Airfix 1/72 He-111P-2
KIT #: A06014
PRICE: $29.98 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The He 111P incorporated the updated Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 liquid-cooled engine and featured a newly designed nose section, including an asymmetric mounting for an MG 15 machine gun that replaced the 'stepped' cockpit with a roomier and more aerodynamic glazed stepless cockpit over the front of the aircraft. This smooth glazed nose was first tested on the He 111 V8 in January 1938. These improvements allowed the aircraft to reach 475 km/h (295 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and a cruise speed of 370 km/h (230 mph), although a full bomb load reduced this figure to 300 km/h (190 mph). The design was implemented in 1937 because pilot reports indicated problems with visibility. The pilot's seat could actually be elevated, with the pilot's eyes above the level of the upper glazing, complete with a small pivoted windscreen panel, to get the pilot's head above the level of the top of the "glass tunnel" for a better forward view for takeoffs and landings. The rear-facing dorsal gun position, enclosed with a sliding, near-clear view canopy, and for the first time, the ventral Bodenlafette rear-facing gun position, immediately aft of the bomb bay, that replaced the draggy "dustbin" retractable emplacement became standard, having been first flown on the He 111 V23, bearing civil registration D-ACBH.

One of Heinkel's rivals, Junkers, built 40 He 111Ps at Dessau. In October 1938, the Junkers Central Administration commented:

Apparent are the externally poor, less carefully designed components at various locations, especially at the junction between the empennage and the rear fuselage. All parts have an impression of being very weak.... The visible flexing in the wing must also be very high. The left and right powerplants are interchangeable. Each motor has an exhaust-gas heater on one side, but it is not connected to the fuselage since it is probable that ... the warm air in the fuselage is not free of carbon monoxide (CO). The fuselage is not subdivided into individual segments, but is attached over its entire length, after completion, to the wing centre section. Outboard of the powerplants, the wings are attached by universal joints. The latter can in no way be satisfactory and have been the cause of several failures.

The new design was powered by the DB 601 Ba engine with 1,175 PS The first production aircraft reached Luftwaffe units in Fall 1938. In May 1939, the P-1 and P-2 went into service with improved radio equipment. The P-1 variant was produced with two DB 601Aa powerplants of 1,150 hp (860 kW). It had self-sealing fuel tanks. The P-1 featured a semi-retractable tail wheel to decrease drag. Armament consisted of a MG 15 in the nose, and a sliding hood for the fuselage's dorsal B-Stand position. Installation of upgraded FuG III radio communication devices were also made and a new ESAC-250/III vertical bomb magazine was added. The overall takeoff weight was now 13,300 kg (29,321 lb).

The P-2, like the later P-4, was given stronger armour and two MG 15 machine guns in "waist" mounts on either side of the fuselage and two external bomb racks. Radio communications consisted of FuG IIIaU radios and the DB601 A-1 replaced the 601Aa powerplants. The Lotfernrohr 7 bombsights, which became the standard bombsight for German bombers, were also fitted to the P-2. The P-2 was also given "field equipment sets" to upgrade the weak defensive armament to four or five MG 15 machine guns. The P-2 had its bomb capacity raised to 4 ESA-250/IX vertical magazines. The P-2 thus had an empty weight of 6,202 kg (13,272 lb), a loaded weight increased to 12,570 kg (27,712 lb) and a maximum range of 2,100 km (1,305 mi).

If you wish to read more about the 111P series, visit the reference link at the end of the article.


I mentioned in a previous article that one of the goals of Hornby's ressurection of Airfix was to produce as much of the previous catalogue as possible with new tool kits. This is one of those kits, replacing their venerable He-111H kit. I can recall building the older kit in the 1960s and using totally inappropriate gloss paints to simulate its camouflage. This hastily built model flew hundreds of missions from the ceiling of my bedroom.

Airfix's new tool kit is really quite superb. Just looking at the sprues, it is quite reminiscent of the Hasegawa offering in its level of detailing. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that Airfix copied the Hasegawa kit, that is not at all the case. In fact, some of the construction seems similar to how Roden approached some areas, though I'm betting the fit is a ton better on this one.

Going through the instructions, one notices that the first order of business is not the cockpit. Airfix has supplied detailed interior walls for the bomb bay/upper gunner's area and these are the initial installation, followed by the compartment's bulkheads which incorporate stub wing spars. Once the interior walls are built up, the fuselage halves are glued together. One has to remove two tail mounted machine guns, hinting at later variants being kitted.

The two vertical bomb bays are built up and installed on the lower wing center section. This piece will incorporate the main gear wells. Now the cockpit area is built up and in this kit, Airfix supplies crew members. Each of the main gear wells is five pieces and inserts into the lower stub wing. Then the stub wing is installed and one glues on the upper wing halves, followed by the lower.

