Dragon 1/72 He-219B-1
KIT #: 50279
PRICE:  £18.50
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Includes photo etch fret

HISTORY

 Potentially one of Luftwaffe’s most effective fighters the He-219 Uhu (Owl) was another aircraft, which suffered from misjudgment by senior members of the government and Luftwaffe high command. It derived from Heinkel’s private venture P.1060 fighter-bomber proposals, which received little encouragement until 1941 when it was soon to have promised as a night fighter. An all-metal shoulder-wing monoplane the He-219 seated the pilot and navigator back to back was the first operational aircraft in the world to introduce ejection seats and also Luftwaffe’s first operational aircraft with tricycle landing gear.

 The first prototype recorded its maiden flight on the 15th November 1942 with a power plant based on two 1,750hp Daimler-Benz DB603A engines. The second prototype flown in December had a different armament installation. Following the evaluation of one of the prototypes a mock combat against a Do-217N and a Ju-88S, an off the drawing board order for 100 aircraft was increased to 300, and further prototypes were used in the aircraft development programme. From April 1943 a small number of He-219A-O pre-production aircraft flew with 1/NJG1 at Vento in the Netherlands and on the night of 11th June 1943 Major Werner Streib shot down five Avro Lancaster bombers in a single sortie.

 He first six operational sorties flown by the unit resulted in claims for 20 RAF aircraft including six examples of the redoubtable De Havilland Mosquitoes. Despite cancellation of the programme in May 1944, production deliveries of a number of versions were made, principally to 1/NJG1 and NJGr10.One particular change was made to the wingspan, which, in the 219B variant, was extended and tapered at the tips to give it better performance when operating at high altitude.

 Impressive scores aside, the He-219 suffered from excessive weight growth during its development, a process that gave its tricky and often unforgiving handling trials. Only few production aircraft made it into service and was therefore ineffective in the course of the war.

THE KIT

The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a vivid night scenery box art of a He-219 knocking down a Lancaster bomber (one of five recorded downed by the He-219 during its short service life.) Inside are five sprues of injection moulded parts in grey plastic; two sprues of clear parts and a photo etch set. All the sprues are contained in sealed bags and the latter two also contained in separate bags and are taped to a cardboard sheet to protect them. The decal sheet caters for three aircraft. The kit is made up of 113 parts. There are also a dozen extra items that can be of use.

Dragon supplies the instructions in folded A5 size pages and there are eight stages of construction. There is no brief history coverage and there are optional parts for the nose wheel and for the rear cockpit radar layout.  The assembly is well highlighted as one goes along and interior colour details are given at each stage.

 The kit has beautifully moulded parts, no flash at all and perhaps the only cleaning required is at the joining portion of the part with the sprue otherwise cleaning is merely at the seam lines of the undercarriage legs which is absolutely minimal. There are plastic ejector marks on the undercarriage doors that needs to be smoothened down, others are mainly in hidden places. The kit has detailed interior with the seat bases moulded onto the floor and only needs the separate seat back to be added. The front has the main instrument panel in photo etch item. There is also an aiming sight as well as a front interior armour transparent screen. The engineering on the exterior parts are in form of access panel lines neatly done. If on the other hand this might look slightly overdone this will be quite faint after paintwork.

The main gear is two separate sub assemblies containing many detail parts whereas the nose wheel has no interior detail at all. This may possibly be due to the small size of the bay itself where any detail added may not be appreciated. The photo etch contain several antennae. There is also a loop antenna among them. This will go over the rear fuselage and two other antennae fit under the fuselage which when in place look very realistic and to scale. One of these has to fit in a slot under the centre section, which is wisely done, and for the vertical antenna I preferred to drill a tiny shallow hole in order to hold it firmly in place. The four main aerials forming the nose radar array are so delicately produced as also is the rear single antenna. These antennae supports are dry fitted first to ensure that the alignment pins are angled correctly. The four in number tiny end fitting parts ‘C7’ looked oversize to me and I preferred to replace these with a tiny drop of white glue ensuring in the end that they are four identical drops. Perhaps a welcome item would have been seat belts and one will have to seek them from after market sources.

 As for the clear parts and in particular to the main cockpit these are crystal clear and having slightly raised frames with frosted texture that will make it easy to apply paint on them. Without doubt the kit is tail heavy and there was no mention or reference to this anywhere in the instructions which concerns the balancing of the model on the nose. However careful study will locate several forward empty spaces in the nose and aft of cockpit as well in engine nacelles forward of main gear. I simply hammered the ductile lead weight to fit these spaces and secured with sprue pieces.

CONSTRUCTION

Instructions are easy to follow. The kit builds into an accurate He-219-B1 but needs also some filler at certain areas particularly at the joint where the tail plane fits into the rear fuselage as also at the wing roots to a smaller degree. The rear pointed end piece of the engine nacelle also required some sanding in order to conform to the nacelle itself. A separate rear door for the nose landing gear is provided and it is suggested to be in closed position considering there is no detail in the nose bay, although in photos this appears also in open position. Other points worth considering is whether one fits a gun to the rear of the cockpit as depicted on the box art or opt to blank the rear cockpit hole as per instruction paint detail. I added nose weight and replaced an antenna with one made from a metal pin. The overall fit of the kit is good, the instructions are very clear and the overall package has been produced to a very high standard.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The last two pages of the instructions contain more painting guide and decal emplacement and four different colour equivalents are quoted. The colour numbers listed are specifically for Mr.Color aqueous paints and as an example the cockpit interior which is schwartzgrau is indicated by quoting a mix consisting of 95% field green and 5% flat black. The decals which are thin and well printed give options for three aircraft. All of these served in Germany in 1945. One of these represents an overall black aircraft belonging to NJG3 having AC on the fuselage. I have preferred to finish my model on one of the other two identical schemes having mottle grey camouflage on upper surfaces. This represented a Heinkel He-219B-1 of 3/NJG3, Luftwaffe 1945. The type shot five Lancaster bombers during night interception.

CONCLUSIONS

I definitely recommend the kit for the keen Luftwaffe enthusiast. The overall fit of the kit is very good and the detail is of very high standard. The completed model represents one of the most advanced night fighters ahead of its time featuring a pressurised cabin and equipped with ejection seats and several are of the opinion that has the type been mass produced in the war years 44-45 it would have left its mark on the outcome of the war.

Carmel J. Attard

August 2009

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