by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Macchi C.200 is generally regarded as the best of Italy's first generation of modern monoplane fighters designed to government specifications in 1936. The prototype Macchi took part in competitive trials and outperformed its rivals and was chosen as Regia Aeronautica's standard fighter. Nevertheless, the Fiat G.50 was also placed in limited production alongside the new Macchi (being easier to build and hence quicker to get into service) and the C.200 was not without its share of problems to begin with, having a tendency to get caught in vicious flat-spins (as did the Fiat). This was solved with a re-designed wing and the aircraft went on to be highly regarded for its flying qualities.
The first 240 aircraft featured a fully enclosed cockpit, but conservative attitudes among many of Italy's pilots led to this being dropped in favour of an open cockpit, usually fitted with partial side panels. As with all of Italy's early WW2 fighters, the Macchi was rather low-powered and lightly armed, but its strength and manoeuvrability generally allowed it to hold its own against contemporary adversaries such as the Hurricane and P-40.
The Macchi C.200 fought widely across the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Eastern Front, but was largely superseded by later aircraft by the time of the Armistice, a few surviving to join the Allies as part of the Co-Belligerent Airforce, with the remainder continued to fly for the A.N.R.
The KitPacific Coast Models' 1:32 Macchi MC.200 has been around for about 4 years now, and represented a very bold move for the company when first released, combining the talents of MPM for the main kit parts, Eduard for etched accessories and Cartograf for the decals. The result is a high quality mixed-media limited run kit that arrives in an actractive compact box and comprises:
56 x grey styrene parts
37 x beige resin parts
12 x etched steel parts, plus printed film
1 x vacuformed windscreen (plus spare)
"Limited run" may ring a few alarm bells, particularly among modellers with experience of the early kits of this type, but PCM's MC.200 coincided with the major advances introduced by Eastern European firms some years ago so, in fact, the styrene parts are surprisingly cleanly moulded. Obviously, they will still require more by way of clean-up and general preparation than a mainstream kit, but there's very little flash evident, and my kit is free of sink marks. There are some ejector pin marks that need dealing with, or they'll interfere with assembly, but the kit looks very promising indeed.
The surface finish is quite smooth, but could still benefit with polishing because there's an occasional small blemish. Detailing comprises restrained engraved panel lines and embossed rivets and fasteners, plus the classic MPM-style subtle representation of fabric control surfaces.
Test fitAs good as short-run parts may look on the sprues, it's always how they fit that can make or break a build. Happily, the Macchi seems set to be a relatively trouble-free experience. The fuselage halves lines up precisely and the tailplanes fit pretty well, but they will require some thinning to match the roots. Turning to the wings, the overall fit is very encouraging, but the trailing edges could do with thinning. The joint at the wing roots is nice and tight and the chord and airfoil match the fuselage parts but, on the underside, the full-span lower wing is flatter than the fuselage, so you'll need to add some support to get the trailing edge fuselage joint smooth.
Some detailsAlthough some of the kit's detail is supplied as styrene parts, a lot of the finer items are cast in resin, backed up with some etched goodies. The quality is excellent, and I couldn't find any bubbles or other flaws in my kit.
The cockpit really shows off these parts to advantage, with beautifully detailed sidewalls and a lovely thin seat that captures the "hunchback" look (to accomodate the parachute) of the original. The kit seems to have been originally released with a styrene instrument panel, which isn't at all bad, but the etched fret has been extended to include a much better multi-layer metal replacement, with printed film for the instrument faces. Oddly, this update isn't noted in the instructions. The etched fret also includes the distinctive Italian seat harness. The overall effect should be excellent and, with the Macchi's open cockpit, all the detail will be there to see.
The engine is resin too, with a separate crankcase and cylinders. No push-rods are included (although the holes for them are pre-drilled), but with the addition of these and some wiring, the engine should look great. Enclosing all this is a really superb resin cowling. The bulges over the cylinder heads look just right and the front cooling ring has very delicate scribed lines to match the look of the original. The propeller is moulded in styrene as one piece with a separate hub and backplate, and it should all clean up nicely.
The mainwheel well features a cat's-cradle of engine bearers (which, if the 1:48 versions of the MC.200 from the same source are anything to go by, will require careful clean-up and assembly), and a very nicely detailed one-piece casting for the engine accessories section. As nice as the kit parts are, looking at photos of the original aircraft reveals a mass of wiring and pipes that can be added. The extra time spent will really be worthwhile, because the result will be spectacular. The undercarriage itself is a combination of styrene legs and wheels with etched oleo scissors and brackets for the plastic wheel covers.
Rounding everything off are a very nice pair of cowl guns with hollowed-out flash suppressors and a vacuformed windscreen. This is thin and very clear, with well defined framing.
Instructions & decalsThe kit is accompanied by a well drawn 10-page construction guide. The drawings are very clear and backed up by further "info-views". The construction sequence seems logical, covering 17 stages, and generic colours are keyed to most details.
A real highlight of the kit are the spectacular Cartograf decals for no less than 11 colour schemes!
- Macchi C.200, Maggiore Ettore Foschini, 21º Gruppo, Russia 1942
- Macchi C.200, Ten. Giuseppe Re, 85ª Squadriglia, 18º Gruppo, 3º Stormo, Libya 1942
- Macchi C.200, 90ª Squadriglia, 10º Gruppo, Sicily 1941
- Macchi C.200, 96ª Squadriglia, 4º Stormo, Sicily 1941
- Macchi C.200, Capitano Vittorio Minguzzi, 359ª Squadriglia, 22º Gruppo, Albania 1941
- Macchi C.200, 374ª Squadriglia, 153º Stormo, Torino-Caselle 1942
- Macchi C.200, 356ª Squadriglia, 21º Gruppo Autonomo, Russia 1942
- Macchi C.200, Maggiore Borozoni, 369ª Squadriglia, 22º Gruppo, Russia 1941
- Macchi C.200, 364ª Squadriglia, 150º Gruppo Autonomo, North Africa 1941
- Macchi C.200, 84ª Squadriglia, 10º Gruppo, 4º Stormo, Sicily 1941
- Macchi C.200, 85ª Squadriglia, 18º Gruppo, Greece 1942
The aircraft are illustrated in full colour with high quality profiles by Richard J. Caruana, but sadly only one side of each is shown and no plan views are included. The decals are superb, with thin glossy items printed in perfect register, and there really is something to suit every taste and ability among the subjects, with everything from plain 2-colour camouflage, smoke rings, mottles and double-mottles (for want of a better description). Note: one point to watch out for is that some of the aircraft are shown with different-style windscreen side-panels to those included in the kit.
ConclusionDespite it's apparent simplicity and generally good design, PCM's Macchi C.200 isn't suitable for beginners and, as with most limited-run kits, will probably have a few testing moments in store. But that's half the fun and challenge of building such kits and it offers a unique opportunity (as far as I know) to build this attractive subject in 1:32. In experienced hands the results should be really spectacular. Recommended.
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