Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tamiya 1/32 DeHavilland Mosquito FB. Mk VI

Some interesting activity in the 1/32 scale modelling world over the last couple of years. First, Hong Kong Models (rapidly gaining a reputation as the home of the spectacular model kit) throw out a 1/32 Mossie, the first modern tooling in the scale finally replacing the venerable but primitive old Revell kit. And just as the modellers of the world were starting to calm down from their excitement the most respected name in plastic kits suddenly adds one to their superlative 1/32 Warbird range. And, in the humble opinion of this modeller (and many others), it ground the HK kit into the dust. The Hong Kong team had certainly introduced some innovative moulding technology and produced an amazingly well engineered kit, but it soon became apparent that the Tamiya version was far superior in the areas that count, such as detailing, accuracy and display flexibility.

And, lucky old me, I just had a commission to build one.

Just rummaging through the plastic on opening the box, you know you have something special here. The mouldings are crisp and refined, not a hint of flash anywhere. The detail on the parts has to be seen to be believed. I had a full Eduard set of etch to go with this kit, however in the event much of it was left off because it simply adds nothing. Also, it had to be said, for a kit of this size the Eduard etch is pretty limited, I guess they new there was not a lot they could do to improve things. Indeed, Tamiya themselves provide two frets of fine photo etch metal (one of which is magnetic as part of the cowling grip system) which are of a quality and scope that easily stands up against the likes of Eduard and were used throughout this build.

In common with other kits in this series, the engine cowlings are designed to be removable, and as such a moulded extremely thin and should be handled carefully. But this does preserve the integrity of the scale of the cowlings and their contents. Tamiya's mini magnet system is used to hold the cowlings in place, however I found that the bottom cowlings on the engines still did not quite grip with sufficient force and I had to improvise some additional support for them. This is one of the very few failings of the kit I came across. The other significant one is that I found that the top cowling for the nose gun compartment did not fit quite flush and some fettling was required to get this sitting correctly. It's not impossible that this may have been my fault for not installing the firewall perfectly, however.

The two Merlin engines are works of art, and take up four pages of the instructions just on their own. One point I would mention, however, is that given the wonderful kit detailing of these power plants it is a shame that they do not include the spark plug wiring harness. This is often the case in smaller scales or more primitive kits for practical reasons, but it was a slightly jarring omission on a kit of this sophistication. Eduard provide an etch harness (the only engine item in the etch set) but to be honest it looks pretty awful and so I fashioned my own out of styrene rods and fuse wire.

One final point (and it's minor - that's how desperate I've become to find fault) is that the ammunition belts feeding both the nose guns and belly guns could have been given a bit more authenticity in that there is no representation of the bullets, they are entirely smooth inside the holes in the casing. Surely given the finesse of the rest of the kit they could have moulded something resembling an actual ammunition belt.

I'm struggling to find any more notable problems with the kit than those few already mentioned. The detail is excellent throughout. I opted to use the Eduard cockpit panels to replace the Tamiya ones but that is more my lazy habit - with careful painting the kit panels will be truly excellent. The only scratch work I undertook was to add some wiring to the cockpit and the engine bays, but other than that, there is simply nothing further required unless you want to go completely nuts, and I didn't - someone is paying for my time.

Decals for three machines are provided, usual high Tamiya quality, but the after market is already bubbling with 1/32 FBVI sheets for this kit, so fill your boots. In this case my customer was after a Banff (Scotland) machine for which decals were provided by XtraDecal (Hannants).

So hats off to Tamiya who have once again proven that no-one can touch them when they are on form, and they certainly were when they produced this kit. A model I am personally very proud of.

Full progress photos can be found here.