The (almost) Missing Link

Soviet Medium Tank T-44

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72097

The T-44 was developped during the Second World War to replace the T-34, but despite its better characteristics, it was felt that producing a new vehicle would disrupt the output of the earlier tank and subsequently only a couple of thousand were produced between 1944 and 1947, before mass production of the T-44-based but superior T-54/T-55 was launched. No T-44 fought during the Second World War.

The T-44 has been kitted before in 1/72, namely in injected plastic by PST/Zebrano, but is not an easy kit to find, and this new release by OKB Grigorov will certainly be welcomed by many small scale modellers. Detail and quality-wise, the OKB Grigorov release certainly has the edge, but yes, it is (mostly) in resin, and as such a bit pricey. But it is available.

99 medium grey resin and no less than 135 photo-etched parts make up this kit, the level of detailing is, as usual with OKB Grigorov, very high, while the casting is faultless, with just a bit of flash here and there. The pouring gates are generally conveniently placed, but care will still be needed to clean this up on some smaller parts and in particular on the very fine and delicate-looking idlers and drive sprockets.

The turret is basically a two-part affair, top and bottom, hollow parts that could welcome some extra scratchbuilt details; two separate hatches, gun mantlet and gun barrel being the other main resin parts of this structure. The hull is also cast in two main parts, top and bottom, both parts featuring some really nice detailing, with separate resin fenders to be added. A separate hatch is included for the driver’s position.

The road wheels are very nicely done, and are to be attached to the hull via separate suspension arms, allowing some flexibility in terms of final pose, though the usual OKB Grigorov resin tracks, offered in long sections, will require bending around idlers and drive sprockets and depending on the pose, road wheels. This will probably be the trickiest part of the build, along with the placement of a large number of small photo-etched parts. Additional individual track links are present, but are meant to be attached on top of the fenders. A few extra of those would, I think, have come in handy to put around the wheels to somewhat ease construction. As such, the kit is not meant for newcomers in the hobby, but reserved to those with a bit of experience in dealing with resin kits.

An instruction sheet is included. It does not really cover all the build, but mostly deals with the adding of the smaller resin and PE parts. No decals are included, not much of an issue here.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by OKB Grigorov and Domi Jadoul.

Whirlwind Revisited

The Westland Whirlwind (Second Edition), by Richard A. Franks

Valiant Wings Publishing, Airframe Album No.4

Timely (and updated!) re-release of this very interesting title, which should interest all those (amongst others!) who have invested in the recent 1/32 Special Hobby kit, reviewd in this new 96-pages long edition.

The book includes:

  • Detailed study of the structure, equipment and armament used;
  • Period diagrams, data from flight manuals and spare parts catalogues;
  • Isometric views of all prototype and production airframes by Wojciech Sankowski;
  • Colour profiles and concise camouflage and marking notes by Richard J. Caruana;
  • Walkaround images;
  • Updated – lists of all Whirlwind kits, accessories and decals produced in all scales
  • New – Specially commissioned build of the new 1/32nd scale Special Hobby kit by Steve Evans
  • New – 1/48th scale plans

Snipped by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Valiant Wings Publishing.

Big Tiger Tidbits

Tiger Moth Luggage Box, Mainwheels and Tailskid, Propeller & Instrument Panels with Compasses and Coamings.
CMK 1/32, Ref. 5137, 5138, 5139 & 5140.

CMK have released a number of interesting tidbits to correct, opgrade or furnish the recent 1/32 ICM Tiger Moth kit…

This includes an open luggage box for the rear fuselage, featuring internal structure, hatches and.. a leather bag, a corrected propeller, nicer undercarriage (with several options to chose from: a simple hub without any cover, a hub with a plain cover and a hub cover with the manufacturer’s initials); the tail skid is made of special heat treated resin for increased strength, and some instrument panels with much finer and accurate details.

So, what are you waiting for..?

Snippet by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Special Hobby

Do.27 Revival

Dornier Do.27 & Dornier Do.27 Masks

Special Hobby 1/72, SH72327 & M72028

A much welcome re-release from Special Hobby, this delightful 1/72 Dornier Do.27 will no doubt be welcome in many parts of the world scale modelling community!