The kit provides separate ailerons, flaps, elevators and rudder. There are rudder actuating mechanisms to glue in place which will keep the modeler from posing it other than the neutral position. Each of the engine nacelles comprises of seven pieces. This version uses stub exhaust pipes which could be attached at the end of the build to make painting easier. Included on the sprues are the collector types. All the engine bits are on the same sprue so I would wager that we can expect the Junkers powered version later. I hope they provide the right props.

Airfix continues to offer a wheels up option for those of you who like stand models and the various gear doors for this option are provided. For the rest of us, the gear legs are nicely molded and we get main wheels in this case that are not 'flat bottomed' as in other kits. We are also provided with both open and closed bomb bay door options. There are options for slid open cockpit and gunner's hatches. I very much like that all the clear bits can be installed from the outside after painting.

Instructions are nicely done providing some color to help with construction. As usual, only Humbrol paint numbers are provided except for the overall painting guide. Both options are RLM 70/71/65 though the first paint option looks like one of the shades is a dark brown. The box art plane is from KG 4 and is a museum plane in the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum. The other is with KG.55 and has a nice chalked rudder art work on it. The decals are nicely printed, but include no swastikas so you'll have to source those from somewhere else. Those wanting aftermarket, AIMS produces several sheets that include markings for the P-2 variant.

This is one of those kits that pretty much as soon as I got it home, I started working on it. Not sure why as I've a number of very nice Hasegawa He-111s in the stash, but there are times when the muse just strikes and this was one of them.

I started by prepainting everything I thought would be RLM 02. Sure, I'll have to repaint most of the parts after the sprue stubs and mold seams are removed, but it just seems easier to do things this way. That being said, I first installed the gunner's station panels into each of the fuselage halves and then started on a bit of detail painting. Airfix assumes that everything in there is RLM 02, but I'm sure that the radios and such would be black so I did that. The pilot and bombardier's seat were provided with leather seating areas.

During all this construction, there were many times when I needed to make a brief return to the paint shop to ensure proper coverage of areas where I'd sanded away pips and such, but thanks to using lacquer thinner with my Model Master enamels, this did not really slow things up that much. I also jumped around a bit. For instance, I assembled and installed the bomb racks in the lower wing center section a bit early in the job as well as gluing the horizontal stabs and elevators. The bomb racks should really be given a full filler treatment if you are a contest modeler. Though little will be seen of these, the IPMS anal probes will find the seams.

I also started building up the cockpit sections. The control column has a tiny join area. I'm not sure if Airfix forgot to drill a mounting hole or not, but there isn't one and it is only thanks to the soft plastic that a good join can be made. Eventually this will fit into a slot in the floor. I also started building up the wheel wells. These five piece constructs then fit onto a rather indistinct area on the lower wing center section. The fit here is about the least positive one I've run across so far. There has to be a more positive way of locating these. Best way to attach these is to be sure the glue is still pliable so you can adjust things a bit.

With those installed, I did a bit of interior dry-brushing and then installed a couple of cockpit bits and joined the fuselage halves together. Getting the bits over the stub spars is mandatory to getting a good fit. The lower wing section was then joined up and glued. Overall, the fit of this is quite good.

The wings were next. The instructions want you to attach the upper ones first. This ensures a good upper wing/fuselge join. The lower wings were next. I like that the extreme tips of the wings are part of the upper wing. This is true with the horizontal stabs as well. By using super glue, I was able to get a relatively smooth join where the lower wing attaches to the lower stub wing. Not filler free, but well thought out. There were some gaps at the front wing next to the fuselage that needed filled.

With the horizontal stabs/elevators and the rudder installed, I moved to the engine nacelles. I started with the left side and assembled the basic nacelle minus the various covers. This was then installed in the wing. Fit is fairly good though there were gaps towards the leading edge of the wing. I did the same for the other side and ran into a major glitch. You see, thanks to the lack of a positive location system for the wheel wells, this side was too far forward. This would not let the engine nacelle butt up into the opening in the wing. I removed the forward wheel well piece and this allowed the nacelle to be installed properly. However, the front of the landing gear attaches to the forward well wall. This required me to grind away on this piece and the inside of the gear well until it could be installed and even then I used a lot of super glue to hold it in place. How this will affect the installation of the main gear on this side is as yet, unknown.

I then installed the lower DF antenna, and tacked into place the closed versions of the bomb bay and wheel wells. The lower gondola was then installed. This is a tad longer than the opening and I found that unless I installed the forward section first and let it dry before gluing in the aft part, it would pop out. Naturally, a major masking session was done to prep this and the other clear bits. Eduard will sell a ton of masking sets for this kit.

