Reggiane RE-2002 Ariete
The Reggiane RE-2002 shows its ancestry, as its designers were obviously influenced by the Seversky P-35. The original RE-2000 was first flown in 1938, and since the plane had some problems, the majority of the RE-2000’s were exported to Sweden and Hungary. A few were used by the Italian Navy. Reggiane attempted to improve the design by installing a German DB-601A-1 liquid-cooled engine, resulting in the RE-2001. It was accepted by the Regia Aeronautica, but shortages of German engines, plus the fact that the same engine was used in the Macchi C.202 Folgore, restricted production to 252 aircraft. To keep the production lines going, Reggiane redesigned the plane for a third time, using a 1,175 hp Piaggio P.XIX fourteen-cylinder, intending the type mainly for the close support role. A bomb load of 1,433 pounds could be carried in a fuselage rack.
The RE-2002 was only produced in limited numbers, and they did not enter service until July, 1942. About 225 were produced, and when the Germans took over the production lines, they continued production, producing at least 60 for the Luftwaffe. In January, 1944, an Allied bombing raid destroyed the Reggiane factory, but Caproni built additional examples after that. The type was originally used by some close support units, but after the Armistice, units in the south joined the Co-Belligerant Air Force, and their RE-2002’s were used mainly in support of partisans in Italy and the Balkans, and later as fighter trainers. Those aircraft taken over by the Germans were used by the Luftwaffe, many in Southern France against French Resistance fighters.
The first kits of the RE-2000/RE-2001/RE-2002 series were produced by Italeri, and Supermodel acquired the molds in 1971 when they split from Italeri to form a new company. The Italian kits had raised panel lines, but were actually pretty good kits, were reasonably accurate in outline, and had few fit issues. However, the cockpit detail was very minimal, so a new kit of this airplane is certainly welcome.
Consisting of slightly over 40 injection molded plastic parts, the Sword RE-2002 kit has very good surface detail. The cockpit interior is a definite improvement over the Italian kits, with a detailed panel and sidewall detail, although the engine is rather strangely presented with the front cylinder bank in detail and the rear bank as background. There is little wheel well detail, although the gear strut housings have some detail. The lower wing section is molded in one piece, forcing the correct dihedral angle, but the horizontal tail surfaces merely butt-fit into the rear fuselage. The instrument panel requires painting or detailing on your own, as there is no decal of a printed panel. Some of the small parts are disfigured by the sprue attachments and require some rather delicate trimming.
Assembly is rather straightforward after interior detailing is completed. Some filling is required on the seam lines, but nothing unusual for this type of model. The engine can be installed fully painted and detailed, and then can be masked for airframe painting. A detailed color guide is given, providing clear assistance in most cases. The prop has to be assembled separately, and glued onto the front of the engine gear case in a very insecure attachment. I drilled a hole in the crankshaft and gear case, and used a piece of plastic rod to strengthen the joint. On the landing gear, the small U-shaped bracing struts were useless, as the units were too wide to fit inside the gear strut housing. I ended up replacing them with plastic rods. And although the aircraft was equipped with four guns, the wing guns’ locations are not indicated in the assembly drawings, while one wing has an indentation and the other doesn’t. These need to be drilled and installed, as they definitely were there. Be sure to check photos of the airplane to get the proper installation.
Painting and Finishing
Decals are provided for three aircraft, including a Regia Aeronautica RE-2002 of 239a Squadriliglia in Italy in February, 1943; a Co-Belligerent Air Force RE-2002 of 239a Squadriliglia (the same unit, and maybe the same airplane?); and a Luftwaffe RE-2002 of Geschwader Bongart at Bourges, France, in June, 1944. The decals look very good, although I get the impression that the Co-Belligerent roundels are a mite smaller than they should be. In addition, the Co-Belligerent plane drawing’s color code implies that the spinner is light grey, whereas on other parts of the drawing, it is noted as red. So, read the instructions carefully.
This is a good kit, and was fun to build. It presented a few challenges, but that is what modeling is all about. It is probably a little less work than upgrading a Supermodel kit. The markings are colorful, and this kit is worth getting. But don’t discard your Supermodel kits, as they are still useful and a lot cheaper.
Thanks to Squadron for the review sample and to IPMS for the review opportunity.