Revell 1/72 BV-138C-1
|PRICE:||Around €20 in 2008|
|NOTES:||Reboxed Supermodel kit|
Fliegende Holzschuh” (Flying Clog, from the side-view shape of its fuselage, as
well as a play on the title of the Wagner opera “Der Fliegende Hollander”), the
Blohm & Voss BV 138 Seedrache (Sea Dragon) was a World War II German trimotor
flying boat that served as the Luftwaffe's main seaborne long-range maritime
patrol and naval reconnaissance aircraft.
It was unique in appearance and design features, with its twin boom tail unit, short fuselage, distinct "turn-down" or "beak" at the stern and three 2-stroke diesel engines, with the middle driving a 4-bladed prop and the wing 3-bladed ones. Armament consisted of two enclosed, powered gun turrets with single MG 151/20 autocannons and one MG 131 machine gun in open position behind the central engine. Up to 6 × 50 kg bombs or 4 × 150 kg depth charges could optionally be loaded under starboard wing root only.
Some examples (designated BV 138 MS) were converted for minesweeping and carried magnetic field-generating degaussing equipment. The BV 138 was also tested as a platform utilizing RATOs, for shorter takeoff performance
The type was produced from 1938 to 1943, with a total of 297 built.
This is the
Supermodel kit, originally appeared in 1977. It had been reissued by Supermodel
five times till the late 90s, with a sixth (and final, so far) reissue by Revell
in 2005, which is the version I tackled.
The kit comes with an attractive boxart in the typical (good looking, but neither strong nor very practical) Revell side opening box. Inside you find a sealed bag that contains three large light gray sprues and a smaller clear one. None of them is individually packed, meaning potential scratches, especially at the clear one. For a 1977 kit that had been frequently reissued, the molds seem to hold on quite well, as there are no serious imperfections or mold shifting, just some flash and a couple of sink marks here and there, which the modeler can easily take care of.
Quite a few external details are provided, most of them of the raised type (to the heavy side, might I say). Props look good, as well. An area that is prominently void of detail is the aft innards of the central engine cowling. Understandably (for a 1977 era kit) cockpit detail is just adequate, with control yokes, basic seats and instrument panel (onto which a nice decal is to be affixed). The two MG 151/20 turrets are acceptably represented, whereas the MG 131 “opening” looks quite plain. The radio operator’s compartment is appointed with a seat and a console block, onto which instrument decals are to be attached, however it will be practically invisible once the fuselage halves are joined together. Five acceptable crew members are supplied, should the modeler wish to man the above positions. Finally, a nice looking dolly is provided, as well as minesweeping gear for the MS version.
Transparencies are on the thick side, but are otherwise well molded, exhibiting good clarity and having their framing well defined (but on the heavy side). Instructions are also very good, spreading the build sequence in 37 clear steps. Since the sprues have no parts numbers molded on, a parts “numbering” diagram is provided. Total parts count is about 130. Three schemes are represented, with one of them being the minesweeper version. Decals are great, superbly printed by Cartograf and contain quite a bit of stenciling as well. No Swastikas are provided.
I started by installing the 8 side windows from the
inside of the fuselage. Then I assembled the 11-piece cockpit/radio compartment
and trapped it between the two fuselage halves, which were consequently glued
together, accompanied by the two side L-shaped panels. Fit was positive. I did
not install the two turrets and rear gun base, as I had planned to trim their
bases and fit them at end stages, thus avoiding all the tedious pre-painting and
masking that would have been otherwise required. Basic interior color was Hu31
Slate Gray, with black instrument panel, yokes and consoles. Seat belts were
added from masking tape and the nice instrument decal was applied (I did not
apply the equally nice radio operator console decals, as they would be totally
invisible, preferring to save them for possible future use at other projects).
Then it was subassembly time! I assembled the wings, booms and the horizontal stabilizer, all 3-piece affairs. I then attached the booms onto the wings, which were consequently attached to the fuselage, with the horizontal stabilizer trapped between the booms. I was expecting a very challenging fit, but, truth is that it was more or less manageable, with the very helpful head on view - jig suggestion provided by the instructions. The underwing mounted radiator inlet ducts and the middle engine air inlet splitter were attached at this point as well.
Other subassemblies included the 2-piece floats, 3-piece turrets (which had their mounting lugs shaved off, in order to be able to be inserted after fuselage assembly – also guns were painted gunmetal), 5-piece propellers (which are nicely appointed, in order to be able to be fitted at later stages without sacrificing the “rotatable” option) and, of course, the dolly, a beautiful 12-piece affair.
