Airfix 1/72 He-111P-2
New tool kit
He 111P incorporated the
updated Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 liquid-cooled engine and featured a newly
designed nose section, including an asymmetric mounting for an MG 15 machine gun
that replaced the 'stepped' cockpit with a roomier and more aerodynamic glazed
over the front of the aircraft. This smooth glazed nose was first tested on the
He 111 V8 in January 1938. These improvements allowed the aircraft to reach
475 km/h (295 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and a cruise speed of 370 km/h
(230 mph), although a full bomb load reduced this figure to 300 km/h (190 mph).
The design was implemented in 1937 because pilot reports indicated problems with
visibility. The pilot's seat could
actually be elevated, with the pilot's eyes
above the level of the upper glazing, complete with a small pivoted windscreen
panel, to get the pilot's head above the level of the top of the "glass tunnel"
for a better forward view for takeoffs and landings. The rear-facing dorsal gun
position, enclosed with a sliding, near-clear view canopy, and for the first
time, the ventral Bodenlafette
rear-facing gun position, immediately aft of the bomb bay, that replaced the
draggy "dustbin" retractable emplacement became standard, having been first
flown on the He 111 V23, bearing civil registration D-ACBH.
One of Heinkel's rivals, Junkers, built 40 He 111Ps at
Dessau. In October 1938, the Junkers Central Administration commented:
Apparent are the externally poor, less carefully
designed components at various locations, especially at the junction between
the empennage and the rear fuselage. All parts have an impression of being
very weak.... The visible flexing in the wing must also be very high. The
left and right powerplants are interchangeable. Each motor has an
exhaust-gas heater on one side, but it is not connected to the fuselage
since it is probable that ... the warm air in the fuselage is not free of
carbon monoxide (CO). The fuselage is not subdivided into individual
segments, but is attached over its entire length, after completion, to the
wing centre section. Outboard of the powerplants, the wings are attached by
universal joints. The latter can in no way be satisfactory and have been the
cause of several failures.
The new design was powered by the DB 601 Ba engine
with 1,175 PS The first production aircraft reached Luftwaffe units in Fall
1938. In May 1939, the P-1 and P-2 went into service with improved radio
equipment. The P-1 variant was produced with two DB 601Aa powerplants of
1,150 hp (860 kW). It had self-sealing fuel tanks. The P-1 featured a
semi-retractable tail wheel to decrease drag. Armament
consisted of a MG 15 in
the nose, and a sliding hood for the fuselage's dorsal B-Stand position.
Installation of upgraded FuG III radio communication devices were also made and
a new ESAC-250/III vertical bomb magazine was added. The overall takeoff weight
was now 13,300 kg (29,321 lb).
The P-2, like the later P-4, was given stronger armour
and two MG 15 machine guns in "waist" mounts on either side of the fuselage and
two external bomb racks. Radio communications consisted of FuG IIIaU radios and
the DB601 A-1 replaced the 601Aa powerplants. The Lotfernrohr 7 bombsights,
which became the standard bombsight for German bombers, were also fitted to the
P-2. The P-2 was also given "field equipment sets" to upgrade the weak defensive
armament to four or five MG 15 machine guns. The P-2 had its bomb capacity
raised to 4 ESA-250/IX vertical magazines. The P-2 thus had an empty weight of
6,202 kg (13,272 lb), a loaded weight increased to 12,570 kg (27,712 lb) and a
maximum range of 2,100 km (1,305 mi).
If you wish to read more about the 111P series, visit
the reference link at the end of the article.
mentioned in a previous article that one of the goals of Hornby's
ressurection of Airfix was to produce as much of the previous catalogue
as possible with new tool kits. This is one of those kits, replacing
their venerable He-111H kit. I can recall building the older kit in the
1960s and using totally inappropriate gloss
paints to simulate its
camouflage. This hastily built model flew hundreds of missions from the
ceiling of my bedroom.
Airfix's new tool kit is really quite superb. Just looking at the sprues,
it is quite reminiscent of the Hasegawa offering in its level of
detailing. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that Airfix copied the
Hasegawa kit, that is not at all the case. In fact, some of the
construction seems similar to how Roden approached some areas, though
I'm betting the fit is a ton better on this one.
Going through the instructions, one notices that the first order of
business is not the cockpit. Airfix has supplied detailed interior walls
for the bomb bay/upper gunner's area and these are the initial
installation, followed by the compartment's bulkheads which incorporate
stub wing spars. Once the interior walls are built up, the fuselage
halves are glued together. One has to remove two tail mounted machine
guns, hinting at later variants being kitted.
The two vertical bomb bays are built up and installed on the lower wing
center section. This piece will incorporate the main gear wells. Now the
cockpit area is built up and in this kit, Airfix supplies crew members.
Each of the main gear wells is five pieces and inserts into the lower
stub wing. Then the stub wing is installed and one glues on the upper
wing halves, followed by the lower.
