Kit: Heinkel He 219A-7

Scale: 1/48

Kit Number:

Manufacturer: Tamiya


Media: Injected Plastic

Decals: Three versions, all basically RLM 76 with RLM 75 mottle of various designs.

Reviewer: Craig A Chidley

Date of Review: 22 November 1997

I won't get into the usual preamble that seems to appear in kit reviews these days on the history of this aircraft as the more I read the more confused I become. Was there series production of the A-5 series ?? Just how many A-0 aircraft were converted to A-2's, and were any of these re-engined to become A-7's?? If they were rebuilt was there a new werke nr. allocated ?? It's all becoming way too much for my feeble mind to cope with. Still, I guess we're basically concerned with the A-7 variant and not how the aircraft got to that stage.

After putting up with vacform (Karo As/Flugzeug) and resin (Czechmaster, ARBA, Volks and MPM) kits of this aircraft in 1/48, Tamiya have finally taken the plunge and produced the very first injected plastic version of the He 219 in this scale. What follows is a reasonably quick build of the kit, a brushup on some points of accuracy (nitpicky stuff here, nothing major) and, hopefully, a slightly more comprehensive painting guide, for one aircraft at least.

The version depicted in the kit is an He 219A-7/R4 as it only has the two outer guns in the ventral weapons tray. There are some very faint mold lines inside the gun fairing so this maybe the first of two or more releases. An A-0 ?? Oh, it would be too good to be true. You just can't please some people can you !!

Please don't judge the kit by the box art. It's not good and bears only a passing resemblance to the kit enclosed. Aside from the usual Tamiya precision molded plastic parts the He 219 also comes with, the now usual, poly caps for each prop and a quite amazing metal nose undercarriage bay and cockpit floor in one piece. Aside from stuffing each engine nacelle full of lead this really is the only way the nose could be weighted. Good one Tamiya.

The decal sheet is reasonably well printed with only the dodgy seat belt decals and the fuselage crosses (for the aircraft I was building !) being slightly out of register. If the crosses are a problem in your kit (for w/nr. 290123) you'll find they are the same style and size as most late war Bf 109 fuselage crosses. The rest of the decals are interesting. D5+CL is depicted as being w/nr.310188 but as this aircraft was captured by the British at the end of the war there are plenty of good photo's around showing it clearly as 310189. Real basic slip up here. Some references also refer to this aircraft being the He 219V11 which seems very odd. I think the confusion arises from the radar identification Roman numerals on the nose (which reads "VI") in conjuction with some other markings in that area. This marking refers to the particular aircraft having a FuG220d radar arrangement fitted. The real V11 was w/nr. 190011 and "V11" was marked on the lower left hand tail fin in black. The tailplane from this aircraft was found in Vienna post 1953 whilst w/nr. 310189 was noted at Farnborough's scrap area on 15 Dec. 1946.

The other aircraft depicted is G9+CH. You might want to check the colour of the letter "C" here as the one photo I've found of this aircraft is indistinct. It looks a slightly lighter shade than the "H" and at least one reference depicts it as green, which seems just as odd. One final note on the decal sheet re decal No.13 - the Englandblitz shields. None of the aircraft depicted in the kit wore this shield from what I can make out.

Construction begins with the cockpit, which is pretty straightforward, with all related parts from Steps 1, 2 & 3 as well as parts E2, A11, A10 and A9 removed from their sprues, cleaned up and airbrushed a lightened mix of Aeromasters RLM66 (Tamiya TS-48). There are some ejector pin marks on both cockpit sidewalls that will be visible after painting which, if you have a Dremel, isn't a problem. For those, get a Dremel. About the only major items missing from the standard kit cockpit are the breathing oxygen hoses. The oxy regulators are depicted so some hoses could be fashioned out of solder or guitar string if required.

 After painting, details were then picked out as follows. Both seat headrest cushions and control column boot in brown followed by a swipe of raw umber oil paint to simulate leather. The long recessed handle on the right hand console in RLM23 (Tamiya XF-7). I thought this a bit strange, but after checking, its actually the ejection seat release handle ! Red and white were also used to pick out the odd switch or two. Black was used for the control column fork as well as for the additional gauges on the consoles, sidewalls and the radar control bank. Semi-gloss being used to simulate the rubber boot (A32) over one of the radar screens.

The instrument panel decals are lovely, though while Tamiya provide decals for the panel itself and two for the right hand binnacle, they omit decals for gauges on the left console and the radar deck. All settled down beautifully with the help of a little Aeromaster Aero Set. The gauges were then given a dollop of the old Humbrol Clear 35 which is thick enough to stay in each recess and yellowed the stark white details just enough to take the edge off. Mounted to the top of the instrument panel is the armoured glass panel which can also be put on later just prior to fitting the windshield. Best to make sure some flexible kind of cement is used here so this panel can be pressed forward, if required, to fit snugly into the rear of the windscreen when the time comes to install it.

