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  1. 1:32 CR.42LW with German Pilots ICM Catalogue # 32022 The Fiat CR.42 Falco (Falcon) is a single seat sesquiplane fighter developed and produced by Italian aircraft manufacturer Fiat Aviazione. It served primarily in Italy's Regia Aeronautica both before and during the Second World War. The CR.42 was an evolutionary design of Fiat’s earlier CR.32 fighter, featuring a more powerful supercharged Fiat A.74R1C.38 air-cooled radial engine and aerodynamic improvements to its relatively clean exterior surfaces. The aircraft proved to be relatively agile in flight, a factor that had been attributed to its very low wing loading and a sometimes-decisive tactical advantage. RAF Intelligence praised its exceptional manoeuvrability, though it was technically outclassed by faster, more heavily armed monoplanes. Whilst primarily used as a fighter, various other roles were adopted for some variants of the type, such as the CR.42CN dedicated night fighter model, the CR.42AS ground attack aircraft, and the CR.42B Biposto twin-seat trainer aircraft. The CR.42LW was a Night harassment, anti-partisan aircraft for the German Luftwaffe, and the subject of this kit. The aircraft were equipped with exhaust flame dampers, a pair of 12.7 mm machine guns and underwing racks for four 50 kg bombs. 150 were built, of which 112 were accepted into service by the Luftwaffe. In addition to its service in Italy, the CR.42 was produced and entered service in smaller numbers with the air forces of several nations, including Belgium, Sweden and Hungary. By the end of production, in excess of 1,800 CR.42s has been constructed, making it the most numerous Italian aircraft to be used during the Second World War. The kit This is the third incarnation of ICM’s CR.42 kit, and already the second one to feature this specific Luftwaffe version of the Falcon. The difference here though is that we get an extra sprue with some German crew/pilots. In fact, the schemes in this kit are identical to the original ICM release, so this kit is perhaps aimed more at those who want this aircraft with the pilots than for anything else. Packaged into ICM’s extremely robust corrugated box with a folding and lock-tabbed lid, a glossy outer cover gives the final touch to this release. An attractive shot of a CR.42 at rest, along with three Luftwaffe crew, sets the pace for this, and the aircraft is shown without its famous wheel spats. Inside the box, six grey sprues comprise the CR.42 itself, and are packed into a single, re-sealable clear sleeve, with a seventh, clear sprue separately bagged within. A single sprue for the German pilots is also slipped within the main sleeve, bagged separately. To finish the package, an instruction manual and a single decal sheet are included. As tends to be the case with ICM kits, no PE is included with this release. Work starts in the cockpit, as is quite common, and ICM have created a very nice pilot’s office for this release, with a reasonably detailed seat (very unusual in style), control stick and linkage, rudder pedals etc. All is built around a cockpit floor which is fairly devoid of detail, and a bulkhead onto which has moulded tubular detail. On omission that is pretty evident are the seatbelts, so you’ll need to search for something suitable, perhaps from Eduard. When the cockpit floor is fitted out, the side wall frames can then be painted and slotted onto place, along with more elements that go towards creating what will be a tubular unit. The CR.42 instrument panel is split into two sections which sit either side of the pilot’s position. These feature blank instruments onto which the supplied decals will sit. The interior fuselage walls are nicely detailed with some raised structural details which will look very good alongside the tubular cockpit tub. Externally, the CR.42 really shines. The fuselage is moulded with nicely thin panel lines and fasteners, plus some great stringer/fabric detail on the rear fuse. Note the rudder is also a separate item so can be posed dynamically. Before gluing the lower wing sections together, you will need to open up a series of holes for the bomb cradles, should you wish to fit them. It’d be a shame not to. When it comes to the wings, rudder and elevators, that rib and fabric finish really does come into its own. At least to my eye, it’s everything I would expect to see in how it’s rendered. All control surfaces are separately moulded and totally poseable too. For a biplane, this is an easy one to build in terms of the rigid struts. Rigging is also a cinch too and could be managed by a beginner. That 14-cylinder air-cooled Fiat A.74 R.C.38 engine is also nicely represented too. Two banks of seven cylinders are built in the traditional halves fashion, then mounted together, along with the pushrod ring, dual exhaust outlet rings, exhaust and multipart hub. The rear cowl builds around the engine before mounting to the airframe. In fact, the whole engine is shown to be closed up before fitting, although you can of course opt to leave panels off. The insides of the panels aren’t detailed, so bear that in mind if posing open. Two different style of main gear strut are included, as are a spat-less and semi-spat version of the main undercarriage gear. A lengthened set of exhaust pipes is also included for one variant. Pilots Parts for three German crew are supplied also. Plastic moulding is excellent throughout with refined surface detail prevalent across all mouldings, and with thin, clear transparencies. With the optional underwing accessories et al, variant 1 is probably the scheme that’s the best to choose in terms of features. Instructions The 20-page manual contains 97 constructional stages for the aircraft, all in line drawing format, with selective shade and colour as occasional highlights. Colour identification is also clearly shown too, with the manual supplying colour codes for Revell and Tamiya paints at the beginning, plus descriptors for the colours. Parts maps are also included. Whilst no masks are included, the instructions does print a pattern for you to use as a guide to making your own. The closing pages of the manual show the TWO schemes. These are: CR.42LW, 2./Nacht Schlacht Gruppe 9, Luftwaffe, Turin, April 1944 CR.42LW, Nacht Schlacht Gruppe 20, Luftwaffe, Strasbourg, October 1943 Decals A single set of decals is supplied for these schemes. These are possibly printed in-house or local to ICM. Printing quality is good, with thin ink, minimal carrier film and good colour density. Instrument decals are also included. As tends to be the case with many manufacturers, no swastikas are included, so you’ll need to raid your stash for those. Conclusion I always thought the CR.42 to look quite ungainly, especially for a principal WW2-era fighter, but nonetheless, it’s great to see it now offered in 1:32, with all the detailing possibilities it offers, above the already nice levels of detail that ICM has created for us. Our sincere thanks to ICM for supplying the review kit seen here.
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