Dragon 1/48 He-162A and D (Conversion)

KIT #

5508

PRICE:

About $70.00 in all

DECALS:

See Review

REVIEWER:

Peter Marshall

NOTES:

Dragon He162A-2 Kit number 5508 x 2, Antares He162D conversion ANT-07, Aeromaster 48-335 Reich Defence 162s and 163s, Aires MG151 number 4021, Squadron canopy, Eduard seatbelts.

HISTORY


You've got to love the He162! It's such a neat looking aircraft, even in it's normal variant. And when you read the history of it, it just gets neater. One of the Volksjäger projects of 1944, the aim was to produce an almost disposable fighter using non-strategic material (like wood) that could be produced in large numbers (the target being 1000 a month) by slave labour (OK, maybe the use of the word neat is inappropriate) to tackle the waves of American bombers then knocking the hell out of Germany. The result was a tiny aircraft, the first single engined jet  fighter, which flew only three months after the specification was issued. There were initially thoughts that the aircraft could be flown by minimally (glider!) trained Hitler Youth pilots but luckily (for them) that never came to pass. Only a few hundred were finished before the end of the war and while there's a suggestion that one shot down a Typhoon the general view is that no victories were scored by what Capt E
Brown described as an outstanding gun platform (and he should know :-).

THE KIT


This review is of a couple of Dragon He162s, one of which has been modified to the proposed D variant using a resin conversion from Antares  (Kit number ANT-07 from http://www.antaresmodels.com). I always liked  the look of the He162 and I've had a couple of the Dragon kits in the cupboard for a long time. I became aware of the proposed forward swept  wing D model many years ago (being an ex Aeronautical engineer it fascinated me that the Germans were trying these things so long ago) and a model of that was one of the few things that would have tempted me back to 72nd scale as I didn't see much chance of a 48th scale kit coming out. I had actually got the Dragon box out a couple of times and  had a serious look at scratch building the wings for it but I never had the bottle.

And then I was following a web link from a review of a He162 pulse jet  conversion and came across Antares and saw Marcelo's wide selection of wacky stuff including his four (count them!) different He162  conversions, one of which was for the D. So having parted with a large sum of US dollars stuffed in an envelope (seriously!) I got my four different conversions (and some other stuff besides) and I was ready to roll (after buying a couple more -162s from HLJ and a couple more from
somewhere else, hey, this is getting expensive!)

CONSTRUCTION

I thought I would just build a couple at a time, no point being stupid about this. Construction of both the kits was initially the same, following the instructions more or less. The quite detailed engines make good sub assemblies to make when other stuff is drying or whatever and they're not needed until later so they were just put together as and when, construction really starting with the cockpit and the main undercarriage bay. However I should say you do have to decide when you start the engines whether you're going to display it open or closed, as you use some of the same parts. I went with one of each, you can have too much of a good thing.

As with much of the Dragon/Trimaster stuff there's lots of detail but it  can be a bit fiddly to get it all together and the undercarriage bay is a good example of this, lots of stuff in there but the etched details (stainless steel? Bloody tough whatever it is) are a bit tricky. To be honest it's nothing a little care, trimming and dry fitting won't address, but it's not a chuck it together Tamigawa build. So with the undercarriage bay done and the bits of the cockpit that were needed installed (I left out the seat and control column at this stage) the fuselage halves could be joined. Don't do as I did and miss the tiny
reference to nose weight, it does need it (though the instructions don't tell you how much) and it's a lot harder to put it in afterwards! And there's not a lot of space for it either.....

So the fuselages were put to one side and I turned to the wings and  tail. The kit provides both the conventional tail as used on the production aircraft and also the V-tail proposed for several of the variants so I took the opportunity to try something one of the club members suggested to make it easier to get control surfaces cut out. He buys two of any kit and basically sacrifices the wings and tail of one to get the ailerons, elevators, rudder cut out without damage and then sacrifices the moveable surfaces of the other kit to get  the fixed section of the wings cut neatly. In this case I didn't have to buy extra kits as I had two conventional tails for the A-2 and two V-tails for the D so I could do the rudders and elevators in this fashion, and as I was using a set of resin wings I had two sets of wings  to use for the A-2 so I did the same for the ailerons and the flaps. So with the moving surfaces all sorted the tail sections were attached to
the rear of each kit and it was onto the wings.

These were probably the most troublesome aspect of the build (something one of the guys at Hannants commented upon when I said I was making a couple of these). The A was being built more or less straight so the wing attach should have been just a matter of gluing together, right? Wrong. The right wing fitted fine but the left wing either had a gap underneath or on top and just didn't seem to seat properly. I don't profess to be an expert but if you look carefully at the wing roots I think I've spotted the problem (the proof will be in the next build).

The left wing root has an additional step on it, it's not much, about 0.5mm, but it's enough to stop the wing fitting properly. Whether this is a mold fault or what I don't know but I think it should be a simple(!) matter of removing this extra from the wing root and the left wing will fit fine too. As I said, we shall see on the next build.