Nothing has changed since the initial release, four medium-grey plastic sprue, one clear plastic sprue and a small photo-etched fret make up this kit. This boxing comes with markings for a Luftwaffe bird, a Belgian air force one and a Spanish (CASA-built) aircraft.

New however is a separately available set of pre-cut masks for the clear parts (including the inside of the open doors and windows) and wheel hubs.

Snippet by Domi jadoul; photos by Special Hobby.

Top Quality 757 at last!

Civil Airliner Boeing 757-200

Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7032

Another large box coming from the East, this one is bound to please many airline modellers, as the 757 from Boeing, despite being almost 40 years old, has not been well served by model manufacturers. The easiest kit to get hold until now was the Academy kit (757-200) first released in 1999 and re-released with different decals about 10 times since. This kit was a bit rough and did not offer much in terms of options nor details.

The new tooling from Zvezda is likely to see all those unbuilt Academy kits hitting the second-hand market over the next few weeks.. Zvezda has become a kind of ‘standard‘ now with their airliner kits, and this new 757 is certainly very nice to look at.

120 parts, including 9 molded in clear plastic constitutes this offering, but many will remain un-used since the number of options is rather high, with two different sets of main landing wheels, two sets of engines (Rolls-Royce or Pratt & Whitney), hinting at re-boxings with different decals to come. Also hinting at other 757s to hit us in the future are the fact that this kit is equipped with the blended wingtips that were introduced in 2005, and fuselage windows strips asking to be shortened… The longer fuselaged 757-300 should therefore be an off-the-shelf option in the future.

The engraving is fine and delicate, a far cry from Academy’s.

The cockpit is furnished (Academy’s was not) but it is a (slight) shame that Zvezda did not offer decals for the front instrument panel and side consoles which are very flat looking as is.. Of course little of that will be seen I know.

My other issue with the new kit is the way the wings are made up of three main parts with a section of the fuselage included with the bottom part of the wings. This had been an issue for me with Hasegawa’s Airbus A300 (1/200), demanding a different way to approach the painting, decaling and weathering of the model, when the rest of the series featured separate wings with an excellent final fit with the fuselage, post-everything. Easier. Nevertheless, Zvezda’s parts may be just fine and offer a perfect fit. Only time will tell!

Other nice touches include one-piece flap actuator fairings, separate engine nacelle lips (so helpful for their painting), neat front engine fan blades and wing (and fin & stabilators!) leading edges in one piece with part of the wing underside included on the uppersides, guaranteeing easy to clean and sharp trailing edges.

The wings provided in the kit are meant to be used with the blended wingtips but the standard tips are provided as an option, clearly for future boxings of the kit.

Two choices of engines, as previously mentioned; Zvezda offers for each type an inlet ring for each intake, but it is still made up of two parts, meaning some putty will still be necessary to hide the joints, but at least it can be done before final assembly of the engine nacelles!

Each main undercarriage is made up of 10 parts, while the front one, whose main leg appears at first very frail end up being a lot more beefier with additional supports, bits and bobs (totaling 9 parts altogether).

Decals-wise, Zvezda’s release only offers one livery, that of Icelandair, maybe not the sexiest, but not bad looking at all. The aftermarket decal providers are certainly going to be offering a lot more choice soon, no doubt!

The decal sheets (there are two) offer a decent number of stencils, fuselage doors outlines and the silver lining for each cabin window and windshield, and the fine black lines for the no-step wing zones. Quite comprehensive, really.

The option of displaying the model in flight is entertained with the presence of a large plastic stand (and separate u/c well doors).

It’s a great kit, just go and get (at least) one!

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

Snap-fit British Jewel

Hawker Hurricane IIC British Fighter

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7322

It’s a brand new Hurricane issued from a brand new tooling that Zvezda has had the good idea of releasing. Although marketed as a snap-fit kit, the kit is still made up of 51 parts, 5 of which are molded in clear plastic.

We have not checked accuracy of the details, but details abound for sure, first with a finely recessed engraving on the metal-covered areas and delicately portrayed fabric covering where it matters.

