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KIT REVIEW


Revell Messerschmitt Me 262A-1/A-2 -- 1:32 Scale



The Me 262 Schwalbe will always be remembered as the world’s first operational jet fighter.  It has also been a favorite subject among scale modelers for decades.  The standard day fighter version outclassed everything the Allies had, and nearly 30 different variants were either produced (often in very small numbers) or planned.  Here, let’s take a look at Revell’s recent 1:32 scale release of the mainstay Me 262A-1/A-2.

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Germany led the world in jet engine technology during the mid- to late 1930s.  As they invaded Poland in 1939, the jet-powered Heinkel 189 made history with its first flight.  By 1941, Messerschmitt’s first Me 262 got into the air, but the extensive engineering challenges of the new airframe and powerplant combination, difficulties with engine reliability, shortages of critical raw materials, and political interference from the Nazi leadership were all factors that confounded the development and deployment of an airplane that would have likely made a very significant impact on the course of the air war over Europe.

By April 1944, Me 262A-1s finally saw their first operational flights.  The airplane made a big impression not only due to a top speed of 530 mph and a rocket-like rate of climb, but also due to the effective tactics developed by the Luftwaffe when they struck Allied bomber formations.  The Allied response was to attack the Me 262 on take-off or landing when it was slowest and most vulnerable.  Also, if one could drag the jet into a turning fight where the Me 262 would bleed off airspeed, its relatively high wing loading and poor turning radius would allow piston-engine fighters such as a P-51 to get behind them and make a kill.  By war’s end, the Me 262 claimed at least 540 kills to around 100 lost in combat.  A sustained kill-to-loss ratio like that was exactly what the Germans needed to reshape the air war in their favor, but it was too little, too late.

The Me 262A-1 was the primary production variant and today would be called a multi-role fighter-bomber.  The Me 262 A-2a Sturmvogel was the definitive ground attack variant that was fitted with only the two lower 30 mm cannons.

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The Revell Me 262A-1/A-2 contains 203 light gray injection molded parts on 13 sprues and eight clear parts on two sprues.  The instruction booklet is printed in color and assembly is detailed over 94 steps.  The markings come on a single Zanchetti-printed decal sheet for the following two airplanes:   

Strengths:  The level of detail, engineering, and fit in this kit is pleasantly surprising.  I am, of course, comparing it with the more expensive Trumpeter kit, and the Revell 262 more than holds its own in comparison. 

One of the first things I noticed was surface detail.  The recessed panel lines are delicate and nicely in-scale.  Also, the fuselage is relatively free of recessed rivet details (in contrast to the heavily over-riveted Trumpeter kit).  However, Revell has it right:  while there were plenty of rivets, they were puttied over at the factory and sanded smooth so as to make the fuselage as aerodynamic as possible.  Only the right number and locations of fasteners (e.g., maintenance access panels, wing surfaces) are present. 

The cockpit is very nicely detailed (for the most part, but see below).  The windscreen is part of a larger, extended clear fairing that will make gluing in and painting the windscreen very easy.  The gun bay in the nose can be positioned open or closed.  If opened, the builder has to cut the access covers from part C74 (all of 30 seconds of work with a decent razor saw) to reveal all the parts that are provided for the four MK108 cannons, feed and ejection chutes, and nicely executed forward and rear gun bay bulkheads.  The same can be said regarding the detail in the gear wells, though the builder can add some degree of extra plumbing if they wish.

Leading edge slats, flaps, ailerons, elevators, and the rudder are separate parts and can be positioned as desired.  However, if positioned neutral, the leading edge slat rollers will have to be removed.  The kit also features a pair of very nicely detailed Jumo 004 powerplants (but see below).  As noted earlier, the level of detail in this kit is very appealing, especially with parts such as the landing gear, tires, drop tanks, and many little actuators and rods.  For underwing stores, bombs and rockets are supplied.

The clear parts look beautiful with great optical quality.  Zanchetti did a fine job of printing the decals.  Everything is perfectly in register, and the complete set of maintenance stencils is legible.  Normally, I will critique a kit when instrument dial faces are flat leaving nothing for detail painters (like me) to work with.  But here, the decal instrument faces are well done such that they are acceptable alternatives if painting instrument panels is not your thing.  Markings option #2 looks quite interesting and also hard to pull off with an airbrush.  My kind of challenge!

Weaknesses:  The largest issue is that I believe the Me 262A-2 should only have one set of nose cannons (the two 30mms on the bottom), but the instructions do not differentiate between A-1 and A-2 configurations.  I encourage interested scale modelers to investigate the configuration differences here if they go for markings option #2.  Shoulder harnesses and lap belts are provided, but they are provided as decals.  In this age of photoetched metal parts, it is a little disappointing that these important details are given such short shrift.  The Jumo engines disappear inside the completed engine nacelles with no real provision to have any part of them displayed.  Some surgery and extra detailing will be needed if a builder wants to go this way.  Also, there are no swastikas on the decal sheet since this kit is produced and sold in Germany, but sourcing those from another kit or an aftermarket source should be easy.

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Revell has produced what looks like another really strong kit of the famous Me 262 jet fighter.  In the box, it is on par with the Trumpeter kit, and in some respects, it is more accurate, too.  With an MSRP of $55.75, it also represents an excellent value.  I look forward to one day building this kit.

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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