Me 262A-1/2 'Last Ace'

Published on
April 22, 2017
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Company: Academy Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: MRC - Website: Visit Site
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The Me 262 continues to be a popular aircraft, both with modelers and with model manufacturers. I admit to being a fan of the aircraft and its sleek lines, so I was excited to see that last fall Academy released a special edition of its Me 262 kit with markings for 7 different aircraft. The kit is marketed as the Me 262A-1/2 and unlike some other kits, it actually does contain the parts necessary to build either of these variants of the jet.

The kit consists of 4 light grey sprues and one clear sprue along with a decal sheet printed by Cartograf. Panel lines are recessed and nicely done. In order to allow you to build either the bomber or fighter variants, the kit includes separate upper gun bay doors, one with two guns and the other with four guns. In addition the kit provides separate aft fuselage parts for both variants as the Me 262A-2 bomber variant has a shorter rudder and a clear plastic part that is attached below the rudder. Interestingly, sprue C also includes a third set of aft fuselage parts as well as an external conduit, which appear to be appropriate to model the Me 262C version of the aircraft with a Walter rocket motor mounted in the rear fuselage under the rudder, but no mention of this option is included in the instructions.

The instructions would have you start construction by assembling the nose gear bay and blank weapons bay, installing the nose landing gear (tire and all) and then joining the main fuselage halves together. I installed all of these parts except the landing gear, as my experience is that the nose gear would not survive the rest of the build. In hindsight, I would recommend connecting the forward fuselage parts to their corresponding aft fuselage parts first as this joint is a butt joint and you will probably want to beef up this join with some sheet styrene tabs to help keep the joint flush. I did not figure this out until I had already assembled both the front fuselage and the rear fuselage as separate assemblies. I superglued in some styrene tabs to assist in alignment of the two sections, but I ended up with a step between the front and rear fuselage sections that I ended up having to fill and sand. If I had attached the rear fuselage parts to the corresponding front fuselage parts prior to gluing the assemblies together, I would have had a smoother seam down the sides of the jet and a much more easily filled seam at either the top of the spine or under the fuselage.

One modification to the assembly order that I did make was to leave off parts B30/D3 (the upper fuselage gun bay cover) and A8 (the lower gun bay/front fuselage section). I left off the upper gun bay cover as this is a perfect place to stash your nose weight to prevent a tail sitter. The instructions tell you to attach part A8 and then insert and twist the assembled cockpit in under this part. I found it much easier to install the cockpit tub and then part A8. Step 3 is a multi-part step dealing with the assembly and painting of the cockpit tub, instrument panel, control stick, and seat. There are no decals for either side console or the instrument panel, which are nicely molded with good detail, which shows up really well with a nice dry-brushing with light grey. Initially, I disagreed with the instructions painting guide for the interior of the fuselage adjacent to the cockpit tub, but after reading some recent articles in the British modeling magazines, I believe that Academy instructions are probably correct, depending on which aircraft you are making. Take care and do a good job with the painting on the underside of the cockpit tub and the insides of the fuselage as much of this is visible through the open main gear wells. After painting, the cockpit tub was slid into place from below and attached, I then added part A8, avoiding most of the issues that would have arisen trying to angle the cockpit tub in and under part A8.

The next step is the assembly and attachment of the rear fuselage halves and the horizontal stabilizers, but hopefully, you assembled the entire fuselage earlier so this step would not apply. I left off the horizontal tails as this not only made handling the model easier, but it also allowed me to paint the horizontal tails separately, which in turn made painting the mottling on the aircraft much easier. Be sure that you have selected the correct aft fuselage parts for the version you are building.

After the fuselage has been assembled, the next step is the wings and again you have a choice to make, but this time it is about whether or not you are going to mount the underwing R4M unguided rockets. If you are, then you will need to open the holes in the lower wing on each side for the wooden launching racks. If you are not going to mount the R4M rockets, no holes are needed. Once the wing was assembled, I attached it to the fuselage and the fit was very good, only requiring a little filler at the under-fuselage joints. The fit of the wing to the fuselage on the upper surface of the wing was excellent and no filling was needed.

