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Having a Blast, or not?

Hawker Hunter Gun Blast Deflectors

PJ Production 1/48, Ref. 481229

The fairly recent 1/48 Hunter F.6 kit from Airfix is missing the characteristic gun blast deflectors that were fitted to the Belgian Air Force machines (and to some other nations’ Hunters too: Switzerland, Sweden, Kenya, Jordan,..).

Belgian artisan PJ Production comes to the rescue with this small resin set containing four deflectors.  The openings will first need to be drilled out, which is a little bit fastidious, but the final result is well worth the extra time and work!  Beware that the left-hand deflectors are slightly different from the right ones!

Review by Didier Waelkens ; pictures by PJ Production and Didier Waelkens.


In Memoriam

Lavochkin La-5 ‘Valerij Ckalov’

KP 1/72, Ref. KPM0172 

Valery Ckalov was a famed Soviet test pilot accidentally killed in 1938. 

The Lavochkin La-5 entered service during 1942, and if still inferior to the German planes at that time, its impressive flying characteristics made it a worthy and dangerous adversary for most German pilots.  Over 9,900 La-5s were built during the Great Patriotic War, under several variants.

The new KP brand is steadily churning out brand new kits; for a lot of us, there is a certain nostalgia about this brand that brought us what were at that time pretty good and accurate kits of aircraft we could only dream of in the ‘West’.  But while the brand name and originality remain, the new kits are light-years ahead of those early kits in terms of quality, in fact very typical of what we now expect and love seeing coming out of the still larger Czech scale model concerns.

With each new kit released, quality seems to be still improving, with finer and finer engraving and details, particularly on the smaller parts.  This kit brings two light grey plastic sprues, another one in clear plastic for the canopy, side windows and gunsight, two decal sheets: the larger features markings for three different La-5s with patriotic slogans in the memory of Valery Ckalov while the (much) smaller one offers the front instrument panel and the seat belts.  Probably a cheaper alternative than photo-etched parts, but in my opinion, a much better one.

It’s not the first La-5 ever to be released of course, but this KP offering certainly appears much better than the earlier iterations of this important Soviet warplane.  Highly recommended.

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Exotic Subs!

German submarine type 209/1400

OKB Grigorov 1/700, Ref. 700129

The Type 209 series of diesel-electric submarines, designed and built in Germany (but not operated by the German Navy) have been widely exported since the 1960s. Several variants have appeared over the years and are designated Type 209/1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500 and PN.  Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa operate the 209/1400, the subject of this recent OKB Grigorov release.  

It’s a typical kit from their extensive full hull 1/700 range, made up of 4 finely engraved resin parts and photo-etched propeller and display stand.  As is also usual in this range, no instruction nor decals are included.  It’s not a big kit, some 6.5cm long but it’s really a nice looking one, great addition to any 1/700 collection!

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Italian Jewel

SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 – International Trainer

Heroes Models 1/144, Ref. HMK-14411 

Very nice suprise coming from Italy, this beautiful kit fills a big gap in the ‘airliner scale’ where smaller aircraft are still rather few and far between.  This will also interest all those interested in the aircraft used by the Belgian air force (and Belgian civil operators!).

20 resin parts, including two in transparent resin, marking for 6 aircraft based in Burkina Faso, Libya, Mexico, Italy and Belgium (ST-22 of the 5th Squadron), canopy masks and professional-looking instruction sheet are contained in a small but strong cardboard box.  It’s 1/144, it’s small (less than 6cm wingspan!), it’s resin, yes, but really beautiful and well worth it!  You will not regret it.

Review by Daniel Clamot ; pictures by Heroes Models and Daniel Clamot.

Colourful Triplanes!

Fokker Dr.I

Sabrekits 1/72, Ref. SBK7003

The Eduard 1/72 Fokker Dr.I, dating back to 2000, already reboxed by Smer and Atlantis, gets a new lease of life through a new Czech company, Sabrekits.  What seems to be a standard ‘Sabrekits’ dark blue cardboard box, similar to those used by KP for instance sports a printed label with the attractive box art and contains one plastic bag with the basic (that is just plastic) kit, a large new decal sheet and, separately, the instruction sheet. 

