Building upon the experience granted by many years of safe opertion of the Graf Zeppelin, the Hindenberg was concieved to be the finest, most luxurious of the Zeppelin liners. Originally intended to be filled with Helium, Germany's political differences with the United States (at the time the only supplier of Helium on an indusrial scale) necessitated that it be filled with hydogen instead. Hindenberg operated throughout the 1936 passenger season without mishap. Thoroughly refitted in 1937, it began the season once again flying to North and South America, but on its first trip it was destroyed by a still mysterious fire on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. The newsreel footage
of the disaster still haunts viewers. In 1975 its final voyage was the subject of a somewhat fictionalised feature film starring George C Scott.
AMT's Hindenberg first saw the light of day in 1975. At the time it was very impressive in its red box, grabbing all sorts of attention on the hobby shop shelves. There is very little flash for a 40 year old kit and test fitting the envelope halves reveals that they fit very well. This is a very simple model, with only 35 parts, including a 3 part stand, hanging rings and a deformed DC-3 you're supposed to put on the stand for scale. This kit was issued by Round 2 Models, which has purchased many older model companies' moulds. The model is in 1/520 scale, to fit into the box rather than into modellers' collections.
The envelope is two halves from nose to tail. It includes the upper and lower fins and rudders. There is some very out of scale fabric texture moulded into the hull surface. It could be sanded back if the modeller desires but it's likely to tone down under a coat of primer paint. The windows are all moulded solid. The control gondola is a separate part, again with solid windows. Two hanging hooks are provided if you wish to hang your Hindenberg from the ceiling. They will require flashed-over holes to be opened up on the top of the envelope. The characteristic vents at the top of the envelope are much smaller than they ought to be, and not paired. They could be replaced by vents carved from plastic strip.
The tailplanes are moulded in upper and lower halves complete with elevators. They slot very securely into the sides of the envelope. They'll need a trifle of sanding at their mating surfaces to make certain they fit together without seams. The gap between the control surfaces and the fixed fins could use a little refining.
Each engine pod is moulded in two halves. When I first built this kit back in the '70s I rushed the assembly and my engine pods looked horrible. Take your time and refine the fit. Each pod is supported by a pair of V struts which mount into tiny circles on the surface of the envelope. They're not very sturdy and my first Hindenberg was rendered engineless early on in its career. Superglue may help to keep them in place, or perhaps the struts can be remade using brass wire and drilling their mounting holes. The propellers look as though they were hacked from 6 X 6 timbers with an axe. The definitely need some finessing to look the part.
Hindenberg used a fixed landing wheel on the lower fin and a retractable wheel under the gondola. The fin wheel is moulded into the halves and will need a bit of cleaning up to make it look crisp. The review kit is missing the gondola wheel, but my memory from the '70s suggests that it can only be mounted in the extended position without surgery.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like the Hindenberg.
Decals and markings
Markings are provided for the Hindenberg as it appeared on its final flight. In this issue, all the windows are provided as decals, a much improved state of affairs compared to the first issue. The swastikas for the Nazi Germany flags on the tail are provided as two parts to comply with many countries' laws affecting this marking. They should be easy to put together, replace with aftermarket decals, or leave off altogether. The rings indicating the large sporting event held in Berlin in 1936 are separate in this issue due to copyright issues from the large sporting event's governing body. They'll need more than a bit of patience to line up correctly. Hindenberg's name is correctly rendered in red. The decals are matte finished, but nicely in register and the colour saturation is good. No markings are included for the DC-3.
Hindenberg at the mooring mast at Lakehurst
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