|KIT:||Italeri 1/72 Hs-129B-3|
|PRICE:||$? Not in current (2004) Catalogues|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Hs-129 was developed as the Luftwaffe's first purpose-built ground attack aircraft. Unlike the Ju-87, it was not designed as a dive bomber, but to destroy enemy troops, transport and armor. Initially built with poorly performing Argus air cooled in-line engines, these were replaced by French Gnome Rhone 14 cylinder engines that produced more power and were a lot more reliable. Having two engines helped improve survivability as well in case one was knocked out by ground fire. Initially a special high velocity 20mm BK 101 cannon was the main armament along with a pair of 13mm and 20mm guns.
The aircraft was quite successful in Russia and fairly competent in North Africa, where it saw brief service in 1942/3. Part of its success in Russia is that the Luftwaffe was able to maintain local air superiority and let the 129s operate somewhat without fear of interception by Soviet air power. Even where there was resistance in the air, the 129 was maneuverable enough to have actually scored some kills against the opposition. It also didn't hurt that the cockpit tub was fully armored!
A final version developed around the BK 75 75mm cannon saw some minimal use in the last months of the war. From what I could discover, only three of these planes were actually built. The major problem to overcome was an auto-loader for the gun's 15 round magazine. One thing for sure, whatever was hit by this weapon didn't move again!
Typical of the majority of newer Italeri kits, this one has engraved panel lines, though they seem a bit overdone. A few coats of paint will help to minimize this tendency. There are a number of rather large gaps in the sprue trees, undoubtedly for the weapons and bombs from the earlier type boxings. The small new section of the sprues contains the gun barrel, housing and blanking plates for the lower nose mounted cannon. The cockpit is quite small and consists of a tub, seat, stick and instrument panel. This latter item has raised detail. There is no real wheel well detail and the engines are just front faces, which is more than adequate for the kit. About the only complex part of the kit will be adding all the little aileron and flap hinges. It comes with outer bomb racks, but rarely did the B-3 ever carry those as the gun was enough!
There are few problems with ejector pin marks though there are a few sink areas on the gun that may be difficult to remove. There is also a bit of mold mismatch on the wheels though that didn't affect the landing gear parts on the same sprue. A one-piece canopy is provided. The only option is where to place the radio mast.
Instructions are quite good with nine well drawn construction steps. Color info is provided where needed and referenced to FS 595 (where appropriate), Model Master, and generic color names. There are two aircraft markings provided, both in RLM 70/71/65. One of them has yellow fuselage and lower wing tip sections as normal for the Russian Front. Decals are well printed and quite matte. No swastika is provided so that will have to come from an alternate source.
Overall, it looks like a really neat little kit that should make into a fine model. This one surpasses the older Airfix kit in terms of modern construction and detail level. Since there really are not a ton of parts, it should build quite quickly and will look great as an addition to your 1/72 Luftwaffe collection.
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