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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 Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai Tei Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter "Toryu" Zoukei-mura Catalogue # SWS13 Available soon from Volks Japan/USA The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, "Dragon Slayer") was a two-seat, twin-engine fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. The army gave it the designation "Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter"; the Allied reporting name was "Nick". In response to the rapid emergence in Europe of twin-engine heavy fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110, the army ordered development of a twin-engine, two-seat fighter in 1937, and assigned the proposal by Kawasaki Shipbuilding the designation of Ki-38. This only went as far as a mock up, but by December of that year, the army ordered a working prototype as the Ki-45, which first flew in January 1939. Results from the test flights, however, did not meet the army's expectations. The Ki-45 did not enter service, but the army, insistent on having a working twin-engine fighter, ordered Kawasaki to continue development. Kawasaki responded by replacing the engines with the proven Nakajima Ha-25. The Ki-45 was initially used as a long-range bomber escort. It was subsequently deployed in several theatres in the roles of interception, attack (anti-ground as well as anti-shipping) and fleet defence. Its greatest strength turned out to be as an anti-bomber interceptor, as was the case with the Bf 110 in Europe. In New Guinea, the IJAAF used the aircraft in an anti-ship role, where the Ki-45 was heavily armed with one 37 mm (1.46 in) and two 20 mm cannons and could carry two 250 kg (550 lb) bombs on hard points under the wings. Soon after entering service, the Ki-45 was assigned to home defence, and several were dispatched against the Doolittle raid, though they did not see action. The craft's heavy armament proved to be effective against the B-29 Superfortress raids which started in June 1944. Eventually the end aircraft were used effectively in aerial ramming attacks. They were also used in kamikaze attacks, such as the attack on USS Dickerson on 2 April 1945 off Okinawa. In 1945, forward and upward-firing guns showed some results with the commencement of night time bombing raids, but the lack of radar was a considerable handicap. By the spring of 1945, the advent of American carrier-based fighters and Iwo Jima-based P-51s and P-47s escorting B-29s over the skies of Japan brought the Ki-45's career to an end. 1,675 Ki-45s of all versions were produced during the war. The kit As I write, straight after Scale Model World 2018, this kit isn’t slated for general release until late December. The kit I have with me is a full production version, with the exception of the instruction manual which has been printed in-house at Zoukei-mura in order to fulfil their SMW pre-order commitment. I, of course, picked this kit up from their booth, at this show and began my article as soon as I got home. This project has taken around 4 ½ years from start to release, so let’s tuck in and see what we have. The Ki-45 Toryu is packed into a rather large and heavy box that has a hell of a lot of rigidity to it. This is because ZM supply a complete corrugates box with integral lid, and the product lid sits over the top of this. Zoukei-mura’s artworks are always very attractive and this one is no exception, depicting a Tai-Atari machine (Special Attack) flying underneath a B-29. These machines were stripped of defensive weaponry and used to ram bomber formations in a form of Kamikaze attack. So yes….’special’attack! Images on the side of the super-glossy product lid depict the internal details of the Ki-45, and they sure look impressive. Lifting the tabbed lid reveals a box that’s crammed full of styrene. There are TWENTY-FIVE sprues in this package, with SIX of these being in clear plastic. Of the latter, four of those are frosted clear duplicates of main airframe sprues, with just one being crystal clear for the canopy parts, and another containing windows and airframe lights etc . The rest are moulded in light grey styrene. You could almost build an entire external airframe from the left-over parts. It’d certainly be useful to acquire the remaining sprues and build another, if it was cost efficient enough to do so. All sprues are individually packaged too…even where multiples exist. This is the standard that we should expect from all manufacturers. As this kit is just on the cusp of full release, there was no instruction manual in the package, and this was given to me at the show, along with the decals and vinyl mask set. The instructions themselves aren’t final standard, and are printed in-house, but are still every bit as good as the finals. There are no photo-etch parts in this kit, as ZM like to produce the detail using just standard kit parts. I don’t doubt that their own range of PE will eventually be released for those who like to adorn and detail their models further. Sprue A (1 x grey, 1 x clear) Here we have the fuselage sprue, with this particular unit broken down into port and starboard sides, with a separate forward belly and upper spine. The nose is also separate, but on a different sprue. Zoukei-mura has also engineered this with separate wing fairings that recess into the fuselage sides. The fairings themselves are provided as upper and lower parts. Externally, the fuselage isn’t resplendent in rivets, but it does have key lines of them following the nicely recessed panel lines, with rivets and fasteners around areas such as the tailplane fairing and access ports. There are even rivet lines in the area which will be encapsulated by the wing root fairings and wing. Internally, all of the formers and stringers are represented, as well as some avionics and wiring looms. There are a small number of ejector pin marks inside, but they do look like they will be obscured by the various assemblies and equipment. The internal structures are equally as good in all of the various fuselage sections, producing a fully detailed interior. The area between the pilot and gunner is also a separate part, with holes into which the various panes of clear plastic will install. Note also a separate instrument coaming, removing the need to erase tricky seam lines in this area. Also on this sprue are the aerial mast, landing flaps with internal structural details, and single-piece ailerons, with superbly thin trailing edges. This sprue has also been supplied in clear styrene, should you wish to use such parts to partially display the interior. Sprue B (1 x grey, 1 x clear) As with the previous sprue, one of these is supplied in clear as well as grey. This is where we get to see the wings. These are moulded as conventional upper and lower panels, minus the forward engine cowl fairing and undercarriage nacelles. Landing flaps and ailerons are also separate and were seen on the previous sprue. Note again how the selected rivet lines chase the finely engraved panel lines only. If you want to make a weathered and beaten up example, you may consider adding extra rivet lines that you can use as points of paint chipping etc. Very nicely represented are the raised rear engine cowl fairings. As with the landing flaps themselves, the upper wing panels have the interior constructional detail moulded within them. Leading edge lights etc. are to be fitted separately, hence the cutaways in this area. Sprue C (1 x grey, 1 x clear) Proving that the whole exterior airframe can more or less be built twice, this next key sprue is also provided in both grey and clear styrene. Note that the tailplane is moulded full-span and the lower panel is recessed so it fits neatly into the tailplane fairing on the fuselage. You will also notice that the upper panel is recessed. This is because the fin is moulded separately