ICM 1/72 He-70F-2
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Heinkel He 70 Blitz was designed in the early 1930s to serve as a fast mailplane for Deutsche Lufthansa. The He 70 was developed in response to Lufthansa request for a faster aircraft than the Lockheed Vega and Orion (as used by Swissair) for employment on short routes. It was a low-wing monoplane, with the main characteristics of its revolutionary design its elliptical wing, which the Günther brothers had already used in the Bäumer Sausewind sports plane before they joined Heinkel, and its small, rounded control surfaces. In order to meet the demanding speed requirements, the design minimised drag, with countersunk rivets giving a smooth surface finish and a retractable undercarriage, a novel feature for a German aircraft. It was powered by a BMW VI V-12 engine, cooled by ethylene glycol rather than water, allowing a smaller radiator and therefore reducing drag. The pilot and radio operator were seated in tandem, with a cabin housing four passengers on two double seats facing each other.
The first prototype flew on 1 December 1932, and proved to have excellent performance, setting eight world records for speed over distance, and reaching a maximum speed of 377 km/h (222 mph).
Lufthansa operated He 70s between 1934 and 1937 for fast flight service which connected Berlin with Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne, as well as the Cologne/Hamburg route. Lufthansa He 70s were flown abroad from Stuttgart to Sevilla between 1934 and 1936. Remaining aircraft were transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1937.
Twenty-eight aircraft were sent with the Legion Kondor, where they were used during the Spanish Civil War as fast reconnaissance aircraft. Their high speed gave them the nickname Rayo (lightning).
The He 70K (later He 170), a fast reconnaissance airplane variant was used by the Royal Hungarian Air Force in early World War II during 1941-42. The Luftwaffe operated He 70s from 1935, initially as a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, later as a liaison and courier aircraft.
The main weakness of the He 70 design soon became obvious. The He 70 airframe was made out of so-called "electron metal", a very light, yet strong alloy of magnesium, which burns spontaneously in air when heated, and is only exhausted when covered in sand. A single hit from a light machine gun usually set the entire plane ablaze, killing the crew. The Hungarian He 70K fleet was promptly retired and replaced with vintage, high-wing He 46 monoplanes until modern Bf 109 fighter-recce and specialized Fw 189 "Uhu" medium altitude observation aircraft could be introduced.
Prior to the release of this kit, the He-70 was only available as a standard plastic kit by Matchbox. While a pretty nice kit as things go, it was designed more for ease of construction than anything else. Though it is reasonably accurate in shape, its detailing is not what one would call fine. This kit as with other Matchbox kits, has been reissued by Revell, who purchased the company several years back. There have also been resin kits of this plane, one of which your editor struggled to complete and one of these days, I ought to knock the dust off it and do a build article. A short one.
ICM's kit is nicely molded in a standard grey plastic. There is a bit of flash on a few parts and I did notice that there were sink areas on a number of somewhat thick pieces. I also noticed that on a wing section, there is a meandering groove as if something was stuck to the mold and then removed from the plastic. Filler will take care of this. The fabric representation is quite subdued, something that most will appreciate. Separate ailerons, flaps, and rudder are provided. There are also wing spars to help with wing alignment, something I know I like.
Both the cockpit and cabin area are well appointed for the scale. The design of the kit is in keeping with doing different variants as the next will be a G model. I should mention that the inner wheel well walls are a separate piece. The landing gear are also well done and somewhat complex. This version used a tail skid so you can take the wheel and resign it to the spares box along with a few other pieces.
Instructions are a standard sheet of paper printed on both sides. Painting and markings are on a separate sheet. The construction illustrations are CAD style and while I'm sure they look great on the computer, they are somewhat dark and difficult to see any detail. I'd prefer line illustrations for construction drawings rather than these, though perhaps adjustment of the printing process will make these more legible. Markings are for two aircraft. One is the flamboyant box art plane of the Condor Legion in white with blue sunburst from 1937. Stealth was not a problem, apparently. The modeler will need to mask for the blue bits. The other is a multi-color camouflaged version with the Spanish Air Force in 1938 after the war. Color information is provided in generic and Model Master references. Decals are well printed and quite matte, though the white is off register a bit on the Condor Legion roundels.
So those of you hoarding your Matchbox or Revell He-70s have a choice for something more detailed. This ICM kit is really quite well done and Should prove to be a very nice looking model when complete.
My thanks to the fine folks at www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today from your local shop or on-line retailer.
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