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The Messerschmitt Me 262 set the collective world on its’ ear when it was first seen in the summer of 1944. Allied air crews were shocked at the sight, speed and sound of the “Swallow” as it tore through bomber formations and tangled with Allied fighters of the day. Taking a long and sometimes turbulent road from concept to operational status the Me 262 stands alone as the only jet fighter to see front-line use as a bomber interceptor and fighter during World War II. Its influence on jet aircraft design was both indelible and immediate.
This is the latest boxing of an old kit. Best that I can tell this kit was released in the mid 1960’s (and was subsequently released by Nichimo years later). The kit comes as an A-1a “Jabo” with bomb racks and two bombs along with a pilot and a ground crew figure. It has operating features like elevators, vertical stab, engine covers, moveable landing gear and a positionable canopy. The decals are printed well with two options but are a bit too glossy and the colors are too bright on the unit badges and lack swastikas. The original kit was molded in olive green but this current reissue is now thankfully molded in white. The parts have a fair amount of flash and heavy molding lines. The kit suffers from some serious inaccuracies mainly focused on the main gear bay, landing gear, wheels, bombs and bomb racks, engine cowling profile, gun covers, canopy and horizontal stabs. Is it worth the effort? Did I waste my time with this? Read on and see for yourself.
Early on I had decided to use some leftover Monogram Me 262 parts to see if I could dress up this kit a bit. At this time I decided to build this into an A-2a bomber and would need to cover the upper cannon fairings and add better-quality bombs and bomb racks. Simple kit-bashing makes for a lot of fun and helps to keep me fresh with my skillset. And it’s fun to just take something most folks would pass up and see what they think after it gets some love. So, with this in mind I chose to use the main gear and wheels, cockpit/lower main gear bay, main gear doors and horizontal stabs from the Monogram kit for this project. I started with the wings and glued them together also gluing the elevators into place. The fit here was pretty good. I worked on the engines next. Choosing to glue the cowling doors shut I just painted the engines Testors Metalizer Aluminum Plate and buffed the nose sections. The inside of the engine cowlings were painted Model Master RLM 66 and the engines then glued inside.
At this time I glued the cowling halves together and also glued the cowling doors in place. The fit here, again, was pretty good but the lower seam has an odd step to it making the engine cowlings come to a bit of a point where the seam is. I figured I had these sanded down to a round shape but was later mistaken once the paint was applied…so double-check the shape on these when you sand everything smooth. I then cleaned these up and glued them to the wings. The fit was so tight that it required me to actually trim a bit of the upper cowling areas around the top section where the cowlings meet the wings. Once this was completed I turned my attention to the fuselage. The nose cannon bay floor acts as the nose gear bay and it is a real pain to get it into place. The nose of the fuselage was mildly warped and that made it even worse. I painted the entire piece Model Master RLM 66 and added the guns, painting them Testors Flat Black. After about 10 minutes of prying and jamming and pinching fingers I got the gun bay/nose bay trapped between the fuselage halves. Whew! The cannon barrels do not line up too well with the openings…and that is with the openings being out of scale and inaccurate!
I then turned my attention to the cockpit. I had decided early on that I would replace the very inaccurate kit-supplied cockpit tub with the tub from a Monogram Me 262. This piece had been already painted RLM 66 as it came from a busted-up Monogram ‘262 kit I built years ago. I test-fit the cockpit tub and with a minor trim to the four edges of the tub it just dropped right into place. There is a small gap on either side of the cockpit tub bit it does not detract from the finished product. After this was done I looked to add the Monogram horizontal stabs to the fuselage. This is a one-piece part (as is the Lindberg piece) and where it mated to the vertical stab was slightly wider than the tail. So I used some Plastruct sheet styrene to fill the area and help mate the tail planes to the tail of the fuselage. After this was done the vertical stabilator was snapped into place unglued and remaining moveable.
