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Paul A H

Product Reviewer
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Paul A H last won the day on January 10 2015

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About Paul A H

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    My vocabulary is absolutely big
  • Birthday 01/16/1979

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    Northampton
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    Describe yourself in three words:
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  1. MiG-25 BM Soviet Strike Aircraft (72175) 1:72 ICM In the early part of the Cold War, the strategic bomber was seen as the obvious means by which to deliver a nuclear payload. The interceptor - large, heavy and fast - was seen as the equally obvious countermeasure. The MiG-25 Foxbat was, in many ways, the ultimate embodiment of this technology. It wasn't particularly groundbreaking and nor was it particularly sophisticated, but it was capable of incredible speed and could carry four large missiles to high altitudes very quickly indeed. The MiG-25's shortcomings as a combat aircraft were largely addressed through the MiG-31 Foxhound, but the type continued as an effective mission platform in a variety of guises. The BM variant was dedicated to the Supression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) role, known in the US Airforce as the 'Wild Weasel' role. As such, it was fitted with anti-radar systems, jammers and could carry up to four KH-58 'Kilter' missiles. Forty examples were produced in total. I think this kit is the fourth iteration of ICM's new 1/72 MiG-25 family, following on from the RBT, RB and RBF variants. The model is pretty much a scaled down version of their 1:48 kit, which is a jolly good thing indeed. Inside the robust top-opening box are seven frames of light grey plastic and one of clear plastic. The kit is almost identical to the previous iterations, but includes revised parts for the nose and a couple of new frames that hold the KH-58 missiles. The airframe is covered in crisp, recessed panel lines which look very good indeed, and the mouldings are crisp and clean. The instructions are an A4 stapled booklet which has been printed in colour and the decal sheet is clear and well printed. The overall impression is of a well-executed, modern kit which looks like it should be thoroughly enjoyable to build. Construction begins with the cockpit and nose gear bay. Some detail is moulded in place on the sidewalls of the cockpit, with extra parts provided to represent additional details. Before the main structure of the cockpit can be completed, however, you have to add the bulkhead that forms the front wall of the cockpit and the rear wall of the nose gear bay. The instructions have you installing the nose gear leg at this stage, but I can't see any logical reason as to why this can't be done at the end. This would, of course, save you from breaking the leg part way through the build. The cockpit itself is nicely detailed, with the ejector seat alone made up of no fewer than five parts. An instrument panel and control column completes this section of the build. Once the forward fuselage halves have been joined together, the whole sub-assembly fits onto a spar that also holds the huge engine air intakes. I've noticed that kit manufacturers are moving increasingly toward this style of construction, where certain parts are provided for purely structural purposes instead of the older slot and tab style of construction. I guess the main advantage, other than strength, is that everything can be positioned at exactly the right angle - a helpful feature for kits that feature quit a complex breakdown of parts such as this one. Each engine intake is full-length, with engine compressor faces provided. What results is a complete forward section of the aircraft up to the wing roots, with the internal structure of the air intakes protruding from the rear. The lower face of the main fuselage can be joined to this structure once the main landing gear bays have been added. ICM suggest that you add the main landing gear legs at this stage. Again, I can't see any reason why they couldn't be fettled into place after the main construction has been completed. Once the lower face of the main fuselage is in place, another structural bulkhead can be added, after which the slab-sides of the fuselage, including the outer faces of the air intakes, can be added. The dustbin-like jet exhausts are added at this stage, and very nicely detailed they are too. Once in place, the upper face of the fuselage can be added. Some modellers have noticed that the central spine has a flattened profile instead of a rounded shape. This is true, but I imagine most modellers will choose to live with this flaw. All that remains now is to add the nosecone, flying surfaces and finishing details. Each vertical tail is split vertically, with a seperate rudder. The outer face is moulded with part of the rear fuselage in place, so presumably it will be impossible to fit these parts at the wrong angle. Somewhat surprisingly, the upper wings are not moulded in one part with the upper fuselage. Instead, they are split into separate port and starboard halves, with two seperate flaperons and upper wing fences and fittings for missile pylons below. The nosecone is simply split vertically. The canopy is nice and clear and can be finished in either open or closed position. Four KH-58s are provided, along with pylons. Other than that, and a few aerials, lumps and bumps, the huge aircraft is now finished. Three options are provided for on the decal sheet: MiG-25BM, 'White 37', Lipetsk Combat and Conversion Training Centre. This aircraft is finished in the brown/sand/green over blue scheme; MiG-25BM, 'White 43', Ahtubinsk Airfield, 1987; MiG-25BM, 'Red 81', VVS, 1984 The decals look nicely printed and a full set of stencils is included. Yes, I know that's not a MiG! Conclusion We've waited a while for a new, more more modern kit of the Foxbat in this scale, but the wait has been worth it. ICM's effort is excellent, with high quality mouldings and plenty of detail. Overall this is a well executed and carefully designed kit, while the SEAD configuration is very appealing indeed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. D-Day Sea Assault (A50156A) 1:72 Airfix Airfix have a tradition of releasing boxed sets containing themed groups of models. Six years ago they released some sets to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord. Now there is a new range to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a company with such a vast back-catalogue, these sets tend to contain a mixture of the old and new. This is perhaps a hint that they are aimed at the more casual end of the modelling spectrum. This set is titled 'D-Day Sea Assault' and contains a vacuum formed beach, two higgins boats, a Willys Jeep with trailer and howitzer and some plastic soldiers. As this