The whole lot can then be drybrushed and assembled as per the instructions, though I left the seats out to stop them getting knocked around during painting as the protrude quite a way out of the fuselage. They can be added even after the windscreen and rear canopy have been fitted. I junked Tamiya's hokey decals and added a set of Fine Molds seat belts, which in my opinion are the best around (How's eight pieces per seat sound ?!). One point that might be helpful for beginners is that Tamiya make no reference to the use of superglue or an epoxy of some kind for affixing the metal/plastic cockpit assembly to the fuselage. I used superglue but the whole affair fits in so neatly I'd be surprised if any was really needed.

Step 4 - I only installed the front of the ventral gun pack here. All of the nose gear parts were cleaned up and set aside for spraying with RLM02. References conflict a bit here but, as a basic rule, if the nose gear for the aircraft you're making looks to be the same shade as the fuselage on most of the He 219's (ie RLM76) paint it 76. If it's slightly darker, then RLM02 would be a good bet and if it's quite a bit darker then maybe Tamiya's suggestion of a dark grey would be correct. As to what colour the actual wheel bay is I opted for RLM02. The nose wheel was put aside and painted with the main wheels described later. It will fit in after the forks are together.

Step 5 & 6 - Best accomplished in one step as the main gear bays do locate, to a certain degree, on the top wing. The fit of all parts is good but you might want to open the supercharger and heater intakes prior to putting the wings together as they'll look deeper and the join line here will be a pig to fill. If you're really keen you could add a bulkhead in the rear part of the engine nacelle as Tamiya leave this area wide open. One reference I have also states that only the port wing hada fixed trim tab (both had the supplemental moveable tabs) whilst Tamiya show this on both wings. The reference was for an A-5 but I wonder......

After assembly I rescribed the lower nacelle cowl line which runs along the join line. Both sides of each nacelle will need rescribing as Tamiya have depicted a +  arrangement with another panel line running off at an angle. On the actual aircraft (say we're looking at the left hand outside cowl) the lower three lines of the + need to be filled as the cowl was hinged just above the exhausts stacks and shaped like a funny "L" with the lower piece being triangular and receding down to a point under the wing. The halves of each cowl were fastened either side of the small mast on the very top or the engine. Makes no sense at all, right ??!! I also cut out the wingtip lights at this stage and replaced them with coloured Krystal Kleer for the lenses followed by superglue filed to shape for the lenses.

Probably the most difficult part of the kit to get looking right will be the wing to nacelle fairing on both sides and front and rear. After assembly of the cowls and wings you'll notice a squared off area on both sides at the front of the nacelle at the wing. This should be filed down to blend into the fairing and the fairing, in turn, into the cowl. You won't really get what I mean until you've assembled it though. The fairing at the rear at the rear of the wing where it meets the nacelleis also a little vague and will need some careful filing to add more definition.

I saved the painting here until later and also left the installation of the FuG101 antenna's under the wings until the aircraft was almost complete. Tamiya is correct with their depiction of the panel around the exhausts. Once again, check your references, but most overall RLM76 coloured machines had this panel in black.

Step 7 & 8 - Assembling the flaps is straightforward though their installation as per the instructions never looked right to me. I opted for a blend of both and cut off the pins, installed the boards (B1, B3, C4 & C6) and then fitted the flaps, slightly drooped, by glueing them to the underside of the top wing half. I've no idea if this depiction is correct but it looked better as some fairly substantial gaps appeared in both the up and down positions. The look of the wing might have had something to do with my decision here as it appeared quite strange with the flaps fully down.

As I was building w/nr. 290123, I added the exhaust shrouds at this point as the whole aircraft is black under here anyway. Though they do look a little long the front and rear detail is nice. I did however sand away the three attachment bands on each unit as they're much too large. The real articles were attached at the same points by a clamp consisting of two parallel pieces of wire. So unless you've got the patience to try this with fuse wire on all four of them just do as I did and get rid of them. Put aside the mass balances (D24) until later as well.

Step 9 - The MK108 SchrägeMusik (pronounced shrairgeh-moose-ik) installation is noted in one reference as being removed on most in-service machines. This is very strange but maybe the weight penalty just wasn't worth the hassle. Still, if it's depicted then I guess at least the Smithsonian aircraft must have it fitted. One thing to remember though, if you do decide to fit it, there should be an upward looking gunsight on the right side of the central central canopy frame in addition to the one behind the windscreen. I'm still trying to track down a good photograph of this installation. Maybe something on a Bf 110 with SchrägeMusik fitted might hold the answer. Assembly here is simple and no painting required if you're going to fit the fuselage panel.

