|PRICE:||$17.82 on sale (29.95 SRP)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run kit with resin wheels|
The M.S.406 was a French Armée de l'Air fighter aircraft built by Morane-Saulnier starting in 1938. Numerically, it was France's most important fighter during the opening stages of World War II.
Although sturdy and highly manoeuverable, it was under-powered and weakly armed when compared to its contemporaries. Most critically, it was out-performed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E during the Battle of France. The M.S.406 held its own in the early stages of the war (the so-called Phoney War), but when the war restarted in earnest in 1940, losses to all causes amounted to approximately 400 aircraft. Out of this total some 150 were lost to enemy fighters and ground fire, another 100 were destroyed on the ground in enemy air raids and the remainder was deliberately destroyed by French military personnel to prevent the fighters from falling into enemy hands intact. In return M.S.406 squadrons achieved 191 confirmed victories and another 83 probable victories. The type was more successful in the hands of Finnish Air Force and the Swiss license built a variant that served them well with later versions using indigenous engines.
Having little choice but to sound like a broken record when describing RS kits, this one is quite typical with very nice surface detailing and the usual short run issues with ejector towers in large parts. Overall the molding is nice though not as crisp and sharply detailed as what it appears in the instructions! The cockpit has a seat with molded on harness as well as a floor with stick, and bulkhead. Rudder pedals are also supplied but these are not shown in the instructions. The instrument panel includes a separate gun sight. The seat sits atop a shelf on the rear bulkhead piece. As aft compartment is provided to have something to see through the rear transparency. The bracing struts back there are also provided.
Wings are three pieces with a full span lower section and separate upper wing pieces. The kit has tailplanes that are tabbed to fit into slots in the rear fuselage. The retractable radiator is shown in what appears to be the retracted position. Normally it is lowered on the ground. You get two different prop blades and two different spinners. No mention as to which you use for which markings option is provided, though you can glean some of this from the markings guide.
Landing gear is fairly well done and you have a nice diagram to show the proper cant of the main wheels. This is all topped by a one-piece canopy that is fairly clear. I like that the exhaust can be installed from the outside making painting easy. Both upper and lower radio masts are provided with the lower one molded in the proper folded position for a plane on the ground.
Markings are provided for four aircraft. Two are French in the standard camouflage of the day, which differed from airframe to airframe. A third is the late war Swiss scheme with large red and white areas on the airframe. The final option is for a Croatian plane based in Zagreb in 1944. This appears to be in Luftwaffe colors of RLM 74/75/76 with mottling on the forward fuselage. Frankly, I would do some research on the camouflage for the latter two options before committing to paint. The decals are very nicely done and appear to be very thin. I have darkened the image of the sheet to better show the white bits.
This is not, of course, the only MS 406 that has ever been done in this scale. You can find that Frog, Hobby Boss, and now Azur/MPM have also produced the type. There may be more, but I don't recall them. This is a valid choice for many builders. It is a short run kit and requires some skills to finish, but the kit looks to be accurate and will make into a nice replica.
Thanks to me for picking this one up so you can see what it is like.
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