Tag: Special Hobby

Special Hobby 1/48 SH48086 Fiat G.50 “Finnish Version”

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Kit: Special Hobby 1/48 SH48086 Fiat G.50 “Finnish Version”

Price: £27.99 available from Hannants UK.

Decals: 8 options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts.

History

The Fiat G.50 Freccia (“Arrow”) was a World War II Italian fighter aircraft. First flown in February 1937, the G.50 was Italy’s first single-seat, all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable Undercarriage to go into production. In early 1938, the Freccias served in the Regia Aeronautica (the Italian Air Force), and with its expeditionary arm, the Aviazione Legionaria, in Spain, where they proved to be fast and, as with most Italian designs, very maneuverable. However, it had inadequate weaponry (two Breda-SAFAT 12.7-mm machine guns). The Fiat G.50 was also used in small numbers by the Croatian Air Force and 35 were flown to Finland, where they served with distinction with the Finnish Air Force (Suomen Ilmavoimat), with an unprecedented kill ratio of 33/1.

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The contract for 35 Fiat G.50s between the Italian and Finnish Government’s was ratified in 1938. Finnish pilots and engineers were dispatched to Turin later that year to inspect and assess the G.50. The evaluation proved positive and the purchase of 35 aircraft was agreed in 1939.

Finnish test pilots evaluated the Fiat G.50 in Rome. On one of these test flights, Lt. Tapani Harmaja, performed a dive from 3500 m, reaching a speed of 830 km/h, which would be claimed as the highest speed achieved by an Italian aircraft under test conditions during World War II.

The first group of 14 aircraft were delivered to Finland in January 1940. The aircraft were assigned to LeLv 26 at Utiju. Conversion training began on the Fiat G.50 in February 1940. By June 33 aircraft had been delivered, two were lost on the ferry flight between Italy and Finland.

It was discovered that the Fiat G.50 was quite unsuited to the harsh winter conditions experienced in Finland. Sweden experienced similar problems with their Fiat CR.42s. As a result, landing gear covers and carburetor intake covers were removed, in addition propeller caps were introduced to stop the oil in the propeller pitch mechanisms from freezing and the cowlings were kept warm with the use of blankets. All Finnish aircraft operating in winter conditions were kept warm with oil heaters which greatly increased the start-up procedure and subsequent take-off to intercept enemy aircraft.

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The Fiat G.50 was christened “Fiju” by its Finnish crews. The G.50 arrived in the latter stages of the Winter War and performed admirably in the Continuation War that followed.

In the hands of trained and experienced Ilmavoimat pilots, the G.50 achieved great success. The first victory was recorded in January 1940 when Captain Ehrnrooth shot down an SB-2 bomber of the Soviet Air Force. The top-scoring Finnish G.50 pilot was Oiva Tuominen who scored 23 victories and was awarded the Mannerheim Cross on August 1 1940. The “Fiju” took part in many operations, often fighting against Soviet air regiments with an air-combat ratio of 10:1.

The first demonstration of the Finnish Air Force’s effectiveness came on 25 June 1941, when the G.50s from HLeLv 26 shot down 13 out of 15 Soviet SB bombers. Thirteen aerial victories were achieved altogether.

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During the Continuation War, the G.50s were most successful during the Finnish offensive of 1941, after which they became ever less effective due to the introduction of newer and faster Soviet fighters. In 1941, HLeLv 26 claimed 52 victories for the loss of only two fighters. By 1941, the Fiats were becoming old and run-down and the lack of spare parts meant that pilots were restricted to a minimal number of sorties. Nevertheless, between 30 November 1939 and 4 September 1944, the G.50s of HLeLv 26 shot down 99 enemy aircraft, including aircraft more modern than the G.50, such as the British and American fighters sent to the USSR. In the same period, Finnish squadrons lost 41 aircraft of several types. But the number of Fiats lost in combat were just three.

The most successful Finnish G.50 pilots were Oiva Tuominen (23 victories), Olli Puhakka (11 or 13), according to other sources, Nils Trontti (6), Onni Paronen (4), Unto Nieminen (4) and Lasse Lautamäki (4). The Finnish G.50s were finally phased out of front-line duty in the summer of 1944. There were no more than 10 or 12 examples of the type left in service, and even as trainers, they did not last long, since they lacked spare parts. Unlike the older MS.406, there was no effort to upgrade or replace the engine to improve the aircrafts performance, due to the limited number of airframes left in service, and it is probable that by the end of the war they had already been taken out of service.

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The Kit:

The Special Hobby 1/48 Fiat G.50 “Finnish Version” consists of 5 sprues in soft injection moulded grey plastic, one sprue of clear canopy parts, one fret of photo-etched parts, a clear film containing the instrument panel, 9 polyurethane parts, a 7 page ‘exploded view’ instruction booklet in black and white consisting of 17 steps, and finally a 6 page full-colour camouflage and markings guide with 3-views of 8 examples of finnish Air Force Fiat G.50s, printed on high quality glossy paper.

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Construction:

The parts were carefully washed in a weak warm soapy solution to remove the mould release. Once dry, the contents were primed with grey auto primer from a rattle can. The insides of the fuselage, cockpit floor, bulkhead, seat and frame were airbrushed with Humbrol Matt 80 interior green. The reverse of the instrument panel film was painted white to pick out the instrument dials, cut out and fitted behind the black photo-etched instrument panel.

The interior was given a wash of heavily thinned Windsor & Newton Ivory black oil paint to pick out the detail before the seatbelts, which were pre-painted in WEM WEMCC 09 Deck Tan were added to the seat with cyanoacrylate. The fuselage halves were then joined and taped, which completed stages 1 to 4.

