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Mike

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a 1:48

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Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a
1:48 HobbyBoss


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The Messerschmitt 262 was a potential saviour of the beleaguered German cities that suffered nightly bombardments by Allied bombers toward the end of WWII, but due to delays caused in part by Hitler's insistence that it be both a fighter and a bomber, it was delayed in reaching production, and only reached operational units in mid-1944. It was an advanced design using Junkers Jumo axial flow jet engines that were more efficient than the British centrifugal turbojet, but was held back by the lack of advanced high-temperature metallurgy and lack of strategic metals, which resulted in very short service intervals that required some significant rebuilding of the engine after 50 hours or less.

The airframes were divided into A designations for single seat interceptors, while the B type were two-seat trainers and night fighters (Nachtjäger). The B-1a was the first variant, although some were later converted to Nachtjägers with Neptun radars and the operator in the rear seat. The C type mainly covered paper projects, as the war ended before further refinements to the design could be built.

The Kit
HobbyBoss have so far released a fairly wide range of A models, and this is their first foray into the two-seat Bs, which with their night fighter brethren were the only two-seat variants to actually see service. They are simple to build, well-detailed kits that leapfrog over the Dragon kits that came around the turn of the millennium, as well as being very affordable for building your own collection of the different versions. Arriving in a top opening box, it has a rather workman-like painting on the front that belies the quality of the contents, and probably won't do much for sales. Inside the box are a surprisingly large number of sprues, with four large and another five smaller ones in grey styrene, two clear sprues and a white metal nose weight that sits around the nose gear bay, decals and of course the instruction booklet, inside of which is a single sheet of double-sided glossy paper that contains the painting and decaling instructions.

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HobbyBoss have cleverly tooled their Schwalbe range in a modular fashion, which has allowed them to draw maximum value from the moulds through economy of scale. The kit is well detailed for its price-point, and should build up into a good replica of the once dreaded 262. Construction begins with the cockpit tub, which takes the form of two halves of a tube that are split horizontally to allow better access to add the details of the instrument panels, rudder pedals two seats and the instrument panels in, before the top is added to form the sidewalls, with a long slot in the top for the cockpit sills. The end bulkheads hold the cockpit in the correct place within the fuselage, and additional parts are added under the cockpit tub to begin forming the main landing gear bay. The nose gear bay has its walls formed from the white metal part, onto which the cannon bay is added, with four Mk108 30mm with detailed breeches and ammunition feeds included within. There is a styrene alternative to the metal part if you don't want to use it, as the metal part is a little more roughly cast than one would perhaps like, with detail lacking in the bay roof. The forward bulkhead and the rear of the cannon bay again hold this assembly in place in the fuselage, and the nose wheel with its single long gear leg and captive forward door fitting into a slot in the roof of the bay. A choice of wheel types with either fine tread or coarse radial tread, in case your chosen airframe was fitted with one or other.

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The cockpit and nose bay are fitted within the fuselage halves, and a radio bulkhead is added behind the cockpit, along with various other detail parts, that you're probably wondering what their purpose is. There's a little radio hatch in the starboard side of the fuselage that will enable the intrepid viewer to look within. With all of these parts glued in place and painted (if you're leaving the door open), the fuselage can be closed up, and you can begin construction of the engines. These are rather simple but effective, consisting of two halves of the cowlings with ribbing detail inside, split vertically. The ribs will never be seen, sadly, as the nacelle is capped off at the ends with a two part intake with short trunk and separate engine face, and at the rear an exhaust trunk/bullet and exhaust cowling. The profile and thickness of these parts are well done, having a much better shape than the old Dragon kits, which were too blunt and thick, especially at the intake lip.

