Heller's D-Day Air Assault set brings together in one box some old friends, all of which have been available separately in the past. The set arrives in an attractive end-opening box and comprises:
1 x Airspeed Horsa
1 x Jeep
1 x Set of British paratroopers
1 x Set of German infantry
Added to this is a bag containing a tube of plastic cement, 6 x pots of acrylic paints and a medium size brush.
This is the Italeri kit which first appeared in the 1970s. Considering its age, the quality of moulding is still very good indeed, with just a little sign of flash starting to creep in. The Horsa comprises:
106 x grey styrene parts (13 not needed)
19 x clear styrene parts
As you'd expect from a 1970s vintage kit, the surface detailing consists mostly of raised panel lines, but the Horsa was an extremely basic airframe, so there's not much to re-scribe, should you wish to do so. The fabric areas are treated to a "sack-cloth" finish, typical of kits of the era.
The kit is designed with quite a well detailed interior, with ribs moulded inside the cockpit halves and floors and bench seats. The cockpit area and tail are built as separate sub-assemblies, so the option is there to split things as on the real aircraft. The cockpit is surprisingly well detailed, with the pilot and co-pilot's seats featuring a moulded in harness and a nicely "busy" centre instruments console. The access doors have boarding steps and the kit is rounded off by a pair of standing figures.
The transparencies are nice and clear - the cockpit canopy has well-defined framing, but was slightly scuffed despite being packed in it's own bag. A quick polish should take care of this.
Heller have included paint references to the acrylic colours provided throughout the assembly instructions and decals for a single Horsa, s/n PF800, wearing full invasion stripes.
The decals seem good quality - thin and printed in good register with a very matte finish. The centres for the fuselage roundels are supplied separately to ensure correct alignment.
Heller's Jeep has been available separately for some time and I think it may well be the '60s vintage Airfix model and I assume it's really 1/76 scale. 53 olive green styrene parts are backed up by a clear windscreen and headlamps. Despite its age, the Jeep is quite a detailed little kit, with a separate chassis and a trailer containing ammunition cases and fuel drums. The canvas roof can be assembled raised, but there's no folded-down version. Also included are a pair of figures - a driver and a gunner, but they do appear rather undernourished, being very small for this scale. The kit includes a set of decals for a single vehicle. As with the Horsa's decals, the finish is very matte and the registration has slipped a little on some of the smaller items. The star on the bonnet features a sand-coloured background.
The Figure Sets
These were again originally Airfix sets. As when they were first released, both sets of figures are moulded in soft plastic and suffer somewhat from flash, which is always a little tricky to deal with on polythene. The biggest problem though is that the figures aren't in the same scale. I remember the confusion when Airfix released the Paras - basically, they were larger than the other figures in their range. The reason was simple enough - the Paras were produced in 1/72 scale to fit in with their aircraft, while most of the other figures were moulded in OO size (1/76 scale) to go alongside the Airfix armour kits. The difference is readily apparent here, with the Paras rather dwarfing the German infantry.
Rounding everything off is a bag of accessories - 8 x plastic pots of acrylic paint, a medium-sized brush and a tube of styrene cement. The paints are produced by Humbrol and are good quality - quite accurate colours with good covering power. The brush is supplied without a protective sleeve and the bristles had been a bit squashed in transit - but, after wetting and straightening, it's actually quite a nice brush and holds a good point.
Heller have done rather well in pulling together kits and figures for an educational set. The inclusion of glue, paints and a brush suggests that it's aimed at younger modellers and, as such, it works well - offering a good combination of detail and play value. For more experienced modellers wanting to go one stage further, the illustrations on the back of the box of a diorama show what can be achieved using the kind of foliage and ground cover accessories available in model railway ranges.
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Highs:Lows:Verdict: The kits may be old but they've stood the test of time well and the set provides good educational value, particularly for younger modellers.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...