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Mike

Me.262A-1/A-2 (03875) 1:32

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Me.262A-1/A-2 (03875)

1:32 Revell

 

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The shark-like profile of the Messerschmitt Me.262 Schwalbe and its almost matchless abilities at the time have given it a high profile despite its lack of practical effect on the outcome of WWII.  If Der Fuhrer had been a little less prone to meddling however, the effect of its presence may have been felt more by the bomber streams than it was.  That's if they could have solved the metallurgy of the engines to obtain sufficient time before they burned themselves to oblivion.  That's a lot of ifs, but if we concentrate on the actual performance of it, it's still an impressive aircraft that was superior to the British Meteor in many respects, using axial flow jet engines and swept outer wing panels together with an efficient aerodynamic shape.  It first flew with a prop in the nose and dummy engines, dragging its tail along the ground until airborne, but this was changed once the engines were live as the thrust from both engines would have played havoc with their landing strips.

 

The delays were caused partly by Hitler's insistence that the airframe should be able to carry bombs, which it eventually could under its nose, but as usual their efforts were spread too thin by trying to make the Schwalbe a workhorse with many variants, all of which took valuable engineers and strategic materials away from the fighters that were to be the most use in the defence of the Reich.  The huge speed differential between the 262 and its bomber stream targets meant that zoom attacks were necessary that gave precious little time for the pilot to take careful aim due to the high rate of closure.  The aircraft were also vulnerable during take-off and landing due to the slow spooling-up of all early jet engines, which the Allies took full advantage of to reduce the fleet further with intensive maintenance whittling away at the available airframes even further.  It was a case of too little too late in terms of numbers and even with their speed advantage a few were shot down by piston-engined Allied aircraft due in part to the extensive experience that the Allied crews had gained during the invasion and the comparative lack of experienced German pilots by that stage of the war.  As the Allies rolled through Germany they captured airbases and research establishments with many variants that didn't see combat found and hoovered up by US Operation Paperclip and similar operations by the other Allied governments.

 

 

The Kit

This is a fork of the 2016 tooling in this scale of the Me.262B-1/U-1 two-seater with new parts to depict the single seat fighter.  This was made easier by the sensible decision by Revell to tool the engines and other common parts to ensure they could be used for other variants, so it's a case of new fuselage parts on the otherwise identical sprue, new clear parts, a new single-part cockpit and of course the bombs that the fighter was supposed to carry.  Inside the deep end-opening box are thirteen sprues in their usual light grey styrene, two clear sprues, decal sheet and the new-style instruction booklet with painting guide printed at the rear in colour.

 

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Construction of this variant is broadly similar to the original, beginning with the cockpit and its sidewalls.  These are made up with levers and some decals, then the centre section of the cockpit floor is added along with the power breaker panel that is prominent on the pilot's right.  The instrument panel has cylindrical backs moulded in with a separate add-on section depending upon whether the airframe is to carry rockets or bombs.  Decals for the instruments are supplied, and the panel is attached to the forward end of the side consoles by two tabs, with the rudder pedals fitted under them, then joined by the front bulkhead.  The pilot's seat is well-moulded and you'll leave another on the sprues as a left-over from the 2-seat variant.  You can use the decal seatbelts directly on the seat, or add these to foil to give them a bit of depth if you don't want to go for PE or those awesome HGW belts that I'm always going on about.  The cockpit's cylindrical "tub" is added in two parts around the assembly, then it is set aside for a while to build up the combined gun bay and nose-gear bay on opposite sides of the tapering floor part.  The two walls of the bay are added with the stub of the nose gear leg, the rest of which is added later, then the top side is fitted out with ammo guides before a pack of four Mk.108 cannons and their supportive bulkhead are slipped into place past the ammo feeds.  The remaining upper feeds are then laid over the installation, and two braces are added between the two bulkheads, which will all be visible if you elect to leave open the bay doors.  In the fuselage halves, the ammo chutes are placed inside depicting the rectangular outlets for the spent brass, then the bay is glued into the port side and the fuselage is closed up.  One handy feature of the 262 is that in most scales the majority of kits allow you to insert the cockpit from below before the wings are attached.  The cockpits sills are inserted into the aperture from above along with the canopy rail, then the cockpit with aft bulkhead are fitted from below and ancillary equipment that will be visible through the gear bays are added to finish off.  Speaking of the gear bays, the main spars that pass through the main bay are next to be built, beginning with the front section that is joined to the rear by three ribs and the stubs of the main gear legs.  These are placed in the centre lower wing section which has the outer panels added that use overlapping tabs to strengthen their joints.  The two flap sections are added to each lower wing, then after fitting the upper wing panels the two-part ailerons are installed with their actuators and fairings.  The 262 had gravity operated slats along the leading edge of the wing, so on the ground and at low speed they will be deployed by default, and this is depicted by the separate surfaces that are joined to the wing by six points moulded into the upper wing section.  If you are posing your model with the gear up, the slat tabs are cut off and the slats fitted flush to the wing.  This completes the wings, and they are added to the lower fuselage, taking care to align the lower panel and its fairings front and rear to minimise any clean-up.