The wings are made up of two large parts (top & bottom). The upper half of the wings include portions of the underside leading and trailing edges, and with separate one-piece ailerons, allows for very fine trailing edges indeed! Very neat. Cockpit, radiator, landing and formation lights as well as the main landing gear wells are to be added to the wing assembly before the fuselage is grafted onto it. Very neat too!

The cockpit is made of of 5 parts, with the instrument panel offered with raised instruments for painting, or flat to be used with a decal. Two multi-part pilots are offered, each with different flying gear to match the proposed colour schemes. The main landing gear is offered as a well-detailed 8-part down option (not counting the wells) or a rather ingenious 2-part up option.

Zvezda could have provided the canopy with a separate windshield, but they did not. The transparent parts are, however, crystal clear.

Decaling options include a RAF two-tone grey-green aircraft and a black-overal machine, both based in Tangmere in 1942, and a Soviet of the Northern Fleet in 1943.

This looks like a stunning little kit, remains to be seen if the build will be as easy as it seems it should be. Whether it will meet the expectations of the rivet-counters amongst us, that also remains to be seen. But for that price, it will be a hard one to beat!

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

Black/yellow/red-marked Trainer

Gloster Meteor T.Mk.7

Azur-FRROM 1/72, Ref. FR0045

The transition from propeller-driven fighters to the twin-jet engined Meteor fighter was soon considered too complicated, especially for pilots with little experience; the need for a two-seater trainer was soon felt. Thus was born the Meteor T.Mk.7, a two-seater aircraft specifically designed for training and to facilitate the transition from piston to jet engines.
When the Belgian Air Force took delivery of its Meteor Mk.4 single-seaters to replace the Spitfire Mk.XIV, three Mk.7 two-seaters were also delivered. When the Meteor Mk.8 replaced the Mk.4, a further nine two-seaters were ordered and by 1952, twenty former Mk.4s were converted to two-seaters by Avions Fairey. Finally, at the end of 1953, ten more two-seaters were acquired from RAF stocks.
The Belgian aircraft were registered ED1 to ED43 and were mainly used by the Fighter School. There was also a hybrid version called T.Mk.7A (or T.Mk.71/2) with the Mk.4 tail section replaced by the Mk.8 one.

For some years now, we have been used to FRROM coming up with goodies for those interested in Belgian aircraft. The SV-4bis, Nieuport 29 and more recently the superb Renard R.31 come to mind. They continue with this two-seater Meteor kit by providing a Belgian livery among the three proposed.

The kit’s 76 parts (of which only two will not be used) are spread over two sprues of medium grey injection moulded plastic, with the single piece canopy and the collimator on a third, clear sprue, in a separate plastic bag that ensures adequate protection for the excellent transparency of these parts.

The assembly guide, in A5 notebook format, shows about twenty steps. The layout of the parts is quite classical: left and right half fuselages, tail planes in two parts above and below, etc. Note that the wing is in two parts, also top and bottom; once assembled, it fits into the bottom of the fuselage. The cockpit is fairly spartan but given the number of canopy frames and the fact that everything is painted black inside, there shouldn’t be much to see once the canopy is installed. The instrument panels have raised instruments and details and there is no decal alternative. Those who wish to present the canopy open can indulge in the joy of super-detailing! It is also worth noting that some (very) fine parts have to be scratchbuilt, e.g. small rods for the landing gear to be cut out of stretched sprue or the whip antenna on top of the fuselage. It is true that the technology of injection moulding does not (yet) allow the casting of such parts. As for the options, you can choose whether or not to install the drop tanks under the wings. Finally, there is a mask fret for the canopy with no less than 19 stickers to place, thank you for having thought of that!

As already noted, the decal sheet offers three schemes: a T.Mk.7 of the Armée de l’Air at Tours in 1956, n° F9 coded 30-MY, an Israeli Mk.7, n° 15 of Sqn 117 in 1957 still wearing the black and yellow stripes of the Suez crisis. And then of course, the icing on the cake for us belgian modellers, the T.Mk.7 ED-42 of the Belgian Air Force Fighter School at Coxyde in 1958, an aluminium aircraft with yellow fuselage stripes and yellow engine nacelles. The school insignia is painted on the front of the nacelles and a red winged arrow on each side of the nose.