I varied things a bit here with the engine cowls. After choosing which option I wanted for the cowl gills (either D9 or D25) I attached D20 to D25 and put them aside to dry. Part D15 can be fitted directly to the wing/cowl assembly at this point and painted. I chose a dark grey (as this area will be visible after the cowls have been fitted) which was then drybrushed. While the grey is still in the brush spray the inside of the cowls (D20/D25) as the radiator segments are readily visible if you choose the open option. A bit or drybrushing brings up the ribbing a treat here too. When it comes to painting the outside of this section a piece of masking tape fits nicely inside to shield this area.

The undercarriage was assembled, less tyres, as per the instructions which tend to get a bit vague. The guide fork (D8) doesn't fit exactly where the arrow points to. Try it and you'll snap it. Move it up to the section just under where part D12 and D14 join together. Also beware of part D10 as I managed to snap both of them whilst cleaning them up. They're actually attached to part D14 as shown and also to the top side lug on part D18 which isn't shown terribly clearly. The    main undercarriage units weren't handed so both should look identical when you've finished. I put these aside also to paint later. All tyres were paintedAeromaster Tyre Black, whilst the hubs were painted semi-gloss black. They were then washed, drybrushed and put aside.

Step 10 - The nacelle end caps can be installed here and the main gear doors cleaned up ready for painting. More ejector pin marks here too which will need filling and sanding.

Step 11 - The tail unit goes together with no problems at all and the prop was painted and assembled. Tamiya omit the blade colour here which should be RLM70 with a steel hub. Most spinners were RLM70 but check your references as some were RLM76 and yet other were black with a white spiral.

Step 12 - Everything here fits as advertised. The tail unit fit is a huge improvement over the old Dragon effort in 1/72 and you mightn't even need to glue the wings at all if that will make it easier to transport later. Yes, they fit that well. The dual wing spars are a great help as, if you pick up the completed model by the wing tips, you'll notice quite a flex develops up to the nacelle. Very well thought out. The SchrägeMusik assembly can be installed at this point. This basically pushes down between two grooves as far it will go, though it might pay to have the cover handy just to check alignment as it is possible to install them slightly off centre. To attach the cover itself the trick is to squeeze it to match the fuselage cross section and glue it against the tabs on the side of the fuselage whilst holding it away from the fuselage slightly to match the panel lines on the next fuselage segment. Not as hard as it sounds really.......Trust me.

Step 13 - Parts E6, E1, A10, A9 and A11 were installed here. The trick to painting the suppressed D/F aerial is to airbrush the underside with your favourite metallizer, as the outline of the aerial star shape is recessed, and scrape away the non-recessed portions. Beats the hell out of trying to mask it. The gunsight pitot and props were put aside for later.

Step 14 - I only installed the fuselage tail cap and FuB1 2F antenna here. I'm still trying to figure out whether the end cap should be clear or not. Seems it was painted over as often as it was clear.

Step 15 & 16 - I fitted the windscreen and rear canopy here and masked the centre portion ready for painting.

Painting - As I wanted to depict w/nr. 290123, G9+TH most of the painting was done in reverse order to what I normally do. I wasn't really happy with the look of the mottling on a lot of He 219 models I had seen when compared to actual photo's so I really started to pay close attention to the top camouflage on these aircraft. From what I can make out it seems, contrary to popular opinion, that the RLM75 coat was applied first and a very tight overspray/squiggle /wave/cloud/whatever of RLM76 was applied afterwards giving the upper surfaces a washed out marbly look to it. More than one photo shows some of the  prototypes in a cloudy grey topcoat only (75) which I presume hadn't been dappled for operational use as yet. With this in mind a grey primer was laid down first to check for flaws and once this was completed a coat of Aeromaster RLM75 (mixed with about 35% white) was next. After this had dried I mixed a light brew of Aeromaster RLM76 (about 40% white) acrylic and this was also thinned about 40%. With a very shaky hand I started spraying away, bearing in mind the reach of a guy on the real thing with a spraygun, ie small areas at a time. The finished effect was better than I could have ever hoped for though I wouldn't mind trying to get it a bit tighter next time. The front cowls were also sprayed in RLM76 at this time. After this nerve wracking experience I masked up the topside for the next coat. I chose to mix 50% Aeromaster RLM22 Black and 50% Aeromaster Tyre Black for this which gave the undersides a nice chalky black look to it. From the original photograph of this aircraft the last two code letters have been previously painted out with a darker black (yeah, I know!) and reapplied. Bearing this in mind I used a slightly richer black mix than what was applied to the undersides and brushed it on.