The kit provides separate ailerons, flaps, elevators and rudder. There
are rudder actuating mechanisms to glue in place which will keep the
modeler from posing it other than the neutral position. Each of the
engine nacelles comprises of seven pieces. This version uses stub
exhaust pipes which could be attached at the end of the build to make
painting easier. Included on the sprues are the collector types. All the engine bits are on the same sprue so I would
wager that we can expect the Junkers powered version later. I hope they
provide the right props.
Airfix continues to offer a wheels up option for those of you who like
stand models and the various gear doors for this option are provided.
For the rest of us, the gear legs are nicely molded and we get main
wheels in this case that are not 'flat bottomed' as in other kits. We
are also provided with both open and closed bomb bay door options. There
are options for slid open cockpit and gunner's hatches. I very much like
that all the clear bits can be installed from the outside after
are nicely done providing some color to help with construction. As
usual, only Humbrol paint numbers are provided except for the overall
painting guide. Both options are RLM 70/71/65 though the first paint
option looks like one of the shades is a dark brown. The box art plane
is from KG 4 and is a museum plane in the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.
The other is with KG.55 and has a nice chalked rudder art work on it.
The decals are nicely printed, but include no swastikas so you'll have
to source those from somewhere else. Those wanting aftermarket, AIMS
produces several sheets that include markings for the P-2 variant.
This is one of those kits that pretty much as soon as I got it home, I
started working on it. Not sure why as I've a number of very nice
Hasegawa He-111s in the stash, but there are times when the muse just
strikes and this was one of them.
I started by prepainting everything I thought would be RLM 02. Sure,
I'll have to repaint most of the parts after the sprue stubs and mold
seams are removed, but it just seems easier to do things this way. That
being said, I first installed the gunner's station panels into each of
the fuselage halves and then started on a bit of detail painting. Airfix
assumes that everything in there is RLM 02, but I'm sure that the radios
and such would be black so I did that. The pilot and bombardier's seat
were provided with leather seating areas.
During all this construction, there were many times when I needed to
make a brief return to the paint shop to ensure proper coverage of areas
where I'd sanded away pips and such, but thanks to using lacquer thinner
with my Model Master enamels, this did not really slow things up that
much. I also jumped around a bit. For instance, I assembled and
installed the bomb racks in the lower wing center section a bit early in
the job as well as gluing the horizontal stabs and elevators. The bomb
racks should really be given a full filler treatment if you are a
contest modeler. Though little will be seen of these, the IPMS anal
probes will find the seams.
I also started building up the cockpit sections. The control column has
a tiny join area. I'm not sure if Airfix forgot to dr
a mounting hole or not, but there isn't one and it is only thanks to the
soft plastic that a good join can be made. Eventually this will fit into a slot in the floor. I also started building up the
wheel wells. These five piece constructs then fit onto a rather
indistinct area on the lower wing center section. The fit here is about
the least positive one I've run across so far. There has to be a more
positive way of locating these. Best way to attach these is to be sure
the glue is still pliable so you can adjust things a bit.
With those installed, I did a bit of interior dry-brushing and then
installed a couple of cockpit bits and joined the fuselage halves
together. Getting the bits over the stub spars is mandatory to getting a
good fit. The lower wing section was then joined up and glued. Overall,
the fit of this is quite good.
The wings were next. The instructions want you to attach the upper ones
first. This ensures a good upper wing/fuselge join. The lower wings were
next. I like that the extreme tips of the wings are part of the upper
wing. This is true with the horizontal stabs as well. By using super
glue, I was able to get a relatively smooth join where the lower wing
attaches to the lower stub wing. Not filler free, but well thought out.
There were some gaps at the front wing next to the fuselage that needed
With the horizontal stabs/elevators and the rudder installed, I moved to
the engine nacelles. I started with the left side and assembled the
basic nacelle minus the various covers. This was then installed in the
wing. Fit is fairly good though there were gaps towards the leading edge
of the wing. I did the same for the other side and ran into a major
glitch. You see, thanks to the lack of a positive location system for
the wheel wells, this side was too far forward. This would not let the
engine nacelle butt up into the opening in the wing. I removed the
forward wheel well piece and this allowed the nacelle to be installed
properly. However, the front of the landing gear attaches to the forward
well wall. This required me to grind away on this piece and the inside
of the gear well until it could be installed and even then I used a lot
of super glue to hold it in place. How this will affect the installation
of the main gear on this side is as yet, unknown.
I then installed the lower DF antenna, and tacked into place the closed
versions of the bomb bay and wheel wells. The lower gondola was then
installed. This is a tad longer than the opening and I found that unless
I installed the forward section first and let it dry before gluing in
the aft part, it would pop out. Naturally, a major masking session was
done to prep this and the other clear bits. Eduard will sell a ton of
masking sets for this kit.
When it came to installing the front part of the gondola, I deviated
from the kit. Photos of P-2s in the references showed this was not clear
but a solid piece. I can only assume the museum plane was either
modified with a later piece while in service or the incorrect one was
installed as the original was lost. The rear transparency was tacked in
place as I'd have to remove it to install the gun later. I also glued in
the ailerons and flaps. Airfix gives you the option of having the flaps
lowered, but I found only one photo in the 'In Action' reference that
had these lowered on the ground and that was a plane with the engines
running in preparation for take-off. Apparently these were normally
raised on the ground, probably to protect them from stone damage. So
what this means to the modeler is that you can go for the dramatic and
have them lowered or be historically accurate and have them raised. I
did note that frequently the elevators were slightly drooped and in some
photos these were raised at a pretty steep angle.