is a starter set, the usual acrylic paint, brush and adhesive are also included. Willys Jeep, Trailer & Howitzer The Willys Jeep is a pretty new kit, dating from around 2014. What you get here is the same as the stand-alone kit, which is to say a very nice model. For a full run down of this part of the set, please refer to my full review here. Higgins LCVP (x2) The LCVP, or Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (or Higgins Boat, if you prefer) was a stalwart not just of D Day, but also of the Pacific campaign. Designed with a shallow draught and full-width bow ramp it was able to disembark and leave the beach in just 3 to 4 minutes. This is another relatively new kit that was released around the same time as the Willys Jeep. The mouldings are clean and crisp and it looks as though it will build up into a well-detailed kit The rest of the set is composed of the figures, diorama base and decals. The figures that are supplied with this set are of the soft plastic type, the moulds for which I believe date from the 1970s. Detail is acceptable considering these aren't multi-part figures, and although they wouldn't be my first choice for use in a diorama, they will fill up the scene nicely. How well the supplied acrylic paint will adhere to the plastic is another question altogether. Last but not least is the big sheet of vacuum formed plastic upon which everything else sits. The spaces for the landing craft are carefully marked out and there are tyre tracks for the Jeep too. The base will probably benefit from some additional details such as tank traps and other detritus. Conclusion This set is a curious mixture of ancient and modern, although with more of the latter than the former. The modern parts are, by and large, very good, while the figures are a bit of a let-down. I wonder if Airfix will ever re-tool these, given that they seem to be a perrenial of their range and end up doing a fair bit of heavy lifting in sets like these? That said, when mixed together in a great big box with an exciting picture on the front they are still capable of providing some amusement. If you can overlook the weak spots, then this set should provide a great deal of fun. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Potez 25TOE 'For France - anytime, anywhere' (SH72407) 1:72 Special Hobby The Potez 25 was a French single engined, two-seater biplane designed in the interwar period and used widely by air forces around the world. A flexible design, the Potez 25 was used in a variety of roles, including as a fighter, bomber escort, light bomber and reconnaissance platform. The TOE variant was originally designed for use in French colonies and featured a Lorraine engine with a deeper belly and extra fuel capacity. Armed with 7.7mm machine guns, it was also capable of carrying 200kg of bombs. For an aicraft that was so widely used, the Potez 25 has not been brilliantly represented by kit manufacturers over the years. I reviewed a fancy mixed media kit from Grand Models around three or four years ago, before Azur Frrom came with a brand new injection moulded kit a year or so ago. Now Special Hobby have released their own version based on the Frrom collaboration. Inside the box are five frames of grey plastic and a single clear frame, as well as photo etched parts and decals. The plastic parts are all nicely moulded and have plenty of fine detail. Construction starts with the well-detailed cockpit. This sub-assembly is made up of the floor detail, seats, instrument panels, control columns, rudder pedals and the podium and machine gun for the observer/gunner. The cockpit sidewalls are packed with detail too. Once complete, the cockpit detail is sandwiched between the fuselage halves and the underside of the fuselage, which is separately moulded. The engine cowling is next. The inner struts fit inside this structure and tiny holes must also be drilled in pre-marked points in order to accomodate the rigging. Once complete, the cowling/forward fuselage can be joined to the main section of the fuselage which, in turn, can be joined to the lower wing (or blanking piece if building one of the Romanian parasol-winged monoplane versions). The upper wing joins to the fuselage and lower wing via a system of struts. No jig is provided to help with alignment, so this model may be better suited to experienced biplane builders. The landing gear uses a similar system of individual struts. The instructions recommend making pins from brass rod to strengthen these parts. If you choose to do this, you will need to source the rod yourself as none is supplied. The main wheels benefit from some photo etched detail to represent the spoked wheels. More photo etched parts are used to represent the elevator control parts and the locating points for the rigging. Finishing touches include four small bombs. Four decal options are provided, which is pretty generous for a kit of this size: Potez 25TOE No. 2113 'White 6', escadrille 1/41, La Chau, French Indo-China, March 1942; Potez 25TOE No. 1489 'White 5', 3é escadrille GB 11/39, Rayake, French mandate of Lebanon, 1933; Potez 25TOE No. 1618, 3S5.3 escadrille 3S5, base aérienne Hyéres Aéronautique navale, September 1939; Potez 25TOE, 3. escadrille GB 1/17 Picardie, FAFL, Damascus, 1944. The decals are nicely printed and the colours look nice and bold. Conclusion It's great to see Azur-Frrom and Specal Hobby collaborating to produce a good quality, injection moulded model of this attractive and important interwar type. The kit is very nicely detailed indeed, I have to say it probably isn't ideally suited to biplane novices. That said, if you take your time and pay attention to the instructions, you should be rewarded with a really appealing model to which a huge variety of marking schemes can be applied. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Flakpanzer III "Ostwind" (3,7cm Flak 43) 03286 1:72 Revell The origins of the Flakpanzer can be traced back to the North African campaign, when large numbers of Wehrmacht vehicles were decimated by fighter bombers of the RAF Desert Air Force. A number of temporary solutions were put in place, generally involving converting a range of vehicles to carry single flak guns. As the German military situation deteriorated, particularly on the Eastern Front, it became clear that a more permanent solution was required. A number of solutions were tried and tested until the first true Flakpanzers appeared in the shape of the Wirbelwind and the Ostwind. The Wirbelwind was fitted with the quadruple 2cm Flak 38, while the Ostwind was fitted with a single 3.7cm Flak 43. Both vehicles were based on the Panzer IV chassis, so I can only assume that Revell's Panzer III version represents some form of prototype. Most of the completed Ostwinds were deployed to Normandy in the wake of the Allied invasion. They didnt fare particularly well in combat though, with most being destroyed, captured or abandoned. As seems to be the case with most relatively obscure Wehrmacht types, the