Spitfire.. it’s all in the detail!

Spitfire Story: The Sweeps (Spitfire Mk.Vb)

Eduard, Dual Combo Limited Edition 1/48, Ref. 11153

After the launch of the Spitfire Mk.II in early 2021, it was only logical that the Mk.V version should follow and this was recently the case with a first box dedicated to the Spit Mk.V flown by American pilots in the RAF and USAF (Eagle’s Call box, dual combo, Ref. 11149). Eduard did not stop there, however, and in November came up with a new special edition, the subject of this review.

The Spitfire Mk.V was the successor to the Mk.I and II on the assembly lines. In fact, at the beginning, it was more a question of reconverting old Mk.I and II into Mk.V with essentially a new, more powerful engine, initially the Merlin 45. This version was mainly declined in three models distinguished by their armament: the Mk.Va with four Browning .30 (7.7 mm) machine guns per wing as on the Mk.I and IIa, the Mk.Vb with two machine guns and a 20 mm Hispano cannon and the Mk.Vc with two 20 mm cannons. Construction of the Mk.V began in early 1941 and did not end until November 1943 at Westland in Yeovil, the aircraft being used until almost the end of the war. Some 6.500 Mk.Vs were produced, of which more than 60% were Mk.Vb. During this rather long period, many modifications or improvements were made and incorporated on the assembly lines without changing the model designation, some improvements being retrofitted to older airframes.

Given the commonality of many parts with the Mk.II, it was to be expected that the Mk.V version would (quickly) follow. Thus, the A (transparent parts), C, P, R and S sprues are common to both releases (many parts will go into the spares box). Although it is not written on the box, it is a “ProfiPACK” production, so next to the injection-moulded plastic sprues, there is also a coloured photoetched wafer and a set of masks for the wheels, gun sight and cockpit glass parts. And this edition offers you enough to build two complete models!

No less than 10 options are proposed on the decal sheet covering the period from July 1941 to October 1943. Knowing that during this period a lot of modifications were made on the assembly lines, this means that Eduard planned many options. It is therefore almost imperative to make a choice very early in the process as to which aircraft you want to build. As far as options are concerned, one can choose between two different fuselages for the simple reason that Eduard supplies both the windscreen with armoured glass on the outside and the one where it is mounted on the inside; two different wing bottoms are also available, with the small, symmetrical blister for the 20 mm cannon on the early models and the same larger, non-symmetrical blister on the later versions. Other options include standard or clipped wingtips, different wheel rims, different canopies, different propellers and spinner… You will also note the separate ailerons, elevators and rudders (but not so in the case of the flaps), the choice of open or closed canopy, and the same choice for the small cockpit access door.

Three decal sheets are provided. The main one contains all the markings for the 10 liveries, while a smaller one, in double copy, contains everything needed for the service markings.
The first two aircraft still carry the Dark Green & Dark Earth camouflage (92 & 611 Sqn), the others being painted in Dark Green & Ocean Gray: 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, 602 Sqn, 340 (Free French) Sqn with the white stripes of the aborted Rutter Ops, 303 (Polish) Sqn, 453 Sqn RAAF, 132 Sqn and 401 Sqn RCAF, the last two being Mk.Vs with the windscreen armour fitted internally.


And Eduard did not forget us Belgians with the Mk.Vb serial BM564 MNJ of the 350 (Belgian) Sqn at RAF Redhill in the summer-autumn of 1942. This aircraft is a “Presentation Spitfire” which was paid for by a fund-raising campaign in the Belgian colony and bears, as a sign of recognition, the name “LÉOPOLDVILLE” on the left engine cowling.

Well done! What a magnificent model. One is in awe of the research work that has been done when one sees the very subtle differences between the proposed liveries.

Note: on p. 8 of the manual, there is a typo regarding the choice of the half fuselages. This has since been corrected in the manual available on the Eduard website at http://www.eduard.com/out/media/11153.pdf .

