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  1. 1:32 Focke-Wulf Ta 152H-0 Zoukei-mura Catalogue SWS#11 Available from Zoukei-mura for 10,584¥ Kurt Tank’s Focke-Wulf Ta 152 was the ultimate incarnation of his Fw 190 series of thoroughbred fighter aircraft. As Germany’s war situation was worsening, there was a call to introduce a fighter aircraft that could fly at higher altitude in order to intercept enemy aircraft, and the possibility of the B-29 being introduced into the European Theatre of Operations. The Ta 152 was Focke-Wulf’s submission to the RLM when key aircraft manufacturers were approached with the problem of developing a high-altitude interceptor that could tackle the increasing numbers of bomber streams that were pulverising the Reich to rubble. The Ta 152H was based on a lengthened Fw 190D fuselage, although technically different. In order to re-establish the centre of gravity, the nose was also lengthened, producing a startlingly long and sleek fuselage for a fighter of the day. Powered by a Jumo 213E with a good high altitude performance, the ‘H’ series machine had a wingspan of over 48ft. Electrical gear retraction systems were replaced with hydraulic systems, and a heated windshield was introduced, for bad weather operations. Of course, a pressurised cockpit was also a necessity. Weapons were a single MK108 Motorcanone that fired through the spinner, and two MG151/20 cannon in the wingroot. The Ta 152 came way too late to make even the slightest difference in Germany’s war effort, but that shouldn’t detract from the innovation and achievement in the design itself. Very few Ta 152 were built, with the figure standing at around 43 machines of all variants, including prototypes. It’s been a whole FIVE years since Zoukei-mura released their second SWS kit, the Ta 152H-1. With this release, it’s now the turn of the rarer H-0 variant. This is the type which sits in the NASM, and of course is the only machine now left in existence. Of course, there is no excuse to them get this wrong. So, as we have already seen the H-1, what exactly does this kit offer that makes it worth buying? If you don’t have the original release and you like the Ta 152, then nothing is stopping you! However, if you do have the original H-1, then I can tell you that there are significant differences in this kit, and owning the original shouldn’t preclude this from being in your collection. This kit is a mix of original H-1 sprues, newly-tooled H-0 sprues AND re-tooled H-1 sprues! Yes, Zoukei-mura have revisited those areas in their earlier release that some may have thought weak, and perhaps areas they wished to refine themselves anyway. Either way, we’ll now take a look. For a retro look at the original kit, take a look HERE The artwork on this kit does seem quite familiar in style to the original release, and no less attractive, with a single Ta 152 tearing into a stream of Liberator aircraft. Box sides show the completed model, with most text in Japanese. As ZM are now firmly a global brand with their model show presence and US offices selling their kits, some dual language text would be nice for photos etc. Lift that lid and you have SEVEN sprues in light grey styrene, and ONE in clear. You might remember that the early ZM kits, including the Ta 152H-1, were moulded in different colours. This was always something they drew criticism for, with them being likened to Matchbox kits (without the garish colours!). Underneath the plastic lies another sleeve containing the decal sheet, masks, instruction manual and an amendment sheet that is specific to this H-0 release. SPRUE A Notice this is an H-1 sprue, but one that has been reworked and we see it for the first time on this kit. Comparing against my original H-1 kit, the only real refinement I can see here are the main wheel hubs and their brake line. The reworked parts look far better than the originals. If there are no other reworked parts here, then that is just fine as the parts here are already refined, and look far more than they did under the original silver plastic that seemed to make things look soft. Essentially, this sprue concerns itself with the engine and undercarriage. Engine detail is great, and this kit contains a fully featured Jumo 213E that is composed of main left, right engine block, crank case cover, coolant vapour reserve, ignition lead wiring loom and junction box, starter motor, generator, supercharger, oil cooler etc. There are over 20 parts to this and I know from experience of building the original kit for the Concept Note book, just how good the engine looks when painted and weathered. I think the engine firewall could benefit with a little wiring to the engine area, but that’s it. To cap the engine off, literally, a two-part spinner is included. I know the shape of spinners can be contentious, but this looks great to me, and includes a fine ‘panel’ line around the circumference. A forward radiator block and annular radiator parts are included. The