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Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

Top Drawings No. 113 Messerschmitt Me-210/Me-410

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 16:32
Product Image Review Author:  Jason Holt Kagero Publishing

The Messerschmitt Me-210/410 is one of a lesser aircraft in the Luftwaffe legacy. The aircraft was designed in the late 1930's with the hopes of it being a multi-use aircraft filling in as a Fighter, Bomber and Reconnaissance platform. The aircraft began as the Me-210, but due to various technical and design problems, it became the Me-410 due to the major modifications to remedy the shortcomings it had. In essence was an entirely new aircraft. There are two surviving examples, one is with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and awaiting restoration, and the other is on display at Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

The Topdrawings book from Kagero is a 10 page book with a very brief history of the aircraft itself that is provided in both English and Polish. The drawings comprise of the various Me-210 and Me-410 3 view drawings and cross sections represented in 1/72 and 1/48 scale. They also include comparison line drawing between the two aircraft so the reader can actually see the external differences between them.

Most of the line drawings are of side profiles with expanded close up drawings of distinguishing aircraft features. In the center of the book there are period black and white reference photographs and color profiles of two Me-410's.

With Kagero books they typically include bonus items such as vinyl masks or decal sheets. With this publishing they included 2 large double sided 3 view line drawing posters. Special attention with these drawings includes armament/cockpit layout as well as a comparison between the Me-210 and the Me-410. These posters are super enlarged drawings that are included in the book itself.

I enjoyed this book and would like to thank Casemate Publishers for supplying IPMS Reviewer Corps for this copy.

Pictorial History of the Third Armored Division in World War Two

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 16:23
Product Image Review Author:  Blaine Singleton Pen & Sword The Author

Darren Neely is the author of several photo survey books on WW2 subjects including Panzer wrecks 21: German Armor and the forthcoming Operation Nordwind in the Images of War series.

Contents

The book is divided into four unnamed chapters covering the 3rd at the invasion of Normandy until the end of the war.

In the Book

The book is hardbound has 4 chapters and 306 pages. Most of the pages have at least two black and white photographs on each of them. Some of the subjects covered in the book include:

  • The menace of the panzerfaust teams and their toll on the 3rd's vehicles.
  • Participation in the Battle of the Bulge
  • The U.S. loosing all of their medium tanks in the battle of Cherain.
  • M-24 Chaffee gets name from Maj Gen Adna R Chaffee the first commander of the Armored Force.
  • The first M-24 tanks were sent to Army field units during the Battle of the Bulge.

The introduction and effectiveness of the M-26 Pershing, now the United States had a tank that could take on the Panzers and Tigers (introduced after the Battle of the Bulge).

Summary

This book is not much of a story book, instead it is filled with black and white pictures of the daily life, movement of the 3rd Armor division. There are two-page descriptions at the beginning of each chapter about the major phases and movement of the 3rd then the rest of the chapters are photographs activities. For anyone interested in the 3rd Armor division or wanting reference photos of vehicles (Allied and German) this is a great book.

I want to thank Casemate and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to read and review the book.

The Red Baron, A Photographic Album of The First World War's Greatest Ace

Fri, 07/30/2021 - 23:25
Product Image Review Author:  Michael Reeves Pen & Sword

There is probably no more well-known figure from the Great War, or more written about or discussed, than the infamous Red Baron- Manfred von Richthofen. The original ringmaster of the Flying Circus, his record stands for itself and no plane from that war stands out more from historians down to watchers of Snoopy and his antics in his Sopwith doghouse. This thin book at 157 pages is filled with excellent clear photographs of von Richthofen from his childhood up through his career to his bitter end over enemy lines. More on that later.

Going from the table of contents, it doesn't seem like there is much inside with only two chapters and then some appendices, but these two chapters take up the first 127 pages of the book. After a brief introduction, the author details the events leading up to the start of the war and Manfred's early life and time in military school, and then delves into his start in the cavalry and eventual transfer into the Air Service as an observer. After meeting the great Oswald Boelcke in October of 1915, his desire to become a pilot was spurred on, and despite some early mishaps and accidents, he successfully passed his final flying exam and became a pilot on Christmas Day of the same year.

Interspersed throughout the informative text are numerous photos taken of Manfred through the many stages of his military career as his fame rose. I never really realized how many photographs were actually taken of him, and nearly all are ones I have not seen before. Chapter two opens up with Manfred at about 40 victories and carries on up to the end at 80, as well as a major head injury in battle. The chapter concludes with a thorough overview of his being shot down and killed. There are many photos of the wreckage and those possibly involved. The chapter concludes with four possible scenarios for how he met his end: Captain Roy Brown, Australian gunner Robert Buie, Australian gunner Cedric Popkin, or an unknown rifleman. There is a following section detailing Richthofen's post mortem that I found fascinating. Finally there are two appendices-- one listing his 80 victories and another listing all of his decorations and awards. A glossary and index completes the book.

Conclusion

I found this small book to be immensely interesting and informative. There is no end to the wealth of lore and accounts of the Red Baron out there, but this book makes it easy for someone just learning of his exploits to get a pretty good overview of the man and the pilot in one place. As someone who has been interested in WWI aviation for as long as I can remember, this book was great for me as well and almost has me cracking open that Wingnut Wings kit I have been treasuring in my stash.

My thanks to Casemate Publishing and IPMS-USA for the review sample.

WW1 Belgian Infantry

Fri, 07/30/2021 - 09:30
Product Image Review Author:  Gino Dykstra ICM

ICM has finally filled a big gap in their ongoing World War 1 Infantry series by releasing a set of early-war Belgian Infantry. Unlike most of the previous sets which displayed figures advancing toward an unseen enemy, this set displays Belgian infantry in what must be the most iconic fashion for the period depicted - fighting from a defensive position.

The set includes three infantry figures in the traditional shakos, all crouching or kneeling, two actively firing their rifles and one cocking or reloading his weapon. It also includes an officer figure armed with sword and pistol. The set includes two sprues of equipment suitable for Belgian infantry from 1914 all the way to 1918, when they wore khaki uniforms with helmets.

Speaking of equipment, the average modeler might find the supplied gear a bit confusing, so permit me to comment a bit on this. The Belgian Army of 1914 was a mostly volunteer affair and took its influence from two different sources. The uniforms were cut along almost the exact lines of the French uniform of the time, but the equipment was mostly German or German-influenced. Their rifles were German-made Mausers, and much of their personal gear was either German-made or influenced, which is quite noticeable with these figures, who have German-style backpacks, canteens, shovels, and other gear. Only the single cartridge box mounted at the front of the torso are strictly a Belgian design - one that would be dispensed with as the war dragged on.

In assembling the infantry figures, there inevitably will be a certain amount of putty work required, simply because of the complex drapery of the coats over the lower legs. This has been handled quite expertly in the molding, by the way. In addition, most of the arms come in multiple pieces to simplify the fitting of the rifles in firing mode. Patience is required to establish the poses correctly, but they certainly look good when completed.

The officer, on the other hand, is a bit of a disappointment, at least to me. His right hand, which is holding a diminutive pistol, is definitely undersize as is the pistol itself. I cut off the poorly-molded version and replaced it with the one from the equipment sprue, but it still didn't look right. The molded straps for the sword and other gear are a also bit iffy - the sword mounts much higher on the body than it probably should, and the pistol holster also rides too high. If I was doing the figure over, I'd probably shave the straps off and remake them from lead strip to an appropriate length. As a final issue, the officer's sword, which comes from the equipment sprue, is made up of two ill-fitting pieces which bear little resemblance to the cage hilt shown on the cover art.

Speaking of which, the equipment sprues will prove useful to anyone interested in Belgian infantry as they each include no less than three different mess kits, three regular rifles as well as a carbine, two different types of bayonet, late-war helmets, ammunition pouches and other useful bits. The officer's sword, as noted before, is iffy, and despite including three rifles with separate bolts, only two bolts are actually provided on each sprue, which seems a bit odd.

Painting the figures is an interesting process, as there is a certain amount of debate about the correct colors. Although officially the coat was supposed to be black and the pants gray, in fact much of the stock in their inventory was French in origin, so that dark blue coats and pants ranging to light blue were not uncommon. About the only regret I have with this particular set is that they didn't include the other distinctive Belgian infantry headpiece, which resembles a top hat with one brim turned up.

For my assembly, I replaced the pistol and right hand of the officer, but otherwise the only modifications I made to any of them was to add straps to the rifles. The end result is quite pleasing to my eyes, at least, and fills a real void in my collection. They're going to look terrific fighting in front of my Minerva armored car model. Hats off to ICM for adding this lovely set to their continually amazing line of World War 1 figures, and thanks to IPMS/USA for letting me give these a try. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!

Normandie 1944: 2. Panzer-Division Tome II Caen-Vire-Mortain

Thu, 07/29/2021 - 01:02
Product Image Review Author:  Dick Montgomery Heimdal

C'est une magnifique publication, riche en prose et en photographie. Presentee en francais, mon manque de maitrise du francais me fait passer a cote de la qualite de la prose, mais la photographie ne necessite pas de traduction precise.

In English - This is a magnificent publication, rich in prose and photography. Presented in the French language, my lack of command of French means that I am missing out on the quality of the prose, but the photography and the captions for the images does not require precise translation.

While the book is in the French language, some ability to read and understand French would be extremely helpful. My command of French is, at best, that of a six-year old. But even with a remarkably disappointing ability to speak and write in French, I found that the captions of the photographs were not at all difficult to roughly translate and to understand. When all else fails, one can seek an online translation tool.

This publication is the second of three publications that are currently available on the Hiemdal website. Volume 1 covers the story of the 2nd Panzer Division in 1935 through the fighting at Rauray and in the Cheux area in June of 1944. That first Tome was reviewed by IPMS.