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Stage 5 consisted of fitting the forward upper cowling and the rear upper fuselage immediately behind the pilot’s head. The instrument panel must be added before the forward cowling is affixed in place.

Stages 6 to 10 are concerned with gluing the wings, tail and horizontal tail surfaces; these were taped and put to one side to dry overnight. Step 11 entails the engine build. This requires some care as it consists of a central cylindrical block in polyurethane and no less than 15 cylinders. All of these parts need to be removed from the casting blocks with a hobby saw, only one spare cylinder is supplied in the kit.

After the Engine assembly had dried, I sprayed the entire unit with Humbrol Matt black from a rattle can. This ensures that paint gets into all of the hard to reach areas. I added my own push rods using copper wire painted silver and the HT leads from 0.1mm wire from ‘Little-cars’. A photo-etched push-rod/HT lead unit is supplied in the kit; however, I found the part to be overly fussy.

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The wings were now joined to the fuselage, as were the horizontal tail surfaces and the tail. The airframe was then filled using green putty along the wing-root joins and tail assembly joins. These were left overnight to dry thoroughly before being rubbed down using 600 grit wet and dry paper. The kit was once again sprayed using grey primer from a rattlecan and set aside whilst the skis were constructed.

The skis required very little filler and were a good fit. The airframe was now ready for the paint-shop.

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Camouflage and Markings:

I chose ‘CAM F’ from the 8 options supplied in this kit. The Italian desert scheme appealed to me as did the fact that this particular aircraft was fitted with skis. I guess I rather enjoyed the paradox of an aircraft intended to fight in the desert ending up on skis in combat in the snow. This aircraft was Fiat FA-33, LLv 26, Zàkladna Kauhava, Ùnor 1942; this aircraft saw service in the continuation war.

The aircraft was prepared by pre-shading with Humbrol 33 Matt Black before being given three coats of Humbrol 129 light grey. Once this had dried, the underside was masked off before Humbrol Matt 84 was airbrushed on the upper-surfaces. The cowling, fuselage band and outer under-wings were then masked off and the Continuation War identification yellow was applied using White Ensign Models WEMCC ALCW21 RLM 04 Gelb. Next, the upper surfaces were ‘mottled using a combination of Humbrol Matt 186 and Humbrol Matt 105.

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Final Construction:

The canopy, aerial wires and minor peripheral accessories were added. The decals were then applied with decal setting solution; these were in register, clear, opaque and free from carrier film. Lastly, the kit was given a final coat of Johnson’s Klear.

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Conclusion:

This kit proved somewhat of a milestone for me as it represents the last ‘main’ fighter type in my collection that the Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) used during the Second World War. There are many other examples of Finnish aircraft yet to build, the latest of which is sitting patiently on my desk.

This kit comes highly recommended.

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References:

Richard Reynolds.

Special Hobby J-20/Reggiane Re-2000 “Swedish Service”

Kit: SH72226 Special Hobby 1/72 scale J-20/Reggiane Re-2000 “Swedish Service”

Price: £9.67 (Special Offer) available from Hannants UK.

Decals: 4 options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts.

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History

The Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I, first flew in 1939 and was an all metal, low-wing monoplane fighter design, developed towards the end of the 1930s. The aircraft had good endurance, superior to contemporary Macchi and Fiat fighters. The Re.2000 was powered by a single Piaggio P.XI RC 40 14-cylinder twin-row air-cooled radial engine, 986 hp (736 kW) (1000 CV) at 4,000 m (13,125 ft), however, this power-plant was considered unreliable and despite good performance and flight characteristics the Re.2000 was considered unsatisfactory by the Italian authorities.

A limited number of aircraft were ordered by the Regia Aeronautica, despite this, the type found export success with Hungary (70 machines) and Sweden (60 machines). Due to a shortage of fighter aircraft at the outbreak of the war (It was US policy to favour the UK in arms supply in order to combat the Nazi Regime); neutral nations such as Sweden had to resort to ingenious methods to acquire combat aircraft.

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The Swedish Air Force obtained 60 Re.2000 Serie I aircraft, which received the Swedish designation J 20 and were delivered during 1941-43. All of the J 20s were stationed at the F10 wing near Malmö. Maintenance was a problem but nevertheless it was satisfactory. At the end of the war, the 37 J 20s that remained in service were so badly worn out that they were decommissioned in July 1945.

They were equipped with two 12.7 mm automatic guns made by Breda in Milano. The aircraft were used in the neutrality guard and had the important mission to intercept Axis and Allied fighters bombers that violated Swedish airspace from the south. One J 20 was shot down while intercepting a German Dornier Do 24 near Sölvesborg in April 1945.

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The Swedish J-20 was based on the Re.2000 Serie I, but differed in a number ofways. Empty weight was 4,828 lb (2.190 kg), typical weight was 6,393 lb (2.900 kg), max take-off weight was 6,724 lb (3.050 kg). Max level speed was 311 mph (450 km/h) at optimum altitude, and range was 808 miles (1.300 km). Climb rate was 19,685 ft (6.000 m) in 8 minutes 0 seconds, and a height of 31,170 ft (9.500 m) could be reached.

The Swedish pilots liked the aircraft for its speed, climb rate and manoeuvrability, but the ground crew had another opinion of the aircraft mainly because of the unreliability of the engine and the problems in cold weather circumstances with the propeller and gun equipment.

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The Kit

The kit comprises 2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic, one clear bag of 13 resin casting blocks, two vacu-formed canopies, one photo-etched fret, a clear instrument film, decal sheet with options for four Swedish Air Force machines and a ten page instruction booklet.