latter has fine cooling fin detail on both the interior or exterior faces. Undercarriage struts are superbly detailed, and separate brake lines are included. Oleo scissors are also more than acceptable, and the multipart rear tail strut is no exception. The main part of this anchors high up in the vertical tail fin. SPRUE B Another H-1 sprue, and again re-tooled. Here you will find various engine components such as the supercharger, propeller, guns, fuselage fuel tanks (the H-0 carried wing tanks also), exhausts, and various other engine parts. The propeller is certainly more refined looking than the original, and the exhausts have marginally different detail. One thing I’m disappointed in that ZM didn’t rework are the tires. These would have looked better with a little weighting added. The opportunity was there to sort this, so if you want them to look a little flatter on the bottom, you can always get out a sanding stick. Another inclusion here are the engine bearers. One thing I found with the original release was that fitting the engine and bearers into the fuselage, proved a little problematic. To counter this, I snipped off the lower locating pips and aligned the engine with the upper pins only. The wing root cannon look a little simplistic too, but with some extra work and electrical wiring, they won’t look too bad. If you want to use any aftermarket for these, then look at the MDC resin gun replacements. There has been minimal slide mould use for the barrels on these guns, as also on the MK108 too. SPRUE C With Sprue C, we start to see cockpit parts, starting with the cockpit floor and integral rearmost bulkhead that encapsulates the battery/stowage compartment. Another rear cockpit bulkhead that incorporates the seat location and forward turtle deck is included. ZM’s attention to detail with this release still grabs me in the same way as it did 5 whole years ago, and the levels of detail more than hold up to current eyes, expectations and scrutiny. A new instrument panel, specifically for the H-0, is also included here. The details of the bezels look perhaps a little exaggerated, but they will make for ideal painting and detailing conditions, and a punched decal instrument should sit perfectly inside. A drop of Klear or Micro Crystal Clear will finish these nicely. Decals are provided for the instruments, but I think the definition/detail is poor. My choice, as always, are the excellent Airscale decals. This new part also has rear instrument detail, allowing you to add some wiring. Two seats are supplied. One of these is a standard part that allows you to place your own seatbelt set, and the other has moulded belt detail. I’m absolutely convinced that the moulded belt detail has been improved, and looks akin to the quality I saw on my recent Ho 229 build. Personally, I have no hesitation in using the seats with the moulded belts. They really do look superb! The cockpit contains separate consoles and a throttle lever that connects to a socket on the underlying floor. Rudder pedals are attached to rods that pass under the consoles. Yes, all the detail you want is here, even if you may never see it! You will find other bulkhead details here, and parts for what was the forward weapon bay on the earlier 190 series. Ammunition boxes for the wing root guns are to be found here, as are various oxygen and compressed gas bottles that fit within the tail section. One feature of the Ta 152 series was a nitrous oxide tank that could be used to temporarily boost engine performance. This was located in the rear fuselage. Also here are various other rear fuse internals, such as radio sets. Lastly, a wing spar is included that perfectly pre-aligns the wings for you, and provides some stability to this crucial area. Some wheel bay detail is provided here, and you will also fit the guns into the provisional wing root areas before installing to the fuselage. SPRUE D Here we see a new sprue, designated as H-0, and looking very similar to its counterpart in the previous release. However, things appear to be more refined here. Looking at the surface detail rendering, the new parts have better riveting and panel line detail. Originally, the general rivet lines were exaggerated, but now they appear to be represented far more realistically. Detail on the inside of the parts consists of the same frame lines etc, and remains unchanged. I have no problem with this though. A port is supplied separately on the rear fuse, allowing the modeller to pose this open and display the internals. That refinement of detail extends to the tail where the stabiliser fairing is now fitted with correctly raised line of fasteners, instead of sunken rivet detail. Again, the access panel on the fin is separate, so it may be posed open if you decide to detail the area within a little more. Engine cowl detail is also slightly different around the forward exhaust area, and a new part is included on this sprue, for the upper louvered vent that sits just behind the cowling