by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundFor me the lanky Reggiane Re.2005 is the best looking Italian fighter of the War. Ironically, its roots lie in the distinctly stubby little Re 2000 which was very heavily influenced by the American Seversky P-35. From there, the twin lines of development took very different paths: whereas the US design was forged eventually into that ultimate WW2 muscle-fighter, the P-47 Thunderbolt, the Italian near-copy was stretched into the nimble Sagittario (Archer) weighing less than half as much, and with its slender fuselage, semi-elliptical wings and amazingly long nose, looking almost more like a racer than a warplane.
But a warplane it most certainly was, with a speed of around 400mph without emergency boost, and carrying 3 x 20mm cannons and a pair of 12.7mm machine guns. Although only around 50 were ever built, the Re 2005 was rated by friend and foe alike as almost certainly the finest of Italy's fighters. Its Archilles heel seems to have been that is was much harder and more expensive to mass-produce than its rival Serie 5 fighters – the Fiat G.55 and the Macchi C.205. The Sagittario entered service with the Regia Aeronautica in 1943. Perhaps some idea of the increasingly desperate war situation can be judged by the fact that not only ten pre-production aircraft went straight into action with the 362 Squadron, but even the first prototype.
With the signing of the Armistice, surviving machines fought on with the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, some being taken over by the Luftwaffe. Indeed, according to some accounts, the Re 2005 was seriously considered for production in Germany following the destruction of the Reggiane production facilities. Some sources maintain that Sagittarios fought in the air-defence of Berlin. A further development, the Re 2006, was to have been powered by a DB603 with a projected top speed of over 460 mph, but this came to nothing.
In kit formPacific Coast's Re 2005 arrives in a compact and very attractive conventional box, with all the parts and accessories bagged separately for protection in transit. The kit comprises:
39 x grey styrene parts
2 x clear styrene parts
23 x grey resin parts
20 x photo-etched parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
As usual with Pacific Coast Models, this is something of a joint effort. Among a number of subcontractors, the plastic and resin parts were produced by Sword, the photo-etching by Eduard, while the decals were designed by Chris Busbridge and printed by Cartograf.
Bearing in mind that this is a limited run model, the basic moulding is really very good. The sprue attachments are small and there's very little flash to clean off. The exterior surfaces of the styrene parts have a highly polished finish, which ironically serves to highlight one or two shallow sink marks on the stabilizers and undercarriage doors. There are a few ejector pin marks that need trimming off or they'll interfere with the fit, but the designers have kept them clear of anywhere that's likely to show on the completed model.
Surface details are a mixture of neatly engraved vents, panel lines and fasteners, along with a few raised hinges, plus a beautifully subtle fabric effect on the control surfaces. Purists may want to add rib tapes from decal strip, but as moulded the effect gives a fine impression of taught, well maintained fabric, which puts to shame the "saggy sackcloth" we still see all too often.
test fitThe moment of truth with any limited run kit is the first test fit. There's been many an otherwise fine looking kit that's proved to be a real pig to assemble. Happily, Pacific Coast's Re 2005 doesn't look like it will be among them. Obviously you can't expect mainstream-style precision, and indeed I found the port fuselage half was a tad warped in my kit, but the halves tape together easily enough. Overall, Sword has provided a pretty sound basis for a reasonably straightforward build. After a quick clean-up, the fuselage and wings fit together solidly, and the joint at the wing roots is notably good for a model of this type. The stabilizers are a plain butt-joint, so they'll benefit from the addition of supporting pins, but they are a good fit at the roots.
One area that is a bit off is the cross-section of the nose, which is too narrow horizontally and will need a spacer inserted to match the spinner's backing plate. This will also help ensure that the exhausts are parallel.
a few detailsThe low number of parts is down to the fact that most of the details are supplied in resin, with very good one-piece castings taking the place of multiple plastic items. There's a wisp of flash to clean off here and there, but I couldn't find any bubbles in the parts in my kit. The few small styrene parts aren't bad, but will need a bit of extra preparation removing mould lines and drilling out holes where they've filled in.