Assembly of the underwing engines was next and the fit was actually pretty good. Academy has molded the front of each engine pod as a single piece with an insert for the front part of the engine fan and this prevents the usual seam down the inside of the engine intakes. I did not quite get the engine pods lined up as well as I wanted, so I had to do a bit of sanding on the lower seams to blend the sides together. I left out the bullets in the engine exhausts as I figured it would be easier to install them after all sanding and painting was done. I am not sure this was such a good idea, as there is not a lot of room between the bullets and the inside edges of the engine pods, so it was harder than I thought to get these parts in the right place after painting.

Once the engines are assembled, filled and sanded, they get mounted on the wings. Unfortunately, the fit of the engine pods to the lower wings was not that great as I ended up with a pretty prominent seam on both sides of the engine pods on both wings. I used Mr. Surfacer to fill these gaps, cleaning up the seams with isopropyl alcohol and q-tips. At this point, since the major structural elements had all been attached, I did the balance test to see how much weight as needed to prevent a tail sitter. I used squashed lead fishing weights to do this and superglued them into the open upper gun bay. Be sure you test fit the gun cover door on before you commit to superglue in order to make sure the cover fits flush over your weights.

Step 9 deals with installation of the main gear, but I left these off until final assembly to make painting easier. Step 10 deals with assembling the various external weapons options for the kit. In addition to the wing mounted R4M rockets discussed above, the kit also includes the “Viking Ship” under nose pylons to which you can mount either a pair of SC 500 bombs or a pair of WGr.21 unguided rockets, again depending on which variant you are modeling. Three are no locating pins or holes to mount the pylons, so check your fit and your references before committing to gluing. I have always admired the clean lines of the Me 262, so I elected not to install any external stores.

Once everything was installed, the seams cleaned up and the canopy masked off, I proceeded to the painting stage. As this is a special edition kit, there are decals for 5 different Me 262’s, three -1a fighter variants and two -2a bomber variants. I chose to model the Me 262A-1a flown by Obstlt. Heintz Bar out of Lechfeld. There are also markings for a fighter from Kommando Nowotny, and White 3 of JV 44, attributed to GeneralLeutnant Adolf Galland. The two bombers are from KG-51 and feature intimidating squiggle camouflage.

I discovered a discrepancy in the paint numbering as the paint chart on instructions lists paint #11 as both RLM 76 and RLM 81 and #12 as both RLM 81 and RLM 82. The separate painting instructions make it clear that #11 is RLM 76 and #12 is RLM 81. The remaining color is listed as RLM 82 light green. As the wings of Bar’s aircraft had sharp angular demarcation lines between the two colors, I enlarged the painting diagram 170% on a photocopier and cut out masks to help me tape off the colors. I painted the light green first, put down the masks for the brown violet and used Tamiya tape to cover the sections to remain light green. On the other hand, the boundary between the upper fuselage colors and the RLM 76 on the fuselage sides is not a sharp line, so I used silly putty rolls to help me achieve the soft demarcation lines there. I used a brass masking template for the Me 109 to paint the mottle pattern on the fuselage sides and tail and then sealed everything with Future prior to decaling the model.

The Cartograf decals were a pleasure to work with and while they are nice and thin, they were not overly delicate and I was able to maneuver them into place fairly easily. Be careful with the fuselage bands as they are a bit tricky to line up, and remember that the light blue section on the aft band actually runs under the fuselage. As with many kits, the tail swastikas are provided in two pieces that you have to assemble on the kit. The decals include three swastikas, one without a white border, the other two with one, but as there is no indication whatsoever as to which style goes on which aircraft, you will need to do some research to see which set you need to use.

After decaling, I sealed everything with Future and then Testors Clear Flat to give the model a realistic sheen. Once this dried I installed the landing gear and the various antennas & pitot tube. One item that I am not sure of is whether the angle of the nose gear leg is wrong because I assembled it wrong or if the kit is wrong. Photos of the Me 262 nose gear leg show that the leg tilts forward, but when I completed assembly, my nose gear leg is almost vertical. My assumption is that I did not mount the base of the strut far enough back to get the correct tilt, but I am not sure. really

I enjoyed this kit and it builds up into a very nice replica of a very important aircraft. Highly recommended! Thank you to Academy and Model Rectifier Corporation for the review sample.


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