|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Aermacchi or Macchi MB-326 is a light military jet trainer designed in Italy. Originally conceived as a two-seat trainer, there have also been single and two-seat light attack versions produced. It is one of the most commercially successful aircraft of its type, being bought by more than 10 countries and produced under licence in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. It set many category records, including an altitude record of 56,807 ft (17,315 m) on 18 March 1966. More than 800 MB-326s were constructed between 1961–1975.
The MB-326 had been developed and ordered during a period in which "all-through" jet training was considered by many air forces to be the most cost-effective model for training of military pilots. It was intended to provide a single type of aircraft that could be used to perform both elementary and advanced training right through to a near combat-ready standard. In practice, it was soon discovered that the simplicity and economy of scale of operating just one type for all training purposes was outweighed by the purchase and operating costs of a large all-jet training fleet. Many operators soon switched to operating the MB-326 in conjunction with a cheaper piston-engined type for basic training purposes. Over time, the MB-326 found its primary role as a lead-in trainer to prepare pilots for transition to very high performance fighter aircraft.
The aircraft was license built in both Australia and Brazil. Retired examples have made it into the hands of some private owners.
This is not a new kit. In fact, it may well be an original Supermodel mold. I don't know. I do know that the molding has raised panel lines and fairly clean with no flash and no immediately noticeable sink areas. There are ejector pin marks on the landing gear and inside of gear doors, but all are fairly easy to take care of.
Typical of kits of this era, they are fairly simple to build and free of the fiddlyness we get with some modern kits. The cockpit itself is your standard tub with four piece seats, control sticks, and instrument panels. There are decals for the panel and side consoles.
The cockpitand tailpipe piece are trapped between the fuselage halves. You will need every bit of the space in the forward fuselage to fit a whopping 20 grams of nose weight. Though wing pylons and weapons are shown in the parts layout, these will not be needed for the trainer. The tailplanes simply slot in place.
Outer main gear doors are normally closed so are molded shut. The landing gear all have the wheels molded in place. A speedbrake can be posed lowered if one wishes. A separate windscreen and canopy are provided and you can pose the canopy open.
Instructions are well done and provide FS595 and Italeri acrylic paint information. There are five options. Three of them are in overall orange with Italian flight training squadrons. An orange and white option for a plane of the RAAF's 'Roulettes' flight display team is provided. Note that the painting guide in the instructions omits an of the ufuselage white areas so use the drawing on the back of the box. The fourth is a camouflaged version with the Brazilian Air Force. The large sheet is nicely printed. Note that the orange used on these planes is a somewhat washed out shade. Having said that, I did find one photo of the RAAF team before the type was withdrawn from service in a much darker, almost red color (such as international orange). But I think that was more the exception than the norm.
By and large Italeri kits are well engineered and fairly trouble free builds. These smaller aircraft are not parts intensive (though by no way snap kits), and can be built by most modelers with little issue. If you like the type, model in 1/72 and aren't squeamish about raised detail, this is pretty much it for you. I doubt if you'll see any other mainstream kit manufacturer produce one in this scale.
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