Hasegawa 1/72 Macchi C.202

KIT #

51618 (SP 118)

PRICE:

$around $12.98 MSRP when new

DECALS:

Two options

REVIEWER:

Jon Hudak

NOTES:

 

HISTORY


No doubt about it the Macchi C.202 Folgore has got to be one of the finest looking Italian fighters of WW2. The Folgore or "Lightning" was the result of a desperate need for a more modern, competent fighter for the Italian Air Force to replace already outdated designs like the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200.While the C.200 was a fine aircraft with excellent flying characteristics it was underpowered by it's 800 hp radial engine. Having acquired rights to build the proven German Daimler Benz DB 601 inline engine under license, the plan was to build an entirely new airframe around it while using as many parts from the C.200 as possible. Things like the wings, stabilizers, vertical tail and landing gear were incorporated from the C.200 onto an all new fuselage to ease and simplify production.

The resulting aircraft was a success and was said to be superior to the Hawker Hurricane and on par with other Allied fighters of the time like the P-40. It was noted for it's handling skills and was a formidable fighter even though it was somewhat inadequately armed with only a pair of 12.7 mm machine guns in the cowling. Later examples would be fitted with a pair of 7.7 mm machine guns in the wings, one gun per wing. These were rarely used even when fitted due to the ineffectiveness of the rifle caliber round against American heavy bombers and the well protected fighters now being encountered later in the war. The C.202 would see extended service in North Africa, Malta, and Tunisia against the Allies and some were even sent to Russia.

Eventually faced with superior competition the need arose to make the C.202 faster and give it a bigger punch. This is where the C.205 would come in. Although a worthy successor, the Veltro or "Greyhound" wasn't produced in large enough numbers to make a difference and by then it was already too late. Altogether some 1150 C.202s had been produced and the number of C.205s were even fractionally less. When faced with the number of aircraft that were being cranked out by the Allies, this was never a large enough number to turn the tide of the war for the Italians. Both still held the distinction of being some of the finest fighting aircraft of the Italians in WW2.

THE KIT

The instructions of this particular kit and the side of the box date from 1993.I got this particular kit secondhand at a model show for $5 off of a vendor. It was originally labeled as a "parts model" but a check of my own revealed that everything was indeed there. Truly a good deal for $5. Inside are three sprues molded in light gray plastic and a fourth one for the clear parts. The kit itself is what we've come to expect from Hasegawa. The parts are all nicely and cleanly molded with fine recessed panel lines and zero flash. A nice touch is that the windscreen and canopy are molded separately. While they are both thin and clear, the framing at the bottom of the windscreen is a little light making it harder to pick out and mask off. It looks like it will build into a very nice model.

Markings:

Markings are provided for two aircraft. The first one is the lovely overall Dark Green one with Light Hazelnut Brown splotches over Light Blue-Gray undersides as depicted on the box art. Further research indicated that this machine,"4 Baracca" (named after famous Italian WW1 ace Francesco Baracca) of 91 Squadriglia,10 Gruppo,4 Stormo was flown by Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa. Boy, say that name 10 times fast! The second aircraft is labeled as 386 Squadriglia,21 Gruppo Antonomo C.T and is overall Light Sandy Brown/Light Hazelnut Brown with Olive Green "mottling" over Light Blue-Gray undersides. Both are Italian Air Force. Decals are standard Hasegawa and look nice and are in perfect register.

CONSTRUCTION

I always start off by washing all the parts in the sink with an old soft toothbrush and a little liquid dishwashing soap and then the parts are all thoroughly rinsed and allowed to dry.


I started with the cockpit and following the kit recommendations I airbrushed everything needed for it as well as the insides of the fuselage halves, wheel wells and inner sides of the gear doors with Gunze's H312 Light Green. When everything was dry I assembled the cockpit which consists of a floor, seat and control stick. The instrument panel comes in later. There is no sidewall detail for the insides of the fuselage or wheel wells. The handgrip and instrument panel were painted black and later I applied the decal for the instrument panel. I also made some seatbelts from Tamiya tape and these were painted in a light beige/tan color with a little silver at the ends to simulate buckles. The instrument panel was then glued to the inside of one of the fuselage halves, and while the glue was setting, I then glued the two halves together. After this had dried I glued in the completed cockpit tub up from underneath.

