Huma 1/72 Lippisch DM-1
KIT #: D-63454
PRICE: AUD$5.00 at a swap n sell
DECALS: Generic insignia


German aeronautical engineer, Dr. Alexander Lippisch’s fascination with tail-less aircraft made him either a far-sighted pioneer, or a dangerous radical who was messing with a working formula.  One of his projects was the D-33, but its designation was changed to DM-1 when the contractor was changed due to RAF bombing.  The DM-1 was of all-wooden construction and of an acute-triangle design.  It was to be carried aloft on the back of a carrier aircraft and released to glide back to earth.  Speed, estimated at 600kmh, was to be bled-off by a nose-up landing, using the belly as the air-brake.  The DM-1 was captured by the Americans who conducted further tests, state-side, and discovered that the design was stable at up to Mach 2.6.  So the Americans tweaked the design and developed it into the experimental Convair XP.92.  Dr Lippisch was indeed, a pioneer.  The DM-1 was the prototype of the proposed Lippisch P.13a – an interesting aircraft in itself as it was to be launched by a small rocket till it had attained speed, then a ram-jet engine, fuelled by a slurry (= thick runny liquid) of coal particles and a heavy oil, would ignite and take-over.  But that’s another story. 


           This is a typical Huma kit.  Huma is known for short-run kits of subjects not covered by larger kit manufacturers.  Their plastic is usually soft, a little flashy, features large sprue-gates and the details are a little soft.  The panel lines were engraved, and the clear bits were average.  My 8y-o son collared this model at a Swap n’ Sell, and started it as soon as we got home. 


I watched my son as he stuck the seat and the wall (aka - bulkhead) to the floor, and brush-painted them (and the insides too, after I persuaded him) a dark grey.  His paints of choice were my Citadel range of acrylic colours.  The pilot was painted next, then stuck to the seat, and the floor was stuck to the base of the fuselage.  Here, he paused to draw breath, which allowed me to replace the lost control column with a piece of wire, and to attach the (overly large?) rudder pedals.  Meanwhile, my son decaled the instrument panel, but the decal refused to stick.  Some Future saw to that problem. 

 Dry-fitting told me that some weight would be needed forward of the main wheels, so I added some chunks of lead behind the ‘wall’ embedded into a lump of Milliput.  Meanwhile, my son was getting frustrated because the IP wouldn’t stay in place.  So I showed him how to back it up with a piece of sprue placed on the long axis of the model, so that it has something to lean-on.  The sprue was hidden under some left-over Milliput.  In fact, the Milliput filled the top half of the forward fuselage.  With all of this dry, my son closed the fuselage (and I saw that the ‘wall’ was a little out of square – a piece of thin plastic card covered the gap) and attached the fin.      

 While I cleaned-up the control surfaces, my son attached the clear bits, and got some glue on the canopy.  Unfortunately, the canopy projected above the line of the fin, and the chin piece was short of the line of the chin.  At this point, he handed the model to me, but wanted it back when I was ready to attach the wheels.  The chin piece was easy to fix.  Remove it (the glue was still wet) and shim it with plastic card.  The canopy called for a two-pronged attack-plan.  I puttied the spine of the fin to marginally raise the profile and, as I smoothed the putty, I also sanded-down the canopy.  After several sessions, the line looked straight (but please don’t check it).       


     After masking the clear bits with tape, the model got an over-all undercoat of Citadel Skull white applied from a spray-can.  This, I covered with several applications Future to give me a smooth glossy surface.  Citadel Leather brown was then applied with a coarse brush to produce the wood-grain finish.  The darker panels received a second (or third) coat of the brown.  Each panel was masked-off around its edge, prior to painting.  I tried to put the grain of the ‘wood’ perpendicular to one edge of the panel.  Picky observers may point-out that there are no imperfections, like knot-holes, in the ‘wood’, but I will counter that a high-speed wooden aircraft would require a skin of perfect (ply?)wood.  More coats of Future followed to produce the appearance of polished wood. 

I hated the decals and they hated me, but it was my fault.  There were only six black outline crosses.  Two were slightly smaller than the others, and I hadn’t realising that fact.  I had a standard one and a small one on the sides of the fin.  No wonder I couldn’t get the larger one to line-up with the same panel-lines as the smaller one.  Eventually, I realised my mistake, and resorted to sticky tape to remove the standard one.  That meant that I didn’t have crosses to place on the underside of the wings.  Incidentally, my references (see) photos show the DM-1 without any markings or panel lines. 


When he saw me fitting a sewing pin in-lieu of the kit pitot tube, my son pointed-out that the kit supplied the ‘spike’.  But when I told him that the metal one wouldn’t break, he was OK with it.  I had to drill a hole in the tip of the nose in-which I fitted the extended pitot tube.  This went deep into the Milliput for a solid anchor-point.  My son glued-on UC legs and their attached wheels, while I corrected the angles.  I wanted to add a rod parallel to each UC leg using EZ-Line, as it was as thin as those depicted in the box-art.  Later.   Finally, I attached the UC doors.  Surprisingly, the kit-supplied doors were quite thin and fit tightly into position.  I painted the roof of each UC well, and the inside of the doors a mahogany brown, just to differentiate it from the rest of the belly.  If someone wants to argue, then I’ll declare that it is a hard-wood to accept the impact of landing.                


As previously identified, this is a pretty basic kit, made difficult by the poor fit of some parts.  I recommend that it be built by someone with some modelling experience.  OTOH, it is an unusual subject, and doesn’t demand a lot of shelf space.


 The instructions, the boxart and the Schiffer book on the DM-1 and the P.13a.

George Oh

December 2013

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