by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The prototype flew for the first time on 2nd October 1938 with Marcel Doret at the controls. The first production aircraft started to equip the French Air Force from January 1940. By the time the German Blitzkrieg was launched only fifty D.520’s were with front line units. By June 22nd 1940, 220 were in service. They did well in combat, claiming seventy seven definite victories with the loss of thirty four aircraft. Vichy units included four groups de Chasse and two Aeronavale escadrilles in North Africa. Production restarted for a period under the Vichy government under German supervision. Vichy D.520’s fought in Syria and North Africa during the allied landings. Seventy five aircraft went to the Regia Aeronautica and a hundred D.520’s served with the Bulgarian Air force. Final operations using the D.520 were with the Free French “Groupe Doret” against German pockets of resistance in France during November 1944 to May 1945.
The flight characteristics always made the Dewoitine interesting. Capt Eric “Winkle” Brown Commander of the Royal Aircraft Establishment Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight said of the Dewoitine D.520 “It was a nasty little brute. Looked beautiful but didn’t fly beautifully. Once you get it on the ground, I was told not to leave the controls until it was in the hangar and the engine stopped. You could be taxiing toward the hangar and sit back when suddenly it would go in a right angle.”
The D.520 was powered by a super charged 678 kW Hispano-Suiza 12Y45 engine. Armament consisted of an engine mounted 20mm cannon and four wing mounted 7.5mm machine guns. After the war a few were converted into two seat trainers, the D.520 DC. Total number of D.520 produced was around 905.
The side opening box has a good illustration of a Bulgarian Air Force D.520. The tail is showing signs that there was either a very sloppy white stripe painter or there were some very large birds roosting on the tail. The rear of the box has a taste of some of the markings on offer with four colour views of Bulgarian and Italian aircraft.
Contents : are all contained in a single plastic bag, which is just as well as some of the parts had detached themselves from the sprues. Included is:
-2 x light grey plastic sprues.
-1 x small clear plastic sprue.
-1 x sheet of decals.
-1 x folded A4 construction guide.
-1 x folded A4 painting and decal guide in colour.
Cockpit : the separate floor looks rather good. Onto it is attached separate rear and forward bulkheads and a rather fine looking control stick. The control stick has the conduit for the flight control cables attached. The separate instrument panel has some excellent low relief detail that demands some careful painting and highlighting. The gun sight is attached to the cockpit coaming. The inside of the fuselage halves has some excellent raised detail including framework, electrical equipment and pouches around the cockpit. Interior colour is mainly dark grey.
Canopy : and windscreen are one piece. The two rear side windows are separate. The plastic is very clear and the frames are well defined.
Fuselage: is split vertically and has some fine recessed panel lines, access hatches and rivets. The nose just forward of the exhaust is a separate one piece part. The one piece radiator fairing is mounted under the fuselage below the pilot’s cockpit. The two separate radiator faces are detailed; the honeycomb grille is nicely represented. There are no locating pins or holes to help with alignment when gluing the two halves of the fuselage, which is common practice with limited run products.
The three bladed prop is one piece with separate spinner and back plate. Two styles of spinner are included, one for the spinner with the cannon muzzle and the more streamlined which lacks the cannon. The colour illustrations all seem to feature the spinner with the cannon, so perhaps another version of the D.520 is palnned. The exhaust stacks are separate one piece items that would benefit from the ends drilling out.
Wings are made up from three parts and similarly to the fuselage has some excellent recessed and raised detail. The fabric covered flaps and ailerons are depicted with some very fine raised ribbing. The lower wing is one piece and has the dihedral set. There is some detail in the main undercarriage bay, just enough for interest. There are a few raised ejector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the wing some of which need trimming to ensure a good fit.
The stabilisers are both one piece featuring sharp trailing edges. The locating tabs are very short in depth so they certainly will need some support when attaching.
Undercarriage: the main wheel oleos look a bit featureless. There are separate retracting jacks. The main wheels are one piece and feature some fine moulding around the wheel rims. One of the wheels in my sample had a slight shrinkage mark in it, easily rectifies with a bit of filler. The main undercarriage doors are one piece and have some fine recessed lines and rivet detail.
There is a choice of two styles of non-retracting tail wheels. They are one piece and feature some good detail.
Dry fit: reveals generally well fitting parts. There are some prominent raised ejector marks on the wing inner surfaces that need trimming to achieve a good fit. There is a slight hint of flash around most of the components, but nothing serious and certainly will not damage any of the detail with it's removal.
Markings: there are eight schemes schemes included with this release:
”White 6” [No. 266]: S/Lt Réne Pomiers-Layraques, 4 Esc. GC II/7 [the pilot that shot down W. Mölders.
” White 3” [No. 273]: A/C Dennis ponteins, 4 Esc. GC II/7, Meaux-Eshby, June 1940. Nose is decorated with shark mouth.
” White 6” [No. 207]: Adj. Chef M. E. Leblanc, [7 victories], 5 Esc. GC III/5, Relizzanne, June 1940.
” White 11”: Esc IAC Chasse de L’ Aéronautique Navale, North Africa, 1940
Group Captain Wassil Wolkow Commander of 6 Istrebitelnyj Orliak [6 Group], Marino Pole airfield near Karlovo, 1944.
“White 14”: of 6 Istrebitelnyj Orliak [6 Group], Marino Pole airfield near Karlovo, 1943. This is the aircraft featured on the box cover. Interestingly the white drips on the rudder is also featured in the painting guide.
Black “82”: 82 Squadriglia, 13 Gruppo, 2 Stormo CT, Metato, July 1943.
White “20”: Regia Aeronautica, Isteres, France, March 1943.
There is such an interesting range of camouflage as you can see from the colour paint guides opposite. Some of the spinner designs are going to be challenging to reproduce in this scale. The fun of creating them will be part of developing your modelling skills.
Decals: are glossy, with good colour depth, and registration looks spot on. All the national markings are included on the decal sheet, the only omission are the red, white and blue rudder stripes for the French Air Force aircraft. RS Models have included the rudder stripes for the French Naval version, but this includes an anchor motif in the centre. The white arrows and lines featured on some aircraft are reproduced on the decal sheet.
Instructions : construction is done through five stages, each stage is illustrated with black line drawings. Even though there are two alternate sets of spinners and tail wheels, only one type of spinner and tail wheel is used in this particularly release according to the painting instructions. The painting guide is very good featuring colour four view illustrations of each aircraft.
With only thirty eight plastic parts, finely detailed parts and pretty good fit this should prove a quick build for you speed builders out there. The abundance of very interesting markings might lead you to buying more than one kit. Not a bad thing particularly if you don’t have this very pleasing looking fighter from France in your stash. Nice one RS Models.