Tag Archives: hasegawa

Heinkel He-51: Hasegawa vs. ICM

Is it time to kill-off the old Hasegawa Heinkel 51 kit?

ICM (aka ICM Holding of Ukraine, I’m not sure what ICM means as even in Cyrillic the company uses ICM as its identifier) has made great advances since its early days of chunky low pressure injection kits, and is producing the most accurate (so far) version of the German biplane in 1:72 scale.

The main issue is detailing and the upper wing.  Overall the ICM kit has better detailing and a main wing that has the correct dihedral (upward sweep).  The ancient Hasegawa kit (first issued in the 1970s) has no dihedral.  However, it seems the ICM wingtips are questionable as they taper back, they should be more evenly rounded.

Click on the pics to make them bigger:

Rare Plane makes a vac-formed kit, the packaging photo looks to have dihedral in the upper wing but I’ve seen completed kits with no dihedral and oddly shaped horizontal tails.  The problem with comparing vac-formed kits to injected kits is that a lot depends on the skill of the builder in cutting the parts from the plastic sheet and then shaping them to form a good join.

A drawback of the ICM kit is subtle, or no, attachment points.   The old Hasegawa kit is easier to build.  My conclusion in comparing the Hasegawa with the ICM He-51 is that while both can be built to look good the ICM has the better detailing and correct dihedral of the upper wing.

There are no major visual differences in the A, B or C versions of the Heinkel 51 (except with the float-plane version).




1:72 Shock & Awe Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, or, Why You Can’t Trust Scale Drawings! Plus massive historical confusion about Revell-Monogram!

I’m an idiot; a nut for the combat ineffective F-104 ‘Missile with a Man in it’ Starfighter so I’ve collect too many, and then I went and spent what precious little money I have on a book of scale plans.  And now those scale plans might actually be wrong!

I checked my collection of 1:72 (1/72) scale F-104s against the Mushroom Modeling Publications (MMPBooks) Scale Plans:  Academy, ESCI (ERTL, Italeri), Hasegawa, Heller, Matchbox and Monogram (not Revell), with interesting results.

Click the pics in the gallery to see more:

Conclusion: I’ve compared only the canopy, fuselages and wings because there is a plethora of aftermarket detailing sets out there, so all you really need are decent canopy, fuselage and wings.

All kits had fuselages longer than the MMPBooks Scale Plans, but both Academy and Heller have the largest fuselages in length and circumference.  Academy is the worst offender due to the obviously oversized cockpit and canopy.

Despite being an old kit (almost as old as the Heller kits) the ESCI kit still looks good.  Matchbox looks toy like but seems to be shaped right.

Everybody likes Hasegawa, so much so that many kit builders find it heresy to even question the accuracy of their kits.  But I remember the days when their kits were junk!  This Hasegawa kit is definitely not from their junk days in the 1970s.  It’s the best two seater F-104 available in 1:72 scale.

The 1990s issue Monogram kit is the winner for straight out of the box appearances.   What’s interesting is that there are some reviews out there about the Monogram F-104C that complain of too many rivets, canopy defects and even that the Monogram kit is the same as the Revell F-104G kit with raised panel lines. My kit has fine recessed panel lines and neither too many rivets or a defective canopy and is hands down the best looking of the bunch.  I believe there is confusion because before Revell merged with Monogram (prior to the 1990s) they issued their own F-104 which was an old kit with raised panel lines and lots of rivets.  Since the merger many kit bashers think every Monogram kit was originally a Revell kit, or vice versa.  In 1996 Monogram issued a new tooled F-104C, it is not the older Revell kit.  Lets confuse you even more by talking about Revell Germany.  Currently it’s known as Revell Germany here in the U.S. and since 2000 they’ve issued a lot of Hasegawa kits under their label.  However, through the 1970s to early 1990s Revell Plastics, or Revell AG (what we now call Revell Germany) issued a lot of junky kits, old Revell kits with raised lines and masses of rivets, crappy old Frog kits, and even Matchbox kits when they bought all the Matchbox molds.  From 1980 to 83 Revell was owned by a French company called CEJI, sometimes kits were issued with the label Revell-CEJI.  In the 1990s Revell Germany (officially Revell KG, or Revell GmbH) was issuing almost anything under the sun regardless of how crappy the quality was (or is, as they are still issuing old Frog and Matchbox kits).  Clue, since the late 1990s Revell Germany has been using blue bordered end opening boxes.  And for even more confusion, in 2006 Revell Germany became officially independent of what we now call Revell USA (or Revell-Monogram), however, between 2007 and 2012 both Revell-Monogram and Revell Germany were taken over by Illinois based Hobbico.  And don’t forget there’s also ‘Revell-Japan’ sometimes Takara sometimes Gunze Sangyo, ‘Revell-Mexico’ Lodela and ‘Revell-Brazil’ Kikoler!  So, the only way to tell the quality of the kit is to open the box and look at the parts, something hard to do when many surviving brick-n-mortar shop owners would shoot you for doing so, and when most kit purchases are now made through the mail or internet.