For those who have a limited French vocabulary, it is possible to follow the text to varying degrees by simply reading the text slowly and using accompanying images to provide helpful guidance as to the meaning of the text. This being the case for this reviewer, the organization of information was presented mostly in chronological fashion, with support from the images, maps, and documents the author had uncovered during the research phase of his preparation for publication. The book goes into remarkable detail about the personalities of those in command. Also covered in detail are descriptions of the vehicles being used by the 2nd Panzer Division and the positive or negative attributes of these weapons.

For those who model armor and for those who model figures of German soldiers of W.W.II, this book is rich in reference material.

"Tome II" (Volume II) covers the 2nd Panzer Division from July 1 (1er juillet) through August 12, 1944 (12 aout 1944).

Table of Contents

Sommarie (Summary, aka Table of Contents)

Transition - Page 4

  • Apres 20 jours de combat (After 20 days of fighting) - Page 16

Westlich Caen

Panzer en detachement. ( Panzer on detachment)

  • Panther a Noyers - Page 32
  • Jagdpanzer IV - cote 112 (Hill 112) - Page 64
  • Defense Ectot/Hottot - Page 70

Stellungskrieg face a face a Caumont (face to face in Caumont)

  • H.K.L Caumont - Page 84
  • La Vacquerie - Page 100
  • Lignes arriere (Rear Lines) - Page 116

Kampfgruppe Kohn et Koch

  • Saint-Andre/Saint Martin - Page 132

Kampfgruppe Sterz

  • May-sur-Orne - Page 150

Front De Vire

  • Vers la Manche (Toward the Channel) - Page 168
  • Moyon- la Denisiere - Page 186
  • Le Mesnil-Opac et Troisgots - Page 204
  • Tessy-sur-Vire - Page 212
  • Le couloir des Pz.Kpfw.IV - Page 230

Panzer Objectif Avranches Kampfgruppen Schake et von Meyer

  • Zur Avranches - Page 252
  • Le Mesnil-Adelee - Page 266
  • Le Mesnil-Tove - Page 280

De Moyon a Tessy-sur-Vire

  • Vers Falaise - Page 302

Annexes

  • Feld-Ersatz-Bataillon 82 - Page 304

Regardless of one's ability to speak French, this publication has hundreds of images of the men and equipment that were involved in the combat covered between July 1 and August 12th. Along with these stunning images, there are maps which are of great assistance in gaining a bird's eye view of the fighting. The book also contains a large number of color illustrations of some of the vehicles that are seen in the B&W images.

This book is recommended for several reasons. The photographs are stunning. Those who model armor and those who are "figure" fans have a treasure chest of sharply focused, clear, and detailed images available to them. I am of the opinion that it is not necessary to be fluent in French to find this book worthwhile and very enjoyable.

Merci a Casemate et Heimdal d'avoir fourni cette excellente publication a IPMS / USA pour examen.

(Thanks to Casemate and Heimdal for providing this excellent publication to IPMS/USA for review.)

Bombarda Maggiora ad Acetilene da 320

Mon, 07/26/2021 - 07:36
Product Image Review Author:  Rick Taylor Vargas Scale Models Introduction

Necessity is the mother of invention. Once the combatants in the Great War settled into the trenches, the Italians faced a desperate shortage of heavy artillery. To help fill this need, Demetrio Maggiora invented a short range 320mm (12.6 inch) mortar powered by acetylene gas. The acetylene was generated in canisters like a miner's lamp. The gas was transferred into a spherical combustion chamber where it was ignited to launch the projectile. The mortar was muzzle loading and had a very short range - just enough to reach the enemy trenches. It was first used in the Second Battle of the Isonzo in 1915 and was only in service for a short time until more capable weapons became available.

Review

Vargas Scale Models from California USA specializes in interesting and unique subjects from World War One and the Interwar periods in 1:35th scale. All are CAD designed and 3D printed in resin. Sales are direct to the modeler on eBay.

The kit is packaged in a small sturdy corrugated cardboard flip top box. Inside are the instructions, and zip-lock bags with twenty 3D printed resin parts cushioned in bubble wrap. The instructions are two pages double sided printed in color. They consist of CAD renderings to highlight the assembly. There is no parts list or painting instructions. No decals or PE are included or needed.

The parts are printed in a gray resin. The kit includes the mortar, bipod, acetylene generators, vinyl hoses, six nicely printed mortar bombs, and an optional barrel extension. The nature of the subject calls out for a trench emplacement base.

Build

Unlike cast resin, there are no pour plugs or mold parting seams to remove. Nor are there pin holes or air bubbles to fill. Unlike styrene, you get lots of detail with a shockingly low parts count. 3D printing does introduce a couple of new steps in the build process. The parts require thorough cleaning with a toothbrush in warm soapy water followed by rinsing in warm water and blow drying with your airbrush. To ensure that the resin is fully cured, lay out the parts in direct sunlight for several minutes. Too long in the sunlight will cause the resin to get very brittle. Some of the parts exhibit 3D print striations. Priming the unassembled parts with an inexpensive rattle can sandable, automotive primer or a good self-leveling hobby primer like Mr. Surfacer 1000 in a rattle can will fill most of these striations. The remaining striations can be sanded out.

Once the parts are cleaned up, the assembly is trivial. The instructions are minimal but adequate. Although the parts fit is excellent, dry fit everything before assembly. I used five-minute epoxy to give more working time to align the mortar tube, combustion chamber, and cone. Medium CA was used for the other joints.

Painting and Weathering

As the parts were primed with gray sandable automotive primer prior to assembly, I pre-shaded the assembled mortar with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black and highlighted the upper surfaces with Tamiya XF-2 Flat White. From the few period photos, the mortar appears to a slightly lighter shade than the uniforms of the crew. This likely means that they were painted gray green. I used LifeColor UA 213 Grigio Verde Chiaro, thinned 1:1 with a mixture of LifeColor thinner and 10% Liquitex Flow-Aid. I gave the acetylene canisters a base coat of Tamiya XF-56 Metallic Grey followed by AK Interactive Worn Affects. One canister was airbrushed with Life Color UA 213, while the other was airbrushed with Tamiya XF-65 Field Gray. They were then moistened with water and chipped and scratched to give a very beat up look. The kit includes two lengths of clear vinyl tubing for the gas hoses. I could not get primer or paint to stick to these, so, I replaced the vinyl tubing with Evergreen rod bent to shape. The gas hoses were brush painted with Tamiya XF-57 Buff. With the base color and chipping complete, I applied a dot filer of various Winsor & Newton Winton oil colors and Mona Lisa mineral (white) spirits. After allowing the oils to dry, I airbrushed everything a glossy clear coat of Future. AK Streaking Grime was used as a pin wash followed by a light dry brushing with Winsor & Newton Yellow Ochre. I added a generic Archer data plate and sealed everything up with a matt finish of Testor's Dullcote. Wear points were rubbed with a pencil and/or Uschi Chrome powder.

Conclusion

This kit highlights how CAD and 3D printing technology can give us good kits of unique and obscure subjects that are not economically feasible in styrene or even cast resin. The kit builds into an excellent replica out of the box. Due to the need for CA glue and epoxy, it is more appropriate for experienced modelers. I highly recommend the kit and hope to see more new Great War and Interwar kits from Vargas. Vargas Scale Models offers their kits for sale on eBay at vargasscalemodels. Thanks to Vargas or providing the review kit.

Croco Yakolev UT-3 (3rd Version)

Mon, 07/26/2021 - 00:47
Product Image Review Author:  Brian R. Baker Croco Models History

The Yakovlev UT-3 was designed as a training aircraft to offer instruction to pilots of multi-engined aircraft, gunners, bombardiers, and radio operators. Construction was mainly of wood, with fabric covering and some steel tubing. Imported French Renault 6Q engines were used on the prototypes, but production models probably had a Voronezh MV-6, a Russian copy of the French powerplant. The prototypes first flew in 1938, and some were equipped with armament, 7.62 mm machine guns and bombs, but production models were unarmed. Production began at two plants, No. 272 at Kazan, and No. 135 at Leningrad. Only a small number, around thirty, had been produced when the authorities decided to use combat aircraft for this type of training, so further production was cancelled.

There were numerous variants thought about or only produced in prototype form, including some with twin rudders, and some had fixed landing gear while other had retractable units. Most of the variants had only one or two prototypes, and only one civil transport version was built, with seats for two crew members and five passengers. There is really little information available on this aircraft, even on line, although several publications, especially Bill Gunston's The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft, 1875-1995, provide information on the type.

Instructions

The kit comes in a plain brown box with little marking except for a title, Yakovlev UT-3 (3 version) Scale 1/72, and the originators of the kit, Project: Leonid Shilin (author) and Mike Dolgov (master). The Brand name, Croco, appears in very small print, along with a crocodile cartoon. The box has almost no information other than that.

The instruction sheet is 8 1/4" by 5 3/4" in size, containing exploded assembly drawings, viewed from above and below the model, showing how the parts are to be assembled. Part numbers appear in the drawings, but these are not identified anywhere else. There is no other information. I recall reviewing my first Croco kit, a Miles M.8 "Peregrine" and remember the same problems, a lack of information provided with the kit, and since Croco tends to produce kits of unusual and little known airplanes, this can present a problem. There are no three view drawing except for the side view on the box, and no indication as to whether the landing gear should be retracted, lowered, or fixed in position, and there is very little information as to the seat positions. Of course, interior colors require total guesswork.

There is a decal sheet included, and this includes ten red stars, some with white outlines, and four red trim stripes, probably for the engine nacelles, although there is no reference to this on the box art or instructions. The decals are of very good quality, and do not require trimming.

All in all, the whole thing makes up into an attractive little airplane, and the nice thing is that it is one that has probably never been made into a kit before. But the instructions certainly were only moderately helpful, and much more information should have been provided.