and contains part of the upper fairing, which again sits into the tailplane recess. Lovely engineering. The elevators are also to be found here, and are moulded as upper and lower halves, which is unusual seeing as the ailerons were single-piece units. You will also find the rudder and its actuators on this sprue. There are a number of options when it comes to the instrument panel. The one on this sprue is for a panel moulded with blank, recessed instrument faces. A decal is supplied for this, and it does look very good, and indeed much better than those that ZM used to provide with their kits. For this to work effectively though, I would look at punching out the dials and sitting them individually in the recesses. If you flip the sprue over, you’ll note that the tailplane parts actually have real aircraft constructional elements within them, which are designed to be seen when you use the clear sprue options. Ideally, you should try to paint those to make the appearance more realistic. Sprue D This is one of two totally transparent sprues in the kit, containing parts for the canopy. ZM has provided an option for both open and closed canopies for both crew positions. This means the forward windscreen and hood is moulded as a single piece for the closed option, and likewise the rear canopy is provided as a single, closed part. If you wish to pose them open, that rear canopy is moulded as a single piece again, but with the canopy folded sideways. The pilot’s hood is provided as two parts which are assembled on a jig to get the correct folded angle before you attach to the fuselage. Another very nice little touch. Canopy frame lines are well-defined and should be very easy to mask up to with the vinyl mask set (although I’m a bigger fan of tape masks). Sprue E (x2) E is for ‘engine’, and here we have everything you need to build two complete Mitsubishi Ha-102 14-cylinder radial engines, minus their exhaust systems. I’ll explain that rationale later. These really are amazingly detailed, right down to the crankcases and cylinders containing the pistons in various states of compression. You can’t see any of this when assembled, of course, and it is a bit of a gimmick, but impressive nonetheless. Details are filigree in execution with superbly fine cooling fins on the cylinders, bolt head details on the reduction housing and the textures applied to the annular radiator parts. Even the prop shaft is keyed, so you can pose the model with the prop removed. Auxiliary details are also perfectly represented, such as the magneto, turbine housing, carburettor, and attenuator etc. The only thing you will really need to do is to add the ignition wires, and you should have a very authentic replica of this engine. As is now de rigueur with ZM kits, the engine sprue has a neat little trick up its sleeve. Parts are moulded within the sprue parts themselves, that when cleaned up and assembled, will create a rather nice display stand for the engines. These will be very useful if you wanted to display an engine next to the aircraft instead of installed. In the back of the instruction manual, there is a price list given (in Yen) for specific sprues, so you could always purchase another, should you wish to build a third engine and display that instead of sacrificing an airframe unit. Sprue F (1 x grey, 1 x clear) I’m not sure why there is a grey sprue included here, as well as this clear one, as this contains such things as windows for the upper fuselage between the pilot and gunner, as well as wingtip lights, airframe lights, wing leading edge lenses etc. Unusually the pitot is on here too! Whatever the logic, the parts are crystal clear, as with the main canopy set, and superbly moulded Sprue G (1 x grey, 1 x clear) Another large sprue for which an identical clear alternative is supplied. The main players here are the engine nacelle halves and the forward engine cowl ring, cowl panels, and engine – wing fairings. You’ll also note the main gear doors which are moulded with inner nacelle structural elements attached. This will create a rock-solid gear door to nacelle joint. Detail on the various cowl and fairing panels is excellent, with nice louvre details (although not open), panel line, fastener and rivet details, as well as There are some differences in nacelle assembly, depending on which machine you build, and these tend to centre around the intake areas and engine mounting housings which are moulded on other sprues. However, what you will find here are the options for the Tai-Atari open and closed cowl flaps and the oil cooler for the same version. Internally, the structural items have details that correspond to their construction, as per the fuselage interior. Sprue I You get a sense of the size of this model when you see the main wing spar which is almost full span. This isn’t really typical of the real wing interior as it doesn’t have much in the way of ribs etc. and is only representative. However, it does provide a solid base for the wing assembly, and also to fit the inboard wing fuel tanks. The centre section though, represents the area between crew stations, and is raised above the regular floor so a fuel tank can be installed within. With the cockpit floor in place, you’ll only be able to see that tank through the wing rib structures which will sit either side of the tank. These will be glimpsed through the nacelles. We now also start to get an idea about how the cockpit will be fitted out, and the detail involved. As well as bulkheads with plumbing/wiring details, we have avionics units, console units, gas levers, multipart pilot seat with a superbly detailed and moulded lap strap, armour plate, gunner seat with separately moulded lap strap, control stick and spade grip, forward cockpit floor, floor mounting frame, side wall frames with wiring and avionics units, and both propellers with integral hubs. Hey, we’ve nowhere near finished with cockpit detail either, as there’s more on another sprue! You’ll also note that another instrument panel option is provided here too, and this time as a unit with moulded instrument detail. This, for me, is my least favourite option as I’d rather go for the version with blank instruments as it looks far more 3D in appearance. Sprue J The main cockpit floor is moulded here, and it’s upon here that the centre wing fuel tank is mounted, and both cockpits are constructed. Here you can see some nice raised riveting and more plumbing too. This should look great when weathered and washed. Engine – nacelle mounting housings are also found here, although these are specifically for the Tai-Atari machine and not suitable for Late Production due to the cut-out shapes for the oil cooler etc. Also note cockpit side console part in this photo. The exhaust manifolds for the Tai-Atari are also moulded here. Unfortunately, the instructions don’t denote parts that aren’t scheduled for use with this release, and no matter how hard I look, I can’t find this two-part fuel tank installed anywhere. There will be future versions of this kit available eventually, so I suppose these will be for those. Not all optional parts on this sprue are for the suicide machine. Along with parts from Sprue K, parts here are included to build the Ho-203 37mm nose cannon pack. Nice use of slide-moulding has been incorporated so produce hollow muzzle and muzzle socket. Other parts on this sprue include the empty cartridge collection box, oxygen tanks, ammunition magazines, radio mounting frames, magazine racks, bulkheads, cannon base, etc. Sprue K This small sprue contains detail parts such as rudder pedals and rudder pedal bar, flap lever, landing gear lever, seat adjustment lever, tailwheel locking lever, console levers, oil reservoir, oxygen bottle, gas pressure tank, Type 99-Hi-2 radio, fuel gauge toggle switch, auxiliary instrument panel, plus more parts for the nose cannon pack. Sprue L You’ll need to be real careful with this sprue as the components on it are