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Mike

Messerschmitt Me.262 - Valiant Wings Publishing

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Messerschmitt Me.262
Valiant Wings Publishing


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The Me.262 Schwalbe, Swallow in English was the first operational jet in the world, and would have been a real problem for the Allies if it hadn't been for delays in production due to the interference from on high that seems to have plagued development of almost every military project since time began. It has captivated modellers and aviation enthusiasts ever since, possibly because of the shark-like profile, possibly because of the potential it showed that was exploited post-war by the victors in their designs. Whatever it was, that has resulted in plenty of kits for us modellers, and quite a number of books to match.

This title, the first of Valiant's Airframe & Miniature range is aimed at the modeller, but has plenty of content to tempt the pure aviation enthusiast too. It has been penned by Richard A Franks, a name familiar to a great number of modellers, and is packed with text, information, profiles and pictures. Although broken down by Airframe and Miniature sections, the two parts are further split into chapters in their own right, as follows:

Airframe Chapters

  • Evolution: The V Series
  • Testing: The S Series
  • Productions: The A Series
  • The B and C Series & Drawing Board Projects
  • Camouflage & Markings plus Colour Profiles

Miniature Chapters

  • Building a Selection
  • Building a Collection
  • In detail: The Me 262A/B plus the Avia S.92/CS.92
  • Bibliography
  • Kits

The airframe section covers the 262 from inception to the end of production and testing of new variants (and beyond) as the factories were destroyed or over-run by the advancing allies. The drawing board section is of particular interest, as it shows the projected evolution of the aircraft that would have taken it beyond all recognition from the Swalbe that we all know so well. Even some of the projects that were tested are somewhat odd looking, such as the 1a/U4 equipped with a 50mm cannon (a favourite of mine) for attacking bomber streams, and the 2a/U2 fast bomber with prone bomb aimer's position in the nose.

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The narrative shifts to the modeller's point of view in the second part of the book, with builds of some of the excellent kits out there, including a 1:72 262B from Hasegawa, a 1:72 1a/U3 by Revell, 1:48 HobbyBoss 1a/U4, 1:48 Tamiya A-2a, and for the large scale modeller, the Trumpeter 1:32 B-1a/U1 night fighter. Chapter 7 details all the variants that existed in physical form, and suggests suitable kits as either a starting point for conversion, or if available the actual variant in each of the three major scales. Differences are pointed out as the airframe evolves, and a shaded drawing of each one is given to illustrate the look of them all.

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The In Detail chapter begins with an exploded diagram of the basic airframe, and goes on to cover the intricacies of the airframe using colour and black & white photos and verbose captions that point out the relevant aspects from a modeller's point of view.

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The closing pages are given over to appendices that cover a list of books on the 262 at time of print, as well as kits available in the major scales, including those that have come and gone. Of course, these few pages will become outdated very quickly, but five pages out of 112 isn't exactly much as a proportion of the whole.

Conclusion
Where Richard Franks gets his information, time and modelling skill from (he built most of the example kits) is a mystery to me, but he manages it. This book is crammed with information, and will be as good a read as a reference book, so is recommended to anyone with an interest in the Scwalbe.

Highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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