|KIT:||F.E. Resin 1/144 B5M1 'Mabel'|
|PRICE:||$18.02 at www.hobbyshop.cz|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin with vacuformed canopy|
There really is little information on this aircraft to be found. Developed along with the B5N 'Kate', the 'Mabel' was put into production as there was some concern about the retracting landing gear on the B5N, so a fixed gear alternative was considered a wise move. Though relatively close in performance and range, the production of the B5M was stopped at around 125 examples. These did see service, mostly in southeast Asia. When sufficient 'Kates' were produced to fulfill the needs of the IJN, the remaining 'Mabel' aircraft were relegated to training duties and some may well have been expended in the various kamikaze attacks.
Frankly, I was unaware that there was a growing market for 1/144 resin kits as there apparently must be since this is kit #44 from this company. I've always thought that the Czech Republic was probably at the fore-front of much of what happens in our hobby and this certainly shows that.
The castings themselves are really very well done. The parts are extremely well molded and for the most part, seem to be easy to remove from the casting sprues. A lot of them are on little 'handles' as you can see with some of these having more than one part on them. The bits are generally well formed and I found no instances of air bubbles or poor casting. Detail is quite good and engraved. A single vacuformed canopy is provided. Masking and cutting this will probably be one of the more difficult parts of the build.
The interior consists of a floor, three seats, control stick, bomb sight and aft gun along with an instrument panel. Armament can be either a torpedo, single large bomb or multiple smaller bombs with separate racks for each option. A few of the very small pieces need to be made from wire or sprue. Most of the parts are butt joined, but in this scale, I don't see that as any sort of a problem.
Instructions are quite nice. On one side is an exploded view of the kit with smaller sections showing how the interior or the bomb racks are done. The other side is in color with a layout of the parts and a profile of the marking options. There are two options. One is an overall silver version with a black nose section and red tail section. This is probably one of the test aircraft. The other is an overall dark green over light grey version which was probably used in southeast Asia. The decals are well printed on a single carrier and appear a bit washed out from what I've seen for the usual Japanese insignia. It will be interesting to see how they turn out when applied.
Overall it really does look like a superb little kit. The detailing is first rate and the subject is interesting. It is even most reasonably priced when you consider the cost of many other resin kits. If you are into 1/144 (and many are) you need to check this one out.
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