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Mike

Me.262A-2a 1:48

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Me.262A-2a
1:48 HobbyBoss


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The 262 was the first production jet fighter of WWII on any side, and gave a pretty good account of itself, all told. Thankfully for the Allies, it was delayed hideously by Hitler's insistence that it should also be able to carry bombs, as well as the advances in metallurgy that were needed before they could get sufficient reliability in the engines to make jet powered missions practical. There are a plethora of variants that were either planned, proposed or in development, while only a few types actually saw service.

Of the fast bomber or Schnellbomber variants, the A-2a was the definitive in-service variant, which was the "Sturmvogel" that Hitler so obsessed with, to attack the expected invasion beaches with little in the way of retaliation due to the Sturmvogel's speed differential. This insistence helped the Allies immensely, leaving fewer fighter variants to attack the incoming bombers and fighter bombers supporting the invasion. The A-2a had only the lower two 30mm Mk.108 cannons in the nose for defence/offense, and had two mounting points for either 250kg or 500kg bombs under the nose.


The Kit
This is one of the latest editions from HobbyBoss in a long and growing line of kits that represent great value, as well as providing plenty of detail into the bargain. The kit sprues are modular to squeeze best value from them, and if you've seen one kit, you've seen the majority of the parts already, so you'll know what to expect. We've reviewed a few of the previous kits already, and you can see the A-1a/U1 here and the B-1a here if you need a refresher. Although the box art sometimes lets them down, the contents of the box does not, and this variant even includes some decent box art painted by forum member Kostas Karvathias no less! Inside the box are ten sprues of various sizes, two small clear sprues, a metal nose-weight/gear bay part, decal sheet, the instruction booklet and separate colour printed painting guide.

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The build is as you'd expect, with a cockpit tub that has plenty of detail and also forms the inner section of the main gear bays. The gun bay shows all four Mk.108s installed, but only the bottom two were carried in reality, so you could either leave them out and add some more nose weight, or put them in anyway. The upper gun troughs in the nose are shown blanked over in contemporary photos, and you're incited to use part P9 that has them covered by a flat fairing. If you were going to leave the gun bay panels open (which is an option), you'll need to do some research to check how the open bay looked without the cannons. The bay is fitted to the top of the nose gear bay former, which is a chunk of white metal to provide nose weight, although there is a styrene equivalent left on the sprues. The nose gear leg can be added now with a choice of smooth or treaded tyres that also require different strut parts, but share retraction struts and door parts.

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Before the fuselage can be closed around the two assemblies, a quantity of parts are added to the rear fuselage in the shape of radio gear and other small parts, which only will be seen through a small bay door on the fuselage side if left open. The interior of the fuselage has been moulded with ribbing detail to accommodate this option, so check your references and add any wires and extra parts that you think will be seen through the open hatchway. Oddly, the interior of the engine nacelles also have the same ribbing moulded-in, but none of this will be seen with the intake bullet and exhaust cones installed and their fairings added front and rear. It's possible that they're either a hangover from a more ambitious earlier nacelle design that included opening panels, or that the rigidity that they imbue to the parts is desirable. Needless to say, you build up two nacelles, which are handed left and right, but once complete they are difficult to mix up due to their angled exhaust fairings and keyed joints. The lower wing is full width with cut-outs for the engines, and this is joined to the two upper wing panels, leaving a gap where the fuselage will sit, which receives some additional detail parts for the main gear bays. Check the fit of the fuselage in the wing assembly, and fettle as necessary, after which you can add the nose cone and cowlings to the nose, and then the rear deck behind the pilot plus his three part canopy, consisting of a windscreen that has a small section of the surrounding fuselage moulded-in, the canopy opener, and the fixed rear section. A piece of bullet-proof glass is added inside the windscreen, and head armour is inserted inside the canopy, which can be posed open by leaving the attachment lugs on the starboard side. The engines are installed under the wing, and two panels under the nose that contain the location points for the bombs and shell ejector chutes finish off the fuselage. The main gear legs have separate oleo-scissor links and retractor jacks, plus a two-part captive bay door on each leg, with the inner doors hinging together on the fuselage centre-line. The large nose bay door has its own retractor part, and that's the basic build completed.

The Sturmvogel's main purpose was to drop bombs, and these are included in the kit, with 250kg or 500kg options both in the box. The bombs are in two halves, with fin braces added at the rear from slim styrene parts, while the stubby pylons are made up from two halves, the smaller ones having separate sway-braces. It's your choice which size you use, or you could leave the pylons un-loaded.


Markings
The Luftwaffe were keen on mottle to help camouflage their aircraft against Allied attacks, and the two decal options provided in the kit make heavy use of these techniques, but one is easier to carry off than the other! From the box you can build one of the following:

  • Me.262A-2a White Y of I./KG51, 1944/1945 – RLM82/02 squiggle pattern over an RLM76 base. White nose cone and tail tip.
  • Wk.Nr.500200 Black X of II./KG51, 1945 – RLM82/83 splinter camo on upper sides and heavy mottle on the sides, over an RLM76 base. Red nose cone and tail tip.

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The decals are printed in-house as usual, and are up to the task, although I'm not massively impressed with the resolution of the black, which has some stepping evident under magnification. Registration between black and white on the swastikas is fractionally out on our sample, but colour density appears good, and there is a thin glossy carrier film over each decal. The swastikas are printed in halves, and a handy set of instrument panel decals are included to spruce up the cockpit, although their carrier film might need trimming to ease fit.


Conclusion
Another solid Me.262 from HobbyBoss and a couple of fun colour schemes, the first of which will really test your fine line skills with your airbrush, with a price-point that is very appealing. There are more variants in the works including some of the more unusual types, and they're constantly calling on me to build them from the stash.

Very highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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