by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Among the latest releases from MMP is a very welcome study of the Henschel Hs 123 dive-bomber. Developed in the early 1930s for the newly-born Luftwaffe, the Hs 123 was intended to combine the successful close support tactics employed in WW1 with the new art of dive-bombing. Despite being among the last biplanes used operationally, this seemly obsolescent machine proved invaluable, especially on the Eastern Front, where its very simplicity helped it withstand the appalling conditions that often grounded later, more sophisticated aircraft.
MMP’s new book by Robert Panek comprises 136 pages in a densely packed softbound volume. The book combines well written and informative text with period photos and technical drawings, full-colour profiles and 1:72 scale drawings.
The coverage breaks down into the following basic sections:
Introduction & Creating the Design
Development through the various prototypes
From a modeller’s point of view the final section will likely be the primary area of interest. With no surviving airframe to examine, MMP have assembled a “virtual” walkaround from vintage B&W photos and illustrations taken from the original technical manuals. The result is a goldmine of information that explores the aircraft in far greater depth than I’ve ever seen previously, giving you everything you need to really go to town superdetailing a kit. Along with the period shots, a modern colour drawing of the instrument panel is included, together with a handy link to an online version that allows you to view enlargements of the items.
The areas covered in detail are:
Armament & Stores
Anyone seeking inspiration for colour schemes will find plenty in the high quality profiles that intersperse the historical section. The Hs 123 is illustrated throughout its career, from its early Luftwaffe and Kondor Legion days, through the early successes in Europe and the bitter fighting in the East, to a selection of really interesting foreign service schemes in Spanish and Chinese colours.
The book includes a number of useful 1:72 drawings, showing the development through the prototypes and the production Hs 123A and ‘B series. New to me was the enclosed cockpit ‘V6 - prototype for the aborted Hs 123C that would also have sported a pair of additional MG17s. One can’t help but wonder how welcome that enclosed cockpit would have been during the freezing Russian winters the Schlachtgruppen pilots were forced to endure…
The inclusion of only 1:72 drawings may disappoint modellers building the 1:32 AlleyCat (ex-Montex) resin model, and the old Esci quarterscale kit in its various incarnations - plus the really exciting forthcoming GasPatch 1:48 new-tool model due for release later this year (a flyer for which is included in the book). Of course, you could always enlarge the plans yourself, but MMP have published a supplementary volume of 1:48 and 1:32 scale plans to accompany the book. This does make sense in keeping the cost of the main volume down, especially for aircraft enthusiasts for whom the duplicated scale drawings would be of little interest.
ConclusionMMP’s book is a real “must” for anyone interested in the tough little Hs 123, whether your interest is as an historian or a modeller, providing a wealth of detail that I’ve never found before. It forms both a very interesting read, plus an indispensable modelling reference that I can recommended wholeheartedly. Now, the question is how to not get too impatient waiting for that new GasPatch kit!...
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