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Warring Mirages

Mirage IIICJ

Special Hobby 1/72, Ref. SH72352

Expected for a while now, Special Hobby’s Mirage III is now available. This first boxing will be followed y others, offering different markings and options, inclusing our very own Belgian Mirage 5. This first kit is that of the Israeli Mirage IIICJ.

There are, in this kit, 5 runners molded in the usual medium grey plastic, a small sprue featuring the clear parts, a decal sheet and an instruction sheet.

The parts look good with very fine and regular engraved panel lines. Only a little flash can be spotted on the B runner, around part 40, and on the I runner that bring in all the external stores ; the latter, wearing the letters ‘IAF’ is molded in a slightly lighter grey plastic and is obviously tracing its origins in another, earlier kit. In any case, this flash is not very bothersome and will not cause any real issue.

The fuselage halves include the nose, but not the fin, which is normal since two types of fins are offered in the kit.

The cockpit is nicely detailed for this scale, with raised bits on the side consoles, while the front instrument panel is flat ; a decal is offering the instruments. No seat belts are given for the MB.4 seat.

The instruction sheet includes a ‘A Few Tips and Tricks for Easier Assembly’ insert that advise a slightly different order of progression for stages 10 to 14. Also included is a useful grid showing possible external store combinations.

The decals appear very thin and are nicely printed, with four possible options :

  • Mirage IIICJ 52, 101 Sqn
  • Mirage IIICJ 745, 117 Sqn
  • Mirage IIICJ 60, 117 Sqn
  • Mirage IIICJ 784, 119 Sqn

This remains to be built and tested but it does look like a very fine representation of the iconic Dassault fighter, one that should delight many amongst us !

Review by Daniel Clamot

Photos by Special Hobby & Daniel Clamot


Upgraded Herk

American Heavy Transport Plane C-130J

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7325

Third Hercules variant in Zvezda’s drive to get modellers to switch to bigger, larger workbenches is this C-130J. A large sturdy cardboard box holds 335 plastic parts spread over 13 sprues, one of which in clear plastic.

Having built the first Zvezda C-130 kit, the content of the box obviously looked pretty familiar, the main differences being of course found in the new engine nacelles and 6-bladed props.

The inside detail furnishing the cockpit and the cabin is all in all pretty good and accurate. Some of those parts must be cut off to fit the ‘standard‘ Herk fuselage (Zvezda did, you will remember, release the long-fuselaged variant of the aircraft, for which those longer parts are needed). It is not a difficult job and it is well illustrated and explained in the instructions. Even with the ‘standard-lenght’ fuselage, little of all that detail will be visible once the fuselage halves are put together, unless some lighting is installed. The cockpit furnishing will be, given the large glazed area, a little bit more visible, but not that much. Seatbelts would still be a nice addition to your model. Zvezda provided 3 members of the crew in the original boxing but the fourth one is still missing here. Each is a multi-part affair that looks quite convicing though.

Quite a few ejection marks are to be found inside the fuselage halves but most will be hidden by the cleverly-designed furnishing. Beware that those visible nearer the cockpit area and those located a the end of the fuselage can however be seen once the kit is completed; if those at the front are easy to make disappear, those are the other end of the fuselage a lot more difficult to deal with.

All the seating in the cabin is provided ‘folded‘, which was the easy option for Zvezda (and us, given all the extra detailing opening up those seats would require, all in all for just about nothing since so little can be seen..). The cabin floor is sufficiently detailled but that of the ramp could have been better, in particular requiring some anti-slip areas to be added on.

The wing is cleverly split into 5 large parts for added strength. I must warn you that the joint swith the top of the fuselage are a little on the poor side. The engines are really cleverly designed too. Resin turbine exhausts are available on the market if you feel like ‘upgrading‘ Zvezda’s. In fact quite a few companies have released sets to detail further this (or those) Herk(s), some of which could be considered to jazz-up this large kit (radar, flaps, electronic bays, engines), though of course some may not be suitable for this particular variant.

Each prop is made up of 8 parts with each blade ‘equipped‘ with two recesses that will allow for exact positioning, either feathered or not.

An in-flight refuelling probe is provided. The clear parts oare thin and transparent. Mask sets can be found to help with the neat painting of the windshield frames (and the rest of the aircraft).

The wheels are decently detailled, and weighted. Resin alternatives exist, but frankly, little of those wheels are to be seen once the model is completed.

The decals include a large sheet of, mostly, ‘no step areas’ and stencils. Three options are offered with this release in terms of markings: USAF, Italian Air Force and RAF. The first two options require the ‘no-step areas‘ to be painted in a different shade than the rest of the airframe, which will seriously complicate things in terms of masking and decalling…

There’s no denying Zvezda id now offering the best Herks ever released in 1/72, it would be a shame to to indulge, but some care and some work will still be needed during the build.

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

Review kit generously provided by Zvezda’s European importers, Hobby Pro Marketing GmbH.

