, but it is commendably thin and transparent.

The instructions are well designed, very clear and easy to follow. Two painting options are offered, the real all-blue aircraft and a more colourful ‘what if’ scheme in 1940.

There are no decals in this kit. The original wore no markings. Special Hobby offers, separately, a very useful set of masks for the canopy (Ref. M72035).

Review by Daniel Clamot ; pictures by Special Hobby.

Colourful Fokkers

Belgian Fokker D.VII Civilian two-seater OO-AMH & OO-AMI

Arctic Decals, Ref. ARC72-069A (OO-AMH) & ARC72-069B (OO-AMI)

After the Armistice, a large amount of military equipment was left behind by the German forces. Belgium received at least 70 Fokker D.VII from Germany as war reparations and those excellent machines were incorporated into the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire. Much later, three of them were sold off onto civilian register, as OO-AMH, OO-AMI and OO-AMY. They were entered in the civil register of Belgium on 22 August 1931. OO-AMY was re-registered OO-UPP on September 25, 1931.

These three aircraft were modified by SABCA into two-seaters, the fuselage combined oil and petrol tank converted into a locker and three (later five) new tanks mounted between the centre section ribs in the top wing. The upper wing was also modified to feature an enlarged, asymmetrical cutout for easier passenger access.

OO-AMH was sold to Mr Bauduin in may 1934. It is not certain if it was later sold to Texaco Oil Company, but it did wear the Texaco logo, perhaps for advertising duties. It was struck off from the register on 21 october 1937, probably scrapped.

All three Belgian machines were apparently brought together for the making of a film, “L’Equipage”, during which OO-AMI crashed (12 November 1934) and was thus written off.

Arctic Decals recently released two decal sheets featuring OO-AMH (ARC72-069A) and OO-AMI (ARC72-069B). Based on a good documentation, both decal sheet offer the possibility to represent the aircraft under all the liveries they wore ! Also included for OO-AMI, are some masks for some of the liveries.

The decals are printed with laser and UV-ink printers on unsealed continuous decal sheets(where the carrier film covers the complete sheet); each decal thus needs to be cut out separately. UV-ink printed decals are though and easy to handle and do not generally need to be clear coated prior to use.

For those interested, it is still the possibility to find the 1/72 Omega resin conversion kit at shows here and there. But a conversion from the basic Eduard, Revell or Roden kits is possible with a minimum of experience and skill.

Nice and unexpected project that will give stunning models! The decals have been released in 1/72 and 1/48 scale.

Review by Daniel Clamot; pictures by Arctic Decals.

The Eagle that was not to be.

Mirage 4000

Modelsvit 1/72, Ref. 72053

The Mirage 4000 was designed at the same time as the lighter, smaller, and far more successful Mirage 2000 using the same delta wing and fly-by-wire configuration. First flown in March 1979, the Mirage 4000 proved to be an outstanding heavy fighter-bomber that could have proved to be a formidable opponent to the F-15 Eagle, and a painful thorn in the side of the US economy. So much so that Dassault was to greatly suffer from undercover politics and big business dealings that eventually killed the whole project.

I never had laid my hands onto a Modelsvit kit but the sex-appeal of the aircraft proved too strong for me… Modelsvit is an Ukrainian company producing high quality short-run kits. The Mirage 4000 kit was originally released in 2018 as a limited edition but was more recently (2020) re-released with a different box-art but above all three extra sprues carrying a lot of bombs, missiles and fuel tanks.

Although not really a new kit, I felt it was important to put it under the spotlight since distribution is limited and shows, where one could have had a chance to look at the contents of the box, have been few and far between ever since the start of the Covid crisis.

The new box-art is rather impressive, kind of portraying the raw power of the real machine. 233 parts are making up the kit, all parts spread over twelve light grey and one clear sprues. A set of masks, a photo-etched set, two decal sheets and a professional-looking instruction booklet complete the offer.

‘Short-run’ usually implies a few constraints ; indeed there are no fixation plots to be seen anywhere, meaning extra care being required during assembly and possibly the need to strengthen the way some parts are attached to others. A little bit of flash can be seen in places but nothing that will be a chore to remove.