The Kit

The kit consists of almost 40 resin parts, and three vacuformed clear plastic parts, including the cockpit canopy, nose transparency, and several small triangular pieces for the front windows on the fuselage sides. I just filled these in with white glue, but the vacuform parts were quite well done. There are extras in case you screw one up.

The resin cast parts had adequate surface detail, and required only a small amount of trimming. The problem with the resin parts is that apparently some kind of chemical was used to prevent the resin from sticking to the molds, and all of the parts need to be soaked and washed in a strong liquid detergent to remove this material. Otherwise, paint will not stick to it, and I found that parts had a strong tendency to slip out of my hands because of the slippery surface of the parts. Even after washing the parts, I found that acrylic paint did not adhere well to the surface, and that a lot of touch up painting was required.

Assembly

However, assembly was quite easy. The wings came in three parts, with the outer panels attaching to the center section assuring the correct dihedral angle. Mold attachment marks needed to be removed, and in a few cases, filled in. Some filler was required to fill in gaps, but there wasn't a lot of surface detail that needed to be protected. I used super glue for all of the assembly, and it seems to be holding pretty well. The tail assembly looked like it would be a problem, with very small mounting tabs, but they mounted easily and are very secure. The engine nacelles are a bit dicey to attach, but while they needed some filler, they fit in nicely, and the engine cowlings slid right into position with little problem. The propellers, however, were a different issue. They consisted of four blades and two spinners. The idea was to glue a blade to each side of the spinner. Apparently, the props rotated British style, opposite to the American rotation, and the blades didn't look too good. I tried, but ended up using the props from a scrapped Airfix Avro Anson, which were about the right size and the correct rotation. They had no spinners though, but then all airplanes that were built with prop spinners didn't always use them. They look convincing, and since due to lack of information I can't really say that I am building a model of a specific airplane, I was satisfied with the result.

The finishing touches on this model are somewhat strange. The landing gear on the box art shows a retractable gear, while some of the information I found online states that some of these planes had fixed gear. However, the box art shows retractable. The instruction sheet shows both landing gear doors closed and in the up position, with a small bracing strut running from the rear of the main gear strut to a position along the center line of the gear doors. The instructions actually say to glue the doors together in the closed position and attach them as if they were closed. I ended up leaving the gear doors open and constructing a longer bracing strut to support the main gear struts. The gear doors would have to be trimmed in front to get them to fit anyway, and there may be a reference on the bottom instruction drawings, although I could not read that particular language. (It looked like Russian). I can think of no reason why designers of this type of airplane would create such a complicated retractable landing gear assembly that allows the doors to fold up and a strut to run through them to brace the main gear strut. There would be no point in this.

This is the third issue by Croco of a model of this airplane, versions 1 and 2 coming before this one. There are reviews of these kits online, but they are really not very helpful for the above mentioned reasons.

One problem I noticed was that the fuselage top cover, Part No. 17, is provided as a long cover which is attached behind the cockpit windows and runs to a position near the rear of the cabin. The drawings tend to hint that there should be an open space about 4 feet long, but without any trimming, and actual space is less than a foot. I don't know how this happened, but it should have been mentioned in the instruction sheet, regardless of the language.

When almost finished, I trimmed the vacuform canopy parts and glued them onto the fuselage with super glue. I trimmed masking tape and taped over the windows, masking off the clear parts. For the triangular windows in the nose section, I filled them in with white glue. You can't see anything inside through those windows, but there isn't anything to see anyway, as the total interior detail consists of three seats, an instrument panel, two rudder pedals, and control wheel assembly. I was rather surprised that the kit included three small venturi tubes and a very nice tailwheel. However, there is a rear step that shows on the box art and in what few photos are available, and this is not included. I had to add this.

Painting and Finishing

Once the model was assembled and filled in, I painted it. I have been using acrylic paint recently, and have found it to be a little harder to work with than regular enamels. After several heavy washes with detergent, my spray painting of the basic airframe seemed to work, although some of the paint came off when I removed the masking tape, and I had to do some touch up. When I finished my painting, I sprayed the whole thing with Glosscote, and then applied the kit decals. They were on easily, and then I took care of the small details. For some reason I was unable to locate the positions of the pitot tube for the airspeed indicator and there doesn't seem to be a photo available that shows the position of any radio antenna mast. Certainly, these planes carried radios, but there is no indication where the equipment would have been. So mine is non-radio equipped. Less stuff to go wrong.

Conclusions and Recommendations

This is not a kit for beginners. It requires a certain amount of skill, and a lot of patience. However, you will wind up with a model of an airplane you've never heard of before, and it will look nice on you model shelves next to other obscure Russian aircraft. Get one of these and try it. You are likely to come out with a very nice model. Recommended, with reservations.

Thanks to Croco Models for the review copy.

Detail-up Parts: McLaren MP4/2C ’86 Portuguese GP

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:24
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Platz

An available set for the Platz/NuNu McLaren MP4/2C is part Ne00001 and is made for kit PN20000. Included in the set are:

  • Four decal sheets covering carbon fiber additions
  • One decal sheet with lettering
  • One decal sheet for additional coloring for the car in orange and yellow
  • Two photoetch sheets with many extra parts
  • One stencil and metal sticky sheet for replicating heat shields
  • One chrome sprue of connectors

 

Also included are multipage instructions and these were done perfectly. Each step in the aftermarket package matches the steps in the kit instructions so as you go along, check both sheets.

The carbon fiber decals cover almost all of the entire body and cockpit of the car and are in several colors depending on location. You can see the ones covering the seat in the attached photos. These decals are thick, and I spent time and effort getting them to settle with Solvaset, but they will settle. There are 46 decals of dark carbon fiber and 9 for the seat and cockpit. Unless you leave the body loose or off, many will be hidden. They are a great improvement to the underbody and frame and are visible. Take your time and let them dry and set well before adding the overlapping ones.

The sticky aluminized sheet is cut into six parts utilizing the stencils. There are the parts surrounding the engines. Use a sharp knife as the sheets are thick and have some tight trimming. They do provide a nice reflective surface, but none will be seen if the body is glued shut.

The two photoetch sheets replace parts such as the front and back wing fins, cooling for radiators and intercoolers, supports for the seat belt and many others. That being said, there are many extra parts left that are not called for such as fasteners. There is a set of buckles for the seat belt. A length of woven belt is provided. I cut this to length and tried to get the buckle material through the belts. They frayed and I gently heated the ends and flattened them and could not get them threaded. They look fantastic but, in the end, I used foil for the belts.

There is a sprue of chromed connectors of four different types. These are not mentioned in the instructions. I assume they may be used to plumb and wire things. There was no mention anywhere of these parts.

Lastly, there is a decal sheet with lettering not mentioned, several sizes starting with "M" and then a line of indicators. Looking at the real car, it had Marlboro's name on the car six times. Each of these decals is provided with the first letter and then each of the remaining seven letters as individual decals. The decals on the rear fin are split as the fin is split also. So to label this on the car takes a total of 48 decals. The individual letters are aligned with the lettering marks attached to the M which is clever. Not sure if legalities or political correctness made them take six decals and turn them into 48 but they were very prominent on the real car and I added them.

This set is very comprehensive and makes the kit really stand out. To me, the markings along plus carbon fiber make the kit really pop. And if you leave the body loose, this is mandatory.

Thanks to Platz/NUNU for the opportunity to build it. More pictures are available at the full build of the kit too!

McLaren MP4/2C ’86 Portuguese GP

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 11:31
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Platz

A little background about the car the kit represents:

It was the MP4/2C that McLaren introduced to the 1986 F1 Grand Prix. The McLaren MP4/2 was designed by John Barnard for the 1984 season. The McLaren MP4/2C was the updated version powered by a TAG-Porsche 1.5 litre V6 twin turbo engine with carbon monocoque chassis. A. Prost and K. Rosberg were the drivers. Rosberg ran a one-off livery in yellow/white, different from the common red/white livery, and was successful in attracting the attention of the fans and had a huge promotion effect.

The kit gives you markings to make the car driven by either driver. Looking at the kit, there are 80% new tooled parts to produce the car as in the 1986 Portuguese Gran Prix and includes details such as the suspension and cockpit, as well as the TAG-Porsche V6 twin turbo engine.

Inside the box, there are seven sprues including a small clear sprue holding the windscreen and rear light. There are four rubber tires, a set of screws for attaching the wheels and three decal sheets. There is an optional "Detail Up Set and it was incorporated into this "build project" and I will mention it when used. One thing I can say is that the instructions for the detail set were laid out perfectly in the instructions. The steps match exactly the steps in the actual instructions and show replacement parts, etc.

Construction starts with the engine, transmission, and suspension. Take note that there are three holes to be drilled out on the transmission. Color call outs are in Gunze colors. One note, the kit is molded with texture for the carbon fiber parts (which is almost everything) and the detail set replaces all of these. Also note that there are many decals to be placed on the engine, turbo's, etc. all through the build. These are denoted by notes indicating decal and number. Assembly was straightforward, but in hindsight I would leave off the rear suspension to allow for alignment.

Next is the bottom pan in step 5, and here the detail set kicked in. The entire bottom pan is covered in decals of carbon fiber. Fourteen large ones that need time to settle. There is also photoetch for the nose and exhaust areas and silver stickers to represent the engine pan. The decals do make the parts look great. Once done, the front suspension was added.

Next, we turn to the "cockpit". There are lots of decals for carbon fiber including the entire seat and body! It looks great but take your time. I did use Solvaset on the decals and they even resisted that. Also, all of the work here will not be seen if the top is not removable, except the seat.

The following steps pull it together by adding the engine and remaining suspension to the body pan, and then adding the cooling system. NOTE- DO NOT add parts M7 and M8 until you add the cockpit to the body. AND BTW, don't forget to add the PE radiators into cockpit sides. I did and they cannot go on after assembly. Nuts! I screwed this up and had to pull them off to get it to fit. Sigh. Follow the instructions!? The tires can be screwed onto their mounting seats. I set this aside to work on the outer shell.