I cleaned up the seams on the fuselage and then mated the wings to the fuselage. The fit here was spot-on and there was no need for any filler. The main gear bay is a separate piece in the kit and is highly inaccurate. The lower portion of the Monogram cockpit tub doubles as the main gear bay and is far more accurate. I did not use the kit gear bay parts and just painted the inside of the Monogram gear bay and fuselage area Model Master RLM 66. At this time I also painted the nose gear bay the same color and finished assembling the nose gear. I used the Lindberg nose gear mount and added a brass sleeve cut from tubing so that the Monogram nose strut would fit. The main gear legs needed to have mounting holes drilled for them. I also added a small piece of brass wire in each gear leg to give it additional strength. Be careful here as the wings are pretty thin and you can drill right through them. Ask me how I know. It was at this time that I set the model down on its’ landing gear and realized that I had forgot to add any nose weight! ARGH! I went to my local Walmart and bought some small lead sinkers and managed to get them into the nose area. I used 5-minute epoxy to secure them into place. After this was done I turned my attention to the canopy. This is another inaccurate part of the kit but sadly you cannot easily modify the Monogram canopy pieces to fit. As an aside here pay close attention to the front windscreen. If you look at pictures of early Me 262s they have a rounded windscreen. The Lindberg part is closer to this design hence if you decide to build a prototype or preproduction “Swallow” this is probably your best part to source and (heavily) modify for use on a Monogram, DML or other brand Me 262.
Back to the kit at hand I glued the front and rear canopy pieces into place. The fit of the front windscreen is not great as the fuselage is narrower than the windscreen. So the front port side of the windscreen sticks out a wee bit. The center section has a plastic rod that acts as a hinge and is supposed to allow the canopy to be opened and closed. I replaced this with a small piece of brass wire and it works beautifully. Notice that you will need to mask the canopy parts carefully as most of the framing is non-existent or incorrect. After masking was done I turned my attention to what variant I wanted to build. I have the Tamiya A-2a boxing and the markings for “White Y” appealed to me. This required adding two accurate bomb racks, the appropriate bombs and fairing over the upper two cannon ports. The spares box again came to my rescue as I pilfered Wikingerschiff-style bomb racks from the Monogram kit and a pair of 250Kg bombs from a Fujimi Bf 110 kit. The bombs were painted Model Master RLM 02 and set aside to dry. I would avoid using the 500Kg bombs as they were rarely used on the Me 262 and the Monogram offerings are a bit oversized and soft on detail. The fuselage has slightly raised flat mounting points for the Lindberg bomb racks. I just sanded these smooth and double-checked my references for the proper position to glue the Monogram racks in place. As for the upper pair of cannon fairings for the A-2a variant I raided my PE scraps and cut these two pieces from PE fret stock. Going with an appropriately-thin styrene might lose its form once glue is applied so I figured PE fret would work fine…and it did.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I used Aeromaster acrylic paint for the camouflage finish. The underside and fuselage sides were shot RLM 76 with my Badger 200. The 81/83 combo was shot using my new Grex Tritium airbrush and I have to say that it did a fine, fine job. This airbrush made my work easier and of a better quality especially with the fine squiggly lines. After the paint dried I put a coat of Testors Glosscote via rattle can on the model. As mentioned prior I chose to use markings from Tamiya’s Me 262A-2a kit. The national markings and various stencils came from the Lindberg sheet and my spares box. Only the call letter and werk number was used from the Tamiya kit. These all went down with no issues and I used Solvaset to help them conform to the surface. I then added a coat of Testors Dullcote. It was at this time that I realized I misplaced the aircraft code on the starboard side! After some long thoughts I decided to leave it as I was very pleased with the paintwork and did not want to redo any of that. Weathering was kept light using pastels to achieve a used but not worn appearance. A small name plaque came with the kit and I painted it green and then lightly sanded the raised letters and border and applied a shot of Testors Glosscote.
Was this worth the effort? Well, the fit actually was decent overall and it went together with little drama outside of the nose gear bay. But even with all of the help from the spares box this kit is still pretty darn inaccurate. It “looks” like a Me 262 but in this day and age it’s best to leave this alone if you are desiring accuracy and a bit of finesse. However, if you want something not seen on your shelf and wish to practice your modeling skillset a bit then by all means give this a whirl. For $6 it’s awfully hard to go wrong here especially if you have the necessary leftover parts from a Monogram, DML or HobbyBoss Me 262 laying around. Recommended for a fun nostalgia build and for keeping your skillset fresh but not for an accurately good time!
Messerschmitt Me 262 In Action No.212; Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. Squadron/Signal Publications, 1st edition, 2008. ISBN number 0897475542.
Eaglefiles #5: Stormbird Colors; Green, Brett and Evans, Benjamin. Brett Green, Benjamin Evans, Tullis, Tom. Eagle Editions, 1st edition, 2006. ISBN number 0-9660706-9-0.
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