HobbyBoss 1/72 MS.406

KIT #: 80235
PRICE: $7.00
DECALS: Two options 
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas
NOTES: Easy Assembly kit


The M.S.406 was Morane's first low-wing monoplane, as well as the first to feature an enclosed cockpit and a retracting undercarriage. Upon entering service in early 1939, it was the French Air Force’s first "modern" fighter aircraft. Sturdy, highly maneuverable and initially capable of holding its own, it quickly proved underpowered and weakly armed, with the contemporary Bf 109E giving it a hard time when met.

Upon the invasion of France in May 1940, around 150 examples were lost to enemy fighters and ground fire, another 100 were destroyed on the ground during enemy air raids and 250 were deliberately destroyed to prevent them from falling into German hands. French M.S.406 squadrons achieved 191 confirmed victories, along with another 83 probables.

Limited production of the petite Morane continued in France for sometime after the Armistice under German supervision, with 1176 examples built in total. After the war it was quickly withdrawn from all Services, leaving only a few Finnish examples as advanced trainers, which had all been withdrawn by 1952.

Starting from February 1940, Finland received in total 87 machines (including 11 M.S.410 derivatives, bought from Germany). The French fighter was put to good use by the skillful pilots, amassing 121 kills till the end of the war. With the potent airframe screaming for extra power, the inventive Finns wasted no time modifying and strengthening it, in order to accept the powerful Klimov M-105P, as many of these engines were captured by the Germans and offered to them. But that’s another story.


This is another fine example of the Hobby Boss “Easy Assembly” series: cheap, easy to build, modern-tooled and with adequate level of detail, it is a simpler, yet decent alternative compared to more detailed multi-part and certainly more expensive kits. For a look at  its contents you may look no further than our Editors thorough preview, found at the ever growing MM archives. The specific copy was recently (2024) bought from my hometown’s petite sole left hobby shop. Actually I was “forced” by my two sons (8 and 6yo) to buy it, so we can sort of build it together.


I started by trapping the one piece cockpit between the upper and lower fuselage halves with the latter containing the full main wing, meaning I had the basic structure completed at a glance. Basic cockpit color was Hu64 Light Gray, with black instrument panel and stick grip. Seat belts were added from masking tape, while the totally flat instrument panel had some sort of instrumentation and knobbing done by "pinning" white, red and yellow paint. A circular styrene piece was added and painted black, to represent the head cushion, followed by the kit-provided headrest rear supporting framing, which was also painted cockpit color.

For more dynamic looks, I decided to separate the elevators from the horizontal stabilizers by carefully running the back side of my hobby knife through the hinge lines. Ι then attached the stabilizers, leaving the elevators off, to be glued at later stages. The tailplane support struts were also not attached, to facilitate painting.

The distinctive radiator in almost all cases was lowered when in the ground. I confess that, to my eye, it just looks too odd when lowered, so I elected to mount it in “retracted” position. To do so, I had to perform a trial and error surgery to the existing piece (basically reducing its height and trimming its sides), till it looked reasonably believable attached.

This concluded basic assembly, which could not be easier. In actual terms, overall fit was very good, with some tiny gaps at the usual areas (wing roots, upper/lower fuselage joints and so on). Judged as a snap-fit kit which actually is (despite the fact that I used glue), fit was excellent. After initially treating the gaps with liquefied styrene and then with normal filler, I gave the bird a final sanding and took it to the paint shop!


I first gave all undersides, including doors, a coat of Hu65 Light Blue, then masked it off and gave the nose and lower wingtip areas a coat of Hu24 Trainer Yellow. After also masking it off I applied the top two-green camo, for which I used Testors 2116 IJA/N Green and Hu86 Light Olive for the dark and light shades respectively. For the demarcation lines, I applied strings of tak onto the already painted dark green and sprayed the lighter green at more or less perpendicular angles, in order to obtain a tight yet not dead hard effect. After the inevitable (for Yours Truly) retouches, I applied a coat of Future, to prepare the bird for decals

I used the kit decals, in order to depict “White 7” MS-311 machine, belonging to 1/LeLv14 and flown by Vänr. L. Kurten. This example featured a distinctive shark mouth. Decals, to my satisfaction, behaved well, easily detaching from their backing paper and, though initially looking stiff, they conformed nicely with successive repeats of strong decal softener, this being crucial for the shark mouth which succumbed nicely onto the complex contour of the lower nose area. A coat of Future sealed the decals.


The quite good looking landing gear was assembled and attached in position, with the bird proudly standing on its feet. Bays and door innards were painted olive drab (light gray is also possible, if not probable, but I found the OD more interesting), tires were black, gear legs and rims' internal sides were painted Hu64 Light Gray, whereas the latter’s external visible sides were painted underside color. Pieces of stretched sprue were added to the plain top bay walls, to represent some ribbing, while the wheels were tad filed (at an angle, due to the distinctive posing of the type’s landing gear), to look weighted. The rear tail skid is possibly wrong for the specific bird, as profiles show it sporting a tailwheel, which is not provided by the kit. At least, let’s hope in reality the skid was replaced by a tailwheel after the shark mouth was painted…).

The propeller was assembled and attached in position. It had red spinner and black blades, the latter lightly dry brushed with silver at the tip leading edges areas, to simulate wear. The distinctive radiator face was painted black, then dry brushed with silver, followed by the elevators and, finally, the tailplane support struts, which were painted per the surrounding camo.

The tiny exhaust openings, as well as the wing ejector chutes were “pinned” with black paint, to add a sense of depth. The aiming tube was also painted black. I replaced all three guns with stretched sprue pieces, painted gunmetal, whereas the non-provided pitot tube was fabricated from two pieces of stretched sprue and attached.

Some weathering was applied, mainly a black wash to accentuate all recessed areas and add a used, oily look at the landing gear parts and, finally, brown/black dry pastels, to simulate dirt, grime and engine staining at the probable areas. Upon feeling that weathering was sufficient, I gave the complete bird a satin coat.

The very clear canopy had its framing painted by hand and attached, with fit being good and the tiny gaps treated with white glue. Not all framing is molded on the canopy, with the net as always coming to the rescue in order to identify the missing framing pattern that needed to be painted.

The top antenna mast was attached, with thin stretched sprue run from it to the fin, to represent the aerial wire, whereas blobs of red and green clear paint represented the wingtip lights.

I was about to call her done, even took pics of her, when I recalled our Editor’s advice in the kit’s preview that, apart from the pitot, the lower antenna mast is not provided, so this was made from stretched sprue and attached in “stowed” position, allowing me to call the M.S.406 done!


This is yet another fine “Easy Assembly” kit by Hobby Boss. Overall shape looks correct, molding is very good and the same can be said for fit, panel lines are finely recessed, canopy is clear and decals, with the help of decal softener, behaved excellently. Out of the box a solid representation of the potent French fighter can emerge, with the ease of construction deeming it suitable for the absolute beginner, who can even snap-fit it together at no time. Suffice to say this is an ideal kit for toddlers entering the magic world of modeling.

This unpretentious offering does not intend to compete with “next level” more detailed and way more expensive kits, but what you get for the price you pay is really outstanding, the pleasure of the build itself definitely included!

Next time you see one, do not hastily pass it by, but, rather, give it a closer look and, why not, spend a tiny amount of money buying it and go building it: you might find yourself wondering how a “base”, "easy assembly" kit like this can produce such a fine result!

Happy Modeling! 

Spiros Pendedekas

1 April 2024

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