I started by building the tail wing and used the photoetch replacement parts and carbon decals. The main shell consists of the front and back parts, and I glued and puttied these together, several parts were added to complete the scoops and cockpit. The sides were added to the top also. In hindsight, I should have added the sides to the bottom and it would have been easier.

As for painting, there are two sets of markings, one for either driver. I chose the yellow/white livery of the #2 car. Decals are included for both but I chose to paint the kit and the yellow parts have a clear delineation, so it was easy. Several coats and clear coats later, it was time for decals. The instructions on the un-detail up kit shows a few decals, but this is where the decal up shines. Missing glaringly are the six Marlboro logos. These were added and make a huge visual difference. Once added. I clear coated and let dry for final assembly.

With my gluing of the sides to the top, this became difficult so do not do it. I managed to slide things into place around the rear suspension. The body is on pins and is meant to be removable to show off the detailed interior.

This project was a bit of a learning experience for me but this kit was a lot of fun and looks really cool! Definitely recommended and so is the "Detail-Up" set.

My thanks to Platz/NuNu for the opportunity to review this kit.

A-10A/C Brrrrrt…to the Future

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 11:10
Product Image Review Author:  Dave Morrissette Twobobs Aviation Graphics

TwoBobs has been producing decals for modern planes for a long time and has tons of superb decal sheets available. Several of the latest sheets deal with the 1/48th scale A-10 Warthog and this sheet, 48274 is titled, "A-10A/C Brrrrt to the Future", and provides markings for three A-10's- two A versions and one C version. The markings cover:

  • A-10A 80-0221 in special arctic scheme from Operation Cool Snow Hog 82-1. There is a bonus set of markings for this aircraft in 1/72nd scale included.
  • A-10A 80-0186 from Desert Storm. This aircraft suffered severe damage from an SA-16 during a mission and was quickly repaired and put back into service within 7 days.
  • A-10C 80-0186 from the DARPA/AFRL Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program. This is the same SN as the Desert Storm aircraft on this sheet. This aircraft was utilized as an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) to facilitate testing of some leading edge Joint Terminal Attack Control (JTAC) technology development and testing for this very leading edge program. Many of the technologies developed on this program have been implemented into current JTAC/TACP capabilities.

Inside the package are full color instructions with all the needed notes to build any of the three planes. All have left and right profiles along with top and bottom profiles. Color call outs, notes on the specific plane and some history are provided. There is one decal sheet perfectly in register and printed by Cartograf. As a bonus note, there are 1/72nd decals provided for the A-10A Snow hog!

One of the things that got my attention was this particular plane. Most A-10's are gray or in the Euro camouflage scheme. From the sheet, a pair of A-10's were deployed to Alaska for Operation Cool Snow hog in 1982 for a close air support role. Experimentally, they had white camouflage added over the normal scheme and it makes it unique, so I had to build it. I used a Hobby Boss kit I had laying around and proceeded to build OOB. There are great notes in the instructions about the paint used. The Pave Penny pod was left off due to non guided bombs but the pylon was left on, etc. Once built and glossed, the decal performed flawlessly. They snuggled into place with only the least coaxing. One easy thing was that the white painted areas had no decals. Once done a quick flat coat and the project was finished.

So, great subjects, well researched and cool schemes and flawless decals- what more could anyone ask for! Highly recommended.

My thanks to TwoBobs for the opportunity to review this set and build a unique A-10.

Aircraft in Detail 018 - Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 11:01
Product Image Review Author:  Rob Booth HMH Publications

In my stash are a couple of old ESCI 1/48 Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets along with the newer Kinetic issue. The Alpha Jet is a beautiful aircraft reminiscent of a dolphin in mid-air, having launched from the water in a playful breach of the surface. The craft was developed as a European trainer jointly by France and Germany. It was perfectly suited for that mission: forgiving, fast, agile and excellent overall vision from the cockpit. The type has served for over 40 years in the training role. Germany used the type as a close support platform. France still uses the Alpha Jet for their colorful demonstration team (Patrouille de France) aircraft, as does Portugal (Asas de Portugal). The Alpha Jet was also used by QinetiQ in the UK by the Test Pilots School, and Top Aces, the German based contract adversary company.

Alpha Jets have used by several other nations as the primary and advanced trainer platforms, as well as light attack and CAS roles for their Air Force pilots. Among those air forces are those from Belgium, Egypt, Morrocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo, Thailand and others. For the modeler, the Alpha Jet represents a blank canvas for a multitude of colorful camouflage and markings. I have the excellent decal sheet from Caracal (48044) that would take care of all three of these kits. I also own three other Duke Hawkins HMH reference books. For that reason, I was eager to review this excellent reference offered by Casemate Publishers.

This 114 page paperback provides the modeler with a fully-packed and detailed reference photo book on the type. It features 280 walk-around, in flight and specific component photographs of this nimble little jet. The many photos of actual cockpit details and exterior profiles and components will provide good modelling reference. There are outstanding in flight photos of the liveries used by Top Aces, QinetiQ, the Belgian Airforce, the French Air Force (Armee De L'air), the Patrouille de France, the Portuguese Air Force, and the Asas de Portugal.

Specific photo sections include: forward fuselage, air intakes, overall fuselage, wing details, cockpits, Martin Baker Mk.10 ejection seat, landing gear, speed brakes, vertical tail, aft fuselage, pylons, and plenty of open-bay maintenance shots. Additional shots of special and commemorative paint schemes are also included.

My only negative comment regarding the book is that I wish it included some photos of the aircraft in Luftwaffe service.

Highly recommended for modelers interested in the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet training and light attack/CAS aircraft, and reference data.

Thanks to IPMS and Casemate Publishing for the opportunity to review this publication.

Volvo 240 Turbo 1986 ETCC Hockenheim Winner - Detail Up Parts

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 10:59
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith Platz

In 1982 the Federation International de 'L'Automobile (FIA) developed Group A requirements to allow manufactures and individuals to race production model cars. In order to qualify, a process called "homologation", the manufactures had to build 2500 or 5000 cars or under "evolution" rules 500 cars which after inspection and approval qualified the cars to race. The subject of this review qualified under the Evolution, Group A rules by building 500 Volvo 240Ts. An interesting note is that 477 of those cars were stripped of competition equipment and sold as standard Volvo 240 turbos. In order to requalify, Volvo had to identify those 500 owners! Drama aside, the Volvo 240T turned out be a winning platform. Powered by a 340hp, 2.1-liter, intercooled turbo with water injection and weighing in at 2200lbs, these cars were real competitors against BMWs and Austins in its class. This kit replicates the two winning Volvo 240Ts run at the Hockenheim racetrack (about an hour and a half northwest of Stuttgart) in 1986. Volvo won the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) that same year.

The Kit

The injected parts come molded in white, black, clear and chrome. There are poly caps to mount the tires and a nice decal sheet. All of the parts are first rate quality. Highlights include open an open grill and sharply molded details. Seat harnesses are included as decals in the base kit.

Detail Set

I was also provided with the separate detail set that includes photoetch, fabric for seat harness and a nice turned metal jack connector valve ferule. The photo-etch parts include wraps for the fuel tank and intercooler, straps for the seat harness, straps for fire the fire extinguisher, hood and trunk lid hold downs, radiator face, refueling port trim rings, brake rotor facings and windshield wipers.

Building the Kit

No real issues as the parts fit exactly as they should after cleaning up mold seams. Careful masking and painting will give great results. The body is molded in white, so I just primed it white and finished that with Tamiya pure white with a little blue added. I intentionally did not polish it to a high gloss like I normally would. The interior parts are generally easy to assemble. As with most race cars, the roll cage requires a lot of cleanups to remove mold lines. Make sure you prime it to show where that work is needed. Masking the glass is easy since the parts are all molded with nice edges to mask against.

Using the Detail Parts

I found it interesting which parts Platz chose to detail in this set. The largest parts wrap the fuel tank and line the inside back interior panel. Both of those are not really needed as the base kit detail is really nice as is. I thought part #18 interfered with the roll cage installation later. The real benefit of the detail set is the seat harness. This is made up fabric belts that thread through numerous PE parts and produces a fantastic harness. Retaining straps for the fire extinguisher top off the interior details. The brake rotor facings are very nice but frankly can't be seen once the wheels are on. The hood and trunk lid hold-downs are very convincing. The radiator face is not a great improvement over the kit part. The last PE detail was windshield wipers. Those parts defeated me once I completely botched folding the first one. The turned connector valve for the jacks is a really nice touch.

Finishing Touches

The decals in this kit are fantastic! Come off the backing paper easily and settle down with Solvaset. The best example of that are the decals over the rear fender flares. Rubber racing slicks are included and need a little trimming of flash before you push them over the rims. Decals are provided for the tires, and they worked well there as elsewhere. The body snapped onto the chassis, fitting just as well the rest of the kit.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic kit. The base kit is a pleasure to build as everything fits and the decals work perfectly. The detail set has some nice additions especially the seat harness, but you don't need it build a nice model. However, the price point of the detail set is worth it for the seat harness alone. I would highly recommend the base kit for any modelers, but the detail set should be reserved for those who have some experience working with PE.

Thanks to Platz for providing this great kit and to IPMS for trusting me to build it for you.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Wheels Set

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 10:51
Product Image Review Author:  Rob Booth Brengun

Brengun Models is a scale model and detailing parts manufacturer located in the Czech Republic. Their lines include limited production run multi-media kits and exquisitely detailed photo-etched, turned brass and white metal replacement parts for aircraft in the most commonly produced scales.

Brengun has produced a set of wheels for any 1/72 scale F/A-18E/F or G Super Hornet kit. There are no instructions, but any modeler familiar with resin parts will have no issues installing these wheels in lieu of the kit parts. A close-up evaluation of the parts (see photos), indicates a simple cut and replace installation that provides realistic scale-detailed wheels with significantly improved appearance to molded plastic kit parts. The photo comparison is to the Hasegawa kit. The Brengun wheels have superior hub, brake and tread detail to those supplied in the Hasegawa kit.