Ostwind has been relatively well-served by model manufacturers over the years. This particular effort from Revell is effectively a reboxing of the MACO kit released in 2013, which in turn is based on the Revell Panzer III but with new parts for the anti-aircraft gun and turret. Inside the compact end-opening box are six sprues of grey plastic, a white metal turret ring and decals. The sprues are well laid out and the mouldings are free from flash. Surface detail is clean and crisp, and first impressions are very favourable. As with most Revell kits, no shortcuts have been taken with the detail and the thing builds just like a miniature 1:35 scale model. While the axles and suspension units are moulded onto the side of the hull, the road wheels, drive sprokets and idlers are proper two-part jobbies. Take it from me, however, that painting the tyres on twenty-four individual wheels will drive you bonkers. The tracks are of the link and length variety and have been very nicely moulded. Once the running gear is in place, construction moves on to the upper hull. In keeping with the rest of the model, this is nicely detailed and extra parts such as spare wheels, tracks and pioneer tools are all present and correct. The Flak 43 mounting is a separate sub-assembly which replaces the kit's original turret. Revell/MACO have done a good job with this part of the kit, and the high part count points to a very good overall level of detail. You will need to drill out the barrel of the 3.7cm cannon, but that is no hardship. Lots of additional details such as spare ammunition is provided . The kit is calling out for some crew figures, but sadly none are included. Two different options are provides for on the tiny decal sheet. The first is a prototype Ostwind with sand/green camouglage, while the second is a prototype painted in overall green. The decal sheet is small but nicely printed. Conclusion When I first saw this kit, I assumed it was based on Revell's Panzer IV chassis, just like their relatively recent Wirbelwind. It's slightly surprising to see that Revell have chosen instead to release a kit of the prototype Ostwind, based on the Panzer III chassis, but perhaps this was logical given the availability of the MACO kit. Revell and MACO have done a really nice job with the conversion parts and the result is by far the best and most detailed Ostwind available in this scale. Highly recommended. Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  5. Boston Mk.IV/V 'The Last Version in RAF and Free French Service' (72413) 1:72 Special Hobby The A-20/DB-7 Havoc, better known to those with an interest in the Royal Air Force as the Boston, was a light bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company of Long Beach, California. Designed to a US Air Force specification issued in 1937, the aircraft’s first customer was actually the French Air Force, who had been impressed by its performance whilst visiting the USA as part of a pre-war purchasing commission. The aircraft not delivered to France by the time the armistice had been signed in 1940 were taken up by the RAF instead. The first squadron to be so equipped was 88 Squadron of Bomber Command. By the end of the war, no fewer than 24 squadrons had operated the Boston, either as a light bomber or night fighter such as the Havoc I Turbinlite, which was fitted with a powerful searchlight in the nose. The A-20 was also widely used by the USAAF and by the end of the war, almost 7,500 of the type had rolled off the production lines. The Boston has been a stalwart of Special Hobby's line up for quite some time, from which one must deduce that it has sold well consistently. Nestled inside Special Hobby's familiar top-opening box are four sprues of grey plastic and a single sprue of clear plastic. Together they hold a total of 118 parts, which is pretty respectable for a kit of this size. There is no flash present anywhere and as far as I can see, there are no flaws in the plastic. Surface details consist of fine, engraved panel lines and there is a convincing stretched fabric effect on the rudder and horizontal tail. The overall impression is somewhat favourable. The cockpit is well-appointed for this kind of model. It is made up of a floor, seat, rudder pedals, two-part control column, instrument panel, sidewalls and bulkheads. Moulded detail is good and the instruments are picked out with fine, raised detail. The bomb aimer/observer position is just as good and includes a very nice bomb sight. The crew positions are completed by the mid-upper turret, which is a little more basic than the other positions, but still good enough to pass muster. Once the fuselage halves have been joined together, the wings and horizontal stabilisers can be assembled and fixed to the fuselage. The parts have location tabs and slots to help ensure a positive fit. The prominent cowlings, under which hide the large Double-Cyclone engines, each have to be fitted with nine cooling vents. Fortunately Revell’s instructions are very clear in this regard, so you shouldn’t have any problems. The engines themselves are made up of three parts – two rows of seven cylinders and the reduction gearing. They are nicely detailed and should look good once assembled. The undercarriage looks well detailed but rather complex. Each of the main gear legs is made up of no fewer than six parts, plus the wheels themselves. I would recommend taking great care building the undercarriage, lest you end up with a wonky aeroplane when you come to rest it on its wheels. The main gear legs actually fit directly to the wings, and it is possible to fit the rear engine nacelles over these parts afterwards. This should make things a little less frustrating as you will be able to place the parts precisely rather than having to stuff them inside a cramped undercarriage bay. The remainder of the build is concerned with the addition of the transparent parts and the remaining fine details. These include the radio antenna and DF loop as well as the .303 Browning machine guns. The guns are very nicely recreated and the cooling sleeves in particular are convincingly detailed. The transparent parts are thin and clear and shouldn’t present any major problems A generous four options are provides for on the decal sheet. Boston Mk.IV BZ453 'OA-B', 342nd Squadron (Free-French Lorraine, RAF 137th Wing) B-50 Air Base, France, October 1944. Boston Mk.IV BZ507 'Y', flown by Pilot Sergeant John Samain, 18th Squadron, RAF, Italy, 1944-45; Boston Mk.V BZ611 'Z', 13th Squadron, RAF, Italy 1945; and Boston Mk.V BX604 'B', 18th Squadron, RAF, Italy 1945. Each aircraft is finished in Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. The decal sheet is nicely printed. Conclusion As this is the only modern tooling of the Boston in 1:72 scale, it’s fairly easy to recommend it to modellers interested in adding the type to their collection. It looks good on the sprue, although opinion seems to be divided on how easy it is to build. Some people have