Another indicator that the MMPBooks 1:72 Scale Plans might be wrong is that all the kits had main wings and elevators (horizontal tails) that were identical to each other dimensionally, and were slightly larger in span and cord than the Scale Plans.  For even more evidence that the Scale Plans are wrong; when you compare the kit fuselages to the overhead view they’re even longer than in the side view! This could put me off buying anymore MMP Scale Plans books.

For those who love math, to find out how long the F-104 fuselage should be in 1:72 scale do it yourself!

1:72 comparison F-86 Saber Fujimi vs Heller, or, Nobody is Perfect!

1/48 scale comparison A-7 Corsair 2: Aurora, Revell-Monogram, ESCI, Hasegawa & Hobby Boss.

I ‘built’ a collection of 1:48 scale Ling Temco Vought A-7 Corsair 2s.  Time to compare them, as a lot of kit bashers always want to know which is the best, or at least which looks the best out of the box.

The first 1:48 A-7 was the old 1969 issue Aurora kit.  It was marketed as a D version, but is actually an A/B/C version.  The main difference is that the A/B/C versions had two single barrel Colt Mark 12 20mm guns firing through troughs on either side of the air intake.  D and E versions had a single six barreled M61 20mm Vulcan gun on the left (port) side.  The Aurora kit has two gun troughs on either side of the air intake, making it an A, B or C version.

Click the pics to make bigger

The old kit is interesting in that it has recessed panel lines (Matchbox ‘trench’ style), something unique for a 1960s kit.  Other than the recessed surface details the kit is basically a toy.  There are very little details anywhere else and the landing gear and ordinance are pathetic.  I do not have 1:48 scale drawings of the A-7, so the best I can do is compare the kits and make judgments based on the 1:72 scale drawings I have.  The Aurora kit is mentioned because the next 1:48 scale A-7 kit to be issued came from Monogram, and supposedly evolved from the Aurora kit.

In 1976-77 Aurora went out of business and sold off its kit molds.  Monogram bought most of the molds.  Reports say Monogram re-tooled the Aurora A-7, if this is true they did a crappy job (compared to the ground breaking kits they issued in the mid 1970s-early 80s).  It is currently issued by Revell U.S.A. (do not confuse it with the recent A-7 issued by Revell Germany, which is a re-boxing of Hasegawa’s A-7).

Monogram made some major changes, which resulted in raised panel lines and a longer fuselage. The wing span is also longer.  The most ugly change was the widening of the cockpit area, the canopy is not only bigger than the original Aurora canopy, it’s the biggest of all the kits I compare.  The ordinance is no better than Aurora’s but at least you get big external fuel tanks.  At least Monogram made the tailpipe more oval, as Aurora’s is round.

Monogram did market it as an A-7A.  So far Hobby Boss is the only other kit maker to issue an A-7A Corsair 2.  The Monogram-Revell kit is a crappy kit, and I’m surprised by how much the original Monogram issue kit sells for on the internet.   I’m also surprised Revell U.S.A. re-issued the thing, especially when Revell Germany sells the Hasegawa kit.

Close on the heels of the Monogram issue came Italy’s ESCI A-7D/E versions.  I read many posts saying how bad the ESCI kit is, but in my opinion it’s still better (in some ways) than the Monogram/Aurora kits.

AMT has re-issued the kit after ESCI went bust.  AMT’s instructions call the U.S. Navy refueling probe a “missile launch rail”.  Also, the kit I have is supposed to be a USN A-7E yet the instructions have you mount the USAF A-7D refueling receptacle on top of the fuselage anyway.