Some cautionary advice: for those without basic modeling experience, use CA ("super-glue") sparingly, to assemble and/or attach these parts to your plastic kit, as the usual plastic glues do not react with resin parts. Painting of the of the wheels and tires will be necessary, so check your references, and be sure to prime with the appropriate materials that are compatible with your preferred paints.

Overall, this is an excellent replacement set that will lend increased realism to your 1/72 Super Hornet. These sets can be purchased at the Brengun website above.

Highly recommended.

Thanks to the IPMS Reviewer Corps and Brengun for the opportunity to review this item.

AGM-88 HARM Missiles

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 10:37
Product Image Review Author:  Rob Booth Brengun

Brengun Models is a scale model and detailing parts manufacturer located in the Czech Republic. Their lines include limited production run multi-media kits and exquisitely detailed photo-etched, turned brass and white metal replacement parts for aircraft in the most commonly produced scales.

Brengun has produced a set of two AGM-88 HARM missiles for any appropriate1/48 scale aircraft kit.

The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) is a tactical, air-to-surface anti-radiation missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems. It was originally developed by Texas Instruments as a replacement for the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM system. Production was later taken over by Raytheon Corporation when it purchased the defense production business of Texas Instruments. The AGM-88 can detect, attack and destroy a radar antenna or transmitter with minimal aircrew input. The proportional guidance system that homes in on enemy radar emissions has a fixed antenna and seeker head in the missile's nose. A smokeless, solid-propellant, booster-sustainer rocket motor propels the missile at speeds over Mach 2.0. The HARM missile was a program led by the U.S. Navy, and it was first carried by the A-6E, A-7, and F/A-18A/B aircraft, and then it equipped the EA-6B aircraft. RDT&E for use on the F-14 aircraft was begun, but not completed. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) put the HARM onto the F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft, and later on specialized F-16s equipped with the HARM Targeting System (HTS). The HTS pod, used by the USAF only, allows F-16s to detect and automatically target radar systems with HARMs instead of relying on the missile's sensors alone. *

The plastic pouch contains six resin blocks for the missile bodies, fins, nose covers and launch rails. Also included are a photo etch fret for the RBF tags and nose cover retainers. A simple graphic detail instruction sheet is included, but any modeler familiar with resin parts will have no issues assembling and installing these resin missiles. A close-up evaluation of the parts (see photos) indicates a simple cut and replace installation that provides realistic scale-detail with significantly improved appearance to molded plastic kit parts. The Brengun missiles have superior detail to those supplied in the Hasegawa Weapons kit.

Some cautionary advice: for those without basic modeling experience, use CA ("super-glue") sparingly, to assemble and/or attach these parts to your plastic kit, as the usual plastic glues do not react with resin parts. Painting of the parts will be necessary, so check your references, and be sure to prime with the appropriate materials that are compatible with your preferred paints.

Overall, this is an excellent replacement set that will lend increased realism to any 1/48 AGM-88 HARM delivery platform aircraft. These sets can be purchased at the Brengun website above.

Highly recommended. *AGM-88 descriptive data from Wikipedia

Thanks to the IPMS Reviewer Corps and Brengun for the opportunity to review this item.

HH-60H 'Rescue Hawk'

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 07:58
Product Image Review Author:  Dan Brown Kitty Hawk

The HH-60H "Rescue Hawk" was first developed in the 1990s as a rescue variant of the SH-60F "Sea Hawk". Two versions were developed at this time, the HH-60H for the US Navy and the HH-60J for the US Coast Guard. For its search and rescue role it is equipped with long range fuel tanks, a FLIR Sensor and a few defensive countermeasures. It can also support anti-surface operations by mounting up to 4 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on special pylons. Since it is based on the SH-60F, the HH-60H retained the ability to operate from small flight decks and be folded up to fit in deck hangars. It's last year in service with the Navy was 2019. This new kit from Kitty Hawk is the latest in Kitty Hawk's line of Seahawk variants. The previous version being the MH-60R.

The basis for this release is the new tooled kit from Kitty Hawk released in 2019, MH-60L Blackhawk. Several new sprues add parts to cover the many options available for this kit. The kit comes in a large and very colorful box that features an image of the aircraft in standard all grey camouflage. Included in the box are 13 sprues of very light grey styrene, 2 clear sprues, 1 PE fret, separate parts for the main fuselage and a decal sheet. Many of these parts will not be used in the build as there are a ton of extra parts and weapons included from previous versions.

The first few steps are dedicated to the cockpit interior. The detail here is up to Kitty Hawk's normal standards. Fine moldings with plenty of detail. The callouts here for the required colors are not complete, in step 1 the cockpit is black but the cargo area should be FS36440. The seat frames in step 3 should be black and I painted the seats Tamiya Khaki. In step 4, the frames should be FS36440 and the seats were painted Tamiya Khaki as well. I no issues with the detail, molding or fit of the parts in these steps.

Steps 5 and 6 cover what appear to be some radio and electronic equipment specific to this version. The fit and details of these parts is quite nice, including the PE. However, the color callouts are all wrong. All of the parts in Step 6 should be FS36440 according to my references and the instructions list them as black. They also have all parts in Step 5 as black, but in most cases this should only apply to the equipment on the shelves. All of the shelves and the two upright parts, HH45/46, should be FS36440. Lastly, the fire extinguisher, part HE8, needs to be red.

Steps 7 and 8 complete the rest of the forward cockpit area. The detail on the parts here is pretty good, with well modeled detail and good fits. The colors are correct, with callouts for black and the decals fit pretty well over the molded detail. You will have to use Micro Sol to soften the decals and possibly trim them into sections to assist in the fit. In step 9, the upper controls and the rear bulkhead are completed. There is a missing callout for the back of the bulk head, this should be FS36231. The detail here is also pretty good and the decals are nice as well. However, not all the switches were covered but the decals, so I highlighted a few by dry brushing with flat white, red and yellow.

Steps 10 through 12 continue the assembly of the interior. In Step 10, part HB24, needs to be painted FS36231. In this step the seat belts are also installed for the pilot and co-pilot seats. These are nicely handled in PE but the instructions aren't very clear on how to install them, so check you references. Also there are no color callouts for them, I used Tamiya XF-54 with Silver Chrome for the buckles. I had no issues with step 11, everything fit very well. The only issue that I had in step 12 was the color call out, the instructions again call for black but the correct color is FS36231.

Next up is the build and instillation of the optional 50 caliber gun in step 13. Mostly, the parts in this step go together just fine and the detail is good. I did leave the gun and mount off until final installation as it does hang out the open door and will be easily broken. The only issue that I had here was with the feed belt for the .50 caliber, this is a PE part that you are required to fold and then mold into position. This requires a complex set of curves that I could not make work in PE. You may be able to get this to work by heavily annealing the PE but for the most part the thin PE tends to break. I would absolutely recommend replacing this part with something molded in flexible resin. Lion Roar makes a very nice set in 1/35 scale that you should be able to source.

Steps 16 through 17 cover the final assembly of the interior of the fuselage and closing the main section of the fuselage around it. The only issue I had in step 16 was with the paint call outs again, the instructions call for black again but the correct color is FS36231. The fits here are pretty good except with the rear bulkhead of the cockpit, in my example this was a little warped and I had to bend it back into position. You will need to install the rear landing gear while closing up the outer fuselage, I prefer to install it later for easier painting but that is impossible on this kit. Also I left the wheels and tires off until final assembly.

In Step 18 there are two parts, drilling holes for exterior details and closing the fuselage around the interior. Both of these parts have issues, for the holes it isn't always very clear where to drill the hole. The instructions are not very clear, so you needed to check your references and do some dry fitting of the parts. Second, the bottom of the main fuselage is a pretty bad fit. I ended up with a pretty big gap that took a lot of putty to fill in. This is partly due to warped parts, both halves of the fuselage in my kit curled in slightly. It also could possibly be due to inference from the interior parts. I had to spend quite a bit of time working on this seam and you will have to be careful, there is a lot of easy to ruin detail on the underside of the airframe.

Next up are the engines, this kit does contain the parts to make some very nice representations of the T700 engines but there are some minor issues. For the most part the parts in step 19 are well detailed and molded. I had no major fit issues either but I did have an issue with parts F59/F60. These parts support the engines and are handed, though the instructions give no indication of this. Part F60 must go on the outboard side of the engine and F59 must go on the inboard side, this is because the other end of the part needs to attach to the fuselage. Also for both engines, part F58 on both sprues was molded short, one of the pipes on it is way too short to attach to the mounting point. Next, I found that part F57 interferes with the fit of the engine housing doors, so I felt that it was best to leave it off. Lastly, in step 20 parts HE9 and HE10 are swapped in the instructions.

I had no further issues with the next few steps but in step 23, I painted the top of fuselage black and part C44 Metalizer Steel. I also left the assemblies from steps 21 and 22 off until after final painting. In step 25, I left the E1/E5 assembles off until after final painting as these would be able to be seen through the intakes. This turned out to possibly be a mistake, I had huge fit issues between these assemblies, C44 and the engines. I ended up having to shave a huge amount of material off of them and I never got the fit right. It is much easier to install them at this stage but masking could be tricky, I painted them Metalizer Steel based on my references. Finally, I left the doors off until after final painting in this step.

Next, I had further fit issues with the engine hatch covers, parts HD31/HD32. There were gaps around these parts that required some minor filling and sanding. I left the light from step 30 off until after final assembly. The exhaust covers in steps 31 and 32, required some filling to hide some seams as well. I painted the insides of these covers black and left them off until after final painting.

