Revell/Matchbox 1/72 He-70 'Blitz'
KIT #: 04229
PRICE: HK$  45.00
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Richard F
NOTES: Reboxed Matchbox kit. Actually, Revell bought the company so it isn't odd that they'd release it.

HISTORY

Sitting in the tail end of a packed China Eastern A330 the other day, stuck for an hour in a taxiway traffic jam while our plane spewed gas into Beijing's already thick air, I was compelled to think of the more glamorous early years of flying.  Having just finished this model the night before, my mind didn't have to wander far.

The swish-looking Heinkel He-70 deserved its nickname "Blitz" (Lightning).  Speedy right from its first flight in 1932, it set eight records with a top speed of 377km/h very fast in those days.  The RAF's Bristol Bulldog, one of its main fighters of the early 1930s, could only manage 287km/h. Even the Hawker Fury, ordered in to supplement the Bulldog, as reviewed recently by Tom Cleaver, could only reach 360km/h.

The Heinkel was certainly a lot faster than the taxi-way at Beijing Capital Airport.  When the captain told us we'd be waiting even longer before take-off, I started thinking about the flights I could have taken with Lufthansa in the mid-30s with only three fellow passengers instead of several hundred; glamorous 30s types rather than bulk tour groups; a quick flight from Stuttgart to Seville or from Cologne to Berlin.  I could have dinner with Marlene Dietrich and be in Seville the next day for cocktail hour with Ernest Hemingway, even as the clouds of civil war grew on the horizon (and the Legion Condor's own He-70s swung overhead).

Well, that's the backstory to my model, even if it takes just a few liberties with the historical truth.  It was a nice distraction from cattle class. Of course, knowing me I'd have been terribly airsick bouncing around in the back of the tiny He-70 there is something to be said for cruising in an Airbus at 30,000 feet, once you finally do get off the ground.  But in the spirit of these thoughts, I added some figures to my display a laconic pilot and two glamorous liveried stewards, and a 1930s photographer to advertise the "Lightning Service" to Seville.

You can read more about the He-70 in the previews, but it is well-known to Luftwaffe buffs as the predecessor to the He-111, and for the debate about who really invented the elliptical wing it has in common with the Spitfire and the Val.  The Blitz was actually designed as a mailplane, and flew airmail from Germany to Spain as part of the first transatlantic airmail service.  After being dropped in Spain by the Blitz, the mail went across the Atlantic in Dornier Wal flying boats. As a combat aircraft, the He-70 was not too successful.  Apparently, its fuselage was constructed from a highly flammable magnesium alloy that would erupt in unquenchable flames from the impact of even a single bullet.  The Hungarians quickly retired their fleet in favour of an older type.  Still, it saw service in the Spanish civil war and the very early days of World War II.

THE KIT


This Revell kit started life as a Matchbox kit.  Both have been reviewed here on Modeling Madness: Revell: http://www.modelingmadness.com/scotts/axis/previews/revell/04229.htm. Matchbox: http://www.modelingmadness.com/scotts/preww2/he70preview.htm.


Both kits provide the same three versions but with slightly different markings.  There's the streamlined He-70G, used by Lufthansa; the He-70F-2, with a rear gunner, used by the Legion Condor; and the less-attractive He-170A (aka He-70K) with a rear gunner and a stumpy radial engine, built under licence and flown by Hungary. 

Nicely moulded, though not to the most modern standards, the kit has raised panel lines and average detail.  The small cockpit comes with a control stick and instrument panel that are more or less invisible once the window is installed.  The main cabin includes two passenger couches, and there would be lots of scope for detail work here if you left the fuselage roof open or made it somehow removable.  Unless you do that, though, it is very difficult to see inside.

CONSTRUCTION

 First things first. And no, that doesn't mean the cockpit! First of all you need to decide which version to build.  The sleek He-70G mail plane, depicted on the box art; the F-2 bomber version of that model, which has a rear gun position; or the 170A radial-engined version with the rear gun position and (to my eyes) the impossibly ugly fat nose.  Once you decide, it's on to the simple cockpit and cabin area.  The two cabins could use lots of interior detail, but as noted, the cabin windows are small and it's hard to see anything inside.  I built these straight from the box.

Be sure to check whether your version requires the window in the bottom of the fuselage.  The passenger version does not need this window.  Had I realised this earlier, I would have smoothed over that cavity because the decal didn't fit so well over that area with the window installed. I only discovered this after painting the whole plane and completing most of the decals.

The fit of this kit is not bad, but it is not great either.  It needed quite a bit of filler underneath the fuselage where the wings are attached, and where the engine housing joins the fuselage.  I didn't get a fully satisfactory result here, but I did get the top of the fuselage looking nice, and that's what I'm going to see when I look at the model on the shelf.  There is also a little filler needed to smoothly attach the fuselage roof (for want of a better description). 

The main undercarriage caused me a lot of trouble. It is quite delicate and one leg kept wilting.  It's not as structurally sound as it could be, so be patient and take your time.  Check for the proper tail undercarriage according to your version.  The instructions called for the skid for the mailplane version, but pictures I saw on the internet clearly showed the tailwheel, so that's what I used.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The kit includes markings for three different aircraft. I've already mentioned how ugly one of them is, but the markings are there for those who want a Hungarian 170A.  Slightly more appealing is the F-2 version, with markings for the Legion Condor in Spain during the civil war.  Probably most popular, certainly based on other builds on the internet, is the natural metal G version used by Lufthansa.  The kit's markings are for a plane used before the Nazis took over Germany, and it has the tail colours of the Weimar Republic rather than the swastika of the Nazis.

I hand-painted my Blitz with Tamiya XF16 Flat Aluminium acrylic, and X2 gloss black at the nose. 

The decals adhered nicely and are well printed.  The only problem area is in the lightning strip at the nose.  It looks like the decal contains both black and silver, but in fact the instructions call for a silver strip to painted in on the nose. The black part of the decal then masks out the unwanted silver, leaving a nice silver stripe. I realised this too late, and ended up ditching the decal completely and hand-painting the stripe afterwards. On reflection, this worked better anyway, because the black part of the decal was not as glossy as the paint on the nose section. It would have been quite noticeable.

As mentioned, I added a few figures, all from Airfix's RAF ground crew set.  There is a pilot and two stewards, in imaginary uniforms. There is also a photographer, who instead of loading that reconnaissance camera into a Spitfire is now using a large format camera to photograph the plane and its crew as part of an advertisement for the Lightning Service "Blitzdienst" from Stuttgart to Seville - the one I wished I was one when I was stuck in the Airbus as described above.  All this is fictional, but fun.

CONCLUSIONS

This is a nice kit of a great looking aeroplane (unless you make the ugly Hungarian one, in which case it is a nice kit of a pretty ugly aeroplane).  It took a little skill to get the airframe looking reasonable, but nothing difficult. Anyone should be able to get a decent model out of this. Younger kids might struggle a bit with the finicky landing gear but otherwise there are not many small parts.

Richard F

February 2009

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