Revell AG  1/48 He-111H-22

KIT #

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PRICE:

45 Swiss Francs

DECALS:

Two aircraft - II./KG 53

REVIEWER:

Pierre-André Boillat

NOTES:

Same as ProModeler kit

HISTORY


Originally ordered as a fast airliner by Deutsche Lufthansa, the Heinkel 111’s design was based on the successful He 70 single engine passenger aircraft. At the same time, the German Air Ministry (RLM) asked Heinkel to develop a bomber version of this elegant, promising new design. The first prototype (Heinkel 111a, later renamed V1), took to the air on 24 February, 1935. 

Several examples of the early bomber versions (Heinkel 111 B, E) were sent to Spain to fight the Civil War with “Legion Condor”, gathering precious experience for the coming hostilities planned by the Nazi regime. However, the Heinkel’s then superb speed and handling characteristics, as well as a relatively light opposition hid the type’s shortcomings (lack of protection, too light defensive armament and bomb payload), giving its crews – and their leaders -  a false sense of invincibility they would pay for dearly during WWII. From the He-111 P version on, a fully glassed nosed was fitted, giving the Heinkel its definitive, unmistakeable look and excellent visibility – but over-exposing the crew to enemy fire. At the beginning of the Polish campaign, the Heinkel 111 had become the most numerous bomber in the Luftwaffe, with 808 of all marks equipping 21 groups and several smaller units.

 During the “Blitzkrieg” campaigns of 1939-1940, the He-111 gave complete satisfaction (in spite of severe losses as soon as serious opposition was met). Things were to change quickly during the Battle of Britain, where the type, pressed into a strategic bomber role it hadn’t been designed for, proved unsuitable for the task. However, as Germany had nothing better at hand than tactical bombers like the He-111, Ju-88 and Do-17 (the Nazi “Lightning War” philosophy having lead the RLM into neglecting the development of “heavies” - with the exception of the ill-fated He 177”Greif”), the Heinkel 111 soldiered on during the whole war as a “maid of all works”, performing all kinds of missions on every front like weather observation, reconnaissance, transport, torpedo-bombing, mine-laying, glider-towing, VIP liaison or V-1 flying-bomb delivery, which is the subject of this kit.

 7585 Heinkel 111’s of all types were built from 1935 on, production being stopped in 1944, and the last remaining 9 being destroyed by their crew on a Bavarian airfield prior to surrender in 1945. 

The Heinkel 111 H-22

 The third version of the H series (recognizable by its dorsal turret replacing the former open  defensive position) was to be one of the most unusual weapons of WWII. Its mission was the nocturnal delivery of the (in)famous Fieseler Fi 103 flying bomb, better known as the V1 (Vergeltungswaffe eins – “retribution weapon one”), the unguided ancestor of the Cruise Missile. Germany having lost the original (and vulnerable, in spite of their heavy Flak defences) “ski-jump” firing sites on the Channel coast due to the Normandy invasion, the solution found to continue the V-1 random bombing campaign against Britain was to fit a flying bomb under the starboard wing of a He-111 of the latest mark. In comparison with today’s push-button, high-tech weaponry, the delivery method was primitive and dangerous, to say the least.

 First, the bomber, slowed by its bulky load, had to “crawl” very low over the North Sea to escape radar detection. Once in range (100 – 150 Km), the pilot accelerated to 320 Kmh and climbed to 400m, started the V-1’s pulse-jet engine and released it in the general direction of the “target” (let’s say the British Isles). In this moment, the flying bomb’s exhaust flame often gave away the Heinkel’s position to a patrolling Mosquito night-fighter, which subsequently had no difficulty to track and shoot down the intruder. Some 80 He-111 H-22 of II KG 53 (the unit assigned to this dangerous “game”, flying from Northwest Germany and Holland) were lost that way, several others to night-flying accidents.

THE KIT

The H-22 issued by Revell Germany (one year after the original Monogram / Revell release of the bomber / torpedo version) comes of course in the usual soft, side-opening box that is the main weakness of this company. The kit itself, in return, is one of the best aircraft models available. Nice recessed panel lines, superb cockpit details, clear and well designed transparencies, excellent crew figures, well-printed decals (including useable seatbelts) and a decent V-1… if it wasn’t for the notorious “Revell parts-warping”, it would be of outright AM or Tamiya class. The plans are clear and easy to follow.

CONSTRUCTION

After assembling and painting all internal parts, which was done without a problem, putting together the airframe revealed the only – yet annoying flaw of this nice kit: fitting the main parts is a tricky job, and a lot of putty was necessary to hide the seams. Worse, a closer look after the first sanding session revealed that the tail planes had misaligned while curing, this being maybe due to some fuselage warping… I had to break them off and insert some plasticard in the seams to give them the right angle, and to bend the fin into correct position. However, after a second filling, sanding and reengraving session, none of this heavy intervention was left to be seen.

 A few months later, I asked a usually quite well-informed modelshop owner about the cause of this typical  Revell warping problem, and here’s what he told me : apparently, the guys at Revell turn out kits at high speed and take the sprues out of the forms before they have time to cool down completely – hence the warping. The Japanese, he said, have learned that slowing down production a little bit eliminates the problem... just my 2 cents, as they say on the Forum.

Further details

 The landing gears are highly detailed, yet strong enough to take the model’s quite heavy weigth. “Flattened” wheels (including the tailwheel) with accurate tire profiles are provided. The V-1, almost a small kit in the kit, is pretty nice. Experts probably will argue if it’s better than the Tamiya issue, but, according to my documentation, it doesn’t look bad at all – and is largely hidden under the Heinkel’s large elliptical wing. As already said above, the transparencies are of exquisite optical quality, and their clever breakdown eliminates any ugly seam or ejector pin mark. The 5 defensive MGs are well represented. The propellers and exhaust pipes are very good, too.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS

The machine I chose to represent belonged to II KG 53 and flew its missions in late 1944. It sported the classic 70/71 upper scheme with a heavy “night-fighter like” RLM 02 grey or 65 blue pattern sprayed over (I chose the 65 option because of the better contrast). The undersides are black. As for the V-1, I wanted it to look somewhat different, so it got a 80 olive-green over blue 65 camo. The “greenhouse” nose was masked and airbrushed over the larger areas (pilot’s escape hatch, bombardier/nose gunners “tub”). Thin, pre-painted decal stripes were used for the rest of the framing. An oil wash followed by pastel powders were applied for weathering. Decals went on fine, with no silvering in spite of their matt base.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the second-largest kit I ever turned out, and it has become one of my favorite ones (although it was started without conviction on a day I just wanted to “do something”). Fitting problems apart, the build was great fun, and the result makes a very big impression every time it’s on display (maybe due to its large size and funky camo), my Heinkel making first and second at two exhibitions. Someday, I’ll take it to the Swiss IPMS nationals…

May 2004

REFERENCES

Squadron Signal „Heinkel 111 in Action“

Editions Atlas « Bombardiers moyens de la deuxième Guerre Mondiale »

Monogram « Luftwaffe aircraft colours »

Pierre-André Boillat

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