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by Didier Waelkens & Eduard.

www.eduard.com

Camel with a Difference

Sopwith Camel & ‘’Brownie’’

Suyata, Ref. SK002

Following the release of their chibi-style Fokker Triplane, Honk Kong-based Suyata have brought us a follow-up Sopwith Camel kit, also featuring a caricaturised figure, namely the pilot sometimes still credited for downing the Red Baron, Roy Brown.

The caricaturised look of the aircraft is very good, better than that of the Fokker Dr.I, but of course that’s my opinion. The kit is made up of 10 sprues moulded in no less than 6 different colours, plus two almost complete fuselage halves and separate interior structure to which we can also add one clear plastic sprue and two, complete this time, clear fuselage halves.

An instruction booklet and a small decal sheet complete the offering. All those goodies are (barely!) fitting into a fairly large and attractively designed box.

Another feature of this series of kit is the provision of a very comprehensive interior, obviously including a pretty good representation of the cockpit but also, as indicated earlier, the structure of the fuselage. Most of this will be invisible once the model is assembled and painted, unless of course the clear fuselage option is used. One issue with this option will be very large and visible locating plugs in the bottom of the fuselage.

The engine is made up of four parts, including, a bit annoyingly, two main halves with the cylinders. However the joint between the two parts is very good and all in all, largely invisible once the cowling has been installed.

The fit of the parts is in general excellent, reminding us of how Gundam kits are designed. The ‘metal’ parts (moulded in red plastic) of the front fuselage (if using the non-clear option) will however be tricky to add to the rest of the fuselage, because there are a number of ‘interior detail bits’ that need to stick out of the fuselage skinning. It may be an easier option to use the complete clear fuselage halves, though of course those would require some paint all over their insides in order to avoid any see-through phenomenon later.

The instructions show the parts to be added next into their actual plastic colour, which is actually quite helpful, even for an ‘old hand’.

The wings are each made up of top and bottom halves, with separate ailerons (also each made up of two parts). The whole affair, including the red cowling bits, the green fuselage,.. is obviously designed so that newcomers in the hobby do not need any painting to complete the build. The kit’s price and to be honest the relative high number of parts may however be better suited to modellers with at least a little bit of experience.

The figure is made up of 10 parts in hard plastic (the Fokker’s figure included some softer plastic bits), including a cat’s head sticking out of the pilot’s breast pocket. Not sure if Roy Brown had a soft spot for cats, or if this just a Suyata’s Public Relations gimmick (a Chinese-speaking feline does feature in the instruction booklet).

The decal sheet only offers the markings of Roy Brown’s aircraft. Alternative markings will need to be found in the spare box. It is a pity that Suyata did not include the instrument faces as decals: their size will make it hard for most of us to find suitable spare ones.. Suyata could also have provided some seat belts, the only other thing missing from the cockpit.

Nevertheless, this is an impressive kit, building up into an impressive chibi model. Suyata have just released a third opus in this series, the SPAD XIII (with Eddie Rickenbacker); let’s hope they do not stop at that!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

http://www.facebook.com/Suyata-100327871750094/

European Heavy-lifter

Atlas A400M in Service with Air Forces around the World

Duke Hawkins Aircraft in detail 019, by R. Pied & N. Deboeck

HMH Publications, ISBN 978-2-931083-09-3

After almost 50 years of (very) good and loyal service, the C-130Hs of the Belgian Air Force will definitively leave our national sky in December 2021 for a well-deserved retirement. There is no need to go back over the countless services rendered by this workhorse or the exploits it has performed around the world. We can only wish the same success and an equally rich and long career to its successor, the Airbus A400M. As you read this, five (or six) aircraft have already been delivered, the seventh will be delivered in 2022, while the last one will take some time to be delivered, i.e. in January 2024. Yet the A400M is not a brand new aircraft, its gestation was in fact very, very long. In the early 1990s, yours truly, who was on a mission to the Farnborough Airshow, had already had the opportunity to visit a full-scale mock-up of the front end of what was then still called the “Future Large Aircraft, FLA”, a European project. In 2002, a first hangar for the Armée de l’Air A400M had already been built on the Base Aérienne 123 in Orléans-Bricy, while the first A400M of the French Air Force only entered service in 2013… All this to illustrate that such a project cannot be realised in a snap of the fingers. Nevertheless, the A400M is now a reality in our skies and is already popular, as can be seen from the number of posts on social networks where everyone is trying to post pictures of this newcomer.

