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Heinkel He115 B. 1:48 Special Hobby

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Heinkel He.115 B

Special Hobby 1:48


The Heinkel He 115 was the most successful German floatplane of the Second World War, and served as a reconnaissance and attack aircraft.
When the Luftwaffe was officially established on 1 March 1935 the Heinkel He 59 was its only twin-engined floatplane. In July the Air Ministry issued a replacement for its replacement. This was to be a twin-engined aircraft that could act as a long range reconnaissance, torpedo bomber, minelayer or fog dispenser.

The first prototype made its maiden flight in August 1937. Early test flights revealed that it was difficult to fly, but Heinkels designers were quickly able to solve this problem, and the resulting aircraft gained a very favourable reputation for its handling. The second prototype, V2, was similar to the V1, but with an improved nose, new tail surfaces, and NACA type engine cowlings. V3 had the separate cockpit canopies of the pilot and radio operator replaced by a single glasshouse canopy, while the V4 was the production prototype, with an improved tail and float supports. During the development process the original rather ungainly nose was replaced by the streamlined glazed nose used in production aircraft.

The He 115 was in completion with the Ha 140. After tests in Lübeck Bay early in 1938 the Heinkel design was judged to be superior, and was put into production. After undergoing flight tests the V1 was modified in preparation for a series of record attempts. The early nose was replaced with a smooth wooden version, the radio operator and observer were both removed (a mechanic was carried), and a streamlined canopy installed. On 20 March 1938 the modified V1 set eight records, carrying a series of loaded from 0kg to 2000kg over 1,000km and 2,000km courses. These records were only held for eight days, before being broken by a CANT Z 509. The He 115 was an all-metal stressed-skin aircraft, with a slim streamlined fuselage. The mid-mounted wings had a rectangular centre section and tapering outer panels, and carried two BMW 132K engines (based on the Pratt & Whitney Hornet). The three man crew were carried in three cockpits. The observer was located in the glazed nose, with a bombsight and an MG15. The pilot was located just above the wing leading edge, and the radio operator/ rear gunner above the trailing edge. In the prototype the pilot and radio operator had been given separate canopies, but in production aircraft a single 'greenhouse' canopy was used, connecting their positions. An internal weapons bay was installed between the wings, and could carry either a 1,763lb torpedo or three SC 250 bombs (550lb each). The A-1 could also carry two more bombs under the wings.

The He 115 was operated by the Küstenfliegergruppen coastal reconnaissance units. KFGr.106, KFGr.406, KFGr.506, KFGr.706 and KFGr.906 are all recorded as using the type, starting with 1./ KFGr. 106, which had eight by September 1939. During that year KFGr.106 and 109 used the He 115 to drop magnetic mines around the British coast. KFGr.506 and 706 used the He 115 during the Norwegian campaign, where it was used by both sides. KFGr. 106 and 506 used the He 115 during the Battle of Britain, resuming the mine laying operations. The type then began to be phased out in favour of the Blohm und Voss Bv 138 flying boat, and the remaining He 115s were concentrated in Norway, where they took part in attacks on the Arctic convoys, including the successful assault on convoy PQ 17 in July 1942. The last He 115s left front line service in the summer of 1944. The six aircraft exported to Norway soon found themselves being used against the Germans. At the end of the Norwegian campaign three of the Norwegian aircraft and a captured German aircraft escaped to Britain, where they were given an heavier armament of four forward firing and four rear firing machine guns, and used for clandestine operations. Two went to Malta, from where they were used to drop agents in German occupied North Africa, while two were used for the same purpose over Norway, operating from Scotland. These aircraft were withdrawn in 1942.

The model
The kit comes in quite a large and sturdy top opening box with an artists impression of an aircraft overflying a Royal Navy patrol boat. On opening the box the modeller is a large bag of medium grey styrene, a cardboard shelf on which the small poly bag of resin and another bag with the etched brass sheets and decal sheet are stapled. The styrene parts are very nicely moulded, with some very fine detail such as the recessed panel lines and raised panels where required. There is no sign of flash as one would expect of a new kit these days, and no moulding pip, just a few strengthening bits between the more fragile parts. The styrene appears to be quite soft and has a slightly rough texture, so paint should stick to it well. The clear styrene parts are quite clear and respectably thin, but there is some distortion on the curved areas, particularly the nose cone. There also seems to be some stress marks on some of the parts as if they have been removed from the mould too early.