reported fit issues whilst others have stated that the kit is a breeze to build. Nevertheless, it is still the best Boston out there and can be firmly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 1:72 Airfix A true cold war icon, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was conceived as an all-weather, long-range fighter bomber for the US Navy. It flew for the first time in 1958 and, over fifty years later, it is still in service with modern air forces such as that of Greece. More than five thousand Phantoms have been built, making it one of the most successful post-war fighter aircraft. The F-4K, known in Royal Navy/RAF service as the FG.1, was developed from the F-4J, itself a development of the original F-4B used by the US Marines Corps and US Navy. The FG.1 was heavily Anglicised, with Rolls Royce Spey engines, a redesigned rear fuselage to accommodate the larger engines, and British avionics. The Phantom served successfully with The Royal Navy and RAF from the late 1960s, finally passed out of service in 1992. As you might expect of an aircraft that was so widely used over such a long period of time, a huge range of Phantom kits are available in all of the major scales. British Phantoms in this scale are somewhat thinner on the ground, however, with the ancient offering from Hasegawa/FROG, the slightly less ancient but still not very good kit from Matchbox, and the quite old but actually rather good Fujimi kit. Thanks to Airfix, there is finally a new kid on the block. Inside the red top-opening box are seven frames of grey plastic and a single clear frame. The mouldings are clean and crisp with plenty of detail, but the panel lines are something of a throwback to Airfix's earlier efforts, being both broader and deeper than those of the Fujimi kit, which is some thirty years older. Assembly begins with the cockpit. Each of the Martin Baker ejector seats are nicely detailed, with the seat chassis and headbox moulded separately to the cushion and harness. The tub, instrument panels and side consoles are nicely detailed, although decals, rather than moulded details, are used to represent the controls. Before the cockpit can be sandwiched between the fuselage halves, there are small fillets that have to be added at the rear of the fuselage. There are different parts to use depending on whether you want to finish your model in wheels up or down configuration. The engine air intakes also have to be assembled at this stage and fitted inside the fuselage halves. Once complete, the fuselage halves can be joined together and the part for the fuselage spine fitted in place. The engine turbine faces and the internal parts of the jet exhausts can be fitted from the underside of the fuselage before the central portion of the fuselage, which is moulded with the inner wing halves. The internal structures of the undercarriage bays are added prior to fitting this part in place. With the fuselage and inner wing largely complete, construction turns to the rest of the flying surfaces. The upper parts of the inner wing just fit to the lower wing and but up against the fuselage. The tail planes can then be added and the separately moulded rudder fitted into place. The flaps/ailerons and slats are all moulded separately to the wing, which poses some intriguing possibilities for finishing your model. Turning the now largely complete model over, the undercarriage is quite nicely detailed. despite the fairly large number of superfluous parts, you have to cut away the torque scissor link on one side of the nose gear leg in order to depict the leg in non-extended position. A range of ordnance is provided, including four Skyflash missiles, four dummy Skyflash missiles (I've never seen dummy missiles included with a kit), four Sidewinders, drop tanks and the centre line gun pod. The in-flight refuelling probe can be finished in open or closed position and a choice of canopies are included so you can finished yours open or closed. In one last flourish, you can finish your model with the radome folded to one side. The radar unit can then be added, with the radar scanner itself exposed or tucked into the folded part of the radome. You will have to carefully cut the radome away to build the model in this configuration, but the results should be well worth it. Two options are provided on the decal sheet: XV582 'Black Mike' of No. 111 Squadron, Royal Air Force, September 1989; and XV573 of No. 43 Squadron, RAF Leuchars, 1974. The first aircraft is, of course, finished in overall black, while the second is finished in Dark Sea Grey and Dark Green over Light Aircraft Grey. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and a staggering quantity of stencils are included. Conclusion Airfix's Phantom caused no small amount of excitement when it was first announced, but when the kit finally arrived the reception was somewhat muted. Although accurate in scale and outline, the panel lines are suprisingly deep and some small details such as the engine air intake bleed air vents being depicted by decals rather than moulded detail. Nonetheless, it's still good to have another UK Phantom to choose from, and I'm sure it will build up into a pleasing replica of the real thing. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Resin Turrets for Panzer V Panther 1:72 OKB Grigorov Last time I reviewed the output of OKB Grigorov, a producer of resin kits and accessories from Bulgaria, their product line up had a distinctly nautical theme. Fast forward a few years and they are still happily churning out the resin, but have now expanded into the world of AFV kits and accessories. In this review we'll take a look at a couple of their replacement Panther turrets. Neither turret appears to be designed for a particular base kit, so it's up to you to pick the appropriate model and run with it. Turret for Pz.V Panther Panzerbeobachtungswagen First up is the Panzerbeobachtungswagen (artillery observation) turret conversion. From what I can find on the interweb, a single prototype was constructed in 1943, based on the Panzer V Ausf.G. A short series production apparently followed. The main gun was replaced with a dummy, while an optical rangefinder was added to the turret. OKB Grigorov's conversion is made from their usual grey resin. Everything is nicely cast and the details ar exceptionally crisp and sharp. Also included in the tiny box is a clear part for the cupola and a small fret of brass details. Turret for Pz.V Panther Ausf. F, Rheinmetall Proposal The second set enables the modeller to build the Panther Ausf.F 'Schmalturm'. The Schmalturn design was narrower than the standard turret, which increased protection while saving weight. It was also easier to manufacture. In order to accommodate the necessary stereoscopic rangefinder, it featured a small bulge on either side of the turret. The proposal never entered series production. Once again, OKB Grigorov's turret is really nicely made, with sharp, crisp details. The 75mm main gun is made from turned brass, which is a really useful and will avoid the need to purchase an additional part. Again, a clear part is provided for the cupola vision slits. Conclusion I can't really fault either of these items from OKB Grigorov. The quality of production is very high indeed and they will enable us modellers to represent a couple of interesting Panther variants. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17F 'Fresco' (Shenyang J5) A03091 1:72 Airfix Although outwardly similar to the MiG-15, the MiG-17 was in fact a heavily revised design that drew upon the lessons learned in the development of the USSR's first swept-wing fighter. While the forward fuselage, landing gear and engine were carried across from the MiG-15, the rear fuselage was longer and more tapered. The wing was entirely new as well, being both thinner and more sharply swept. This both raised the maximum speed of the aircraft and aided controllability at transonic speeds. Although it shared its armament with its predecessor, it also gained a radar gun sight, cribbed from a captured F-86. The MiG-17F was fitted with an afterburner, which significantly boosted the rate of climb and meant supersonic speed was just about possible in a shallow dive. The MiG-17 was built in huge numbers, with over 10,000 rolling off Soviet, Chinese and Polish production lines. It was used in combat by several nations, most notably in the Vietnam War where it was credited with 28 aerial victories. The MiG-17 hasn't been all that well represented by manufacturers of plastic kits over the years. Efforts from the likes of Hasegawa, KP and Dragon all have their problems and are all showing their age, while the otherwise rather good AZ Model kit is limited run and by all accounts the moulds are starting to show their age. Enter Airfix with an all-new tooling. Inside the box are three frames of grey parts, a small frame of clear parts, instructions and decals. The parts are nicely moulded but the panel lines are on the heavy side, which is always more noticeable on a small kit like this. From reading Airfix's workbench blog it's clear that this is a Lidar-scanned model, so the dimensions and general arrangement of shapes should be spot on. Despite this, there has been some debate about the accuracy of the kit on this and other forums. I have found our own KRK4m's analysis very helpful in that he confirmed the kit is very accurate in scale and general outline, but has an issue in terms of the leading edge of the wing (easy fix) and the aerofoil cross section (not an easy fix). Of course the stark reality is that these issues won't concern most modellers, so with that in mind, let's have a look at what is in the box. Construction starts with the cockpit, and like most kits of the MiG-15 or -17, the cockpit tub is made up of parts that also form the inner part of the intake fairing. Moulded detail is actually very nice. Not on a part with Eduard's MiG-15, but then the two models are not really comparable in terms of engineering and philosophy. Decals are provided to add extra detail to the instrument panel and sidewalls. I'm not sure what happened to the ejection seat, but Airfix appear to have carried this across from the MiG-15 rather than replicating the seat commonly fitted to the MiG-17. Should this trouble you greatly, aftermarket alternatives are available. Once the cockpit sub-assembly is complete, the engine exhaust and afterburner can be assembled. Because the external faces of the jet exhaust also double up as the insides of the air brake assembly, there are alternative parts with and without moulded detail for this area - a really nice touch from Airfix. Once both of these parts are assembled, the fuselage can be joined. A clear part which represents the radio compass cover must also be fitted at this stage. Once the fuselage halves have been joined, the front-lower part of the fuselage, which includes the muzzle detail for the cannons, can be fitted, along with the engine air intake fairing. The wings are next. If you wish to fit the optional drop tanks, you will need to drill the pre-marked holes in the lower wing surface at this stage. The wings are pretty simple to build, with the wing fences moulded in place. The kink in the wing leading edge is present and correct, but you may wish to re-profile the leading edge if the apparent lack of sharpness troubles you. Personally I can easily live with this on an aircraft so small. With the wings in place, the tail planes can be assembled. The landing gear is nicely detailed and there are some nice touches such as detail moulded on the inside of the gear doors. As mentioned above, the air brakes can be fitted in open or closed positions, although you'll need to have committed to one option or the other earlier in the build process. The canopy is nicely made and has the periscope moulded in place. There is even an oil drum included to prevent the model from sitting on its tail if you didn't manage to cram in the necessary 20 grams of weight. Two options are provided on the decal sheet: ⦁ MiG-17F 3020, flown by Le Hai, 932nd Fighter Regiment, Vietnam People's Air Force, Tho Xuan, August 1969. This aircraft is finished in a disruptive two-tone green scheme; and ⦁ MiG-17F 'Blue 51', Nauchno-Issledovatel'skiy Institut Voyenno-Vozdooshnykh Seel (NII VVS – air force scientific research institute, USSR, 1970s. This airaft is finished in overall silver. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and a full set of stencils are included. Conclusion Although this kit isn't perfect, by my reckoning it is still just about the best MiG-17 available in the scale. It's a shame that the kit has some niggling issues, but I'm going to stick my neck our and say that they shouldn't detract from the fact that the kit is accurate in size and outline and should be a fun, straightforward build. I'm certainly looking forward to building mine. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Hurricane Mk.IIc (Expert Set) 70035 1:72 Arma Hobby Although somewhat less glamorous than the Supermarine Spitfire, it was the Hawker Hurricane that proved to be the backbone of the UK's air defences during the summer of 1940. Designed in 1935, the Hurricane was relatively advanced compared to other fighters in service at that point. It featured a fully enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage, eight .303 inch machine guns, a powerful liquid-cooled V12 engine and, most importantly, a cantilever monoplane. Despite its modern appearance, the design and manufacturing techniques were thoroughly conventional. This proved useful when it came to manufacture because the aircraft was easy to produce, repair and maintain. The Hurricane's first kill was achieved on 21st October 1939 when 46 Sqn found and attacked a squadron of Heinkel He115s over the North Sea. The Mk.IIC was a much improved version, armed with four 20mm cannon and equipped with the Rolls Royce Merlin XX engine, capable of developing almost 1,500hp. These aircraft