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1:48 Heinkel He 111Z-1 ‘Zwilling’


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1:48 Heinkel He 111Z-1 ‘Zwilling’
ICM
Catalogue # 48260

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The Heinkel He 111 was a German bomber aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in 1934. Through development it was described as a "wolf in sheep's clothing". Due to restrictions placed on Germany after the First World War prohibiting bombers, it masqueraded as a civil airliner, although from conception the design was intended to provide the nascent Luftwaffe with a fast, medium bomber. Perhaps the best-recognised German bomber due to the distinctive, extensively glazed "greenhouse" nose of later versions, the Heinkel He 111 was the most numerous Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. The bomber fared well until the Battle of Britain, when its weak defensive armament was exposed. 

The He 111Z Zwilling (English: Twin) was a design that entailed the mating of two He 111s. The design was originally conceived to tow the Messerschmitt Me 321 glider. Initially, four He 111 H-6s were modified. This resulted in an aircraft with twin fuselages and five engines. They were tested at Rechlin in 1941, and the pilots rated them highly. A batch of 10 were produced and five were built from existing H-6s. The machines were joined by a centre wing formed by two sections 6.15 m (20 ft) in length. The powerplants were five Junkers Jumo 211F engines producing 1,000 kW (1,340 hp) each. Total fuel capacity was 8,570 litres. This was increased by adding of four 600 litre drop tanks. The He111Z could tow a Gotha Go 242 glider or Me 321 for up to 10 hours at cruising speed. It could also remain airborne if the three central powerplants failed. The He 111 Z-2 and Z-3 were also planned as heavy bombers carrying 1,800 kg of bombs and having a range of 2500 miles. During operations, the He 111Z did not have enough power to lift a fully loaded Me 321. Some He 111s were supplemented by rocket pods for extra take-off thrust, but this was not a fleet-wide action. Two rockets were mounted beneath each fuselage and one underneath each wing. The pods were then released by parachute after take-off.

 

The kit
I must’ve been about 12yrs old when I saw my first He 111Z model kit. That was the wonderful (at the time) Italeri kit from 1976, in 1:72, and I just had to save up for it, and remember then just how large the model was, even in that diminutive scale. Since then, I’ve had a fixation with twin-fuselage aircraft, such as the F-82 Twin Mustang. Just imagine what a Do 335Z would’ve looked like with a prop in each corner! When ICM rocked up with their own, new-tool He 111Z in 1:48, I was blown away! I know how good their series of 1:48 He 111 kits are, so to see them tool this as a twin was something I just had to see. The first ICM He 111 kit was released in 2017, with some superb detail such as fully detailed cockpit and bomb bay, plus two fully detailed Jumo engines. Since then, there have been six further incarnations of this kit in various marques, plus a re-box from Revell. For me, however, the He 111Z signifies what must surely be the ultimate version of this kit. 

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The box for this is very large and deep, with a wonderful artwork of a He 111Z in a winter whitewash scheme, flying over the Eastern Front. ICM use little clear tabs to secure the lids to the box. When these are cut through, not one, but TWO boxes drop out! The wingspan of this completed behemoth comes out at around 750mm or thereabouts, and there are around 550 parts. There will be some parts redundancy in the kit as some components still remain for the single-fuselage types, such as the old symmetrical wing spar/bulkhead arrangement, plus some parts which aren’t destined for this type. This kit contains TWENTY-EIGHT sprues in light grey styrene, plus FOUR in clear. A single decal sheet (no swastikas) is included for the two schemes, plus a thirty-two page instruction manual with some colour illustration.

Now, onto the kit!

 

Sprue A (x2)

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Both fuselages in this kit are fully detailed throughout. Our first two sprues brings us two of the main parts; namely the fuselage halves. It’s impossible to ignore these, so I’ll look at them first. These are very similar to how Revell went about their 1/32 kit, in that the upper forward fuselage is a separate piece, that can of course be an indication of other variants coming our way. Externally, detail is superb and very refined, with evenly and neatly recessed, narrow panel lines and a slightly proud wing root fairing with rivet fasteners. Elsewhere, however, no rivets are depicted. I quite like the difference that a riveted surface creates with a finished project, so will add these myself with a beading tool. The rudder is moulded separately, as is the belly. Several belly parts are provided with this release, but only one option will be used for this highly unusual aircraft.

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Internally, I think ICM have made a very reasonable job of recreating the structural elements of this aircraft, with such detail extending from the nose, back to just aft of the belly gondola. There are some ejector pin marks though, but these are generally shallow enough to simply rub them away with a fibreglass pen, or other lightly abrasive tool. You will note that due to moulding limitations, ICM has had to produce a wing root insert to glue into position within the fuselage, and you might want to blend this into the surrounding detail. Similar inserts exist for the lower bomb bay walls, but these sit primarily between the two main spar and bulkhead parts that form the basis of the construction.

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Note also the port and starboard wheel well walls, as well as the ceiling for this area. Fore and aft walls are moulded to the main spars. These walls will provide basic constructional elements and could/should be enhanced further by the modeller, with a little plasticard and wire. I’m not going to really criticise this due to the price of the kit, and the area providing a far more than adequate basis for detailing further.

 

Sprues B1 & B2 and Separate sprues for rudders, elevators and stabilisers (x2)

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Due to the airframe configuration, extra rudder, elevator and aileron parts are included. Both of these have the wing upper and lower panels as their main components, moulded with integral landing flaps. I would quite have liked to have seen these separate, and it will take some work for the modeller to achieve. However, the ailerons are separate items, moulded as halves on one of these sprues. As per the fuselage, external wing detail is very refined, with superbly thin and even panel lines and port access details. No rivets here again, except for key lines and those around fuel tank panels and upper nacelle fairings. Internally, positive channels are moulded for the main wing spars, creating what looks to be a very sturdy and unambiguous assembly. Going back to the ailerons, these have very subtle rib and fabric details, and shouldn’t need any toning down.