We can confirm that HMH Publications’ Aircraft in detail series is going from strength to strength, with new titles following each other at a rapid pace and with this new title being of particular interest to us in Belgium. The very last line of the book states: “In this book, we show you the new transport aircraft both in action and in detail“. Confirmation: that’s exactly what it does!


The format has not changed; it is still 24 x 24 cm, all in colour. Almost perfect happiness for us nitpicking modellers and detail lovers. The photos are sharp, covering the aircraft in its entirety and in detail. The pictures are obviously recent, and illustrate all the users (to date): France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia and of course Belgium and… Luxembourg. The text is in English. The book has 140 pages this time (24 more than for the A-Jet), with all the parts of the aircraft reviewed and very nice general photos and useful close-ups. Is it really necessary to write that this will help you to improve your model, at least if your dexterity allows it? If the 320+ photos are not enough to “super detail” your model, then you have a serious problem!

As for the models, the choice is quite limited with only two options, both from Revell: either 1/144th or 1/72nd scale. The latter has already been the subject of a few reissues. The cottage industry has not been idle: several improvement and detail sets are already available in resin or in PE, as are decal sets and masks.


And very good or even excellent news for us, our national Daco is preparing a decal sheet for the A400M. No details on the content yet, but logically, this set should cover at least all the Atlas of the 15th Wing.. Wait & see.

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by HMH Publications.

http://www.hmh-publications.com

Chibi Fishbed

MIG-21 SM/F/BIS & MIG-21 UM

Freedom Model Kits, Compact Series, Ref. 162715

It was only a matter of time before the world’s best-selling jet fighter was given the ‘egg‘ treatment. The surprise was that it came from still little-known manufacturer Freedom Model Kits (FMK), rather than for instance Hasegawa or even Zvezda…

The reviewed item is being sold as a ‘Limited Edition‘, containing both a single seater (SM/F/BIS) and a two-seater (UM). The two kits should become available separately at some stage, as indicated by the different codes shown on the instruction leaflets (Ref. 162041 / CS41 & 162042 / CS42).

The box thus contains a number of sprues that are duplicated in order to offer the two complete kits, but the provision of only one single-seat canopy and one two-seater canopy makes it impossible to build two complete single or two-seaters from a single box.

Moulding and details are very good for what is after all only a caricature, but some will want to add some extras into the cockpit tubs as the seats and side consoles are a little poor. Decald are offered for the main instrument panels. Seated pilots (caricatures of!) can be added if wanted to furnish a little more the cockpits.

Two types of nose cones, fins and dorsal bumps are included since they are different on the single and two-seaters. Fuel tanks, missiles and rocket pods, all suitably caricaturised, can be hung under the fuselage and wings.

The decals are the weak point of the kit, slightly out of register on the kit we purchased, but if a Soviet Fishbed (or Mongol) is what you are after, it’s not very hard to find red stars and aircraft numbers somewhere else. The provided decals are rather thick too.

The marking options are for four different Soviet Fishbeds and three Soviet Mongols. No doubt detailed resin cockpits, conversion sets and alternative decals will appear on the market soon.

Those ‘Eggs‘ or ‘Chibis’ may not be to everyone’s taste, but they are on the rise, no doubt as a ‘conterbalance‘ against the over-complicated kits and ever-more-challenging techniques promoted by magazines and manufacturers. If you are stuck with one of those projects, you could do a lot worse than giving those Chibis a go, if only to blow some steam off. FMK have so far released a number of those caricaturised aircraft kits, a growing collection that can be added to that of a number of other manufacturers, plus a growing range of add-ons, accessories, figures, detail & conversion kits and decals. Give it a go.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul

http://www.freedommks.com

Home Defense Spectre

F-4C Air National Guard

Fine Molds 1/72, Ref. FP46S

If there is certainly no need to introduce the Phantom II, few know that the F-4C was first meant to be known as the F-110 Spectre. The USAF got its first Phantoms in 1964, equipped with a very different electronic suite than the US Navy’s F-4Bs ; another major difference was that the USAF aircraft could be flown by the second crew member.

