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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby SH48190
Fi 103A-1/Re-4 Reichenberg -- 1:48 Scale



The Second World War gave rise to a remarkable spectrum of new technologies that reshaped the world.  A few new technologies were less-than-propitious.  The Fi 103 can probably be counted in that category.  In order to overcome the lack of targeting precision of the first generation of V-1 vengeance weapons, the Fi 103 was a piloted V-1 for which the first combat sortie of a Fi 103 driver would quite likely be their last.  In this recent release, Special Hobby has re-released their earlier 1:48 scale Fi-103A-1/Re-4 Reichenberg kit that first appeared in 2006 in the MPM Production product line.  Let’s take a look.    

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As the outcome of the war in Europe became clear, and that Germany’s total defeat was inevitable, Hitler and the Nazis began to develop the vengeance-series of weapons.  While they would have very little to no effect on Allied fighting forces or war production, V-series weapons were effective in terrorizing the citizenry of the United Kingdom, and were generally used as retaliatory weapons following the Allied bombing of German cities.  The V-1 was of course infamous as the world’s first ground-launched cruise missile.  More formally designated as the Fi 103, the V-1, with its pulsejet powerplant, could outrun all but the fastest piston-engine aircraft.  Yet, the V-1 could be intercepted by the fastest of piston-engine aircraft of the day.  The V-2 could not be similarly countered, as it was the first theater-range ballistic missile that was launched in a parabolic arc to the edge of space to impact a target at supersonic speeds.  Still, the accuracy of these early missiles was poor, and early remote guidance systems were unreliable and not easy to come by towards the end of the war, since resources for weapons systems development were diverted elsewhere.  Therefore, a piloted version of the V-1 was explored.

In the summer of 1944, the German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight was tasked to develop a manned version of the Fiesler Fi 103, named the Reichenberg after a Czech city.  Literally within days, a prototype had been readied.  This V-1 variant featured a very small, very cramped cockpit just ahead of the pulsejet intake.  The cockpit had basic flight instruments (altimeter, airspeed, and a heading indicator).  The leading edge of the wings were hardened so as to cut through the cables of barrage balloons should they be encountered.  On paper, the idea was for a Reichenberg to be air-launched by an He 111, the pilot would fly to their target, jettison the canopy, and bail out just before impact.  Yet, the Germans knew that the proximity of the cockpit to the pulsejet intake meant a successful bail out was all but impossible, with the pilot likely ingested into the engine.

The first test flight occurred in September 1944 with a Fi 103A-1 dropped from an He 111, but this flight, and many other test sorties, ended in mishaps.  Famous German test pilots Heinz Kensche and Hanna Reitsch were involved in the program, and Reitsch survived several crashes of the Fi 103 test articles that she piloted.  At the same time, volunteers from the Luftwaffe were being trained in modified gliders as preparation for Fi 103 operations.  Yet, by November of 1944, the development of the Mistel program superseded whatever offensive returns the Reichenberg promised.  By early 1945, some 180 airframes had been produced, and as the Allies relentlessly closed in on Germany, the use of the Fi 103A-1 was seriously contemplated.  Yet, the new commander of the flying bomb squadron met with Hitler in early March 1945 and convinced him that suicide attacks were not part of the Germanic tradition.  While it came quite close to operational use, the Reichenberg never saw combat.  Several were captured and carefully studied by the Allies following the end of the war and contributed data to the reverse engineering of the V-series weapons as the U.S. began to develop its own missile and spaceflight vehicles. 

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The 1:48 scale Special Hobby kit of the Fi 103A-1/Re-4 is a pretty simple kit.  It consists of 20 injection-molded parts on one sprue, one clear part for the single-piece canopy, and one decal sheet.  The full-color instructions guide the build over five clear and well-illustrated steps.  The kit comes with decals for three schemes:

Strengths:  This kit originally came on the scene as an MPM kit in 2006.  This was a period when the quality of MPM kit were certainly improving upon their earlier limited run production technologies and reputation.  I’ve also been told that Special Hobby also re-mastered some of the mold and re-worked elements of the kit’s engineering.  The clear canopy part is new.  Previously, in the 2006 MPM kit, it was lower-quality vacuformed part.

Special Hobby’s Reichenberg is a pretty simple kit and falls into the “weekend build” category for me.  And, overall, it is rather nice!  Surfaces are smooth and free of defects.  Panel lines and rivets/fasteners are really nicely done: recessed, delicate, and not too wide or otherwise overstated.  There are also small mounting pins, at least to align the fuselage halves and the wings to the fuselage.  You can also position the separate trailing edge flaps on the wings.  The cockpit of the 1:1 scale Reichenberg was sparse, and so is the 1:48 scale version here.  The bottom of the bucket seat seems to be molded integrally into the left and right fuselage halves.   

The three paint schemes are quite interesting, especially Option A.  That Fi 103A-1 was cobbled together from at least a few different airframes that were painted differently, and that contrast is quite appealing.  Printed by Aviprint, the decals themselves look just fine from a technical printing point of view, and even the small maintenance stencils are legible.  They look great!

Weaknesses: In this kit, there no are alignment pins for the upper and lower wing halves, so be careful and test fit before you glue.  Some of the sprue gates leading to the parts are a bit large (as per MPM kits of this era), so a little extra care in removing some parts from the sprue and their cleanup will be necessary. There are also positive injection pin marks (sticking out of the inner surfaces of the wing halves).  Those will have to be eliminated to achieve a good fit.  Also, there are not parts for the pilot’s harnesses, and for accuracy’s sake, you’ll want to fabricate some on your own.

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The 1:48 scale Special Hobby kit of the piloted version of the V-1 buzz-bomb is simple and quite nice.  In the hands of most scale modelers who enjoy working with limited run injection-molded plastic kits, your Fi-103A-1/Re-4 should become a impressive and certainly unique model.    

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby/CMK for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
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Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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