I then went on and coarse-sanded the basic model, filled the joints requiring attention (this was especially true at the wings to fuselage and booms joints) and sanded them smooth. Some "neighboring detail" was lost in the process, but I deemed the result as “a result I could live with”. I continued by adding various external “bits and pieces”. Those included the 4 aileron hinges, the 4 underwing characteristic paddle balances, the 4 horizontal stabilizer supporting struts, the two floats with their supporting struts, the aft hull mini tiller, the three mooring tiebacks and the six 2-piece top engine air inlets (which had their holes deepened, in order to look more realistic). The six molded-in petite engine exhausts were drilled out, as well.
After finally filling and sanding all joined areas that needed attention, I gave the model a very light 1500 grit sanding. I then masked the fuselage windows with Maskol, blocked all openings with wet tissue, and took this weirdly beautiful seaplane to the paint shop!
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Since the model had a lot of delicate stuff hanging underneath, I decided to paint the top camo first, avoiding the undersides masking (which might result in tearing those small bits apart upon removal). I thus applied Hu117 (for the RLM73) to all top and side surfaces, then masked the splinter pattern with masking tape and went on to apply the RLM72, for which I used Hu149. Props and dolly received the same RLM72. After masking all top camo, I applied the underside light blue (Hu65), then removed all masking and coated the model with Future, in preparation for decaling.
I used the kit decals, in order to represent
W.Nr.13803 10158, 2./KüFl.Gr.406, “K6+AK” machine, in service from special
catapult launching ships in the Norwegian Coast. This machine carried a special
emblem at the port fuselage, celebrating the 1000th launch from the Catapult
Vessel “Bussard” (SP 21), which took place sometime in 1944. As expected, decals
behaved excellently. After studying reference net pics, I searched my decal
dungeon and applied two swastikas of suitable size and style onto the rear fins.
A coat of Future sealed all decals.
Regarding weathering, I applied quite a bit of engine staining (those 2-stroke diesels would have definitely been very smoky!), oil-grease leaking and general dirtying, using black and dark brown dry pastels. The dolly acquired some rusty looks with pastels of suitable color. I then gave the model and the dolly its final almost matt finish (no chance of glossy surfaces at those salty environments whatsoever…).
The framings of the canopy and turrets were
carefully hand painted with a 10/0 brush. Canopy was then attached in position
with tiny amounts of styrene glue. Fit left some gaps, which were “faired” with
white glue. The turrets were simply affixed in position, with fit being just
tight enough, holding them gently but positively into place. The MG131 was
finally attached in position onto its base.
I attached the two antennas on top (one loop, one mast). Only one antenna wire seemed to be run from the antenna mast, to the starboard fin: this was represented with stretched sprue.
Three bombs (with their pylons molded on) are provided, in order to be attached at the starboard underwing side. Since (by personal preference) I do not usually hang bombs under my models, but love adding pylons, I detached the pylons from the bombs and went on enhancing their looks by judicious filing and tiny bits of stretched sprue added. I then painted them gunmetal and attached them in position.
Blobs of red and green clear paint were accordingly affixed at the wingtips, in order to represent the navigation lights. The model was then placed onto the dolly and was called done!
With the other BV 138 kits being the hard to find
1/144 Miniwings and the even harder to find MPM 1/48 (both resins), this kit not
only is still the only game in town in 1/72, but also the only “mainstream” kit
of this iconic seaplane in general!
That said, though definitely an oldie, I might I say that this kit is kind of a goodie, with correct general shape, adequate external and internal detailing (apart from the rear gunners aft engine area) and, in the case of the Revell reissue, excellent decals, which add up a lot to the final looks. Putting it together is not too complicated. Fit, although not the best, is manageable. Due to the high number of parts and fit issues, it should be tackled by modelers who have at least a couple of flying boats under their belt.
With the last reboxing done by Revell in 2005, this kit is not among the easiest or the cheapest to find nowadays (as of 2021). Not aware of any new tool release, I would not be surprised to see this kit reissued by someone in the non-distant future.
If you are not a novice modeler and happen to own one, you might consider building it. The resulting model will definitely be very imposing, definitely an eye catcher in your showcase.
14 December 2021
Copyright ModelingMadness.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Review Index Page
Back to the Previews Index Page