Tag Archives: kit

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.

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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).




World’s largest C-141B Starlifter model?

In June 2016, members of the USAF’s 437th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal and corrosion shop at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, got a new project; restore an old C-141B model.

The giant model was originally built back in the day when the USAF used C-141 Starlifters.  It was built to represent a C-141 that crashed in 1982, killing its crew.

After only a few months the model was fully restored in August 2016.

Airman 1st Class Drew Maifeaphomsamouth, Technical SergeantAndrew Finley, Airman 1st Class Michael Mooney, Airman 1st Class Shawn Casey, Airman Riley Carter and Senior Airman William Treiber were proud to have restored what might be the world’s largest C-141 model.

Italeri 1:720 Deutschland, Lutzow, Scheer & Graf Spee

Italeri recently re-issued its old but nice looking Deutschland class heavy cruisers (they are not battleships) in 1:720 scale.

These kits represent the class before the 1939-40 rebuilds (refit).  They were first issued in the late 1970s, and have excellent detail for the scale (which made some of the larger scale ship kits look even worse than they were; 1:600 Airfix, Aurora, 1:570 Revell, etc).  In the 1980s Testors issued them in the United States.  Italeri issued them again in the 1990s.

Deutschland: Parts distinct to the first ship and prior to the 1939 update and name change.  Deutschland originally had ‘exposed’ torpedo tubes, but the Italeri kit comes with the armored tubes.

Scheer: Parts distinct to the second ship of the line, prior to its 1939-40 rebuild.

Graff Spee: Parts distinct to its final year of life, 1939, with one exception; the kit does not come with the ‘mattress/bed spring’ radar that should be mounted on the front of the tower range finder.  Note that prior to 1939 Graf Spee was fitted out similar to Scheer, so if you want to model an earlier Graf Spee just buy the Scheer kit.

Lützow: Parts distinct to the 1939 update to Deutschland (when its name was changed to Lützow), but prior to its 1940 rebuild.

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For decades these ships were called battleships by the victors of World War Two, which is ridiculous since battleships ranged in the 30-thousand to 50-thousand tonnes standard displacement range.  It’s the result of official British empire government backed news media propaganda (today called Fake News) coming up with the Fake News term Pocket Battleship. It was an attempt by the British government to rile up their subjects to support war with Nazi Germany.  Nazi and Blitzkrieg were also Fake News terms made up by the British main stream news media, they were not German terms, although the Germans liked the term Blitzkrieg and used it themselves.  What should be noted is that the Deutschland class of ships were not constructed by the ‘Nazis’, but by the western imposed Weimar government in the early 1930s, before the NSDAP (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) was democratically elected to power. While these ships violated the Washington Treaty limiting warship sizes, the violation was initiated by the Weimar government, not the NSDAP.

Under the treaty cruisers were limited to 10-thousand tonnes (metric tons) standard displacement.  According to some sources we will never know the true displacement because Weimar bureaucrats altered the official data. Today it’s generally accepted that Deutschland was just over the 10-thousand tonnes limit, Scheer was closer to 13-thousand and Graf Spee closer to 14-thousand tonnes.

The differences in weight between the ‘sister’ ships is due to subtle alterations in the hulls of Scheer and Graf Spee to accommodate extra armor protection.  Official suspect data give the same length and width for all ships, but hull height for Scheer and Graf Spee is 0.2 meter shorter that Deutschland.  I would assume that with the extra armor the hull side thickness was greater than Deutschland’s (naval researcher H.T. Lenton says Spee/Scheer were about 1 meter [3 feet] wider than Deutschland-Lutzow).

Knowing that official data for the ships are suspect it’s no use getting knit-picky about accuracy.  The best thing is to use photographs of the ship you want to depict at the time period your interested in.

Graf Spee was the first to go, sunk by its own crew in South America in 1939, after being damaged by three Royal Navy cruisers.  During its South Atlantic adventure Graf Spee underwent attempts at deception, making itself look like a full fledged battleship with extra gun turret and exhaust funnel, and even painting the name Deutschland on the side of the hull.

Lützow and Scheer lived longer than anybody expected. Not only did the British want them sunk, but, at the protests of the Deutsche KriegsMarine (DKM), Adolph Hitler ordered them scrapped in 1943.

Scheer ended up being used as a training ship and artillery platform against Soviet ground forces.  Scheer was sunk in April 1945 by Royal Air Force bombers, a month before Germany surrendered.

Lützow was disabled and used as an artillery platform against the Soviets, supposedly destroyed by its crew as the Soviets overran the port. Western news sources reported that the Soviets had raised Lützow, for the purpose of scrapping it.  In 2000 it was discovered the Soviets used Lützow for target practice, sinking it in 1947.

The only disappointing thing I find about these Italeri kits is that no decals come with them.  It would be nice to have each ship’s bow shield/crest and the Coronel nameplate on the front of Graf Spee’s tower.



More proof instructions are wrong: AMT Willys Van retro issue

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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.

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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