|Octopus 1/72 I.M.A.M Ro.44
|$33.98 MSRP ($29.96 at Squadron)
|Scott Van Aken
|Short run with resin parts and vacuformed windscreen
Put yourself in the Way-Back Machine (patent pending). Set the dial for Italy, October 1936 and you'll witness the first flight of the IMAM Ro.44. It will look quite familiar to you if you are an Italian aircraft enthusiast as it appears to be a single seat version of the Ro.43, itself a floatplane derivative of the Ro.37bis. It uses the single large central float with two 'outrigger' floats method of keeping from sinking. Actually, there is not much difference between this and the Ro.43 recce aircraft. The back cockpit has been faired over and twin 7.7mm Breda machine guns mounted in the nose cowl. A 9 row Piaggio radial provides a maximum speed of near 200 mph (a speed that is routinely reached today by racing cars).
So impressed is the Regia Marina that it orders 35 of them in 1937 and puts them into the 88 Gruppo Autonomo da Caccia Marina. They are subsequently deployed to protect the entire Aegean Islands and to being the lone fighter in defense of the entire Italian Navy! Fortunately, they were not called to task very many times as they were near obsolete when entering service and woefully inadequate against a modern fighter by the time the war got going.
There is a segment of the modeling public that will be absolutely thrilled that this kit is available. Those are the folks who revel in floatplanes and in things Italian. It certainly isn't a model that I thought I'd see any time soon as a kit aside from the resin folks.
The injected part of the kit is on two sprues of medium grey plastic. The surface detailing is very good, especially the fabric portion, which does not fall to into the trap of 'hills and valleys'. There is a rather odd deformity on the right side of the upper wing that looks like air bubbles trapped between two halves as the deformity is mirrored on the underside of the wing as well. The rest of the kit is very well detailed with the usual fine engraved lines that will disappear under any major sanding. No sink areas, no ejector pin marks in places that will be seen and only a tad bit of flash. The kit supplies two vacuformed windscreens.
Many of the fine parts are molded in resin. This includes the engine and exhaust, engine oil cooler, some parts of the beaching trolley (yep, Octopus has kindly supplied this), as well as various interior bits and all the shorter struts for both the wing floats and the wing itself. It also has a resin hub on which one butt joins the injected individual prop blades. Have you heard me whine about individual blades before? Well, I continue that with this kit as well. The only options are what color to paint some of the bits.
Instructions are very well done and come as a small booklet, as you find in most Octopus kits. As I always mention color info, I'll add that this one provides Humbrol, Agma and generic names. Color information is provided throughout the well drawn construction sequences. There are some helpful drawings to assist with alignment of some parts. What is missing is a rigging diagram. This would be nice to have as the only place you see rigging is on the box art profiles. There are markings provided for three aircraft. All of them are in light grey with black on the 'below the waterline' area of the floats. First is a 1940 aircraft from the 161 Squadriglia. This has the large red sunburst on the upper wing (which you must paint) and a choice of early or later rudder markings. This is the large aircraft on the box art. Next is the smaller plane on the box art from 162 Sqadriglia in 1941 at the Pola seaplane school. Finally a second aircraft from 161 Squadrigila with only a different aircraft number. Hey, they only built 35 of them so options are quite limited! The decal sheet is superbly done and if like the sheet I used on the Pavla Re.2005, should be excellent.
Once again, a very interesting subject from the folks at Pavla (Octopus is Pavla's 'premium' brand). I notice that they've been doing a few Italian subjects and that is a good thing as the Italian arena is one that hasn't gotten the attention that others have received. The kit won't be a toss together, I can assure you from experience. However, it will be a fun build and provide you with a model that you can be sure few others will have built.
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