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Bugatti 100 Racer (SH48219) 1:48


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Bugatti 100 Racer (SH48219)

1:48 Special Hobby




Bugatti’s streamlined air racer was custom designed for flying the circuits in 1939, using twin engines behind the pilot that ran a pair of contra-rotating props in the nose, which gave it a sleek aerodynamic profile and a compact size.  It was also inventive in terms of the tail, which was a V-shape and had a gearbox to split the pilot inputs accordingly between the fins.  Before it could be tested and put into the air however, the German invasion began, which forced the engineers to dismantle the aircraft and hide it on Mr Bugatti’s estate until after the war, although he died in 1947 so development stopped there.  Over time, the engines were raided for car projects and the airframe fell into disrepair until the 70s when a restoration project began, after which it was placed in a museum.  A replica was made using more modern technologies where sensible, and this flew briefly using a pair of more readily available Suzuki engines.  After a prop strike during landing, where the aircraft veered off the runway following a brake failure, its third test flight ended in disaster when the aircraft went out of control, killing the pilot who had played a major part in its production, and completely destroying the replica.  It had been promised to a museum in England after this flight, which clearly couldn’t now happen.  Quite a sad tale overall.



The Kit

This is a brand-new tooling from Special Hobby, and after bemoaning its absence in 1:48 when reviewing the 1:72 issue a few months ago, I’ve now got my wish, as it’s a rather cool-looking aircraft.  It arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are two sprues and separate lower wings in grey styrene, a clear part in its own Ziploc bag, a bag of resin parts and this time, a tiny sheet of decal.  No, that’s not a typo, you get an instrument panel decal.  Even in 1:48 it’s a relatively little thing, and that much is brought home when you see the fuselage, which is under 15cm long on the sprues, although longer when the nose and prop are complete.












Construction begins with the transmission at the front of the cockpit, which takes the power from the two engines and adapts them to the contra-rotating prop gearbox, the final-drive shaft passing through a bulkhead that fits into the front of the fuselage.  The fuselage halves have sidewall detail moulded-in with a little more added from separate parts, and fairings over the two drive-shafts are glued into both fuselage sides, then backed up with the cockpit floor on a support, seat back with four-point Photo-Etch (PE) seat belts against the rear bulkhead, and rudder pedals with short control column are placed in recesses in the floor.  The coaming has a number of small parts installed so that the instrument panel can be attached and covered by the single decal, plus a pair of bottles inside the nose housing after the fuselage is closed up with a fluted insert added in a hole in the spine, and an intake behind the cockpit. 


Like a lot of air racers, the 100 has a short wingspan for manoeuvrability, but at the root the chord is wide with a large root fairing, the chord tapering rapidly to the tip.  The lower half is a single piece, which has a pair of resin bay wall inserts fitted into the marked recesses, then closed up with the upper wings after a lick of paint.  The fuselage is dropped into the space in between the wings, and the V-shaped tail assembly with a recess moulded-in to replicate the intake louvres on the leading edge, and an insert at the rear.  The recesses are filled with curved louvre intakes, as is the slot in the vertical tail that doubles as the tail-wheel strut.


On the fuselage sides, a pair of bulged resin exhaust outlets are fixed to the fuselage in recesses in the aft section of the wing root fairing, then the landing gear is installed after flipping it over onto its back.  The gear legs are a single piece each plus retraction jacks with the two-part wheels flex-fitting into the yoke, and a pair of captive gear bay doors affixed to the outer side, and a tiny vestigial door at the top of the leg, fitting flush with the wing surface.  After which the model can stand on its own three wheels.  Additional details are fitted into the cockpit before it is covered by its canopy, including a number of PE levers, and the clear canopy is then fitted to the opening as a single part, with no option for leaving it open, but as it’s nice and clear you should still be able to see all your hard work.


The contra-prop has four elements to its spinner, two trapping each of the two-bladed props in between, with the smallest pointy one in the front, of course, gluing into position on the long prop-shaft.




There are two markings options given on the instructions, one of which is the actual blue scheme it wore, the other a what-if scheme that has red and white fan-shaped stripes on the wings and tail, which looks quite patriotic.  From the box you can paint whatever you fancy, but these two are suggested:






There aren’t any decals for the airframe, and the one for the instrument panel is totally fit for purpose.


Of course, I couldn’t resist taping up some of the major parts to give an impression of the finished model, so here it is:




There is a set of masks available now from Special Mask to allow you to mask up this lovely crystal clear canopy without stress or anguish, and quickly too, even if you're not masking phobic.  You can see the review of that set, right here.



I’ve been smitten with this little aircraft since the smaller kit arrived, and Special Hobby have done a great job with the moulding, using resin where sensible, and giving us plenty of detail in the kit.


Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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