by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Pacific Coast Models have continued their policy of combining the talents of leading European kits and accessories manufacturers to bring us a mixed-media kit of a long sought after largescale subject - the Ta 152H.
So, the plastic and resin parts are produced by Sword, Eduard supply etched details, and Cartograf provide the decals.
The kit arrives in a surprisingly compact box adorned with a striking picture by Dan Zoernig. The contents are well presented with the sprues and accessories bagged separately, and the kit comprises:
54 x grey styrene parts (4 spare)
2 x clear injected parts
21 x gray-green resin parts
4 x clear resin parts
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
Anyone familiar with Sword's own models or their contact work (e.g. for Classic Airframes) will pretty much know what to expect with the main parts. They are "limited run", with a silky finish that has a faint texture to the touch. Sprue attachments are commendably small, but there's a little flash here and there and one or two small sink marks. There are a few chunky ejector pin marks to remove before assembly but, generally, clean-up should be pretty painless.
Surface detail consists of finely scribed panel lines with a few embossed rivets and fasteners. fabric surfaces have raised rib tapes. Despite moulding restrictions, Sword have done a good job in running the panel detail right to the edges on the top and bottom of the fuselage.
The canopy is nice and clear with moulded-on circles for the anti-misting silica-gel capsules, and is accompanied by clear resin navigation and formation lamps.
Resin detailsThe main set of resin parts is very nicely produced, crisply cast with no sign of bubbles in my kit. The cockpit tub had taken a few knocks in transit, resulting in the rudder pedals being broken, but it was only a few moments work to repair them for the photo.
The resin parts basically provide a nicely detailed cockpit and wheel wells. There's an intricate "plug" to represent the rear of the engine; while I don't know how accurate it is, it should certainly avoid the empty void there would otherwise be. There's a radiator core, but it's a bit featureless, and a very nice propeller back-plate/hub. Last but not least, exhausts with hollowed ends.
Etched detailsEduard's contribution is a set of very nice pre-painted seat harnesses. As usual, the detail is far finer than I could hope to paint, and the multi-part belts and buckles should look excellent with a bit of "weathering" to soften their pristine appearance.
Test fitAfter a little clean-up, the main parts fit together pretty well. The fuselage halves are straight and true, with the panel detail lining up neatly. The wings are split into 5 parts, with the lower surface divided outboard of the wheel wells (that's how PCM keep the kit's box so compact). The fit is fine, but the parts breakdown does mean a seam to hide across the flaps. The join at the wing roots isn't at all bad. The tail-planes fit with a simple circular peg, but they do seem a bit chunky, so I'll definitely thin them down a bit.
All in all, the Ta 152H looks set fair to be a very satisfying build for anyone with experience of mixed media kits.
A question of accuracySo far, so good - and, before I go any further, I'll say that PCM's Ta 152H will undoubtedly look really impressive when completed and will more than justify its place in any model collection. That said, there are some rather obvious errors and compromises that even a cursory examination for this review revealed.
- The most serious, and hardest to fix, is the position of the wing relative to the fuselage. A look at a side-on photo of the full sized aircraft shows the trailing edge of the wing lining up (more or less) with the canopy/windscreen break line. On the kit, the trailing edge is set further back, as on the Fw 190D. If the wing is set too far back, and assuming the chord is correct, that presumably means the nose dimensions are out by corresponding amount too...
- The wing itself lacks the slight kink in the dihedral on the trailing edge that gave the original's washout towards the tips. It's only subtle, but once you spot it in photos, you notice its absence.
- The suspicion that Sword used a Fw 190D as the basis of their work is strengthened by the cockpit. Although it's nicely detailed, it's not correct for a Ta 152H - it's a Dora "office".
- The problems with the cockpit extend to the undercarriage, because the designers have missed the fact that the Ta 152 introduced a hydraulic retraction system. So, the kit includes Fw 190-style electric units.
- The rear fuselage extension plug doesn't look quite right, seeming too nicely blended (probably what the original designers would have preferred!) instead of the basic parallel "plug" on the real aircraft.
- The elevators need trim tabs adding.
- The undercarriage doors need reshaping on their rear edges.
- The canopy lacks the curved lip and pressure seal and external locking catches.
- The bulged cowl immediately ahead of the windscreen doesn't look quite right compared with photos, and I'm not convinced by the shape of the front cowl. The cooling vanes are very basic and don't have the "turkey feather" shape of the originals.
- The propeller blades are very odd and really need a bit of reshaping to get anywhere close to the shape of the full-sized unit.
Pheww! That's quite a list - and I'm sure I'll find more items once I get to grips with the kit properly. BUT - and it is a big but - don't get me wrong... the kit will still look great built straight from the box and the majority of modellers will probably be delighted with it. Obviously, some of the niggles above are quite easy to fix, while others are really best left alone if you're not a highly skilled modeller who likes a major challenge. I'll take the middle road, correcting the basics while still aiming for as stress-free build as possible. The way I look at it, I'm just grateful to PCM for producing a kit of a subject that I've always wanted in this scale. If I have to do a bit of extra "old-style modelling" the result will be all the more personally satisfying.
Instructions & DecalsThe kit's instructions are clearly drawn over six A-4 sides, and break everything down into a logical 29 stage sequence. PCM don't recommend any particular brand of model paints, but generic and RLM matches are keyed to most details.
The colour schemes are nicely illustrated by well-known aviation artist and author, Richard J. Caruana:
1. Ta 152H-0, "Green 3", Stab./JG 301
2. Ta 152H-0, "Green 4", Stab./JG 301
3. Ta 152H-1, "Green 8", Stab./JG 301
4. Ta 152H-1, "Green 9", Stab./JG 301
The decals are beautifully printed with perfect register and minimal crystal clear carrier film on the thin, glossy, items. Stencilling and swastikas are included. A small supplementary sheet provides replacement fuselage codes for the rather dark versions on the main sheet, but I have to admit that I think the replacements have gone to the opposite extreme and seem a bit garish.
ConclusionPacific Coast Models undoubtedly set out to produce a "limited run super-kit", but the result doesn't quite get there - and that's largely down to the pattern makers at Sword who've taken too many short cuts. Nevertheless, for me anyway, the good points still more than outweigh the weak ones. The resulting model is almost guaranteed to be a show-stealer with its elegant long wings and sleek looks. I really hope the kit sells well enough to allow PCM to continue to tackle such exciting subjects. Recommended for modellers with a reasonable amount of experience.
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