were generally used for ground attack and night fighting duties as, despite the improvements, it couldn't quite compete with the best the Luftwaffe had to offer. Arma Hobby hail from Warsaw, Poland. Although a relatively new name to the hobby, I've been mightily impressed with their products and in particular the way they manage to combine fine detail with ease of assembly. The moulded plastic parts are as well-made as anything I've seen from the big names in the hobby, with crisp panel lines and a finesse of finish that really helps their kits to stand out. This makes for appealing kits that you really want to build as soon as you handle the plastic. As this is an Expert Set, you get extra decal options, paint masks and a small fret of brass parts too. The decals look excellent and the full-colour instructions are equally impressive. Although this kit follows on from Arma Hobby's earlier Hurricane Mk.I, as the kit is presented on a single frame of parts it is to all intents and purposes an entirely new model. Construction starts with the wing and the main landing gear wheel well. This is assembled and sandwiched between the surfaces of the single span upper and lower wing. With the wings assembled, construction moves on to the cockpit. Some of the parts, such as the rudder pedal and control column, are added onto the floor that is moulded as part of the upper wing, while the remaining parts including the instrument panel, seat and structural framework are sandwiched between the fuselage halves. The small fret of photo etched parts comes into play at this juncture, providing the seat harnesses, instrument panel, compass and throttle control. Once the fuselage halves have been joined, the previously assembled main wing can then be added, along with the vertical and horizontal tail. The rudder is a solid part, while the elevators are moulded separately. The tail wheel and main wheels can now be added. Flat spots are moulded in place on the main wheels, and as this is part of Arma Hobby's 'Expert Set' range, pre-cut paint masks are provided for all of the wheels. Once the landing gear doors have been added, the radiator and carburettor intake can be assembled. Again the photo etch comes into play, providing parts for the latter as well as the landing lights, exhaust flame shields and pilot's footstep. The tropical air filter for HV560 can also be added at this stage. Last but not least, the four 20mm cannon barrels, the propeller and spinner and the aerial mast can be added, as well as the two-part canopy for which masks are provided. The decal options include: Hurricane Mk IIc, BE500/LK-A, 87 Squadron RAF, Spring 1942, flown by Squadron Leader Denis Smallwood. This aircraft is finished in overall black; Hurricane Mk IIc, BE500/LK-A, 87 Squadron RAF, Operation Jubilee, Dieppe Raid, 19 August 1942, flown by Squadron Leader Denis Smallwood and Flight Sergeant Henryk Józef Trybulec. This aircraft is finished in Dark Green and Ocean Grey over black; Hurricane Mk IIc, Z3899/JX-W, 1 Squadron RAF, November 1941. This aircraft is finished in Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey; and Hurricane Mk IIc trop, HV560/FT-Z, 43 Squadron RAF, Maison Blanche, Algieria, December, 1942, flown by Squadron Leader Michael "Micky" Rook. This aircraft is finished in Dark Green and Dark Earth over Sky Blue. The decals are superbly printed and a full set of stencils is included. Conclusion I'm always glad to see an Arma Hobby kit in my review boxes as, in my experience they really kit the sweet spot between detail and buildability. The care and attention they take with the design and production of each model is a key feature of their kits, and this is no exception. The amount and quality of detail on offer is easily on a par with their competitors, but the kit is not over-engineered and should be easy to build as a result. The decal options are excellent too. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. German Kanonen und Flakwagen of BP-42 (82925) 1:72 Hobbyboss The Wehrmacht made good use of the European railway network during the Second World War, moving men and material to the front line quickly and efficiently. The railway network became an obvious target for sabotage, which in turn meant that armoured trains became a natural requirement, particularly for operating in high risk areas where partisans might be present. Unfortunately the rapid development of ground attack aircraft meant that armoured trains became ineffective for the role they were intended to fulfil. Mike reviewed Hobbyboss's BR57 armoured locomotive some time ago (quite by accident, because he forgot to check the scale) and I've reviewed various iterations of their armoured wagons. This is the latest in the series, depicting a variant armed with quad flak and cannon turrets. In classic Hobbyboss style, the kit is tightly packed into a sturdy box, with everything meticulously wrapped to ensure it survives the journey from China to wherever you are. The kit is very simple, composed of a handful or slide-moulded parts, two sprues of smaller parts and two sprues holding Hobbyboss's standard track sections. Also in the box are the instructions, a glossy A4 painting sheet and a small sheet of generic decals. The detail of the slide-moulded parts is excellent, with crisp and fine surface details. Construction begins with the lower chassis. The axles and wheels fit in from above and are then boxed in so there is no see-through effect. As with other similar kits from Hobbyboss, the brake blocks are moulded in place on the wheels, while the leaf spring suspension units are separate parts. The buffers and couplings are provided for either end. The 2cm Flakvierling 38 mount is a mini-model in its own right, although in usual Hobbyboss style, the part count isn't excessive. There are some nice touches, including spare magazines and a nicely moulded splinter shield. The howitzer turret is a very simple affair by comparison, and it should be noted that none of the turrets can be posed in the open position (not that there is any interior detail in any case). The track is split into four sections, the joins in which are cleverly matched to the natural breaks and joined with nicely moulded fish plates. If you really want to hide the joins properly, some 00 gauge ballast could be used, while the detail could really be ramped up with some proper track. Only one colour scheme is included on the sheet, for a vehicle with a base of Dark Yellow, over which Red brown and Field Green stripes are applied in a similar fashion to contemporary armoured vehicles. Given how filthy railway rolling stock gets due to the soot and grease, there is huge scope for the builder to express him or herself with weathering. Conclusion I thought Hobbyboss had finished their range of German armoured trains, but apparently not. This model - ho ho - rails (that pun never gets old) against the trend of producing models with ever increasing levels of detail and complexity. It will make a great model when paired with Hobboyboss's BR57 and other armoured wagons. Whatever you decide to do with it, you can't deny that it's nice to have a mainstream model of this interesting subject. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Vickers Wellington GR Mk.VIII (A08020) 1:72 Airfix The Vickers Wellington was a twin-engined medium bomber that entered service with the RAF in 1938. It served throughout the Second World War before finally being retired in 1953. Although the Wellington hasn't quite enjoyed the profile of some the RAF's heavy bombers such as the Lancaster or Halifax, it was produced in far greater numbers than either and made a vital contribution to the Allied war effort. It is popularly believed that the Wellington was designed by Barnes Wallis, inventor of the famous bouncing bomb. While it's true that the geodetic structure was invented by Barnes Wallis (albeit originally for airships), the Wellington was actually designed by Rex Pierson, Vickers' chief designer and father of the Vimy biplane bomber. Although superseded in the night bomber role by heavy bombers, the Wellington proved adaptable to other purposes, such as those of Coastal Command. The GR Mk.VIII was converted from the Mk.Ic for reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-shipping purposes. The Wellington was the only British bomber to be manufactured throughout the war. Airfix's released this kit in 2018, continuing their policy of replacing old kits from their back catalogue (their original kit was released when the Wellington could still be considered relatively modern!). As was the case with their Whitley, it was inevitable that a Coastal Command version would follow at some point. Inside the red top-opening box adorned with the usual high-quality Adam Tooby artwork are eight frames of grey plastic and a single clear frame. The mouldings are clean and crisp, with fine surface detail and delicate rendering of the characteristic surface texture of the Wellington. The assembly instructions are divided into over 100 stages, which gives a good indication of the level of detail Airfix have managed to pack in to this model. The interior in particular is very detailed - on a part with their earlier Shackleton. Interior details include full crew stations for the pilot, wireless operator and navigator, as well as the ubiquitous Elsan chemical bog. The interior structures reflect the geodetic structure of the Wimpey and will occupy many fruitful days of modelling time to assemble and paint. If you don't have the time or patience for this labour of love, have a gander at the preamble to the instructions. Here you will find a diagram highlights all of the finely detailed parts that will be completely invisible to the human eye once that fuselage has been cemented shut, and which can therefore be omitted or simply painted the same colour as the rest of the interior. I know which option I'll be taking! Once you make it to step 29 of the instructions, it's time to fit the wing spar and cement those fuselage halves together. There are different parts to use depending on whether you wish to finish the model with the bomb bay open or closed and the landing gear up or down. As a result of all of these options, even something simple such as the assembly of the engine fairings occupies fourteen steps of the instruction manual. The interior of the main gear bays are nicely detailed though. Once the wings have been assembled, the ailerons can be fitted as well as the engine firewalls and the landing gear legs. Before the engines themselves can be fitted, the instructions skip ahead to the rest of the flying surfaces. the rudder and elevators are all separate parts, which introduce the option of posing them in different positions. The instructions then return to the engines. Although each nine-cylinder Bristol Pegasus engine is moulded as a singe part, they are nicely detailed. With the main structure of the aircraft complete, the bomb racks, complete with six depth charges, can be added. The nose and tail turrets can also be assembled and fitted at this stage (or the glass nose if building HX379), each of which is nicely detailed right down to the .303 inch Browning machine guns. All of the fuselage glazing can be fitted in place from the outside of the fuselage at the end of the build, which is a bit of a bonus. The main landing gear wheels are fitted next. These feature nicely rendered flat spots, so your model won't look like it's on tiptoes once finished. As this is the Gr. Mk.VIII version, there are lots of antennas to fit to the fuselage top and sides, as well as unders the wings and forward fuselage. A crew access ladder is also provided. Two options are provided on the original decal sheet, with a further two on the Kits-World sheet: ⦁ Vickers Wellington GR Mk.VIII HX379, No. 172 Squadron, RAF Chivenor, Devon, UK, October 1942. This aircraft is finished in the Temperate Sea Scheme. ⦁ Vickers Wellington GR Mk.VIII HX485, No.38 Squadron, RAF Gambut, Libya, late 1942. This aircraft is finished in the Mediterranean scheme of Dark Earth and Mid Stone over Black. The decals themselves look thin and glossy. Conclusion It's about time we had a decent Wellington in 1/72 scale, and Airfix haven't disappointed. This kit is more subtle that Trumpeter's effort, more detailed (and hopefully easier to build) that MPM's kit and altogether more modern than ye olde Matchbox kit. The interior is stupendously detailed, the surface texture is just right and the overall shape looks pretty good to me. With this kit, I think Airfix have delivered the definitive kit of this important aircraft. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. AV-8B Resin Accessories for Hasegawa Kit 1:72 Brengun Hasegawa's AV-8B Harrier has been around for a good while now. It represents classic Hasegawa in the sense that it provides everything you need to build a high quality Harrier while never going over the top in terms of engineering or detail. The kit has also been re-released by Revell on at least one occasion. Now Brengun have released a swathe of resin goodies to update and upgrade an already impressive kit. AV-8B Nozzles (BRL72183) This set provides nicely detailed hot and cold exhaust nozzles. Aside from the crisp detail, the parts are cast in one piece which will negate the need to spend ages tidying up the two-part kit items. I've used similar sets in the past and found them to be far superior to the kit items, as well as being much easier to use. AV-8B Cockpit (BRL72182) This set contains upgrade parts for the kit's cockpit. Unlike many upgrade sets, which contain a complete replacement cockpit tub, this set is designed to be used alongside the kit parts. Included in the set are sidewall details and consoles, a choice of instrument panels (for Night Attack and... um, Day Attack versions) and a fret of photo etched parts, most of which are upgrade parts for the kit's seat, as well as other bits and bobs. I personally would have preferred a