by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
A mainstream 1:48 Hs 126 has been on Luftwaffe enthusiasts wish lists for years. True, there's the FM semi-short run kit, but that is certainly not suitable for inexperienced modellers, and then there's the gorgeous Vector resin kit, but that is sadly beyond the pocket of many people. So, it was no surprise that ICM's announcement of a new injection moulded kit attracted a lot of interest, and we've eagerly awaiting its release ever since.
The kit arrives in an attractive top-opening box. Some previous ICM boxes have been rather flimsy, but this one survived a trip in the international mail with nothing but a thin plastic envelope to protect it so it's certainly tough enough. The parts are all sealed in one bag (transparencies included, which isn't such a good idea) and none were damaged in transit. ICM's Hs 126 comprises:
166 x grey styrene parts (4 not used)
5 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
The moulding is generally very good indeed, with no signs of flash, and any ejector pin marks kept out of sight. I did find a few very shallow sink marks on the exterior where there's detail on the inner surface and on some of the thicker parts, and there's a mould line to clean up around the nose gun and along the bottom of the fuselage on the review sample.
The surface finish is very nice, with delicate engraved panel lines that should look just right for this scale, and a lovely light depiction of the fabric surfaces that makes many other manufacturers' efforts look positively clumsy.
Test fitThe parasol configuration doesn't allow a full dry-assembly, but what I've been able to check is promising. There are no locating pins on the main airframe components, so a little care is required lining things up, especially with the fuselage (adding some vacuform-style tabs will probably be a good idea), but the general fit is good. It's great to see the distinctive offset fin depicted, giving that odd "twist" to the tail.
The wing is moulded full-span, which makes assembly much simpler than the Vector kit, but it is also flat, whereas my references seem to indicate the original had a touch of dihedral. Luckily the parts are quite flexible, so you may be able to add this without resorting to surgery.
A few detailsOne thing that makes the Vector resin kit so outstanding is its superb interior, so I'm delighted to see the designers at ICM have worked very hard on both the cockpit and engine to produce a fairly comparable level of detail in styrene that will more than satisfy most modellers.
The cockpit comprises more than 60 parts. The sidewalls are packed with consoles and equipment, throttle and control levers are separate parts, and the observer's MG17 and camera mount are excellent. The pilot's set has a slightly raised lip on the inside that will be easy to smooth down, and all that's really missing are seat harnesses.
The instrument panels are a little unusual in being moulded in clear styrene. No decals are provided to apply to the rear faces, but careful painting (or maybe some instrument faces from the spare decals box) should give depth and a glazed look to the bezels.
The engine is equally well detailed, with 17 parts including separate exhausts to attach to the nicely moulded cylinders and crankcase. A tubular engine-mount is provided and the rear of the motor has an accessories pack.
No stores are supplied, but ICM have included a couple of items that even Vector missed - the external generator and compass.
Identity Crisis?That all sounds excellent - as indeed it is - but although the box states that the kit represents an Hs 126A-1, as far as I can tell it's actually much more representative of a 'B-1.
The first giveaway is the canopy. This is well moulded, thin and clear with crisp framing and should polish up nicely. But is has the prominent external "curtain rail" runners of the later-style canopy, whereas that of the 'A-1 ran on conventional tracks.
Next there's that excellent engine. It's clearly a Bramo 323, whereas Mushroom Books' monograph on the Hs 126 states that 'A-1s were powered by the BMW 132, which looks quite different in the photos and maintenance diagrams included.
However, the rounded spinner is appropriate to an 'A-1 - and apparently early 'Bs (later aircraft sported a straighter, blunter style).
How much any of this matters to you is of course totally subjective. For me, I'm happy to go with the kit as representing an early Hs 126B-1 - and a very nice one at that.
Instructions and DecalsThe instructions and painting guide are well produced as a 4-page A-4 folded booklet. The assembly diagrams are clearly drawn and cover 3 sides, breaking everything down into logical stages. ModelMaster paints are keyed to most of the details.
Decals are provided for 3 aircraft, all nominally Hs 126A-1s:
1. L2*L37, 9.(H)/LG2, Germany, 1939
2. 5F*HH, 1.(H)/14, Poland, September 1939 (note: Mushroom Books and Vector show this aircraft as a 'B-1)
3. 5D*LK, 2.(H)/31 Pz, Greece, April 1941
The decals are typical of ICM's kits, with a dead flat finish. The printing is a bit soft in places, but the carrier film is impressively thin. Sadly, no swastikas are provided.
ConclusionDespite the confusion over which version it represents, ICM's Hs 126 is a pretty impressive kit. It is a little disappointing that the first release isn't a true 'A-1, if only because I've always wanted to tackle a Spanish Civil War colour scheme, but that doesn't detract from the overall quality of the kit. It probably isn't really suitable for total beginners because of the extra little bit of care needed lining parts up, but average modellers should find it a very enjoyable build. Importantly, it's a huge improvement over the FM kit, and is obviously more affordable than the Vector model. Recommended.
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