Monogram 1/48 He-111H-3

KIT #: 5509
PRICE: $25-30 on E-Paid
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Lyle
NOTES: Aeromaster #48-589, Best Sellers, Luftwaffe Mediums, Pt. 1

HISTORY

Two things came together in the past couple of months that forced me to haul this one out of the stash.  First, a friend loaned me the great old movie “The Battle of Britain”, a classic that I hadn’t seen since my childhood.  Chock full of Hurricanes, Spitfires, Bf 109s, and Heinkels, watching this movie will motivate anyone to model some BoB hardware.  Second, I started playing a video game called “Blazing Angels”, a flight simulator type of game where you pilot different Allied aircraft while fighting your way through different campaigns of the war.  I passed flight training relatively easily (only crashed twice), then needed a few nights to get past Dunkirk in a Hurricane.  I then graduated to a Spitfire battling it out with the Luftwaffe over London in 1940, and that’s where I’m stuck to this day.  The upside of my lack progress in my own personal air war is that over the past few weeks I have destroyed probably a hundred video Heinkel He 111s as they fly over video London, so much so that I see their cigar shaped-fuselages and glassed-over noses in my sleep.  Having blown up so many Heinkels on my TV screen, it seemed only natural to build one on my hobby table.  So I guess you could say a video game has motivated me to build a “real” model of the “video” model of the “real” thing.  I can only imagine how badly I’m dating myself by using the term “video” so liberally, a sure sign of my late 70s-early 80s heritage. 

THE KIT

So what’s in the box?  Monogram’s He 111 is an excellent kit, one of the few recessed panel line offerings they made before they were absorbed by Revell.  If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were looking at a Hasegawa production when you open the box.  While you’re ogling the nice light gray plastic however, be mindful of what variant it actually represents.  The instructions claim the kit is an H-4 or H-5, however I believe the model truly represents an H-2, or an early H-3 that has yet to receive the several field (and later factory) modifications that took place.  While I’m no expert on He 111 variants, the kit has the longer supercharger intakes that appeared with the H-2 (according to my Squadron/Signal “In Action” reference) as well as only three machine guns; one in the nose, one in the dorsal position, and one facing rearwards in the ventral gondola.  In addition the props seem to be the more narrow VDM type and the front of the gondola is a solid, curved panel.  Experience from the Polish Campaign revealed that the bomber was under-armed, and units in the field quickly began adding more machine guns for self defense.  Soon there was a second MG in the nose, another one facing forward through a clear panel on the front of the gondola, and a fifth crew man responsible for firing new MG’s fitted to the waist windows.  A fixed MG was even sometimes added to the tail.  The Monogram kit gives you none of these additional weapons however, therefore modeling anything past the late H-3’s or early H-4’s involves some scratch-building or some forgiveness, or in my case, both.

            When I build fighters I tend to go for the most popular mounts of the most famous aces, but in the bomber world that’s not as easy to do.  While casting about for which He 111 to model, I knew I wanted to build one that had participated in the Battle of Britain, preferably in the Night Blitz portion because of the interesting black paint schemes used during that time.  After researching the aftermarket decals I could get my hands on, I settled on 6N+BK, an H-3 from Kampfgruppe 100.  Not only did it serve during the Night Blitz, but as part of the Pathfinder Group it was a “three master”, making it a bit more unique.  I decided to add scratch-built machine guns to the waist windows, as well as a set of Koster exhausts for the early H variants.  I also added an Eduard photo etch set for the bomb bay as well as a set of their window masks – there’s a lot of glass on this one!

CONSTRUCTION

Per usual, construction began with the cockpit, but with a bomber there’s usually more than just a cockpit to deal with.  The kit provides a nicely detailed rendition of the pilot’s area as well as the bombardier/nose gunner’s area right beside him.  The He 111 had a unique setup in the nose.  The pilot’s instrument panels were arrayed around him instead of directly in front of him, affording him excellent forward visibility (mind you, if looking directly forward meant looking directly at a Spitfire or Hurricane bearing down on me, I think I’d rather have an instrument panel in front of me).  This means that many of the rear faces of the instrument panels are visible once the model is finished, and Monogram had the foresight to detail those nicely by molding the instruments as small cylinders complete with wiring on their backsides.  Moving over to the bombardier’s station, in the real He 111 the bombardier would lie prone on a sliding panel to fire the nose machine gun and then slide backwards to reveal the bombsight he would use to aim the bombs.  I used my Dremel to open this panel up, and thanks to those who responded on the Forum about my questions as to how that all worked! 

