by: Darren Baker [ ]
MENG has been creating a stir with the Armoured Fighting Vehicle modellers of late, with even the diehard Dragon Models fans being impressed with their releases in that field. MENG now seem to be taking a good look at the aircraft modeller with two recent releases on to the model market in the form of a 1/32nd scale Me163B Komet and a 1/48th scale Me410A-1.
HistoryThe Me 163B Komet first went into active service in 1944 with much fanfare; it was the first and last production operational rocket fighter/interceptor and It was also the first swept wing aircraft to enter operational service. I believe it also held the climb record reaching 30,000 Ft plus in a minute from take off, however with a powered flight time of under 10 minutes its range and ability to engage in combat were very limited. The Komet also suffered from the two fuels used (C Stoff and T Stoff) being highly combustible which resulted in a number of aircraft blowing up anytime fuel was on board and was also a very real hazard for ground crews fuelling the Komet. And even better, one of the fuels dissolved human bodies on contact and a number of persons perished this way. Perhaps the biggest weakness with the Komet was the fact it was easy prey when gliding back to ground to any patrolling Allied aircraft.
ContentsThe contents are supplied in a reasonably strong box with a slip on sleeve; while this is not important to everyone it is a consideration for those that make their purchases online. The contents break down as follows;
5 dark grey sprues
1 black sprue
3 rubber tyres
1 clear sprue
1 decal sheet
2 photo etched frets
1 instruction booklet
ReviewFirstly I should say that this is my first aircraft model review and so I don't know exactly what the members of Aeroscale look for in a review and that I hope to refine my future reviews to meet the criteria the members of Aeroscale look for. Starting with the instruction booklet; the booklet consists of 24 pages not counting the covers and is printed on a good quality matte paper. The first 6 pages of the instructions are taken up with an introduction in 4 languages which I believe are Chinese, English, Japanese and Russian. Page 7 provides the usual warnings about tools, decal application, and unusually side shots of the 3 finishing options; this is also in four languages. The booklet then guides you through construction in 24 stages using the black and white line drawing approach, which I have to say doesn't look overly complicated to follow being pretty clear and calling out detail painting as you go. Page 19 provides a parts map of the kit contents and is a good way of checking that all parts are included in the box. The last 5 pages cover the finishing options for the model and closes with a paint chart; the paint chart only lists Vallejo paints but the do provide the names of the colours used in 4 languages. The three finishing options are;
2./JG 400, Brandis, Early 1945 May 1944
Me163B V-41 Piloted by Major Wolfgang Spate, 13th
RAF Me163B VF241 Piloted by Eric Brown, 7th July 1945
ConstructionThe first 3 stages of construction cover what I believe is a fairly complete cockpit. The cockpit console appears to be accurate from my limited ref material and unusually I believe consists of the dials and instrument moulded on two parts that are then overlaid with photo etched parts; we will see how that works out during the build portion of the review. One aspect of the model that does impress me is that the seat harness is provided in the box in the form of photo etched parts, the reason it impresses me is aspects such as that were only available via aftermarket sets when I used to build aircraft models previously and I believe that is still the case usually.
The next 5 stages builds into a very impressive and complete rocket motor which appears to me to match available images of the motor. The scratch builders will not find a lot here that needs their attention as MENG has even included wiring where they feel it was needed, but it may be over scale and so replaced by those who feel the need. In an effort at this stage to show how much attention MENG has lavished on this kit a very detailed T stoff tank in replicated. Lastly here the rocket motor, fuel tank and cockpit are all mated together
Stage 9 basically adds internal supports for the front portion of the fuselage. I do not believe most of this will be seen with the exception of a small photo etched part that is mounted at the rear of the cockpit area.
The next 2 stages cover the assembly of the dolly and the skid. Assembly is straightforward from what I can see. The tyres for the wheels on the bogie are rubber which I know can raise temperatures on armour related subjects due to the compound breaking down when weathered, I do not however know if it gets aircraft modellers as worked up and hot under the collar. The poly caps supplied in the kit are also used during this stage in the centre of the wheel hubs, it is my belief that the build which will follow this review will show that the wheels can be removed if required and of course will rotate although I do not understand why you would need that attribute.