The instructions show to mount the one piece lower wing to the fuselage and then attach the upper wing halves rather than doing it all as a subassembly and then attaching it. If my memory serves me correctly I did it as per the instructions. The stabilizers were next and glued on. So far no problems other than some gapping at the wing roots and where the edge of the lower wing meets the bottom of the fuselage towards the tail. A little extra care was taken to blend everything in here as well as the trailing edge of the fillet into the lower wing area. Otherwise, everything fit pretty well. Next was the upper cowl piece and I think I goofed and glued it slightly off center making for a flush fit on one side and a "step" on the other. D'oh! I alleviated this problem by some vigorous but careful sanding reducing the side of the fuselage to match up with the cowl. I do think that the cowl piece is a bit undersized so be careful when attaching it. I also had some gapping at the attaching points of this piece. Like with the wing roots you have to be careful because there are natural panel lines here. The instructions would show you to assemble the prop and spinner and backing plate as one assembly and then trap it between the upper cowl and lower front of the forward fuselage. That would make for some serious masking I'd think, so not being too concerned about having a spinning prop I glued the spinner ring to the front and pushed the prop on later.

The airframe for the most part was now complete and I went to work on the seams. Other than the previously listed "fit areas" the rest of the fit was pretty good and I didn't have to use much filler at all. I used Gunze Mr.Liquid Putty here and there in a few places, while some areas needed no putty at all. It dries quickly and sands easily enough. Some care was taken to fill in the gaps at the wing roots but still leaving the natural panel line. In the end it all worked out. Next I added the "scoops" underneath and a little blending was needed with both of them along the edges where they attach. Confident now that all the seams were looking good, the model if I may say was...... Now ready for paint!

I had previously applied Future to the clear parts and masked them with Tamiya tape doing it all at once masking each pane off with pieces of tape sort of forming a "frame" and then painting the centers with Ambroid liquid mask. I usually prefer to attach the canopies/windscreens before painting but due to the way the 202's canopy is sort of "open" at the back I chose to attach them after painting.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting:

The cockpit and wheel wells were masked off with Tamiya tape and the first areas to be painted were the wingtips and area for the tail band on the fuselage. While there is a decal provided for this, I chose to paint mine on. As R. Lee Ermey would say "hoo-rah!" Despite the fact that my last several models were done with acrylics, enamel paints would be mainly used for the rest of the airplane from here on out. I also had decided to do the green aircraft with the light brown splotches. Some Humbrol Flat White #34 was used here and also for the spinner and this was my first time using Humbrol paints. It airbrushed nicely. I did add a drop of blue to it just in case to avoid the "yellowing factor" that comes with old age. I was now in a race to complete the model in less than a weeks' time for a club meeting contest so the pressure was on! The White had dried for two days and I then masked off these areas using Tamiya masking tape. Let me say this friends, when trying to mask off a tailband with one piece of tape on something like a C.202 with that complex fuselage shape and spine, keep the ends of the tape at the top of the spine and have them wrap around and meet there at the end. I tried a couple of different ways and the tape would always pull away if you tried to wrap the whole piece around the "hump."

With the white areas masked off I sprayed the underside areas which were only the bottoms of the stabilizers and the wing area. The colors of the fuselage on this particular aircraft wrapped around completely underneath. That's part of the beauty of Italian WW2 camouflage schemes, more work, but worth the effort. They also look cool and are very unique. This would be my first Italian paint scheme by the way. I also at this time sprayed the outsides of the gear doors. Model Master Italian Blue Gray was used throughout. I had an idea I'd learned from another modeler at a show on how to do the camouflage for this particular scheme. We'll get to that.

The next day I masked off the underside areas that had been painted gray with some low tack Scotch drafting masking tape. Now on most WW2 Italian fighters the upper color of the wings wrapped around underneath and onto the underside of the wing. Using another technique for the first time that I'd learned, I positioned the tape away from the leading edge by eyeballing it and put a piece of dental floss about a 1/16" away from the forward edge of the tape to give a nice "feathered" edge, not too sharp but not too fuzzy either. It worked perfectly. For the stabs which have the same pattern, I used ones from another kit and traced them onto a piece of the masking tape and cut out the shape on the tape and had a nice symmetrical template that would serve as my mask. They were positioned the same way.

