The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I.
Operational use of the G.IV demonstrated that the incorporation of the fuel tanks into the engine nacelles was a mistake. In a crash landing the tanks could rupture and spill fuel onto the hot engines. Gothaer produced the G.V, which housed its fuel tanks in the center of the fuselage. The smaller engine nacelles were mounted on struts above the lower wing.
The Gotha's pilot seat was offset to starboard with the bomb bay immediately behind. This allowed for a connecting walkway on the port side allowing crew members to move between the three gun stations. The Gotha included an important innovation in the form of a "gun tunnel" whereby the underside of the rear fuselage was arched, allowing placement of a rearward facing machine gun protecting from attack from below.
The G.V entered service in August 1917. It offered no performance improvement over the G.IV. The G.V was up to 450 kg (990 lb) heavier than the G.IV. Inferior quality fuel prevented the Mercedes D.IVa engines from producing the rated 190 kW (260 hp). For these reasons, the G.V generally operated at much lower altitudes than the G.IV.
This 1:48 scale Gotha G.V kit from Hippo Models was announced for quite some time now and some thought it would never see the light of day, so it is good news indeed for WWI modelers that it is finally available now. There are not so many kits of First World War bombers out there, especially in injected plastic, so the Czech manufacturer's initiative should be encouraged and I do hope that other similar kits will be released in the future.
Before examining the content of the kit, let me say that I'm not a specialist of WWI aircraft at all and even less of German heavy bombers of that era, even if I like the look of them very much. I have only two reference books about the subject in my library, the Squadron/Signal "German Bombers of WWI" and the "Gotha!" book by Peter Grosz. Both are not focused on the Gotha G.V so reference pictures about that particular type are limited, though the "Gotha!" book includes some detailed 1:72 and 1:48 drawings, including some of the G.V.
Hippo's first model is packed within a surprisingly rather small top opening cardboard box. It is composed of four sprues of light tan colored short run injected plastic, one small transparent plastic sprue, one small photo etched fret, one decal sheet and a small 8 pages instruction booklet.
When first images of the plastic parts of the kit appeared on the net, some people thought that it was similar to the Eduard productions. It is not the case and the Gotha G.V was clearly done in short run. The masters have been obviously hand made and not produced with the help of the computer like the ones made by Eduard. But even though the details are not as crisp as what can be obtained with more modern technologies, I must say that Hippo's Gotha looks very nice nevertheless. Molding is overall very good with only limited traces of flash and no sink marks. The surface of the kit is rather smooth and the relief details quite well done.
Hippo have decided to show the ribs structure on the wings but it is quite subtle and if one finds it is too heavy, sanding the surface smoother won't be a problem. The inner cockpit floor and bulkheads have received a nice representation of the wood structure which will make the painting easier. I also like the way the metal plating of the engine nacelles have been represented. I'm less convinced by the all plastic radiator shutters though, which have been represented in the closed position. I would have done a radiator face in plastic with PE shutters. I'm sure most builders will want to scratchbuild these for more realism. The Mercedes D.IVa engines look rather basic but they will be almost entirely hidden inside the nacelles anyway.
The overall level of detail is correct for such a kit but I'm sure a lot can be added in the cockpit area. Hippo provide a PE instrument panel, a basic pilot seat, a control wheel, rudder pedals, fuel tanks and that's about all. Many smaller items can be added for sure.
Surprisingly for such an aircraft, no bomb racks and bombs are provided! This is a real shame since the racks are quite complex. It would have been nice to have some photo etched ones included. For the bombs, Mirage Hobby have appropriate ones in their catalogue (see review here
). The complex undercarriage are nicely done but could be fragile since they are made entirely in plastic.
I've read elsewhere that the overall dimensions of the model are not correct, the wings being too short. I believe that the designers of the kit have based their work on the "Gotha!" book by Peter Grosz because the parts match the drawings perfectly. If the plans of the book are right, the kit is also, if the plans are not, well…
The small PE fret holds some smaller part such has the protection grills for the rear gunner, the external horizontal rocking shafts, some external control cable drivers, the defensive guns mounts and rails, etc...
Instructions and decals
The kit's instructions are printed mostly in black & white with an only limited use of colors: blue = PE parts, Red = cut away, Green = rigging. The 8 pages, A5 size booklet comprises a parts layout diagram, 7 pages of construction diagrams and some decals placement drawings. Overall, the instruction booklet is rather small but clear enough if you have good eyes. Basic color informations are given for the painting.
The decal sheet provides only one marking option:
- Gotha G.V (670/16), Kagohl 3, Belgium, 1917.
The decals have been printed in the Czech Republic and seem to be of good quality. They are in perfect register but look quite thin. Surprisingly, the "670/16" serial number is missing. The aircraft Hippo chose to do flew daylight mission over Belgium in 1917 and is entirely light blue/grey with engine nacelles in bare metal. It would have been nice if an option with the lozenge night bomber camouflage would have been included as well, but I can understand that for economical reasons, the Czech manufacturer decided to do the simpler one.
Hippo's 1:48 scale Gotha G.V is quite impressive for a first kit. The overall quality of the plastic parts is very good and a modeler used to short run kits shouldn't have too much difficulties with it. But we are speaking of a WWI heavy bomber biplane here, so it will represent a real challenge du to the complexity of the original aircraft and the fact that some intensive rigging will have to be done!
Hippo's Gotha G.V is available from Modelimex
- specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
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