Dragon 1/48 Me-262B-1a/U1 Nachtjaeger
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Several two-seat trainer variants of the Me 262, the Me 262 B-1a, had been adapted through the Umrüst-Bausatz 1 factory refit package as night fighters, complete with on-board FuG 218 Neptun high-VHF band radar, using Hirschgeweih ("stag's antlers") antennae with a set of dipole elements shorter than the Lichtenstein SN-2 had used, as the B-1a/U1 version. Serving with 10. Staffel Nachtjagdgeschwader 11, near Berlin, these few aircraft (alongside several single-seat examples) accounted for most of the 13 Mosquitoes lost over Berlin in the first three months of 1945. Intercepts were generally or entirely made using Wilde Sau methods, rather than AI radar-controlled interception. As the two-seat trainer was largely unavailable, many pilots made their first jet flight in a single-seater without an instructor.
At one time, DML/Dragon released a number of excellent aircraft kits. These were mostly produced in the 1990s until they realized that they could make more money doing the nearly limitless variations of armor and simply by adding bits and pieces from other kits they were producing. As a result, their aircraft kit production has been reduced to a mere trickle or even stopped entirely.
Among their earlier kits were a series of Me-262s. They managed to box pretty much all the different variations on the theme, including this night fighter version of the two seater. While the history section, gleaned from Wikipedia, would have to believe they were operational for much of 1945, other sources state that they were only in active service for about a month before the war ended. They were singularly unsuccessful in their intended role, but by that time, keeping a plane flying and completing a successful mission was a very difficult task.
The kit itself is quite well done with a complete cockpit tub that includes sidewall detail and the radar display equipment for the back seater. There is a fair amount of photo etch with this one and so you do get seat harnesses for both seats. Once the tub is done, it, and the nose gear well piece are installed and the fuselage halves closed. Fortunately, there is a large open area in the nose for weight and you will need a fair amount.
Construction then moves to the wings with the installation of the gear well pieces and the aft well bulkhead. Note that some of the main gear well consists of folded photo etch sections. This assembly is then attached to the fuselage along with the tailplanes. The gear is then built up and attached, though I'd wait until after painting to do that task. Next is the construction and attachment of the engine pods. This is followed by the two drop tanks.
The cockpit clear bits have a windscreen piece and two separate canopy sections. We then get to the radar antenna. The dipoles are photo etch so care must be used during this process. One thing I did notice is that if you wanted to do a standard trainer from this kit, you can simply by not installing the night fighting stuff. As you can see from the p.e. fret, much of this consists of fairly small items that would be difficult to reproduce in plastic.
Instructions use Gunze paint references in multiple languages, and provide markings for three aircraft. All are painted the same as in RLM 75 with heavy RLM 76 mottling and black undersides. Decals are old school where the whites are off white and the decals themselves are fairly thick. However, with hot water, even these nearly 30 year old decals should work.
These have been somewhat eclipsed by the Hobby Boss offerings. Those are undoubtedly easier to build as they should be since they are newer. However, the DML/Dragon kits have a slightly higher level of detailing if you can deal with photo etch. Well worth picking up if you find one for a good price.
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