HobbyBoss 1/48 IAR-80
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The IAR 80 was a Romanian World War II low-wing, monoplane, all-metal monocoque fighter and ground-attack aircraft. When it first flew, in 1939, it was comparable to contemporary designs such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109B, the British Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, and the American Curtiss P-40B/Tomahawk Mk.I and superior to the Dutch Fokker D.XXI and Polish PZL P.24. However, production problems and lack of available armament delayed entry of the IAR 80 into service until 1941. It remained in front-line use until 1944.
In December 1939, production of the IAR 80 started, although the armament proved to be a serious problem. The prototype had mounted only two Belgian-made Fabrique Nationale 7.92 mm machine guns, a licensed modification of the Browning .30 cal. This armament was not heavy enough against modern aircraft, and the production model was expected to mount six. The German invasion of Belgium in 1940 suspended the supply from FN, and there was no suitable replacement. Lacking armament, production was halted. The Germans only allowed the delivery of the guns to resume after Romania joined the Axis in November 1940. As a result the first production IAR 80 didn't roll off the line until January 1941, although the first batch of 20 were delivered by the middle of February. The armament supply remained inadequate so production models only carried four guns.
The initial batch of fighters was well received by the Romanian pilots, but they found the aircraft underpowered and lacking firepower. In order to address this, the aircraft mounted the 960 hp (720 kW) K14-IV C32 engine in the 21st through 50th examples, but the firepower concern could not be resolved at the time.
This is not the first IAR-80 to be kitted in this scale with LTD producing a short run variant many years ago. However, I would have to say that this is probably going to be the easiest one to build.
Cockpit is nicely done with photo etch used for the seat harness and a left side side plate. There is a decal for the instrument panel. Interestingly, the instructions have you paint the bits that fit on the floor and the instrument panel piece in RLM 66 and the rest of the interior in RLM 02. A museum plane shows most the cockpit in RLM 02 so your choice. Just to add to the confusion, when I built my Azur/FRROM 1/32 model, the instructions called for RLM 76.
The engine is provided as two rows with each row being a front and rea half. There is an exhaust collector piece for the back and in the font are push rods. Wings are a full lower section that includes a portion of the lower rear fuselage with upper halves. Gun barrels are molded on the lower wings. Ailerons are separate while the rudder and horizontal stabs are a single piece. The cowling is a right and left side so you'll probably have a seam to deal with there. Canopy and windscreen are separate and shown in the closed position. Main landing gear has a two piece fork for the two piece wheels. There are separate aileron mass balances and an oil cooler scoop without the sand filter. There is a one-piece prop with a separate spinner.
Instructions are nicely drawn with minimal color information. Markings are for two near identical airplanes. Both are in green/brown/light blue with yellow engine cowling, rear fuselage band and lower wing tips. Decals are nicely printed, but to my eye the yellow is too light and the blue on the rudder stripes is nearly black. Please note that I darkened the decal image so you could at least see there are white markings on it. I would recommend painting the rudder. There used to be aftermarket decals for this version, but everywhere I've looked they are sold out.
Hobby Boss has a checkered reputation in terms of accuracy, but most of the kits I've built from them have gone together quite well. I anticipate this one to be no different and will add another interesting model to your shelves.
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