Available from HobbyLink Japan – http://hlj.com/product/TAM60326/Air
The Zerstörer, or ‘Destroyer,’ concept was developed in the aftermath of WWI, in the light of the failing idea that the “the bomber will always get through,” and the need for long-range escort fighters which could standoff against the increasingly capable, light single-engine defensive fighters which were coming into service in the 1930s.
Such platforms – usually twin engine craft, and heavily armed – were certainly successful in the inter-war years, as the quality of other fighters could not match the speed of planes such as the Messerschmitt Bf 110 which could easily outrun all other fighters of the time. The idea was that the so called ‘Zerstörerwaffe’ or Destroyer Groups could, theoretically, dive through both enemy fighter and bomber formations at speeds which would not get them tangled up in dogfights in which they would not be so agile.
As the premiere heavy fighter of its time, all eyes were especially on the Bf110 when it entered combat service with the Luftwaffe in 1939. Though too late to participate in the Spanish Civil War, the cannon armed Bf110c led the attack against the Polish armed forces (as both heavy fighter and light bomber) when Germany invaded in 1939. Fast, heavily armed, and with good range, these heavy wings made a royal mess of anything that came their way in Poland, Norway, Denmark, and the initial stages of the war in France.
However, even as the Wehrmacht pushed the BEF back towards Dunkirk, the German pilots were finally beginning to encounter aircraft which made mock of the Heavy Fighter concept. The Hurricane, which had been the main fighter of the RAF up to this time, was the last of the British single engine fighters to be vulnerable to 110, and as the Spitfire came increasingly into service it became obvious that the idea of a heavily armed twin engine fighter was no longer viable in a general sense.
Indeed, with even early mark Spitfires being able to outpace 110s easily in level flight the future seemed bleak for not only the Bf 110, but also other heavy fighters being operated by all sides: the Me 210, Bristol Beaufighter, or the P-38 Lightning, for example.
However, this was not entirely true…
With single engine, high performance fighters taking the lead in both general escort AND bomber interception duties across Europe, nations began looking for more specialized roles for these heavy weapon platforms, in which they would not be directly required to go toe-to-toe with their increasingly superior one-time prey.
Germany began increasingly using their own destroyers as ground support craft, as well as night fighters, as did the RAF, very capably.
Only the USAF persisted with a twin engine heavy fighter in the form of the P-38. In this case however, its operational ceiling (achieved in part thanks to its wing footage and incredible power plants) put it on par with the few fighters which could get up to the bombing altitude of a B-17 formation. Indeed, even after the introduction of the P-51 Mustang, the P-38 remained an effective fighter in service in all major theaters.
However… The Brits were not letting the grass grow under their feet, either. The Beaufighter proved to be an excellent ground attack (and torpedo) bomber, and the good old Mossie (which, it could be argued was not actually designed as a heavy fighter in the first place) did even better, when stuffed full of guns and pointed at things…
Building The de Havilland Workhorse
As we have discussed in part one, what made the Mosquito effective throughout the war was its light weight and its versatility. Of all the British heavy fighter builds (often converted from light bombers) this one was clearly the most successful. Tamiya has pulled out all the stops on this particular kit, and delivered a model which, whilst not inexpensive, is worth every penny – as long as you don’t bork things up (see below).
The detailing of the parts, and having metal etched parts available in the kit makes this the first kit I have not gone directly to eBay for aftermarket parts for a long time.
Though, one might think that much of this detail would be out of sight in the final build, remember that Tamiya has included a number of magnets in the kit which attach to a variety of inspection panels, which allows the main interior of the plane to be viewed easily.
Note the interesting configuration of the pilot and navigator seating in this aircraft.
The cockpit can be constructed with full crew or empty, provided with two sets of etched metal harness parts.
The nose browning armament, with their hoppers and feed racks. A little fiddly, but they look magnificent.
A simple, and not entirely accurate paint scheme for the interior: basic cockpit green throughout, with a black wash and appropriate metal details throughout.
In the standard bomber version, the space occupied by the Browning HMGs would be taken up with a bomb-aimer’s bench, as well as a glass nose.
Indeed, this version – which has come to be the ‘standard’ Mossie is actually not how the plane was initially conceived.
Whilst the detail in the cockpit is very good indeed, I do think some compromises were made in order to make the kit practical. There are already so many detail up kits in the works though, that I cannot say much more about that.
It is a balancing act, to be sure. If Tamiya had lavished more care on the details, we might have been delighted with the build, but broken by the price.
Out of the box, it’s good enough for me…
Especially with regard to the magnets… See below!
I was wondering how this was going to work… Popping the magnets into the motors, well out of sight, and adding steel plates to the cowling makes good sense.
And a good job, too, as the level of detail in the engines is excellent.
This beast has ALLLLLL the wingspan.
A very hefty, and strong structure, reflecting the original build, of course.
The wheels are very ingenious. The tread is set in effectively by molding the whole in smaller sections so that, when assembled, it is impossible to see the seams, and still retain all the detail (including, of course the depressions for static display*).
*NOTE: be very careful how one assembles the wheels, and where the depressions are, so that you do not have to break the axles, rotate the wheels and re drill them so you look slightly less of a twonk!
And that’s not the biggest cork up on this build.
Central fuel tanks and bay for ammo for the 20mm cannons, the ports for which can be seen under the nose.
All the control surfaces can be set in multiple positions, as one would expect.
Both early and late props are included.
Be sure to put the right ones one the right mark…
And that STILL is not the biggest cork up I made on this build! 😀
One major issue here. The masking is not as good as I hoped. No matter how I pressed and smoothed, the things, though well formed, all leaked to some degree.
I may have been doing something wrong, but were I to build another, I’d stay with my old, reliable Mr. Hobby stuff.
As always, under-shading was the way to go here, though I wanted to try out some new over-weathering compounds as well.
Simple, straight-forward and direct. Classic RAF cammo.
I did not like the prop tip decals, so tried free-handing… Not very well.
Will go back and redo when time allows.
You can probably spot the biggest bodge on this build easily now…
PROTIP: Do not remove the canopy masking until you have matte-coated the model.
Not the cheapest kit to be sure (HK Models and Revell are both under the mark of the Tamiya), but overall, I do think I prefer the Tamiya kit over both.
The Revell is an older mold, and the HK Model represents a big bellied Mk IV, and needs a little more work to bring up to snuff. Not that the Tamiya is perfect out of the box, but it is near enough for me.
Moreover, the wealth of detail, the intricacy of the build and the surprising easy with which is all goes together is impressive.
One of the biggest kits I have those far tackled and, whilst I did make a few gold-plated muck-ups I am very pleased with it overall.