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KIT REVIEW


Revell Bücker Bü 131D -- 1:32 Scale



One of the most ubiquitous basic trainers produced by Germany during the interwar years was the Bücker Bü 131 – the very last biplane ever manufactured in Germany.  Despite its important role in history, the Bü 131 has not been well represented in most scales (especially 1:32 scale).  In 2018, ICM from the Ukraine released a new-tool large scale Bü 131, and in 2019, Revell rather quickly picked up the kit for re-boxing in their product line.  A copy of the Revell/ICM Bü 131D recently arrived at Detail & Scale, so let’s see what’s inside the box.  

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The Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann (or Young Man) was a 1930s-era basic training aircraft used by the Luftwaffe during WWII.  Reliable and solid trainers were needed as the German Luftwaffe continued to be reconstituted in 1930s.  Carl Bücker, a veteran of WWI, developed “sport planes” at his company, Bücker-Flugzeugbau.  Their first aircraft was the Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, a tandem biplane employed by the Luftwaffe beginning in 1935 in the basic trainer role. 

The Bü 131 was the German equivalent of the DeHaviland Tiger Moth.  It was small, agile, and the wings were slightly swept.  The open cockpits seated a crew of two (student and instructor pilot) and its construction featured steel tubing and wood with fabric and metal skinning.  The aircraft demonstrated superior performance and excellent maneuverability.  Prewar and wartime foreign customers included Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, South Africa, Japan, and Yugoslavia.  Much of the wartime Bü 131 production run was outsourced to Czechoslovakia.  More than 5,000 airframes were eventually built including many under license.  Despite the end of the war, Bü 131s remained in service into the 1960s around the world and today more than 200 are still flying with private owners.  The Jungmann was such a classic and enduring a design that a Polish company started to manufacture new-build 131s in the 1990s for the civil sport plane market.   

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Revell’s 1:32 Bü 131D kit comes on just two injection molded polystyrene sprues and contains 88 parts.  Another four parts come on one clear sprue.  The instructions guide the build over 50 steps.  The markings come on a single Zanchetti-printed decal sheet for the following two airplanes:   

Strengths:  When Revell re-boxes and re-issues someone else’s kits they often make a really great choice in terms of quality and value to the scale modeler.  ICM’s 1:32 scale Bü 131D is no exception.  From my conversations with various folks, this kit has, in fact, really surprised and intrigued a lot of builders out there.  Your reviewer is now one of them.

First, the Bü 131D is really nicely manufactured.  ICM has been very successful in translating their all-CAD design process to great, high-fidelity molds.  The parts here are gorgeous for injection-molded plastic (though see below).  The fabric texture of the wings and fuselage is sublime, and they indeed contrast with the ultra-smooth surface of parts that represent the metal parts of the airplane, such as the engine and the engine cowling.  The cockpit is a little on the simplified side (again, see below) but what’s there is quite nice, to include the cockpit frame tubing.    

Parts breakdown for the Jungmann is excellent – simple, straightforward, and logical.  For a 1:32 scale kit, this should be a quick, no-frills-build.  No one can accuse of ICM of any “over-engineering” here.  Test fitting of the wings and fuselage revealed perfect fit.  There are only a few panel lines and rivets, and they are delicately and proportionally recessed details.  The detail on the engine is really nice, and there’s no reason why you could not leave off some or all of the cowling parts to display the powerplant.  The hinged crew access doors are shown in the instructions to assembled in the “up” position, but there’s no reason why you can’t position them open.  The interplane struts, landing gear, wheels, and tires look very nice as well, and there’s even a little bit of wheel brake detail, too.  The clear parts are flawless.

The decals look to be very well printed with all the colors in register.  The instructions provide a clear rigging diagram, and for the Bü 131D, rigging is a pretty simple affair.

Weaknesses:  Only a few things to note here as potential issues: there’s a bit of a sink mark on the aft portion of each fuselage half.  The cockpit is a simplified with unrealistic decal seat belts.  The instrument dial faces are represented only by decals.  The exhaust stacks have flat-faced end profiles and would need to be drilled out to appear realistic in this scale.    

Perhaps my biggest gripe are the choices in markings options.  These two schemes are DRAB.  Jungmanns carried diverse, high-visibility schemes over the years and choosing something with a little more visual appeal from the historical record would have been pretty easy.  A plastic kit such as this is pretty inspiring.  Markings such as these are not…

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Revell’s re-issue of the 1:32 scale ICM kit of the Bü 131D Jungmann is a hit.  This kit is the best Jungmann in any scale.  If you get the Revell/ICM Bü 131D, I do recommend spending a little more for aftermarket details to really bring out the best qualities of this kit.  There are aftermarket cockpit details, seatbelts, other detail parts, and masking sets available from Eduard, Aries, Quickboost, HGW, and others, along with some aftermarket decal sheets (!).  However you choose to go about your Bü 131D project, this kit represents a great combination of features and quality that fans of trainer aircraft, 1930s-era biplanes, and Luftwaffe subject matter will really enjoy. 

Sincere thanks are owed to Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.revell.com/germany.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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