ring flaps. SPRUE E I can’t see any difference between this sprue and my original H-1 release kit, and indeed it is still designated as H-1 on the ID tab. ZM’s unusual fuselage breakdown means that the lower belly section is separate, and moulded here, complete with internal rib structure detail. The single piece forward upper cowl that incorporates the ex-gun bay and engine cowl, is moulded as a single piece with some internal detail. Unfortunately, ZM didn’t see fit to remove the ejector pin marks from in here, so you will need to eradicate them yourself if you wish to display this part removed. The forward nose cowl is separate to the cowl flaps, and the latter are provided as open and closed options. Tail surfaces have some superb external detail, and control surfaces have a taped effect finish. I’m not absolutely convinced by this, but some photos do seem to look quite similar to the ZM approach, if maybe not quite as raised and obvious. Still, the finish is very attractive. The modular wing approach sees the forward belly section moulded here, as well as the main gear doors and other small parts. Note that there is the H-1 upper louvred panel included here, and this is NOT for use on this kit!! SPRUE F & G These are wing sprues and are essentially mirror equivalents of each other. Now you get an idea of the sheer span of this sleek fighter aircraft. As these are H-0 specific sprues, they are indeed newly-tooled. Due to the difference in airframe wing tank locations, you will see a difference in engraved surface detail that is applicable to this machine only. It is noted that as with the fuselage parts, the riveting on the wings is also more subtle. Only key rivet lines are included too, leaving the way open for you to add the remainder yourself, if this is what appeals. The wheel well bumps are also more organic looking too and far more realistic. Some detail is moulded within the wheel bay roof, and this is more than adequate. Trailing edge flap bay detail is also moulded, but there are ejection pin marks you will need to remove. As with the H-1, the wing leading edges are moulded separately. I’ve heard some say they struggled to make these fit properly, but for me, I had no such issue. Just take your time and be methodical with your approach. Note that the wing roots still remain as single parts on this release. I wasn’t too happy with the protrusion of these from the fuselage when installed, so I thinned the joint face a little on mine before installation. Refinement of detail extends to the gun bay covers for the wing root. Engraving is shallower generally, and these are a big improvement over the earlier release. SPRUE H ZM decided to revisit this sprue and re-tooled it to make it more accurate. As well as a clear instrument panel and a few small parts for wingtip lights and gun sight etc. the main players here are of course the windshield and the familiar blown hood. Noticeably, the windshield looks more refined and the shapes have changed somewhat. Clarity is excellent, and the canopy parts have superb frame definition that will aid accurate placement of the vinyl masks. Plastic Summary I found a new level of plastic moulding quality with the Ho 229, and it continues here. Parts are generally flash free, and seam lines are minimal. There are a couple of sink marks here and there, but nothing too major. You could almost excuse them for metal ‘canning’ from the stressed metal of the real aircraft!! Masks A small sheet of vinyl masks is included for the canopy. My experience of these is that they adhere well, fit perfectly, and adhere well to the plastic. If you ever need to tweak a mask, then the flexibility of the vinyl will allow for that. Decals For me, ZM’s decals are possibly the weakest element of their kits, BUT they do adhere well and conform to surface detail with the help of a little decal setting solution. I don’t know who prints them, but they tend to be a little thicker than I’m used to, but in fairness, they are well printed with good, solid colour and minimal carrier film. Registration is also perfect. As well as markings that are designed to be generic and allow the modeller to make their own decisions, a full set of stencils is also included. I’m not too enamoured with the instrument decals. They lack vibrancy and definition. Swastikas are supplied in two parts, so as not to offend the sensibilities of particular countries that get all offended by them on model kits! Instructions The first thing you’ll notice is that the rather swish looking manual (designed to look like a 1940’s technical document) is actually the same one that was supplied with the H-1 kit back in 2010. However, a supplement is included with the correct H-0 nomenclature, and this includes the amendments and changes to this particular release. The first thing I would do is to mark these changes within the main manual so that you don’t fit the incorrect parts for this version. Illustrations are excellent, with CAD-style detail