Special Hobby 1/72 IMAM Ro 57

KIT #: SH72087
PRICE: $16.98 (14.96 at Squadron)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Nice kit of little known subject

HISTORY

Scott did an ďin-boxĒ review of this kit some time back,  so you can refer to that for some of the historical information on this aircraft.   In 1939, the I.M.A.M company designed and built a prototype of a light, twin engine interceptor fighter powered by two 840 hp. Fiat A74 RC38 fourteen cylinder radial engines.  This was the problem, as the airplane was underpowered, and could never function effectively in its designated role due to its substandard performance, a problem faced by many Italian fighters during this time period.  After its introduction into Regia Aeronautica units, it was modified with bomb racks, heavier armament, and dive brakes, and it was somewhat more effective in the fighter bomber role. Only about 60 were produced, and the type was never as well known as other Italian combat aircraft.

THE KIT

There is no date information anywhere in this kit, but reviews first appeared  in about 2005, so it is safe to assume that the kit dates back almost 10 years.  At that time, Special Hobby was producing kits of lesser-known aircraft, and this kit is a prime example of their successful efforts to produce limited-run kits that would appeal to the discriminating experienced modeler.

The kit consists of 29 parts molded in grey plastic, two clear canopy and widow parts, and 51 resin parts. Panel lines are recessed and crisp, not overdone like many kits, and the resin parts are mostly well done.  There is a full interior, but no sidewall detail. The landing gear is a problem, as it took me a while to figure it out.  The propellers have resin hubs and plastic blades, and you have to be careful, as they have opposite rotation.  There are two decal options, the prototype, and  what is described as the ďfirst serious production aircraft to be flight testedĒ.  It should be noted that the fighter bomber version, designated Ro 57bis, was issued by Special Hobby as a separate kit, SH72045, and it appears that this kit, although probably also out of production, is also available on line from numerous suppliers.

 The differences between the two versions are as follows.  The Prototype lacks guns and armament, and used the optional retractable tailwheel, which requires cutting out part of the rear fuselage for the mounting.  The flight test model uses a fixed, spatted tailwheel, a radio mast, and two gun barrels (registered, of course) mounted in the nose.  The prototype has an olive green finish with dappled brown camouflage pattern, while the test model is merely dark green on top.  Both aircraft have pale grey undersurfaces.  The prototype has the colorful tail stripes, while the test model has a white fuselage band and tail cross. I built the prototype, as I like colorful models.

The instruction sheet consists of eight pages, beginning with a brief historical sketch in English and  Czech, followed by a sprue diagram, color guide in Gunze Sangyo which was useless to me, four pages of assembly drawings, and two pages showing color schemes and markings for two aircraft.  The drawings were generally good except for the confusion relating to the landing gear assembly. This consists of two rod-like units which attach to the main gear strut which has no other bracing. A drawing of the assembled unit would have been helful.   Somehow, I figured it out without too many problems, although I must admit that Iíd be afraid to fly an airplane with that type of gear.  The color information on the  four view drawings gave the name of the color in Czech, plus FS numbers and Gunze references. All were useless to me, so I used Modelmaster Italian olive green, Italian dark brown, and Italian blue-grey, and the model looks OK in those colors. 

CONSTRUCTION

Assembly begins with the cockpit interior. This is mainly resin, and should be painted before assembly. There is some detail on the instrument panel, but I used some printed instrument panel  sheets I keep on hand for the purpose. With the thick canopy, you canít see much inside anyway, so itís no big deal.  The panel and the seat assembly can be installed after the fuselage halves are joined.  Only a little filler is required on the fuselage joint lines.  The wings go together easily, and require only a little trimming on the roots to get the proper dihedral angle.

The engines consist of a crankcase, fourteen individual resin cylinders, and resin propeller hubs which contain three prop blades each.  These are opposite rotation, so be sure not to glue them in place with the same rotation.  The hubs are only used on the prototype, as the production model used a base plate and spinner, with the prop blades being glued to the base plates.

The cylinders fit into small holes in the crankcase in the usual fashion. I drilled out the holes to make sure the cylinders would fit, and everything lines up OK. The props will fit over the crankshaft located on the crankcase, so this is a no-brainer.  The resin cowlings fit over the engines onto the wing nacelle sections, and the problem here is that the nacelles are slightly too large, meaning that the cowling only go back so far, about a foot less than they should.  This means that the cowlings are a foot (in scale) too far forward. Correcting this problem seemed to be a little too complicated (youíd have to sand down the nacelles on the wings) so I just accepted the problem and the error.  The cowlings are nicely done, and they fit tightly in place, so I left it at that. The tailbracing struts were very thin, with sprue attachment points in the middle, so I replaced these with struts made of plastic rod.  Kit manufacturers could avoid this problem by having the sprue attachment points on the strut ends, not in the middle.

 There are a few minor detail problems with this kit.  The wheel hubs do not look like the ones in the photos I have, as they have hubcaps, whereas the photos show uncovered wheels.  The landing gear is very poorly designed, but this is the fault of the IMAM company, not the kit manufacturer.  The struts are difficult to line up, and I had to drill out the holes in the wheel wells so that the ends would fit securely in place.  The exhaust stacks (resin) fit into small holes in the engine nacelles, and these are tedious to install, but not a real problem.  The gear cover doors are also iffy, but I got them in place all right. The pitot tube sticks out of the nose of the aircraft, and I had to replace this with a scratchbuilt unit.

COLORS & MARKINGS

  After masking the canopy and the small window under the pilotís feet, I painted the undersides Italian blue grey. I masked that off and painted the entire airframe Italian olive green.  A few splotches and dots of Italian dark brown finished the job.  The decals were easy to apply, over a coat of glosscote, and I trimmed them, although I didnít think I really had to. The engines were then slid into place, and the nacelles slid in over the engines. The props were then slid on the crankshafts and assembly was basically complete. I then coated the plane with dullcote, and didnít weather it, as it was a new airplane.  Removing the masking tape from the canopy was the last job, and the model was complete.

CONCLUSIONS

 This kit was relatively easy to build, and aside from the small problems I described, was fun to build.  It fills a gap in my Italian collection, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting to build this particular aircraft.   Itís not for beginners, but I enjoy building it.  Get one and try it.

Brian Baker

March 2013 

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