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  1. Kawasaki Otsu-1 Sal.2A2 (KPM0326) 1:72 Kovozávody Prostějov Salmson was a French aviation manufacturer that created the Model 2 reconnaissance aircraft for a WWI requirement, and the resulting type saw substantial service with the French Air Force during the last years of the Great War. As the American aviation industry was somewhat behind Europe due to their country’s late entry into the war, the type was also pressed into service with the nascent US Air Service, with an impressive 700 used. Salmson originally made pumping equipment, but changed to automobile and aviation manufacturing during the early part of the 20th century, even producing their own aviation engines. They eventually went back to their roots, leaving aviation behind them and are currently still operating in that industry. The Salmson 2 was available in a number of variants, the 2A2 being the standard edition that was equipped with a Z9 Water-cooled 9-cyl radial engine of their own manufacture, and as they had originally built the Sopwith 1.5 Strutter under license, its replacement bore some resemblance to its forebear. They were also license built by Kawasaki as the Otsu-1 in Japan where it served into the 20s. The Kit This is a reboxing of the 2022 kit, so effectively a new tool as it differs by the decals included in the kit. It arrives in a small end-opening box that has a painting of the type on the front, and the decal options on the rear. Inside are two sprues in grey styrene, a small sheet of printed acetate sheet, a decal sheet, and instructions inside a resealable clear foil bag. The instruction booklet is identical between the American and Kawasaki kits, as they build identically and differ only in their painting and decaling. Our reviews will be very similar in that way, as we don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the fuselage top with its twin cockpit openings, an instrument panel in the front of the forward bay and a headrest upstand behind it. A pair of short struts fit between the two openings, and another two struts are inserted into the cockpit floor, exiting through the rear of the pilot’s aperture, with a simple basket seat, control column and rudder pedals for his use, and a fuel tank between the crew stations. This assembly is trapped between the fuselage halves, which have detail moulded inside them where it will be seen as well as externally to replicate the fabric exterior. The cockpit openings insert joins to the fuselage, threading the afore mentioned struts through the pilot’s slot, and adding the engine cowling to the front, which is made up from a three-section cowling ring and separate front lip that has a multi-blade fan moulded inside that hides the engine, doing an impression of a jet engine until you add the two-blade prop of course. The pilot’s deck is outfitted with a tube sight and a Vickers machine gun that fires through the prop, and the acetate sheet is cut to the printed shape to form the small windscreen that keeps at least some of the engine oil off his face. Another windscreen keeps the oil off the back of the gunner’s head, and his circular opening has a simple C-shaped mount for twin Lewis guns that can be glued in place at any angle to simulate the ring that it was mounted on. The tail of the beast is simple and yet complex, having a single part depicting the elevators, and another for the rudder. There are two V-shaped supports under the elevators, and a tripod made from three individual lengths to steady the rudder fin, with another diagram showing where the control wires should be. The lower wing is full-width and passes under the fuselage, and there are eight interplane struts that looks a little like baguettes in the diagrams due to their narrow ends, but I digress. Under the wing the main gear legs consist of two tripodal braces with an aerodynamically faired axle onto which the two wheels are glued at the ends. Individual radiator fins are glued under the cowling, and a wind-powered fuel pump is fitted to the gear legs, then it’s time to put the upper wing on. Attaching the wing should be relatively simple, lining up the twelve struts with the holes in the underside of the upper wing, but that is without considering the rigging. A drawing shows where the various rigging wires should go, and you can use your preferred method of getting the task accomplished and make good any repainting that may be required after hiding the holes for the rigging material. For the avoidance of doubt, you will need to supply your own rigging thread, and folks have their own preferences here too. Markings There are three options on the rear of the box, all in Japanese service in the 1920s, a litte variation of scheme between them, and plenty of Hinomaru on display. From the box you can build one of the following: Black 316, 1920s Black 1123, Mid 1920s Black 1190 Mid 1920s The decals are well-printed with good register, sharpness and colour density, which includes a simple instrument panel decal to assist you with the cockpit. Conclusion The 2A2 was a fairly important reconnaissance aircraft in the later part of WWI, and its design is relatively modern-looking when compared to some of the earlier stringbags. The contrast of the silver or plain fabric finish and the bright red of the markings really stand out. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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