FineMolds’ offering allows modellers to reproduce a F-4C from the Air National Guard.

The kit is made up of 151 finely moulded parts ; the quality is typically that of this brand’s kit, that is excellent, as was, of course that of the earlier F-4J kit we reviewed a little earlier this year. No flash is to be seen anywhere. The parts are presented to us on twelve sprues of varying sizes, to which is added a sprue-less part, the top of the rear fuselage. This edition features the two crew members, usually available separately from the manufacturer.

The instruction booklet is in black & white, and written in Japanese, though with English annotations ; colours are given as Federal Standards numbers.

Three decalling options are given with this boxing : a F-4C belonging to the 171st FIS, Michigan ANG, a F-4C of the 142ns FIS, Oregon ANG and another Oregon ANG aircraft wearing three MiG kills from the Vietnam war, all during the early 1980s.

Not a particularly original subject from FineMolds, but a kit that is certainly looking superior to any earlier Phantom II kit in this scale.

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

http://www.finemolds.jp

Stretched Herk

C-130J-30 Heavy Transport Plane

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7324

Given some of the parts included in their 2020-released 1/72 C-130H kit, Zvezda have duly released a stretched Hercules. I was a little surprised (and I will admit, a bit disappointed too) to see the kit feature the 6-bladed props of the J variant. I had been expecting the stretched ‘early‘ Hercules with civilian markings… But I expect that commercial considerations made it better for Zvezda to release the ‘late‘ Hercules instead.

Never mind. This is still a most welcome new kit and the quality shown by the most recent Zvezda kits (and obviously by the earlier Hercules release) is there.

This is a big box that contains this stretched Hercules, and Zvezda even have provided a handle to help you carry, effortlesly, this awesome kit back home.

Many parts of this new kit are of course common to the earlier Hercules. This means that the more modern-looking cockpit is not provided (apart from decals for two types of main instrument panels). The three multipose-like crew members are still there too. But little of all that will be visible once the clear parts are on. Same for all the cargo bay details, the longer fuselage not helping at all in terms of bringing in light in there.

The decal sheet offers five options, including a fairly eye-catching D-Day celebration scheme worn by a USAF machine in 2019, along with Australian, French, Italian and British birds (the latter equipped with a refueling probe and other bumps). Indeed Zvezda have included a number of other optional parts that will help some modellers in modelling particular planes, but probably not all, given the number of variants and adds-on seen on this or that aircraft. All those markings are included on three large decal sheets (one of them curiously not individually wrapped). A large number of stencils are included, along with the thin ‘no step‘ wings and fuselage markings. One thing, though, the ‘step’ areas those lines are marking off are all painted in a different colour than the rest of the aircraft (for the five offered options) and this will require some careful painting/masking/thinking…

Frankly, this is a very nice-looking kit opening up lots of possibilities. Indeed, with this kit and its earlier sibbling, there should be a way to model one of those long-fuselaged early Herks… 😉

I am curious to see what other Hercules variants Zvezda will release next. Stopping now would be shameful and wasteful.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

Colourful Acrobat

Morane-Saulnier MS.225 C1

Sabrekits 1/72, Ref. SBK7007

The French Armée de l’Air modernization program in the early 1930s gave birth to a robust upper-wing fighter, the MS.225, first test flown in 1932. The aircraft featured excellent flying and mechanical strength as well as simple maintenance and excellent reliability. By 1933 the Armée de l’Air had acquired 67 of these planes. Intended only as a stop-gap fighter, further production was not planned. Twelve MS.225s were supplied to the French Aéronavale and 7 planes were sold to China in September 1933.

