The final and, numerically, most important version of the Avai B.534 was the IV. série - serial no.s 174 to 445. The new version introduced a number of changes, the most obvious being an enclosed cockpit and a metal propeller. The canopy could be fixed in three positions - open, half-closed or fully closed. Combined with the new propeller, the 'IV's improved aerodynamics raised the Avia's top speed to over 200 mph, placing it well on a par with the fastest biplane fighters of the period.
But the day of the monoplane was dawning and the Avia B.534 was clearly obsolescent. Nevertheless, the type saw action from the beginning through to almost the end of WW2. Slovakian aircraft fought alongside the Luftwaffe in the Invasion of Poland and again on the Eastern Front in 1941 and, while it was relegated to second-line duties by the mid-years of the war, the little Avia took centre-stage one more time when Slovakia rose up against the Nazis in the autumn of 1944. As part of a makeshift collection of aircraft - the Combined Flight - an Avia B.534 claimed the distinction of scoring the last ever victory by a biplane (to date...), downing a Hungarian Ju 52/3m.
(Courtesy of Rowan Baylis' B-534 IV review)
Eduard's 1:48 scale Avia B-534 isn't a new kit, in fact it as already been released in three different boxings in the past:
- Avia B-534 III série
- Avia B-534 IV série
- Avia B-534 III Weekend
The new Avia B-534 kit comes in a standard top opening cardboard box with a special Artwork for this limited Edition. This special version contains:
- Four sprues of olive styren parts.
- One sprue with clear parts.
- One photo etched fret with some pre-painted parts.
- One sheet of masks.
- One decals sheet for 5 marking options.
- One instuction booklet
- One small pin.
I won't comment too much about the overall quality of the kit since much has been already written about it. However, I can say that the crispness of the plastic parts and the rendering of the relief detail is top notch. When looking closely at the sprues, one can really feel that the people at Eduard wanted to pay tribute to this important Czechoslovakian aircraft type. There are no traces of flash and I found no sink marks on my sample.
One thing I've noticed though are some flow marks on the wings parts, especially on both sides of the bottom ones. In some places it's as if the skin of the plastic is peeling off. I've looked at my Avia B-534 III série boxing and I found the same flow marks at the same locations. I must admit that they are very limited and I would advise you not to try to eliminate them since this would only make thing worse because of the presence of delicate rib stitching details around them. A coat of paint will probably eliminate most of the side effects of these moulding issues anyway, but still, they will remain visible if you work with very thin layers of colors.
The transparent plastic parts are excellent: distortion free and very clear. Two canopies are included that will give you the choice between opened or closed position.
A nice little PE fret is included with pre-painted instrument panels (two types) and seatbelts. Non painted parts are present as well such as levers, a gun sight, radiator grils etc. A lot of tiny metal parts represent the rigging termination points but no cables are provided, so you will have to use your own favorite material for this.
The sheet of masks includes material to help you to paint the canopy and the wheels.
The instruction booklet is made of 12 pages of which 4 are in color (painting and marking guides). The remaining 8 are printed in black & white (history, parts layout, color table given for the Gunze range of paints, assembly guide and rigging diagram). It is to note that only four out of the five decorations are present in the booklet. The fifth one must be downloaded on the kit's info page at the Eduard website (direct link here
These are the five marking options included in this Limited Edition kit:
A - No. 245, Slovakia, 1939-40.
B - "White L 8", No. 12 Flight, Slovak Air Forces, Eastern Front, 1941.
C - "White S-18", Slovak Air Forces, Eastern Front, after June 1941.
D - "White S-13", Combined Flight of Slovak National Uprising armed forces, Tri Duby, Slovakia, September – October 1944.
E - No. 243, Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, November 9, 1939.
The options are all interesting in that they relate the changes in Slovakian markings from 1939 to 1944. All the aircraft wear the standard Khaki Green over Silver (A and E) or light grey (B, C and D) camouflage. Machines depicted in options A and E wear early style roundels mixed with German crosses. Machines B and C wear the new style right-angled crosses and yellow Eastern Front tactical markings. Finally, machine D, wears a mix of pre-war Czechoslovakian markings with Slovak national symbols having been used by the Slovak National Uprising forces.
The decals have been printed by Eduard in four colors: white, black, red and blue. This means that the yellow tactical markings will have to be painted on the model. The sheet in my sample is slightly offset but I would say that it stays within the norm and in the end the decals are perfectly usable.
The last item provided in the box is a small pin carrying a stylized version of the Slovak National Uprising forces roundel.
This is, again, a very nice Limited Edition boxing from Eduard. I like the historical background about it and this is what makes this kit so interesting. The moulding flaws on the wing only represent a minor nuisance and shouldn't be very visible on the finished model.
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