The ‘Eduard’ name does appear on the sprues, so there is no mistaking the origin of this kit.  This is a great little kit (even if I do prefer the modern Revell offering), that can be built fairly easily, quickly even by a modeller with little experience in multi-winged planes; there is little rigging on this machine, this will help, of course !

The highlight of this re-release is the decal sheet, including markings for 6 Fokker triplanes, two having been flown by, you knew it, Manfred von Richtoffen, a yellow tailed one piloted by the little brother Lothar, a blue-fuselaged Jasta 36 aircraft, a white and black stripped belonging to Ernst Udet and, interestingly, a ‘war reparation’ machine used in France after the war.  All those schemes are shown in colour in the instruction sheet, but unfortunately for most, all info is in Czech language only.  The 6-stage instructions are possibly a tad small, crammed onto a single A5 page. 

This is a limited release, supposedly limited to 100 kits.  Get yours fast!  Note that the Eduard Albatross D.V and the Fokker E.III also have been similarly released by Sabrekits.

Steampunk Gems!

The Aviator & Lucy The Cowgirl

Dieselkits 1/35, Ref. DK35-029

Das Kesselmobil + Mr. & Mrs. Valone

Dieselkits 1/35, Ref. DK35-034

Dieselkits is a German manufacturer involved, as the name implies, in the Steampunk genre.  The kits are designed with CAD and are 3D-printed in a very dark grey or black resin.

Upon opening the boxes, one is surprised by the amount of protective material used.  Cardboard dividers prevent parts to move about and almost every single part in its own zip-lock bag.

The instruction booklets are colour printed and each stage is well defined; they include a list of all parts, and a separate list is also included where each kit part has obviously been checked out by the person who packed the box before despatch.

The ‘Aviator is inspired by the famed Stuka, but well ‘adapted’ to the steampunk scene with a large number of rivets, shrouded fans at the rear and a sizeable defensive MG.  The whole kit is made up of 31 very fine parts; the cockpit is maybe a bit basic, some may wish to add seat belts, control stick et add details to the instrument panel, or possibly purchase instead kit DK35-026 that includes a female seated pilot.  The kit includes a display stand.

Lucy the Cowgirl is extremely well defined and cast, the pose being just right, dynamic and just enough sexy.  She will look perfect leaning against the aircraft.  Pinup style.  Lucy is made up of two parts, an almost whole body and a separate left arm with the hat.

The Kesselmobil has a much simpler look, a cylinder on its four wheels.  This kit includes 23 parts, exceedingly well cast.  The instruction sheet is well designed too.  This steam-powered vehicle is driven standing up as there’s really very little space inside.  Original!

Mr and Mrs Valone both have really nice poses, Mr smoking his cigar and Mrs with her arm on her husband’s shoulder ; their attire are superb and both are, like Lucy earlier on, extremely well sculpted and cast. 

Assembly will require CA glue but does not appear difficult at all.  Those are real little gems of kits!

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Mini Panther

German Light Tank VK.1602

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72076

Work on the VK 16.02 project started in 1941, as the need for a heavier tracked reconnaissance vehicle was being felt by the German Army.  The development phase was marked by a change of contractor from M.A.N., too involved with the Panther, to MIAG (hull) and Daimler-Benz (turret) but before any prototype was even completed, the project was terminated by order of Hitler in January 1943, as it did not meet the armour requirements for its planned date of entry in service.

That has not stopped many manufacturers from releasing scale models of this vehicle, also known as ‘Leopard’.  OKB Grigorov is the latest to join in with an absolute stunning 1/72 kit, made up of 100 resin and 17 photo-etched parts, accompanied by a small instruction sheet, safely packed inside their usual type of cardboard box.  No decal nor painting advice are offered, but that should not deter too many enthusiasts, nor take away from the ‘gorgeousness’ of the kit.  Most of the PE fret is dedicated to the engine deck, but it also includes smaller parts such as the turret lifting hooks. 

