Without a long history lesson, I will say the Hindenburg has to be one of, if not THE, most famous of all the zeppelins that provided luxury air travel in the 1930s. Designed and built by the Zeppelin Company, LZ129 “Hindenburg” transported affluent passengers across the Atlantic on numerous trips in 1936, flying between Germany and Brazil, and between Germany and New York, all without incident. On the inaugural 1937 voyage to North America, upon arriving on May 6th in New York (well, actually New Jersey), Hindenburg burst into flames and went down in history. While not the absolute end to zeppelin passenger travel, this marked the beginning of the end for this chapter in aviation history. In 1975, Universal Pictures released “The Hindenburg”, a movie telling the story of that last flight, and to coincide with this, AMT released their 1/520th scale kit of the famous zeppelin. For a much more in-depth history than I could ever provide, have a look at the airships.net site: https://www.airships.net/hindenburg/
From my understanding, Round2 has made a business out of buying up some of the old, “classic” American model kit brands, and re-issuing their catalogs. They have an extensive line of scale kit, die-cast, and slot racer automobiles. In addition to autos, Round2’s family includes the AMT, MPC, Polar Lights, Hawk and Lindberg brands of other scale model kits.
This is my first Round2 model and, from what I gather, all these kits are all issued exactly as they originally appeared. The boxing, instructions, decals (with perhaps some exceptions), and parts are identical to the original issues. My “Hindenburg” box was the same (as far as I can recall) as the original issue I built as a kid. The one exception is a printed sheet attached to the bottom of the box (inside the shrink wrap) describing the attributes of the kit, with a picture of the completed model, and some small wording identifying it as coming from Round2. I understand the original AMT kit was a bit hard to find, so this re-issue will be a welcome addition for many. I remember building it as a kid, so it was certainly a welcome bit of nostalgia for me.Upon opening the above-mentioned box, one finds a one-page instruction sheet, a small sheet of decals, one bagged bunch of parts, and several larger, loose parts. The main body (hull) of the zeppelin is molded in 2 halves, split vertically. These are held together with a rubber band. I was impressed to see that, despite the molds being close to 40 years old, there was very little flash present on the parts. The various measurements of the zeppelin appear to be accurate, but the shape of the nose looks a little too blunt as compared to photos.
The instructions are as simple and straight-forward as can be. There are, after all, only about 32 pieces in the kit (and that includes 3 pieces for the stand, 2 eyelets for hanging, and a 3-piece DC-3). The directions for assembly are Step One, and decal placement is Step Two. That’s it! The back side of the paper has a brief history of the Hindenburg.
Step One, assembly, consists of an exploded view with all parts and locations called out. A few helpful hints are included, such as suggesting one let the engine mounting struts dry “for awhile (sic)” before attaching the assembled engines.
Step Two covers decal placement, and a suggestion that two stripes running the length of the underside of the zeppelin are painted off-white. These are the only painting suggestions, other than the wheels and propellers. While I don’t have the decal sheet from the original boxing, I did locate photos of one on eBay. In the original kit, the flags for the vertical tailfins complete with swastikas are in one piece, as are the Olympic rings logos. This version has the swastikas broken down into segments (as many swastika decals are these days), and each ring in the Olympic logo is a separate decal. The swastikas will be easy enough to form into the correct design. The rings on the other hand will make for a lot of alignment work (I noticed in Round2’s printed insert that the Olympic decals are not present on the finished model). On the plus side, this new decal sheet includes all the windows – the original did not. The “Hindenburg” name decal is in red on the new sheet, whereas the original was printed in black.
This build will be purely OOB, as the intent is to review what comes in the box, and is not how I could acquire AMS and spend 5 years on it!
