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Mike

Me.262B-1a/U1 1:48

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Me.262B-1a/U1
1:48 HobbyBoss


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The Schwalbe had the distinction of being the first jet engine fighter to see active service, and was respected by the Allies due to its speed and manoeuvrability, care of the advanced axial-flow engines that burned brightly, but not for very long. It came too late with too few airframes entering service due to delays with the engines, and the German high-command's insistence that every aircraft should have a myriad of variants sporting different configurations that brought with them further delays and confusion.

The B-1 variant was a two-seater trainer that was hastily adapted to a night fighter for the defence of the Reich and given the U1 designation to differentiate. It was fitted with the FuG 218 Neptun radar, plus the "Antler" eight-dipole antenna array on the nose.


The Kit
HobbyBoss have a wide range of single-seater 262s, and are now working their way through the two-seater range, plus some of the oddities that were either proposed or were actually in work when the war ended. If you have seen any of the preceeding kits, you'll be familiar with much of the kit already, as it has been tooled from the outset to be a modular "system" to maximise use. Inside the box are nine sprues in mid-grey styrene, two in clear, a metal nose-weight, a sheet of decals, instruction booklet in portrait A4, and a separate double-sided A4 painting & marking guide.

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The most notable difference of course is the doubled-up cockpit, which has two seats and instrument panels, with decals for both. The side consoles have separate instrument skins, and the tubular cockpit "tub" also forms part of the main gear bays, sitting in a cradle that forms the fore and aft bulkheads of the bay. The nightfighter was well armed with a quartet of 30mm Mk.108 cannon in the nose that could decimate anything in its sights. The gun bay sits atop the nose gear bay, which you can either install the metal part, or the lighter but slightly crisper styrene part if you prefer. The bay, four cannons and their ammo feeds fit to the top, and at the front the stubs for the forward antennae project from the circular front bulkhead. You can fit the nose gear leg at this point, or leave it off until later, and this has the option of smooth or treaded tyres, both of which are two-parts each. The fuselage parts are complete with a lengthened cockpit aperture, and have a number of parts fitted within that will be vaguely seen from the removable hatch on the starboard side. If you're closing the hatch however, leaving these parts out will reduce the need for nose weight fractionally. The fuselage is then closed up around the cockpit and nose gear/gun bays, and set aside while the wings are built up. The cockpit is completed later by the addition of additional equipment between the cockpits for the radar operator, and a sloped rear deck.

The engine nacelles have detailed fans at the front and exhaust bullets to the rear, and for no apparent reason, also have ribbing detail (perhaps for strength?) one their inner skins. With two of these built up, the full-width lower ing and split upper are joined together, some additional main gear bay detail added, and the fuselage then the engines are fitted to their respective slots. The nose cone is added, and the cannon bay doors can be fitted in opened or closed positions, while the forward panel that contains their troughs is fixed closed. If you're either brave or foolhardy, the front antennae can be fitted at this stage, but I'd leave them off, and consider some Master replacements in hardy brass. Under the aircraft the cannon shell ejector chute panels are added, remembering to make holes for the drop-tanks if you will be fitting them. The main gear legs have separate oleo scissor-links, and two captive bay doors each, with the third inner door fitting to the centre between the two bays. The bay door for the nose gear has a long retraction jack that clips into the side of the bay wall.

As often happens with HB kits, you get a stack of extras, which in this case includes the aforementioned drop-tanks, plus a tray of unguided rockets for under each wing. Additionally, a pair of rocket (RATO) packs are also included for under the rear of the fuselage, which were sometimes used to assist a heavily laden Schwalbe to take off quickly.


Markings
There are two decal options from the box, both of which have black undersides and RLM76 uppers, differing mainly in the style of squiggle camouflage that they wear. From the box you can build one of the following:

  • W.Nr.111980 10/NJG 11 Kommando Welter 12 – smoke rings and stripes in RLM81/83.
  • W.Nr.110494 piloted by Lt. Herbert Altner – RLM75 mottle.

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The decals are printed in-house and are in good register with adequate sharpness and colour density. There are some rather noticeable steps in the diagonal sides of the Swastika however, which is incidentally printed in parts to avoid issues, so you might wish to use your own if you will be applying them to your finished model.


Conclusion
Another well-done 262 to add to HB's stable. Detail is good, as is the choice of weapons/equipment fit, and other than a slight improvement needed in the decal printing, it's well-rounded kit.

Highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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This serie, together with the 190D, is the best from HB world.

To try for something a bit different, I'll wait for the Czech version (Any hope for a review there?).

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