Henschel 129 . The Book & The Kit.
Price: about £4.50
Media: Injected plastic
Decals: 2 versions
Date of Review: 7 Feb '97
The Hs 129 has, for me at any rate, always been one of the more interesting aircraft of the Luftwaffe. Whilst not the most glamorous or numerically most important aircraft, it has always held a certain deadly charm, looking like some large, malevolent frog.
Whilst at Midland Expo this year, I picked up both the 1/72 Italeri kit and the MBI monograph. If memory serves me correctly, the book was about £3.50 and the kit about £4.50 ( not including my IPMS discount on the kit ! ), which I considered a very good value purchase in this day of ever rising prices.
First off, the book. This comes in a striking pink (!) cover with a picture of two Hs129's on. The back cover has two side views of 129's ( both in 65/70/71 ) and a top view. Colour plates are also to be found in the middle; these are an Hs129 A-0 ( blue 16 ), 6 Luftwaffe Hs 129 B's ( four in 65/70/71 and two in 78/79 ) and two Romanian aircraft, one with the cross marking and one with the roundel adopted after leaving the axis. There are also two sets of 1/72 scale plans, one for the A-0 series and one for the B series. The second set is a work of art, as it not only includes plans for most of the Rustatze kits, but also details any changes in detail, for example both types of exhaust pipe are illustrated as are the various nose changes.
Including plans, there are 56 pages written in dual Czech and English. The text is very well written and has been superbly translated. Photographs cover prototypes and operational machines and are all well reproduced and useful to the modeller. Sketch drawings illustrate various changes, the construction of the aircraft and various details such as the internal and external mountng arrangement for the 75mm cannon. There are some good drawings of the pilots seat ( what a contraption ) and cockpit, including one in full colour.
One final note is that the authors have gone back to use original works material, and have come up with some interesting thoughts on the designations used. For example, the Hs 129 B2/R4 or Hs 129 B2/Wa ( for the 75mm cannon version ) is wrong. Apparently, they were Hs 129 B3's. Whilst on this version, a few interesting thoughts are thrown up with regards to the armament of the B3 and why the Mgs were removed.
Overall, an excellent book, and when the price is considered, a "must have" for the old book case.
The kit is moulded in the usual light grey plastic with nicely engraved panel lines and many delicate parts, such as the bomb rack sway braces and elevator actuators. In all, there are over 100 parts to make up this kit ( including some optional ones ).
Construction follows the usual sequence, starting with the cockpit. This is one of the few poor areas of the kit, as the seat is totally unlike the real thing. Also, for those of you thinking in terms of a brass replacement, the one included in the Eduard detail set looks quite simplified too. Normally, this wouldn't matter, as the 129 has a very small glazed area...but, for once, the canopy is crystal clear! ( poor old kit makers, they can't win ). One other point to beware of is that the rear of the cockpit bathtub is not edged with flash, as I discovered after removing it. It is a thin film of plastic that joins up to the fuselage interior; mind you, it did look like like flash.
The rest of the kit went together with very little trouble and, thank the Lord, very little filler. In fact the only area where things are a little dissapointing is in the engines. The engines themselves are well moulded, but they are a little too small for the cowlings. Still, this is a minor problem. Included in the kit are both types of cowling air filter ( the earl round one and the later square one ) and both types of exhaust ( bent and straight ).
Decals are included for two B-1's. the first is a North African B-1 in the usual RLM 78 & 79 scheme with green splotches coded "C", the other is an RLM 70 / 71 /65 Eastern Front machine, coded blue "G". The decals went one well and responded to setting solutions.
Overall, this is a very good kit of an interesting aircraft and is another feather in Italeris cap. I would be very surprised if more versions do not follow. The kit is almost an exact match for the plans in the MBI book, which gives a few ideas for different armament combinations if a little scratch building of gun packs doesn't put you off.
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