The kit is supplied in an end-opening box with full-colour box art. The injection moulding is crisp with fine recessed panel lines. No sink marks or blemishes were apparent and the fit of the fuselage halves was good.

The instructions come in an ‘exploded-view’ format in 13 steps. These are clear and easy to follow, with each stage presented in a logical style.

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Construction

The parts were washed using a warm-soapy solution to remove the mould release from the kit and then dabbed dry. All of the parts were then sprayed with auto-primer from a rattle can. The interior was airbrushed with Humbrol 226 interior green. The cockpit is well furnished including; a 6 piece instrument panel and bulkhead; a 9 piece cockpit seat and a beautifully moulded floor and side walls. All are contained in a ‘tub’ which fits neatly into the fuselage halves. The Piaggio engine comprises a polyurethane central cylinder to which 14 cylinders are attached.

The fuselage halves and wing components fit easily and do not require filler. After the tail planes had been fitted, the airframe was left overnight to dry. Next, the vacu-formed canopy (two are supplied in case of mistakes), was softened for 30 seconds in warm water to make the unit more malleable for trimming. Nail scissors were used to carefully trim around the base of the canopy which was dried before Eduard’s Reggiane Re.2000 canopy mask was applied. Finally, the canopy was fitted using white glue and the airframe was sprayed using grey auto-primer from a rattle-can.

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Camouflage and markings

Four options are available in this kit. All are examples from F 10 Air Wing of the Flygvapnet. I chose J-20 (Re 2000) FV-nr 2353, F10-53, 2. Divisionen (squadron), F 10 Air Wing. F 10 Ängelholm, also known as Skånska Flygflottiljen, Scania Air Force Wing, or simply F 10, is a former Swedish Air Force wing with the main base located in southernmost Sweden. The undersides were airbrushed using Humbrol 166 pale grey, which were then masked using tamiya tape before the top-sides received several coats of Humbrol 84 sand. This formed the base-coat for the colour scheme. Next Humbrol matt 186 tan was airbrushed in a ‘honeycomb’ pattern before Humbrol matt 105 green was applied in a mottle effect allowing the edges of the sand and tan to show at the edges.

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Final Construction

The last stage of construction included the addition of the exhaust stubs, pitot tube, main undercarriage and doors. Finally, the decals were applied using micro-sol and micro-set decal setting solutions. The decals were of good quality, opaque, thin and in register. This kit was a pleasure to build; I can recommend it to all modellers interested in Swedish, Italian or more esoteric subjects.

Highly recommended.

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References

Richard Reynolds

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Special Hobby Seversky J-9/EP-106 ‘Swedish Defender’

Kit: SH72235 Special Hobby 1/72 scale Seversky J-9/EP-106 ‘Swedish Defender’.

Price: £15.50 available from Hannants UK.

Decals: 4 options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts.

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History

The Serversky P-35A was born out of a USAAC requirement for a single-seat fighter tendered in 1935. 76 P-35’s were built and delivered to the USAAC between May 1937 and August 1938. The Air Corps stopped delivery of the P-35 in 1937 in favour of the Curtiss P-36 citing their dissatisfaction at the slow delivery rate and the sale of the 2PA two-seater to the Japanese Navy as their reason for discontinuing the contract.

Despite this setback, Seversky continued to develop the P-35 with the intention of exporting the aircraft. Seversky re-submitted the design to the USAAC in 1938, two P-35’s, the XP-41 fitted with a 1,200 hp (895 kW) R-1830-9 engine and the AP-4, which had a turbo-supercharger mounted in the belly of a deeper fuselage were tendered. The Air Corps preferred the AP-4D, which was ordered into production as the P-43 Lancer.

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In an effort to increase sales, Alexander P. De Seversky took a demonstrator on a tour of Europe in early 1939. Sweden ordered 15 EP-106 aircraft on the 15th of June, these were re-designated the J-9 by the Swedish Air Force upon delivery. The Swedish Air Force ordered 120 aircraft, receiving 60 J-9s in the spring-summer of 1940. The aircraft were operated alongside other units assigned to the F 8 Air Force base protecting Stockholm, replacing the obsolete Gloster Gladiators. Swedish J-9s served with the Flygvapnet as a fighter until 1946. 10 aircraft were equipped with cameras but retained their J-9 fighter designation. In addition, a number of others were used for liaison and flight training. The last seven J-9 aircraft remained in service until September 1952.

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On the 18th of June 1940, the United States declared an embargo against exporting weapons to any nation other than the United Kingdom. Despite this, Republic continued to manufacture the EP-106. Sweden’s second batch of 60 aircraft were requisitioned by the USAAC on the 24th October 1940 and re-designated the P-35A. The aircraft were re-armed to American standards with a pair of 0.50in machine guns mounted on the top of the engine cowling; these aircraft retained their Swedish specification 0.30in machine guns mounted in the wings. The Flight instruments were metric, and the cockpit placards, stencil data and flight manuals were written in Swedish.

Three of these aircraft were kept in United States as instructional airframes for mechanics; six P-35As were delivered to Ecuador to form the first combat unit: the Escuadrilla de Caza. The remainder were sent to the Far East Air Force in the Philippines during February 1941.

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Eventually all of the pilots of the three pursuit squadrons based at Luzon transitioned onto the P-35A from the P-26. Most P-35s were assigned to the 17th and 20th Pursuit Squadrons; all were lost in action early in the war and were hopelessly outclassed by Japanese fighters. Nearly all of the P-35As were quickly shot down in combat or were destroyed on the ground, 10 were lost in accidents. By December 12th, 1941 there were only eight airworthy P-35As left in the FEAF.