            I started painting the interior next by spraying a primer coat of Mr. Surfacer 1200, followed by some pre-shading using Testors Acrylic Panzer Gray.  This was followed by some thin coats of Testors RLM 02 Acrylic Green-Gray and then an overall wash of MIG Productions Dark Wash.  After that I began picked out the details by hand.  I painted the various instrument panels Testors Panzer Gray with Black instrument faces and some Testors Gloss coat.  Various items in the cockpit were picked out in white, red, and yellow, and the pilot’s seat was painted in a leather brown shade.  Monogram does a neat job of molding several wire bundles into the cockpit walls, and these were picked out in a sand color to make them stand out.  Once the cockpit painting was complete I closed up the fuselage halves and set them aside to dry. 

            The fuselage seams were fairly minor, and soon I was working on the wings.  Rather than glue them together and then fit them to the fuselage as the instructions say, I instead glued the top wing halves to the fuselage by themselves.  Doing it this way allowed me to get a perfect joint at the upper wing root, which is obviously much more visible than the underside.  Next I glued the bottom wing halves to the top wing halves, and here there was a gap at the lower wing roots.  To solve that problem I filled the gap with gap-filling CA glue, wiped off any that got on the plastic parts with a piece of paper towel, pressed down on the wing section so that it would be flush with the fuselage, and then hit the glue with some CA accelerator.  It worked perfectly.  

            After I sanded and filled the wing seams, I next attached the horizontal stabilizers to the fuselage, making sure they were level with each other.   Up next were the engine nacelles, which are small assemblies in and of themselves.  When these were attached to the wings some work was needed to smooth out the root areas, followed by some panel line re-scribing in the areas I sanded over.          

            At this point it was time to assemble the Eduard photo etch bomb bay set.  It’s a neat set consisting of several large etched pieces that went together quickly and easily and while it will only be visible through the open bomb bay doors below, it accurately portrays the racks that held the bombs vertically in the early He 111 variants before the external racks came into vogue.  Once it was assembled I sprayed it Testors Acrylic RLM 02 and then gave it an overall wash of MIG Productions Dark Wash.  Now an assembled and painted “module”, it was supposed to slide neatly into the bomb bay area between the two bulkheads, but it didn’t fit perfectly.  I had to use my Dremel to thin the two bulkheads enough to get it to fit.  Once it did fit however I slid the Eduard bomb bay module into the fuselage and super-glued it in place.  I then turned the Dremel onto the kit part that is supposed to represent the closed bomb bay (you could call the part a sort of “belly plate”) and used it to open up the bomb bay door openings.  With that glued in place, the bomb bay area was finished except for the photo etch bomb bay doors, which I attached later.  Peering into the bomb bay, I have to say that the ultra thin and precise look of those photo etch parts warms my cold, unfeeling modeler’s heart. 

Up next was the ventral gondola.  I attached the forward housing and the rear clear plastic machine gun station, complete with its machine gun.  I figured I would bump it a million times during the painting process, but since it attaches from the inside, there’s no other choice.

            The last major assembly step was the cockpit greenhouse.  The two large clear pieces require you to glue instrument panels, the bombsight, and another machine gun inside them before they are attached to the fuselage.  This was done using Testors Clear Parts cement, and the fit of all parts was good – impressive considering the shape of the He 111’s nose was fairly complex.  I applied the Eduard Masking Set at this point to provide some protection to the clear pieces while I handled them.

            The dorsal gunner’s station was painted and attached next, and then I attached the three masts using the one provided by the kit as a master for the other two.  I know what you’re thinking – whoa, three masts and two machine guns protruding from the model and you haven’t even painted it yet?  They’ll never survive!  What can I say?  I live life on the edge.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 First I sprayed Testors RLM 02 Gray over the greenhouse areas to replicate the interior of the framing, of which there’s a fair amount.  Next I sprayed a primer coat of Mr. Surfacer 1200 onto the aircraft and then checked all of the various seams.  After I retouched some seams it was time for the color coats.  The He 111 I was modeling was a “Night Blitz” version which had a coat of black paint hastily applied in the field over its original RLM 65/70/71 splinter scheme.  Photos show that the black paint tended to wear and chip badly, especially around the engine nacelles, landing gear areas, and any other leading edge-type areas, and I wanted to show that effect on my model.  I first sprayed a coat of RLM 65 Light Blue onto the undersides, concentrating on the areas that would have chipped.  I then applied some Mr. Mask with a small brush to those leading edge areas.  A rubber cement-like product, the idea was to paint the black over the mask and then remove the mask with my fingers to reveal the RLM 65 chips underneath. 

