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  1. 1/48 Miles M.35 Libellula Planet Models Catalogue # 129-PLT270 Available from Special Hobby for 1.231 Kč (approx. £43) Miles’ diminutive M.35 design has always been something that has intrigued me. This was an aircraft that earned George Miles a firm slap on the wrist from the Ministry of Aircraft Production, as it was conceived, designed and built without official sanction. Miles’ intention was honourable with the aircraft being inspired by the unusual tandem-wing Lysander test layout that was being trialled at the time. George Miles saw an opportunity to build an aircraft that could be carrier-borne, but without the usual problems that beset such aircraft, such as wing folding mechanisms and the problem with visibility when landing. As well as improved visibility and no need for complex and weighty wing-fold mechanisms, other advantages of a tandem layout would be lower drag, lower weight and drag factors, and good manoeuvrability. In 1941, Miles requested his designer, Ray Bournon, to come up with such a design, and within only 60 days, the Miles M.35 Libellula (so named after a genus of Dragonfly), took to the air. Now, when we say it took to the air, it was reluctantly. A badly placed centre of gravity prevented the machine from performing as it should, but this was soon corrected. Flying the aircraft on that day was George Miles himself as his test pilot was so concerned about the layout of the aircraft that he declined to fly it. The design which took flight was indeed diminutive, being only just over 20ft in span on both front and rear wings, plus roughly the same in length. It was also had a pusher layout with power being provided by a de Havilland Gipsy Major engine to the rear. The pilot occupied the nose of the aircraft, which sat on a non-retractable tricycle undercarriage, with another helperwheel to the rear of this to protect the propeller on landing. However, as Miles had designed this as an unauthorised, private project, any possibilities that could have arisen from his design, were stamped upon by the ministry, and the type never saw development as a fighter. Undeterred, Miles and Bournon designed the tandem-layout M.39B which was to meet an Air Ministry specification for a high-speed bomber, but this was cancelled in 1944 after two accidents forced the literal break-up of the only prototype. The kit Well, this is a subject you don’t see every day! I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this announced in the Special Hobby newsletter, and knew I just had to have a go at reviewing and building it. Of course, Planet Models is the brand of Special Hobby which deals with whole resin kits, and this is just what this release is, along with a vac-form canopy. The kit itself comes in a small box that is still quite large for such a tiny model, even in 1/48 scale. The tough corrugated box has a product label on the lid with a colour profile of the M.35. Inside, all parts are packed into two heat-sealed clear sleeves that are also sealed in between the main components. A small sleeve contains the vac-form canopies (x2) and a small decal sheet. A small zip-lock wallet holds some white metal parts for the undercarriage. Two A4 sheets are provided for the instructions and colour scheme profiles. All parts in this release are cast in a light grey resin. Generally, the parts are excellent, with nicely recessed panel lines, sharp details (such as the instrument panel etc.), and with little in the way of flaws. In fact, I noted just a couple of pinhead-size air bubbles that I would need to fill as I assembled. A quick lick with a knife, along the top of the heat-sealed wrap, and all of the parts are freed. Of course, there will be the inevitable parts clean-up, but with this kit, that time is thankfully low. In fact, I think it took me just over an hour and half to cut the parts from their casting blocks and trim them with a knife, ready for final assembly. The model breakdown is also so very simple as to possibly be a good first introduction to the world of full-resin kits. The fuselage is cast onto a single block, and presented as halves, with some cockpit wall detail already in place. Tabs are also present, against which the rear cockpit bulkhead will sit. Externally, the fuselage has little detail, save for panel lines. No rivets or any other detail is present. The engine area is open, in readiness for the separate rear cowl, and again, there are tags there to fit the engine bulkhead against. Having built the model, I can tell you that the positions of these are accurate and will aid the closing up of the fuselage. All flying surfaces are cast as individual and complete components, so once you remove a wing or fin from the resin block, and clean it up, you can install it. No fussy upper or lower panels to mate up. The rear wings are cast onto a single block and connected via a narrow web. A thin web of resin also extends to the wingtip and this comes away with almost zero effort. For main sawing, I would advise the use of a razor saw. The rear wings have tabs to install to the fuselage, and also onto which the fins will sit. Ailerons are cast in situ. Surface detail is naturally minimal for such a craft. The forward wings are very similar in their presentation. When it comes to the vertical tail fins, you are best removing these with a sharp knife, angles outwards and away from the part. The reason is that no thin web is present here and the parts are up against the casting block. Fin details are excellent with their rib and fabric representation. They also fit nigh-on perfectly to the rear wings. The remainder of the resin parts are cast across thirteen smaller blocks. These include the engine, engine cowl, intakes, exhaust stubs, cockpit parts, oleo scissors, propeller, pitot, wheels, undercarriage suspension housings etc. A few small pin-hole bubbles exist in some places, but