The P-35s were used primarily as gunnery trainers by all three squadrons because of a critical shortage of .50-caliber ammunition in the Far East Air Force. In October 1941, the P-35s were earmarked for transfer to the Philippine Army Air Corps after being replaced by Curtiss P-40 Warhawks in Far East Air Force service.

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The Kit

The kit comprises 2 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic, one clear bag of 2 resin casting blocks, one clear sprue, one photo-etched fret, a clear instrument film, decal sheet with options for four Swedish Air Force machines and a ten page instruction booklet.

The kit is supplied in an end-opening box with attractive box art on the front and four full colour profile views of the J-9 on the reverse. The injection moulding is crisp with fine recessed panel lines. No sink marks or blemishes were apparent and the fit of the fuselage halves was good.

The instructions come in an ‘exploded-view’ format in 13 steps. These are clear and easy to follow, with each stage presented in a logical style.

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Construction

The parts were washed using a warm-soapy solution to remove the mould release from the kit and then dabbed dry. All of the parts were then sprayed with auto-primer from a rattle can. The interior was airbrushed with Humbrol 226 interior green. Stages 1 to 9 deal with the construction of the aircraft interior. The cockpit is exceptionally well detailed with an incredible assortment of parts that would grace any 1/32 scale kit. Both seats are furnished with photo-etched seatbelts, foot-pedals, a 3 piece instrument panel, throttle assembly and a well detailed moulded floor and cockpit side-walls that provide options to model this aircraft with the canopy and rear crew compartment window open.

The engine is supplied in three parts which can be easily enhanced with the addition of copper-wire pushrods and HT leads. Once the cockpit and engine had been completed, the fuselage halves were glued together and set to one side, the upper and lower wings were glued and both sub-assemblies were left to set overnight.

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Next, the wing assembly was fitted to the fuselage. The fillet joint between the fuselage and the upper-wing did not require any filler; small amounts of green putty were required between the engine cowling and forward lower-wing join and the rear lower-wing join connecting to the rear fuselage. The filled areas were sanded down using 600 grit wet and dry paper and accessories from step 11 such as the engine cowling scoops, nose guns and ammunition collector fairings were added before the aircraft was given a second coat of grey auto-primer from a rattle-can.

The lower-fuselage was then airbrushed with Humbrol satin 127 which I selected as a close approximation of the blue-grey undersurfaces for this aircraft. In addition, the wheel hubs and undercarriage doors were also airbrushed with Hu 127. Once this had dried, the aircraft was masked off in preparation of the application of the first coat of paint on the upper-surfaces.

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Camouflage and markings

Four options are available in this kit. All are examples of Swedish Air Force machines, I chose ‘Camo C’, J-9, F8-White “8”, 1st division, F8 Wing, 1942. This aircraft sports a two-tone ‘Italian-style’ scheme of Zinc-chromate (Humbrol matt 36 – 70% + Humbrol 117 – 30%), over which I added a ‘mottled’ effect of Humbrol matt 155 olive green, applied with a stippling brush. After this had been left to dry for approximately 30 minutes, the scheme was over-painted with heavily thinned Humbrol 116 dark green. This softened the edges of the mottled olive green. The main-wheel and tail-wheel tyres were painted using Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black. Once dry, the J-9 was post shaded and given a wash of Windsor & Newton ivory black oil paint.

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Final Construction

The last stage of construction included the addition of the exhaust stubs, pitot tube, wing-guns, aerial loop, main undercarriage and doors. Finally, the decals were applied using micro-sol and micro-set decal setting solutions. The decals were of good quality, opaque, thin and in register. This kit has been on my shelf for some months due to a reluctance to build because of the complicated camouflage scheme. It was however an enjoyable build and as always Special Hobby does not disappoint.

Highly recommended.

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References

  • Seversky P-35 in Detail by Martin Waligorski, IPMS Stockholm, last updated 22-09-2006: http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/1998/04/stuff_eng_detail_p35.htm
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Four: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (Sixth impression 1969).
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. “The end of the beginning…The Seversky P-35”. Air Enthusiast, Ten, July–September 1979, pp. 8–21
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Seversky P-35 fact sheet. Last Updated: 04-02-2011.

Richard Reynolds.

Special Hobby 1/32 Morane-Saulnier MS-406C.1 “Hi-tech” Kit Review

Special Hobby 1/32 Morane-Saulnier MS-406C.1 “Hi-tech”

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Kit: SH32019  Special Hobby 1/32 Morane-Saulnier MS-406C.1 “Hi-tech”

Price: 45.90 Euros Available from CMK Kits: http://www.cmkkits.com

Decals: Three Options, two French, one Finnish Air Force.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts. In addition, the Montex Super Mask K32074 MS 406 was used: www.montex-mask.com

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History

 In 1934 the Armée de ‘l Air announced a competition for a single-seat fighter aircraft design capable of reaching 450 km/h, armed with one or two 20mm cannon.

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The winner of the competition was the Morane-Saulnier M.S. 405C.1 of which 16 were produced before production was turned over to the modified M.S. 406C.1 version of the aircraft. The M.S. 406 as powered by the Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 liquid-cooled V-12, 640 kW (860 hp) engine rated at: 486 km/h (303 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and was armed with one 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon firing through the propeller hub and 2× 7.5 mm (0.295 in) MAC 1934 machine guns mounted in the wings.

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By the standards of the day the Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406C.1 was a good aircraft being more powerful than the German Messerschmitt Bf 109D. However, development was slow and by the outbreak of the war the M.S. 406 had been superseded by the more capable Messerschmitt Bf 109 E.