pretty fragile. Here we have linkage rods for things such as the rudder and elevator. These are very finely moulded and the biggest job here is to remove the connection points as the seams are negligible. Sprue M Another small sprue. This one holds the options for the rear seat base, although it does look like only one of these sets of parts is needed for this specific release. Parts exist here for the gun ring truck, rear cockpit bulkhead, tail wheel bulkhead and fin attachment point and also the tailwheel. Sprue N ZM certainly like to pack as many details into their subjects as possible, and this small sprue contains many more of those details, such as oil pump lever, cannon hydraulic control cock, fuselage underside bulkhead, tail gear support lever, tail strut oleo scissor, electromagnetic control box, etc. A number of parts on this sprue also seem to be for a future version of the kit, such as the machine gun for the rear cockpit (not fitted on this release). Sprue O Only one part here, and that is for a linkage rod which extends from the cockpit to both wings, presumably for aileron control. Sprue P If you’ve ever fiddled with tricky tubular frame mounts for engines, and wondered whether all the angles were correct, then you’ll have no such worries with this kit. Both engine mounts are moulded as single, complete pieces, complete with mounting ring. The moulding is particularly impressive. Equally as impressive are the main gear struts with their integral mounting points and retract mechanisms. Also included are the brake lines. I’m surprised that ZM haven’t chosen to add weighted tyres in this kit, as seems to be becoming more of an industry standard. Here, we find those wheels, moulded as traditional halves, minus the hubs. Note also the small leading-edge fuel tanks in this photo. Other parts on this sprue are the oil tanks, nacelle bulkheads, wheel hubs, torque arms, landing gear door links, and fuel cooler etc. Sprue Q As well as a couple more pieces pertaining to the main undercarriage, this sprue contains the inboard wing fuel tanks (moulded as halves), auxiliary fuel tanks, engine firewalls and the wing ribs that will be seen inside the landing gear nacelle, moulded with what I presume are either hydraulic or fuel line detail. Engine bulkhead detail is equally as impressive, with various wires and plumbing lines running from point to point and through to the rear of the bulkhead. Sprue S (1 x grey, 1 x clear) Cowl parts and radiator flaps in both open and closed positions, are moulded here. These are for the Late Production machine, and are resplendent with detail internally too. The nose cone is pretty obvious in this photo, moulded as a single-piece unit, with the cannon aperture in the tip. More cowl parts are moulded here, as well as the Late Production oil cooler. The last part of the fuselage can be found here in the shape of the spine that sits between the pilot and gunner. Into this will fit the various glazed panels and you’ll also note the slots through which the upward firing guns will protrude. Adjacent to this is the solid metal fairing that encloses the rear cockpit position opening that would be fitted with a rear facing gun in earlier versions of the Toryu. As with a number of other sprues in this release, this one is also provided in clear. Sprue T Our last sprue concerns the Late Production version, with parts to build the Shräge Musikupward-firing gun pack. Note the Ho-5 20mm cannon which are amazingly detailed and moulded as halves, ammunition box, spent cartridge box and feed chutes. Cannon muzzles are hollow due to being slide-moulded. Adjacent to these are the exhaust parts for this version, again moulded with hollow ends. The different exhaust and oil cooler system for the Late Production calls for a different engine mounting fairing, as can be seen on this sprue. Other parts include hydraulic pressure control unit, cannon support bulkheads, magazine rack, spare magazine rack etc. Masks A small sheet of green vinyl is supplied, including masks for all the canopy and glazed areas. I’ve found this material from ZM a little hit and miss with it starting to peel after being applied for a short while. I still prefer kabuki-style masking material, as supplied by the likes of Eduard. Decals I find that some Japanese decals are a little thicker than what I’m used to, and ZM’s fall within that category, although my experience in applying them has yielded little trouble. These are too a little thicker I am used to, but are indeed printed by Cartograf, and are superbly printed, and the instrument decals are also worthy of use, unlike some of their previous kits where they had little definition. They are also super-glossy. ZM has provided decals for the various white and yellow areas/bands of the model, and I would airbrush these instead of resorting to decal use. I would also airbrush the Hinomaru too, and maybe only use the instrument, emblems and stencils. Everything is in register, and carrier film is minimal. The two schemes supplied are: Ki-45 Kai Tei (Late Production) 53rdFlight Regiment, 3rdSquadron Ki-45 Kai Hei/Tei (Tai-Atari Special Attack Aircraft), Second Lieutenant Miosaburo Yamamoto, Captain, 1stKaiten Special Attack Unit, 4thSentai Flight Regiment Instructions As I initially stated, this is not the professionally printed version which will be included with the full release, but you really couldn’t tell! Mine is glossy and stapled, and still worthy of being called final. This A4-size manual has 60 pages, with construction broken down into 5 chapters with dozens of sub illustrations etc. You do get a feeling of sensory overload when you first look at a ZM instruction manual, but they are not only very informative with regards to the many drawn illustrations, but they also contain great annotation, part names, and also notes on the real aircraft, as well as a few photos of the model for clarity. You will need to keep your wits about you with regard to the various parts options, to ensure your model is an accurate representation of the machine you choose to build. There is also a very good history of the type and notes on its design. Later in the manual, a drawing illustrates one of the schemes, whilst a finished model exhibits the second scheme. Paint references are provided throughout for Vallejo and Mr Colour paints. A parts map is also included in the rear of the manual. Conclusion After looking at initial CAD and at the 3D-printed models that have been on display, I sort of had an idea about what to expect from this release. Or at least I thought I had. In reality, the kit is far nicer than I envisaged, and certainly far more detailed than I expected, even from ZM. The cockpit and gun areas are simply astounding, and the engines and nacelle details match that assessment. There are of course TWO versions of the Toryu that can be built from this kit, and they vary significantly in equipment. The Late Production, whilst having the plainer scheme, has the underwing tanks, Schräge Musik-style gun pack, and the nose cannon, plus the more complicated exhaust arrangement. This for me is the one that really appeals to me, whilst some will doubtless prefer the slightly stripped version with the green camouflage patches. It could well be a tough call! Everything about this release is quality, right down the instruction manual. You will need to have your wits about you with the manual due to the sheer amount of info given, but it really is quite something to study, and study it you reallymust. I really can’t wait to pile into this and build my first Japanese fighter since I was a kid! Review sample courtesy of my wallet and my Telford pre-order. Thanks to the guys at ZM for the chat, and I look forward to that Hs 129! Watch out on the Volks Japan/USAsites for this kit becoming available. Also watch out for this in a future issue of Military Illustrated Modeller, where I’ll be building the Late Production version.