and shaded drawings. SWS kits have advanced a little since the manual was first printed, and as a result, this one doesn’t have all the fancy technical details of the real aircraft, as was seen in the Ho 229 manual. Still, ZM’s instructions are better than most within the industry. Paint references are Mr Colour and Vallejo. Conclusion I admit that I was a little too hasty to write this release off, due to the relatively small number of external differences between this and the original H-1 release. However, the inclusion of all of those refined and reworked sprues, along with the new-tool parts, serves to make this a worthwhile release. With the original H-1 kit now being currently OOP, the H-0 is the only real game in town for this stunning fighter aircraft, with the exception of the Pacific Coast kit that some claim to be difficult to build or hard to obtain. As far as price too, then this kit is well-pitched, being cheaper in some respects than the PCM kit, and also a more highly detailed kit. If you’ve never had the opportunity to build a ZM Ta 152, then I really, really can recommend it! HIGHLY recommended. Review sample courtesy of my wallet. To buy directly from Volks Japan, click THIS link. To buy directly from Volks USA, click THIS link.
  2. 1/32 J2M3 “Rai Den” Zoukei-mura Super Wings No.5 Available from Black Mike Models for £79.95 The Mitsubishi J2M Raiden (雷電, "Thunderbolt") was a single-engine land-based fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Jack". The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the A6M Zero, to meet the 14-Shi (14th year of the Showa reign, or 1939) official specification. It was to be a strictly local-defence interceptor, intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of manoeuvrability. The J2M was a sleek, but stubby craft with its oversized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with an extension shaft. The first few produced J2M2s were delivered to the development units in December 1942 but severe problems were encountered with the engines. Trials and improvements took almost a year and the first batch of the serial built J2M2 Model 11 was delivered to 381st Kōkūtai in December 1943. Parallel with the J2M2, production of the J2M3 Raiden Model 21 started. The first J2M3s appeared in October 1943 but deliveries to combat units started at the beginning of February 1944. The Raiden made its combat debut in June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Several J2Ms operated from Guam and Saipan and a small number of aircraft were deployed to the Philippines. Later, some J2Ms were based in Chosen airfields, Genzan (Wonsan), Ranan (Nanam), Funei (Nuren), Rashin (Najin) and Konan under Genzan Ku, for defence of these areas and fighting against Soviet Naval Aviation units. Primarily designed to defend against the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the type was handicapped at high altitude by the lack of a turbocharger. However, its four-cannon armament supplied effective firepower and the use of dive and zoom tactics allowed it to score occasionally. Insufficient numbers and the American switch to night bombing in March 1945 limited its effectiveness. (Edit Courtesy of Wikipedia) The kit As you probably already knew, unless you live in a cave, this kit isn’t a new release. In fact, this kit first hit the market in 2013, having been demoed at Scale Model World, Telford, in November 2012. I was then one of the ZM team who wore their voices out in showing the test-shot to many, many hundreds of people over that weekend, prior to its release a few months later. Despite this, I never actually reviewed this one, having skipped to the later Ho 229. I’m also going to take advantage of the fact that it’s possible that numerous looks at this kit may have prematurely died when Photobucket started to ransom its members and cut off external-linking (LSM hosts its own images). Zoukei-mura’s J2M3 kit comes in a fairly sizeable and attractive box with a pretty atmospheric painting of a J2M3 diving back into night-time cloud cover after a strike on a B-29 Superfortress. Probably one of the most evocative contemporary images of the Raiden that I’ve seen. Congratulations to ZM for using that image. The box sides show various images of the test shot that is oh so familiar to this writer. That lid is also pretty airtight and takes some effort to remove. Inside, we have NINE sprues, moulded in light grey plastic, and TWO in clear. All sprues are separately bagged to prevent scuff damage, and to complete building materials, a single set of vinyl masks is included. ZM kits don’t contain photo-etch parts as standard, with the idea being that the model can be built perfectly well without such extras. Lastly, a single decal sheet is included, as well as ZM’s instruction manual with its historical and informative instructional content. Two plastic sprues are very fragile, and these are the parts which include the canopy glass and separate frames. To