I then sprayed the upper surfaces in Italian Sand again using Model Master enamel paints. So far so good and the model was left to dry overnight. Now this is where the masking trick comes in. Using only a single action airbrush and trying to freehand all those tan splotches and yet on a 1:72 scale model would be pretty tough I'd think. So using some Handi-Tack poster mounting material stuff from a craft store, I set about tearing off tiny little pieces of it to stick to the model. These I'd hope would act as a template when spraying the green over the tan, giving me my splotches. After about 2.5 hours of getting the things to stick to the model and not my hand or Xacto knife I was ready to paint. I had followed the instructions for this as best as I could to have a comparison. When this was done I then sprayed Model Master FS34092 Euro Dark Green on all the areas that were to be painted this color. I was getting close to the deadline and a couple of hours later I couldn't take it and started lifting off all the little pieces of the stuff and was relieved to see that they had held up rather well. I also took off the masking tape from everywhere else on the model and was delighted to see that the white areas had held up to the masking job. Whew!


Decals:
The next day the model was sprayed with Pollyscale's clear gloss and a couple of hours later I was applying the decals. I used the Micro Set and Sol system and there were no harsh reactions or troubles. The unit badges with the blue backgrounds didn't want to stick for anything and I was afraid they'd lost all their magical powers of adhesion. In the end some good old fashioned spit (a tip learned from this very website!) was used and a couple more hits of MicroSol. In the end it all worked out. Everything seemed to be going rather well but unfortunately I saw some silvering on the national insignias on the wings. Even after a wipe down with a damp cloth a few hours after the decals had dried and another coat of Pollyscale gloss followed by a coat of their flat, (which I like) the silvering was still there. In the end I used some lightly thinned Euro Dark Green and dry-brushed it on inside the insignia with a fine brush and sprayed on some more Pollyscale clear flat. This was another trick learned by a friend. I got most of it but there's still a couple of light traces here and there. I think the culprit behind the silvering was an uneven gloss coat. It was a little "patchy" looking back on it. Normally I use Testor's glosscote and recently have had success with Future. This was the first time I'd tried the Pollyscale glosscote and I should have tried polishing it out with some micromesh cloths and perhaps resprayed it again before applying the decals. Haste makes waste they say.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

With everything else basically done and running out of time I did everything else I could think of. The prop tips were sprayed with Tamiya Flat Yellow and the blades with their Flat Black. The exhaust stacks were painted with Floquil's Roof Brown. The landing gear and wheel rims had been painted with the same gray that I used on the bottom of the airplane and Model Master Chrome Silver was used for the sliding portions of the gear and for the links that attach to the main gear. These would prove to be a small exercise in frustration while adding them later. I used Floquil Grimy Black RR enamel as it's a nice color for tires and also brushes nicely. I then added the antenna, pitot, tail wheel and landing gear, allowing the model to dry overnight on it's "back" until the morning.

The small outer gear doors will attach better if you hack out a little from their tab where they mount into the bottom of the wing as the tab is a little oversized for the slot. It was worth the added extra little effort and is a more solid mount. After the second gloss coat had dried (the one sprayed over the decals to seal them in) I used a regular pencil and went over the panel lines before the final flat coat as this will eliminate any of the "shininess" you'd get if you did the penciling last. With the model now almost entirely complete (the wingtip lights hadn't been painted yet, not enough time)! and looking very much a Macchi it was done for the contest that morning.

Although the model was looking good and was finished, I took it over to a friend's house and asked him his opinion. He liked it but felt it was "too clean" and so with his help we took it away and "dirtied it up". This is where I felt the model really transformed. Pastels were used for some added effect all over, not too much,  but just enough. A little on the tires as well and some dry brushing with silver near the wing root on the left-hand side as well as the leading edges of the wings, and other flying surfaces and the edges of the prop blades. A micropen was used to highlight all the various vents and slits that abound on a C.202. The wingtip lights were also painted at this time. Lastly an antenna made from stretched clear sprue was the final bit and it was now "entirely" complete.