Steps 33 and 34 cover the assembly of both of the engine intakes. I had some minor fit issues here with some very minor seams that were fairly easy to correct. I chose to paint in inside of the intakes the same color as the fuselage based on my references. The hoist in step 35 is nicely detailed with no major issues but I did leave it off until after final painting. I did have a lot of trouble attaching the intakes to the fuselage in step 36. According to my references there is supposed to be a small gap around the diffuser plate, but I had a lot of trouble getting everything lined up. Especially with my fit issues from step 25. A lot of filler was used here to fill some gaps where these mounted to the rest of the engine housings. I installed part HH65 but left the doors off until after final painting.

Next up were the cockpit doors. These are nicely designed and molded with no real issue. I did leave the handles and mirrors off until final assembly and remember to paint the side of the door black to match the rest of the cockpit. Steps 40 and 41 cover the assembly of the front landing gear. I had no issues with these steps at all and only left the wheels and tires off until final assembly.

I had no issues in steps 42 or 43 and the next issue I had was in step 44. Parts HF13 and HF11 are some form of antenna; unfortunately they both have square attachment pegs. This requires some modification of the drilled holes from much earlier in order for them to attach correctly to the fuselage. In step 46 I did leave parts C27/28 and C20/21 off until after final assembly. In step 47, the optional mini-guns are assembled. There are two options for assembly and as I intended to use the .50 caliber machine gun from earlier, I only assembled the option from step 48. I had no major issues with these steps except with PE44, this is the part for the very end of the barrels and it is supposed to be round. However, in practice the slits in the parts make it quite difficult to roll these parts into a circle well without annealing.

The next area that I need to mention is in step 53 with the drop tanks. These both needed some sanding and filling to fill some seams. I also had some minor fit issues with them in final assembly, the right drop tank needed one of the pins to be removed in order to allow it to attach to its pylon. In step 54, the tail assembly is completed. The only issue I had here was with the main tail assembly, there were some serious seams that needed to be filled and sanded to hide the joint in the parts. Lastly, I intended to fold the tail so I left the horizontal tail planes off until final assembly.

There were no issues with the tail rotor in step 55. Step 56 covers the assembly of the main rotor. The detail here is pretty great, the molding is good and all of the fits are awesome. Also, it does look pretty impressive when completed. The top part of the rotor and the rotor blades themselves were painted FS36320. The center drive shaft and the lower parts were painted Metalizer Steel. The main issue that I had with this step was attaching the rotor blades to the central part of the rotor. These are designed to move to allow the blades to be folded, on my example several of the pins that attach the rotors to the central part of the rotor were molded incorrectly or missing. These pins are already fragile, so with the missing pins, I had a couple blades break off during handling.

I left the last 4 steps until final assembly. These cover the installation of the tail, the rotor assembly, and the blade locking mechanism. I intended to display the aircraft with everything folded, so in final assembly I had to add the rotor locks and display the tail folded. I had a number of issues with the tail attachment in step 57. The hinges are very fragile and one of my hinges was molded far too short. This assembly was so fragile that I had to reinforce it with scrap PE to avoid the tail falling off. The horizontal tail planes were also very fragile, they needed multiple rebuilds and PE straps to hold them up. The rotor locks have no paint callouts but according to my references they need to be painted red. They were also a pain to assemble. There are no mounting holes for them on the fuselage, just some small rings molded into the skin. Also they are flush mounted, so take your time and use super glue to give everything extra strength.

Moving on to the painting and decals. There are four marking options, two in different two-color camouflages, a dark green option and an overall grey. I chose the overall grey for HS-3 'Tridents' but there is an issue with the scheme here. The instructions call for overall H73 Aircraft Grey and this should actually be a tricolor camouflage. There are plenty of references online for this but the underside should be FS36375, center should be FS36231 and the top should be FS36320. I used all Model Master enamel paints for this, which are unfortunately being discontinued. I had no issues with the decals for this kit. The register is great and they lay down perfectly over Pledge Floor Gloss.

This is an awesome kit. The instructions only have minor print issues and the only major fit issues are with the engines and the main fuselage. I had a great time with this kit and minor issue aside it was very satisfying to build. I would definitely recommend this kit to an intermediate modeler with some serious shelf space and an interest in modern US navy helicopters. This is not a small build at completion. My thanks to Kitty Hawk and IMPS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.

Mirage III EZ

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 15:10
Product Image Review Author:  Chris Smith PJ Production

A type well known to anyone with even a casual interest in aviation history, the Dassault Mirage III is one of the classic early supersonic fighter jets. First flown in 1956, it has served in 14 countries and accrued an impressive combat record most notably with the Israeli Air Forces. Another export customer was the South African Air Force. Two examples of the countries Mirages III EZs are represented in this kit. Seventeen examples of the EZ variant were purchased by South Africa and used between 1965 and 1972. They were used during the African Border War but as an interceptor, the radar system was found wanting. These aircraft are all retired from service today.

This is the second build of a Mirage from PJ I've done for this site. I previously built a Swiss two seat example and found it a pleasant build. As for this boxing, you get the High Planes plastic parts, resin details from PJ that include vertical stabilizer, ejection seat, instrument panel with coaming and rudder pedals and a control stick. A small photo etch fret has some antennas and a boarding ladder. Clear parts include canopy in two parts, HUD glass and landing lights for nose gear. Decals are provided for two Mirage's from the same Squadron and base in 1969 and 1980. The early version is bare metal and the later has been camouflaged.

Construction is straight forward but because I chose to model the bare metal version, the base finish was going to have to be as smooth as possible. Two issues made that more difficult. The first is the wing top and bottom join lines fall in areas that are difficult to fill without losing most of the details. The second is the replacement resin vertical stabilizer was packed in the bag so small that it deformed it to the right. In spite of my best efforts, I could not get it straight. On the positive side, all the cockpit resin can be dropped in after the airframe is painted.

After a few rounds of filling, sanding and scribing, I finally got the black base (Tamiya gloss black lacquer) painted and polished. Bare metal Mirages always look really polished and that's what I was after. The first attempt was High Shine Aluminum from Alclad. That wasn't shinny enough so I buffed it off and reshot with Alclad Chrome. After a clear coat of Testers metallizer sealer, I masked and airbrushed the chromate green panels on the underside. Besides the black radar dome, the rest of the markings are provided on the decal sheet. Speaking of decals, they are a real pleasure to use. Once off the paper and positioned, a dab of Solvaset settled them into the surface perfectly. The landing gear is nicely done. The wheel hubs are nice but the tire tread is very faint. Antennas and data probes are provided as PE parts but I like the profile of the injection parts and used them instead.

This was more work than my first PJ Mirage kit mainly because of the bare metal finish. I enjoyed it just as much even though I didn't achieve the finish I saw in my mind. I wouldn't say this is a beginner's kit. The resin parts require some minor surgery to the base plastic but they add detail where it counts. The only other glitch in my sample was the resin seat had a slight twist from top to bottom but in this scale, you have to look really hard to see it. Recommended for those Mirage fans out there or a semi-experienced builder who loves cool early jets.

Thanks to PJ Productions for another great sample product and IPMS for the opportunity to share it with you.

Fiat G.55 Centauro

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 14:55
Product Image Review Author:  Hub Plott Kagero Publishing

This book covers the Fiat G.55 from WWII to its post war service. At first glance the book is reminiscent of the Ali d'Italia series being roughly the same size and length but with the entire printed portion in English.

The first 62 pages of this book covers the development and use in combat of the G.55 by both the regia Aeronautica, ANR and the Luftwaffe. An interesting story of the one G.55 to appear in British markings is also covered. This aircraft was flown by a defector who also was transporting an escaping OSS agent out.

One of the best sections in my opinion covers the post war use of the G.55. The post war Italian AF as well as those of Syria, Egypt and Argentina all used the G.55 and this is the first English language volume I have seen that has detailed this service. For the modeler this provides many interesting schemes to go along with those of its WWII service.

There is also coverage of the camouflage schemes used by each user, the different variants to include the G.55N torpedo plane, G.56 which is a G.55 with a more powerful DB engine and the G.59 trainer.

The book concludes with the story of the single surviving G.55 at the Museo Vigna di Valle. This aircraft was converted back to G.55 configuration from a Fiat G.59 through an exceedingly long process.

A testament to the quality of the G.55 is that per the book, Italian pilots were reluctant to trade their G.55s for Bf-109Gs and German pilots that flew the G.55 much preferred the Centauro to their own country's Bf-109G and Fw 190 for intercepting Allied bombers at altitudes above 23,000 feet.

This is a book with informative text. All photos are in B&W but the modeler will find many interesting markings to give them inspiration. I can recommend this to anyone with an interest in WWII, WWII aviation, Italian aircraft of WWI as well as the modeler, all will find something of interest in these pages.

My thanks to Casemate for the review sample and to IPMS for the opportunity!

ICM Aircraft Models Stands (Black Edition)

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 00:07
Product Image Review Author:  Jarrod Booth ICM

ICM has fast become a leader in the field of plastic models. These stands represent some of their latest releases. The black plastic set was preceded by a clear stand edition - A001.

This was a simple set and included six parts for assembling three black stands of different sizes for aircraft models. The stands could be used for the followed scales:

  • 1/144
  • 1/72
  • 1/48
  • 1/32

1/24 scale aircraft would be too large and heavy to be supported by the largest stand.

ICM's packaging was superb with a colorful box top and a strong lid type box containing the parts and instruction sheet.

The stand bases were connected to the sprue by one attachment. I would have liked to see the sprue attachment on the underside of the stand so sprue clean up would not damage the plastic. However, the vertical stand part needed mold seam and sprue attachment clean up anyway. One base had separated from the sprue and became scuffed.

These stands were a simple and attractive way to mount a model aircraft inflight. They could be painted to suit the model color or theme being depicted.

My sincere thanks to ICM and IPMS USA for allowing me to review these stands.

