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  1. A French design of the 1950's, the Magister trainer is immediately recognisable by the 'butterfly' tail. If anyone knows the correct aeronautical term for the angled tailplane/elevator I'd be glad to hear from you! Why this build? My wife is Belgian, so any kit I come across with a Belgian marking option is up for consideration, plus I rather like a colourful training aircraft. Two boxes ticked then. The kit is from Special Hobby, comprising five sets of sprues that are a very tight fit in the side opening box (a few small parts were broken in mine). The parts are very nicely detailed, far better than I honestly expected. I did have some fit issues along the way; the cockpit floor/seats/IP assembly was too wide for the fuselage halves, and took a lot of carving and whittling to make all fit. The long clear canopy is made up of no-less than six parts, and was a trial in itself... fine if you want to pose the pilot and/or instructor canopies open, but a right fiddle if you prefer the clean lines from having them all closed. I deviated from the kit scheme of a BAF example from the Congo in 1960. I opted not to fit the two nose-mounted guns and instead went for a standard trainer fit from the mid '60s, based on photos from the web (the Belgian Wings website is the go-to place). This also meant I would have to modify the rearmost part of the canopy, because by then BAF Magisters had a white painted finish and acquired a pair of air scoop 'ears', two blisters and a group of three louvres. Pictures:- The improvements I tried to make were:- Filling in most of the panel lines on the wings, tail, and forward fuselage. I think this makes it look much more realistic. My preferred method is gluing in lengths of stretched sprue which sand down easily when dry. The most worthwhile thing I did!! Cockpit; detailed with homemade belts, IP wires, hoses, etc. I also detailed the periscope for the instructor in the rear seat. I thought all this would be worth the time and trouble as there's a lot of clear glass, but alas, as it's nearly all painted black you can't really see anything... Rear canopy; blisters were crash-moulded, the scoops are scratched from strip, and thin strips of black decal were used for the louvres and the prominent rubber seal around the white-painted area. Jet pipes; from plastic tube, reamed out to make the edges more in-scale, and fitted so that they protruded slightly from the exhaust fairings. Aerials; three blades with their mounting plates from strip. Underwing lamp and tail light from clear sprue Pitot tubes (?) directly in front of the windshield were scratched from strip and rod Hydraulic lines added to undercarriage legs, from wire (practically invisible...) Aileron trim tab actuators are supplied in the kit, but are a bit chunky, so were replaced with strip and sprue. Thanks for looking!
  2. The Special Hobby Mirage IIICJ kit hasn't been out for long. I haven't eevn completed a straight build of it yet but I'm going to mess around with it. I will build the kit as one of the Israeli "Tzniut" recce conversions, with the freakishly weird nose. The recce nose parts are from the AML kit which I built as a Mirage prototype in the recent Prototypes GB. The AML kit actually provides two choices of recce nose. The Tzniut nose is utterly bizarre! It is shown on the boxart of the AML kit.
  3. I've built a lot of Special Hobby Mirage F1s in the last six years. It's one of my favourite kits. However, every one that I have built in French markings has been in the original blue scheme. Time to put that right. This will be a Mirage F1CT in the later green and grey disruptive pattern and roundels without the yellow ring. Even better, it will be in the overall camouflage scheme. This is the kit. Not from a box, but a bag. Special Hobby term these "simple kits" as they have no decals. The sprues. I'm sure you have all seen these many times before. The decals are from Printscale. My subject may even be No 3 as shown. I like the look of that honking great belly tank. Another one for the flightline, @Sam
  4. I seem to have lost my mind... Over in the Dassault GB I am building two Mirage IIIs and a Mirage F1. In this GB I am building two Mirage IIIs. So in the interests of symmetry it seems only fair that I build a Mirage F1 as well. So far, every Mirage F1 that I have built in French markings has been in the classic blue air defence scheme. I fancied a change in the Dassault GB and so am building an F1CT in the tactical scheme, which I have never done before. It changes the whole look of the aircraft. I'm very pleased with how that build is progressing as the camouflage looks really good, so I suddenly had the urge to build another... This will be a Mirage F1CR using the last of my Special Hobby "simple kits". Not to worry though, I still have plenty of boxed SH F1s in The Stash. I'm planning on building a Greek one in the Southern Europe GB and a Spanish one in either the Southern Europe GB or the Desert GB. Just had a very silly idea... But back to this build. Here is the kit with the in-progress F1CT in the background. The sprues, in photos cribbed straight from my F1CT build. The decals will be from this Print Scale sheet to represent an aircraft of ER 1/33 Belfort.
  5. Special Hobby is to release a family of Allison engined 1/72nd Curtiss P-40 Warhawk kits from P-40E to N. Source: http://www.specialhobby.net/2017/02/info-z-norimberku-no2.html V.P.
  6. A-17/DB-8 Masks (M72045) 1:72 Special Mask We reviewed the kit that this is intended for last week at time of writing, and you can see that here, as well as a little about the brave Dutch pilots that went to war in them, despite them being unsuitable to the task they were given. This set of masks will help cover the greenhouse canopy sections, plus the lower window in the scabbed-on hump below the gunner’s position, and also for the wheels, both main and tail, allowing you to cut the demarcation perfectly with little effort. The instructions are straight forward, showing numbers for each section corresponding with the individual panes, and the three wheels, for which you get masks for both sides that just need the outer edges curving over and any remaining spaces filling with some spare tape to prevent any over-spray. Masks are a great time-saver when they fit, which is pretty much guaranteed from providers such as Special Hobby, due to careful testing. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. PT Boat Weapon Set #1 Mk.4 20mm Oerlikon Cannon (N72030 for Revell) 1:72 CMK Navy Series by Special Hobby The American PT boat series were fast, agile and well-armed to deal with the Japanese enemy in the Pacific theatre for the most part. Revell’s kits of these famous sea-borne warriors are quite old now, so upgrades to the level of detail to modern standards is a worthwhile proposition. This set is number one of a series of sets that are now available for the basic kit, and it depicts the much-used Swiss developed Mk.4 Oerlikon 20mm cannon that saw extensive use both at sea and in the air during WWII, ironically based on a WWI German design. They were often seen mounted on the foredeck of PT boats, and in a circular ‘band-stand’ installation on the British MTBs amongst many other uses. The set arrives in a white cardboard box with a captive top flap and sticker showing the contents. Inside are three bags of resin parts, the traditional cast resin in grey, and the 3D printed parts in a light orange colour. Additionally, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) provides more parts, and all this is protected by the instruction sheet and an additional glossy sheet that advertises some of Special Hobby’s other maritime upgrade sets. Construction begins with creating the conical mount, which starts with a flat circular base onto which the riser fits, adding a 3D printed adjustment wheel and the trunnion on a circular base that holds the cannon in position. A 3D printed magazine and twin shoulder rests finish the cannon, adding the two-part PE ring and bead sight on a tapering mount between the magazine and rear of the breech. There is also an upgraded rectangular locker included in the box to replace the kit part with additional detail. The detail that resin and 3D printed parts bring to the installation will be a huge improvement over the original. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Special Hobby reissue expected in May 2023 - ref. SH72480 - Saab J/A-21R Source: https://www.specialhobby.net/2023/03/sh72480-saab-ja-21r-first-swedish-made.html Box art V.P.