The Aircraft was first introduced in 1938 and served with the French, Turkish, Swiss and Finnish Air Forces. It achieved its greatest combat successes with the Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) during the Continuation War with Russia and the Lapland War against the Germans.

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During the Winter War of 1939 to 1940, the French Government donated 50 M.S. 406C.1s to the Finnish Air Force. In total the Ilmavoimat received 76 M.S.406 and 11 M.S.410.

The initial batch of 50 were assembled in Malmö Sweden and flown to Finland by Finnish pilots in February 1940. These aircraft were coded; MS-301 to MS-330.

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After the fall of France in 1940 the Finnish Government entered into negotiations with the Germans to acquire additional stocks of M.S. 406’s that had been captured during the conflict. 10 aircraft were bought in late 1940 arriving on January 4th the next year. These aircraft were overhauled at Valtion lentokonetehdas (The State Aircraft Factory at Tampere), and were given the codes MS-601 to MS-610.

An additional 15 more aircraft had been procured by the end of 1941 which received the designation codes: MS-611 – MS 625. A further 30 M.S. 406’s were ferried from France the next summer by Finnish Pilots. These were designated: MS-626 to MS-655. The last two aircraft of the 406 series destined for Finnish service were MS-656 and MS-657 arriving in late 1942.

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Of the 11 M.S. 410 aircraft that were operated by the Ilmavoimat, 4 were fitted with fixed radiators. These were: MS-614, 615, 621 and MS 624. The Finns were adept at converting existing aircraft to improve performance and acclimatise them to the cold conditions of their country. The major conversion was the Mörkö-Morane (“Ghost Morane”). The Mörkö’s were adapted to take the Russian Klimov M105P Engine which had approximately the same dimensions as the Hispano-Suiza used by the M.S.406. The new power-plant increased the aircraft’s output from 860hp to 1100hp.

Top speed at sea level was 445 km/h and 510 km/h at 4,000 metres. Service ceiling was 10,300 metres. Three Aircraft were available at the time of the Continuation War; the Mörkö-Morane took part in the Lapland War driving the German forces northwards out of Finland into German occupied Norway. 41 airframes were converted to the Mörkö-Morane standard.

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The Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406C.1, 410 and Mörkö-Morane served with distinction in the Finnish Air Force during World War II. The aircraft served with Lentolaivue 28 between 1940-44 scoring 104 aerial victories whilst losing 36 aircraft, 16 of which were in combat. It served with Lentolaivue 14 between 1942-44 scoring 17 aerial victories, losing six aircraft; two in combat, one to anti-aircraft fire and three due to accidents.

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During 1944, hostilities ceased between the Soviet Union and Finland. In accordance with the armistice terms, all German forces stationed in Finnish territory had to be expelled on the 15th September 1944. This campaign became known as the ‘Lapin Sota’ or Lapland War. Lentoryhmä Sarko was formed for aerial operations in Lapland. Due to the demobilisation conditions imposed upon the Finns by the Soviet’s, the Finnish Air Force was only able to commit two squadrons to the task of driving out the German armed forces. These squadrons were; Lentorykmentti 2 and 4. Two flights of Moranes were assigned to the former.

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After the war the Moranes were given to a new unit HLeLv 21 which was formed from HLeLv 28. It operated Mörkö-Moranes until September 11th 1948 at which point, all Moranes were stored and then scrapped in 1952.

The Kit

 The kit comprises 4 sprues of 79 parts in grey injection moulded plastic, one fret of 6 clear injection moulded parts, one clear bag comprising of 17 resin cast parts, one clear sprue, two photo-etched frets with one in colour, a decal sheet with options for two French and one Finnish Air Force machine, one colour reference sheet and an instruction booklet.

Opening the Box reveals Special Hobby’s usually well filled and equally well packaged contents. With the resin parts and the clear sprue in their own plastic bags stapled to a cardboard bridge which spans the injection moulded parts. The injection moulding is crisp with fine recessed panel lines. The fabric texture on the rear fuselage and slightly raised ribs on the wings looks convincing and well sculpted. Some of the sprue attachment points intrude onto the plastic and care will be needed in removing them, however, Special Hobby looks to have done a fine job in the manufacture of this kit.

Construction

Once all of the parts were removed from their polyurethane bags, they were washed in a Luke warm soapy solution to remove the mould release and dried carefully with standard household paper towels.

All of the parts with the exception of the colour photo-etch and transparencies were sprayed using grey auto-primer from a rattle-can.

Sections 1 to 11 deal with the construction of the cockpit and this is a real gem. The cockpit is where the “Hi-Tech” element of this kit’s presentation lives up to its advertising.

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The instrument panel consists of an angled injection moulded backing which is then furnished with nine full-colour photo etched sub-sections, three of which are applied first. These contain the instrument dials which are overlaid with three superbly detailed etched panels which are stamped out to reveal the coloured flight instruments. Eight slits have been machined out so that the modeller can apply levers, good eyesight and a set of needle-point tweezers are recommended for this job. In addition, there are three etched instrument panels which are applied to the lower section of the control panel.

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The instrument panel is further enhanced with additional photo etched parts applied to the lower console; both the main instrument panel and lower console were then attached to the bulkhead to the rear of the engine compartment.

The cockpit is contained within a tubular framed compartment this was airbrushed with Humbrol 165 blue-grey and is well furnished with levers and a trim wheel, photo-etched control panels in full colour, rudder pedals with PE straps and a well detailed control column. The stand-out item is the seat which has a beautifully detailed set of harnesses and a seat cushion which I decided to paint with ‘burnt-umber’ Windsor and Newton oils to give it that ‘real’ leather look.