nothing that a dab of CA won’t fill easily. The wheels are supplied as weighted (where they connect to the casting block), and some parts will need a little excess resin removing, such as the engine cowl intake. I will say that whilst the cockpit is quite nice in some respects, it is also very basic. There are no seatbelts, for instance. I used some wine bottle foil to make mine, as well as the rudder pedal straps. Another issue is that the side console parts are way too small. I would say by at least 30%. I fabricated replacements from plasticard and PE instrument dials. It’s a nice easy job, and you won’t see too much anyway, as the canopy is to be fitted in a closed position. For the undercarriage, this kit contains white metal parts. The rear stabiliser undercarriage strut is cast in two parts and includes the wheel. Only a little straightening is needed before glue, and all parts fit to the model with little effort. Casting is very good for their size. Two vac-form canopies are included, just in case you bork one of them whilst working on the model. There isn’t too much frame definition, so careful masking will need to be done to get them right. A single decal sheet is included for the single prototypical scheme. These look to be very good, but I’m questioning the colour density of the ‘P’ symbols. It might be worthwhile substituting these with some from Fantasy Printshop. Note that instrument panel decals are also included, but the Airscale ones would be a much better option. Two A4 instruction sheets are included, containing the simplistic construction illustrations and the colour scheme. As I said, this is a simple kit and the instructions signify that and work perfectly. Conclusion A great little kit which is superbly designed and cast, with the only real quibble being the undersized instrument consoles and lack of seatbelts. This would be a perfect introduction to a full resin kit as it has no nasty surprises afoot, and price-wise, it’s also fairly reasonable. The finished model is quite small and fits in the palm of an average-sized hand, so this will be extremely manageable to display. In fact, it may well get lost on a model club table! My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of the article. Please watch out for this build in the October 2018 issue of Military Illustrated Modeller.
  2. 1/32 Focke-Wulf Fw 190C (V18) Känguru Conversion for Hasegawa A5/A8 kits Planet Models Catalogue # PLT233 Available from Special Hobby for 1079 Kč (approx. £38) Whilst there is no doubt that whilst Kurt Tank’s Fw 190A series was highly successful, it’s real Achilles heel was its lack of performance at high altitude, whereas its biggest contemporary and competitor, the Bf 109, was a far more capable performer. This lead Tank to look at ways of addressing the altitude performance problem early in the program. In 1941, he proposed a number of versions featuring new power plants, and he suggested using turbochargers in place of superchargers. Three such installations were outlined; the Fw 190B with a turbocharged BMW 801, the Fw 190 C with a turbocharged Daimler-Benz DB 603, and the Fw 190 D with a supercharged Junkers Jumo 213. The aircraft would also include a pressurized cockpit and other features making them more suitable for high-altitude work. Prototypes for all three models were ordered. The C model's use of the longer DB 603 engine required more extensive changes to the airframe. As the weight was distributed further forward, the tail of the aircraft had to be lengthened in order to maintain the desired centre of gravity. To test these changes, several examples of otherwise standard 190As were re-engined with a supercharged DB 603 to experiment with this engine fit. These were the V13 (W.Nr. 0036) with the 1,750 PS 603A, the similar V15 and V16, with an 1,800 DB603E being fitted to the latter after a time. With this engine, the V16 was able to reach 450 mph at 22,310ft, which was a considerable improvement over the 400 mph at 17,060ft of the basic A models. V18 followed, the first to feature the full high-altitude suite of features, including the pressurized cockpit, longer wings, a 603G engine driving a new four-blade propeller, and a Hirth 9-2281 turbocharger. Unlike the experimental B models, V18 had a cleaner turbocharger installation, running the required piping along the wing root, partially buried in the fillet, and installing both the turbocharger air intake and intercooler in a substantially sized teardrop shaped fairing under the cockpit. This "pouch" led to the "Känguruh" (Kangaroo) nickname for these models. V18 was later modified to the V18/U1, with a "downgraded" 603A engine, but a new DVL turbocharger that improved the power to 1,600 PS at an altitude of 35,105ft. Four additional prototypes based on the V18/U1 followed: V29, V30, V32 and V33. It is the V18 which is perhaps the most interesting, and the subject of this conversion set review. The kit Planet Models’ Fw 190C/V18 ‘Känguruh’ conversion set is packed into a reasonably large box, as befits the full fuselage replacement that it contains. The box lid has a large sticker with a product label attached, showing a rather sleek-looking 190C. This is quite a nice angle to see this at, as other angles would show the aircraft to be a little clunky in places, but still a very interesting aircraft in the evolution of the 190 series. Whilst it is generally said that the Fw 190D-9 was the aircraft that went on to be the genesis of the Ta 152 development, the Fw 190C, with its wide-chord fin, is also said to be an important step towards what was to become perhaps Germany’s most impressive piston-engine fighter. As stated on the label, this conversion contains fuselage halves, exhausts, main gear wheels, coolers, propeller, vac-form sliding hood, and decals. You will of course need a Hasegawa Fw 190A-5/A-8 kit which will donate its wings, cockpit, gear struts, stabiliser etc. All