RS Models 1/72 Zlín Z.XII

KIT #: RS72041
PRICE: $19.96 from 
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: John Anthony
NOTES: Excellent short-run quick-build, unusual subject.


The historical importance of the Zlín Z-XII rests in the fact that it was one of the last and most popular touring planes of the so-called Golden Age of Aviation. Built in Czechoslovakia, two prototypes were extensively tested in 1935 and the subsequent production model quickly became a mainstay of sport and courier flying throughout Europe. It even found operators in Egypt, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa. During the Second World War the Z-XIIs were utilized by both the Slovakian Air Force and the Luftwaffe. A total of 201 units were built (a large number for its day when it came to recreational aircraft), making it Zlín’s first substantive commercial success. Production ceased in 1939 when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and took over the Zlín factory.

The plane is a tandem two-seater low-wing aircraft designed by Jaroslav Lonek. The airframe is constructed entirely of wood and the power plant consists of a Persy II engine delivering 45 horsepower. The Z-XII came with the option of an open or enclosed canopy, and a choice of two different horizontal stabilizer layouts. Most of these planes, if not all of them, were destroyed during the Second World War. I could not locate any extant examples of the original aircraft. I did however discover one static replica on display at the Kbely museum in Prague, and another flying replica registered to a private Czech operator at the Pardubice Airport. Fortunately for modelers, there are a sufficient number of black-and-white photographs of the original aircraft to study its construction. Cut-away schematics are also readily available and contribute some important information to the construction of this kit.


            Despite its small size and rather modest subject material, this kit exhibits a consistently high quality throughout its elements. The box is small but sturdy and features an elegant artist’s rendition of the aircraft flown by J. Ambruŝ in the 1937 Race Over Egypt. Opening the box one finds a single sprue of finely detailed tan-colored plastic, a clear plastic canopy, three resin pieces molded onto one block, a small PE fret by Eduard with accompanying instrument panel film, decals by Propagteam, instructions, and a painting guide for five colorful variants. I was quite pleased with the overall look of this kit and it did not disappoint me during the construction. It proved to be a serious (albeit brief) modeling project, all contained in one box, and bought at a reasonable price.

For a look at this kit in another boxing, visit this preview. Ed


            This build begins by fabricating a color scheme for the internal details as all the photographs of the original plane are in gray-scale. I simply chose something that would complement the exterior color with a bit of thirties’ art-deco feel. (Your guess is as good as mine!) The construction is straightforward but the placement of the parts has to be carefully checked against the diagrams in the instruction sheet as there are no alignment pins or tabs. One can dispense with the photo-etched rudder control pedals as they are eventually hidden from sight.

            Once the cockpit was painted and assembled I mated the fuselage halves. There are some ejector pin stubs on the inside of the fuselage sections that have to be removed for the pieces to mate correctly, but they are ultimately hidden from view and don’t require any subtle surfacing work. I also discovered an instrument panel on the sprue that had somehow gotten neglected in the directions – I believe it was meant for the forward pilot as he is not given a film/PE panel, so I installed it as such. At this point I also installed the seat belts and secured them with a bit of lacquer, and I attached the film/PE instrument panel onto the baffle that divides the cockpit. This baffle is slightly too wide to allow the canopy to fit correctly so it needs to be carefully sanded down with numerous canopy dry-fits to insure a proper alignment. (Take care sanding though - the plastic in this kit is quite soft.)

            The wings and stabilizers all connect to the fuselage with butt joints so I attached everything slowly, one piece at a time, double-checking and adjusting the dihedrals as the glue set. The instructions include good diagrams of the airframe for reference. (Be sure to select the horizontal stabilizers that match your chosen scheme – there are two options.) The resin nose was attached without any problems, then I muddled my way through the tripod landing gear – these are not my favorite type of gear to assemble by a long shot, especially in a small scale, but I did my best.


            I started painting with a coat of Tamiya Fine White Primer, then I gave the model several thin coats of Tamiya Italian Red. (The color call-out for the scheme I had chosen merely indicated “red” so I assumed I could exercise some poetic license.) Finally the last few pieces were painted and installed: the canopy, wheels, propeller, and air-cooled cylinders. The directions call for stretched sprue to be used to create the exhaust pipes – I used 0.5 mm Evergreen rod.

            The decals by Propagteam are exquisitely-printed but quite thin – the thinnest I’ve ever worked with in fact.  I added a drop of dish soap to the soaking water and that allowed me to position them without any tearing, a problem I’ve had in the past with those long straight stripes one frequently finds on civil aircraft schemes. One could add a bit of rigging between the horizontal and vertical stabilizers but I found photographs of the original plane with and without rigging, so I assume that’s optional. I also assume that these little recreational aircraft were kept fairly clean so I did not weather the plane, other than to add a bit of wash into the gaps between the control surfaces and airframe.

The particular aircraft I modeled is first listed in Czech civil air registries in March of 1938 as OK-LZM. Then in August of 1939 it appears in Yugoslavian registries as YU-PFU, owned by the Bata Company based in Borovo, an eastern municipality of modern day Croatia. After that I could find no information on the aircraft. It’s probable that it was destroyed during World War Two like so many of its contemporaries.


            This may be a small kit of a simple aircraft with a minimal number of pieces, but it is not a project for the complete beginner. It is however an excellent undertaking for the experienced beginner who wants to expand his skills into the realm of photo-etched details, resin, and elementary scratch-building. My only criticism is that the canopy plastic is too thick - it is not to scale and distorts the excellent cockpit detail. But considering the superior quality of the rest of the kit, that’s a minor criticism – nevertheless, an experienced modeler may want to vacuform his own canopy.

            I enjoyed this quick-build kit very much and I’ve got a few more in the stash to pull out when I want to whip something together in a short time. (Excluding drying time the build only took about three hours of construction.) Kits of Golden Age civvies aren’t that common either. This one’s a real pleasure to assemble, and the finished product does a great job of cheering up a shelf of somber bombers! Bravo RS Models.


 I referenced both Wikipedia and for information on the Zlín company and the Z-XII.

I also consulted for the registry information on YU-PFU.

John Zielinski

November 2010

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