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With the cockpit complete, it was photographed and set to one side. The fuselage halves were removed carefully from the sprue frames using side cutters, trimmed and sanded. The pre-painted rear shelf was glued in place along with the cockpit compartment and the resin exhausts which had been airbrushed in black. Finally the radiator was added before the fuselage halves were joined.

The fuselage halves have no locating pins which is a feature of Special Hobby kits. I have made a few so I assumed that this would present no problems. The interior parts fitted perfectly and the fuselage halves appeared to fit together equally well. I left the construction overnight to cure, only to discover the next morning that there was a step running from the front of the nose all the way to the cockpit. This was purely down to my carelessness. It took a great deal of green putty and sanding down to correct this problem. I estimate no less than six sanding sessions!

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The final part of the fuselage construction consisted of fitting of the engine-cooling intakes and attaching the fore and aft transparencies once the Montex Masks had been applied. The cooling intakes are located either side of the nose, the Photo-etch intake covers may require some trimming to fit but otherwise the process is a straight forward one. There has been a great deal of discussion amongst modellers that the canopies do not fit on this model. I’ll admit that they appear to be a little narrow but if they are displayed with the canopy open the effect looks good to my eye.

The tail assembly is sections 14 and 15 presented few difficulties, as did the next step, the radiator assembly. There is a square hatch located in the lower-wing that the completed radiator drops into. I found this an extremely tight fit and had to resort to a scalpel blade and some sanding before the radiator slotted into position.

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At this stage the top and bottom halves of the wings were glued together before constructing the final sub-assemblies whilst the wings dried. The headrest and tubular frame support was added to the rear fuselage shelf, the guns and pitot tube added to the now dried and sanded wings before preparation for painting began.

Camouflage and markings

Painting Continuation War Finnish Air Force aircraft is now a familiar process to me. I do however always refer to Kari Stenman’s excellent Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, Sotamaalaus/Warpaint book which is the authority publication on camouflage schemes of the Finnish Air Force during World War II. I refer to a section from the book which I used in my Special Hobby 1/32 Brewster 239 article: Finnish aircraft of this period were painted with aluminium dope on their under surfaces, until a comparison was made with newly delivered Dornier 17Z’s in January-February 1942 and the air depot decreed that a light blue matt colour matched from Luftwaffe Hellblau 65 would better camouflage the fighters and was introduced from march 1942. White Ensign Models RLM 04 Gelb mixed with a few drops of Hu-33 Black was used for the nose, under the wing tips and for the tail-band. The lower-surface camouflage was WEM RLM 65 Blue. The upper-surface camouflage of Finnish Air Force green at the time of the continuation war consists of: Humbrol 116 (6 parts) + hu 117 (6 parts) + hu 163 (1 part). Top-surface black was similarly matched as: Humbrol 33 and 0.5ml of a pipette of Humbrol 64 added to lighten the hu 33 black. The white ‘Distemper’ paint was hastily applied, usually at airfields and consisted of an easily washable glue and white powder, which is why many aircraft that carry the winter camouflage have a very ‘patchy’ appearance.

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I decided that I wanted to paint a winter camouflaged Finnish M.S. 406 which meant that I had to obtain a set off Montex K32074 Super Masks from A2ZEE Models. I have had experience of using these vinyl masks on canopies before but never having had to use them to mask fuselage codes and the Number ‘8’ on the tail. I admit to approaching this process with some trepidation but patience (a lot of patience!) produced a satisfactory result.

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Weathering the aircraft was done with ivory black oils and lightly rubbing down the white distemper with a sanding stick. The remainder of the markings were traditional Special Hobby decals which were opaque and in register and went on using micro-sol and Micro-set.

Final Construction

The outer vinyl masks were removed from the canopy and the centre section was glued in the open position using Humbrol clear-fix. The gun-sights were added, as was the mass balance. The undercarriage comprised the final part of the construction process. Special Hobby helpfully provides a head-on diagram of the correct positioning of the undercarriage arrangement which is useful.

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I have to confess to being a Special Hobby fan. The kits do have their drawbacks but I feel that with a patient approach you can build an excellent model. This “Hi-Tech” example made it an outstanding kit to build. It comes highly recommended.

References

  • Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, Sotamaalaus/Warpaint by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing, 2003.
  • Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 4, Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406 by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing, 2004.
  • IPMS Stockholm Magazine, Finnish Air Force camouflage and markings 1940-44 2004/05 edition.

Richard Reynolds.

Work in Progress: 1/32 Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406C.1 in Finnish Service

Building the Special Hobby SH 32019 Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406C.1 in 1/32 scale:

I have wanted to build this kit for some time. Having been inspired by Brett Green’s review of the kit on HyperScale I decided to purchase the model. Special Hobby kits have yet to disappoint and this one is no exception, the cockpit is fully furnished with instruments and controls in Photo-Etch and Polyurethane. So far, I have completed the cockpit which run through stages 1-11 of the instruction manual. The images below display the level of detail that Special Hobby offer in their ‘High-Tech’ series of kits.

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This kit contains everything you need to complete a competition standard model. The only after-market item I have purchased is the Montex Super-Mask (Item code: K32074), which will enable me to finish the kit as MS 328 in a Continuation War ‘distemper’ camouflage scheme. A full review and history of this aircraft will follow once the kit has been completed.

MS.406 Finland

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Richard Reynolds.

Special Hobby 1/32 Finnish Brewster Model 239 Review

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Special Hobby 1:32 Brewster B-239

Special Hobby 1/32 Brewster B-239. Kit: SH32004 Special Hobby Model 239. Price: £36.50 available from Hannants UK. Decals: Three options. Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts.