  9. PT Boat Weapon Set #4 (N72040 for Revell) 1:72 CMK Navy Series by Special Hobby The American PT boat series were fast, agile and well-armed to deal with the Japanese enemy in the Pacific theatre for the most part. Revell’s kits of these famous sea-borne warriors are quite old now, so upgrades to the level of detail to modern standards is a worthwhile proposition. This set is number four of a series of sets that are now available for the basic kit, and it depicts the Mk.50 Rocket Launcher that was fitted on the deck of a PT boat to give it the capability to fire a barrage of 5” eight rockets from each mount at the enemy, punching well above their weight. The set arrives in a white cardboard box with a captive top flap and sticker showing the contents. Inside are two bags of parts, one containing three casting blocks with ten parts, the other a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE). The base of the assembly is a single part that has a long beam projecting from one side, onto which five perforated PE strips are fitted to separate the four barrels that are mounted above and below the pivot, moulded as four per part for your ease. The rocket tubes have the curved rocket noses moulded into the front, the flat back of the rocket and the ignition lugs at the rear. There are also cross-members at the front that support and suspend the rocket tubes, and these slot into grooves in the front of the PE separators, although the rear will be free-floating, so make sure you keep them aligned until the glue has set. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. 2,000lb Bomb AN-M66A2 w/Conical Fin Assembly M130 x 2 (4459) 1:48 CMK by Special Hobby The AN-M66A2 bomb was a US made 2,000lb air-dropped bomb that could be fitted with different fin assemblies for various applications, and although it was a WWII era design, it carried on in service long after. The M130 tail assembly was conical type, extending the length of the completed bomb and increasing stability during flight. As usual they were fitted with two lugs at 30” centres, plus another on the underside that was positioned at the centre of mass. This set includes two such bombs as a combination of traditional resin casting and 3D printed parts. The main bodies where the explosive component resides as cast in grey resin, while the tail assemblies are 3D printed in light orange, attached to their printing base by several thin tendril-like support fingers that are easy to cut off and sand smooth. The bombs are attached to their casting blocks at the rear, so the cutting point will be hidden within the tail, so you don’t need to be too fussy with your razor saw. A tiny Photo-Etch (PE) fuse spinner is supplied with a spare on one tiny fret of PE, and these should be glued to the raised turret on the nose, and once the glue is dry, the blades should be tilted with your tweezers to give it the correct shape. Once basic painting is done in olive green, the stencils on the small decal sheet, and the yellow bands for the nose cone are applied, and as these decals have the same removable carrier film as Eduard’s, you should be able to peel it away once it is dry. How much weathering and scratching of the paint you do is then up to you. Conclusion No more than a few minutes’ work to put them together, and very nicely detailed ordnance to hang from your latest model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. X-15A-2 “White Ablative Coating” (SH32081) 1:32 Special Hobby After Chuck Yaeger broke the sound barrier (officially) in the X-1, the series of experimental high-speed aircraft continued in the shape of the North American built X-15, which began in 1954, with the programme continuing until 1968, and extending to just short of 200 flights of this manned missile throughout many flight-envelopes, collecting data and experience that would be used to great effect in the following Mercury and Apollo programmes, which shared some crew, as well as furthering the understanding of atmospheric flight at high speed. It was carried aloft by a modified B-52 Stratofortress known as a 'mothership', then released, and when applicable it would ignite its rocket engine that would burn for an amazingly short time of around 80 seconds, propelling the aircraft up to a toe-curling 4,500mph. Initially it utilised two Reaction Motors rocket motors, but these were replaced by their immensely more powerful single XLR99 engine, which was powered by anhydrous ammonia and liquid oxygen, and perming solution (hydrogen peroxide – probably quite a bit more concentrated than that used to turn your hair curly) to drive the pump that fed the engine, which could be throttled up and down thanks to advances in technology after WWII. There were three aircraft built, and one was lost in a mid-air breakup that sadly killed the pilot. X-15A-2 also crash-landed, ending the day upside down and leaking fluids all over the lake bed they were using as a runway, but it was recovered and rebuilt. It was lengthened by a couple of feet and given massive additional fuel tanks to extend the run-time of the rocket engine. It was also coated in a white ablative paint that helped to ameliorate the excess heat that was generated by such fast transit through even the most nebulous of atmospheres. In the end A-2 flew a total of 55 missions in its different guises before the programme came to an end in 1968, when the delay of the 200th flight by continuing bad weather led to its permanent cancellation in favour of the Mercury programme. The Kit This is a reboxing of the improved tooling of the original 2007 X-15 kit from Special Hobby that was later upgraded to be able to depict the later launches that used the big fuel tanks under the belly. This boxing also includes a stand for the finished model, allowing a wheel/skids up pose that was the aircraft’s natural environment, way, way up in the sky beyond the majority of the atmosphere. It arrives in a reasonably sized top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, a staggering 165 resin parts (many tiny ones), a clear canopy part, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), a small slip of clear acetate with black printing for the instruments, a length of wire and a glossy instruction booklet with spot colour throughout. I forgot to photograph the wire, sorry! This isn’t a simple scale-up of their flawed 1:48 kit, and most of the issues present in the smaller kit aren’t present in this larger model. According to my Secret Advisor, there are one or two items such as the hemispherical nose tip being a little small, and the low-slung supplementary fuel tanks may be a few millimetres short, but that would only be visible from a side-on view if you knew where to look. Overall it seems to be a good replica of this amazingly fast space-plane, depending on where your idea of space begins of course! Construction begins with the combined cockpit and nose gear bay, starting with the rudder pedal box, which is faced with a laminated PE and acetate instrument panel. This is placed on the cockpit floor, and has side consoles, and rear bulkhead with stepped rear plus shaped top inserts, then at the front a bulkhead with the three-part nose bay is attached to the front. The additional joysticks are applied to the side consoles, followed by the building of the ejection seat, which has a large number of plastic and resin parts plus PE belts for the pilot, the completed assembly sliding onto the launch rail that is glued to the rear bulkhead of the cockpit. The main instrument panel is made from three sections and each has PE detail for the instruments, while the centre also has a piece of printed acetate behind it for the dials. More PE instruments fit to the front of the side consoles, and have small PE levers fixed in place to depict the controls. The fuselage is quite long at this scale, so the top and bottom halves are each made up from two panels, tapering to the nose at the front, and very blunt toward the exhaust of the XLR99 engine. Small parts are added around the cockpit and at the rear of its fairing, then the cockpit is glued to the upper fuselage so that the two halves can be joined together and have a small hemispherical Q-ball nose added. The wings aren’t particularly large, and are portrayed with two parts