I began by assembling the two main halves. There were some minor sprue gate attachment points (although the pieces themselves se were not on sprues) to be cleaned up on each half. I applied tube glue along one side, taped the halves together, and then ran some Tamiya extra-thin glue along the seam. Surprisingly, the halves fit together very well with the aid of the alignment pins, and a little sanding took care of the seam. No filling was required anywhere on the join. Next I assembled the two horizontal stabilizers. The halves of each side fit together with simple butt joins, and do not line up perfectly. In each set, I aligned the trailing edges, then the outer edges as best I could. This resulted in the leading edge area being out of line on both sets. A little sanding sorted that out. There is a nice thick tab on each that inserts into slots on either side of the hull. This makes for a strong joint, but neither side fit flush. I trimmed back the depth of the tabs a bit, but still did not get a good fit. The area of the stabilizers that fits against the hull does not match the contours of the hull itself. I used two applications of putty to fill the gaps. Incidentally, the hull pieces have a fabric-like texture. The real thing was smooth-surfaced, and even if it did have this fabric texture, I doubt it would be noticeable in 1/520 scale. The tail surfaces do not have this ‘effect’. I did notch out some of the plastic at the edge of all four tail surfaces where the fixed portions met the moveable ones (see photo). This created a little more definition and separation between the two areas.
Next, I attached the gondola. The cabin itself is one piece, with four pins that attach into an opening on the bottom of the hull. The pins do not go into mounting holes, but rather are meant to touch the inside of the opening in the hull and provide proper alignment. The alignment is, in fact, straight on. However, once again there is a gap here and the top of the gondola does not lie flush against the hull. I used tube glue and put some pressure on the piece to force it as flush as I could, then taped it down while it dried. When I later removed the tape, the gondola did come away slightly from the hull and still left a small gap. Once again the putty came out.
Next up come the engine pods, propellers, and mounting struts. An excellent online resource for this area can be found at: http://projektlz129.blogspot.com/2014/04/alle-motoren-marsch-voraus.html . This is a great site for all you would need to know on the engines of the Hindenburg, and also has some fascinating first-hand commentary from some of the original crew.
The four engine pods come in halves. There is not much detail on these, and some comparison to photos show that the shape is also somewhat off. There is a slight bulge on the rear of each pod where the propellers will mount. When attaching the pods to their mounting struts, be sure the bulge is on the lower side. The prop shafts ran near the bottom of the pod. The halves joined easily and the seam disappeared with a little bit of sanding – no putty was required here.
The mounting struts for the engine pods consist of 8 “v”-shaped pieces (2 per pod). These are definitely not to scale, and I would think could be replaced by thinner plastic stock or even stiff wire. The above-mentioned site has some clear photos of these braces.
These struts are meant to be butt-joined to sets of raised circles on the hull. As per the instructions, after these have dried “for awhile (sic)”, the pods are to be attached to the struts. I did not think these circles would provide a secure enough join, so I drilled each of them out. Lining up the struts that matched the openings, they inserted just enough to make for a more solid attachment. The struts were secured with tube glue. This allowed the plastic at the ends of the struts to soften slightly and effectively fill in the holes in which they were inserted. Once these were in place, I dry-fit a pod onto each pair of struts in order to set up proper alignment and spacing while they dried. One advantage to having just the raised circles – should you choose to replace the struts with something more in scale, it would be a simple matter to drill smaller diameter mounting holes, and then sand off the raised lines. That is a little easier than having to fill existing holes and then drill new ones. After the glue had fully dried, the engine pods were secured to the struts with a little liquid glue.
While I let everything dry prior to painting, I turned my attention to the little DC-3 that is included. This is a very simplistic model, and is meant more for scale comparison than anything else. It is a neat little touch, but is not terribly accurate in shape. The entire airframe is molded as one piece, with two separate discs provided to represent spinning propellers. There were some heavy mold lines along the fuselage and flying surfaces that will need to be removed. The landing gear on the one-piece molding is simply represented as rectangular slabs of plastic, and there are some hollow areas on the bottom of the airplane body. My rough measurements show this to have a perfectly in-scale fuselage length, and a wingspan about ¼” too long. I like the idea that it gives a viewer a better perspective of the enormity of the Hindenburg. Incidentally, no decals are provided for the DC-3. I painted it overall black in an effort to replicate the identification models used for recognition training during WW2.
