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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


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

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

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

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.

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.