each that fit into the fuselage on lengthy tabs, as are the elevators with the addition of a swash-plate at the pivot point. A scrap diagram shows the correct anhedral of the elevators, plus the blocky tail fins, which are next. Due to the weird aerodynamic requirements of such a fast aircraft, the fins are blunt and don’t work all that well at slow speeds. They are made up from various parts, and there is an optional set of parts to depict the dive-brakes at the rear in the open position. The fuselage is detailed underneath next, and has a suite of probes and hollow-tipped exit pipes in the front section, then has the simple twin-wheel nose gear strut built and fitted with the bay door on a stand-off bracket behind the leg, which has a small flap in the lower section, presumably to help deal with dust kicked up on landing. Under the rear a small vertical “tail” assembly hides away more dive brakes, which can also be posed open by adding jacks to the mechanism to project the aft edge of the two surfaces away from the centreline. A pair of strakes fit on either side of this fairing, after which the exhaust for the rocket motor is put together around the outer lip, and having various sensors and vents arranged around it, plus a deep tapering trunk that gives the depth to the exhaust. When finished it slots into the rear of the fuselage. The canopy has small elliptical windows in the front, which are moulded into the clear canopy, and has a stiffener brace attached to the inside at the rear, that can be posed open or closed. An optional resin piece can be installed over the port window depending on the mission you are planning on depicting, but no information is given as to when this was used until you look at the two decal options, both of which have the panel. The two additional fuel tanks are made up from two large halves split vertically, with small inserts added to holes in the top sides. They seem simple, but on the upper surface they have a mass of hoses and equipment, plus the big attachment points where all those pipes enter the underside of the fuselage. PE brackets, wire, resin and plastic parts go into the detailing of the tanks, and you are provided with plenty of overhead and scrap diagrams to assist you in getting it right. Take your time and pay careful attention while performing this part of the build and you shouldn’t go far wrong. Ground handling of the airframe employed the nose wheel and a two-wheeled dolly arrangement that attaches to the rear of the fuselage astride the rear dive brake fairing. This is a complex assembly, and is mostly resin with a little wire and PE parts added for good measure, then painted hi-viz yellow and fitted with two wooden blocks that were inserted under the stanchions when parked. There is a whole page of diagrams showing the correct arrangement of parts, and how the wooden blocks were utilised, so again take your time to get it all together in the correct manner. On the last page the large tanks are fitted, then joined by the rear gear trolley or an optional dummy ramjet that was carried by decal option A after loading onto the mothership to test the effects of its aerodynamics on the airframe. It wasn’t good, and caused a substantial amount of damage thanks to the speed the air moved around it, causing the tail to lift and the skin around it to burn and melt. The pilot luckily managed to nurse his aircraft back to base unhurt, but the damage was never repaired due to the end of the programme. Markings The repaired A-2 flew with the white ablative coating applied, so the overall look of the aircraft changed markedly. Many flights were made, and small differences appeared and disappeared as the aircraft evolved. The decal sheet covers one flight of this airframe before and after it was mated with the B-52, with a separate page covering the complex scheme that was applied to the fuel tanks. From the box you can build one of the following: X-15A-2 56-6671, Pilot William ‘Pete’ Knight, flight 2-53-97, 3rd October 1967. Already lifted from the trailer and hung on the B-52 mothership, ready for the first stage of hypersonic flight. When the X-15 had been fitted to the B-52, the Ramjet dummy was then fitted to the ventral fin. X-15A-2, 56-6671, Pilot William ‘Pete’ Knight, flight 2-53-97, 3rd October 1967. The aircraft configured as it appeared before its very last record-breaking flight. The machine is positioned on the servicing and transportation trailer just before being towed to the B-52 mothership. Decals are well-printed and consist mainly of stencils and warnings in red, black and some are on a silver background, so the majority of the spot colour around the airframe will need to be painted, with the stripes posing the most technical aspect of that task. Conclusion If you haven’t got one already and are interested in early hypersonic research, this will be a highly interesting topic for you, and it builds up into quite a long model at slight over 50cm for the fuselage, plus a few cm for the pipes at the rear. There is a lot of documentation out there for those wishing to portray their X-15 as realistically as possible, and the addition of a stand should come in handy for those with limited shelf-space. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Saab SK.37 Viggen Trainer (SH48209) 1:48 Special Hobby The Viggen is a rugged fighter/interceptor that was designed to fulfil a need during the deep Cold War to defend Swedish airspace in the event of an incursion by the Soviet Bloc, and to continue the fight from hidden bases near roadways, which the aircraft could use as makeshift landing strips. It was to replace both the Lansen and Draken, and did so extremely well, endearing itself to aviation enthusiasts as it did so due to its unusual double-delta/canard configuration. It was fitted with a single Volvo RM8, a licence-built P&W JT8D with an afterburner to give it the performance needed to propel this large aircraft fast enough to accomplish short take-offs. Short landings were made possible by the inclusion of a set of large thrust reversing petals that dropped into the exhaust trunking and expelled the gases forward from slots in the side of the fuselage. The initial AJ37 variant was declared operational in 1972, and required the addition of a trainer variant, dubbed the SK37, which had an additional cockpit placed high above the original, displacing some fuel tankage in the process. The final JA37 variant was brought into service in 1980 with new computer systems, improved radar and engine, as well as other systems and the strength of the airframe, which already utilised titanium to reduce weight. The SK-37E was developed from a group of 10 airframes that were converted from trainers to Electronic Warfare trainers in the late 1990s, but were phased out after a relatively short service life in 2007. The last of the operational Viggens (Thunderbolt) were retired in 2005, replaced by the impressive JAS39 Gripen (Griffon). Several Viggens are on display in museums – notably Newark in the UK, but the Swedes have retained one in flying condition that can sometimes be seen at British airshows along with a Draken, Lansen and even the Tunnan. If only every country was conscientious in preservation of its aviation history. The Kit The original tooling that this kit originated from is the collaborative effort between Special Hobby and Tarangus in 2014, which has been re-issued a few times over the years in single- and two-seat guise, either with new decals or additional parts to represent other variants. The sprues include another cockpit tub and instrument panel, with appropriate glazing parts included on a small clear sprue. In the box you get nine sprues of grey styrene, two of clear parts, a fret of nickel-plated and pre-painted Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a sheet of decals and a glossy colour printed instruction booklet with integrated colour and markings guide at the rear. Construction begins with the two ejection seats, and here there are a few small PE parts and a set of painted PE seatbelts for the crew, plus the anti-flail projections from the sides of the seat box that are folded over. The two cockpit tubs are identical in terms of detail, but have slightly different shapes due to their location in the