components within this conversion are packed into heat-sealed sleeves, with the fuselage halves being separate items in themselves. It’s these parts that I’ll be looking at first. The overhaul of the fuselage on the 190C/V18 was so extensive that it required an entirely new fuselage. As with the original kit, these are supplied as halves, and they pretty much exhibit the same standard of detail that is seen on the original kit parts. By this, I mean fine panel lines and port access details. There is no riveting. When I come to build this, I will river the whole airframe, including the wings and this new fuselage replacement. The instrument coaming and forward upper fuselage areas are cast integrally with the remainder of the fuselage. You can clearly see the wing root fairing into which the turbocharger pipework will recess, as well as the intake that sits below the annular radiator. The tail fin is also wide-chord, as with the Ta 152, yet the fuselage isn’t extended as was seen on the 190D series, despite the length of the nose. Presumably the intake under the bellow helped to offset the change in the centre of gravity. Also note that the rudder is cast separately. Internally, there is no detail as this would come from the Hasegawa cockpit parts. There is a very small stub on the underside of the fuselage, which is a remnant of the casting block, so this will be a breeze to remove. Other parts in this release include the long turbocharger pipes that tuck under the wing root fairings and exhaust further down It doesn’t appear that the wing root gun bay wing-moulded detail needs to be modified, so all looks good there! Of course, there is the large intake which sits below the belly of the 190, in P-51 style, and there is a small section of plumbing which needs to be fitted here, stretching to the fillet that separates the main gear bay. There is a new part which fits between the bays, and to fit the large intake itself, some plastic will need to be trimmed from the belly plastic that is moulded to the rear of the main, lower wing panel. It all looks quite simple to execute. A small intake grille fits within the belly intake, as does a separate part that fits into the nose intake area. That belly intake is provided in halves, so there will be a seam to remove, as with the fuselage. This machine was designed to be armed, and although there appears to be no wing guns, the fuselage ones were still installed. Evidence of this is shown on the forward nose cowling, where the gun ports are actually found, unlike other 190 series where there were channels on the upper cowls for this purpose. With the 190C, the cowl changes meant that these were now embedded within the cowls due to the change in depth of the nose. Note also how angular the nose cowl is, unlike the large curved radius of the A-series machines. This gives the 190C quite an unusual appearance. Radiator details are cast within the main nose ring cowl. Of course, a new 4-blade Hirth propeller is included, along with a new spinner, again giving a highly unusual feature for the 190. A set of main gear wheels are also supplied to replace the Hasegawa plastic. Resin quality is very good, with everything being cast in an unusual shade of grey. Where casting blocks remain, then they will be easy to remove. Where they are already removed, then final clean-up will just consist of removing a resin tag or thin resin web. There is a little flash to remove in places, and a slight scratch will need to be buffed out on one fuselage half. Many people dislike vacform parts, but that’s what you have here for the pressurised cockpit rear hood with its canopy framing. Planet Models supply TWO canopies, just in case you make a mistake, but they really aren’t as difficult as you’d imagine. To cut these, I fill the interior with Blue-Tack which makes the part more rigid. A brand-new scalpel blade is used to cut the plastic, with Dymo tape being used as a guide. It would only take a few minutes to complete this task. Vacform clarity. No masks are supplied with this release, so you’ll need to mask it using your own methods. Lastly, a single, small decal sheet is supplied for the V18 prototype. This consists of the national markings, split swastika, and prototype codes. A couple of small stencils are included for the wings. You may need to supplement this with kit stencils, but I don’t know if this would be historically accurate. Printing is excellent, with the decals being nice and thin and having minimal carrier film. Registration is void because the decals are either black or white, with no multicolour elements. Two A4 instruction sheets are supplied and folded into A5. A history of the 190C is supplied, and a photo of the parts, with identifier numbers. Twelve black and white images are included which shows construction of the model, along with notes as to which resin part is which. Annotation clearly indicates the Hasegawa plastic. When it comes to sawing and modifying the plastic, you will need to measure things yourself as no dimensions are supplied. Conclusion For me, this is a very exciting conversion set in that it really recreates a transitionary and evolutionary change between the A and D versions, and Tank’s attempt to push the metaphoric envelope with his design so it could be operated at high altitude. There’s no doubting the historical significance of the C-series birds, despite them not really being at the forefront of our attention, or indeed print articles etc. Planet Models has created a rather nice set which should easily convert the Hasegawa Fw 190A-5/A-8, and as this is quite a simple conversion, it should be ok for those who have limited but some resin experience. All in all, an excellent and relatively inexpensive conversion set. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review kit shown here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.
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