by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Italeri looked guaranteed to please fans of Italian WW2 aircraft with the release of a new-mould mainstream kit of the Re 2002 produced to the latest standards. With the inclusion of a reference book too, it all promised to add up to a very exciting package.
The kit arrives in a very distinctive end-opening box. One end forms a flap with colour profiles of the featured decal options, and it pulls out to reveal a frameable version of the boxtop painting. Very innovative. Inside, the sprues are bagged for protection and there's the promised reference booklet. The kit comprises:
75 x pale grey styrene parts
3 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 6 x colour schemes
44-page reference book
After the initial excitement of the novel packaging, examining the actual kit parts brings you back down to earth rather quickly. Although the parts are quite cleanly moulded with little sign of flash or sink marks, the overall impression is one of heaviness. The surface finish comprises quite nicely engraved panel lines, but these are accompanied by colossal embossed rivets, especially on the wings and tail, and a very exaggerated fabric effect on the control surfaces. Jean-Luc Formery has further spotted that the rivet pattens on the wings aren't symmetrical. There's some slight scarring at the starboard wing root and moulding is a bit soft in places, leading to some rounded edges on some joints.
A quick test fit of the main parts shows there shouldn't be too many real problems, but confirms the general clumsiness throughout. The wings are very thick towards the tips compared with reference photos and the roots don't quite match up. Construction is a little unusual in that fuselage and wing access panels aren't even marked on the exterior, instead, the areas are thinned on the inner surface, the idea being to open up them up and install panels. Quite how well these will fit remains to be seen. The kit features separate elevators and landing flaps. The fuselage headrest/spine is a separate part and fits neatly enough, but its shape and the position of the rear-view indentations looks a bit suspect.
A few detailsAfter the disappointing exterior finish, the cockpit doesn't seem too bad, with an 8-part assembly featuring some detail on the floor and sidewalls, an instrument panel complete with individual decals for the dials, and a pilot's seat that features a moulded-on harness. True, the harness is softly detailed and experienced modellers will prefer to replace it, but at least Italeri have included one. Unfortunately, the seat doesn't have the "hunch-back" look of the original, lacking the bulge to accommodate the pilot's parachute pack.
The 5-part engine is a bit heavily done with exaggerated cooling fins on the cylinders, while the main gear legs are rather like tree-trunks compared with photos of the originals. The wheels are weighted.
The designers have included 3 alternative stores options - a drop tank, or a bomb mounted on a standard rack or dive-bombing swing crutch. As elsewhere, the detail is quite heavy, the arming propeller on the bomb being no more than a blob.
The canopy is crystal clear and nice and thin with neatly defined framing.
Overall, the kit looks set to build pretty quickly and simply but, without quite a lot of work detailing and refining the basic parts, could end up being rather toy-like.
The booklet is a very neat inclusion. Along with some walkaround photos of preserved airframes under restoration, it is copiously illustrated with line-drawings from the original aircraft parts manual. I'm sure the intention was to provide an all-in-one package to allow you to superdetail the model should you wish too, but ironically it only underlines just how basic the kit is in some departments.
The instructions are illustrated with what appear to be photos of the actual kit parts, rather in the style of some early 1950s models. The exploded views are simple to follow and work well in a manner that is both modern and somehow "retro" at the same time. Colours are keyed to most details and these are for Model Master enamels.
Decals are included for no less than 6 colour schemes:
1: "239-4", 5° Stormo, flown by Major Giuseppe Cenni, Regia Aeronautica, Foggia, Italy 1943
2: "239-2", 5° Stormo, 239 Ma. Squadriglia, 102° Gruppo Reggio Emilia, Regia Aeronautica, Italy 1944
3: "Red 9", 5° Stormo, 208 Ma. Squadriglia, 101° Gruppo Isola capo Rizzuto, Regia Aeronautica, Crutone, Italy 1944
4: "Red 9", 5° Stormo, 239 Ma. Squadriglia, 102° Gruppo Palata, Aeronautica Cobelligerante Italiana, Campobasso, Italy 1944
5: DV BI "Red 5", Geschwader Bongart, Luftwaffe, Bourges, France 1944
6: Unknown Luftwaffe unit, Pavullo nel Frignano, Bologna, Italy 1944
The decals are printed in perfect register with a very flat finish. The Co-belligerent roundels are spoiled because the green centres are printed slightly too small and reveal a red centre underneath.
ConclusionItaleri's Re 2002 is quite an ambitious package, but I'm afraid I can't help feeling disappointed by the clumsy and simplified detail. Despite the neat reference booklet, the kit feels overpriced for such a basic and quite crudely detailed model. Eduard are planning a detail set that should be available around September and the kit could certainly benefit from the extra refinement. Meanwhile, the kit is also due to appear under the Tamiya banner, which seems a bit surprising, because it's certainly not up their standard.
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