  3. Time to to start a new project. This kit has been in my stash a while. Waiting for me to gather the courage. I will be building it in it’s current state: under restoration. Ofcourse with a few creative liberties. It has been excellently done before: The above is my aim and i’ll be happy with half the result. This is where i’m at:
  4. 1:48 F-4S Phantom II Zoukei-mura Catalogue # SWS05 Available from BlackMike Models for £69.95 The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air wings. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hard-points, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with five countries. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. The F-4 remains in service with Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. It has been used in combat against the Islamic State. The kit Zoukei-mura’s F-4S Phantom II kit comes in a sizeable and weighty box with the box-art depicting Bu.No.153808, VF161, USS Midway, 1981, taking off from the deck of the carrier. This is actually the only scheme available in this release, so if you wanted variation, you will need to look at aftermarket decals. Inside the box, there are TEN runners of medium grey plastic, and a single runner of clear plastic. All of these are individually wrapped so as not to risk any breaking or scuffing of parts. A single decal sheet and an instruction manual complete the contents inventory. Note that ZM don’t include photo-etch parts, as they deem the kit contents to be sufficient for the average customer. If you do want to adorn your model with extras, you can purchase photo-etch and resin parts separately. As I write this, Zoukei-mura has just released the F-4C version of this kit, and I’ll bring you that as soon as I can get my hands on it. Sprue A Unlike the Academy releases, with their single-part fuselages, Zoukei-mura has chosen the traditional method of moulding these as halves. The jury was sort of out for me until I saw the first builds of this, and the approach works very well. ZM has produced the whole spine as a separate piece which fits along panel lines, and when assembled, you really can’t tell that it’s an insert. Another insert is supplied for the point at which the spine and base of fin meet, plus the small panel to the rear of the cockpit. The only seams to remove are the narrow fin seam, a small length in front of the canopy, and the area on the rear underside. A nose cone is supplied as a separate part, so no seams there. External detail looks just perfect, with subtle and even panel lines, port access details, and fasteners/rivets where appropriate. I’m quite taken with the representation of the plating at the tail end, forming the exhaust tunnels. Note that the rudder is integrally moulded to the fuselage, and the intake sections are separate parts, also included here with slide-moulding technology. Internally, the cockpit is moulded with vertical ribs which just seem to be supportive for the cockpit tub sidewalls. If you want to pose the tail planes where they angle downwards towards the front, you will need to drill out the panel that is moulded on the fuselage, and insert two new parts from this sprue. This seems odd. Why didn’t ZM make inserts for both positions? Other parts on this sprue include the tail pipe seals, arrestor hook, extended nose-gear for catapult take-off position, centre drop tank, forward cockpit ladder fin top section, etc. Sprue C This is pretty much a cockpit sprue, with parts here for the seats (6 parts each, but no belt representation), lower consoles, bulkheads, rudder pedals, ejector seat guide rails, upper coaming, etc. No instruments or console apparatus are moulded here. Detail is first rate, with plenty of scope for detail painting without the need to add anything further. The ZM kit certainly excels in this respect, as the Academy cockpit is fairly basic and in need of Eduard’s goodies to make it shine. Sprue D The most obvious part here is the single-piece nose cone, thankfully held in place by three gate points so that it doesn’t twist and cause damage to those areas. You’ll also notice the intake vanes for both sides (2 parts each), pitot tube, undercarriage doors and actuators, part of the undercarriage bay liner, RAM air intake, blade antenna, air brakes, air brake actuators, auxiliary air door, rear facing lens, etc. Both external and internal detail for the gear doors is exemplary, as are the textures applied to the intake vane forward sections. You will note that dotted around the various parts are little nodules that will need snipping off. You’ll see these on more or less every sprue. These are mentioned clearly in the instructions, and they should be snipped off. These are ejector pin points, instead of having your parts festooned with marks you’d need to fill and sand away. Sprue E This almost certainly stands for engine, as the main parts for both of the General Electric J79 axial flow turbojets, are to be found here. These are typically moulded as halves, with all of the external details being moulded in situ. You will of course need to remove seams across some awkward detail, so patience and care will need to be exercised in large amounts. Intake vanes, and the turbine frame/afterburner ring are separate parts that fit within the engine tube. If you want to display one of these engines by itself, then as with their Ho 229 kit, parts of the sprue can be made up into a nifty little engine stand. For later in construction, you can also see the engine nozzles. These look a little clunky to me, with the various petals looking thick and ill-defined, so maybe you can swap these out with Eduard’s resin parts, designed for the Academy kit. At this point, I don’t know how displaying an engine outside of the model will work in terms of leaving a large internal gap within that could be seen from within the nozzles etc. Still, I’m sure that the creative modeller could fathom that. Another obvious pair of parts are the main intake channels, moulded as upper and lower halves. I don’t think the intakes are suitable wide enough to see any seams in there, but you can easily remove at least a portion of it from the forward area. A good number of parts for the wheel bays and undercarriage are to be found here. Note that the main gear bays are moulded from a single detailed part that just needs to be supplemented by the liner part I mentioned just before. Again, detail really is very good, with this being added to with the nicely detailed main bay ceilings that are moulded on the underside of the top wing panels. Further gear well parts are included here, as well as the wheels themselves, moulded without hubs, but also without any weighted effect. Sorry, but you’ll need to sort that yourself, or buy an aftermarket solution. Sprues F & N (x2 each) These are weapons, tanks sprues, and contain parts for the various load-outs. Available are parts for: AIM-7 Sparrow AIM-9 Sidewinder Under-wing drop tanks The AIM-7 and AIM-9 have their bodies moulded with separate fins, and sprue gate attachments are thankfully unobtrusive. Detail is as everywhere on this kit, beautifully rendered. Sprue G This is the clear sprue. What I really like here is that ZM has provided separate options for both open and closed canopy, with the latter being provided as a single-piece glazing. Of course, the open option provides each section separately. Canopy clarity is excellent, with the parts being suitable thin, and with small sprue attachment gates. Other parts on this sprue are for the position light, landing lights, etc. Sprue H This one is a mixed bag of parts from numerous construction areas, but the long centre part that you see is for the spine of the Phantom, covering up the seam line. In a similar vein, you also find the panel for the area to the rear of the cockpit. Other parts here include the DECM Antenna, electrical box for landing lights, front gear door, under-fuse antenna (3 options), catapult hooks, refuelling probe/door/actuator, pylons, launchers, sway braces, radar antenna controller, etc. We can also see the detail expended on the instrument consoles, but be careful as it appears that a number of parts on this and other sprues, aren’t for use with this particular version. I would’ve liked to have seen these greyed out on the parts plans. Sprue I More cockpit parts are found here, such as the instrument panels, control stick, radar scope, rear cockpit sidewall, etc. Detail is king in the cockpit, and these look superb, with details being pronounced enough to be able to tackle them with a