Spojnia 1/48 Lublin R.XIIID

KIT #: 1
PRICE: about $10 1990 dollars
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Kit built in 1991

HISTORY

The Lublin R-XIII was the Polish army-cooperation plane (observation and liaison plane), designed in the early-1930s in the Plage i Laśkiewicz factory in Lublin. It was the main army cooperation plane in the Invasion of Poland. Its variant Lublin R-XIV was a military trainer aircraft.

In the early 1930s the R-XIII was quite a successful plane for its purpose. It had a very short take-off (68 m for R-XIIIA) and landing, enabling it to operate from fields and meadows. However, only some of R-XIIIs were equipped with a radio and a camera, which lowered their usefulness. In 1932-1936 they were used in three-aircraft liaison platoons, being a basic Polish army-cooperation plane. In 1937 they were formed into army-cooperation escadres (eskadra towarzysząca), in 1939 reformed into observation escadres (eskadra obserwacyjna). Only in 1939, part of R-XIII were replaced by the RWD-14b Czapla, which was not much more modern. A planned replacement was a modern LWS-3 Mewa, but it was not introduced due to war outbreak.

On the eve of the Invasion of Poland in 1939, the Polish Air Force had about 150 R-XIII. Of them, 49 were in combat units, 30 in reserve, about 30 in training units and about 40 in repairs. In combat units, R-XIII were used in 7 observation escadres (out of 12): numbers 16, 26, 36, 43, 46, 56 and 66. Each escadre had 7 aircraft. The 16th Escadre was in C-in-C reserve, while the others were distributed among the field Armies. The R-XIII was no match for any of the Luftwaffe fighters, bombers or even reconnaissance aircraft, being much slower, and armed with only one machine gun, but they were actively used for close reconnaissance and liaison tasks.

About 40 R-XIII from combat units were destroyed during the campaign, but only part of those were shot down by the German aircraft or flak. During the campaign, 9 aircraft were given to observation escadres as replenishment. Some planes were also used in a wartime improvised units in air bases. About 10 combat aircraft and 7 from other units were withdrawn to Romania. A number of aircraft were bombed by the Germans in air bases or burned by withdrawing Poles. None have survived to today.

In the Naval Air Squadron, 11 R-XIIIter and R-XIIIG floatplanes were used in 1939. One of them made a night bombing raid on Danzig on September 7, searching in vain for the Schleswig-Holstein. On September 8 all planes were bombed, while stationed on the sea near Hel on the Hel Peninsula.

THE KIT

It has been twenty years since I built this kit, so in the box info is rather minimal, as you might imagine. I can tell you that it came with floats to do the naval version and that the detailing and condition of the plastic was very good. No sink areas to speak of, no flash and minimal ejector pin markings. The 'hills and valleys' fabric effect may be a bit much for some, but it looks OK to me. The decal sheet provided markings for several aircraft. I'm not really sure if this is the same kit that has been recently issued by Mirage, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't. It is a good one even at today's standards so if you see it, you may want to pick it up.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction was relatively trouble-free. I built this one right from the box and didn't add anything extra to it. Parts fit well and provided little construction trauma. The interior is fairly well appointed and there is framework detailing on the inside of the fuselage halves. I used Reheat instrument decals to spruce up the main panel and it really does add to it. No belts, unfortunately, but not something that detracts from the build.

I do recall that I had to be very careful when it came to attaching the wing. The wing is a very large and somewhat heavy piece of plastic and so care had to be taken when it came time to attach it. I glued all the support struts to the fuselage first, using the wing to act as a guide by taping the larger struts to it while the cement dried. As you can imagine, I had to rig a makeshift jig to keep everything properly aligned during this. All of this assembly includes the landing gear as well, for the gear shocks attach to the forward main strut. Fortunately, for the most part, there are pins on the pieces that fit into corresponding holes so that is a huge help.

I also built up the engine assembly for later attachment. I really am not fond of the tiny exhaust stubs as even in 1/48 scale, they were a bit of a pain to apply. This was painted and set aside until later. Same for the main wheels.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Before attaching the wing, I painted the model. For this I used Gunze Acrylics pretty much exclusively. During this phase of my model building 'career', I was very much into Gunze paints and used little else. I painted the colors starting from lighter to darker and masking after each color was applied. I'm not sure if the real planes were so done, but it looks quite nice. A very nice thing about Gunze paints is that if you need to do touch up work, brush painted areas match those airbrushed pretty well.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION


Once the kit was painted, I completed the assembly of the bits that were left. This was the wing, the engine, the wheels and the rear machine gun. I also had to glue on the step and the little wings that helped to move the ailerons. Then the model was given a clear coat and the decals applied. I found them to be pretty good. A bit on the transparent side, but in register and with good stick.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite not being a subject that attracts a lot of modelers, it is a fine kit that with a bit of extra work (like drilling out the exhausts or adding the small amount of rigging), can be made into a real show stopper.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lublin_RXIII

May 2011

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

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