Review available to view on Modeling Madness: Special Hobby 1/32 Brewster B239 Buffalo

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

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History

The Soviet Union invaded Finland on the 30th November 1939. At that time, the only modern fighters available to Finland were 36 Fokker D.XXIs. The Finnish embassy was in negotiations with the United States for modern fighter aircraft at the time of the attack, as Finland hadn’t declared war on the Soviet Union, US laws about selling war materials to a country at war did not apply. Due to the shortage of modern types such as the Grumman F4F Wildcat and Seversky EP-1, (the latter having been purchased by Sweden) 44 Brewster 239s declared surplus by the USN were purchased by the Finnish government.

44 Brewster model 239 aircraft were bought on the 16th of December 1939 with a unit cost of $54,000 including delivery. A lack of standard Wright R-1820-34 engines meant that Finnish Brewster 239s were equipped with refurbished R-1820 G-5 engines taken from DC-3 airliners.

Three aircraft were completed and test flown in the USA, the remaining 41 machines were assembled and test flown in Trollhatten, Sweden. Only six aircraft had flown to Finland at the end of the winter war on the 13th of March 1940. Finnish Brewster 239s differed from their American counterparts in having the inclusion of instruments originally bought for licence-made Fokker D.XXIs and British Aldis telescopic sights which were replaced with Finnish copies of the German Revi 3/c deflector sights before the continuation war. The B-239s were equipped with three Colt MG 53-2 .50 cal machine guns and one colt MG-40 .30 cal (later changed to .50 cal). The Brewster’s were coded with numerals BW-351 to BW-394.

Brewster B-239 BW-355 (Below) was purchased with funds donated by the well known Finnish Company NOKIA. In return, the aircraft was adorned with the inscription “NOKA”. On the 18th of April 1940, BW-355 was assigned to LLv 24 and continued to carry it’s name until the aircraft was destroyed on the 24th October 1944.

BW-355 - "NOKA"
BW-355 – “NOKA”

The Finnish Brewster’s started their service career with Lentolaivue 24 commanded by Major G. Magnusson. 24 Squadron had been very successful during the winter war, scoring 89 kills with the Fokker D.XXI for the loss of 8 aircraft.

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Two aircraft were lost from LeLv 24 in the inter-war peace in crashes. Modifications were made to the Brewsters in this period, the most notable being the replacement of the rear wheel to a larger 12X4 inch wheelbarrow wheel more suited to grass-field operations.

During the Jatkosota or Continuation war between June 6th 1941 and 21st May 1944, Squadron 24 was based at Vesivehmaa field near the city of Lahti in southern Finland. At the beginning of the Continuation war the Soviet Union deployed six air forces totalling some 1000 combat aircraft, comprising DB-3 and SB-2 bombers, I-153 and I-16 fighters with some MiG-1s against Squadron 28 with 23 Morane Saulnier 406s, Squadron 26 with 16 Fiat G.50s, Squadrons 30 and 32 with 52 Fokker D.XXIs and 8 Hurricane Mk.Is and Squadron 24 with 37 Brewster 239s.

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Squadron 24 shot down 459 Soviet aircraft during the continuation war, losing 15 aircraft in aerial combat, 4 in crashes and 2 in bombings yielding a kill ratio of 30.6 to 1. The extraordinary success of the Brewster against the Soviets can be explained in the good quality of the well trained Finnish pilots, the comparable performance of Soviet aircraft to the Brewster 239, the adoption of Luftwaffe-style fighter tactics with the use of Schwarms and inexperienced pilots being paired with experienced pilots as opposed to Soviet air combat tactics being predictable with en-masse air regiments being deployed and the use of the ‘Spanish-ring’ developed during the Spanish civil war in which the Soviets flew a tight circle which was countered by the Finns using pendulum tactics, which was a vertical dive from high, climb up and repeat which suited the Brewsters well. In addition, radio intelligence and Finnish ground control was very good especially from 1943 onward which contributed to a professional and effective air package.

The best Brewster 239 pilots and indeed the best in the Ilmavoimat or Finnish air force were Captain Hans Wind with 39 kills on type and Staff Sergeant Ilmari Juutilainen with 34 kills. 13 Brewsters remained on strength with squadron 26 in the Lapland war between Finland and Germany between September 1944 and April 1945. 5 aircraft operated between the end of the war in April of 1945 and the autumn of 1948, the last flights being flown on the 14th September 1948 by BW-377 and BW-382.

Juutilainen Article Brewster 1

The Brewster model 239 was known as ‘Taivann Helmi’ in Finnish or ‘Pearl of the Skies’ reflecting the high esteem in which it was held by its pilots and ground crews.

The Kit

The kit comprises 9 sprues in grey injection moulded plastic, one clear bag of 8 resin casting blocks, one clear sprue, one photo-etched fret, a clear instrument film, decal sheet with options for three Finnish Air Force machines, one colour reference sheet and an instruction booklet.

Lifting the lid reveals a busy, well packaged box with the resin parts and the clear sprue in their own plastic bags stapled to a cardboard bridge which spans the injection moulded parts. The injection moulding is crisp with fine recessed panel lines. No sink marks or blemishes were apparent and the fit of the fuselage halves was good. The sprue-gate attachments intrude slightly on the fuselage halves and the upper and lower wings, however these can be easily trimmed and sanded flush.

This kit contains several parts which are meant for different marks of Buffalo and are therefore redundant. These parts are clearly marked in the instructions with an ‘X’. They include: Fuselage halves, alternative windscreen, fuselage bottom window, engine parts and cowlings.