fine paintbrush. Decals are supplied for the consoles and instrument panels, but these are as an alternative to painting as they cover the whole part. I would also ignore these decals as they look poor in detail. You are best to punch out some instruments from the Airscale range of cockpit decals, and take it from there. The stabilisers are also moulded here, with minimalist panel lines and only specific rows of rivets on the forward, inboard panel. These are moulded as single parts, so no clumsy upper and lower halves. Sprue M As tends to be the case with Phantom models, ZM has moulded the lower wing panel to include the fuselage centre section, but in this case, the outboard angled wing panels are moulded separately. The modeller will need to open specific holes in this part, so suit the pylon arrangement being fitted to their model. This sprue also contains the upper wing panels and the outboard, angled wing panels. The slats are also included here, as are the various actuators for them, and the flaps and ailerons. Of course, it was the slats that were specific to the F-4S. External detail consists of many fine panel lines and appropriate rivet/fastener lines, plus some raised detail too. Note the riveted, recessed area to the rear of the gear bay area. This is where the auxiliary air flaps will fit. I have to say that the detail on these really does beat the Academy kit, hands down. Absolutely stunning! Decals A single decal sheet is included, printed by Cartograf. I really am thankful for them using this company to make their decals, as their own tend to be thick, with poor definition. No problem here though! Remember…this is a large sheet, and only for the one scheme too, so everything you see here, more or less, will have to be added to your model. Factor in some serious bench time for your decaling. Printing is thin, in register, and with minimal carrier film. Colours are solid and authentic. The only decals I don’t like are the instrument and console ones, as I have already mentioned. As you can see, a full suite of stencils is included. I hope you have good eyesight and lots of patience. The single scheme is: F-4S, Bu.No. 153808, VF-161, USS Midway, 1981 A colour chart is included to help you with paint reference and as a guide for decaling. Instructions This is the second 1/48 SWS kit I’ve had, and I note that in this scale, all printing is black/white/greyscale, with no colour as per used in the 1/32 kits. Apart from that, everything remains the same, with excellent CAD-generated constructional sequences that are chock full of not only tips for building, but notes on the real aircraft too. The instructions do look rather busy, with them being an assault on the senses in parts with so much annotation, but this is very much their style, and I’d rather have too much information than not enough. Paint references are given throughout in Vallejo and Mr. Color codes. Conclusion Zoukei-mura’s new range of Phantoms really does usher in the next generation of this aircraft in quarter scale, having an entirely different constructional approach to the Academy kits that were the best on the market, until now. Of course, you can opt for one of the Eduard re-boxings, complete with resin and photo-etch accessories, and whilst these are still highly desirable kits to build, I think it’s fair to say that the ZM kit piques them in many ways, in terms of detail, approach and buildability. My only negative is the single decal option, whereas with an Eduard release, you are spoilt for choice. At least the decals are Cartograf this time though! Highly recommended My sincere thanks to BlackMike Models for the review kit seen here. To buy directly, click THIS link.
  5. 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.
  6. Hi Gents, Started this wonderful war-bird and great kit, 99% OOB. I hope you will enjoy the -from time to time- posted sneak pictures. Goodies : RB Productions seat-belts. Fittings are great after removing flash. Wings are just wow ; ZM made it all easy for the scratch-build interior details masters... Thanks for checking in ! Cheers Laurent.
  7. Hi folks, This has been under wraps for a couple of weeks since I was trying to tackle how to get back into the mood for modelling. Since moving house, I really couldn't be arsed with plastic, and enthusiasm was in fits and starts. To counter that, I pulled out the ZM Ho 299 kit and decided to build entirely OOB, with only a little lead wire for the cockpit, and instrument gauge decals from Airscale, as the ZM decals are dire. Airscale placard decals added too. Quite different when trying to paint something that is essentially a framework, but a real enjoyable kit, with near military precision fit. I'll post a small number of progress images here, but this will be for Military Illustrated Modeller magazine, where you'll see all photos and text.
  8. 1:32 Horten Ho 229 Zoukei-mura Catalogue # SWS No.8 Available from Zoukei-mura for ¥13,800 (+fee) The very seed of the Horten Ho 229 project, was sown by the harsh restrictions which were forced upon Germany when she signed the Armistice at the end of The Great War. Whilst many civilians were facing untold hardship and starvation in the closing stages of the conflict, and her armies were on retreat, they still had reasonable strength that, had things been different, could have turned the tide of the war in Germany's favour. As a result, many within Germany saw the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, as being the equivalence of military castration. Those restrictions did lack something though, and those were certain technologies which were seen to be non-militaristic, and even folly. These were the development and pursuance of activities such as gliding, and jet and rocket propulsion. As gliding become popular in 1920's Germany, leading proponents of future technologies, began to appear. Enter Reimar and Walter Horten. Their work on flying wing designs began to be noticed in the 1930's, and their activities were of particular interest to the Nazi party, and at the outbreak of war, despite both serving in the Luftwaffe, their expertise was called upon by aero engineers. When Goering issued a requirement for a new high speed bomber in 1943, the Horten brothers submitted a flying wing design, which without a traditional fuselage and tail, could reduce overall drag and result in a much sleeker, lightweight aircraft, capable of carrying the 1000kg bomb load which was stipulated in the RLM requirements. The result was a beautiful and quite imposing bat-wing style machine which was constructed from a tubular metal central section, timber and carbon composite spars, and sheathed in plywood. It was also powered by two turbojet engines, housed either side of the pilot. Several prototypes were built, and flew, with varying success, and by the end of the war, only one complete machine remained, awaiting final assembly (V3), and several were in various stages of completion. The V3 is now housed at the NASM, awaiting restoration. The Ho 229 was also known as the Go 229, after the factory at which it was built (Gothaer Waggonfabrik). Like several late war German designs, had the war not ended in 1945, production of the Ho 229 could indeed have had an effect on Allied bombing of Germany, and also very possibly have delivered its own payload of bombs to neighbouring countries. ZM's Ho 229 has been mooted for around 2 years now, and as this goes to publication, should be available from both the Volks USA and Volks Japan websites. Ours was shipped via EMS, and having many parcels arriving to our team via EMS, you will usually find this to be quite a cost-efficient and swift system of delivery. It's been quite a long time since we looked at a Zoukei-mura kit, but we firmly believe that if a kit looks interesting, then we should put it through its paces and take an honest, unbiased review of it. This is quite a reasonable-sized box for what is essentially only a wing. Yes, that tends to be the format of a flying wing, and from the very outset, the box art does tend to get you in the mood for what you'll see within. I do very much like Jerry Boucher's art, and it was this author that introduced Jerry to ZM, but I do have to ask why a Ho 229 is seen engaging a Lancaster during daylight hours. I know the Ho 229 never entered production, but unless there was a significant shift in Bomber Command strategy, the Lancaster only ever operated during the hours of darkness. Still, it is a great looking box art, and certainly will help to sell this kit. If you