Monster Truck

KAMAZ-43509 Truck

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3657

KAMAZ have, over the past few years, earned themselves a name in truck racing, in particular when it comes to competing in the very demanding Dakar Rally. Zvezda have recently released the 2022 variant of the massive KAMAZ-43509 ‘Master‘ that performed so well during that year’s Dakar.

This is a big kit, 21cm long and featuring no less than 275 parts. The level of detailing is excellent throughout, though several aftermarket companies already have issued various sets to improve the look of the vehicle, both inside and out.

What is surprising and that may put many modellers off is the fact that Zvezda choose to release this racing truck in 1/35 rather than in the far more popular (for civilian vehicles that is) 1/24 scale…

Most of the build concerns the innards, with very comprehensive chassis, the 1,150hp (!!) engine, transmission, suspension and cabin furnishing. The large 1,000-liter fuel tank is also on offer but just a handful of (large) body parts will hide most of all those details away..!

The six tires are moulded in vinyl, with excellent detailing too.

One of the decal sheet is pretty big and some markings might require some skills to apply given the surface details and curves of some of the body parts. The glass of the two side mirrors is given as stickers.

Although the marking options are limited to the single 509-numbered vehicle of the 2022 Dakar in Saudi Arabia, and despite the unusual scale, it is a stunning kit that appears to build into a very impressive model. The model begs to be displayed ‘opened up‘ to reveal all those hidden details.

Real life considerations also mean that this kit could soon become a rarity, Red Bull in particular having stopped co-operating with KAMAZ following the Russian invasion of Ukraine…

Review by Domi Jadoul

Photos by Domi Jasdoul & Zvezda

Review kit graciously provided by Zvezda.Europe

Hi-Res Bomb Crew

RAF Bomber Crew (WWII), Ref. 481133

USAF Bomber Crew (WWII), Ref. 481134

PJ Production, 1/48.

Two new ‘must-haves’ from PJ Production for the 2nd WW RAF and USAAF bomber enthusiasts: those who like to bring life to their cockpits will be pleased with these two recent sets, each providing two seated pilots. One features RAF pilots (481133) while the other features two USAAF pilots (481134).

These figures were designed on computer and the masters were then made on a 3D printer with a resolution of… 2 microns! This guarantees unequalled finesse and precision. The silicone moulds are made next with these masters and the figures are cast afterwards in resin using the classic method.

Each set features two figures, different of course, each of which is broken down into 4 parts, the torso with the head, legs and each arm. One of the figures is holding the flight controls; the second figure in the USAF set is holding a map or checklist and wearing sunglasses…
Also available in 1/72 scale, Ref. 721145 and 721146 respectively.

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by PJ Production

Post-war Fokker Trainer

Fokker T-21 ‘Instructor’

KP 1/72, Ref. KPM0373

Hot from the presses in the Czech Republic is this 1/72 Fokker T-21 Instructor plastic kit, or rather, as is often the case with most manufacturers nowadays, a series of Fokker S-11 / T-21 kits. Four boxings have so far been released, featuring machines flown as basic training aircraft in the Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The kit is rather basic, but so is the real aircraft. It is possible that this injection molded Fokker has ancestry in the older CMR resin kit, but all in all, it is not a bad thing given resin kits are usually less popular with scale modellers, more difficult to source out and far more expensive..

31 parts, 3 of which are in transparent plastic, is what each kit brings. The four boxings are identical in terms of this set of two runners, it is the decals and the actual artwork on the boxes that make the difference.

Flash is present, yes, but the plastic is rather soft and easy to clean up and work with. The engraving is neat and constant. The fuselage is mostly provided in two parts that include some internal detailing. The tip of the front fuselage, with its various air intakes, is a separate item though Each wing is mostly molded in a single part but, rather curiously, is completed with the addition of a much smaller underwing section. There are no locating pins, not even for the wings or tailplanes that may consequently require a little bit of strengthening. Some smaller parts would benefit from being replaced with thinner bits, nothing really unexpected with this type of short-run kits. A cockpit floor is supplied, along with a front instrument panel and two seats. The seatbelts are provided as decals. All in all, some extra detailing would not go amiss, but again it is the kind of work that is expected to be done on such kits.

Obviously, the tricycle-geared S-12 / T-22 is about to be released soon since its undercarriage is already included on the main runner. In fact, provided some markings can be found, this variant can be modelled from the kit.

The canopy is limpid if a bit on the thick side of things. It could be used to push-mold a thinner replacement item that would enhance the kit and better show off any improvement made in the cockpit.

The decals are very neat, at least on the T-21 boxing. They include markings for two Brazilian one Bolivian and one Paraguayan birds, though no stencils are provided. The other three kits in the series provide markings for three Dutch S-11-1 aircraft (KPM0371), three Israeli S-11-2 aircraft (KPM0372), and three Italian licence-built Aermacchi M.416 (or S-11-3) aircraft, one of which is a civilian-registered machine. The instruction sheet is the same in all kits, with relevant painting/decaling info provided on the rear of each box.

So, OK, this is no shake & bake Tamigawa kit, but it is very, very nice indeed, to see KP keep releasing at modest cost plenty of more obscure aviation subjects that will fill in the many gaps in our collections!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.