resin seat, but that could still be an option as there are many of those available. AV-8B Night Attack Nose (BRL72184)] If you don't have the Night Attack version of the Hasegawa kit, with the FLIR bump built into the nose cone, then you can simply stick this bad boy on the front and hey presto. The resin is beautifully cast and nicely detailed and, thanks to the design of the Hase kit, you don't even need to saw off the old nose to use it. AV-8B Wheels (BRL72185) This set includes replacement wheels for the kit, including the outrigger wheels, as well as a replacement for the lower part of the nose gear leg. There is a tiny fret of photo etched parts that includes scissor links that can be added to the kit legs as well. The resin is nicely cast and includes fine detail on the tyres that is absent from the kit parts. Conclusion Hasegawa's AV-8B Harrier II is an excellent kit and I'm sure it will remain a popular choice with modellers for quite some time to come. While these sets join a somewhat crowded marketplace, the quality is sufficient for them to be able to hold their own and provide a useful option for modellers looking to upgrade their kit. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Pre-Cut Kabuki Masks for Revell Avro Shackleton AEW.2 (NWAM0465) 1:72 New Ware New Ware are a Czech company who are probably best known for their real space kits and upgrade parts. They are also well known for their large (and growing) range of pre-cut paint masks for model aircraft kits. Here we have a set of masks for Revell's Shackleton AEW.2, but if you peruse the Hannants catalogue under the New Ware name, you'll see pages and pages of sets that are both comprehensive in content and wallet friendly too. In their Shackleton kit, you get a full set of masks for the transparent parts (of which there are many) as well as masks for the landing gear. Rather thoughtfully, there are some spare masks included just in case you need them. While these masks won't add extra detail to your models, they will save you a great deal of time as well as providing you with the certainty of a nice, neat finish. They really are a time saver and as such they are well worth considering particularly if, like me, your modelling time is restricted. See the full range available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  14. September Sky 1939 (72528) 2 in 1: PZL 37 B II and PZL P.11a 1:72 IBG Models In the early hours of 1 September 1939, German forces began the invasion of Poland, triggering a global conflict that would endure for over 2000 days and claim the lives of millions of combatants and civilians. At the time of the outbreak of war, Poland's air force comprised around 800 aircraft. Some types were outdated but many, such as the PZL 37 B were state of the art designs. In this box, IBG Models have packaged two of their kits to represent the Polish Air Force during the early days of the campaign. Included in IBG's package is their PZL P.11a fighter aircraft and PZL 37 B II bomber kits. In usual IBG Models style, there are photo etched parts provided to enhance detail and also marking options appropriate to the period depicted. As we've already review the PZL P.11a here, I will focus on the 37B II bomber for this review. The PZL 37 Łoś (Moose) was a medium bomber designed in-house at the PZL factory in Warsaw. Early 'A' versions were fitted with a single vertical stabilizer, while later 'A' and 'B' version featured an improved twin tail. At the time of its entry into service, the PZL 37 was one of the most advanced bomber aircraft in the world and there was significant interest in both acquisition of export variants and licence production by a number of foreign nations. The PZL 37 was used by the Polish Air Force following the invasion in September 1939. 26 survivors were withdrawn to Romania and were eventually used by the Romanian Air Force. Captured examples were also tested by Germany and the USSR. Of the original production batch, none survive today. Construction of the twin-engined bomber starts with the interior. The internal elements of the bomb bay must be assembled first, as the roof of the bomb bay forms the floor of the cockpit. Four (two small and two large) bombs are provided. The crew area comprises seats for the pilot and bomb aimer, as well as a nicely detailed bomb sight, control column, three 7.92mm machine guns and plenty of sidewall detail. The fret of photo etched parts contributes extra details for the control column, throttle controls and seat harnesses. Aside from the rather nice extra details, there is also plenty of detail moulded into the fuselage sidewalls. Once the interior sub-assembly is complete, the whole lot can be sandwiched between the fuselage halves. The instructions recommend fitting the rather nice transparent parts at this stage. Once in place, it becomes clear just how sleek this aircraft is. As is the norm with IBG Model kits, the control surfaces are all moulded separately and can be posed if desired. Construction then turns to the engines and wings. Two different engine types are provided, each of which comprises a main block, photo etched ignition wiring, a three-part cowling and propeller with two-part spinner. Construction of the wings is more complex that you might think. Each of the main landing gear bays is built up from photo etched parts, while the wing root bomb bays are a plastic frame moulded in just one part. For some reason I would have thought this method of assembly would have been reversed, but the photo etched parts shouldn't be too difficult to fold and glue in place. eight small bombs are provided to fill the wing bomb bays. Again, the flaps and ailerons are separate parts. The decal sheet provides two options for each type: PZL P.11a, 112th Fighter Squadron, Zielonka Airfield, Poland, September 1939; PZL P.11a, 111th Fighter Squadron, Zielonka Airfield, Poland, September 1939; PZL 37 B Łoś, 16th Bomber Squadron, September 1939; and PZL 37 B Łoś, 17th Bomber Squadron, September 1939. The decals are nicely printed and a small selection of stencils has been included too. Conclusion There has been a noticeable resurgence of interest in the early WWII period, with the likes of Airfix and IBG Models releasing a number of types in recent years. It's nice to see IBG Models paying tribute to the brave men of the Polish Air Force with such a high quality set. I've reviewed the PZL P.11 a couple of times before, but this is the first time I've seen their PZL 37B. Happily the kit doesn't disappoint and it displays the characteristic crisp moulding and fine detail we've come to expect from the Polish manufacturer. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. If you'll forgive the lyrical flourish, I wrote that because the kit is subtitled '7 nations air force' and there are options to represent 7 different air forces on the decal sheet. The reference to specific aircraft is from the painting and marking guide.
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