like lots of plastic (and who doesn't?), then this release will hit the mark immediately. If you thought that an aircraft that simply comprised a jet-powered wing would fall short on sprue count, you might be surprised to know that this kit contains no less than NINETEEN sprues in a mix of light grey and clear plastic. Since the He 219, ZM has ditched the multi-coloured sprues that really weren't too popular. I had told ZM of this issue during the development of the He 219, and the modelling community also voiced their dislike. ZM took this on board and started to manufacture their releases in a more conventional way. In the run up to the full-scale production of this kit, modellers were asked whether they wanted to see the main exterior sections moulded in either grey plastic or clear plastic. The latter won the day, hence you see the wings and 'fuselage' moulded in that manner. As with other ZM releases, when you remove the lid, you reveal a rigid and complete box that has a top-opening flap. A card section breaks up the box into two compartments so that the sprues don't float around in transit. I quite like this approach, especially as these boxes are quite resilient to stash hoarding! ZM have packaged their sprues in separate bags, which always gets my vote. Usually, I would review a kit in a sprue-by-sprue format, but the unusual tubular frame and exterior shell format that occupies many sprues, would tend to make this a rather dull article, so instead I'll look at the central airframe, engines, wings, cockpit, exterior, weapons, and undercarriage as sections in themselves, and see what options are offered, and how well they represent the aircraft itself. ENGINES (2 x Sprue A) This particular bird was powered by two Junkers Jumo 004 engines. These were the same power plant that occupied the nacelles of the Arado Ar 234, and the Messerschmitt Me 262. However, unlike other manufacturers, ZM have really pushed the boat out here and produced beautiful miniature representations of the real thing. I thought the Trumpeter Me 262 kit parts were good, but those needed to be wired up by the modeller. With this kit, all the plumbing is there for you. Not only that, but strip away the exterior, and you will find the 8-stage fan compressor unit that was the core of the real Jumo 004. These compression blades all fit to their central drive shaft before being hidden forever within the compressor housing. The more adventurous of us will perhaps do an engineering cutaway of this and expose the compressor fans. Inside the compressor housing, the fan blades are designed to fit within the various chamber sections. Each of these consists of two parts. The fan parts themselves are beautifully moulded and the blades nice and thin. Each engine comprises of around SIXTY parts! Looking at the images of the completed engines, they do appear to be very faithful to the images I have in my reference library, and against the numerous photos published online. You get a detailed turbine rotor/nozzle assembly, gearbox, nozzle adjustment shaft, ignition, Reidel starter cone, and numerous other auxiliary parts. You really could display one of these all by itself. In fact, that's something that the ZM team already realised, and parts are included for you to display a Jumo 004 externally to the model, on a small display stand that is constructed from sections of square sprue. To do this, you will have to sacrifice its installation to the Ho 229. I fell that's a shame, and the addition of a third engine sprue would have been a real bonus. Perhaps ZM will allow that to be bought separately. Well, you put a red-hot jet engine in a wooden-skinned aircraft. What could possibly go wrong? Luckily, the Horten engineers also figured that would be an Achilles here, and included a heat shield for the rear 50% of the engine. That is included here as a two-part assembly in clear styrene, so the engine can be viewed from the various airframe orifices. Central Airframe The Horten Ho 229 was quite a complex beast underneath its wooden skinning, and ZM have really done a sterling job with this one, this time creating something that is more than just representative. If you like plastic jigsaws, then you'll like this. In all fairness, the engineering breakdown does its very best to make a very complicated looking tubular assembly, as straightforward as possible. You'll still need your wits about you, as the parts count is still very high. Construction of this is very logical; starting with the lower, centre tubular sections first. As you assemble the subsequent framework parts, you should check the fit against the lower tubular framework whilst your glue is still not quite set. All does look very straightforward, but extreme care should be taken with these crucial areas. Out of the nineteen sprues in this package, around 8 of them are solely related to the Ho 229 skeleton. Ok, four of those sprues only contain one key rib each, so perhaps that makes it sound a little less scary. The detail of the tubular frame is absolutely superb, with very little clean-up to perform. Seams are at an absolute minimum. In his latest blog, ZM's president shows his special tool for removing seams, made from different metals, laminated and heat welded together, like a Samurai sword. Whilst I was in Japan, Mr Shigeta gave me one of these, and it is pretty neat, if not a little scary! In reality, you won't need specialised hardware to clean up anything here, as it's all very straightforward. To ease your path through this part of the model, the manual provides stars to show you where you need to apply cement. The first section to be constructed is that centre 'fuselage' area, and into this you then need to fit the Jumo 004 engines, before you can apply the upper tubular frame sections. ZM have made their illustration of everything as easy as they can, and credit needs to be given for that. Wings Now this is where ZM's kit evolution really shows. These complicated structures are pretty much moulded as single pieces, complete with ribs. Those two Jumo jet engines were pretty thirsty, and the wings were full of fuel tanks. After all, where else could they go! Each wing contains four separate fuel tanks, (comprising two parts each) and you will also fit the separate mating wing rib too. These were a combination of wood and metal in real life, so you'll need to get your painting techniques straight before you start. I've seen one completed model with the internal wing structures painted in RLM02. I am pretty sure these will have been plain timber. Each wing had a speed-brake mechanism in their outer areas, and these are also included in gorgeous detail, and you will be able to pose these too. Top marks to ZM for the superb tooling that has gone into the core wing part. Very impressive indeed. The wings will be attached to the fuselage only when the latter has had its exterior parts attached. ZM have also mimicked how those wings attach to the fuse. On the real aircraft, the wings were manoeuvred into position, and then bolts were used to secure them. That's also the case here. Once attached, you'll fit the external wing panels. At this point, you'll see just how accurate your construction has been, and if its paid off. All going well, there should be no gaps between those exterior surfaces. Of course, all control surfaces are moulded separately, and also in clear plastic, to match the rest of the exterior structures. Exterior ZM listened to their fans, and moulded all external shell parts in clear styrene. Producing clear parts is a little more costly than the regular sprues due to the level of mould polishing required. As a result, only certain clear sprues are polished to canopy standard. The remainder, making up the exterior of the Ho 229, have a very slightly frosted appearance, but this is more than good enough for those modellers who wish to only partially paint the exterior, and to show the interior structures. Each upper and lower wing panel is separately moulded in this clear styrene, and contains the same exquisite level of external detail that you would see on regular grey parts. Finely engraved panel lines are the order of the day, with all parts moulded with the finesse that you expect from a modern-tooled kit. Other clear parts are the centre fuselage exterior sections (of course), and air brakes and control surfaces. The latter comprise split landing flaps and ailerons. Utilising a truly impressive piece of slide-moulding technology, the fuselage nose fairing is moulded as a single piece. On the actual Ho 