Sabrekits are relative newcomers on the market, having released a mix of new and older kits under their label. We reviewed their pretty impressive 1/72 Hs-126 quite recently. This release however, is not a new kit at all, but a re-boxing of a product first released by Heller in 1967. There are many shortcomings in this kit and some work and time will need to be invested in it in order to obtain a good replica. Those shortcomings are well documented in books and online, there is no need to go over them again; we’ll just mention that our magazine KIT, in its 164th issue, details the work to be done.

The great ‘plus’ of the Sabrekits release is the brand new decal sheet, offering four eye-catching options, including a Chinese aircraft, and three French aircraft; one of the latter is the MS.225 flown by Michel Detroyat as a demonstrator, racer and aerobatic plane. Further modifications will be required for this particular machine, none of them shown in the instruction sheet. References will need to be found!

It’s a bit disappointing to see this kit re-appear without any improvements, but the low price and the nice decals make it far more palatable than any earlier boxing one might find under a table at a show or another.

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

www.sabrekits.cz

Failed Racer

Piaggo-Pegna P.C.7

AMP 1/72, Ref.72015

This very unusual flying machine was designed to take part to and represent Italy at the 1929 Schneider Trophy race. The main idea behind the design was to get rid of drag-inducing floats. At rest, the aircraft floated up to its wings on its long and thin watertight fuselage. With the main propeller in a feathered mode, the engine first engaged a marine propeller that quickly led the machine to rise onto its hydrofoils; this allowed the pilot to dis-engage the marine propeller and engage and de-feather the main propeller, permitting take off. A few tests were carried on a lake in Northern Italy but clutch problems and the spray generated by the hydrofoils were issues that were never resolved and not a single take off was ever recorded.

AMP, part of the MikroMir ‘concern’, initially released a 1/48 kit of this audacious design in 2019 and a smaller kit in 1/72 during 2020. Although not totally ‘brand new’, it was felt the release may have gone unnoticed during the Covid crisis and that it did warrant a bit more ‘advertising’.

The kit comes in a small but attractive side-opening box containing a couple of medium-grey plastic sprues and a tiny clear plastic one; a small decal sheet and an 8-page A5 instructions booklet. The later is clear and precise, split into 11 stages plus painting/decaling. Colour references are given for the Hobby Color and Mr. Hobby ranges. Text is in Ukrainian and English. The decal sheet is well printed and offers two options, the second one being, presumably, that of the actual racer had it taken part in the 1929 Schneider Trophy race.

The kit is made up of 32 parts (one being the clear windshield); if a little flash is visible here and there, it’s nothing delibitating and all in all, the quality of the detail and moulding appears excellent. The cockpit is well furnished considering that the space is very small and little will be seen. The propeller is given as ‘feathered’ and those wanting to represent the aircraft on its hydrofoils or aloft will need to modify it. It’s a bit of a pity because representing the machine ‘at rest’ would mean hiding most of it under the water.. Of course, the aircraft can still be represented outside the water element, on the shore for instance, but if supports are shown on the box art, they are not included in the kit.

Interesting subject for sure, with bright colours on top, the kit (and its larger sibling) needs to be put forward, it will certainly turn heads and raise eyebrows at shows. AMP must be congratulated for the making of this kit; at least one other Schneider Trophy racer, the far more successful Supermarine S.5, is also available in 1/48 and 1/72 from this manufacturer, let’s hope AMP continues to add to the range, not just with the ‘usual suspects’, but like this Piaggo-Pegna P.C.7, with the slightly more crazied designs that the Schneider Trophy race led to create!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul

http://www.mikro-mir.com

More Sherman Hardware from the East

US Medium Tank M4A3(76)W Sherman

Zvedda 1/35, Ref. 3676

Zvezda continues their work on the M4 Sherman family with this recently-released M4A3(76)W, offered in their traditional ‘sleeved up’ cardboard box that adequately protects the 322 plastic parts. The box is neatly illustrated with a US Army vehicle.

The kit itself is molded in Zvezda’s typical medium grey plastic and features very nice details and restrained engraving. Ejection marks are present here and there but are located so that they will not be visible. Seven sprues, including a clear plastic one, make up the kit ; sprues A and F (two sprues F in fact) are new when comparing to the earlier M4A2 kit.