protect these further, the lower inside of the box has its own cardboard wrap that separates these from the rest of the parts. Looking at those parts, that was an essential move. Sometimes, I write reviews by looking at each individual sprue, but as this one is quite complex, I’ll look at each area in turn, and the features/options available to the modeller. Engine Construction starts in this area, with quite a remarkable representation of the Mitsubishi MK4R-A Kasei 23a 14-cylinder two-row radial engine that was the beast at the heart of this rather clunky looking aircraft. Both rows of cylinders are separate, with each row being supplied as halves. In line with ZM’s quirky design policies. The inside of these parts has the pistons within. Of course, you won’t see this when assembled, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. Pushrod rings, intake pipe and collector ring are also separate parts that will need careful alignment in order to progress to later stages. As the engine was sat further back in the nose, presumably to facilitate a correct centre of gravity and the semi-streamlined cowl, an extender shaft had to be fitted to the engine, and this is represented here, along with its housing. ZM has made some extensive and clever use of slide-moulding in this kit, with all of the eight separate exhaust pipes having hollow ends, saving you from having to work on these yourself. With these parts in place, you can start to fit the engine mount and the rather large mount cover, plus ancillary features, such as the carburettor, water injection pump, mixture adjustment valve and fuel injection pump, to name a few. Another real bonus with the tooling of this kit is the single piece main mounting bracket for the engine. Whereas other companies may tool a number of brackets to build this item (the new Revell 1/32 Fw 190A/F series, as an example), ZM has included this as a single part, meaning you won’t have any tricky alignment problems that multipart assemblies can introduce. Parts are supplied to pose the cowl flaps open, as default. If you want to keep these closed, you will need to trim plastic from the actuator arms, as shown in the manual. The flaps themselves are moulded in both open and closed positions. Cowls can be left off the model, so you can display the engine. These have simplistic rivet divots on the outside, and no real representative internal detail. The four-bladed propeller also has some nice hidden detail within the spinner, in the shape of the main fastening nut and the prop pitch counterweights. A nice touch if you plan to pose this with the spinner removed. Cockpit This really is an event with this kit, and also highlights just how spacious the cockpit of the Raiden was. This seems to have even more room than its American namesake, the Thunderbolt. The width of the cockpit floor is impressive! As with the engine, there is plenty of detail here that you also won’t see, unless you start to build this as a cutaway model, such as the underfloor bulkhead, linkages, valves, CO2 and oxygen bottles, and the control stick linkages that are moulded onto the stick part itself. As for the office itself, two versions of the seat are offered, as they did in the later Ho 229. These are for a plain seat, and one moulded with belts in place. Before you think that the latter option is probably terrible, I can tell you it isn’t. It’s actually quite neat, and I used that option on my Ho 229 that I built for Military Illustrated Modeller. The cockpit is built around a solid and detailed floor, highly detailed sidewall frames, a rear bulkhead, and an instrument panel bulkhead. Other parts to cram into this area include a multipart seat adjustment shaft/leaver/support, rudder pedal bar, head rest, oil pump lever, oil pump, landing gear lever, instrument consoles, oxygen bottles, and various avionics panels that fit to the sidewall frames. In all, a very comprehensive effort. Two instrument panel options are given. One of these is the standard grey plastic one with moulded dial detail (yuck!) and the other is a clear panel with bare lenses. I would opt for the latter, and punch out the individual decals for the instruments, from the sheet supplied. A far better option. In order to maintain the finesse of the parts without pesky ejector pin marks, a series of small ejection points are moulded externally to some parts, and you’ll need to clip these off and clean up any remains. This is same tried and tested system that is now seen on brands such as WNW, and indeed ZM put it to good use on the Ho 229 release, with its numerous tubular frames. With the tub complete, a forward firewall will fit to the cockpit, complete with a fuel tank and an oil tank. The completed engine assembly will eventually mount to this firewall. Another cockpit assembly area concerns the radio turtle deck behind the pilot. This includes the radio itself, rear bulkhead, roll bar and even the antenna which does appear to require installation as