Horten Ho 229

Published on
February 24, 2016
Review Author(s)
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Company: Zoukei-Mura - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Zoukei-Mura - Website: Visit Site
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The Horten Ho 229 is one of the most striking aircraft designs to emerge from World War II. It was a German fighter/bomber prototype designed by the Horten brothers in response to Hermann Göring's call for a light bomber that could meet a 3x1000 requirement. Meaning that it could carry 1,000 kilograms of ordinance a distance of 1,000 kilometers at 1,000 kilometers per hour. Because only jet powered airframes could meet the speeds necessary to fulfill the requirement for the cruising speed the design became the first flying wing design to be powered by jet engines.

Zoukei-Mura first released a kit of this interesting aircraft in 1/32 and that kit is still an extremely popular masterpiece of design. However, they have recently been redesigning and releasing some of their 1/32 scale kits in 1/48 scale. The Horten HO 229 is their latest release in this series and it is the first new 1/48 scale HO 229 since the Dragon releases in the early 1990s.

On to the kit itself. Like the other kits in the 1/48 scale series this kit is a downsizing of the original release from 1/32. Accordingly the parts have been redesigned to the proper scale, but in addition the total parts count has been reduced by over 100 parts. They seem to have done this for ease of construction and molding. Most of the parts reductions seem to come from removing interior portions of the engines and combining some of the separately molded parts from the 1/32 kit. This still means that there are nearly 200 parts to squeeze into a relatively small airframe! So, although the model has been scaled down, the Zoukei-Mura standard of detail has not been sacrificed.

Like the larger scale kit, this kit has the exterior skin of the aircraft molded in clear plastic which allows the builder to show off the unique framing structure of the aircraft and the internal parts of the aircraft, the results of which is a fully detailed and extremely impressive model.

This is my first Zoukei-Mura model and my first introduction to their fantastic instructions. As shown in the photos, they include blown up drawings that help with the assembly of the engines and the internal framework. They also include two clarification sheets that provide much larger blown up diagrams for assisting in the installation on the fuel lines, and a reference sheet linking the instructions to the larger diagrams. My only complaints with regard to the instructions come from comparing them to the set included in the 1/32 scale release. The 1/32 scale release had much larger diagrams to help with placement, and also included color photos that were a great help when working on the engines and detail painting. The 1/48 scale instructions seem to also have been scaled down, with the color pictures removed and the entire booklet being printed in black and white. Luckily, the 1/32 scale instructions are available for download on Zoukei-Mura’s website.

The first steps in the assembly take you through the fantastically detailed engines. The only place they seem to have reduced the detail is on the interior of the engines. They removed the central compressor blades from the interior of the engines that were included in the 1/32 scale kit, but this omission is completely invisible in the finished engines. They also included a pair of very nice engine racks made out of square parts of the sprue trees for displaying the engines outside of the aircraft, if desired. The only issue that I had with the assembly of the engines was with the thrust nozzle at the very back. These parts are extremely finely molded without any location pins, which can make the assembly a bit tricky. Be very careful to line everything up to try and minimize sanding. The plastic is extremely thin which makes correcting any errors with sanding tricky. I also felt that the painting call outs for the engine details were a little vague when compared to the 1/32 scale instructions, so I would recommend using other references for clarification.

The next step is the internal framework. The molding on all of these parts is extremely impressive, especially in 1/48 scale. All of the parts were extremely well molded with very minimal mold lines, no flash, warping or ejector pin marks. The assembly of these parts is extremely straight forward if you follow the excellent instructions and clarification sheets. Just be very careful when aligning the upright parts that you attach to the underside of the frame (B-3), the parts do have some flex but having everything properly set up will make the installation of the top plate (B-21) and the engines much easier. The only issue I had with the assembly of the central framing was that the positioning of part C-11 is a little vague. I had a bit of hard time telling how it should be installed, but the clarification drawings and the 1/32 scale instructions helped solve where it was supposed to fit. One final note on the central frame section assembly: pay very close attention to the warnings and notes in step 012. They refer you to the clarification drawings and make installing the fuel lines very easy.