The -D wasn't quite so simple, you basically need to remove the fuselage wing roots in their entirety and fill the resulting holes before attaching the one piece resin wings (whose pour stubs you've carefully removed :-) Actually the resin wings were pretty easy in that respect, there's a fair amount of attachment surface at the correct angle, remove the pour stubs in line with that and they seem to fit fairly well. There were a couple of minor pinholes in one of the trailing edges of one of
my wings, but nothing a drop of superglue couldn't fix. So with the fuselage devoid of any original wing, filled, sanded, filled some more, sanded again etc and the resin wings cleaned up it was time to fit them. No doubt to the horror of the masses I have to admit to just sticking them on. No extra pins or some spar structure to support the weight of  the resin , they are quite small wings and I figured they would be OK. I just flowed a lot of superglue into the joints and kept it all supported while it cured. They haven't fallen off yet (famous last words!) If I was doing this again (oh, I am, for the -C version) this is about all I would change, spending a LOT more time getting a good wing to fuselage fit. It's not bad, but it could be better, and it's really not an easy shaped a/c to get at the bits that need sanding if the join isn't good enough. But on with the show....

So, wings and tail attached, undercarriage in place, nearly time for painting. Just a matter of doing the cockpit bits and fitting the canopies. I like to do the painting with the canopies fitted, you can get the fit all sorted out, any filling and sanding done without messing up your nice paint job. The seats had some Eduard etched belts fitted, looked very bare without, the rest of the cockpit being out of the box and onto the next problem. As I hadn't done a whole lot in the cockpit I was going to have both these kits closed up, I figure I can go to town on one of the other four in the stash. But the kit canopy didn't REALLY fit together in that way. Hummmm. I remembered I had some Squadron vac form canopies for this a/c so I cut one of those out, trimmed it and fitted it to the -D (filling gaps with superglue, relying on the future to do its stuff, more on that shortly). The -A I figured I might as well have open so I fitted the front section and held the rest in place with white tack and tape. The canopies were all masked and so onto paint.

COLORS AND MARKINGS

As only the -A is a real aircraft I only had to worry about the paint job on that one, the -D being left to my imagination (which to be honest isn't that hot, but there you go). The cockpit had been painted RLM66 and the wheelbays RLM02, everything masked off so onto the camo. I found the painting instructions on the Aeromaster 48-335 Reich Defence sheet a little confusing, but maybe that's just me. Actually I don't think it is. Aeromaster give you a typical top camo scheme of RLM81 BraunViolett and a dark green, which to them is RLM82 DunkelGrün (and here's another problem, various sources have RLM82 as LichtGrün, take your pick. I like RLM82 LichtGrün and RLM83 DunkelGrün but I'm not going to fight you over it) but for the 3 -162s actually on the sheet we're looking at overall RLM82 DunkelGrün or RLM71DunkelGrün. So don't give me a drawing showing RLM81 BraunViolett, it just confuses me! I went with W.Nr 120077 cos of the cool badge and name on the nose, over used I guess but it just cries out to be done, so it was preshading in dark grey along the panel lines, RLM76 underneath, DunkelGrün (of your choice) on the upper surface and black for the rear of the engine. Small a/c, simple camo, quick paint job :-) The Aeromaster decals, being Aeromaster, worked beautifully, there's two sets of stencils (one black, one white, I never know which to use) and it's a coat of matt, remove the masking, add the wheels, engine and engine doors, open the cockpit, bits of brass tube for the canon barrels, couple of little aerials and it's done! I felt it needed some activity to justify having the engine open so I found a suitable figure in a Hasegawa ground crew/weapon set and posed him working on the engine, adds a sense of scale too.

With the -D I was on my own, so it went like this. I know some Me-262s were painted LichtGrün and DunkelGrün (whichever is which :-) and I think the light green looks really good, so I figured it's another late war jet like the -262, lets go with that. So it was lower surfaces 76 (actually not totally, I had been doing some Light Ghost Grey on something while the -162 was sitting around so some panels had already been done in that, just for a bit of contrast) and the upper surfaces in 82 and 83 (except for some panels on the right hand engine cover which I had previously sprayed in RLM81 BraunViolett while that was in the airbrush for something else :-). And while I was spraying the greens, at  one point there was a gap between them showing the grey plastic in quite a nice contrast and I figured why not. So I broke out the 76 again and  did a bit of a disruptive pattern primarily over the joins in the green and a little on the engine covers. Hey, this is a hobby, it's supposed to be fun (I keep forgetting that so this was a nice change). Then the decals came partly from the kit (some stencilling and the Balkenkreuze) and the rest from other places (the slogan, chevrons and W.Nr from an ADS sheet Aircraft of JV44, the Hakenkreuze from an Aeromaster sheet of late war -190 markings, the 21 and the bar from a Cutting Edge -109 sheet, the nose art from a Tamiya -109 sheet (I think), whatever was to hand really). The same odds and ends as for the -A and done! Except it wasn't. When I took the masking off the canopy I found that the future hadn't prevented superglue fogging entirely. While the canopy itself was fine, an invisible fingerprint of mine on the inside was now a visible fingerprint where the superglue fumes had done whatever it is they do and boy was I pissed? So I debated for a few days whether I could live with it (it wasn't THAT big a fingerprint) but in the end the canopy had to come off, more future, reattach, touch up painting and considerable annoyance, it's not as good as it was, but it'll have to do. At least there's no fingerprint.... Oh, and during the build I opened up one of the gun bays and installed a MG151/20, just for interest. On the -C I think I'll install a couple of the intended MK108/30s, just to show the difference.

CONCLUSIONS

And that really was it, a couple of reasonably simple builds, it's a sweet little aircraft, the conversion is a relatively simple one and it adds something very different to the shelf.

Peter Marshall

December 2003

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