this stage. When I mentioned the clever use of slide-moulding, the radio set is an example of this, with the unit being moulded as two parts, and the joints being hidden around the edges of the unit. The moulding here allows for two faces to be moulded with full detail, at right angles to each other. Fuselage interior and exterior detail Behind the cockpit, there is a vast area of emptiness that has been detailed with internal fuselage constructional elements, such as the tail wheel linkage. I’m a little bit at a loss here as to why ZM didn’t also include the elevator and rudder pushrods too. It makes sense if they are going to include the one supplied. Still, there’s plenty of scope to do that if you wish to go that route. There are a few ejector pin marks inside the rear fuselage, and these look easy to remove, if you are that way inclined. With the fuselage assembled and the cockpit installed, there is a whole raft of detail underneath the cockpit floor, and this corresponds with detail that is fitted within the wing section. ZM has moulded the forward wing fillets as separate parts. Whilst I found this problematic on their Ta 152 kit, completed models of the Raiden show this to be a better fit. There are slots on the wing to allow correct placement of these parts. Externally, the fuselage is quite sparse, apart from neat panel line and port access detail, a ‘la Hasegawa’s style. I quite like a riveted surface and would look at adding this detail with a flush rivet tool. Japanese aircraft were known for their flaking paint, and of course, this would also centre around rivet lines, so these are a must for me. MDC’s flush rivet tool is perfect for this. The rudder is moulded separately to the fuselage, as are the elevators to the stabilisers. With a little bit of work, they could be made poseable too, by removing the square plug that they would fit together with. Please note that the lower, rear fuselage is also separate to the main fuselage, much in the same way that Airfix did their 1/24 Typhoon kit. This joins along a panel line, and from the finished thing, this appears to work very well. Internally, that lower part has the same internal, constructional details as the main parts. Wings There are only two main wing parts; full span single piece upper and single piece lower panels. Ailerons are separate parts, and the gun bays are moulded with the panels off, allowing you to pose them and display the detail within. Work begins by gluing in a full span main spar into the lower wing part, followed by a small series of ribs that form the lower part of the cockpit tub. More linkage detail is to be fitted, as well as port and starboard wing fuel tanks. Again, you’ll not see the latter unless you cut panels away. The weapons bays are formed around more spar and rib details, along with some beautifully moulded Type 99 20mm machine guns. These have nicely detailed recoil springs etc and it wojld be a shame to close those bays up and ignore this detail. Of course, the guns also have their ammunition magazines and feed belts. Multipart wheel well walls help to create this area, along with a very nicely detailed gear bay roof that is moulded onto the underside of the top, full span wing panel. Before you can finally glue the upper and lower panels though, the oil cooler needs to be installed. Wing external detail is commensurate with the fuselage styling, and again will benefit from some work with a riveting tool. You will be able to pose the landing flaps too. They are moulded with a series of plugs that are suitable for the default down position, and you will need to snip them off for raised. The instructions have this the wrong way around, so beware. A correction sheet is included, but as this kit is now 4yrs old, I’m surprised ZM hasn’t corrected the manual itself. A very nifty bit of slide-moulding has been used to mould the machine gun ports into the upper wing panel. This negates having to use a separate leading edge insert for this purpose. Undercarriage No provision is made for a model with a retracted gear, so if this is what you want, you will need to do some work. I think the one thing that annoys me here is that the wheels aren’t weighted. Not a problem really, but if you wanted them weighted, you’d need to fork out more money for their own resin wheel set. Wheels are moulded as halves, complete with separate hubs. The struts are crisply moulded as single pieces, with a two-part oleo scissor to attach. Brake cables are also supplied, and the undercarriage doors are superbly detailed. Wheel door actuators are supplied for the inboard doors, with clean and positive placements provided for these. Canopy Two options are provided here. A standard set of clear parts are included, whereby you mask the panels as per usual, and then paint. The other contains the glass and separate frames, which are incredibly fragile. This is quite an attractive proposition, but I still feel you would need to mask the canopy as normal, as it’s