In fact, it must be said that the parts are well molded and easy to remove from the sprues (no thick gates to deal with), which will be handy since the kit includes several small and fine parts. Details are sharp and the recessed engraving ‘just right’.

As mentionned earlier, a lot of underwing (and under-fuselage) stores are provided in this new edition. The set of masks is, obviously, mainly aimed at the canopy, both inside and outside ; additional masks will ease the painting of the red on the main air intakes on the ‘white bird’.

Two canopies are provided, one for a closed cockpit, the other for an open cockpit. The clear parts are thin and transparent ; we could not ask for more.

The decals appear commendably thin, with no carrier film outside the markings ; the French roundels are perfectly centered. Two schemes are offered, the well known ‘white bird’, star of the 1981 Salon du Bourget, but also the two-tone sand and blue camouflaged aircraft seen at the same event but in 1987.

A first for me, this kit from this Ukrainian company, but a real nice surprise altogether. It remains to be seen how all those nice parts will fit together, but everything seems to point at a very enjoyable build and a very nice and impressive model.

Review by Daniel Clamot ; pictures by Modelsvit & Daniel Clamot.

Staple Food Van

Russian Military Van UAZ 3909

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3644

Developped from the very similar-looking UAZ 452, the UAZ 3909 is a 4×4 combi-type vehicle designed for the transport of freight and passengers with emphasis placed on ease of maintenance, excellent cross-country ability and low purchase price. Production of the -452 started in 1965, but the -3909 is ‘only’ dating back to the late 1980s and introduced a few refinements over the earlier models, including better brakes and a more powerful engine. The UAZ-3909 carries 6 passengers and 450 kg of cargo; the rear compartment is separated from the front, driver’s row by a window. Production of the -3909 started around 1990 but the type has since been replaced by newer models that introduced further refinements. This soviet/Russian vehicle carries a nickname that reflects its simple shape, ‘loaf of bread’.

This 1/35 kit is only 12.7cm-long but includes no less than 197 well-detailed parts. The parts are spread out over four light-grey carrier sprues, one more carrying the transparent parts and a single vinyl sprue carrying the four tyres (the spare tyre being loose).

The way the vehicle is kitted is classic ; of note are the separate doors, allowing for an all-opened up model showing off a well-represented interior.

There are several very fine and fragile-looking parts but none of them show any sign of flash. Zvezda have reached a very high standard here again.

The clear plastic sprue evidently carries the windshield, windows and the optics fot the various lights. The mirro faces are provided as chrome stickers.

A small decal sheet allows for the making of one of two vehicles, both Russian, in 2008 (military police) or 2014 (central military district) but frankly, this little kit offers a lot more possibilities since it is used as a jack of all trades by the Russian (and before that, Soviet) army and a number of other armed forces, and is also widely available, including in Belgium, as a civilian vehicle.

Maybe not as ‘sexy’ as a big-gunned T-something, but really tempting all the same !

Review by Daniel Clamot; pictures by Zvezda and Daniel Clamot.

Review sample kindly provided by Zvezda.

3D Servus Imperatoris

Roman Praetorian Centurion 1st-2nd Century A.C.

La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or 1/10 (under licence from Minormous Models)

The Heaumerie du Casque d’Or is a Belgium-based shop specialising in figures and busts. Although a large part of their offer is made up of products from a number of well-known companies, they are also very busy 3D-printing figures and busts under licence from a number of (unfortunately) less-well known and less-well distributed designers, such as Minormous Models.

Minormous are specialising in 3D printable models for tabletop games and display. Amongst the latter category are a number of excellent figures and busts of Ancient Greeks and Romans, such as this 1/10 Roman Centurion.

The kit is made up of 3 parts, head with helmet, bust and a display plinth, all 3D printed in grey resin. The parts have mostly been cleaned up, with just a few little feed dots remaining, and mostly in places where they will be easy to remove, like the underside of the bust.

The print quality is, it must be said, excellent, with on my copy, just a couple of small areas showing a little bit of what we would normally call ‘flash‘ on our plastic sprues. Those will be easy to clean up, but do keep in mind this printing material is rather brittle, so care is still required! However, a massive plus, there are not a single print line to be seen anywhere on any of the parts.