Scania R730 Streamline

Sun, 07/18/2021 - 22:50
Product Image Review Author:  Jarrod Booth Italeri

Having previously built Italeri's Iveco Hi-Way 40th Anniversary: (https://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/iveco-hi-way-40th-anniversary) and the Mercedes-Benz Actros MP4 Giga Space: (https://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/mercedes-benz-actros-mp4-giga-space ), I had a pretty good idea of what was in front of me building this truck. 

All the parts sprues were presented in the same organized fashion, and like the Iveco Hi-Way, the Scania R730 included a fantastic chrome adhesive sticker sheet on top of the gorgeous decal sheet. Italeri mentioned that the chrome plastic sprues were newly tooled, but they were identical to those found in the Iveco kit mentioned above, except for the addition of the sun visor and exhaust pipe panel.

Construction could be broken down into four distinct modules - the chassis (including the wheels), the engine, the cab interior, and the cab exterior. Tamiya Extra Thin Cement was my glue of choice for most of the build along with super glue. The kit plastic reacted very well to the Tamiya cement, melting where needed to form a strong bond. 

I started with the chassis, air tanks, rear suspension, brakes, and drive train. Assembly moved quite quickly with reasonable parts fit. However, a good deal of time was spent eliminating seams from glue joints, and the usual, sometimes large kit mold seams. All of which were necessary for a better fit and look. The chassis framework was built making sure the cross members lined up and everything was square. There were a few slots that needed opening on each chassis rail. The rear axle and suspension were added, as well as engine mounts and other components that would be the same color. 

The front brakes, suspension and steering assemblies were built and installed. As I had cleaned up joint and mold seams on all these items earlier, assembly went quickly. The front wheels were designed to steer and the tops of all the steering linkage pins were melted using the end of a hot knife to lock them into the next moving linkage bushing. This all worked very well. 

I used the instruction paint color recommendations, except the flat black recommended to paint the chassis and other related parts. Instead, I used Tamiya semi-gloss black which gave a nice low sheen. 

The big Scania V8 engine was very nicely detailed and built into a good-looking representation of the real thing. Most parts fit quite well, although the instructions were a little vague on where some items went. Ejector pin marks also needed removing for a better fit on some items. Again, I followed the painting recommendations which were quite limited, and I added blue and white colors to oil, fuel and other filters. Raised Scania name plates were carefully painted chrome using my Molotow Liquid Chrome pen. With the engine built and painted, it was glued to the chassis engine mounts. Don't forget to add the drive shaft at the same time between the transmission and rear axle. The cooling fan was attached to the front to the engine followed by the massive radiator.

The four air tanks were assembled and painted gloss red with black stripes. The battery box and exhaust noise reducer/muffler box were built and painted semi-gloss black, while the fuel tank along with all the walking platforms were painted Model Master chrome. This gave a nice polished stainless-steel finish. All of these components mounted securely to the chassis. The exhaust and other pipes were added and fit fine.

With the chassis and engine completed, I started on the wheels and tires. Each chrome wheel half required careful removal from the sprue as the stub is located right behind the scale thin rim. This sprue stub also needed to be fully removed to allow the tire to sit flush against the inside of the rim. I covered any blemishes I made to the chrome plating using my Molotow pen.

The rear, inner wheel was attached to its axle using a plastic washer, part 99A. I needed to reduce the washer's diameter so its cover, part 8C would fit over it. The outer wheel was then mated with inner wheel. The front wheels were installed but no washers were provided. I used parts 98A (an axle grease cap on the real thing) which I modified by sanding down the dome so the chrome cover would fit over it. The tires were rubber/vinyl. They were attached to a vinyl sprue which if clipped carefully separated with minimal damage to the tire. Each tire showed nice side wall and tread pattern detail and there were no center mold seams . A chassis mounted spare wheel and tire were also included. Michelin decals were included for the tire side walls, but they did not stick to the rubber. The tread pattern was directional.

This work completed the first two build modules, minus the addition of side skirts and wheel covers.

Italeri suggested painting the cab interior white, which may well be correct for this particular Cosentino Group truck, but I thought light ghost grey looked better. I then picked out details and accents with white and chrome. The steering wheel was painted black with grey accents. Decals finished the seats and steering wheel as well as the dash. Italeri's instructions did not mention it but there was a small green "Cosentino Group" decal that went on the rear wall of the cabin. It was in the same grouping as the seat decals on the sheet and could also be seen on the decal placement page of the instruction manual. 

The cab interior was assembled with each side panel joining quite well. Take care to properly align all the panels so it comes together square. I left the ceiling part off until later. The outer roof included a separate lower section where the sides and front angled inward. The fit was quite nice except the rear edges which needed a little filler. I was able to apply Tamiya Extra Thin cement and just squeeze the two parts together which melted the plastic and filled the gaps. 

The roof and side spoilers showed nice structural cross hatch detail on the inside but were marred by multiple ejector pin marks. As these would be visible on the finished model, I took the time to remove them. Luckily, they were not too deep and elimination was easy enough. I sanded the outside edges as the cross hatch formed shallow sink marks. I found later that I didn't sand quite enough as they are still faintly visible.

Each outer cab side and roof were separate parts and met the next at a natural seam. I painted each part separately using Tamiya spray can TS-40 metallic black, followed by Tamiya TS-13 spray can gloss.

To facilitate the extensive decal job ahead of me, I temporarily taped all four sides and the roof together around the completed cab interior. The side spoilers were also taped on. I used the roof spoiler to make sure the side spoilers were aligned at the correct angle. I taped all this together so I could apply the decals, then disassemble all the cab panels and gloss coat each part before adding the windows. While this method appeared tedious, it actually made the paint and gloss coat application easier. 

The decals were glossy and strong. They responded quite well to Micro-Sol with some help from pin pricks and gentle manipulation to conform to the many compound curves they were applied over. When the decals were almost dry, I used a new blade to slice them where they ran between the cab parts and spoilers. A further application of Micro-Sol conformed the cut edges to where they met each panel. The only problem I had with the decals was that they did not want to separate from the backing paper. I tried hot and cold water and left them in the water for five to ten minutes to no avail! The only way I could remove each decal, after a period of soaking in water, was to gently maneuver a soft bristle paint brush under the decal without damaging the edge and carefully coerce it away from the backing paper. With how many decals there were, this took a good deal of time! 

All the clear parts were crystal clear, but I treated them to a dip in Future/Pledge Floor Wax to protect them further. When dry, I installed the windscreen and side windows. Much care was needed removing each window from its sprue stub. The "glass" was extremely thin and the sprue attachments were large. The good news was that they couldn't come loose from the sprue and get scratched.  I used my trusty razor saw to do the job.

Installing the windscreen and side windows, I found the fit was good, but the mating surfaces, especially for the windscreen were quite narrow. I used Tamiya extra thin cement where capillary action ran the cement along the edges.  Wooded clothes pegs held the "glass" in place until the glue was dry.

The four completed outer cab panels and the roof were brought together to finally complete the basic cab. However, the inside door trim panels impeded the fit of the side panels that sat against the dash. They needed extensive sanding to achieve a good fit. Luckily where I sanded couldn't be seen. The side spoilers along with their mounting brackets were glued and aligned with the cab rear and sides. The roof spoiler joined the tops of the two side spoilers which completed this assembly.

The chrome sprue containing the spotlights, holders and side light bars all needed careful attention dealing with chrome repair where the part was snipped from the sprue and cleaned up. I used chrome bare metal foil and my Molotow "Liquid Chrome" pen. Some parts had mold seams that ran through visible areas. I contemplated sanding them off but decided to leave them alone.  

Six round spotlights mounted to a light bar that wrapped up and over the cab roof. The bar was identical to that in the Iveco kit and was not shaped to fit the Scania roof line properly. It was also too narrow and did not extend back far enough. The instructions suggest modifying the light bases to fit a forward angle of their mounting platforms, however, due to the poor fit they actually angle the other way! I carefully glued each light so it sat vertically and went on! Decals covered each spotlight lenses. 

Before mating the cab to the chassis, more chrome work followed with the chrome adhesive sticker sheet. I removed each sticker using a sharp knife to lift an edge and peel it off the backing sheet. The adhesive was quite strong so care was needed to place the sticker accurately before burnishing it down on the surface. The stickers did not want to conform to sharp corners or compound curves. The chrome stickers really added "bling" to the truck!!

The model was nearing completion, but there were still a number of delicate parts that I left off until later. Chrome stickers were provided for the mirrors, but from previous experience with Italeri trucks, they do not conform to compound curves. I stuck the sticker flat inside the mirror housing and glued the curved "glass" over the top. 

The chrome sun visor included a downward facing mirror that was glued to its rear side and spotlight lenses covered four integral lights. Spotlight decals were also applied. The visor was attached above the windscreen and fitted fine. 

Left and right skirts finished the sides of the truck and were mounted between the front and rear wheel covers. Chrome light bars mounted to the bottom of each skirt.

Before attaching the front lower grill/air dam, I inserted two pins to permanently join the cab to the chassis. The instructions call for the pin end to be melted like the steering linkages. The air dam was then glued to mounts on the chassis front. The cab can be tilted forward but there was no jack to support it. 

The headlight and lower spotlight covers were glued on and they fit very nicely. Two chrome horns attached to the upper left side of the cab. I carefully drilled a small hole above the horns and fashioned an arial out of wire.

I wiped over the chrome stickers with WD-40 to remove any remaining adhesive and then called this audacious and colorful looking truck done. I parked the Scania R730 next to my Mercedes and Iveco show trucks which now look like they have all met at a "cruise and coffee" get together!!

I thoroughly enjoyed building the Scania truck. Overall, it was not overly difficult, however some planning and experience with other truck models would be helpful with painting and especially decaling. The only major problem I encountered were the decals not wanting to separate from the backing sheet. I hope this was isolated to just my decal sheet.

My sincere thanks to Italeri, MRC and IPMS USA for the privilege of building and reviewing this fabulous Scania truck.

