Hobby Boss's Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet certainly justifies its Easy Assembly title - it could hardly be more simple, with just 18 parts packed into a moulded black plastic tray, plus instructions and decals for two colour schemes.
As I've discovered with other kits in the range, this simplicity doesn't mean poor moulding quality - the parts are actually better moulded than in many more conventional kits, with no flash or sink marks and a smooth surface finish with precisely engraved panel lines and some crisp raised details. Fabric surfaces are a bit overdone, but a coat or two of paint will soon take care of that.
The main airframe comprises just four parts - a full-span wing / fuselage top, a drop-in lower fuselage, a separate fin and a nose cone. As you might expect, a solid one-piece wing results in a few compromises - the fixed leading-edge slats aren't quite right and the wingtips are rather thick and square in section - but the kit holds a few nice surprises too, such as tiny details moulded inside the rocket exhaust.
The cockpit interior is moulded integrally with the fuselage and is very basic. There's a headrest to add, but that's all, and in fact the cockpit doesn't match the illustrations in the instructions, which depict an interior armoured glass screen, missing in the actual kit. The area behind the cockpit is an empty space - in reality, this was filled with the T-Stoff tanks, so you might want to blank it off, or paint the inside surface of the canopy's rear glazing in RLM 66 to prevent a see-through look.
Final details are the take-off dolly and landing skid, a choice of tailwheels, an aerial and pitot tube and, rounding everything off, a generator propeller for the nose.
Instructions and decals
The assembly instructions are clearly drawn (notwithstanding the missing cockpit detail) and leave little scope for even an absolute newcomer to modelling to go too far wrong. On the rear page is a full colour painting guide for two colour schemes:
1. "White 13" of II/JG 400
2. A captured Me 163B in RAF markings as VF241.
The painting guide has become confused at some point - the RAF serial number is repeated on one diagram for the Luftwaffe aircraft. The captured aircraft lacks roundels on the top of the wings and the underside is described as orange, rather than yellow and the fuselage camouflage doesn't match photos of the machine in RAF service.
The decals aren't bad, being thin and glossy and the registration is good on most of the items (just the diminutive fuselage roundels have slipped on the sample sheet). The RAF markings are a realistic dull red and swastikas are provided in halves (they are blacked-out on the painting guide), although the proportions look rather suspect. Rounding everything off is a set of stencils, including stylized T- and C-Stoff filling markings.
Hobby Boss's Me 163B is quite a neat little kit, that's ideal for kids and beginners, but still could appeal to more experienced modellers looking for a weekend build as some light relief. Rivet counters will no doubt bemoan the simplified details and incomplete markings, but this pocket-money kit isn't aimed at them - and, in fact, with some additional work, it could be transformed into a very nice little Komet.
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Highs: Cheap and very easy to build. Very well moulded.Lows: Simplified details and decals.Verdict: This is an ideal kit for beginners and could also serve as a basis for a more detailed Komet.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...