fuselage, and build up with either the moulded-in console detail, or the PE replacements, which are also pre-painted, for which you must scrape and sand off the moulded-in detail. The same applies to the instrument panels, only they have a substantially different structure, with a large projection at the top of the panel, and a limited set of dials due to a lack of available space. The control columns and rudder pedals are fitted in both tubs, with PE replacements for the rudder pedals if you remove some of the detail from the originals. Before the cockpits are installed, the interior of the fuselage insert is painted and sidewall detail is attached to the two stations, with a short blast screen fitted to the front of the rear aperture. The cockpits in their fuselage segment are then set to the side while the lower nose is prepared with the nose gear bay, the APU bay installed with painting diagram, and the intake trunks with front engine face is built up from the split trunking that separates horizontally, joining just in front of the engine against a bulkhead, with the engine face buried deep in the fuselage, and probably only just visible. Whether you hide the seams between the two halves of the trunking is entirely up to you, but after the first kink very little will be seen. If you're a bit obsessive about that sort of thing, there is an aftermarket resin replacement set available somewhere. The trunking is applied to the bottom fuselage half, and the upper fuselage with cockpits is fixed to the top, with a bulkhead inserted at the nose end for structural strength. Attention turns to the rear fuselage, which must have the substantial exhaust trunk, thrust reversing petals, and rear engine face built up and painted first. The first section is a single part with the engine and burner ring moulded-in, to which you fit another ring that holds the three thrust-reversing petals, the top-most of which is usually seen drooped into the airway on a parked aircraft due to the bleed-away of hydraulic pressure. They can be posed open or closed, and the instructions mention the droop, while a scrap diagram shows the correct orientation of the burner in the fuselage, then with the reversers installed the exterior cowling is added at the rear. This forms the aft section of the fuselage once it is integrated in the rear fuselage, which closes around it and is then mated to the front section, with the full-width wing lowers also added to the underside after the main gear bays are inserted. The upper wings are separate parts, as is the tail fin, of which there are three variants on the sprues, so be sure to choose the correct one. The nose cone is built from two parts and glued into place noting that if you plan to use aftermarket, some nose-weight may be required, while the crisply moulded intakes are each a single part, to which a strut is added to brace them against the fuselage side. Clear nav lights are fixed outboard of the bullet-faring after the last sweep change, plus another on the wing tips, and another is added to the spine, with a small insert near the tail glued into place at the same time. You now have an almost complete airframe, so by now you'll realise that the Viggen was no small aircraft. The nose gear is built up from several parts that give a good account of the detail there, with separate oleo-scissors and retraction struts, twin wheels, bay doors and their retraction mechanisms, and those large rough-field ready main gear legs that seem to have struts all over the place. The main wheels are made from two halves each, and the complete assemblies are added to the bays over two pages of the instructions, shown with the captive main bay door added at this point. The inner bay doors have their jacks too, and the completed main gear area is shown in another diagram to confirm everything's position in situ. The inner bay doors can be shown retracted by cutting off the attachment lugs, so check your references and decide which pose you'd prefer. The small air-brakes on the underside are added closed, but you can leave them open, but you would need to add some extra detail so it's best to leave them closed as they would be that way on the ground for much of the time unless you buy the resin detail set. Your Viggen wouldn't look much like a Christmas tree without the canards up front, and these have separate flaps to the rear like the real thing, which can be posed at an angle, or in line with the airflow at your whim. Whilst you're still looking at the underside, some intakes, centre pylons and additional fuel tanks are added, with little else needed, as this variant wasn't flown on operational missions. On the topside, several vents, intakes, more airbrakes, and aerials finish off the topside, and the APU is fitted to the open bay, captive to the door. Unless you are planning on modelling your Viggen in flight, you will want this dangling freely in the breeze, as it deploys automatically on the ground. The canopies are the last parts of the saga, and of course there are three parts; the fixed windscreen and two openers, which can be posed open or closed. A pair of rear-view mirrors are supplied on the PE sheet for the windscreen, as is a PE HUD frame, which you'll need to add your own acetate to, although you are at least given the sizing in another scrap diagram. At the bottom of that final page of instructions, you can find a small advert for the resin crew sets available from their CMK brand, which includes ground crew and pilots to give your model a more candid appearance. There’s another advert down the side of the back page showing the other options such as the rocket pods, seats, wheels, air-brakes and control surfaces that are also available. Markings There are three options available from the decal sheet, which are grey, silver and splinter camouflage. From the box you can build one of the following: 15-52 (37817) Wing F4, Ӧstersund-Frösön, 1999 7-66 (37804) Wing F7, Satenäs, 1973 15-58 (37811), Wing F4, Ӧstersund-Frösön, 1998 The decals appear to be printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. The easy options are the grey and silver aircraft, but the most impressive is the splinter scheme, which I believe you can obtain masks for from a company somewhere. I have an old set knocking about, but as they're for a single-seater, I'll be weighing my options. There's still lots of opportunity for weathering, as the aircraft were often seen needing a good wash, with plenty of patina to whet your appetite for painting and weathering effects. Conclusion The Viggen is a huge, impressive Cold War warrior that has a special place in my heart. The 2-seater kit fills my need that was unsatisfied for many years before the first release. Detail is good, the inclusion of a large sheet of PE and excellent decals into the bargain makes this a must-have as far as I'm concerned. If you like Viggens too, then make sure you get one. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. MG3 Machine Gun Vehicle Mounted Variant x 2 (P35008) 1:35 Special Hobby This set from Special Hobby is part of a new range that is using direct 3D printing using light-cured resins, which is a technique that is rapidly becoming suitable for making realistic models, even at the budget level. These sets are being produced on more high-end machines, and no layers were visible to my eyes, even with magnification! It arrives in a standard blister pack with orange branding, and lots of foam within to keep the parts safe during transport. The instructions are in the rear, sandwiched between the blister and the card header. Inside is a single printed block of parts that are printed in a light orange resin with what appears to be a lot fewer support struts ensuring that the freshly printed parts don’t sag under their own weight before they are properly cured. The shape of the support block is designed to protect the two machine guns inside, as they are very delicate due to the finesse of the printed parts. Cutting them free must be done carefully, and they should be handled with great care once free. There are two types of vehicle-mounted weapons, one with a stock to be operated by a crew member, the other without, perhaps on a fixed mount or within a casemate. The detail on both weapons is superb, with all the shapes rendered to perfection, showing its MG42 heritage, including the tubular cocking handle, front and rear sights that are so fine that they could easily be knocked off. Ask me how I know. With careful handling and painting though, the results will be phenomenally realistic, even down to the twin slots in the muzzle and cooling cut-outs on the barrel jackets that are hollow, just like the real thing. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. P-40D Warhawk/Kittyhawk Mk.I ‘Four Guns’ (SH72367) 1:72 Special Hobby First flying before the outbreak of WWII, the Warhawk was a development of the P-36 Hawk, and although it was never the fastest fighter in the sky, it was a sturdy one that took part in the whole of WWII in American and Allied hands, with large numbers used by Soviet pilots in their battles on the Eastern front. The various marks garnered different names such as Tomahawk and Kittyhawk, so it can get a mite confusing if you're not familiar with the type. It was unable to keep pace with the supercharged Bf.109, but was used to great effect in the Far East and Africa, which may have assisted in the feeling that it was a second-string aircraft of inferior design, when this actually wasn't the case – certainly not to the extent inferred. It was robust, cheap to make, and easy to repair, although its high-altitude performance dropped off somewhat. The early marks were under-armed with just two .50 guns firing through the prop from the top of the engine cowling and a pair of .303s in the wings, but later models benefited from improved armament. The B model was a revision of the initial airframe with lessons learned from early production, self-sealing fuel tanks and armour in critical parts of the airframe, although this extra weight did have an impact on performance. The -D was a partial re-design, eliminating the nose guns, narrowing the fuselage and improving the cockpit layout and canopy. In British service it was known as the Kittyhawk Mk.I, but only a small number were made before the -E replaced it with a more powerful Allison engine, and an extra pair of .50cl machine guns in the wings bringing the total to six, but even that wasn’t sufficient to let it keep up with the opposition. It wasn't until the –F model that the Allison engine was replaced by a license built Merlin that gave it better high altitude performance and a sleeker chin. The Kit This is a rebox of a recent tooling from Special Hobby with new parts to depict this variant, and it arrives in a red/white/grey themed top-opening box with a painting of the subject after a brief but successful tangle with an Italian Macchi that has since developed a smoking habit. Inside the box are two sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue that’s separately bagged, a tiny bag of two 3D printed parts, decal sheet with a small fret of PE in the same bag, and the A5 portrait instruction booklet printed on glossy paper in colour. Detail is good, with finely engraved panel lines, raised and recessed details around the airframe and a few spare parts that can stay on the sprues, which are marked with a red X on the sprue diagram. Construction begins with the pilot’s seat, which is mounted on a frame, then attached to the bulkhead and given a set of four-point decal seatbelts, after which it is set aside for a few steps. The fuselage sides are fitted with sidewall inserts, with sections further forward painted silver as they form part of the intake pathway, adding the core with three circular intakes inside, and the intake lip in front once the fuselage halves are together. The rear bulkhead with seat and the instrument panel with two decals for the dials are trapped between the two halves of the fuselage as it is closed, and for one decal option, the intake on the top of the cowling is shortened and the resultant hole should be filled with styrene strip or your filler of choice. A small triangular shape on the cockpit side is removed and smoothed over at this stage too. Moving on to the wings, the full-span lower has the perimeter around the bay openings painted, as are the side-walls that are glued in the recesses, and the roof that is moulded into the upper wing half. The cockpit floor is moulded into the centre of the upper wing, and that is also painted the same colour, so quite convenient while you have the paint out. The control column and another lever are inserted into the floor, then the wings can be joined to the fuselage, taking care not to ping the stick off as you do so. The wing-mounted machine guns will need some adjustment to correctly match the guns carried by the decal options, with three scrap diagrams showing the mixture of removal and/or addition that you will need to carry out for accuracy’s sake. The PE sheet will also see some action at this stage too, as it is used in the removal and reinstatement of a panel line in a different place to extend the gun bay panel lines. The elevators are each a single part that affix with the usual slot and tab method, with a separate rudder that can be posed deflected if you wish. The exhaust stubs are supplied as three paired inserts per side, and are far too small to drill out unless you have the world’s steadiest hands. There is more adjustment needed under the wing, filling the panel lines and spent brass chutes marked in red, and using another side of the template to scribe new panel lines as marked in blue. A raised section behind the ejection ports is sanded away and replaced by the 3D printed parts, but the adaptations don’t end there. There is a choice of two styles of pitot probe, the kit part used for just one, the other three requiring some alteration of the part. The end is cut away and a new L-shaped section is fabricated according to the measurements given in the scrap diagram, with all options inserted into the port wingtip. The last option is straight forward and involves selecting open or closed cooling gills behind the radiator housing. The main gear struts have an additional bracing leg fixed at the top, then the tripod arrangement is inserted into the sockets in the bay, adding the two doors to each side of the bays, and another two with a cross-brace in the tail bay and a single part strut/wheel to complete the undercarriage. You then have a choice of three loads under the centre of the fuselage, consisting of two types of fuel tank, or a bomb for ground-attack operations. Each option is made from two halves plus four braces for the fuel tanks, and two for the bomb. Flipping the model over allows the last step to be completed, fitting the coaming and gunsight into the cockpit and adding the windscreen with optional rear-view mirror, and the two side windows into the scalloped sections behind the canopy, which can be posed open or closed as you like it. Markings There are four options available on the decal sheet, two of which are British desert standard schemes, the other two are out of the ordinary. From the box you can build one of the following: Kittyhawk Mk.I AK578/GA-V, No.112 Sqn. RAF, North Africa, January 1942 Kittyhawk Mk.I AK51/CV-J, No.3 Sqn. RAF, North Africa, January 1942 P-40D Warhawk, Captured by the Japanese Army at Malaybalay base, Mindanao Island, Philippines, 1942 P-40D Warhawk, 79th Pursuit Sqn., 20th Pursuit Group, Hamilton Field, USA, Autumn 1941 in temporary wargames markings. The decals appear to be printed by the same process that Eduard use, and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion The P-40 is an interesting aircraft, and played some important parts in WWII, as evidenced by the number of notable pilots that gained their reputation in this doughty fighter. This is a well-detailed kit of a short-lived variant, and has some interesting decal options that make it an appealing prospect, bearing in mind that for improved accuracy, you’ll need to make a few minor amendments to the plastic. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. DB-8A/3N ‘Outnumbered and Fearless’ (SH72465) 1:72 Special Hobby Designed and developed by Northrop as the A-17, the aircraft was a ground-attack type that initially had fixed gear, but was later given more modern retractable undercarriage to improve aerodynamics. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engine, it had a crew of two and could carry up to a ton of bombs in a small vertical bomb bay, and on a pair of racks under the centre wing section. They were built in small numbers for various customers, with fewer than 400 made in total, the US Army Air Corps. taking delivery of the initial batch, and a number of foreign operators including the French, although their airframes were diverted to other customers after the fall of France. By this time Northrop had been taken over by Douglas, hence the D at the beginning of the aircraft’s designation. The Netherlands took delivery of eighteen airframes that were designated DB-8A/3N with a more powerful 1,100hp R-1830 engine, but the British assessment of the type as “obsolete” was pretty much on the mark. In Dutch service they were pressed into service as a fighter aircraft despite being poorly suited to that role, but in the absence of better options, the pilots were forced to make the best of it, fighting bravely against the Nazi invaders. When the invasion began, a squadron were on duty, and all but one managed to get off the ground to face the enemy. Most of them were shot down by the more agile Bf.110s and Bf.109s, although they did manage to shoot down a few transport aircraft of the enemy before a few returned to base, where the remaining aircraft were rendered unusable by further attacks by the enemy. Their numbers were effectively reduced to zero by the end of the first day, with the Netherlands being completely over-run a few days later, on the 14th of May 1940. The Germans took an airworthy airframe, probably from the stored aircraft, repainted it with German markings and assessed it after transporting it back to their homeland. The very last A-17 was struck off charge in the US in 1945, after a short career as a coastal patrol hack. The Kit This is a reboxing of a kit from the Special Hobby stable from the early 2000s, as is evidenced by the shiny surface area of the external parts, and time has been kind to the moulds, with little in the way of flash, and two pairs of fuselage halves, engines and cowlings showing that there have been other versions in previous boxings, although the fixed, spatted wheels of the initial A-17A aren’t present. The kit arrives in a top-opening, blue/white/grey themed box, and inside are two sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue in a separate Ziploc bag, a large resin belly insert in another Ziploc bag, the decals and Photo-Etch (PE) in a re-sealable clear foil bag, and the instruction booklet, printed in colour on glossy paper in portrait A5 format, stapled down the spine. The sprue diagrams on the inner front cover have red Xs on parts that aren’t used in this boxing, although the two fuselage halves aren’t even present on the diagram, possibly due to a lack of space on the page. Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the seat, which has an inverted-U support added to the rear, and PE seatbelts over the pilot’s lap. The front cockpit is separated from the rear, and this flat rectangular part has a rear bulkhead, control column and a small instrument package on the floor in front of it. The rear cockpit consists of a tapering floor, and a trough in the rear of the area with half bulkhead and a rack of boxes fitted to the front. This and another box are inserted into the rear cockpit and are joined by the rear gun on a semi-circular pivot, showing the correct orientation that includes the instrument panel with decal at the front, all from the side with arrows showing their part numbers. The gunner’s seat also has a pair of lap belts, and it is dropped into position in the rear, separated from the pilot by a curved cowling, which is installed as the fuselage halves are joined together, creating two separate openings for the crew. Once the glue has cured and the seams are dealt with, the centre section of the lower wing with its smoothly dished wheel bays and perforated dive flaps moulded-in. The open space between these features is covered over with the resin insert that depicts the bomb racks and aerodynamic fairing that extends around the rear of the gear bay cut-outs. The upper wings are full-span, and fix to the visible portion of the centre lower section, and are completed by the outer lower panel, giving a strong, overlapping joint to the wings. The elevators however, are butt-joints and would benefit from being pinned in position with some brass rod, which should be relatively easy because each elevator is a single part. A small square insert slots into the leading edges of the root once the glue has cured. The engine is next to be installed, having been built up earlier in the instructions. The Twin Wasp engine is moulded as a single, well-detailed part that depicts the front of the engine, and is trapped on a ledge in between the two cowling halves after painting the interior aluminium. It plugs directly into the tapered flat front of the fuselage, and has an intake added to the top of the cowling as it rolls down toward the lip. The canopy is a single part, and is glued over the two crew stations and the separating fairing, adding a tubular gun sight on the deck in front of the cockpit, and a tall aerial is later fixed to the centre of the canopy. Under the fuselage, two exhaust stacks project from the cowling sides, and an intake is added into the gap between the gear bays. Further back, the bomb racks each have eight triangular shackles fitted into shallow grooves in the resin, then it is time to build the landing gear. The main struts are inserted into holes in the outer end of the bays, and the two-part wheels are fitted to the short axles perpendicular to the strut, while the tail wheel is attached to the yoke in the rear, with a single wheel part slotting onto the axle. While the model is inverted, the clear window and fairing under the gunner’s area is attached to the fuselage, leaving the centre section clear, but it would be sensible to paint the interior with the blackest black you have to hide the fact that the window goes nowhere. The last job is to fit the three-blade prop that is moulded as one part, with the optional spinner that is used on three of the four decal options, the four gun barrels in the leading edge of both wings, and the pitot probe in the port wingtip. A tiny part is also fitted to the starboard fuselage side behind the engine cowling. A rigging diagram shows three wires in total, two of which lead to the wings just in front of the ailerons, and a third that leads from the starboard wire to the base of the aerial mast, leading back to the radio in the cockpit. Markings There are four options on the decal sheet, three in service of the Dutch Air Force, one in captivity following the fall of the Netherlands. From the box you can build one of the following: No.390 (C/N 540), 3_V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1940, responsible for shooting down two Ju-52 transports before being shot down. No.382 (C/N 532), 3-V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1939 No.382 (C/N 532), 3-V-2 Luchtvaart Regiment, Militaire Luchtvaart, 1940, responsible for shooting down a Ju-52 transport before being shot down. KK+UI ex-No.394 (C/N 544) Captured by the Nazis & tested at Erprobungsstelle Reichlin, Germany in June 1940. The Orange Triangles with black outlines were painted after delivery to indicate that the Dutch machines were neutral, as the original roundels that were applied by Douglas at the factory could have been mistaken for British or French roundels. Not that the Nazis cared in the end. The decals appear to be printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion Not a well-known aircraft type, but this boxing pays homage to the brave Dutch pilots that took to the air knowing they were both outnumbered and flying an out-dated machine, probably to their doom. Outnumbered and Fearless sums it up well. Detail is good, and the application of some modelling skill should result in an attractive replica of this aircraft. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Special Hobby is to reissue its 1/72nd Wirraway (link) in March 2023 - ref. SH72473 - Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) CA-9 Wirraway. Source: https://www.specialhobby.net/2023/02/sh72473-cac-ca-9-wirraway-172.html Box art from Standa Hájek. V.P.
