RS 1/72 Avia B-135
|PRICE:||$25.15 from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run with photo etch fret|
The B.135/1 prototype attracted the attention of Bulgarian Air Force officers visiting the Avia plant, and a production contract for 12 aircraft and 62 engines was signed, as well as a license to allow an additional 50 airframes to be constructed by DAR as the DAR 11 Lyastovitsa (Bulgarian: "Лястовица"; "Swallow"). However, the DAR facilities proved to be incapable of producing the aircraft, and only the 12 Czech-built examples were ever made. Plans for further production were stopped by the RLM, which also interrupted engine deliveries after 35 units, and the Bulgarian Air Force was encouraged to purchase the Messerschmitt Bf 109 instead.
In service, the B-135s gave continual engine problems and were soon relegated to training roles. Four aircraft did, however, see combat on 30 March 1944 when they intercepted USAAF bomber formations encroaching on Bulgarian airspace after attacking Ploieşti. Some (Bulgarian) sources credit Lieutenant Yordan Ferdinandov with a B-24 Liberator kill that morning. According to Bílý all four Avias, led by Captain Atanasov, took part in the possible shooting down of a 4-engined bomber that day. The downed aircraft crashed in the area of Tran and Breznik according to the log of Lieutenant Yordan Ferdinandov.
Molded in tan plastic with a single piece clear canopy, the detailing on this kit is actually quite good. The surface has a somewhat rough feel to it and most of the larger parts have ejector towers that will need to be removed prior to assembly. There is framework detail on the inside of the fuselage halves and in the wheel wells.
The kit provides several parts that are not used on this variant. RS also does the fixed gear version and the instructions are geared to both aircraft types. As a result, there are redundant wheels, props, gear doors, exhaust and lower cowling engine intakes.
Photo etch is provided by Eduard and is in color. This includes a number of interior bits like the instrument panel and dials, seat harness and a myriad of smaller pieces. An oil cooler screen is also part of this fret.
Instructions are for both kits with the parts for the B-35 and B-135 noted. The drawings are nicely done and show where all the pieces go. They also note where there are alternate pieces. For the B-135, the cowling exhaust vents will need to be filled (unlike what is shown on the box art or profile). Decals are nicely printed by Boaagency and offer two schemes. One is the box art plane in RLM 70/71/65 with Bulgarian markings, while the other is a prototype in RLM 02/65
A nice looking kit of a rather obscure type that appeals to many of us. It is short run so expect a bit of additional work to get it together, but in all, it should turn out well.
Avia B-35/B-135, MBI, 2003
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