The cockpit tub comprises a 10-part assembly – mostly resin, except for a styrene bulkhead and a small set of very nice pre-painted etched parts produced by Eduard. The detail on the sidewalls and control column is excellent and should look really good painted and weathered carefully. The resin seat has the distinctive Italian harness supplied as a pre-painted etched item. This looks great at first glance, but the way the straps should be positioned means the unpainted side will show, so it would have been better produced in several pieces.
Next comes the instrument panel, and you are offered a choice of resin or etched versions. Which to go for is a tough decision, because they are both have their pros and cons. The resin item has a more 3D look to the various gauges and switches, but you'll need to do some very careful painting or find suitable decals for the instrument faces. Meanwhile, Eduard's pre-painted dials are superb on the multi-layer etched panel, but the main fascia is painted dark grey rather than black (as indicated in the kit's instructions). Interestingly, the layout of the two panels differs very slightly, but which is closer to the original I don't know. Whichever you choose, there etched levers and a resin gunsight to finish things off for a nice busy appearance.
The exhausts are supplied in resin, and are very nice, with hollowed out ends. A slight mystery is how the cowl gun troughs have been handled. A separate styrene panel is provided with shallow troughs, but as an alternative you can drill these out and install resin tubes. I can't see why a full resin panel with the blast tubes already in place wasn't included, as it would have made life simpler all round.
The propeller blades are well moulded in styrene, with a solid mount on the backing plate to ensure they are all set at the same pitch.
The undercarriage is a mix of resin and styrene. Sturdy plastic gear legs are dressed up with resin oleo scissors, while the resin mainwheels are "weighted" and show some fine hub detail. The styrene parts will benefit from a bit of attention where lightening holes have filled in. The weakest part in my kit is the tailwheel, which has again filled in a little around the hub, and is pretty non-descript anyway, so it's a shame a resin wheel wasn't included. As it is, a replacement item from the spares box might not go amiss.
Rounding everything off is a 2-part canopy, which is moulded nice and thin, and is very clear with crisply defined frames.
instructions & decalsThe assembly guide is printed as an A-5 booklet and is clearly laid out with very good illustrations. The construction looks pretty straightforward and logical, but I'd probably reverse the last few steps to fit the canopy and aerial mast after the kit is standing safely on its undercarriage. Colour notes are keyed to most of the details. These are generic, rather than for any particularly ranges of model paints.
A separate full-colour exterior painting and decal placement guide is provided for 5 x colour schemes:
1. Re 2005 Serie 0, "White 2", 362a Squadriglia, 22° Gruppo, 42° Stormo, Littoria, June 1943
2. Re 2005 Serie 0, "White 5", 362a Squadriglia, 22° Gruppo, 42° Stormo, Littoria, June 1943
3. Re 2005 Serie 1, "Red 4", A.N.R. Reparto Collegamento del Sottosegretariato, Bresso, March 1944
4. Re 2005 Serie 1, "White 7", Luftdienst Kommando Italien, Maniago, February 1944
5. Re 2005 Serie 1, Luftdienst Kommando Italien, Maniago, February 1944
Sadly from a modelling point of view, the Re 2205 never carried any of the more exotic Italian camouflage schemes, so all the choices are basically identical with Verde Olivia Scuro 2 uppersurfaces and Grigio Azzuro Chiaro 1 undersides. Scheme #3 is depicted with a VOS 2 spinner, but photos and eye-witness testimony in "Camouflage and Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana 1943-1945" by Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini indicate that it was painted red, which will add a nice splash of colour on the otherwise quite plain camouflage.
The decals are excellent quality, as we've come to expect from Cartograf, with pin sharp registration and crystal clear glossy carrier film.
conclusionPCM's Re.2005 looks set to build into a very attractive model. It looks pretty straightforward for a limited run kit, but newcomers to this type of model should still approach it with a degree of caution as it will require extra work compared with a mainstream release. At just over £30 in the UK it represents good value for a limited run kit of this size and quality, and it will make a great addition to any collection of Italian aircraft, and will make for a fascinating comparison stood next to a P-47 to show how the two types evolved from a shared common ancestry. Recommended to modellers with some experience.
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