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Sprue C (x5)

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Yes, a whole FIVE of these! Where there are generally multiples of specific components, then these are the sprues on which you will find them. This model is equipped with five complete Junkers Jumo 211 A-3 engines, comprising of almost 20 parts each. I really am very impressed with the detail on these, and they certainly convincing against my reference material, including personal photographs of the 211. As with the wheel bays, just a little lead wiring should be all that’s needed to bring these to life. Unusually, the prop shafts are moulded into the main engine halves, instead of having a separate, captive pin that will allow the props to rotate.

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A lot of parts for the bomb bays are also included here, but you won’t need them at all for the Zwilling. Plenty for your spares box. You also won’t need the propellers that are included on these sprues. Other parts on this sprue include the numerous engine cowl parts, and the forward cowl ring with its characteristic lightening holes. The wheels on this sprue aren't to be used though. Parts on another sprue will fulfil that role.

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Parts you won’t need to use are the tailwheel and bomb bay doors.

 

Sprue D1 (x2)

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These particular sprues contains two chunky main spars, but you’ll NOT be using these! Those are for the regular He 111 types. ICM has designed a rather tidy main cockpit, that is generally spread over both this sprue and D2, and should look great as it is, out of box. Decals are provided for enhancing the cockpit further, and these are clearly labelled on the instructions sheet. Internal parts on this sprue include the rear cockpit wall, cockpit floor, multi-part pilot seat with head armour, ammunition racks etc.

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Sprue D2 (x2)

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Someone at ICM had the foresight to include most of this kit’s more fragile and smaller parts on this sprue, meaning you can safely stash this to one side during the course of building. On here you will find the undercarriage struts and braces, ammunition rack components, rudder pedals and linkages, smaller cockpit components, control yoke and torsion tube, bomb aimer/co-pilot seat, MG mounts, etc.

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Sprue E (x2)

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This sprue of generic He 111 parts contains many of the clear components. These include side windows, half of the glazed nose, the gondola access/gun mount position, and also the redundant upper sliding gunner windshield. Where the varying items have sections that aren’t a part of a window etc. then these are frosted. Framing is pretty good, and this shouldn’t be too difficult to mask up for airbrushing. Even easier if using Eduard’s masks for this kit, as they now sell the Zwilling set, with both internal and external masks. In a previous release, I thought there was a little waviness in the clear parts, but this release seems perfectly ok. The He 111’s famous glazed nose is comprised of three parts. Care will definitely be needed in assembling these. Note that the instrument panel is moulded here too. I’ve never seen the point of clear IPs, but that might only be my mileage. Instrument decals are supplied for this and other cockpit areas, but you may choose to punch out the individual dials and apply them separately. It certainly makes for a cleaner finish. The lower and upper gondola parts aren’t to be used on this version.

 

Sprue E1 (x2)

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Another sprue of clear parts, but just containing the options for the upper gun position and some new gondola glass. Transparency is excellent.

 

Sprue F (x5)

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These sprues are supplementary to the engine sprues, and contain the new propellers, wheels, spinners, and exhausts. 

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Sprue G (x2)

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This contains two belly option, but only one will be utilised for the Zwilling. Other parts to be found here include the new tailwheel assemblies.

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Sprue H1 

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This sprue is definitely very specific to the Zwilling release and contains two of the new asymmetric wing spars that also incorporate a fuselage bulkhead and a section of the main rear gear bays. You also get a chance to see those hefty drop tanks that gave this fuel-hungry monster the ability to stay in the air for many, many hours. These are built up from traditional halves. You can’t help but also notice that new wing centre section that contains the position for the extra, fifth engine. Surface detail is commensurate with that of the original He 111 releases so will blend in perfectly. 

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Sprue H2

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Another Zwilling-specific sprue with the two forward asymmetric wing spars that incorporate the rear cockpit bulkhead and the forward main gear bay walls. Also found here are the inboard wing sections that blend to the new centre section, plus the extra engine rear side cowls.

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Decals

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This is a fairly small sheet, but then, there are only two schemes provided for this. Printing is excellent, with nice thin inking, perfect register and nice colour density. Cockpit decals are included, as are a very respectable number of external airframe stencils.

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The two schemes are:

  • He 111Z-1 Eastern Front, Winter 1942 - 1943
  • He 111Z-1 Eastern Front, Spring 1943

Instructions
I quite like ICM’s approach to the assembly manual, with the result being totally clean in approach and fuss-free. Starting with a history of the type, plus a colour chart for both Revell and Tamiya paints, a full parts plan is then printed, and then 114 constructional sequences. Assembly illustration is very clear, with colour annotation and selective use of shading to make some drawings clearer, such as where the 3D could mess with your mind! The last pages are taken over with the two colour profiles sets for the supplied schemes. Decal placement and paint application is clear.

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Conclusion

For me personally, this is a contender for kit of the year, not only because it’s one of my all-time favourite subjects, but also because ICM carried it off with aplomb with this beautifully detailed rendition. A stunning and stunningly large model of what must surely be one of the most bizarre types to ever have graced the skies. Kit quality is excellent with sprues bagged to limit any parts damage either in transit or with a clumsy modeller. If you have a hankering for the weird, then shell out on this beauty!

Very highly recommended!

My thanks to ICM for the review sample seen here. 

 

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