  17. Messerschmitt Bf.109E-1/B ‘Hit & Run Raiders’ (SH72474) 1:72 Special Hobby With almost 34,000 examples manufactured over a 10-year period, the Messerschmitt Bf.109 is one of the most widely produced aircraft in history and it saw active service in every theatre in which German armed forces were engaged. Initially designed in the mid-1930s, the Bf.109 shared a similar general arrangement with the Spitfire, employing monocoque construction and a V12 engine, albeit an inverted V with fuel injection rather than the carburettor used in the Spitfire. Initially designed as a lightweight interceptor, like many German types during WWII, the Bf.109 evolved beyond its original brief into a bomber escort, fighter bomber, night fighter, ground-attack and reconnaissance platform. The E variant, or Emil as it was more affectionately known was the first major revision of the original design, including an uprated engine and the attendant strengthening of the airframe that was required. It first saw service in the Legion Condor fighting in the Spanish civil war on the side of Nationalist forces of Military Dictator Franco, and then in the Battle of Britain where it came up against its nemeses the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane during the critical fight for the survival of the RAF and Britain, which was key to halting Operation Seelöwe, the invasion of Britain by the Nazis. Like the Spitfire it fought against, it was improved incrementally through different marks, the Emil was similarly tweaked to keep pace, with later variants having additional long-range tankage, plus structural improvements and a simpler squared-off canopy with clear frontal armour, but apart from various field modifications and a few low-volume sub-variants, it had reached the end of its tenure, and was phased out in favour of the Friedrich and later the Gustav. The Kit This is a reboxing of a recent kit in collaboration with Eduard in your favourite scale of 1:72. It arrives in a modest top-opening box that has the usual red/white/grey theme, and inside are two sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue, a bag of resin parts, decal sheet and the instruction booklet printed in colour on glossy paper, with profiles for the decal options on the rear pages. Detail is excellent, especially for the scale, and includes a lot of engraved panel lines and rivets in various thickness and depths, as well as all the other recessed and raised details, plus engine and gun bays that you can expose as we’ve come to expect from Eduard and Special Hobby. Construction begins with the cockpit floor, adding a bulkhead at the front along with the rudder pedals. The sloped aft bulkhead is attached to the rear, and a box is made up in front of the bulkhead from three parts with details moulded on the sides. The seat and decal belts are slotted into the rear of the cockpit, and the instrument panel is made from a detailed styrene backing part, which receives two dial decals to finish it off. It is then glued to the nose gun bay floor, which is painted up and attached to the front of the cockpit on top of the boxed in area. You can use a pair of barrel stubs on a cross-bar for the closed bay, or the full guns with breeches if you intend to leave the bay open. The engine is built around two halves, adding the serial decal and removing a small block of styrene from the rear before you add the ancillaries, supercharger and bell housing with horseshoe oil tank at the front, plus the two mounts and their braces on the sides. Before closing the fuselage halves, the cockpit interior sides are detailed with styrene extras, painting things as you go along, then a pair of inserts are positioned in the cowling behind the exhausts, the exhausts are inserted through their openings, and the engine, cockpit and tail-wheel are all trapped between them. If you plan on closing all the bays, the main and gun bay cowlings can be glued in place along with the filter for the supercharger. At the rear, the rudder, elevators and their support struts are all installed on tabs and pins into their respective holes to ensure they are oriented correctly. The lower wings are full span, and the gear bay wall and roof surfaces are painted RLM02, also painting, then installing the radiators and ducting of the chin intake. The upper wings are brought in and glued over the lowers, and the three-section flying surfaces are installed on each trailing edge, with radiator fairings added after painting the interior and adding decals to the front and rear faces of the radiators to depict the matrices. The fuselage and wings are brought together, adding the leading-edge slats, which should be deployed under their own weight when parked. The canopy can be posed open or closed, consisting of a fixed windscreen and rear section that accepts the antenna, then the canopy opener is prepared by inserting a choice of two styles of head armour inside, and deciding whether to glue it closed or open to the starboard side, held in place by a retaining strap of your own making if you feel adventurous. The prop blades are moulded as one, and are sandwiched between the spinner and back-plate and inserted on the axle at the front of the fuselage, then all that is left to create are the main gear legs. Each leg is a single strut, adding the captive bay door, and of course the wheel onto the short cross-axle. Another scrap diagram shows the correct orientation of the assemblies once complete. Fitting a pair of horn balances on the ailerons, and an L-shaped pitot probe under the port wing completes the plastic wrangling, leaving the resin palette and four bombs that each have four “screamers” fixed to the fins before they are glued to the underside of the fuselage with the assistance of a grey outline on the final diagram. Markings There are three options included on the decal sheet with variations on the early war high demarcation scheme, having custom mottle or overspray pattern differentiating them. From the box you can build one of the following: Black 8, 5./JG77, Pilot Uffz. Heinrich Brunsmann, Almyros Airfield, Mainland Greece, April 1941 Yellow 10, II./JG54, occupied France, October 1940 Black Triangle+G, 2./JG27, occupied France, November 1940 The decals appear to be printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion A great collaboration, and the additional resin makes for an interesting model. You don’t see too many 109s carrying bombs. Did I mention the detail is excellent? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. After the 2022 newsletters (link), here's the first one from SH for 2023. Newsletter January 2023 https://www.specialhobby.info/2023/01/news-from-special-hobby-012023.html V.P.
  19. Tempest Mk.II Centaurus Engine (P48005 for Special Hobby/Eduard)) 1:48 CMK by Special Hobby Special Hobby and Eduard have collaborated on a new Tempest II kit in 1:48, and it’s a lovely kit with the large cylindrical cowling hiding the brutally powerful Centaurus engine with two banks of nine cylinders that could produce over 3,000hp in its final variants. It is barely seen inside the fuselage when prepared to fly, but with the cowling open it’s a different story. This set is designed to allow the modeller to open the cowling and show off the beast in all its glory, using a combination of 3D printed and traditional resin parts to adapt the kit to suit. It arrives in a rectangular yellow-themed box, and inside are two Ziploc bags of resin parts and the folded instructions that act as padding to protect them from damage. In total there are sixteen parts, the most impressive of which is the 3D printed engine that is printed as a single part with tolerances so fine that you can see deep into the cylinder banks if your eyesight is good enough. The six 3D printed cowling clasps are almost as impressive due to their small size, and these are double-bagged to further protect them. Construction begins with removing the cowling panels from the front of the kit fuselage halves, leaving just the top and bottom hinge-points projecting over where the engine will be fitted. The inside face of these will need to be thinned down from inside, test-fitting as you go, then shaving away some of the width of these areas until the motor slides into position without snagging, using the slots in the back plate as a guide. Before gluing the engine into place, the cylindrical bell housing is glued into the recess in the front, aligning it with the tab and slot around the edge. The kit intake lip is then adapted by inserting the two C-shaped resin lips to the back, leaving spaces of 5.8mm between the parts so it can be attached to the fuselage. After gluing it in place, the four cowling panels are attached hinging from the top and bottom, adding the small open closures into the grooves in the bottom two panels. The top cowlings are propped up by a pair of curved stays that help you achieve the correct angle when opened. There will be a lot of painting going on throughout the building of this set, and you will need to check your references for the correct shades, as there are no colour call-outs in the instructions. Conclusion 3D printing just keeps getting better all the time, and the detail of the engine is phenomenal, with praise due to the designer for what must have been complicated and intricate work. If you only have one Tempest II, perhaps you need another specially for this set. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Special Hobby is to re-release in 2023 the MPM 1/48th Heinkel He-177A Greif kit under ref. SH48???? This re-edition will include several new designed parts. Source: https://www.specialhobby.net/2022/12/heinkel-he-177a-148-navrat-trochu-jinak.html V.P.
  21. In (June?) 2022 Special Hobby is to release a 1/72nd Aero Ab-11 - L-BUCD "Blue bird" on a long flight over Europe, Africa and Asia - kit - ref. SH72471 Source: https://www.hannants.co.uk/product/SH72471 V.P.
  22. Special Hobby is to reissue in 2023 its 1//72nd "Oscar" kit (link): - ref. SH72479 - Nakajima Ki-43-II Ko/Otsu - Japan's allies Source: https://www.specialhobby.net/2023/03/sh72479-nakajima-ki-43-ii-kootsu-japans.html Schemes V.P.
