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KIT REVIEW


Revell of Germany #03928
Heinkel He 219A-0/A-2 -- 1:32 Scale



From the P-61 Black Widow to the Bf-110G-4 and the Nakajima Gekko, WWII-era nightfighters hold a special allure.  Perhaps their unique and dangerous missions, embodiments of technological innovation, or unique appearances grab the scale modeler’s eye and imagination.  Of all the WWII nightfighters, the He 219 Uhu might be considered the pinnacle of the German effort in this specialized niche of aerial warfare.  Tamiya issued a definitive 1:48 scale He 219 in 1997, and in 2012 and 2013, Revell of Germany and Zoukei-mura, respectively, released 1:32 scale He 219s.  The latest large-scale kit of the big nightfighter is Revell of Germany’s He 219A-0/A-2.  A review sample recently landed on the Detail & Scale review bench, and here, we take a close look at this kit.      

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The strategy underlying Allied bombing of Germany during the Second World War involved the USAAF conducting daylight raids while the RAF opted for visual stealth and struck principally under the cover of darkness.  The need to detect, intercept, and thwart the nighttime raiders was clearly a high priority for the Germans.  The Luftwaffe began to fit some of its heavy fighters and light bombers, such as the Do 217, Ju 88, and Bf 110, with primitive radars allowing them to find and attack targets in darkness.  Yet, what could be argued as the definitive German nightfighter suffered an unnecessarily protracted and painful developmental process largely driven by an long-standing political rivalry and in-fighting between the contentious and autocratic Erhard Milch, who managed aircraft construction for the RLM (German Aviation Ministry), Josef Kammhuber, commander of the German nightfighter forces, and Ernst Heinkel, the manufacturer.  

The story of the He 219 started in the 1940 with Heinkel’s high-speed P.1055 bomber project.  This advanced design featured a pressurized cockpit, dual ejection seats (the first planned for combat aircraft), tricycle landing gear, and the experimental dual-crankcase DB 610 "power system" engines that promised a maximum speed of around 470 MPH.  This design was rejected as too risky, and subsequent refined designs were again dismissed in 1941.  With Kammhuber’s increasingly urgent need for nightfighters, the P.1055 became the P.1060 and incorporated the DB 603 powerplant.  The RLM again rejected the nascent He 219 in favor of new Ju 88 and Me 210 nightfighters.  Arguably, Milch had it out for this airplane and Heinkel in particular.   

Yet, Ernst Heinkel was so sure of the design that he put up his own money to build a prototype that was completed in early 1942.  Delays with the DB 603G engine prevented its first flight until November 1942.  This heavy fighter was a beast – tough, very fast, and unquestionably deadly.  It was armed with a pair of MG 151/20 20 mm cannons in the wing roots with four more MG 151s mounted to a ventral fuselage tray (a direct hit with only four or five 20mm rounds could bring down a bomber).  It also featured rearward-facing defensive machine guns.  Upon seeing the prototype, Kammhuber was so impressed that he immediately ordered it into production.  Milch was enraged, and he retaliated by cancelling the program (again) and personally went after Kammhuber’s job, but delays with the Ju 388 meant there was only one choice to fill in the gap.  The He 219 was inevitably put into production.  

By June 1943, several of the prototypes were rushed into front-line operational testing. These early models flew with the Lichtenstein B/C or C-1 UHF-band radar using the Matratze 32-dipole radar antennae on the nose.  Its combat debut came on the night of 11–12 June 1943 when the V9 prototype and shot down five RAF bombers.  The He 219A-0 was the first production variant and 104 were built.  The A-0 was armed with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in the wing roots and up to four 20 mm or 30 mm cannon in a ventral cannon bay.  The first 15 airframes were delivered with the 490 MHz UHF-band FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1 radar with the four 8x-dipole Matratze antennas.  The subsequent A-2 variant featured longer engine nacelles containing additional gas, and two upward and forward firing 30 mm MK 108 cannons, also known as the Schräge Musik (Jazz or “Slanted” Music) guns.  The A-2 was fitted with the 90 MHz VHF-band FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar and the larger, four 2x dipole Hirschgeweih antennas.  While this radar set had better accuracy and could see better through chaff jamming, it came with a penalty of significant drag.  Some 84 examples of the A-2 were built by the end of 1944.

The He 219, dubbed the Uhu (or Owl), proved to be a very effective nightfighter.  It was credited with more than 108 bomber kills with an additional 12 kills of the previously untouchable Mosquito – all incurred at a cost of 20 Uhus lost in combat.  Some 60 others were crashed due to mechanical issues or pilot error.  When employed, the catapult actuated ejection seats worked rather well.  By early 1945, several additional variants were planned but Allied bombing began to seriously disrupt production and the Do 335 production line increasing siphoned-off the limited number of Daimler Benz powerplants.  Following the end of the war, the remaining He 219s were scrapped save one:  He 219A-2 Werknummer 290 202, which was shipped to the United States for flight testing.  After decades of storage, it began to undergo a long and slow restoration, and while not fully reassembled today, the fuselage, wings, and engines are on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center just outside of Washington, D.C.  Even in pieces, it is an impressive airplane more than 70 years after 290 202 first flew.

