by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Despite setbacks - including, most notoriously, the prototype shedding a wing and killing it's pilot in front of an invited audience of Luftwaffe and Nazi Party officials - nothing was allowed to hinder the race to get the new fighter operational. Not surprisingly, a number of aerodynamic problems came to light and a series of modifications resulted in the He 162 A-2, which became the definitive version in the type's short life.
The original idea had been for Hitler Jugend to be trained as pilots after elementary training in gliders, but the A-2 was still regarded as a "hot" aircraft, demanding careful flying by skilled pilots. Perhaps surprisingly, the famous British test-pilot Capt. Eric Brown had quite a high opinion of the '162 when he flew a captured example. The snaking which plagued all the early jets had been effectively cured and the controls showed excellent harmonisation - but side-slip remained a problem. Nevertheless, In Capt. Brown's opinion, the Salamander "...had a good performance - it could certainly have run rings around the contemporary Meteor - but it was no airplane to let embryo pilots loose on..."
The kitRevell's He 162 consists of:
89 x parts moulded in pale blue-grey plastic
4 x clear parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes.
The parts are neatly moulded with just a hint of flash here and there. All the panel lines are engraved and the overall finish is very smooth. There are a few shallow sink-marks on the fuselage exterior, where cockpit detail has been moulded internally. There are a few ejector-pin marks inside the fuselage and these have mostly been kept clear of visible areas. However there are two in the cockpit which will need filling.
Revell have engineered the kit to allow the clam-shell engine-covers and port gun bay to be displayed open.
Test fitI wasn't expecting any problems the kit didn't disappoint. The fuselage halves clip together and align perfectly. The wings and tail have nice thin trailing edges and locate positively onto the fuselage. Overall, it looks like this should be a really simple build.
DetailThe kit is quite nicely detailed. The engine is made up of 12 parts and should look quite good if painted carefully. One look at a photo of the real thing shows there's a lot more detail can be added. All the pipework is moulded on - so it won't really stand up to close scrutiny - but it's about as good as can be achieved in plastic.
The undercarriage has moulded-on brake lines and the legs are neatly detailed with springs and retraction arms. The wheel wells are nicely detailed and the wheels themselves are excellent, although the tyres are "unweighted". The kit's nose can be cut off to display the nose-gear mounting, but doing this will create a problem of where to stow the recommended 45gm weight needed to prevent this becoming a "tail-sitter".
The cockpit is something of a "curate's egg". Revell have moulded a lot of detail onto the interior of the fuselage (hence the sink marks) but it really looks far too 2-dimensional to be convincing in this scale. The throttles are rather basic blobs and the oxygen regulator is much too shallow. it's hard to understand why Revell haven't moulded more of the detail as separate parts. Perhaps it's because they've (to their credit) tried to include the associated cables and pipes, but these would look much more convincing replaced with with solder or HSP anyway. It's a shame, because the moulded-on frames and ribs are very good, but these will probably be lost in replacing the other details.
The ejector seat is very disappointing, being moulded solid with the rear bulkhead and, together with its separate seat pan, featuring a basic moulded-on harness. As far as I can see from reference photos of the full-sized item, there should be a clear gap between the seat's headrest and the bulkhead, with the details of the launch rails and mechanism exposed.
The kit design is quite odd - with the open engine and gun-bay, Revell almost seem to be inviting aftermarket companies to produce detailed resin alternatives but, in the cockpit, by moulding so much detail integrally, rather than on separate sidewalls, they've made replacing it a much more laborious task. Still, I'm sure a replacement set will appear before long.
The canopy is moulded in two parts so it can be displayed open. It's pretty clear (there's a little distortion, so a polish and a dip in Klear/ Future might still not go amiss. The gunsight is very basic.
InstructionsThe assembly is broken down into no less than 42 stages- which make it seem a lot more complicated than it really is. Some of the sequence seems to be for the benefit of easy illustration, rather than ease of assembly.
One potential pitfall to watch out for is the nose leg, which is fitted in stage 2 and will protrude throughout the rest of assembly - just asking to get damaged. The way it's designed, it's hard to see how to work 'round this, so a simple cardboard guard to protect it might mot be a bad idea.
The painting instruction are neatly drawn with RLM colours quoted. Not surprisingly Revell give mixes for their own range of paints, but most modellers will have their own favourites to fall back on.
decalsThe decals are very nicely printed in perfect register.The small sheet is crammed full of insignia and stencilling. This being a Revell-Germany release, there are no Swastikas included. Decals are provided for:
"Yellow 11", Wk. Nummer 120074, piloted by Oblt. Emil Demuth of 3./JG 1
"Red 1", Wk. Nummer 120077, of 2./JG 1
"Yellow 3", Wk. Nummer 120072, piloted by Lt. G. Stiemer of 3./JG 1
ConclusionDespite the criticisms I've made, I think this is an excellent release and, at £19.99, it represents great value for money. Modellers have waited years for an injected kit of the He 162 in this scale and out of the box it will look great - particularly if you don't examine the engine or cockpit too closely.
Revell have basically done a fine job and provided the basis of a show-stopper. I wish they'd tackled the cockpit differently, but I imagine aftermarket manufacturers will be falling over each other to bring out super-detailed sets for this kit, along with alternative decals.