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KIT REVIEW


REVELL 04995 Me 262B-1/U-1 Night Fighter
1:32 Scale

The Me 262 Schwalbe will forever be known as the world’s first operational jet fighter.  It has also been a favorite subject among scale modelers for decades.  Aside from the standard day fighter that outclassed everything the Allies had, nearly 30 different variants were either produced (often in very small numbers) or planned, including an experimental night fighter developed from the two-seat trainer version of the Me 262.  Here, let’s take a look at Revell of Germany’s 1:32 scale release of this airplane, the Me 262B-1/U-1 night fighter.         

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Germany led the world in jet engine technology in the mid- to late 1930s, and just 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 an even greater 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 used 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 the 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.  

There were more than two dozen versions of the Me 262, some of which had seen the light of day, while others were still only on paper.  Pilot training and transition to jet aircraft was a major concern, so the Me 262B-1was developed as two-seat trainer.  The fuel tank behind the pilot’s seat was removed and a second cockpit for an instructor pilot was added in that space.

Given its heavy armament, speed, and potential for a radar systems operator in the back seat, at least seven trainers were converted into provisional night fighters.  They were fitted with the FuG 218 Neptun high-VHF band radar set featuring the Hirschgeweih (or stag's antlers) configuration with a set of eight dipole antennas.  Re-designated as the Me 262B-1/U-1, this small fleet of night fighters flew with 10 Staffel Nachtjagdgeschwader 11 near Berlin and claimed most of the 13 DeHaviland Mosquitoes lost over the German capital during the first three months of 1945.  At least one of the night fighters survived the war and was handed over to the RAF for testing and evaluation.

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The Revell of Germany Me 262B-1/U-1 contains 213 light gray injection molded parts on 11 sprues and nine clear parts on two sprues.  The instruction booklet is printed in color and assembly is detailed over 94 steps.  One decal sheet is included and has markings for two airframes:  

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 of Germany 262 more than holds its own in comparison.  In fact, I’d say it shines.

One of the first things I noticed was surface detail.  The recessed panel lines are delicate and nicely in-scale.  Also, I noticed that the fuselage is relatively free of recessed rivet details (in contrast to the heavily-riveted Trumpeter kit).  However, Revell of Germany 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; see below) including the radar set and it will all build into a very good replica in and of itself.  I also really like the drop-in cockpit coaming.  Also, 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 but 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, and especially with parts such as the landing gear, tires, drop tanks, many little actuators and rods, and the dipole antennas.  The antennas are very fine, so separate them from the sprues and handle with care.  In my sample, one of the antennas was bent just sitting on the sprue.

The clear parts look beautiful with great optical quality.  The decals were researched and designed by AirDOC.  I’m not sure who printed the decal sheet (maybe Cartograf?) but the quality is impeccable.  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 so well done there’s really no excuse NOT to use the kit-supplied decals.     

Weaknesses:  I can identify a few shortcomings in this kit.  First, 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 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.     

Overall, this is a great kit of this German night fighter, and in 1:32 scale, too.  It is on par with the Trumpeter kit, and in some respects, is more accurate, too.  Hats off to Revell of Germany for producing such an impressive kit.  With an MSRP of $40.00, it also represents an excellent value.  It will make a great addition to my collection of WWII night fighters, and I look forward to one day building this kit.           

Sincere thanks are owed to Revell of Germany for the review sample. You visit them on the web http://www.revell.com/germany and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/revell.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

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Just Released!

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OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
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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
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