by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Grunau Baby is often cited as the most-produced glider in history, although the precise number constructed seems unknown. First flying in the 1930s, over 4,000 were built in Nazi Germany and the territory it later occupied – but thousands more were constructed both in Germany and internationally following the end of the war. Depending which source you consult, the final figure has been estimated as between 5,000 and 6,000, to over 6,000 aircraft.
In pre-war Germany, the Grunau Baby IIb became the standard basic training glider for the Deutscher Luftsportverband and Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps which provided military aviation training for future Luftwaffe pilots.
Browsing Fly’s website recently, I spotted a series of kits which had hitherto slipped under my personal “radar” - namely the Grunau Baby II in a plethora of boxings offering different colour schemes. Having always had a soft spot for sailplanes, I could hardly resist! I’ve chosen the classic German pre-war option, but the series also includes a wide variety of civil and military schemes.
Fly’s Baby IIs are packed in generic end-opening boxes which contain identical parts and assembly instructions - the difference being in the decals and painting guides included. You can see the full range in the final picture at the right.
The kit is quite simple, comprising:
18 x beige styrene parts
38 x etched brass parts
Printed film for the windscreen and instruments
Decals in this case for 2 x colour schemes
The kit is produced using limited run technology, but the moulding is still very good. The styrene parts appear to have been produced by MPM and there’s no flash to speak of on my example, and no sign of any sink marks. There are a pair of ejector pin marks that might just be visible in the cockpit, so I’ll fill them to be on the safe side. Other than that, everything looks fine.
The surface finish on the wings and tail is beautiful, with delicate and extremely precise structure moulded very subtly. This will provide the perfect opportunity for some careful shading to create a faux translucent fabric effect.
The fuselage is basically blank, whereas some photos of restored machines reveal the plywood panelling. As far as I can tell, the fuselage originally received a final covering of doped fabric to give a smooth finish - but you can often still make out a hint of the underlying structure, so that's something you might want to represent.
Test FitThe fuselage halves are straight and true, and match up perfectly. There are no locating pins, but that’s usually a benefit in kits of this nature in my opinion. The one-piece wing is dead straight, with the pronounced camber on the underside. Straight off the sprue, the contour doesn’t quite match the fuselage - but it’s only a smidgen off, and will be simple to sort out. Some modellers might want to add a brass pin or two (similarly on the tail), but it probably doesn’t need it.
A Few DetailsWith such a simple kit, there really are only a few - but what’s supplied is nice.
The cockpit features a choice of etched instrument panels with film backing. Styrene parts provide the seat and floor (the seat features a convincingly “rumpled” back pad), bulkhead, control column and rudder pedals, while a multi-piece etched harness rounds everything off.
Outside, the windscreen has to be fashioned from film and attached to an etched frame. Taping the film to a matching curve and plunging it into very hot water should set the required shape.
A nice touch is the provision of etched control horns, mounts for the strut attachments and the tow-hook.
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are printed as an A-5 folded sheet. Construction is clearly illustrated and broken down into 9 straightforward stages. Generic colours are keyed to most details, with Humbrol and AK Interactive matches for the colour schemes.
Decals are provided in my kit for two NSFK sailplanes: D-4-764 and D-4-854.
The decals look to be excellent quality - thin and glossy, with pin-sharp printing. Absolutely tiny text is perfectly legible with the aid of a magnifier. Swastikas are provided on white circles, ready for you to paint the tail band - a better option than providing it as a decal with the inevitable touching up required.
MasksAs I mentioned above, the wings and tail feature an intricate depiction of the spars and ribs, which is an open invitation for the clever clear-doped-linen effects we see done to such effect these days. The trouble is, the masking involved is inevitably going to be quite laborious.
With this in mind, Fly have hit upon an excellent idea and teamed up with Artillery to produce a bespoke set of vinyl painting masks. The results should be spectacular and the die-cut masks will be a colossal time-saver. No instructions are included, but they look pretty much self-explanatory and (as far as I can judge without actually applying them) look to be a perfect fit.
Although not their intended use, the set also opens up the possibility of thinning the wings down to a knife-sharp trailing edge and using the masks to recreate the moulded detail with paint or Mr. Surfacer.
Note: While it’s tempting to go for the classic clear-doped-linen effect on an N.S.F.K. glider, the official finish was painted overall with FAS 1 or RLM 05 (later with camouflage added as the war situation worsened). I’ll still use the masks, but very subtly – and, even then, it could be a case of artistic licence.
The masking set is available separately from Fly and costs and additional 4.93 Euros
ConclusionFly’s Grunau Baby II is a lovely little kit, and excellent value for money at less than a tenner (Sterling). It’s simple enough to make a good choice for newcomers to limited-run kits, but should also satisfy more advanced modellers. Recommended.
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