If the printing done by La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or is almost faultless, the design work done by Minormous is first class with, in particular, beautiful details showing on the breastplate and the helmet. The face is very well sculpted too, very expressive and given a neat bout of painting, this bust should turn heads at shows.

Those figure painters interested in Ancient Rome should really give Minormous and, particularly for those living in Belgium or North-western Europe, the 3D prints from La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or a go. They will not regret it.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Reiview item kindly supplied by La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or.

Sherman for the few.

M4A2 Sherman 75mm

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 5063

The latest 1/72 armour kit from Zvezda, this kit is made up of 118 parts cast in the usual ‘Zvezda‘ grey plastic and 2 more (the tracks) in black plastic.

The main features of the kit makes this a late M4A2: 47 degree slope glacis and 75mm turret with the second, oval, hatch for the loader. Although not supposedly required for this build, a set of late-production road wheels (so-called ‘flush‘) and simplified drive sprockets are included. This is good news since pictorial evidence do show some M4A2s equipped with that running gear.

The 47 degree glacis and the lack of skirts implies that early M4A2s as used by the British in North Africa can’t be modelled here.

Although separated from the main turret part, the commander’s cuppola is in one piece, with closed-off hatches. The turret itself appears a little over-complicated in its design, but we will see during actual construction if this is an issue. Let’s remember, though, before complainng too much, that this is a ‘No Glue Required‘ kit mainly aimed at wargamers and newcomers in the hobby. The quality of the kit is however very good, and should be a very decent base for any modeller interested in US armour, or US armour used by the Soviets in particular.

The tracks are each in a single piece of hard plastic, meant to be bent around the idlers and drive sprockets; two pins molded in each track are meant to be inserted in the hull side panels. This system is evidently different from that used by Zvezda on their kits featuring the Christie-style suspension. The system on the M4A2 kit is interesting and, I think, could work very well.

Marking-wise, Zvezda is offering us an US Marines Sherman in the Mariana Islands during 1944 (the US Marines were, basically, the only US users of the M4A2 diesel-powered Sherman) and, evidently, a Soviet vehicle used in the Southern Front during 1944.

Those wanting to show off their Sherman in action on a small diorama can take advantage of Zvezda’s other recent 1/72 release, a box of five US Marines. The figures look very good, I must say.

Review by Domi Jadoul. Photos by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda.

Review samples kindly provided by Zvezda.

Hurricane Oh-la-la..!

Dassault Ouragan MD.450

Miniwing 1/144, Ref. Mini341, 342, 343 & 344

Miniwing had in the past, in 2016 to be precise, offered us a very neat-looking Dassault Ouragan in this scale, but a resin one. This material and possibly its price and relative unavailability from mainstream distributors unfortunately made that kit sightings rather rare.

Having, still quite recently, started to offer injection-molded kits, it is a very pleasurable surprise to see the Ouragan being subjected to this treatment and technology and thus somewhat made a far easier kit to get hold of.

21 grey plastic parts, plus one clear (injected) canopy make up this new Ouragan from this Czech company. We have here a quality short-run kit with impressively regular and restrained (though some may still find that overdone) engraving. The canopy is a little on the thick side but its shape is fairly simple and should be easy to replace by a home-made vac-formed part if needed.

The detail is very good for a kit in this scale and of this size, with a fairly complete cockpit and neat undercarriage bits. For the purists, this kit is a MD.450B, that is one of the ‘late‘ production model Ouragan; only the first 50 aircraft were of the ‘A‘ standard, with a four-door front undercarriage well. This arrangement proved to be troublesome and later aircraft were given a simpler 2-door affair. An early-production Ouragan would not be difficult to model with this new kit.

The new kit is available under four boxings, each chiefly differing in terms of the full colour painting/decaling instructions and, obviously the decal sheet.

Kit reference 341 thus offers us three Israeli machines, kit reference 342 two French Air Force and one Indian Air Force aircraft, kit reference 343 one more French aircraft while kit reference 344 gives us a single, shark-toothed, Salvadorian machine.