            I next pre-shaded all of the panel lines with Tamiya Flat Black XF-1.  I was skeptical as to whether or not pre-shading what was going to end up being a relatively dark model would have any perceptible effect, but in the end it did.  Next I sprayed a mix of Tamiya RLM 71 Dark Green (XF62:6 + XF58:2 + XF2:4) onto the upper surfaces, masked that off and then sprayed a mix of Tamiya RLM 70 Black Green (XF62:1 + XF49:1 + a few drops of XF1) to finish the upper colors.  I added a couple of drops of white to the RLM 70 mix and sprayed some “splotches” onto the Black Green areas to break them up a bit.  I then masked off the fuselage in preparation for the final color, Tamiya XF69, NATO Black.  I misted that onto the sides and the undersides lightly to let the pre-shading show through, and then also “splotched” on some lightened NATO Black to add some more depth as well.

            Once that was dry it was time for the customary coat of Future, after which the model was set aside for a few days.  I then applied the Aeromaster decals, which went on just fine with Walthers Solvaset solution.  Once they had set I sealed them with a coat of Future, and then applied a thin wash of Mig Productions “Dark Wash” to all of the recessed panel lines on the upper surfaces.  With the lower surfaces being so dark, I didn’t apply any panel line wash to them. 

            A coat of Testors Model Master Flat Finish was airbrushed on next, and then it was time to hand-paint the wheel wells.  For that I used Testors RLM 02, and then I picked out the various hoses and tubes by hand in Dark Brown.  That was followed by assembling the landing gear, which were then painted RLM 02 and given a dark wash.  The tires were painted Tamiya XF69 NATO Black, with the hubs painted black.  I attached the gear at this stage so they could not only receive some weathering, but also hold up the model.

The next weathering step was to airbrush a very thin mix of 50/50 Tamiya XF1 Black and Tamiya XF64 Red Brown over all of the panel lines and engine exhaust areas, concentrating on the lighter areas where the effect is easier to see.  To replicate the engine exhaust stains I first sprayed some Testors Rust, followed by some Testors Raw Umber, followed finally by just a hint of Testors Neutral Gray to create streaks on the undersides of the wings and engine nacelles.

            At this point it was time to remove all of the window masks, a process that is always nerve-wracking.  It seems common for the paint to not adhere well to the Futured, glossy clear plastic, and removing the mask can sometimes result in chips in the paint where you want a perfectly straight line.  It happened a couple of times on this model, resulting in me having to touch up the chips by hand with a fine brush.

Next I added some paint chips around the service areas on the wings using a Silver Berol pencil, and added some more RLM 65 paint chips by hand to the black undersides of the engines nacelles as well.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

The final step was to glue on the rest of the fiddly bits.  I replicated canvas gaiters on the two fuselage side window machine guns using Squadron Green Putty, and then painted them a beige color followed by a Raw Umber wash.  The dorsal position’s gun, gun bracket, and windshield were added next, followed by the pitot tube and the antenna near the gondola.  I used thin, flexible rubber line for the antenna leading from the mast to the tail.  Finally I assembled, painted, and mounted the final part of the Eduard PE Bomb Bay set, the bomb bay doors.  They were fiddly to assemble, testing my patience frequently, but do add that neat, precise look that I like so much about photo etch products to the model.  And with that the model was done.  And I only knocked off the masts twice.  One of these models I’ll learn.

CONCLUSIONS

Revell/Monogram’s He 111 is a fun and easy build.  The quality and fit of the parts is excellent, and the recessed panel lines are beautifully molded.  The cockpit is very well done, and scratch builders could have a field day outfitting the rest of the interior.  Like many Luftwaffe aircraft it was used throughout the war and in every theater, so the number of different painting and weathering schemes one can choose from are virtually limitless.  I recommend this kit without reservation, and only wish Revell would use the kit as a base from which to release more versions in the future.

REFERENCES

-  GR Morrison, an online friend.

-  Schiffer Military Books, The Luftwaffe Profile Series #9, “Heinkel He 111H”

-  Squadron/Signal Publications, Aircraft in Action #184, “Heinkel He 111 in Action”

Scott Lyle

October 2010

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