CONCLUSIONS

I really enjoyed building this little kit and would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest. It definitely stands out from the normal Allied and Luftwaffe fare and the colorful Italian camouflage schemes are attractive. I'm not one to compare sizes and dimensions but it definitely looks like a Macchi C.202 to me. I'm also amazed at it's size, it's rather tiny and is smaller than my 1:72 scale Zeros that it's sitting next to in the display cabinet. It goes together pretty easily and it's too bad you don't see more of them at shows. While I'd previously started the construction a couple of weeks before the deadline, all of the painting and everything else which amounted to four different colors was done in just a week. The colorful paint scheme gave me several new techniques to try, a couple of them being just in masking alone. This was my sixth model and also my first Italian aircraft and I like how it turned out. It's definitely different and has a pleasing shape and I am proud of it. Sharp eyed readers may have noticed the right landing gear being a little crooked, but I'll get that fixed soon.

For C.202 1:72 scale fans there is the ancient Frog kit, and one from Supermodel (I have this and the Frog kit) and one from Italeri as well as the Hasegawa kit. The Frog kit is a child of it's time and is eclipsed by the newer offerings, even Supermodel. The Supermodel kit isn't bad despite it's raised panel lines and age and it has dry transfer decals which I've heard a lot of good things about. Plus it looks like there's markings for 4 aircraft! It also has nifty rubber tires too and allows you to build what looks like the prototype "D" version. Plus you can usually find it at shows cheap. How can you beat that? It also looks pretty good built up. I also have the Italeri kit and while it's about half the price of the Hasegawa kit when new, it does feature some nice wheel well detail as well as some framing and floor detail inside. The fuselage halves also feature some nice ribbing detail which the Hasegawa kit does not offer. It's antenna is also mounted to the fuselage which I like as it's a sturdier piece and is less prone to break. There is also some recessed rivet detail on the wings which looks nice. Like the Hasegawa kit you'll have to open up the machine gun holes in the wings if you want. Since mine was going to be an out of the box build, I didn't add the machine gun barrels or venturi tube like I could have. Research will be worth it here as to find out whether or not your particular aircraft had them.

Lastly the Hasegawa kit lacks the little venturi(?) tube that mounts under the fuselage which the Italeri and Supermodel kits both have. However these are minor things and can be easily remedied by the modeler and if the canopy is mounted in the closed position on either kit, you won't notice the inner detail that's there or not there. The one thing the Hasegawa kit has over it's competitors is the superb quality of the moldings, they're hard to beat and are nice and crisp. I'd say they're a little thinner compared to the Italeri moldings as well. There's just something about Italeri's plastic that you can't mistake for anyone else's moldings. Perhaps it's the thickness and texture of the plastic. Please note, these comparisons aren't meant to trash one or the others kits, so take no offense. They're just noted to give the reader knowledge and make him or her aware. I'd like to see the Italeri kit built up and put next to the Hasegawa kit for a comparison myself. I should mention that both Italeri and Supermodel produce a C.205 while Hasegawa does not, at least not in 1:72 scale. The aftermarket company Misterkit makes a conversion set that allows you to convert the Hasegawa kit into a C.205 as well as a 202 "correction" kit. I was fortunate to have won one of these (the latter) at a raffle. It includes a "corrected"? fuselage in gray plastic as well as some p.e brass for the wheel wells and landing gear doors and a beautiful resin set that includes a full cockpit, "plumbing" and "weighted" tires. I recently picked up a Sky decals sheet for the C.205 which includes markings for no less than twenty different aircraft! It is lovely and a real gem of a sheet. The nice thing about the closeness of the two aircraft is that you could use some of the insignias and unit badges from this for the 202 as well.

So there you have it, there's a lot out there that can be done with the C.202 and C.205 in 1:72 scale and the Hasegawa kit is a great place to start.

REFERENCES


Macchi C.202 in Action                         Squadron Publications
Macchi MC 202 Folgore pt.1a               IBN Editore
Aer. Macchi C.202 1941-1942           La Bancarella Aeronautica

Jon Hudak

May 2004

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