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Revell of Germany’s 1:32 scale He 219A-0/A-2 Uhu is based on their 2013 new-tool kit of the He 219A-2/A-5/A-7 and contains the parts to build the earlier variants.  It features 247 light gray injection molded parts on 14 sprues and 12 clear parts on two clear sprues.  The instructions guide the build over 77 steps.  A single decal sheet comes with markings for three Uhus:

Strengths: Revell of Germany’s 1:32 scale He 219 has all the things going for it that made a modern injection-molded kit a winner:  great detail, a high degree of accuracy, smart engineering, and excellent fit.  Since I live right by the Udvar-Hazy Center, I dropped by and compared what I saw in this kit with the only surviving Uhu.  And what I saw appears to confirm this is an excellent He 219.  Upon inspecting the sprues, the fidelity and accuracy of recessed external surface details (panel lines, rivets, and fasteners) are quite accurate.
One of the highlights of the kit is certainly the cockpit, and this is one excellent example of injection-molding.  The entire cockpit tub is filled with rich detail, from the side consoles to the sidewalls, ejection seats, yoke, gunsight, and more.  Perhaps the best element of the cockpit is the radar set.  Its surface detail and relief rivals that of the best resin casting (!!), and that says a lot, in my opinion. 

This is a big model of a big heavy fighter with a wingspan of 20” in 1:32 scale.  The kit features a pair of wing spars that not only help anchor the wings but assists in the proper alignment of the left and right fuselage halves.  The long engine nacelles look correct in terms of shape and proportion.  Engine faces and flame dampeners are good, too, and along with the landing gear, appear accurate.

The kit contains the optional four 8x-dipole Matratze and four 2x dipole Hirschgeweih antennas, and depending on which version you’ll build, there’s three different antenna configurations possible.  Control surfaces, from the flaps to ailerons, rudders, and elevators are all separate parts and can be positioned as desired.  The retractable boarding ladder can be built in the dropped position and the canopy may be positioned in the open configuration.  The clear parts include the A-0 and A-2 rear fixed canopies (they are different between the two variants).  Optical quality looks great, too.    

The markings options decals encapsulate the range of early He 219 markings and external configurations.  They were researched by Andreas Duda and designed by AirDOC.  The –C following the decal sheet serial number indicates this is a Cartograf-printed sheet.  Everything is in perfect register and the matte carrier film is highly restrained.     

Weaknesses:  A few areas of this kit could be a little more effective or executed differently for a better effect.  First, reflecting my own personal bias as a scale modeler, I am not a fan of either the unrealistic molded-on belt details seen on the ejection seats and the decal belts included in this kit.  For the most realistic approach, separate photetched metal belts are the best way to go, but here, Revell of Germany is trying to reach the widest range of scale modelers (even though this is a Level 5-difficulty kit), so this is not reflective of a lazy manufacturer. 

Regarding instrument panel decals – they are really nicely printed and a good choice to use in the kit’s really great cockpit. Yet, instrument clusters are printed in a single block of carrier film, which means that carrier film is going to be draped over uneven instrument panel faces.  Decal softening solution, such as Micro-Sol, will be needed.  Other manufacturers such as Eduard and Zoukei-mura have lately been printing individual instrument faces as individual decals in some of their kits, and that to me is the optimal way to go.  I’d also argue that the gear wells are rather simplified and they lack all forms of plumbing.  And as might be expected, since this kit is produced in Germany, there are no swastikas included on the decal sheet, and to have the most accurate markings possible, you’ll have to get those from any one of the multitude of aftermarket decal sources.

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Overall, I am quite impressed by the Revell of Germany 1:32 scale He 219A-0/A-2 kit.  It’s got great detail, design, and construction/markings options.  As an in-the-box review, I’ve up to this point evaluated this kit on its own merits, but comparison to the 1:32 scale He 219 by Zoukei-mura is, of course, inevitable.  And… on several levels, this kit holds it own when side-by-side with Zoukei-mura kit.  That is to say that the quality of the high-quality surface details, shapes, and configuration are very, very comparable.  While they approach the parts breakdown and other cockpit details a bit differently, quality there again is quite similar.  The Revell of Germany kit certainly does not have the panache of the Zoukei-mura kit and it also lacks the gorgeous wealth of internal details that come in that kit such as the complete powerplants, open detailed spine, ammo belt access panels, and engine oil tanks.  But if you’re interested in doing a straight-up He 219 configured for flight, this kit can certainly do the job and do it well – and at less than half the price, it’s a great value, too.  

We extend our sincere thanks to Revell of Germany 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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