pretty common to fit the glass before you paint the airframe. I’ll have to work out how I approach this. If you want to pose the canopy in a closed position, then the standard canopy parts supply a single piece hood and rear canopy for this purpose. This option isn’t available in the separate glass/frame style. Masks A single sheet of green vinyl is supplied, with sharply cut masks for the canopy only (traditional style), and not the wheel hubs. That’s a shame. My experience of this masking material from other ZM kits is that you really need to make sure it’s firmly applied as it can lift in places. Decals All decals for the two schemes are printed on a single sheet. These seem to either be in-house, or from somewhere in Japan maybe. They certainly aren’t Cartograf. I find ZM’s decals to be a little disappointing in that they have poorly defined details and are fairly thick. That applies here too, although they aren’t unusable. Maybe think of doing the markings with aftermarket decals or masks. Stencil and instrument details are also included here. The two schemes on offer are the same as those in the Hasegawa kit, so nothing original in the slightest. Thankfully, separate numbers are included to change the serial for one of the options. These two schemes are: J2M3 Jack, 352nd Naval Air Group, 3rd Divisional Officer Lt. JG Yoshihiro Aoki, March 1945, Ohmura AB, Nagasaki J2M3 Jack, 302nd Naval Air Group, 2nd Divisional Officer Lt. Susumo Ito, April 1945, Atsugi AB, Kanagawa Instruction Manual ZM has their own style of manual, in the same way that WNW has their specific approach. For ZM, it’s all about educating the modeller as to the internals of the aircraft, and the design. A history of the J2M3 is included, followed by a treatise on the Raiden, along with a sort of X-ray of the aircraft. Each chapter deals with a specific constructional section of the model, with more SWS explanations throughout, along with some superb illustration that should make assembly straightforward. Colour references are made throughout for both Gunze and Vallejo paints. The last pages are taken over with the two schemes, printed in colour. These are rather dark and murky in places, but easy to overcome. Decal placements suffer a little from the gloom too, so use any references you have. A parts plan is also included. Conclusion Has this kit withstood the last 4 years in terms of approach? Yes, without a doubt. This is most certainly the best J2M3 in any scale, and most certainly in 1/32. Some details are quirky, but that’s the name of the game when it comes to Zoukei-mura’s SWS approach. I think that the engineering approach to this is sensible, and a little novel in places. This certainly isn’t a perfect kit, but can you name one that is? I’m a little disappointed about the lack of weighted wheels, especially for a premium product, and the rather substandard decals. However, this is still a gem of a kit, and one I’d been chasing down for a little while now. I really can’t wait to crack this one open and commit some glue and paint. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Duncan at BlackMike Models for getting this out to me so quickly. To purchase, head over to their website.
  3. 1:32 Heinkel He 219A-0 ‘Uhu’ Zoukei-mura Catalogue # SWS No.6 Available from Volks Japan for 16,590¥ The Heinkel He 219 was a machine that almost never was. If it had been down to certain senior factions in the RLM, the project would have been dead in the water in its very early prototypical stage. Heinkel’s machine almost lost out to Messerschmitt’s Me 210/410 project, which was mostly beset with design and technical issues. The He 219 has the honour of being the first operational aircraft to be fitted with ejection seats, and had the type entered service earlier, and in quantity, it would most certainly have affected the success of the RAF’s night bombing operations over Germany. The He 219 was indeed designed as a night-fighter, and to this end was much better suited to it than other machines which were merely adapted for this purpose, such as the Ju 88 and Bf 110. The He 219 was heavily armed with 4 guns in a weapons pack in the aircraft’s belly, 2 wing mounted guns and 2 upward firing guns. The aircraft is typically known as the ‘Mosquito killer’, yet its performance in many aspects was inferior to the DH. Mosquito. Having said this, the type generally operated with success. The A-0 version was fitted with an armour plate panel which could be raised up in front of the armoured glass, giving extra protection from a direct encounter with a bomber turret. Under 300 of all He 219 variants were built, with only one surviving today in the USA. This is the machine which ZM have studied and agonized over in bringing this model kit to you. This is a model kit that I am already very familiar with. I make no secret of the fact that I have an ongoing relationship with Zoukei-mura, and at Scale Model World 2012, I was demonstrating the test shots of the He 219 to