Next, the cockpit transparencies were glued in place. There are three
separate pieces for the main section plus the forward gun piece and the
upper hatch. Fit is fairly good and while one wishes there was another
way of doing it that didn't require so many parts, the end result is
good. For the side windows, I installed the two forward ones on each
side as these are normally painted over. Check references as this was
not always the case. The aft ones as well as the upper gun tub will be
filled with tissue prior to painting.
No real surprises on this one. RLM 70/71 over RLM 65. I used Model
Master enamels for the RLM 70 and 65, but their 71 is too light and
should be a lot closer to the RLM 70 in darkness. For this shade, I used
AK Interactive's RLM 71. This is an acrylic and was sprayed directly
over the MM RLM 70 after the usual masking. One thing about splinter
camo schemes is that you'll go through a lot of masking material.
After the usual '2 hours of masking for 10 minutes of spraying', I
removed the camo masking and set to install the landing gear. I expected
issues and I got them. For whatever reason, the main gear legs would not
fit on the side for which they were designed. There are two
possibilities. One is that the forward
wheel well pieces were mis-numbered
in the instructions. The second is that I got them mixed up. Since I
assembled and installed each well separately, I'm leaning towards the
first issue. This situation was taken care of by cutting the mounting
tabs from the gear legs and super gluing them in place. I found the
other struts fit fairly well, though I had issues getting the long
struts to fit all the way from the back of the wheel well to the main
Eventually, those were installed and then repainted where I scraped away
the seams. The airframe was provided with a clear gloss coat and then I
started applying decals. For this aircraft, I chose a plane from 1./KG55
with the large white buffalo on the left fuselage side. This is on
AIMS decals sheet #72D006. There is no indication of just when this
scheme is from, but it has all the very early war insignia so I can only
assume it was operational during the Polish Campaign and perhaps other
early war invasions. The sheet does include swastikas and insignia, but
no data markings. I started by applying all the markings from the AIMS
sheet. The decals went on well, though took a while to come off the
paper backing. I used a variety of data markings from the Airfix sheet.
Enough to make things look busy.
Meanwhile, there were some other items which needed attention, I
installed the wheels and the axle stubs scratched the paint rather badly
during installation. The props were assembled. Both the blade assembly
and the spinner cap are keyed, which is a nice touch. I painted the
spinner white, but left the backing plate in RLM 70. Then I put the
prop shaft through the back of the front of each engine nacelle. The
prop shaft is way too small in diameter, which means that even if you do
get the prop glued to it somehow, it will be quite loose. I glued mine
to the back of the engine front and then glued them onto the nacelle.
Fit is excellent.
After all the decals were in place, the airframe got a coat of clear
matte. There were still a few more items to install. The upper gun tub
was attached as was the upper radio mast, the lower HF trailing antenna
and the rudder actuator. If you recall, this had to be left off until
after the swastika is installed as the mount runs right through it. The
exhaust were the next items, followed by the main gear doors.
I then installed the side fuselage windows. These really do not fit
well. They are too thick and stand proud of the fuselage. I guess the
fix is to carve away the lip around the inside of the windows, but that
would mean you'd have to glue them in place much earlier in the build
and then mask them. I also found that the landing light did not fit
flush. The P-2 was generally fit
with gun placements through the rear set of windows, and while Airfix
did not include guns for these, they did include the proper windows so
those were glued in. I attached guns to the nose piece, the lower
fuselage mount and the upper mount before attaching the various clear
sections more permanently.
Next was the installation of the radio wire. I had to make a mast for
the fin as Airfix did not include that feature. I used a section of
stretched sprue for this and once nice a dry, I used EZ Line for the
radio wire. Pastels were used to dirty up the bottom of the aircraft as
He-111s always left a lot of exhaust soot on the underside. The pitot
tube was installed and finally, the props were attached.
I like He-111s. Granted, they are rarely painted in fanciful markings and
are pretty much in the same basic camo scheme most of the time. I do find
masking all those windows to be a pain so have ordered a couple of mask sets
for my Hasegawa kits. Airfix has done a fine job on this one. There are
issue areas for sure, such as the side windows, the problems I had with the
wheel wells and gear attachment, the lack of bombs and lack of a radio mast on the
fin to name a few. However, it goes together with minimal fuss and provides
options that the Hasegawa kit does not (open bomb bay, separate flight
control surfaces), and it is reasonably priced for a new tool kit. I'm still
not sure that Airfix got the size/shape of the engine coolant radiator
housing right for a P as those were supposedly shorter and deeper than on
the H, but I'm glad to have built the kit and the end result is satisfying,
which really, is the whole point of building models.
He-111 in Action, George Punka, 2002.
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