Note that the first two references are boxed up and includes two complete kits, white the last two are bagged and only offer a single complete kit. Our sample was a special ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022‘ release of kit reference 344, coded PF2022.

Those looking for more or alternative markings could consider FFSMC Productions recent decal sheet (Ref. P144-060), while those looking for a little extra ‘help‘ may consider the equaly recent Peewit masks set (canopies and wheel hubs, Ref. M144031). Finaly, those wanting to add some extra details could also consider Shelf Oddity’s PE set, Ref. SO214416, though be aware this was designed for the earlier resin kit. RetroWings should have a resin cockpit detail set ready in 2022.

And if you can find it, an excellent source of references was published in 2006 by Histoire & Collections (ISBN 2-915239-89-4).

In conclusion, it is a very nice addition to the growing and growing range of plastic kits in 1/144. It is a fabulously rich subject for anyone interested in this scale and early jets, French aviation, aerobatic teams, middle-east conflicts and exotic air forces.

Mystere IV and Super Mystere B2 next, Miniwing? In the meantime, more Ouragans can be modified into the Barougan and the lone Ouragan fitted with side air intakes..!

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul, FFSMC, Peewit, Shelf Oddity and Miniwing.

Review kit kindly supplied by MiniWings.

When just one Spitfire is not enough!

Overtrees by Eduard

It is sometimes frustrating to have a superb box with the decal sheet offering 5 or 6 different liveries while the plastic parts only allow building one model. We would like to have more ‘plastic’ to eventually build a second or third model and thus make the decal sheet profitable, or possibly another decal sheet by the cottage industry.

For this purpose, a solution exists at Eduard: the ‘Overtrees’, which could be translated as ‘surplus sprues’. This option allows you to acquire an additional model at a very democratic price and, why not, even several extra models! You could also call it a ‘white product’ because the box is… all white and contains only the injection-moulded plastic sprues of a specific version; no decals or assembly plans because you already have them with the initial box, whether it is from the ‘WEEKEND’ series, ‘ProfiPACK or a special/limited edition. Obviously, no photoetch no masks either. No problem though if you are fond of photoetch and/or masks, these items are available and can be ordered at the same time you order ‘Overtrees’.

For the recent Spit Mk.Vb in 1/48 scale for example, no less than 4 different ‘Overtrees’ boxes are available. Each box is dedicated to a specific version of this aircraft and only provides the sprues typical to this version, even if there are always parts not to be used that will enrich your spares box. Let’s have a closer look:

Ref. 82155X: Spitfire Mk.Vb early, with half fuselages for an aircraft fitted with the externally mounted windscreen armour and the underside of the wings fitted with the narrow, symmetrical blister for the 20mm cannon of early versions. 6 injected plastic sprues into the box.

Ref. 82159X: Spit Mk.Vb mid, with the same half fuselages but the lower wing now has the wider, non-symmetrical blister of the later versions (6 sprues).

Ref. 82156X: Spit Mk.Vb late, with the half-fuselages provided this time for the versions equipped with the windscreen of which the armour is mounted internally, the lower wing being the same as for the mid version (6 sprues).

Ref. 82157X: Spit Mk.Vb Trop, which provides an additional sprue for parts specific to the “tropical” version, such as the large sand filter under the nose of the aircraft. The fuselage halves are the ones for the windscreen with internal armour and the lower wing is the one equipped with the larger, non-symmetrical blister as on the mid and late versions (7 sprues).

Each box costs a little less than € 13, which should allow the Spitfire Mk.Vb enthusiasts to build almost a complete squadron at a very democratic price… These boxes are however (in principle) not available in the hobby shops and can only be ordered from Eduard’s website . Their availability is also limited in time.

Good to know: the assembly instructions can be downloaded from the same website, it’s free. If you print it (it is A4 size), it will give you an excellent working tool on which you can cross out all the unneeded parts, scribble on it or make useful annotations; very practical a.o. if you are building two or more models of the same aircraft at the same time… and they have subtle differences.

Review and picture by Didier Waelkens

Create your website with
Get started