potential customers. Towards the end of last year, I also built a test shot of this model kit, so I am very familiar with the overall construction, and the positives and negatives which I myself perceive. That test shot was moulded in the familiar ZM 3 colour plastic, and came without instructions, decals, metal parts and masks etc. ZM listened to your comments about the three colour plastic use, and despite the Japanese home market liking this concept, they have now ditched it in favour of grey only. I for one am very happy with that decision. Without further ado, we’ll take a look at this shiny new release and see what you get for your hard-earned. Test shot image. Model by James H This is a large box, not unlike the Revell He 219 release, but unlike the Revell kit whose parts are few and seem lost in that big box, this kit is CHOCK FULL of plastic. There’s hardly a square inch free in there. Underneath the box lid, adorned by a superb artwork from Jerry Boucher, lies the inner carton, this time with a fold over lid to help contain the many sprues and stop them from bulging the lid outwards. Before we go in there, Jerry’s artwork is well worth mentioning. Specially commissioned for this release, a He 219A-0 is seen at night over a burning German city, whilst the Uhu’s noble quarry, a Lancaster, is seen veering away in flames. Superbly atmospheric, and most definitely the best ZM artwork to date. After prising the rather airtight lid from the box, and opening the flap lid, the first thing to be seen is the instruction manual, in a guise as a WW2 document, in a sleeve which also contains a large decal sheet, vinyl canopy masks and a resin leading edge lamp. More on these items later. First we need to take a look at the flood of styrene that we have here. When I say there are a lot of parts here, I really don’t joke. The Heinkel He 219A-0 kit is spread over FIFTEEN light grey sprues and TWO clear ones. The total parts count for this release is around 470, not including some die-cast parts which are supplied wrapped in foam, and within a narrow cardboard sleeve to prevent them from rolling around amongst the sprue bags. As I have previously mentioned, this release differs from the previous Zoukei-mura releases in that all sprues, with the obvious transparent exceptions, are now moulded in light grey plastic. This is a very welcome move from the gimmicky multi-colour releases, and finally dispels the myth about kit detail being soft. Both the silver and plastic did indeed make things look that way, but under a coat of primer, you could see the detail was sharp. The grey plastic has that same effect. Now, how do you tackle a review of such a detailed kit with a large number of parts? I think perhaps the best way to tackle this is to look at the construction of the model, and the options and detail within, and let the actual photos do the talking for the sprues. ENGINES TWO OF THESE SPRUES PROVIDED If you’re used to starting your construction with the pilot’s office, then we have a slight departure here, with your build beginning with the He 219’s two Daimler Benz 603 engines. Yes, this kit has included both powerplants for you build, and perhaps display with open cowls. The sheer depth of detail is incredible too. Each engine consists of SIXTY parts, and is a mini project in its own right. Each cylinder bank is moulded with piston and con-rods within, and when assembled to the crank case, the con-rods connect together. So, what’s the point? Well, I found on my test shot that this enabled me to get the angles of the cylinder banks correct in relation to the crank case, even though the fit of these parts together was nigh on perfect. A gimmick? Who knows, but this is the design those for SWS kits. Some modellers like this, and some don’t. The engines are adorned with extremely detailed ancillary parts, such as glycol tanks, magnetos, flywheels, supercharger, and fuel injection gear, as well as a LOT of plumbing that seems to weave its way over every face of the engine. Again, having built this earlier, I know that these various parts fit and match together with ease. Each engine also has a fully detailed annular radiator assembly, and the detail associated with opening/closing the external radiator flaps. You really have to see this to believe it, complete with the multitude of pistons that govern this aspect. To position as closed, you need to snip a predetermined length from the end of each piston. The flaps themselves are supplied as either open or closed options, and superbly/crisply moulded. Both engines have authentic damped fixing points attached to them which push neatly into sockets in the upper cowl. Whilst at SMW2012, we had a constant stream of people asking if we were going to be releasing the engine as a separate kit. It really is that good. Only this evening, I took the kit to Bolton IPMS to show the guys there, and again I was asked about the engine as a separate.
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