For aficionados of WWI air warfare, the name Halberstadt is a familiar one; while not as well-known as Fokker, Albatross, Pfaltz, etc., Halberstadt brought reliability, and innovation, to the fight. The small Polish kitmaker, Mirage Hobby, has released a series of 1/48th scale kits of the Halberstadt CL.II. The Halberstadt CL. II was designed to fit a requirement for a small, escort aircraft, which was to accompany fighters and reconnaissance aircraft as they fulfilled their missions. Powered by a Mercedes engine, the CL. II was reliable, and robust, and was well-liked by aircrews. A two-seater, the Halberstadt CL. II had a common cockpit, with a gunner in the aft section. This rear gunner enabled the Halberstadt to be adapted to a new mission, one that made the aircraft useful as a ground support aircraft; the CL.II flew over the forward edge of battle, where it would attack entrenched troops from above, with machine gun fire, as well as small bombs, thrown out by the rear gunner. In some fashion, the Halberstadt CL.II was the forerunner of today’s A-10’s and Su-25’s.
This kit is comprised of four plastic sprues, a sheet of photoetch parts, a small sheet of acetate, decal sheets, and a small, but comprehensive, instruction booklet (more later about this). The plastic sprues have a small amount of flash, along with some minor sink holes, but these are a minor annoyance. The upside is that the plastic parts are excellent, with superior definition; the wings are especially well-done, with razor-thin trailing edges, and subtle shapes which depict the tautness of the fabric between the ribs. The correct washout of the lower wing trailing edge is also there, something that typifies the excellence that Mirage Hobby is achieving in their moldmaking.
The photoetch fret is also excellent, containing many small parts and pieces. PE parts are, of course, included to add a level of enhanced detail that would otherwise be unachievable; the Mirage Hobby PE is some of the most delicate this reviewer has seen to date…it is almost too delicate, requiring the builder to exercise extreme care to prevent bending and breaking some of the parts. In all, Mirage Hobby is to be commended for excellent PE.
Decals and Instructions
The decals in this kit consist of three sheets; two with markings for three individual aircraft, and a third sheet with a mottled pattern for application to the fuselage. As mentioned, markings are provided to make three different aircraft, however, as is, none of the aircraft depicted on the decals (or the instruction sheet) can be completed, because, for some unknown reason, Mirage Hobby has not included the five-color lozenge decals for the wings. In other words, this kit (# 481308) is unbuildable out-of-the-box, due to lack of lozenge decals. Now, it should be mentioned that the required lozenge decals can be purchased separately from Mirage Hobby for a steep price ($34.00 USD), or, better still, one can buy the exact same kit (481401), which includes the lozenge decals, for approximately $12.00 USD more than the price of this kit! While Mirage Hobby shows promise with manufacturing, its marketing plan appears a bit off-kilter. Whatever the reason, this problem with the lozenge decals is a bit irritating. Another quirk of this kit is the instruction booklet, which could have been a masterpiece, but, again suffers from poor management decisions at Mirage Hobby. The instruction booklet is 24 pages in length, but it is practically unreadable due to its small size. The sub-size font is a challenge for people with good eyesight, but is a true challenge for anyone with less than optimal eyesight. The booklet includes not only construction instructions, but also includes numerous reference graphics, which provide the builder with valuable information regarding the Halberstadt CL.II. This aircraft is not widely known, and reference information, especially pictures, are certainly welcome. The author of the instruction booklet went to great lengths to prepare the booklet, but, somehow, someone in management made a decision to shrink the camera-ready manuscript into a small, printed booklet. This decision turned a great piece of work into an almost unusable booklet…too bad.
Highs: Excellent plastic; the molds of this kit rival any current kit manufacturer.Lows: No lozenge decals, and the instruction booklet is too small (it could have been a winner!).Verdict: This kit is a mixed bag; while it has terrific plastic and PE, it falls down by not providing the lozenge decals necessary to complete the kit, and falls short by printing the instruction booklet too.