  23. Airspeed Oxford Mk.I Gunner Trainer (SH48227) 1:48 Special Hobby Developed in the 1930s from Airspeed’s existing AS.6 Envoy design, the Oxford was a response to the British Air Ministry’s requirement for a flexible trainer for multi-engined air crews, navigators and gunners, the prototype first flying in 1937, moving rapidly into series production due to the government’s expectation of a large-scale war in the coming months or years, and the RAF’s need to expand way beyond their peacetime numbers. The initial Mk.I was fitted with a dorsal, or mid-upper turret that would give the widest variety of training competencies that included gunnery training. The Mk.II was built without turret, which is an easy way to quickly differentiate between them, and in total over 8,700 were built before the production lines were closed, some built by de Havilland, whose skills with wooden aircraft construction were well-used. A Mk.III was produced without the turret but with more powerful versions of the Cheetah engines, skipping Mk.IV and going straight to Mk.V that had Pratt & Whitney R-985 engines that offered a little more power and ran variable pitch propellers, rather than the placebo pitch-change lever that was included to habituate trainees into selecting the correct pitch for take-off and landing, despite it having no effect. The dual-control cockpit allowed pilot training and even night-flying training to be carried out, along with navigation, gunnery and bombardier training thanks to the fitting of external bomb racks and the bomb aimer’s window that allowed the bombardier to lie prone in the nose of the aircraft for realism. Powered by a pair of 340hp Amstrong Whitley Cheetah radial engines, she was hardly a rocket ship, but speed wasn’t an issue in its usefulness. The nacelles were framed internally with metal structural members, while much of the rest of the aircraft was built from spruce and other woods, with a semi-monocoque structure reducing weight and smoothing the exterior to minimise speed-sapping turbulence. As well as RAF service, the Oxford saw extensive use in other British Empire and Commonwealth training schools, and it remained in service long after the end of WWII, finally leaving service with the RAF in 1956, which corresponded with the out-of-service dates with the majority of other users within a few years or so. The Kit This is a reboxing of the Mk.I kit that was originally release in 2011, but with new decals, filling a void of turreted Oxfords at this scale in the market place. The kit arrives in a standard blue/grey themed top-opening box, and inside are four sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a bag of twenty-three resin parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a sheet of pre-cut kabuki-tape masks, decal sheet and instruction booklet that is printed on glossy paper with colour profiles on the rear pages. Detail is good for the kit’s age, and is augmented by the inclusion of resin and PE parts to sharpen up the finished model. It’s worth noting that the lower wing part has the leading- and trailing-edge root fairings moulded into it, and my example had become a little curled over due to movement within the box during transit, even though the sprues were tightly bagged within. I’ll be taping some card over the tips to prevent any further damage, and suggest you check yours too. Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the crew seats, which have a folded PE frame attached to the underside of the styrene chair, with a pair of PE edgings around the cut-out in the back of the seat. The pilot’s chair has an additional layer of adjustment between the seat and the base frame, then both are outfitted with PE four-point seatbelts and are installed in the front of the cockpit floor along with rudder pedals with PE straps, control columns with yokes, and a bulkhead between them and the passenger cabin. A raised platform butts up against the bulkhead with a chair on the rear edge, and a trio of oxygen tanks are lined up further back, finishing with the rear bulkhead. Back at the front, a detailed centre console with throttle quadrants and trim wheels is made from resin and PE parts before it is dropped into a space between the two front seats. Under the front of the cockpit floor, a combination of styrene and resin supports are added, that will be seen through the bomb aimer’s window on the completed model. In preparation for closing up the fuselage, the interior is painted, instrument panel with decal glued into the nose, side windows inserted, and small details such as stowage bins, radio equipment tables and other gear are installed, allowing the cockpit floor assembly to be slid into the starboard fuselage half under the details. The turret is built up from a framework and bicycle seat that is inserted into a circular ring, and has the two-layer clear glazing mounted on top, inserting the machine gun and its pancake magazine plus its PE ring and bead sight before adding the domed top glazing section. The turret drops into the cut-out in the mid-upper of the fuselage during closure, adding the two-layer elevators into the slots in the sides of the tail once the fuselage seams have been dealt with. The lower wing is full span, but before they can be completed, the engine nacelles are filled with gear bay details, including an insert with the final aperture shape moulded into it, and adding the bay roof and bulkheads, which has some basic ribbing detail moulded-in. After this, the upper wing halves can be glued down and the fuselage assembly lowered into position between them, closing up the cockpit by adding the main canopy and bomb aimer’s window. The twin landing lights are inserted into a recess in the port wing before being closed by installation of the clear aerodynamic fairing, with a pair of wingtip lights at the end of each wing. The engines are seven cylinder radials that are moulded in one piece to which the bell-housing is added to the front, then is enclosed by a two-half cowling and the two-blade prop slots into the bell-housing, mating with the front of the nacelles on a plug and socket. A pair of small cylindrical resin parts install on the top of the nacelles before moving to the underside of the nacelles to build the landing gear. Like many WWII heavies that the crews were training for, the Oxford had twin strut gear legs with a large two-part wheel between them, supported by a pair of diagonal braces that plug into the rear of the gear bay. In between the bays, three clear lights are inserted into circular depressions that you must drill in the fuselage, painted clear red, orange and green according to the guide. The hole size isn’t documented, but they are engraved in the lower wing panel, and the parts measure out at 2.6mm to get you started. While the model is still inverted, the gear bay doors are fitted to the bay sides, the resin intakes under the engine nacelles are added, and the resin exhausts are fixed into the holes in the sides. The tail strut and wheel are popped into a socket in the tail, then small resin and styrene parts are dotted around, on and near the nacelles, with actuators and mass-balances fixed around the elevators and ailerons. The final few parts add circular intakes to the leading edges of the wings outboard of the nacelles, a pitot probe under the starboard wing, then an aerial mast and clear light behind the canopy. Markings Before you begin thinking about decals, one of the primary colours of all the decal options available in this boxing is yellow. Yellow can bring some modellers to the point of tears, as it’s notoriously tricky to do well, even with an airbrush. The instructions advise you to paint the whole airframe yellow initially to harmonise the colour over the model, then overpaint with the other colours, masking as necessary. A primer coat of white is also helpful when painting yellow, and a drop of white paint added to yellow will often improve its coverage, but test that theory before committing paint to your actual model. There are four decal options for this boxing, their locations dotted around the globe, and wearing different schemes. From the box you can build one of the following: P1931, 2 Service Flying Training School RAF Brize Norton, Spring 1940 before she was destroyed in an air raid on 16th August that year 883/T1312, 35 Service Flying Training School, Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF Station North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, 15th march 1944 before being written off after engine failure on landing NZ1269 (originally P8895), 1 Service Flying Training School, RNZAF Wigram, New Zealand, 1942 V-AW/V3325, Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret), 1948 The decals appear to be printed by Eduard and are in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion This is a welcome re-release of this kit, and it has fared very well over the years. It’s not quite mass-produced in terms of fit and finish, but with the correct amount of basic modelling skill applied to the model, a high quality replica can be built. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. In 2022, Special Hobby is to re-release its 1/48th Breda Ba.65 Nibbio kit - ref. SH48053 Source: https://www.hannants.co.uk/product/SH48053 V.P.
  25. After the Dassault Mirage F-1, Special Hobby is to release a complete family of 1/72nd Dassault Mirage III/5 Nesher/Dagger kits. Sources: http://www.specialhobby.info/2018/10/special-hobbys-new-172-mirages-iii-5.html http://www.specialhobby.net/2018/09/special-hobby-pripravuje-modely-mirage.html First 3D renders of MIIIC and CJ V.P.
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