229, this metal and wood ensemble would be able to be removed in sections, incorporating the nose and the jet engine nacelle intakes. This part really gives the modeller a true impression of the appearance of the Ho 229. This, along with the various clear upper and lower panels, will need to have a very exacting construction below them, if you are to realise a model with no gaps. The rear jet engine covers can be removed, or simply displayed off the model, so show your hard work on those Jumo 004s'. External detail consists of fine panel lines, various access port plates and delicate fastener detail. Despite the seemingly simple exterior of this aircraft, it is still a hive of visual interest. Cockpit The cockpit of a model is possibly the most religious part of the whole build. If I can get the pit right, then I'm in a mental position to do my very best on all other airframe parts. Whilst the pilot's office of the Ho 229 is perhaps a little more rudimentary than that of its peers, it presents some excellent and rather unique opportunities for detailing. As the tubular frame is a key feature of this model, it will come as no surprise that it also is a main feature of the cockpit itself. Unusually for a model kit, the cockpit is only installed when the rest of the fuselage. TWO instrument panel options are supplied here. You can choose to use the regular part with moulded dial detail, and onto this you can apply an instrument detail. This is one option I would never wish to use. However, the second option is more to my taste. This is a clear instrument panel part, and behind that is applied an instrument decal. You will need to add punched discs to each instrument face though, and for this, you will need a tool such as the excellent set from RP Toolz which I now use on a regular basis. If I'm to be honest, I would rather use the clear panel, and add Airscale decals to the instrument recesses, first punched out with the punch/die set. Cockpit detail is still impressive in its execution, even it is very simplistic in its very nature. The incredible framework will form the rather draughty cockpit, and this will further be enhanced with that instrument panel, control stick, various linkages, and also the canopy framework and hood rails. Here is where you will find yet another option. The hood itself is provided either as a single clear part, or, as with both the He 219 and Raiden kits, as a glazed part which inserts into the surrounding framing. The latter is a far more attractive proposition for me, negating any need to have to mask the hood at all. Unfortunately, you won't be able to avoid this for the windshield. Undercarriage The Ho 229 was a machine that seemed to sit quite strangely on the ground. This was due to a rather large front wheel that reputedly came from a He 177. That would certainly explain it's sheer size. The angle of attack of the Ho 229 helped facilitate its take-off distance, generating extra lift quite early on as it moved down the runway. That enormous nose wheel of the Ho 229's tricycle undercarriage is moulded in conventional halves, and with separate, very detailed hubs. There is no weighting in the wheels. They also have OONTINENTAL moulded onto them so that you can change the first 'O' for a 'C' by scraping away a little plastic. That helps ZM to get around any licencing issue. That powerful, characteristic retraction form is also beautifully detailed, and as it both sections are moulded with the correctly set angle, attaching this and the piston jacks, should be a breeze. A simple approach is taken with the two rear, lesser wheels. Each strut has a two part oleo scissor and a moulded hydraulic line for the brakes. The retraction fork is moulded as a single piece and you will have no problem with this installation. Weapons A fighter aircraft is no good without armament, and with this aircraft, this takes the form of two powerful MK103 cannon. These are comprised of two parts each, and moulded with a separate hollow muzzle. Onto these will fit the feed and ejection chutes, and of course each gun has a magazine. These fit into the fuselage of the Ho 229, very early on in construction. Panels on the underside of the aircraft, can be posed in an open position to view these, or you can use the fact that those doors are moulded as crystal clear plastic, to view them when closed. So many possibilities. Plastic Summary Moulding is generally very refined throughout this release. No trace of any flaw can be seen, and ejector pin marks are both either limited and out of the way, or the use of tags, external to the parts, has been utilised instead. This just means that for the greater part, these tags just need to be cut away. The only polished clear parts are for the canopy, Jumo heat shields, weapon bay doors, and a small number of other parts. The rest of the clear parts are very slightly frosted. Without a doubt, the best Ho 229 in the ZM Concept Note book is that built by Radu Brinzan. He has managed to polish the wing panels even further, and created an innovative way of displaying the wing internals. Certainly the most original and highest standard build in that book. It's a route I'd be interested in taking with mine. Masks A small sheet of sharply cut, green vinyl is supplied for masking the canopy. Both internal and external masks are supplied for the sliding hood. When I built the Ta 152, I found the quality of these to be a little dubious, with them not conforming to curves properly, and with them not having great adhesion. Be careful when you use yours on this kit. Decals You aren't really spoiled for choice with schemes here, and only two of them are supplied on a single decal sheet, both based on a wavy edged RLM81 and RLM82 scheme, with RLM76 undersides. As the Ho 229 never progressed beyond the prototype stage, both schemes are also speculative. With this kit, you really are just verging on the edge of Luft '46 territory. If you choose to depict anything other than the prototype, then you will firmly trespass into that area. The decal sheet itself contains the rather sparse national markings which would have adorned the Ho 229, plus a full suite of stencils, of which I'm assuming are also mostly, if not all, speculative. Swastikas are included as halves, but as the ones on the NASM machine were painted post-war, it's likely it may never have carried that particular image, due to the tailless configuration. I can't tell who printed the decals, but they are a little thick, and have more excess carrier film than I would like. Some of the colour is also patchy and the stencils aren't sharp. The instrument decals are also poor, and I would replace these with Airscale. Decals are always, for me, the weak part of any ZM kit, and these are no different. Instruction manual ZM's concept is for the modeller to not only build a complete replica, but also to learn a little about the machine during that construction. They do carry this off with aplomb. Taking the appearance of an engineering manual (complete with Zoukei-mura AG on the cover!), each section of the build is beautifully illustrated and contains information about the real machine. As well as drawings, numerous photographs are included which will help immensely with this quite complex model. Colour codes are given for Vallejo codes, but I would quite like to see others, such as Gunze and Tamiya etc. Corrections There are TWO corrections in this kit. One is for the renumbering of parts on Sprue R, and the other is a replacement wheel door with a moulding 'hole' which is missing in the regular sprue part. Instructions explaining this are also given. Conclusion I have to say that I've been very excited by the prospect of this release for quite some time now. For me, the late war jet and rocket aircraft have an aura to them that ZM have perfectly captured here, with the Ho 229 release. Large scale builders haven't had the luxury of a regular, injection moulded kit, with the closest option being the 1:48 releases from Dragon. Those aren't too easy to come by these days either. This kit has everything; presence, detail, massive visual interest, and of course another gap which can now be filled for late-war Luftwaffe fans. Such a great kit, and I'll shortly begin to build this for Military Illustrated Modeller. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Zoukei-mura for getting this kit out to us so quickly. To purchase from Volks Japan, use THIS link. To purchase from Volks USA, click THIS link. James H
  9. 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.