German le.gl.Einheits-Pkw Kfz. 4

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 22:52
Product Image Review Author:  Eric Christianson ICM

Kiev-based ICM is back again with a new offering in its Einheits-PKW ("Uniform all-terrain passenger car") line - this time with the light Anti-Aircraft version. This highly detailed and diminutive subject sports twin MG-34 machine guns and crew seat in place of the two rear seats.

History

Officially introduced at the end of February 1938, the Truppenluftschutzkraftwagen - "Air Raid Vehicle" - (Kfz. 4) had four doors and a spare wheel mounted at the rear of the car body like the Kfz. 1 & 3.

The units which were allowed to have Kfz 4's had only one vehicle, each. A light tripod for each gun was stored at the rear. With the tripods, the MG 34's could be used outside of the vehicle. Even though the guns were able to be fired in any direction from the vehicle, the practical effect of this weapon during combat was questionable.

The Kfz 1, 3 and 4 were supposed to replace the civilian vehicles previously procured by the Reichswehr with cross-country mobile capability, but manufacturing and design issues, as well as pre-war material limitations, led to these being phased out.

The Kit

As far as I know, this is the only injected plastic kit of this particular vehicle, although ICM produces and sells the car and gun separately. The first thing I noticed about ICM's release was the unusual box. The kit is shipped in a sturdy, white 'locking' clamshell box. But instead of sliding a simple sleeve over the box, ICM drops a standard model box top over it. The overall impression is one of sturdiness. Since the kit is not shrink-wrapped, the double layering helps to ensure that nothing will be lost in transit. Nice. Once open, all parts are bagged and the decals are slipped inside the instruction booklet.

The plastic is soft but not too soft, and the molding is excellent with no noticeable flash or sink marks. The four tires and single spare are molded with their wheels as one piece, in plastic. The detail overall is crisp and the number of attachment points and nodes, while many, are located in areas that are easily addressed. While many of the parts are very delicate, ICM pulls off the design without resorting to using photo-etch, which is a big plus (for me at least).

The contents of the box include:
  • Five sprues of parts molded in light-grey plastic
  • One sprue of clear parts, including headlights, windows, and hand-operated searchlight.
  • 1 small-sized decal sheet
  • 1 24-page, full-size color instruction booklet, including a parts map and (two) three-view and (one) five-view color painting and decal guide. All text and label information are translated into English.
  • Markings provided are for three vehicles, all WWII German Wehrmacht.
The Instructions

The instruction booklet is excellent. Printed in color on high-quality, satin-finish paper, it starts off with a short history and vehicle specifications, color reference information, contact information, and an excellent parts map with unused parts clearly identified. What follows is a two-color set of instructions broken into 82 well-illustrated, small steps. Images are rendered from several angles so you are never forced to guess about how things go on 'the other side'. The last two pages show three, full-color multi-views of camouflage schemes - all in early-war German grey, as follows:

  1. Luftwaffe Ground Unit, Greece, 1940
  2. First Panzer Division, Greece, 1941
  3. Eleventh Panzer Division, Eastern Front, Year Unknown

Clearly ICM has invested heavily in making an excellent set of instructions, and the quality shows through. Good job.

(Minor errors in the instructions are called out in the build sections below.)

What to Consider Before You Start

There is a lot of detail that is visible on the finished model, adding several painting steps during the build which will cause you to deviate from the instructions as needed.

Some parts are very small and delicate and care in handling must be taken once they are attached. The wheels can be painted separately and attached at the end of the build.

Otherwise, everything fits very well - if it doesn't, more than likely you have something wrong.

The Build

Assembly starts with the lower chassis, which is quite detailed and built in layers. That said, 90% of the frame comes as a single part (see image), which is a huge blessing, since in most kits like this, a mistake made with the frame can cause many heartaches later. ICM has made an easy task of what has been a finicky chore from other manufacturers - nice.

In Step 9, the exhaust pipe is supposed to attach to the frame using two notches that appear in the instructions but not on the model. Thankfully, there are enough visual cues, however, to place it correctly without the notches.

Steps 14-23 brings a reasonably detailed engine together, and you can model the hood to show what's underneath, even though the interior of the hood does not contain any detail. If you choose to keep the hood closed, that beautiful engine disappears. Note: Part A16 in the instructions (Step 22) is actually Part B16 on the sprue. Also, what looks like an Oil filler pipe in Step 26, labeled 'J' in the instructions, is Part B13 on the spue.

The main floor of the passenger compartment is affixed to the frame in Step 30, a procedure that is usually fraught with misalignment issues, but not with this kit. You'll know you've matched up the right spots by the firm seal you can see all around the assembly when complete.

While the wheels are assembled and attached in Steps 31-34, I left mine off until final assembly, after painting.

I broke a delicate handrail (Part A56 in Step 46) man-handling the vehicle, so I replaced it with brass tubing. I would consider leaving that off until just before painting, since the area is completely accessible. Note: Parts E8 and E4 (Steps 51 and 53) are reversed in the instructions - E4 fits into the port side of the rear compartment, and E8 fits in the starboard side. Also, something happened on page 16 of the instructions: the door assemblies identified in Steps 58 and 62 (assembles 57 and 60) do not exist in this kit. It is easier to look at the various parts involved than to explain what the errors are here.

I left the steering wheel, the shovel, and the windshield off until the very end of the build, finishing these items separately.

The Twin MG34 Machine Gun

The twin machine gun that sits on a pedestal, which includes an integrated seat and sighting mechanism, comes on its own sprue in the kit (and is also sold separately by ICM). Having experience with these kinds of assembles, I was a little worried about fit and complexity at first. But ICM came through again. Everything fits together perfectly - even the guns slip into their respective cradles with a satisfying 'chunk'. Furthermore, the open design of the guns allows you to completely assemble everything before painting - a nice gift. The guns can be modeled in the 'up' combat position, or the 'down' travel' position.

And then I was done. This little guy was ready for paint.

Painting, Decals and Finish

I decided to paint my Kfz 4 in an overall German Gray scheme with a little color-modulation thrown in to keep things interesting.

Before painting, I made a sticky board of all the parts that were finished separately. These included the shovel, steering wheel, windshield, wheels, rifles and canvas rack.

I started by applying a coat of (rattlecan) Krylon Flat Black Paint/Primer for my dark, primer/pre-shade coat. Surprisingly, this low-cost enamel solution sprays on easily and dries very thin and tough - replacing a time-intensive task I normally use an airbrush and more expensive paint for. I use a dark primer coat to give the plastic some grip, and to fill in the recesses - creating a shadow effect near the flat surface edges and adding depth for subsequent coats to come.

After the primer had degassed, I carefully laid down a graduating layer of AKI Real Color RC256 Blue Grey. I made sure to go slowly, feathering the bottom sides and hitting the highlighted areas, such as the hood panels and fender sides. I then hand-painted small details here and there using the same AKI Blue Grey.

With the basic scheme down, I went to work on the detail painting. Vallejo 826 Cam Medium Brown was used for the seats; the steering wheel and wooden gun parts received Vallejo 940 Saddle Brown, and the wooden shovel handle was painted Vallejo 311 New Wood. I painted the passenger compartment cover using Vallejo 314 Canvas (with detail using Model Master 2013 Afrika DunkleGrau), and the MG tripod poles Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminum. The tail light received Vallejo 307 Red Tail Light, and the metallic parts for the gun and canvas cover received Tamiya XF-84 Dark Iron. Tamiya X1 Gloss Black adorned the various knobs and other detail.

Once satisfied, I laid down several coats of Pledge floor polish (Future) to prepare the surfaces for washes and decals.

I applied the decals using Red and Blue MicroSol/MicroSet without any problems. The ICM decals are very thin and separate from the backing effortlessly. Once the decals were dry, I applied a wash using Mig Oil Shadow Brown to the entire vehicle. When I got to the wheels, I laid the vehicle on its side to allow the wash to dry evenly.

I followed this with a 'road-dusting' coat of Vallejo Model Air Light Brown and then shot the whole vehicle with Vallejo Flat Varnish to kill any shine left over.

I finished the vehicle by attaching the clear headlight lenses with Mig Ultra Glue. Done!

Conclusion

I recently finished another ICM kit (Kfz.247) and I have their new Marder I on my bench, ready to start. Needless to say, ICM's recent offerings are a lot of fun to build, and this kit is no exception.

While this kit is challenging due to the number of small parts, the molding is crisp and everything fits. ICM deserves a lot of credit for such a great effort in engineering and design here - and they get it done without resorting to photo-etch parts, a big plus in my book.

One more point to make: my original sample copy arrived here in Seattle without the sprue that had the parts for the twin pedestal gun. The instruction booklet has contact information to use in this situation, so I emailed Valeriia in Kiev, Ukraine, who responded immediately, and promised to have one in the mail, promptly. Knowing that my missing sprue was probably not the highest priority for our friends out there, I didn't expect to receive anything for a while, so I continued on with the build. Before I got to the part with the guns, however, I received a well-wrapped package containing one sprue, and a lot of stamps. Kudos to Valeriia, and all the others at ICM, who have made this build such a pleasurable experience.

ICM is building a solid reputation for producing excellent models. Sturdy and intelligent boxing to protect the sprues, consistent use of hidden connection points and modeler-assists, design of assemblies that other manufacturers are challenged by (such as a single-piece frame). ICM was able to bring together a nice little detailed kit without resorting to photo-etch or other finicky additions. And the instructions are superb.

Normally, for these reasons, I would have recommended this kit for all modelers, regardless of experience level, but the high count of small parts and intricate assemblies cause me to suggest that only modelers with a few builds under their belt should attempt a go at this kit. That said, I managed to muddle through the challenge myself, so if you go slow and test-fit the parts, anyone can create a nice replica of this interesting little vehicle.

I would like to thank ICM for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to build it.