The closed up fuselage is still open at the front by this point, and the cowling for this area are a separate part with four cannon fairings cut into them, allowing the barrels to project through. A separate nose cone and two gull-wing panels for the gun bays are also added, with a prop for each of the bay panels to hold them at the correct angle to display the nicely moulded gun bays. The instructor's panel is augmented with additional gear above the original instrument panel, and the area behind his seat is closed in with an angled insert, after which more detail is added to the main gear bays before the lower wing is installed across the fuselage, closing the hole in the belly. If you plan on carry stores on the 262's wings, four holes in the underside will need opening up before adding the upper wings, which reach from tip to root, and have fairings at the front to blend into the engine nacelles. The nacelles should then clip right into the wings with little in the way of fettling, but as always, check before applying glue. It's a shame that HobbyBoss didn't pick up on the passive leading edge slats that are generally dropped as the aircraft slows down, as they are pressure activated. There are several How-Tos on the internet to help you with this area if you are interested. The elevators are single parts that fit into slots in the side of the tail, with their tabs interlinking to improve the strength of the joint and hold them at the correct angle. The elevators themselves are moulded into the fins, but the rudder is a separate part that can be posed deflected at your whim. Two more inserts fit under the fuselage, and these have the slots for the spent shell casings, and flashed over holes for the nose-mounted fuel tanks that come with the kit. If you plan on fitting them, open up the holes before gluing them in place, and then fit the two-part tanks and their short pylons in place.

The main landing gear has only one choice of tyre, which has a diamond tread and a radial pattern on the sidewalls. They are split vertically, so some clean-up would be wise, unless you plan on using some of Eduard's wheels that we reviewed here, which although designed for the older Tamiya kits can be made to fit quite easily. The gear legs are sturdy and have separate oleo-scissors, as well as a two-part captive bay cover attached via small lugs and slots on the inner face of the doors. The inner door covers are single parts with moulded-in retraction jacks, while the nose gear bay door has a separate cranked retraction jack that holds the single door open to the correct angle.

As well as the aforementioned fuel tanks, there are a pair of rocket packs for under the wings, which comprise a rail part (made of wood on the real aircraft) that sits flush with the underside of the wing, and the rockets, which although moulded en masse have sufficient fin and body detail to look quite effective under a coat of paint.

Markings
Two schemes are available out of the box, with the decals printed anonymously, probably in-house. They are to a good standard, but have the occasional blemish under magnification, particularly at the edges of the Swastikas, which are printed as two separate halves to avoid issues in some territories. From the box you can build one of the following:

  • W.Nr.170075 I./KG(J)54, B3+SH Germany 1945 – Light grey/RLM73 splinter on the wings and upper fuselage, with heavy mottling on the sides and tail, over RLM76. A large white lightning bolt is painted on the nose.
  • W.Nr.170014 III./EJG 2, Germany 1945 – RLM82/83 Splinter on tops of fuselage with heavy mottling on the sides and tail over RLM76. Yellow theatre band on fuselage, and White 1 on the nose.

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Conclusion
I rather like the growing HobbyBoss range of 262s, and this one is no exception. They pack plenty of detail into the aircraft that will satisfy most modellers out of the box, without complicating the build too much. Of course the likes of Eduard can oblige if you'd like to take the detail up a notch, but that's up to you.

The radar equipped U1 variant is already on the way, and Creative have it up on their site here in case you wanted to pre-order it.

Recommended.



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Review sample courtesy of
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Great looking kit. More affordable than the Tamiya 262's but don't know how they compare fit/engineering wise. Very tempting :bounce: Thanks for the informative review. :thumbsup2:

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Glad you approve Greg :) HB and Trumpeter are pretty good for fit these days, and the 262 is very nice. As usual with any model, check fit before gluing, and fettle the joint if necessary to get the best fit ^_^

highly tempting - I can't resist a well-turned 262 :Tasty:

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I've always been a fan of the 262, particularly the two seater. When i was kid I built the Revell 1/32 which looked great hanging from the ceiling. I'm surprised Tamiya haven't extended their range to include the nightfighter :shrug: I recon i'll get one of HB 262's at some point, thanks again for the great review :thumbsup2:

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Unfortunately, this is not the two seataer, but the complete night fighter already, albeit without decals. The difference is the rear cockpit. Look at the old but still the only-game-in-town MPM Tamiya conversion instructions to see what I mean. http://www.cmkkits.com/en/detail-sets-accessories/me-262b-1a-b1a-u1/ .

I hoped so much they get it right :-( .

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