Moving on to the cockpit. The cockpit is a very nice representation of the bare bones cockpit in this aircraft. Unfortunately, this was the only part of the kit I was disappointed with. On the 1/32 scale kit they included some very cool options that were removed from the 1/48 version. You had the option to build the seat without seat belts, or with molded in belts. In the 1/48 version they removed the option to build the seat with molded in belts. They also had two different ways of making the control panel; clear with decals that attached to the back, or normal plastic with a large decal covering it. They seemed to have combined the two for the 1/48 scale release, providing a clear panel only with two options for decals. A large decal covering the whole panel, or individual gauges that attach to the front. The panel is well molded, but I am unsure why it is provided in clear plastic, as both sets of dials attach to the front, meaning that the whole panel will be painted regardless. I tried to use the individual gauge decals for my build, but the carrier film is extremely large around the tiny dials, and the adhesive is not very aggressive, so I could not get the decals into position. They attached better to themselves than the panel. Fortunately, the large panel decal worked great and settled down very nicely, even over the molded on detail.

Next comes the underside and the landing gear. The landing gear is extremely well detailed and very well designed. Both the main gear and the two smaller gear struts fit into well designed slots in the central frame that make alignment and installation easy. As expected the gear struts have molded in brake lines rather than the separate ones included in the 1/32 scale kit, but the detail is still amazing. The only issue that I had was with part C-33, which was slightly too long when I tried to install it, so I had to shorten it. Next I moved on to the wings, skipping installing the under wing surfaces until later. I did this because I originally intended to build the kit without any skin but changed my mind later. I would recommend installing the bottom of the skin as directed by the instructions if you intend to do so. The wings are held on by pins that fit into slots on the upper and lower portions of the central fuselage, and installing these pins before the fuselage sections makes getting a good fit all around very difficult.

One note on the external skin parts for this kit. They are molded clear with the intention of allowing you to assemble the model without painting. Unfortunately, the clear plastic behaves like most clear plastic. It can be very brittle and difficult to glue with certain styrene glues. So be very careful when snipping the parts from the trees, I had a couple small parts shatter and having pieces chip off the larger parts. The clear plastic is also slightly frosted, I am assuming this was done to make painting easier, leaving you with the impression that it will be difficult to see anything through it. This really isn’t the case, once installed on the frame you can see a ton of detail through it. All of the dive brakes and flaps are also molded in this clear plastic and you have the option of displaying them deployed or not.

Moving on to the wings. The wing assembly is extremely simple in the kit. They only use 12 parts per wing, and most of that is with the fuel tanks. Be careful when cutting out parts H-1 and I-1, the attachment plates for each wing, because they are keyed, and will not fit on the incorrect side of the central fuselage. With regards to the fuel tanks, this was the first time I had any fit issues with the kit. I was really not super happy with the way the backing plate fit into each tank. On most of my tanks I had gaps around the edges, and the backs were sunken into the main part. The filling and sanding I used to try and correct this did not mix well with the metallic paint that I used, which led me to decide to install the lower skin parts. As I mentioned above, the wings are attached to the fuselage using clear pins, so the installation is extremely easy.

Once the wings are installed you can choose to cover them or leave a portion off like I chose to and install the flaps. The flaps install very easily just be careful when handling the model after to installation. The flaps attach by small trailing pieces of the wing frame which are easy to bend or break if you are not careful. Finally, it is on to the finishing touches of installing the landing gear doors and various other detail pieces. All of the gear doors are molded in the clear plastic so they can be bit annoying to work with, but they are well molded and fit very well. I only had one minor issue with the main gear doors. The instructions are not very clear on how to install them, but there are actually little slots in the bottom of the frame designed to fit the gear door hinges.

Lastly we have painting and decals. This aircraft never made it out of the prototype phase, so Zoukei-Mura provided a number of decals to allow you to make your Ho 229 in a late war RLM 81/RLM82 scheme. Because I was building my aircraft with the top skin removed and had originally intended to have no skin on it at all, I painted all of the bottom pieces my custom mix for RLM 76 separately. Then I taped all of the upper portions together for masking and painting in the hard edged late war camouflage scheme. The decals performed very well over a nice gloss goat, but silvered very badly over a flat coat. Also as noted above for the instrument panel, the adhesive is not very good, so the decals do not need to be in water very long to be ready for use. I did have some minor silvering problems in the larger cross decal on the upper surfaces, but I was able to get rid of most of it using a hobby blade and Future.

This kit is a masterpiece much like its big brother. The detail is incredible and they have completely maintained what I thought a Zoukei-Mura kit could be even in the smaller scale. This kit was a joy to build and has me considering looking into their other 1/48 scale kits. With the full interior I would not recommend this kit to beginners, but anyone with a few kits under their belt should have no trouble building this kit and producing a model they will be very happy with, especially with the help of the great instructions.

Many thanks to Zoukei-Mura for the review sample, and thank you to IPMS USA for the chance to review it.


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