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KIT REVIEW


Revell He 177A-5 "Greif" -- 1:72 Scale



During WWII, the Luftwaffe never had a strategic bomber force comparable to that of the Allies.  The only true strategic or heavy bomber the Germans ever developed was the Heinkel He 177 Greif.  Yet, the He 177 had its share of significant developmental problems and was never used widely in its intended role before they were grounded by the end of the war.  In this release, Revell has re-popped their 2000 release of the Greif and here, we take a look at the latest issue of this kit.         

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The Heinkel He 177 Greif (or Griffin, in English) was a long-range heavy bomber flown by the Luftwaffe during World War II.  The origins of the He 177 date back to 1936 and a request for a two-engine strategic bomber with an eye to be employed against the Soviets.  A two-engine strategic bomber would require new engines that would push the technological envelope, and the twin-crankcase DB 606 "power system" engine was developed for this airplane.  It also had Fowler flaps and a nose glazing not all that different than the future B-29.  The first of eight prototypes flew in November 1939.  Production began in 1942 across five variants and more than 1,500 airframes were procured by 1944.

In its flight test program and into its service life, the He 177 experienced a number of problems that severely hampered its operational effectiveness.  Airframe strength and engine cooling issues were perennial problems.  The Luftwaffe’s stubborn requirement for a two-engine, long-range heavy bomber forced into existence a pair of engines that were as powerful as they were flawed.  Thus, the most significant issue for the Greif was that the DB 606s frequently caught fire in flight resulting in the loss of the airplane.  The 177 was nicknamed “The Luftwaffe’s Lighter” and “The Flaming Coffin” by her crews.  Stability issues also made it a relatively poor strategic bomber and a common tactic was to make bomb runs in shallow dives with the lowest possible engine RPMs.

The Greif eventually saw service primarily on the Eastern Front but it was used inconsistently as performance and serviceability issues were its own worst enemy.  For instance, during the battle for Stalingrad, 13 Greif sorties were flown, and seven of those missions ended with bombers lost to engine fires.  Of the 14 brand-new He 177s that participated in the bombing of southern Britain in Operation STEINBOCK, four reached London and only three made it home.  The largest mass formation of He 177s included about 90 airplanes in an attack on targets outside of Moscow in July 1944.  Yet, the increasing degree of Allied air superiority over mainland Europe progressively backed the He 177 into a corner.  By summer 1944, the He 177 was grounded as production ended and all efforts at Heinkel were ordered to support the Luftwaffe’s Emergency Fighter Program.

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Revell’s 1:72 He 177A-5 comes on eight sprues holding a total of 217 parts, with another 17 clear parts on another clear sprue.  The full-color instructions guide the build over some 70 steps.  The markings come on a single decal sheet for the following airplanes:   

Strengths:  Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, Revell of Germany (and now, it’s just Revell) has been producing consistently high quality kits.  While this tooling is almost 20 years old now, it has stood the test of time quite nicely and holds its own (mostly) against the new tool kits of today.  There have a number of He 177 kits over the years, and I remember fondly the MPM/HML resin kit from 1998 and the later 1:48 scale MPM injection-molded boxings of the big bomber.  However, in 1:72 scale, you can choose from long out-of-production Airfix offerings along with a few others from obscure manufacturers.  Here, Revell indeed provides the best 1:72 scale kit of the Greif.  

This boxing has parts to represent an He 177A-5, of which 826 were built in multiple subvariants.  These were based on the He 177A-3 airframe that featured an extended rear fuselage, strengthened wing, shortened main gear, and bomb racks on the wings.
Parts breakdown is good – simple, straightforward, and logical.  Test fitting of the wings and fuselage revealed perfect fit.  Overall molding quality is excellent.  Recessed surface details are very cleanly executed especially for a 1:72 scale kit (but see below).  Interior detail is also very nice.  I tend to think the cockpit is a real highlight of this kit – and with that big front glazing, it does need to be good.  The defensive armament of the He 177A-5 was pretty extensive as the airplane bristled with machine guns, and builders will like what they have from the top turret to the tail gunner’s position.

There’s a full bomb bay included in this kit (but again, see below).  To fill that space, the kit provides a set of bombs (I think they are of the 1,000-kilo variety).  There’s also a trio of Fritz-X guided bombs (early forerunners to today’s smart munitions).  These are externally mounted on the fuselage centerline station and the outer wing pylons.  Talk about distinctive!  Those will be a very impressive addition to the appearance of the finished model.  The engines also look good and include the exhaust stacks and radiators which are nicely represented.  Detail on the big main landing gear and tires are really solid for this scale.  Elevator and aileron hinges, along with the mass balancers, are all provided as small individual parts.

The markings options, while limited to two schemes, are quite interesting.  If you go for Option B, the painting of the Mänder wave pattern camouflage scheme on the topside of Werknummer 550131 will be challenging – but hopefully fun – to pull off properly.  The decals were printed by Zanchetti and they bear no technical flaws or other faults. 

Weaknesses:  A few things to keep in mind when approaching this kit.  First, keep an eye out for any visible ejection pin markings that might be visible in the inside of the fuselage – especially the cockpit sidewalls.  Also, as is the case with many Revell kits, the exterior details seem simplified.  The recessed panels are nice, but there’s not a single representation of a single rivet on the airframe.  The same kind of simplification can be seen in the bomb bay which sure does look good, though it is basic in my opinion.  The seatbelts are represented by decals, and that’s not my personal preference for these kinds of details.  As a kit produced in Germany and molded in Poland, you won’t find swastika tail markings on the decal sheet, but those can be sourced almost effortlessly from many different aftermarket sources.  Finally, at least in my review sample, the clear nose glazing has a blemish surrounding the machine gun port and the adjacent plastic seems crazed.  It’s not a good look…

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The Heinkel He 177 Greif was a very distinctive WWII bomber, unique in its appearance and troubled history.  Revell’s 1:72 scale He 177A-5 is the best of its kind in this scale.  This kit represents a good combination of fit, detail, markings, and overall allure that’s hard to beat for scale modelers focused on WWII Luftwaffe, bombers of any era, and kits of unique and unusual subject matter.
 
Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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