Stages 12 to 14 covers assembly of the magazine for the Komet’s weaponry and its installation surprisingly on top of the T stoff tank. There are two options for the magazine depending on which finishing option you have gone for, option A and C requires the use of the 30mm cannon magazine for the 2 MK208 cannons and option B requires the use of 15mm magazine for the two MG 151/20 guns. It is also during these stages that the rocket motor, cockpit, landing skid, take off bogie and front fuselage halves are mated together. I do not anticipate any problems with this progress other than deciding whether to depict the skid retracted or deployed.
The next stage adds the finishing touches to the front portion of the fuselage with the exception of the canopy and some hatches. Panel lines on the surfaces are lightly recessed with very fine rivet detail, very careful and light paint application will be need to avoid the flooding of this fine detail I believe. The nose cone and what I believe is the propeller to generate electrical power and if you like parts that move, this should meet that need.
Stage 16 covers the assembly of the MK 108 30mm cannons or the 15mm MG 151/20 guns depending on your finishing option. The detail of both of the supplied weapons systems is fair if a little soft in the angles. The muzzle of the barrels of all weapons has been hollowed out to a shallow depth using slide moulding technology as indicated by the angled sprue surround. While these weapons are reasonable detail wise and for the most part hidden from view you could add a turned metal barrel from a company such as Master Model which will improve the look in my opinion.
Stages 17 to 21 covers the assembly of all the components that make up those nicely swept back wings and their addition to the fuselage. The wing detail is very good with very fine recessed panel lines and raised rivet detail. The access panels for the cannons or machine guns depending on your choice are separate parts and have good detail on the inner face. The flaps and ailerons are movable and supplied as a single piece which makes life easy for us. The leading edge slat is also supplied as a separate part but is not moveable, in the belief that the leading edge slat is the same as on other aircraft of the period it would be in an extended position when on the ground or taking off and seated back on the wing when in flight. Finally of note the airbrakes are supplied as photo etched parts which gives you some idea of how shallow the moulding is and these parts can be set in an extended or retracted position. When you get to the point of adding the wings to the fuselage you also add the access panels for the magazine and what I believe is the panel for refuelling the aircraft which can be shown on or off the model. Finally in these stages you assemble and add the canopy, the glazed portion being supplied separately from the frame, the frame also has a very finely moulded handle for closing the canopy. One downside here is that the canopy can be shown open or closed but the instructions do not clearly explain the attachment of the canopy in an open position.
With the front portion of the aircraft complete by this point you move onto the rear fuselage starting with the tail wheel. There are two styles of tail wheel depending on which of the three finishing options you have decided upon; after selecting the wheel type for the version you are presented with the option of using parts to show the tail wheel extended or retracted. The tyre for the tail wheel is again supplied in vinyl with the same highs or lows as the bogie wheels. Lastly you get to cement the two halves of the rear fuselage which along with the vertical stabiliser and separate rudder. You also need to add whichever of the four tail wheel options you chose and add two interior detail pieces.
The final stage really boils down to how you wish to display your model after it has been painted. The panels can all be left in the open, closed or removed position; the tail section can be attached or left separate from the front of the fuselage and placed on a stand supplied with the model, this leaves the rocket motor on display and again supported by a stand supplied in the kit.
Finally I should add a few words about the general moulding in the kit. During the hours I have spent looking over the parts I did not notice a single ejection pin mark that I believe is in a place that could be seen, the gates between the parts and the sprue frame are all small and minimal in number in my opinion. The only issue I did observed which can be but is not always an issue are the flow lines or cooling lines whichever you know them as, I have run my thumbnail of most of the areas and did not locate any problems with them but that may not be the situation in all cases.
ConclusionI have to say I am really looking forward to building this model as it does scream “build me”, with the lack of obvious issues just increasing my enthusiasm for it. The only possible issues being the lack of clarity concerning the canopy being displayed in an open position, and the possibility of issues in some cases with the flow lines. Having built one of the MENG armoured kits I have to say that this aircraft model impresses me to a much higher degree and I have absolutely no concerns about very highly recommended it to you. I hope you will all follow the Blog that I plan to start very soon. All i have to do now is save up for a suitable resin pilot stood by or entering the aircraft.
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