Options include two turret roofs, two hull front plates and two different gun muzzles allowing for the ‘early’ or ‘late’ versions to be built. As with the M4A2, the rough aspect of the turret and transmission housing is not represented and will need to be done by the modeller. We do not know why Zvezda are doing this this way, but it does allow for a bit of individuality or creativity in reproducing this feature. Really, not a bad thing.

Markings are provided for three vehicles, one from the 2nd Armoured Division named Hell on Wheels in June 1945, and two slightly different representations of the same Sherman from the 501st RCC, named Narvik II.

This is a no frill offering from Zvezda, no resin bits, no photo-etched parts, no accessories, but if it goes together as well as their M4A2 (and there’s no reason why it would not!), this is a highly recommended kit at a very reasonable price. Let yourself be tempted !

Review by Renaud Labarbe ; photos by Renaud Labarbe and Zvezda.

http://www.zvezda.org.ru

US Navy Spook Revisited

F-4J ‘Aardvarks’

FineMolds 1/72, Ref.FP43S

Let’s get it out right away, the F-4 Phantom II has never been my cup of tea. But if I were to build one, a US Navy F-4J in white and grey or in Blue Angels livery would the one I would go for.

It was therefore kind of exciting to open up the box of the recently released 1/72 F-4J kit from FineMolds… The boxing I got is a ‘special release’ edition with two small sprues as a bonus. Those carry the seated crew, normally available separately.

It’s got to be said that what is in the box appears to be top-quality stuff, not really a surprise considering it is FineMolds we are talking about, but still a shock on the system when one is more usual fare is made up of older kits from, say, Heller, Airfix, Arii, Matchbox,..

155 parts await you in this kit, most of them in a pleasant light grey plastic and 8 of them in clear plastic. The quality of the latter is extremely good, with options for closed up or opened up canopies.

The instructions are printed, black & white, onto a small A5-sized 24-page booklet with Japanese and English as language options. The build is divided into 37 stages, plus painting and decalling. Instructions appear to be easy to follow; a large part of the instructions cover the stencilling of the aircraft and decalling of the three options, each featuring the grey/white US Navy scheme with touches of colours here and there.

I am not an expert on the Phantom II but the kit seems to have all the right ‘bits’ for a F-4J, including the bulge on the top of the wings, the cans for the J79-10 engines, the slotted stabilators, the rear cockpit with only the left-hand console, larger tires, short ECM RHAW antennas on the main air intakes ..

Speaking of the intakes, those are with nicely molded-in bleed air slots (so often badly rendered in other Phantom II kits), neatly detailed variable ramp and intake trunking leading to the fan blades.

Cockpit detail as offered is probably sufficient for most of us; this includes instrument panels with slightly raised details or ‘flat’ ones to be adorned with decals and 5-part ejection seats to name but the most important bits.

Stores only include the 600-gallon centerline and 370-gallons wing-mounted fuel tanks. Sadly, the Sparrows missiles, and any other load, although shown in the instruction sheet, will need to be purchased separately (US Aircraft Missile Set Ref.FP44; US Aircraft Bomb Set, Ref.FP45). Pylons are included in the kit, though..

As mentioned earlier, the three schemes will please those like me who like the grey/white US Navy scheme: the first two options are for VF-114 aircraft aboard USS Kitty Hawk in May 1972, the third option being a VF-21 F-4J aboard USS Ranger in June 1970. However, there are out there many other options available to decorate or detail further this new kit.

Personally, I think this is a very nice kit, and I very much doubt the fit will bring in any trouble, this is FineMolds after all..! Certainly not the cheapest option if you want a F-4J Phantom II in your collection (particularly if you want a loaded up aircraft), but I may just need one on my work bench soon! This might one day be a real collector’s item, given the spelling mistake on the box (First edision bonus)..!

Review by Domi Jadoul; photos by FineMolds and Domi Jadoul

http://www.finemolds.co.jp

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started