Also on the left tail fin leading edge near the top there is a wrap around panel which covers an antenna of some kind (the panel is on both fins but I'm not sure if the antenna is). Problem is most references say that such and such an aircraft must have had a replacement panel as the colours are different for this panel only. Thing is quite a few of them have a different coloured panel (w/nr.310189 as well). Since there was an array of some kind behind the panel I wouldn't think it would be aluminium. Bakelite, wood or rubber is all I can think of. They all look very patchy so I masked this area, as well as the wheel wells and undercarriage units and gave them all a coat of RLM02. I've beaten up this panel a bit with some pastel chalks until I can find the exact colours.

The whole aircraft was rubbed down very gently with 2000 grit wet & dry paper, as this gave the black especially a more streaked and weather worn look if rubbed in the direction of airflow. A coat of Johnson's Super Stride was then brush painted on as a gloss coat and the decals applied. All settled down extremely well. The position of the swastika shown in Tamiya's instructions is a bit off as the centre of it should be just above level with the top of the tailplane. I also cut the black surround from the aircraft's individual letter "T" as I didn't want yet a third shade of black to be visible on the overpainted area on the fuselage.

A raw umber watercolour wash was applied to all panel lines which provided a nice contrast on the undersides and stood out perfectly on the light grey topcoats and, once dry, the whole model was airbrushed in Aeromaster acrylic matt coat. Pastel chalks were than applied as required.  

All the various leftovers could now be applied. These had been painted in their respective colours as I painted the aircraft. I couldn't wait to get the front cowls fitted to complete "the look" but in my haste I forgot the poly caps. Off with the cowls and try again. The undercarriage was fitted and, hey presto, it actually sits on all five wheels. Next were the undercarriage doors with no problems. If you're a stickler here you can add the retraction wire and springs which joined the two main gear doors together behind the main retraction arm. It's attached to the recessed area shown on the inside of all four doors. A small spring was linked to each pin in the recess and a rod joined the two.

 The front and rear FuG220 antenna's can be fixed in place with the front ones lined up as per Tamiya's diagram. The masts themselves were painted in the fuselage colours, the horizontal rods in black and all except the lower four dipoles (which were white/red/white) in a dark steel. I cut the very end off the FuG16ZY (A38) Morane antenna and glued in a piece of fine wire which was more to scale.

The props, mass balances and FuG101 antenna's were fitted as supplied. The end of the pitot tube was removed and replaced with a small length of brass tube and a FuG25 IFF whip antenna will need to be fashioned from sprue and fitted to the left underside of the aircraft just behind the FuB1 2F. What's with all the technical abbreviations I hear you say ?? Come on, if you're gonna build Luftwaffe nightfighters you gotta get with the lingo.  

I didn't attach the boarding ladder as, when down, quite a large open slot that runs parallel to the nose gear bay was visible. This was plugged by side of the ladder when it was swung back into place. Next up was the canopy aerial and a couple of lengths of stretched sprue running from it to each tail fin.

To finish off I replaced the D/F loop (A8) with a piece of brass strip from an old Airwaves etched fret and bent it around a small file as the real article looked more like a piece cut from a tape measure rather than shaped from a block of wood. This then slotted straight into the small teardrop fairing on top of the fuselage. Finally the canopy was fitted. Hinged at the bottom and opening to the right, it should open so the left hand edge is vertical to the hinged right hand edge. From what I can make out on period photo's the canopy was self supporting with no rod or cable and spring visible. I know the  chiffer book shows a support rod on the Smithsonian museum aircraft but I suspect this is a postwar addition as I have been unable to find any evidence of this on in-service aircraft.

There you have it. One perfectly stunning, very large and butt-ugly nightfighter. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for all the resin and etched sets to appear so's I can build a really detailed one and treble the size of this article.

 References -

"Aircraft of the Fighting Powers, Vol.VII" by H.J. Cooper & O.G. Thetford, Harborough Publishing Co., 1946

"Heinkel He 219 Uhu" by Joachim Dressel & Manfred Griehl, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1995

"Uhu: He 219 Best Nightfighter of World War II" by Heinz J. Nowarra, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1989

"Samoloty Swiata #1 - Heinkel He 219 Uhu" by Krzysztof Brandt, Wydawnictwo "Okrety Wojenne", 1997

"Wings of the Luftwaffe" by Eric Brown, Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1993

"History of the German Nightfighter Force 1917 - 1945" by Gebhard Aders, Crécy Books Ltd., 1992

"German Aircraft Landing Gear" by Günther Sengfelder, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1993

"The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945" by Kenneth A. Merrick & Thomas H. Hitchcock, Monogram Aviation Publications, 1980

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