This is another great addition to the FRROM catalogue that will enrich our collection of aircraft with black-yellow-red roundels! Thank you Gilles for thinking about us.

Review and pictures by Didier Waelkens.

Little-known Kitty

German Medium Tank VK.3002 (DB) with suspension type I

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. 72089

Some time ago, I reviewed the German Medium Tank VK 3002 Daimler Bens (DB) with suspension type II produced by OKB Grigorov under the reference 72086. Just to remind that this VK 3002 (DB) was in competition with the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nurnberg (MAN) prototype (the future Panther) for the introduction of new 30 to 35-ton class vehicle with sloping armor, wide tracks to move on soft ground and a gun with a high muzzle velocity. The VK 3002 DB showed several features ‘borrowed’ from the T34/76 and was fitted with a turret equipped with a 75mm 48 caliber, located towards the front of the chassis, a running gear made of large road wheels mounted on external leaf springs and a MB 507 diesel engine. The slow development of the DB’s chosen engine and turret, along with the unusual use of diesel fuel lead to the MAN project to be selected and mass-produced. It seems that the VK 3002 DB displayed 2 types of suspension, the type I with four double T34-style road wheels and the type II with interleaved Panther-type road wheels.

The VK.3002 DB Suspension type I kit (Ref. 72089) includes 76 parts that are common for to the Suspension type II kit (Ref. 72086). Most parts are made of a high-quality grey resin with very fine details, particularly on the chassis, hull and tracks.

12 photo-etched parts and a turned metal barrel are also included.

The instructions are clearly drawn and the assembly should be fairly simple, even if the tracks must be bent around the drive sprockets and idlers..

I could not find reference in my own extensive library about the two different types of running gear but OKB Grigorov are not known for making things up, so I think we can trust that this ‘variant’ was indeed once being considered.

All in all though, this looks like another well detailed and well-fitting product from the Bulgarian artisan.

Bibliography: Panzer, The German Tanks Encyclopedia Caraktère presse & éditions, 2015, and: The Spielberger German Armor & Military Vehicles Series. Vol. I, Panther & its Variants Walter J. Spielberger Schiffer Military/Aviation History 1993

Review and pictures by Jean-Paul Oudinet.

Robot-like SPG

2S35 “Koalitiya-SV” Russian 152mm Self-propelled Howitzer

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 5055

The 2S35 « Koalitiya-SV » is the most recent artillery system in the Russian army. This self-propelled howitzer was designed at the Burevestnik Central Scientific Research Institute and was officially presented for the first time at the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow. It is designed to solve a variety of tasks: shooting of tactical nuclear weapons, attacks on enemy artillery and mortar batteries to the destruction of armoured fighting vehicles and fortified installations. Equipped with a 152mm gun it has a maximum range of 40 to 80km depending of the ammunition used. The 2S35 is not a classic SPG, but rather a highly robotised system, with a high degree of automation.

171 parts for a completed model length of 19,4cm in 1/72, the kit looks very impressive! Two large runners of grey parts that include the hull and the gun, two smaller runners of grey plastic with notably the wheels, plus a runner of black parts in a softer plastic for the tracks is what awaits the modeller inside the box.

The instructions direct us to start with the lower part and sides of the hull onto which the running gear is installed before the upper hull, and eventuaslly the turret are added. The softer black plastic allows for relative ease of bending the tracks around the idlers and drive sprockets.

The gun is in three parts but the tube itself is a single item, dispensing from the need of any filler.

This is the Zvezda quality we are now getting used to ! The b&w instruction booklet is clear and easy to follow. Colour schemes and markings positions are detailled onto a full-colour A5-sized leaflet ; the decal sheets offer marking for two different Russian vehicles, including one fairly colourful as seen at the 2015 Victory Parade.

Beware that as such, the kit represents what we could call the pre- or early-production vehicle based on the T-90 chassis, when later vehicles are expected to be built on the T-14 Armata chassis.

A pretty impressive, size-wise, and very well designed and detailled kit that will surely finds it way into the stash of those of us interested in modern armour!

Review and photos by Daniel Clamot.

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