Wednesday, 16 January 2013
The kit looks classic Eduard, nicely moulded parts in their usual olive brown plastic, and accompanied with a nice photo etch fret full of details and that most welcome of sights, a pre cut window mask set.
Unlike most kits, the cockpit fits in after the fuselage halves go together, which is nice, because it allows you to get the body in one pieces and all sanded and de-seamed without worrying about damaging the cockpit details. A very slight warp in one half did cause a little fun getting everything lined up at this point but nothing too problematic. However when the cockpit tub is inserted it became clear that the shape of the fuselage was not quite right, being a little too tall to match the cockpit shape. Before glueing in place I test fitted the canopy part and this confirmed the problem. So some clamping was required whilst the cockpit glue cured to "squash" the fuselage vertically somewhat to ensure that a smooth result would be obtained once the canopy section was added.
Painting started with a coat of Tamiya fine primer to get the surface smooth and consistent. This was followed by RLM76 on the underside. I masked this off, which is fortunately easy on this colour scheme, and applied RLM71 across the top. The splinter scheme was then masked and a final coat of RLM70 applied. However, once done, I suffered the problem that blights so many Luftwaffe modellers. RLM70/71 camouflage schemes are very common and very easy to get into difficulties with. The problem is that these colours, according to most references, are actually very similar (although for some reason the Eduard instructions represent RLM71 as a sort of dark brown, which is completely wrong) and the splinter pattern can be very difficult to distinguish visually. This never looks right to me, perhaps is a scale thing. So I lightened the RLM71 with some light grey and went back over it. This gave a much better contrast and looks more like the real thing to me as well.
After a coat of gloss, the decals went on with little fuss. Very little stencilling is provided, although not much is needed, but the size of the decals as shown on the instructions did not match up with the real thing in many instances so some creativity was needed. The remaining gloss, oil wash and matt finish was without incident. I topped her off with a little post shading and bleaching to break up the smoothness a bit.
This is a good kit from Eduard, although one cant help the feeling that it was a little rushed on their part - there are some small inconsistencies between the instructions and the moulds, and as pointed out the shape of the fuselage needs a little squashing to get things right. But the end result is a nice representation of this important aircraft. I will not be in a hurry to do another one now I have finally built it - but I am glad I did.
Saturday, 5 January 2013
The instructions are well presented on first inspection, with a detailed sprue and resin part map that is essential, since the sprues contain no part numbers. There is also a small etched fret containing seat belts and a few other parts.
There is a lovely diagram (section 7) showing the cockpit as seen through the cabin door from a passenger point of view that aims to help positioning but does not do so, unfortunately. It also represents a lot of detail in the cabin that is simply not there in the kit. I suppose it could be aimed at the super detailer, but the cabin interior is going to be almost invisible so I spent no extra effort there. I did, however, build in all the seats in the Lufthansa arrangement. However, the rear bulkhead is in completely the wrong location but I included it anyway to strengthen the fuselage.
The wings and tail plane sections went together without much effort, although there is a slight size discrepancy between the upper and lower parts which needed sanding off. Also the upper wing de-icing boots are separate and do not fit very well at all - so I left them off until later. Likewise I left off the multitude of flap hinges until later as these were bound to "fall" off during the rest of the build.
The canopy is in three pieces, a main upper section and two "slivers" for the raked in lower canopy panels. I could see before even detaching them from the sprues that this was going to be difficult. Masking was relatively easy - there are many panels but they are all straight edged so it was just a little tedious but not too difficult. However fitting the canopy in place was not easy. The main top part went on easily mainly due to my diligence in dry fitting everything carefully beforehand, although I did need to fit a few slivers of plastic card to fill a small gap between the back of the canopy and the upper wing edge. However the lower raked canopy panels needed extensive re-shaping and ultimately filling (which I hate doing around canopies) to get an acceptable result.
I left the undercarriage off until after main painting. I started by filling all gaps (and to be fair there were not many) and sanding down the whole body very carefully to avoid losing the really rather nice rivet detail. This was followed by a coat of Tamiya fine primer. Another rub down was followed by gloss black. After yet another rub over and polishing I sprayed the whole plane with Alclad aluminium, having masked off the glare panel in front of the cockpit which needed to stay black. This was followed by a gloss varnish.
The exhaust arrangement is provided in resin, although it needs modifying for this version. This was painted up using Alclad steel stained with Alclad "Exhaust Manifold" to give it a little burnishing and attached to the port side of the fuselage. I then added the rigging using guitar strings and careful references. That sentence makes it sound easy, it never is, but it is worth doing because biplanes never look right without it.
In summary, I find it hard to criticize this kit too harshly, although it presents a seemingly endless series of challenges to the modeller. The instructions are poor, the location of parts is vague, there is a fair bit of scratch building to be done and the canopy fit is woeful. But that said, the end result is spectacular. The detail in the cockpit and on the exterior is exquisite and if you are prepared to put the effort in, you will end up with a beautiful model. It is largely very accurate, with a handful of minor exceptions that are easily dealt with. I also have sympathy with Valom since Hobby Boss have just released their AN-2 in 1/48 and although I have not yet seen the kit, I am sure it is a much easier build and will probably steal a lot of the market.
But in the end, this is a good kit, but only for the experienced modeller. A novice will fall foul of it very quickly and would be better off going for something a little more "shake and bake". For my part, although it drove me a little crazy at times, it certainly made me put the work in and feel like a true artist. And that, ultimately, is what this game is all about.