Montex 1/32 Hs-123A

KIT #: 32005
PRICE: $179.95 MSRP
MARKINGS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Full Resin kit


     The first designed-for-the-purpose dive bomber to see production and combat, the Henschel Hs 123A-1 was a single-seat biplane dive bomber and close-support attack aircraft that first saw combat with the German Condor Legion in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War and the Chinese Air Force against the Japanese Navy in 1938. Considered obsolete with the introduction of the Ju-87 Stuka in 1937, the Hs-123 soldiered on through the Polish and French campaigns and then the Eastern Front in the close-support role, where it was more effective than more modern types. 

     Soon after Hitler came to power, Henschel - to that point a locomotive manufacturer - decided to enter the aircraft industry.  Following his demonstration of the Curtiss Hawk, Ernst Udet convinced Erhard Milch to order a dive-bomber for the new Luftwaffe.  Henschel’s reply - in competition to the Fieseler Fi-98 - was the Hs 123, designed to meet the 1933 requirements which specified a single-seat biplane dive-bomber. Udet flew the Hs 123V1 prototype on its first public demonstration on May 8, 1935. The first three Henschel prototypes, powered by the 650 hp BMW 132A-3 engines, were tested at Rechlin in August 1936. The Hs-123 did away with bracing wires and although they looked outdated, they featured a fully-cantilever, all- metal construction, clean lines and excellent maneuverability.

     The performance of the Hs-123 V1 eliminated the more conventional Fi-98. During testing, the Hs-123 proved capable of pulling out of "near-vertical" dives.  Two prototypes crashed due to wing failures. The Hs-123V-4 incorporated stronger cabane struts to cure this. After successful tests, the Hs-123 was ordered into production with an 880 hp BMW 132Dc engine.

     The Hs-123 was intended to replace the Heinkel He-50 as well as be a "stop-gap" until the Junkers Ju-87 became available. Thus, production was limited with no further development considered. Production ended in October 1938 with 1000 aircraft.

     A pre-production batch of Hs 123A-0s was produced in 1936 for service evaluation by the Luftwaffe, and were followed by the slightly modified Hs 123A-1 series, which was equipped with an armoured headrest and fairing, as well as removable main wheel spats and a faired tailwheel. The weapon load of four SC 50 110 lb bombs were carried on lower wing racks along with an additional SC250 550 lb (250 kg) bomb mounted on a "crutch" beneath the fuselage, though this was usually replaced by a drop tank. Two MG 17 machine guns (7.92 mm/0.312 in) were mounted in the nose synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. 

    The Hs-123A-0 entered service with StG 162 “Immelmann” in October 1936, serving until the unit re-equipped with the Ju-87 the following year. Five Hs-123A-0 and A-1 aircraft were sent to Spain, where they proved highly effective in the close-support role, proving capable of absorbing punishment and getting home. The Spanish Nationalists were so impressed that they purchased the five Condor Legion airplanes and eleven more.  Known as the “Angelito,” the Spanish Hs-123s served until 1945, with one flown until the early 1950s. Twelve Hs-123s were exported to China in 1938, where they saw extensive operation as dive bombers against Japanese warships on the Yangtze River.

     In 1938, the remaining Hs-123s were part of the temporary Fliegergeschwader 100 during the Munich Crisis. With the crisis over, the Hs-123s were transferred to Lehrgeschwader 2 as II.(Schl)/LG2.  In the invasion of Poland, the 39 Hs-123s of LG 2 proved particularly effective at close-support, where they were instrumental in breaking up attempts by Polish cavalry to attack German units, due to the “staccato” sound a pilot could induce in a dive by changing engine rpm.  Flown from primitive fields close to the front, ground crews considered the Hs-123 reliable and easy to maintain. The leading pilot of this unit was Hauptmann Adolf Galland, who was at the time seen as a ground-attack expert due to his service with the He-51 in this role in the Condor Legion.


     After participating in the Battle of Kursk, SG 1 returned to the Crimea, where they finally gave up the aircraft they had flown through five campaigns after it had been declared obsolete. In July 1944, 7./SG 1 traded its last Hs-123s for Ju-87s, the type that had “replaced” them back in 1937.


     This Hs-123A-1 is the fifth full-resin kit from Montex of Poland, following their Boomerang, Gloster Gamecock, Hawker Fury, and Fairey Fawn.  As has been noted in reviews of the previous kits, these are high-quality resin kits, with lots of great detail.  In test-fitting this kit, I can see that assembly is so easy and straightforward that any modeler who has had any experience at all assembling resin parts would have no difficulty building this kit out of the box into a show-stopper. 

     The cockpit is fully detailed, lacking only seat belts which are available from Eduard.  The BMW 132 engine is also fully-detailed, to the point where it is almost a crime to enclose it in the beautiful three-part cowling. 

     The only place where the model will need seam-filling is on the fuselage centerline.

     Parts fit is entirely positive, so that it is impossible to get the dihedral of the upper wing wrong when assembling the two parts.  All control surfaces are molded separately and can be posed dynamically.

     Masks are provided to all the model to be built as a Spanish Air Force “Angelito” in 1942, or a Hs-123A-1 of 7./SG 1 on the Eastern Front in 1942.


     I have built the Airfix Hs-123 in 1/72 scale, and several ESCI Hs-123s in 1/48 scale, including two of the upgraded kits from AMTech, and can say that this is easily the best kit of this airplane produced by anyone in any scale.  It is easy to assemble, even with all the small detail parts, with no “wrestling” required.  If you like the Hs-123, or you just want to build a really excellent model that will allow your talents to shine in the final product, this kit is well worth its price.

Review kit courtesy of Montex.

Tom Cleaver

November 2008

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page