The engine is well detailed with pushrods supplied; I have added the ignition-leads by using 0.3mm stainless steel wire to enhance the look of the Wright R-1820 G-5 engine.

B-239 Pictures 006

Construction

The parts were washed using a warm-soapy solution to remove the mould release from the kit and then dabbed dry. All of the parts were then sprayed with auto-primer from a rattle can. Air Publication 1806A Pilot’s notes for the Buffalo Aeroplane were used as a reference guide in the cockpit construction phase.

The interior was painted with Xtracolor X-142 Aluminium representing aluminium lacquer as indicated by the IPMS Stockholm magazine 2004/05. The instrument panel was painted in black as per pictures of Brewster 239 BW-372 on display at the Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo (the Aviation Museum of Central Finland) near Jyväskylä airport in Tikkakoski.

The undercarriage bay, engine-mount and the interior of the cowling were also painted in Xtracolor X-142 aluminium. Footage of airframe BW-372 recovered from Kolejärvi Lake, Russian Karelia reveals that with the engine removed, the undercarriage bay and engine-mount is natural metal.

The cockpit is extremely comprehensive and stands up to comparison to pictures in Air Publication 1806A Pilot’s notes for the Buffalo I Airplane. Using this publication as a reference, I enhanced the cockpit detail by adding 0.1 and 0.3mm stainless steel wire to represent the wiring and cabling represented in the aircraft. In addition, I attached glass beads to the tops of the flap raising and lowering control and the undercarriage raising and lowering control. 1.9mm purl wire was also added to represent the windscreen heater hose. Finally, I downloaded a period map of the Karelia region, over which this aircraft fought, and placed it folded in the pilot’s bucket seat.

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B-239 Pictures 001

Construction of the undercarriage bay and gun mount were straight forward, it is advised that the parts are dry-fitted at each stage as the instructions are not clear on the location of completed assemblies.

At this stage the fuselage halves were sealed together, there were some minor fit issues; however these were rectified with the application of small amounts of green putty.

The engine is well detailed, however an inspection of photographs of the Wright R-1820 G-5 engine reveal that the instructions are incorrect in the positioning of the ignition harness. This needs to sit on top of the pushrod ring and not beneath it as indicated by the instructions. I added 0.3mm stainless steel wire to the ignition harness to represent the spark-plug leads, once completed the engine was encased in the cowling and mounted to the fuselage.

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The wings and tail-planes were then assembled and once dry fitted to the fuselage. The wing-roots were filled with small quantities of green putty, as were the tail planes and the fuselage join. Once sanded down with a combination of sanding sticks and wet and dry, the canopies were masked with Eduard’s 1/32 Buffalo canopy mask and attached using liquid cement.

The aircraft was then primed in preparation for its first coat of Xtracolor X-142 Aluminium. Once the camouflage and decals had been applied, the undercarriage was fitted with the addition of wire brake cables and finally the propeller, tail-plane and aerials were added completing the kit.

Camouflage and markings

Three colour options are available: BW-393 of Eino Luukkanen C/O of 1/LLv 24 November 1942, BW-393 belonging to Luutnantti Hans Wind, C/O of 1/LLv 24, Suulajärvi airfield, April 1943 and the option that I chose, BW-378 of Kni Per-Erik Sovelius, C/O of 4/LLv 24, Lunkula airfield late 1941.

The model was airbrushed overall in Xtracolor X-142 Aluminium and then the top-surface green was applied and matched from WWII aircraft exhibits that I photographed on my visit to the Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Vantaa, Helsinki (The Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa) and from the Finnish Air Force colour reference on the IPMS Stockholm website.

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Finnish Air Force green at the time of the continuation war consists of: Humbrol hu 116 (6 parts) + hu 117 (6 parts) + hu 163 (1 part). Top-surface black was similarly matched as: Humbrol hu 33 and 0.5ml of a pipette of Humbrol hu 64 added to lighten the hu 33 black. Photographs of BW-378 show that the aircraft was heavily weathered with large areas of aluminium showing through the camouflage, this effect was achieved by lightly sanding the top-coats back to the X-142 Aluminium undercoat. Paint chipping of the upper surfaces and the wing walk areas was achieved with a prismacolor 753 metallic silver verithin pencil.

Under-surface camouflage is aluminium dope as indicated in the excellent Kari Stenman publication ‘Warpaint’.  Finnish aircraft of this period were painted with aluminium dope on their under surfaces, until a comparison was made with newly delivered Dornier 17Z’s in January-February 1942 and the air depot decreed that a light blue matt colour matched from Luftwaffe Hellblau 65 would better camouflage the fighters and was introduced from march 1942. Xtracolor X-213 RLM 04 Gelb mixed with a few drops of Hu-33 Black was used for the nose, under the wing tips and for the tail-band.

 Final Construction

After the application of the decals, the model was weathered with a wash of heavily thinned burnt umber and ivory black oils on all surfaces and the aircraft was post-shaded with thinned Humbrol Hu-33 Black. Once dry, future was applied to finish the kit.

This kit contains few drawbacks and although minor alterations and a careful study of the instructions are required it builds into a nice example of the Finnish Brewster B-239.

Highly recommended.

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References

  • Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 1B, Brewster model 239 by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing.
  • Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, Sotamaalaus/Warpaint by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing.
  • IPMS Stockholm Magazine, Finnish Air Force camouflage and markings 1940-44 2004/05 edition.
  • Air Publication 1806A, Pilot’s notes, The Buffalo I Aeroplane.

Brewster B-239 Volumes 1 & 2 available from Kari Stenman Publishing.

B-239 1B-239 2