 

Now work begins on the engines, which are depicted in their entirety (externally) from intake to exhaust with separate handed nacelles added to turn them into port and starboard units.  The intake and its inner trunk are joined one inside the other, with the bullet and front face of the engine added from behind, with a similar method used for the exhaust with its stator vanes and the rear of the engine just visible through them.  The mid-section of the engine body is made of five parts and its various colours are picked out as you go.  The intakes and exhausts are added, more ancillaries are fitted around the middle, and then the two units are slipped within their two-part nacelles that fit port and starboard after adding the compound curves of the fairings front and rear that fit neatly onto the leading edge of the wing first and are then glued along their length.  It's looking a lot like a Schwalbe now, but needs its tail-feathers.  The fin is moulded into the fuselage halves with a separate rudder and trim-tab, and the elevators are made up from two part fins and a single elevator unit for each that can be posed at an angle if desired.  These are fitted into the slots in the tail and should be at 90o to the fin and monitored as the glue sets.

 

For the landed option, the gear needs making up next, with a choice of design of four-part nose wheels and standard two-part main wheels with a zig-zag tread.  The struts are single parts each, the nose leg having a single armed yoke, while the main gear have separate scissor-links added to the fronts of their struts and the wheels fitted to a stub axle that sits roughly perpendicular to the leg.    If you're going wheels up the nose gear bay is closed up by a single part after cutting off the hinge points.  The main gear bay is provided with a single piece that spans both bays.  If you are using the gear, the nose bay door is cut into two sections and posed with one piece attached to the side, and the other part captive to the front of the leg.  The main gear bays take three parts each, with two attached to the leg, and the inner section affixed to a central brace between the bays and fitted with two retraction jacks each.

 

In order to fit the canopy the gun-sight has to be made up first on a cruciform bracket with the clear gun-sight fitted to one leg and the lenses left clear while the rest of the sight is painted.  The windscreen has its bullet-proof internal screen attached from the inside before the completed gun-sight is fitted into the inside edges of the screen then glued into position at the front of the cockpit aperture.  The opening canopy has its head-armour fitted and can be glued into place open using the two moulded-in tabs, or closed by removing the tabs before installation.  The aft section of the canopy is usually seen in position, but can be shown open using the tabs provided although there's not much to be seen under it.

 

The engine cowlings can be left off to display some of the detail, as can the nose bay to show off the cannons just by cutting the cover into three sections, one part of which is glued across the centre and the other two fitted gull-wing style with props supplied on the sprues.  The nose cone and cannon troughs are glued to the front, with a tiny clear light on the tip of the nose.

 

The 262 could carry either two drop-tanks to extend its range, or a pair of bombs in the fighter-bomber role, or rockets under the wings.  The drop tanks are each two parts split top and bottom at a natural seamline and share the same pylons as the bombs.  The bombs supplied are 250KG or 500KG and use the same construction method of two parts with a separate nose-cone, two fins and an exterior ring at the rear on the 500KG unit, and braces for the smaller units.  The rockets are moulded as one part and are attached to their racks that are conformal to the underside of the wings.  The model is completed by clear wingtip lights, D/F loop on the spine, pitot probe on the port wingtip and aerial under the wing.

 

 

Markings

There are two decal options included in the box, each one spanning two pages of the booklet and printed in full colour.  They are sufficiently different to please many, and from the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Me.262A-1a Wk.Nr. 130017, Erprob.Kdo 262, Lechfeld, 1944
  • Me.262A-2a WkNr. 170122, 2./KG 51 "Edelweiss" Rheine, 1944

 

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Decals are printed for Revell by Zanetti, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

Grab one of these if 262s and 1:32 are your thing and you'll be well-pleased.  There is a lot of detail moulded-in, and if you want more there will be enough aftermarket to sink a ship in due course.  With Revell's distribution network they'll be pretty easy to find too.

 

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Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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