Despite the minimal painting guide in the instructions, my research showed the Hindenburg to be an overall aluminum color. The dope used to cover the surface fabric has aluminum powder added to it to reduce the heating effects of the sun. I used Tamiya AS-12 paint, straight from the spray can. Some photos of Hindenburg show a slightly different sheen on various vertical bands along the hull. The fabric stretched over the internal structure of the zeppelin created subtle angles, and the different tones are most likely a result of light reflecting at slightly different angles. I tried masking off bands and spraying Tamiya smoke over them with my airbrush, but in the end wasn’t happy with the effect so went back to an overall coat of AS-12.
After painting the main color, it was a quick job to paint the nose and tail wheels, and to paint and mount the propellers. Much like the rest of the engine assembly, the propellers are considerably out of scale and are best thinned down considerably or just flat out replaced. I did not do so on this build in keeping with the OOB concept. The propeller shafts are a tad too wide to fit into the openings on the engine pods. You can either widen the openings or trim down the shafts. I did the latter, slicing off about 1/3rd of the diameter of the shaft.
The decal sheet that Round2 has provided is clearly an upgrade from the old AMT sheet. There have been several changes and additions to the sheet. The “Hindenburg” logo is now in red. I could find nothing definitive in my (very limited) research, but note that several museum models and a kit produced by Revell of Germany all have this in red, so I will go ahead and assume that to be accurate. As noted before, the Olympic ring logo is now in separate pieces, one for each ring. AMT had it printed as one design. If you want Hindenburg in its 1936 markings (which include this logo), then you have a lot of alignment to do. The rings were removed for the 1937 season, and that is how I modeled mine. The biggest additions, and a very welcome one, are the numerous additional window markings on the decal sheet. The hull has several window outlines molded onto it, and the decals match up perfectly with these. AMT omitted quite a few windows in its original molding, and the new Round2 decals come to the rescue here. From the photos I examined, Round2 appears to have correctly captured all the windows on the hull with these decals. The only criticism I would have here is the placement guide is a little vague in places, primarily because the only drawing to aid in decal location is of the undersides of the hull. Window decals for the main gondola come in 2 halves, and without a side view it is a little unclear which decal goes on which side. On each gondola decal the larger windows have a second, small window above them. If you orient the decal so these small windows are on top, it will come out right. The two gondola window decals line up perfectly in front, but have a small overlap at the rear, which can easily be trimmed away.
The decals themselves are matt in finish. I used Micro Set and Sol on them, and while they went down without any issue, I don’t know that either solution had any impact. I noticed the red on the flags was a little translucent, but this was not an issue as applied over the aluminum color. They did stick immediately once placed, and were a little difficult to reposition, so be forewarned! The only curve of note was on the gondola, and the decals easily conformed to this.
The 3-piece stand assembled quickly and easily. I actually built this first, and used it as a holding rack for the model throughout construction. After the model was completed, I sprayed the stand in black and hand-painted the raised lettering with a bronze/gold color.
Overall, this is a neat little model. It is not the only plastic Hindenburg kit available (Revell of Germany makes one in the much smaller 1/720 scale), but it is in my mind the only one that conveys a bit of the size of the original. I am very happy to see Round2 reissue this kit, and it was a fun nostalgia build for me. I have to say the additions and improvements on the decal sheet were very nice to see. I am not aware of any aftermarket, but one could easily add some to-scale details and do some reshaping of the nose to enhance the kit and bring it up to today’s standards. Or just build it OOB and have some fun!
One last note: on the ‘fine print’ in the instruction sheet I note that this product is made in the USA, with only the packaging printing done in China! This is something not seen too often, even from a US-based manufacturer.
Thanks to Round2 for the review model, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it!