The kit has some good points like a long intake trunk, the onboard boarding ladder, a separately molded radome, separately molded folding wing tips and some OK looking ECM pods, Snakeye bombs and Maverick missiles.

Some of the bad points are lack of cockpit/wheel well details, the fuselage is molded in four parts with the forward parts being slightly larger in diameter from the rear parts, and incredibly bad ordnance ‘ejector racks’ which look like sticks of plastic.

Compared to the Revell-Monogram kit the ESCI fuselage seems the same length, but the ESCI intake lip is further back from the Revell-Monogram kit (I line up the fuselages at the tailpipe end).  The ESCI intake is too round.  From the rear, the tailpipes are similar in shape, but the ESCI elevator location is higher up on the fuselage. The Revell-Monogram main wing and elevators are slightly larger than the ESCI kit, with the ESCI elevators too narrow at the tips.

Finally, in the 1990s Japan’s Hasegawa issued a 1:48 A-7D and E Corsair 2.  Out of the box it’s the best yet, with good looking shapes, recessed panel lines, exposed avionics bays, boarding ladder, intake trunk, some cockpit and wheel well details, separately molded wing tips, flaps and slats, nice looking Sidewinder missiles and even a separately molded air (speed) brake (which can only be posed in the extended position if you model the plane in-flight with wheels up).

I compared it to the Revell-Monogram kit, which has a slightly longer fuselage. From the rear the tail pipes are similar in shape, but the Hasegawa’s is larger and, like the ESCI kit, the position of the elevators are higher up on the fuselage.  The main wing span is longer than Revell-Monogram’s, but the folding wing area is smaller than Revell-Monogram’s.  The elevators are similar.  The Hasegawa external fuel tank is the same length but skinnier.  The downside is Hasegawa does not provide bombs or other ground attack ordinance and, as usual, Hasegawa’s decal color register is off (the only time they get it right is when they subcontract with aftermarket decal printers).

In 2009 China’s Hobby Boss issued a new series of A-7 Corsair 2s, including an A-7A.  Out of the box it looks great, until you spend more time looking it over.

The fuselage is the longest, with a skinny nose/radome, and the most oval shaped (and skinny) tailpipe of all the kits. The main wing does not have a folding section, is shorter in span than the Hasegawa kit yet much wider.  This is interesting because the Hobby Boss 1:72 scale A-7 wing matches the scale drawings I compared it to.

The external fuel tank is longer and skinnier than the Hasegawa kit.  The canopy size lies in between the Hasegawa and Revell-Monogram kits.  The Hobby Boss kit does have nice looking ordinance including FLIR pods, but the Mark 82s are too skinny.

As far as surface details (panel lines) all the kits are different.  I’ve read that some of the Hobby Boss surface details for the A-7A are in the wrong location and are more accurate for later versions of the Corsair 2.  Apparently the two gun troughs are the only surface detail that matches an A-7A.

It looks like the Hasegawa kit is still the overall best 1:48 scale A-7 Corsair kit available.

1/72 scale A-7 Corsair 2 comparison: Fujimi, ESCI, Airfix & Hobby Boss

Kit Bashing & What Economic Recovery? United States to help Japan’s economy by dropping illegal tariffs, pay back Japan $26 million in illegal tariffs

“We have finally put these burdensome and potentially damaging trade disputes behind us.”-Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative

For decades the U.S. has imposed high tariffs on imports (so much for free trade), claiming the tariffs were “anti-dumping” fines.   The problem is that some of the foreign products affected by those U.S. tariffs were actually cheaper in the country of origin (like plastic model kits from Japan, and some from Europe).

Even after the U.S. created World Trade Organization ruled against the U.S. (five years ago!), regarding the anti-dumping tariffs, the United States continued the unfair trade policy.

Now, in an effort to help Japan’s, and Europe’s, ailing economy, and because Japan was about to levy a similar tariff on U.S. products, the United States will end those tariffs.  The U.S. has also agreed to pay back $26 million in illegal tariffs collected on Japanese products.

The end of the anti-dumping duties also affects European countries.

Unfortunately for us model kit builders, the ending of the tariff might not help our wallets, as the Yen and Euro have gained in value against the U.S. dollar.  The Euro now worth more than the U.S. dollar, but, the Yen is still far cheaper so lets hope those prices come down on Tamiya, Fujimi, Hasegawa and coveted Fine Molds kits.