Azur 1/72 Breda Ba-65

KIT #: 002
PRICE: $?
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Early short run kit with vacuform canopies

HISTORY

 The Breda Ba-65 was an early 1935 vintage low wing monoplane developed by the Regia Aeronautica as a multi-purpose attack bomber.  It could carry a variety of weapons, including a 2000 lb. bomb or a combination of smaller types.    Originally a two seater, later models were single seat types.  Production included export models for Iraq, Hungary, Paraguay, and Portugal, as well as for the Regia Aeronautica.   First committed to combat by Italian units fighting with the Spanish Nationalists during the Civil War,  it was found wanting in several respects, and finally wound up being used primarily for reconnaissance missions.  Both two seat and single seat versions were produced in quantity, and two different  radial engines, the 1000 hp. Fiat A.80 RC 41 and the 900 hp. Isotta-Fraschini K-14,  were used.  Later, a few BA-65 bis variants were produced with a Breda power turret mounting a 12.7 mm. machine gun.

During World War II, those Ba-65ís that had survived pre-war service and the Spanish Civil war were used in the Italian campaigns in North Africa.  These served in the ground attack role, and continued until they were all destroyed in combat or in accidents.    They were not particularly successful during the war, serving mainly to increase the scores of RAF and RAAF fighter pilots in North Africa. However, the airplane is an interesting one, having a number of variations and numerous color schemes, and it certainly should be included in any serious collection or display of 1/72 scale World War II aircraft models.

CONSTRUCTION

This is one of Azurís very early offerings, and basically two variants are provided,  the single seat model and the type with the hand held machine gun in a dorsal position.  Molded in rather brittle light blue styrene plastic, the kit has fine recess panel lines and nice surface detail.  There is one sheet of PE metal parts, mainly for interior parts and one portion of the landing gear, and a photo-negative instrument panel section is also provided. These are somewhat visible through the vacuform canopy. The injection molded plastic detail parts are somewhat crudely done, with some flash, but they can be trimmed up with no real problems.  All of the parts, wings and tail unit, butt-fit onto the fuselage, but it is easy to get them attached at the proper angles.  As can be expected in a short run kit,  some filler is required, but this is true with many models, so itís not a problem.

I have seen one other review on this kit that complains about the engine, and that it is too small within the cowling, but I assembled mine according to directions and found the engine to be one of the better features of the kit, although it might be just slightly too small in diameter.  The major problem I found is the propeller.  Although there is not a lot of reference material available on this aircraft, and not too many photos, many show the airplane with counter clockwise rotation, British style, rather than clockwise rotation, American style.  The kit prop is American style.  The difference is probably that one of the engines most likely had different rotation, but from the photos and reference material I have available, I was unable to determine which one it was.  This is a problem that I am always aware of,  since Iíve spent my entire flying life hand propping airplanes, and rotation is always a big issue.  Of course,  some of the published photos are sometimes printed backwards in reverse, and if no numbers or letters are visible, it is impossible to tell which way the prop should rotate.  Anyway, I replaced the kit prop, which appeared to be too small anyhow, using one from a Frog Fokker D.XXI, and it looks right to me.

Another issue is the bottom windows.  The kit provides a vacuform part for these, which is outlined on the fuselage section, showing you where to cut the plastic.  One review I read stated that the single seat versions did not have the belly windows, as they were primarily for the rear seat observer/gunner.

I decided to leave them off, as I did the single seater.  Also, the rear gun position requires some cutting and fitting, although the new part is provided on the sprue.

 The cockpit interior is actually pretty good, with some PE side panels, a cockpit floor, seat, control stick, and instrument panel.  The rear machine gun and mount are a little crude.  The vacuform canopy is clear and well defined, and cockpit detail can be seen inside after the canopy is in place.  I used superglue to attach it, and merely masked off the clear window portions, and was pleased with the results.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 Decals and color schemes are provided for three aircraft, all 65 K-14ís. First is 94-4, a tri-color camouflage scheme from the 8th Gruppo, 94th Squadriglia, in 1938.  Also included is 93-6, another tri-color aircraft from the 8th Gruppo, 93rd Squadrilgia, 2nd Stormo, Caccia Terrestra, 1938. Last is a Spanish Civil War version, 16-41, of the Aviazione Legionaria, 65th Squadriglia, Tudela Airfield, Spain, 1938. I didnít use many of the kit decals because I wanted to do a Western Desert ďsand and splotchesĒ Regia Aeronautica camouflage scheme, one I have always found very attractive.  I hand painted the rudder cross and used the kit decal for the royal emblem.  I did use the wing insignias and the fuselage ďBreda 65 and fascesĒ decal that goes immediately beneath the cockpit windows.  The decals are of good quality and went on easily.  I think the overall effect is good, and I was quite impressed with the model.

CONCLUSIONS

 This is basically a good little kit of a plane that, even though it was not particularly successful, certainly deserves its place in aviation history.  I wouldnít recommend it for a beginner, but for any modeler who has a few years of experience under his belt, it is a good challenge, especially if you want to tackle the rear seat and belly windows.  Iíve had this kit stored in my cabinet for a number of years, so I donít know about its current availability, but it is certainly worth getting at least one, as it really belongs in any serious display of Regia Aeronautica aircraft.

Brian Baker

February 2011

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