|KIT:||Special Hobby 1/72 Fiat G.55|
|PRICE:||$25.50 MSRP - $19.25 at Roll Models|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
One of the three finest Italian fighters of WWII was the Fiat G.55. The other two were the Macchi C.205 and the Reggianne 2005. What made these such sterling performers was the Daimler-Benz DB.605 engine that powered them. The Italians have always been able to make superb airframes, but their engines were generally underpowered and did not allow the aircraft to perform as well as they should. The DB.605 provided that performance. I should mention that even Italian built DB.605s were not quite as good as the German-supplied versions.
Too late to see use by the Reggia Aeronautica, the G.55 was manufactured in numbers enough to be used by the ANR after the capitulation of the Italian government in September 1943. Though the production runs were small by most standards, the aircraft was delivered in several series. This kit is the series I or initial production aircraft. They differed mostly in armament from the preproduction versions. Gone was the engine mounted 20mm cannon. Instead, two of these were put in the wings. The cowl mounted 7.7mm machine guns were retained.
Produced in greater numbers than its contemporaries, it is often considered to be the more successful of the three. Even post war, Merlin powered trainer versions, the G.59, were used in rather large numbers.
Special Hobby kits are generally the epitome of what one expects in a short run kit. You get one sprue of injected plastic, a small bag of resin bits, a photo etch fret and two vacuformed canopies. To go behind the photo etched instrument panel is an acetate sheet with instruments printed upon it. We who build a lot of these sorts of kits, will find nothing really surprising.
Starting with the injected plastic bits, you'll find nicely engraved external detailing, ejector pin towers on the inside of large bits (wings, fuselage), as well as a sink area or two on the thicker plastic pieces. This one had some extra large mold flash and on one of the landing gear forks, a rather large chunk of plastic. Easily removed and nothing out of the ordinary. For resin, there was a compete cockpit floor section that included the seat and aft bulkhead. It also included a control stick molded on the floor, but mine broke off before it was packaged as I couldn't find one floating around in the sealed bag. This is not a good idea so please don't mold these like this again! Other resin bits are side consoles, forward bulkhead, wheel wells, cannon barrels, exhaust, outer gear forks, supercharger intake, radiator housing and some other bits. The photo etch fret has the radiator grilles, seat harness, instrument panel and a few other teeny bits. There are two vacuformed canopies that are nice and clear. I'm quite pleased to notice that the wheels are a single molding and the same with the prop. I really dislike individual prop blades!
Instructions are well done with a history on the cover and a parts breakdown on the next page. In a step backwards, Special Hobby only lists Gunze part numbers for the paints. Those of us who have built a lot of kits will be able to figure out most of them, but I think that they should at least give a generic name. Markings are provided for three aircraft. First is the nice brown/grey segmented scheme on the box art from 1 Squadriglia /2 Gruppo in mid 1944. Next is a dark green version from HQ/2 Gruppo, also in mid 1944. The third scheme is one in RLM 74/75/76 with mottled sides from 2 Squadriglia/2 Gruppo, also in mid 1944. In case you haven't figured it out, in the ANR, a Gruppo usually flew just one type of aircraft. The decal sheet is superbly printed by Aviprint and should be quite thin.
Overall, this is an excellent short run kit. It has the sort of detail one expects and is very much a major improvement over the previous offerings of this aircraft in this scale from Frog and Italeri/Supermodel.
My thanks to Roll Models for providing the review kit.
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