The small bag of resin contains some very nicely moulded parts, such as the engines, spare machine gun ammunition drums, radio sets, levers and DF loop teardrop housing. There are two sheets of etched brass containing the instrument panel, seatbelts, boarding ladders, cockpit leasers and handles, radio operator’s panel, machine gun sights, and the float handrails. There is also an acetate sheet containing the instrument panels back sheets.

Construction begins with the cockpit, which is quite complex with lots of parts from all three mediums making up into a very busy and detailed area. The instructions aren’t too clear for this area and should be studied carefully. It may be an idea to scan the instructions and print them in a larger format to improve things. The bomb aimers position is equally detailed with numerous parts being use to build a very detailed area. With the smaller parts in place the bomb aimers floor and support can be fitted, followed by the centre section, which consists of the bomb bay, cockpit floor, fuselage side inserts plus the fore and aft bulkheads. The radio operator’s position is also fitted out with the resin radio boxes and spare ammunition drums. Just forward of the radio position another bulkhead is fitted, onto which a brass and acetate radio panel is attached. The operators seat is then assembled and glued into position, at which point the fuselage can be closed up.










The two piece wings are now glued together followed by a large panel just aft of the engine nacelles. The resin engines, once painted up are fitted with their two piece cowls. There are alternative horizontal tailplanes, each of which are in two halves and these should be assembled and put to one side. The completed fuselage is fitted out with the glass nose side panels, nose position canopy and the centre section roof. The tailplanes can also be fitted at this point. The large two part floats are now assembled and fitted out with the brass handrails, along with the two part float struts. The wing assemblies are now attached to the fuselage and fitted with the engine/cowling assemblies, propeller assemblies, (each from a back plate, three separate blades and the boss), and the cockpit windscreen. Turning the model over onto its back the tailplane struts can be fitted as are the main float struts, inner float struts, bomb aimers window, bomb sight, exhausts, and under fuselage panel. With all the struts in place the floats can now be attached.

With the model the right side up and sitting on its floats it’s onto the final stages of the build. The machine guns are assembled from a separate breech, ammunition drums, PE gun sights and when fitted to their positions the barrel, with PE sight is fitted. In the case of the nose gun position the barrel needs to be fitted from the outside. The nose cone is then fitted along with the main canopy centre section, aft section and the cockpit canopy. There is a resin fairing attached to the port side of hte lower nose, onto which the resin DF teardrop fairing is fitted, as is a resin gun barrel. The two PE boarding ladders are fitted between the floats and the aft cockpit position just aft of the wing trailing edges. And finally the rear gunners canopy can be posed either open or closed. If closed the machine gun needs to be posed in the stored position.

The medium sized decal sheet, designed by DEAD Design appears to be well printed and in good register, there is minimal carrier film and the decals are slightly glossy. There are three options included:-

  • He115 B-1, K6+TH of the 1./KFIGr.406, based at Trondheim, Norway 1942. The upper surfaces wore a temporary white finish for over water operations. The ship markings are believed to signify involvement in the attacks against convoy PQ 17.
  • HE115 B, M2+BL of the 3./KFIGr.106, based at Bokrum or Schellingwoude, mid 1940. The underside surfaces and national insignia were roughly painted over with black distemper for night operations.
  • He115 B, 8L+FH, WNr. 2398, of the KFIG.906. This aircraft had a hard landing on December 28th1942, in Hafrsfjord, Stavanger, Norway, lost one of its floats and eventually sunk. The crew escaped unhurt. Presently this aircraft has been raised and will probably be restored in the Sola Flymuseum.


The sheet also contains a selection of stencils, and signs.


When this kit was first mooted it was met with a cheer, particularly from me. I had always wanted one of these aircraft in 1:48 scale and here it is. The kit doesn’t look to be particularly difficult to build, although the instructions make it a lot harder than it should. Increase the size of them and all should be revealed. There are a lot of small parts for the interior so care should be taken when building and painting these areas. The addition of the resin and brass parts should mean that the modeller won’t need to go out and buy any more. The completed model will be quite large but will be a great addition to any collection, with the possibilities of some nice diorama ideas already going through my head I can see this one being built very soon. Highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of

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