  10. 1:32 He219 Metal Struts Zoukei-Mura Super Wing Series Catalogue # SWS06-M01 Available from Zoukei-Mura Zoukei-Mura’s recent release of the He219 is truly nothing short of exceptional engineering and detail of a spectacular subject. A great feature of all Zoukei-Mura’s releases is the great selection of after market goodies. There is an offering of over a dozen upgrades ranging from turned brass, resin accessories, figures and decals. The exceptional quality we have become accustomed from Zoukei-Mura continues with a undercarriage upgrade with their Metal Struts. INITIAL REMARKS The He219 Metal Strut set comes packed in a small top tuck poly carton. Inside are the main gear and the front gear. First look at the main gear I see a lot of cleaning will be needed. Detail is well executed and the strut components are well done. What appears to be heavy seam on the main gear are accurate weld seams on the real thing. I had to dig into my references as well as some Udvar Hazy NASM photos of the current restoration of a He219 to confirm the weld seams. The front gear is a multi part set which allows choice of posing wheel in a turned position. Main gear. Left, kit supplied metal struts are well done. Surfaces are with very smooth with very little flash. Right, the brass struts clearly illustrate the inside and outside weld seams and at joints. Surface is not as smooth as the kit supplied metal struts so some preparation will be required to achieve a smooth surface. Care must be taken to preserve the weld seams. Nose gear. Right shows higher detail than the kit supplied strut on left. Further, the white brass metal offers some build/finish flexibility allowing a turn position. The kit supplied metal struts are well made but very smooth and will certainly work well especially if you plan on using the 4oz nose weight to keep your He219 from being a tail dragger providing desired support and strength on your undercarriage. These white brass struts offer accurate weld seam detail and the front wheel turn option. As with the kit supplied metal struts all components are direct drop in replacement. Careful cutting using a Dremel cutting tool or saw designed for cutting metal is recommended. I tried my heavy duty hand cutters and with a fail I resorted to my trusty Dremel cutting tool. Nice clear instructions included. If you desire, as my eye will agree, you have an option to download a larger PDF from the Zoukie-Mura website, CONCLUSION Exceptional craftsmanship and accurate detail. There will be some smoothing in store however, these struts are very well done with clear instructions If you want option to have front wheel turned as well as exceptional detail. This detail set is highly recommended. Noting, great companion is the Zoukei-Maura resin weighted wheel set either SWS06-M03 with tread or SWS06-M02 without tread. My sincere thanks to Zoukei-Maura for this review sample. Rick Kranias Facebook Link: Bezoula Builds
  11. Ta152H-1 “The Cockpit” Slipstream Edition Zoukei-Mura Super Wing Series #SP2 Available Volks Japan, Europe/Asia/Africa stores, Volks US and Sprue Brothers. Approx price: Yen¥10,290 GBP£70.96 EUR€83.99 USD$108.00 In mid 2010 Zoukei-Mura introduced it’s second “Super Wing Series” kit following its successful J7W1 Shiden. With much anticipation the Focke Wulf Ta152H-1 was released to the delight of modeling enthusiasts. Like it’s predecessor the Ta512 was unmatched detail and build flexibility made this kit very popular. I picked up my kit sometime in late 2011. As soon as I opened the box and drooled over the sprues, instructions and The Concept Note I was online to purchase another Ta152 to build splayed open. To my chagrin the US supplier Volks USA sold out of the Ta152. I searched eBay and there were plenty of ZM Ta152’s out there at a price I was unwilling to pay. Early this year ZM released its second version of it’s Ta152 in a different and unique format. In collaboration with Japanese comic artist Leiji Matsumoto's "The Cockpit" Zoukei-Mura released it's second edition of the Ta152 modeled after this anime trilogy. “The Cockpit” is a World War II trilogy anime based on Leiji Matsumoto’s “Battlefield” anime. Three anime shorts are “Slipstream” which follows a Luftwaffe pilot on a mission to protect Germany’s atomic bomb. “Sonic Boom Squadron” follows the last hours of an Ohka pilot and the “Knight Of The Iron Dragon” focuses on 2 Japanese soldiers who keep a promise during the conflict at Leyte. THE COCKPIT ANIME The following links show “The Cockpit” anime featuring the Ta152 “Slipstream” short. Apologizes for being broken down into 3 links. This is the only English sub-title available. The Cockpit “Slipstream” 1/3 The Cockpit “Slipstream” 2/3 The Cockpit “Slipstream” 3/3 CONTENTS The very clear instruction booklet is styled like the Ta152 H-1 Flight Manual. A comlete set of decals for “The Cockpit’s Slipstream” star Haptm. Erhard von Reinders plane are printed by Cartograf as well as the full decal sheet which appeared in the original release of Zoukei-Mura Super Wing Series Ta152 so you can build as a Ta152 in lieu of the “Slipstream” edition SPRUE COMPARE The only difference in the molding of this kit is the fuselage sprue is molded in black as compared to original release of grey. Otherwise all sprues are manufactured identical to original release. The "Cockpit Edition" canopy is bagged and wrapped in protective foam. THE DROP TANK A beautiful highly detailed 300L Drop Tank is included. Historically it is not known if a 300L Drop Tank was ever used on a Ta152. However, in “Slipstream” von Reinders plane is equipped with a drop tank. The Drop Tank is molded in black complete with clear instructions and is complete with detailed attach points and fuel lines. You also have a choice of 3 Tail Cones. This brings me to speculation of a future Zoukei-Mura Luftwaffe Super Wing Series release? Perhaps a FW190? THE STAR OF “SLIPSTREAM” Haptm. Erhard von Reinders is a disgraced German fighter pilot who is given another chance to redeem himself. Given a new Ta152 to fly. Reinders is assigned to escort a captured American B-17 and its precious cargo, an atomic bomb. A seemly simple task at first, was soon complicated by the fact that also aboard this plane was the scientist who helped engineer the bomb, as well as his daughter, von Reinders’ childhood friend. Not wanting to see the weapon used, she pleaded that von Reinders allow the plane to be shot down and allow her and her father to go down with it. Haptm. Erhard von Reinders pilot figure is offered as an additional purchase to make your anime build complete. PAINT AND DECAL INSTRUCTIONS Detailed paint instructions for von Reinders Ta152 are included with clear callouts and decal placement. DECALS 2 sets of complete decal sheets for either von Reinders Ta152 and Standard Luftwaffe Ta152 versions. Decals are printed by Cartograf and appear opaque, relatively thin and passing the braille test. CONCLUSION For those waiting for a second release of Zoukei-Mura’s Ta152H here is your chance to pick one up. Do not let the anime version scare you away. It’s the exact kit released in 2010. Or if you have an interest in anime then this is truly an interest version for you display shelf. As with all Zoukei-Mura’s Super Wing Series building this OOB will yield a highly detailed rendering of this beautiful plane. However, there are plenty of AM offerings such as PE interior, turned brass guns and many figures from Zoukei-Mura on the Volks website. I picked this one up and will use as an “open” display to sit next to my buttoned up Ta152. Also available is a very nice selection of pilot and ground crew figures. See Volks US and Volks Japan Kit courtesy of my wallet. Very highly recommended. Rick Kranias Facebook Link: Bezoula Builds
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