When it came to installing the front part of the gondola, I deviated from the kit. Photos of P-2s in the references showed this was not clear but a solid piece. I can only assume the museum plane was either modified with a later piece while in service or the incorrect one was installed as the original was lost. The rear transparency was tacked in place as I'd have to remove it to install the gun later. I also glued in the ailerons and flaps. Airfix gives you the option of having the flaps lowered, but I found only one photo in the 'In Action' reference that had these lowered on the ground and that was a plane with the engines running in preparation for take-off. Apparently these were normally raised on the ground, probably to protect them from stone damage. So what this means to the modeler is that you can go for the dramatic and have them lowered or be historically accurate and have them raised. I did note that frequently the elevators were slightly drooped and in some photos these were raised at a pretty steep angle.

Next, the cockpit transparencies were glued in place. There are three separate pieces for the main section plus the forward gun piece and the upper hatch. Fit is fairly good and while one wishes there was another way of doing it that didn't require so many parts, the end result is good. For the side windows, I installed the two forward ones on each side as these are normally painted over. Check references as this was not always the case. The aft ones as well as the upper gun tub will be filled with tissue prior to painting.


No real surprises on this one. RLM 70/71 over RLM 65. I used Model Master enamels for the RLM 70 and 65, but their 71 is too light and should be a lot closer to the RLM 70 in darkness. For this shade, I used AK Interactive's RLM 71. This is an acrylic and was sprayed directly over the MM RLM 70 after the usual masking. One thing about splinter camo schemes is that you'll go through a lot of masking material.

After the usual '2 hours of masking for 10 minutes of spraying', I removed the camo masking and set to install the landing gear. I expected issues and I got them. For whatever reason, the main gear legs would not fit on the side for which they were designed. There are two possibilities. One is that the forward wheel well pieces were mis-numbered in the instructions. The second is that I got them mixed up. Since I assembled and installed each well separately, I'm leaning towards the first issue. This situation was taken care of by cutting the mounting tabs from the gear legs and super gluing them in place. I found the other struts fit fairly well, though I had issues getting the long struts to fit all the way from the back of the wheel well to the main strut.

Eventually, those were installed and then repainted where I scraped away the seams. The airframe was provided with a clear gloss coat and then I started applying decals. For this aircraft, I chose a plane from 1./KG55 with the large white buffalo on the left fuselage side.  This is on AIMS decals sheet #72D006. There is no indication of just when this scheme is from, but it has all the very early war insignia so I can only assume it was operational during the Polish Campaign and perhaps other early war invasions. The sheet does include swastikas and insignia, but no data markings. I started by applying all the markings from the AIMS sheet. The decals went on well, though took a while to come off the paper backing. I used a variety of data markings from the Airfix sheet. Enough to make things look busy.


Meanwhile, there were some other items which needed attention, I installed the wheels and the axle stubs scratched the paint rather badly during installation. The props were assembled. Both the blade assembly and the spinner cap are keyed, which is a nice touch. I painted the spinner white, but left the backing plate in RLM 70. Then I put the prop shaft through the back of the front of each engine nacelle. The prop shaft is way too small in diameter, which means that even if you do get the prop glued to it somehow, it will be quite loose. I glued mine to the back of the engine front and then glued them onto the nacelle. Fit is excellent.

After all the decals were in place, the airframe got a coat of clear matte. There were still a few more items to install. The upper gun tub was attached as was the upper radio mast, the lower HF trailing antenna and the rudder actuator. If you recall, this had to be left off until after the swastika is installed as the mount runs right through it. The exhaust were the next items, followed by the main gear doors.

I then installed the side fuselage windows. These really do not fit well. They are too thick and stand proud of the fuselage. I guess the fix is to carve away the lip around the inside of the windows, but that would mean you'd have to glue them in place much earlier in the build and then mask them. I also found that the landing light did not fit flush. The P-2 was generally fit with gun placements through the rear set of windows, and while Airfix did not include guns for these, they did include the proper windows so those were glued in. I attached guns to the nose piece, the lower fuselage mount and the upper mount before attaching the various clear sections more permanently.

Next was the installation of the radio wire. I had to make a mast for the fin as Airfix did not include that feature. I used a section of stretched sprue for this and once nice a dry, I used EZ Line for the radio wire. Pastels were used to dirty up the bottom of the aircraft as He-111s always left a lot of exhaust soot on the underside. The pitot tube was installed and finally, the props were attached. 


I like He-111s. Granted, they are rarely painted in fanciful markings and are pretty much in the same basic camo scheme most of the time. I do find masking all those windows to be a pain so have ordered a couple of mask sets for my Hasegawa kits. Airfix has done a fine job on this one. There are issue areas for sure, such as the side windows, the problems I had with the wheel wells and gear attachment, the lack of bombs and lack of a radio mast on the fin to name a few. However, it goes together with minimal fuss and provides options that the Hasegawa kit does not (open bomb bay, separate flight control surfaces), and it is reasonably priced for a new tool kit. I'm still not sure that Airfix got the size/shape of the engine coolant radiator housing right for a P as those were supposedly shorter and deeper than on the H, but I'm glad to have built the kit and the end result is satisfying, which really, is the whole point of building models.

He-111 in Action, George Punka, 2002.

October 2015

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