Hatches are closed throughout but as the turret and hull are mostly hollow, those wanting a slightly more dynamic model will not have too much hard work to consider.  The resin tracks are cast as long sections that will need to be bent around the drive sprockets and idlers.  Because of this, this kit is better suited to those with a bit of experience with resin kits.

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Would be Tiger

German Heavy Tank VK.3001(P)

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72080

As early as 1939, the German Army expressed the need for a heavier tank (c.30-tonne) equipped with the 7.5cm Kwk L/24 gun; four projects meeting this demand were designated VK 30.xx (X), the Porsche version designated VK 30.01(P).  As heavier tanks were met on the Eastern Front, the requirements changed and asked for a heavier gun.  Porsche therefore asked Krupp to design a turret able to house the potent 8,8cm KwK L/56 gun.  This turret would become that of the Tiger tank.  The Porsche designed hull, however never entered serial production. It was further developed into the VK 45.01(P), still equipped with the Krupp turret, a design that again was unsuccessful but eventually led to the Elefant tank hunter. 

52 photo-etched parts and 90 resin parts, plus an instruction sheet make up this new OKB Grigorov kit.  No markings nor painting advice are offered.  The PE parts will grace the resin hull as fenders and engine deck grilles, and small details on the turret cupola.  The quality of the resin parts is very good with plenty of sharp details and edges.  The hull and turret are mostly hollow so that it should not be too difficult, for those wanting it, to leave hatches open and add details inside.  The tracks are also cast in resin, in long sections that one will need to bend around drive sprockets, idlers and return rollers.  The kit looks very appetising, and should be a required element for any braille scale fan of the Tiger tank.  However, the tracks (and the price) would probably place this kit outside the comfort zone of those who haven’t had much experience in working with resin kits.

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Nordic Sharks

Swedish Vastergotland-class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/700, Ref. 700134

Norwegian Ula-class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/700, Ref. 700133

The Vastergotland-class included four 48.5m-long diesel-electric ships commissioned in the late 1980s.  All four ended up being refitted and lengthened to the Sodermanland-class standard in the early 2000’s, two of them being then sold do Singapore where they were re-commissioned as Archer-class submarines. 

The Norwegian Ula-class is made up of six ships commissioned in the late 1980s-early 1990s.  Slightly longer than the Swedish Vastergotland-class subs, they too are optimised for coastal areas, but are still in service, and should remain so until their planned replacement in the late 2020s.  Some of them operated extremely successfully in the Mediterranean during the 15 year-long Operation Active Endeavour (2001-2016) on intelligence gathering missions.

OKB Grigorov are tirelessly aiming to fill in the display cabinets of 1/700 submarine fans, not only with shall we say the ‘usual suspects’ such as the Ohio, Typhoon, Trafalgar and other Redoutable but with little-known and exotic types such as those Scandinavian sharks.  Those two recent offerings both come in tiny little but sturdy boxes and are typical, quality-wise, of the rest of the impressive range.  Those are, as usual too, full hull scale models, the hull being cast as a single item, and featuring each a handful of tiny resin and PE parts to complete the submarines and their display stands.  No instruction nor decal are provided.  

OKB Grigorov Ref. 700134
OKB Grigorov Ref. 70013

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Monster of the Deep

Soviet submarine project 941 Akula – NATO name Typhoon

OKB Grigorov 1/1200, Ref. 120005

The Akula (shark)-class submarines are better known under their NATO reporting name, ‘Typhoon’. Six of them were commissioned during the late 1970s and 1980s, those 173m long monsters, able to reach 25 knots underwater, were the stuff of nightmares for allied submariners during the last few years of the Cold War.  OKB Grigorov offers us a kit that, despite its scale, is still 14cm long.  CAD and 3D printing have given us a superb rendering of this incredible war machine.  There are seven finely engraved/detailed resin parts (including the whole hull as a single item and the display stand) and 12 photo-etched parts.  A small instruction sheet is included.  One look and you’ll be sm…  bitten !

Review by Daniel Clamot, pictures by OKB Grigorov and Daniel Clamot.