The Avia B.534 was one of the classic biplane fighters of the 1930’s, and was used by several European air forces almost until the end of World War II. I did a review of Eduard’s kit of this aircraft in May, 2015, so for a detailed account of its service, I refer you to the IPMS review site. The aircraft appeared in four basic versions, differing in cockpit arrangement, armament, wheel covers, and propeller. There are many references available on this aircraft, including the old Profile #152, and most sources are available on line.
The instructions are an improvement over the originals provided in the “Weekend Edition” and include much more color information, including “aqueous” in addition to Mr. Color. Names of the colors are also included. Following a good historical account, they include a very useful sprue diagram, 6 pages of assembly drawings, a rigging diagram, color views of no less than 6 different airplanes for which excellent decals are provides, and a stenciling diagram at the back.
The kit consists of the same three major sprue sections contained in the earlier kit. These are excellently molded, with fine recessed panel lines and details. In addition, however, Eduard included a small sheet of photo-etch metal parts and a masking sheet containing masks for the windows, wheel covers, and the tail surfaces. Why the tail surfaces, you ask? This is because one of the markings options is a B.534 operated by the Czech Police Air Watch Unit, which is painted entirely in a khaki-gray color, with red leading edges on the wings, horizontal stabilizers, and vertical stabilizer. The masks will drastically simplify the task of painting this aircraft, and the result will be a most colorful model.
The sprue diagram lists parts that are not needed, including one vertical stabilizer, a propeller, a tailskid, and several clear plastic parts. This also hints that Eduard has intentions of releasing additional earlier variants of the aircraft, including the open cockpit Ser. 1-3, and the Luftwaffe version that used a small canopy to cover the open cockpit. Having recently done one of these open cockpit conversions on a KP kit, I can testify that the upcoming versions will save a lot of work in modeling these older variants.
The basic assembly of this kit is similar to that or the earlier issue. However, the PE details include such things as the radiator front and back, seat belts, an instrument panel, the glider towing unit for the Luftwaffe version, and several other detail parts that turn this kit into a real work of art. Cockpit sidewall detail is nothing short of spectacular, and even the gun breeches are provided. The parts all fit together as one would expect from an Eduard kit, and very little filler is required for the seams.
Since this is a rather complicated kit, as most biplanes seem to be, I would suggest that, after the fuselage, lower wings, and tail unit are assembled, the airframe should be painted at that point. Also, the struts can be painted individually, and these can later be assembled. There aren’t a lot of mounting tabs and holes for the wings, so a little dab of superglue applied with a sharp dental pick will work wonders. I mounted the upper wings on the “N” struts first, making sure everything was lined up, and then installed the cabane struts between the inner wing portion and the fuselage. The whole structure is relatively robust, but you still need to handle it carefully.
The landing gear and tail struts are easy to attach, especially if you install the center bracing struts first. The stabilizer bracing struts can be used straight from the sprue, although I chose to use very fine plastic rod. You have a choice of wheel fairings or exposed wheels, and both are excellently done. Petite bombs and bomb racks are also provided, and these can be affixed to the undersides of the lower wings if desired.
Once the plane is assembled, the canopy should be installed. There is so much cockpit detail that it would be gross negligence to install the canopy in a closed position. The forward windshield and rear cover fit into place perfectly, and the sliding hatch can be installed in the full back position, exposing the interior to view.
Painting and Finishing
By now, you should have decided which airplane you are going to model. You have a choice of no less than six airplanes, differing only in canopy type and armament. All are fighters, except for the Luftwaffe plane, which was actually a glider tug. Slight weathering would be appropriate in most cases, but the model looks great without weathering. The Bulgarian version, with yellow trim, is probably the most colorful, but any of the Czech, Slovak, or German examples would make an excellent model. The decals are nicely done, and don’t require a lot of trimming or decal setting solutions. A coat of Testors’ Glosscote will help the decals seat better, and some Dullcote will tone the surface down a bit.
I used electronic wire rigging, and the rigging diagram is provided in the instructions. There are only two sets of flying and landing wires on each side, plus four cabane strut bracing wires, a total of 8 long wires and four short wires. There are no radio antennas to install, so the rigging should only take a few minutes.
This is an excellent little kit, and aside from the touchy biplane strut structure, should be easily constructed by the average modeler.The Photo Etch parts and masks are very helpful, and speed up the construction significantly. Since more variants are apparently on the way, this series will probably become the definitive Avia B.534 kit for years to come. This kit is worth getting several of. Don’t miss out on it. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Eduard and Dave Morrissette for the review sample. It was a very enjoyable build.