Horten Ho-229: Part 3 - The Big Finish
Last we spoke, the frames and interior were done and it was time to finish the plane off by adding the outer skin and finishing all the details. Prior to starting, I sprayed the top and some portions of the bottom RLM 02 as these are visible when the plane is complete. I quick test fit can show you which areas to paint. Starting with the center fuselage, the top is added and there are placement indents where the frame fits into the skin. Also, the engine covers are added at this time. As a side note, the skin is molded clear and you could leave it as is to see the superb interior detail. I next added the front section with the intakes and they matched up well. Take your time here and get a good fit so you don’t need putty. Mine dried a little crooked and it caused some issue later. In hind sight, I would probably glue the front end to together to get perfect alignment and then add to the frame. Not sure how tight it would be but it would preserve the excellent surface. I then added the bottom middle piece and again, you need a good fit to prevent seams. This turned out good and I added the fairing to accommodate the wheel housing. The tail skin was next and it covers the back section with a cut out which fits the drag chute. This also joins the top tail section. Take your time again and get the alignment correct.
The next part of the build is skinning the wings. This is simple in that you cut the top and bottom sections off and eliminate the sprue connections and glue the wings closed. I thing I did due was to paint a portion of the wing RLKM02 as I was deploying the spoilers open and you can see into the wing tips. At this point, the wings are attached to the fuselage using the 8 clips specified. These are very specific as they match the profile of the fuselage so keep them straight. Also, take your time with alignment again. I had a slight mismatch on the wings the fuselage and ended up puttying it over. Before going any further, this is a great time to improve seams. I had to putty several of the attachment pins and where I misaligned one of the wings slightly. Not too difficult and the clear plastic is a dream to sand and polish.
Once the wings were on, I added the flaps and ailerons to each side. These slide perfectly over the projections from the frame and look perfect. To prepare for painting, I separated and prepped the 6 landing gear doors, the 12 drag rudder and air brake parts. One recommendation here, some of the clear parts did not take paint well and I got lots of fisheyes. Wash the clear parts thoroughly and give the l a light sanding to help them adhere. I also built the canopy. You have two choice (and a really nice set of masks). Once canopy is a single piece clear and the second has the clear parts and frame separate. I elected the first method and masked it off. The interior framing is built and painted separately. The final preparation for painting is masking the landing gear, cockpits and wheel wells (and drag chute) and setting up for painting.
The color call outs are in Vallejo so a quick translation to RLM colors reveal a bottom color of RLM76 with the top being RLM81/82. There are two marking choices and I elected the markings with the yellow/red band on the tail. These are supplied as decals but I painted them. Prior to paint, I primed the seams with Alclad gray primer. There were several spots needing an additional filling and after a couple round, I was ready for paint. I preshaded the model with black for fun. I love using Xtracolor paints gloss paints for color and painted the bottom first followed by a base coat of RLM81 on top. I let this dry and masked tight demarcation lines with Teflon tape and then shot the RLM 82. I set the pane aside to dry.
While drying, I built the ejection seat. Here again you have two options. One with belts and one without. I used the belted on and assembled the sides and head rest. I painted the seat RLM66 and the belts tan with silver buckles and then added washes and silver chipping and flat coated the seat. I turned my attention to the plane.
I masked the exhausts which were bare metal. I wanted these to stand out against the greens so I masked and painted Tamiya Gloss Acrylic black thinned with lacquer thinner and shot a coat of gloss black. After drying, I sprayed Alclad white aluminum. I let this dry and then masked and painted the yellow/red band around the tail with the kits decals as a template for size. I again let it dry completely.
With the paint nice and glossy, it was decal time and there are a few to add but not many (especially since I have been doing Navy jets with zillions of decals lately). The decals release very quickly from the backing paper and are easily adjustable and need dried thoroughly so they done come off. I cut the walkway into 1/3’s to make it easier to apply and I highly recommend this process. The decals settled well and I only had to fix a couple where I must have trapped a little air under them.
I used Flory washes on the panel lines and then flat coated all the non-metal parts. I used some pastels for weathering and it was time for the fiddly bits. This included adding the gear doors which are seven pieces, the upper and lower antennas and the doors to the drag chute. I added the ejection seat and the canopy in place with a little white glue. Lastly, I added the air brake and drag rudder parts. A note on these is that they are specific to left/right and up/down. I touched up the flat coat and added the wing tip lights and called it done!
This kit opens up so many possibilities. You could build the main fuselage as is and leave the wings off like it was ready for transport. You could super detail; the frame and leave off the skin and it would be great. You could build it and paint eh wooden parts as plywood and leave it bare (Zoukei Mura is coming out with a decal set for this!). It is diorama ready with the parts listed. The fit is good with my only trouble aligning the wings and that was on me. The kit is most highly recommended to all plane enthusiasts. It is a lot of fun and you will actually learn a bit about how this German jet was built.
My thanks to everyone at Zoukei Mura for creating an excellent line of kits that have very desirable subjects, complete interiors and are fun to build. This is my fifth kit and I look forward to building many, many more.