Roden's 1/72 Gotha G.IV
By Steve Hustad
What can I say? Who would have ever thought that we'd have an injected molded kit of a Gotha bomber in 1/72nd scale?! - let alone TWO?! Not me.Now I tend to be a bit of a pessimist, so my first inclination is: "Well, okay then - what's wrong with it?", but I'm happy to say that very little is wrong with it! Since this kit shares several sprues in common with Roden's earlier release of their Gotha G.II/III kit you should go back and re-read my previous review of that kit.
Good. Then you're also familiar with my general aversion to "potted histories"
of the type being reviewed. I find those to be often inaccurate and boring and
on the other hand, far too short to do the history of the type any justice.
Also, as fair warning, I want to say up front that I'm comparing this kit to
the plans and photographs as published in Albatros Production's 1994 softcover
book "Gotha!", by well known WW I German aviation authority Peter M. Grosz.
This is by far the best reference on the type extant. No doubt it too contains
some errors, but if it does I haven't seen them and they're sure to be minor…
First Impression: So to start off, Roden's new kit comes in a large, 'lift off
the box top' (not in one of those easily crushed end opening "things"…) type
box with an attractive painting of an overall light blue G.IV flown by Kagohl
3 leader Captain Ernst Brandenburg on a 25 May, 1917 bombing raid over the British
Isles. Scheme of this crate is known, but the serial numbers are speculative.
Upon opening the box we're greeted with five sprues in light gray plastic and one small one in clear. Two of the sprues (two copies of the same sprue actually!) are identical to those contained in Roden's G.II/III kit and have the parts necessary for the engines, nacelles, propellers, landing gear legs, wheels, bombs, struts and so on. These are very nicely done and are clearly going to be common with Roden's future release of their G.V kit as well. One of the three remaining gray sprues is for the wings (sprue "D") and is also the same as that in their G.II/III kit, but with a few significant modifications: First they've removed a couple of G.II/III wings and inserted new ones (the lower wings). A few of the other parts look identical, but slightly retooled. All are well done. My copy of this kit shows fine molding on all sprues. Light flash and a few minor sink marks are evident in only a few minor areas. Surface detail is crisp throughout and no warpage was noted. As with my last Gotha review, we'll look at each subassembly by itself: Starting out with the fuselage:Upon laying it over Ian Stairs wonderful scale plans in the book Gotha!, I'm immediately struck by two things: 1) This is a G.V (not a G.IV) fuselage and 2) it scales out perfectly in shape and length (yes, even for a G.IV). Looking at the instruction sheet I see that Roden is telling us to cut out the distinctive G.V forward left fuselage side piece section and replace it with another provided separately (part No. 10 with a window in it) in order to make a G.IV. This will be somewhat difficult for those not really proficient with an X-Acto knife and razor saw, but it's do-able. Roden also instructs us to remove some exterior vertical surface detail from the same fuselage half - but further back this time. Roden provided the G.IV's distinctive rear/bottom gun tunnel in this kit and it looks effective too. The fit of this piece will require some putty though, so be forewarned.
Lower Wing: Roden also asks us to trim the ends of the lower wing's central component (get out the razor saw again! - you hadn't optimistically put that away already had you?) and chop off a good chunk of length from each end of part 10D (similar looking part 3D is 'not for use').The lower wing's outer sections are new moldings, having now been fitted with ailerons. The lower wing's span is about 4mm too long. This is not serious and will not be noticeable. Chord; rib placement and shape all appear good.
'Lo and behold', further surgery is again necessary here in step 14a. Roden now asks us to cut off the bottom of the G.II/III rudder in order to make the G.IV piece. This looks simple enough. The vertical & horizontal stabilizers and elevators all match up with the plans quite nicely requiring no further attention.I want to point out here that with this kit, Roden continues with their molded in/on fabric surface treatment. This is a bit overdone, but should not be noticeable under a coat of paint. You might want to give it a few swipes of sandpaper first anyway…just to be sure. The
Engines and nacelles:
As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs and in my previous G.II/III review these are nicely done, accurate and well molded. Now with this kit, Roden provides four steps (15a to 15d) showing how the exterior of the nacelles are supposed to be modified for the various different Gotha G.IV manufacturer's peculiar details. We get "Gotha built", LVG built (2 types for two different aircraft) and SSW built machines. This is very considerate and an excellent example of attention to detail. Roden is to be commended for providing this level of instruction! Bravo!
Landing Gear, Wheels, Bombs, Tail Skid and Other Small Detail Parts: These are all per my earlier G.II/III review and have the same positives and negatives as that kit. In short and on balance, these are very well done and show good attention to keeping 'detail in scale'. The wheels look too small to me (and compared to the plans and photographs and will likely need replacement (x4).The clear parts are somewhat thick, but useable. You may want to replace them with thin clear plastic cut from sheet - as from that wonderful clear plastic that often comes as a box top for Christmas cards sold in boxes (that's the best clear plastic I've found for vac-forming, or "heat and smashing" canopies too by the way…).
Roden provides a clear step by step instruction booklet that is quite easy to follow and is well printed. A nice feature is the isometric and head on rigging diagrams - very helpful!Roden also includes six 3-view drawings for the six color & marking schemes provided on the decal sheet. Beginning with Ernst Brandenburg's Kagohl 3 machine with spurious codes in overall light blue/gray (Roden says overall clear doped linen) with partial red fuselage sides. Onto Gotha 410/16 flown by Oblt. von Seydlitz, again of Kagohl 3 in a similar scheme. Thirdly we have G.IV 604/16again in the "linen" scheme…okay, maybe! - who's to say for sure with some of these old crates?! Forth we have G.IV 983/16 in matte blue/gray" and "matte WW I Purple", fifth up is "Morota" Gotha G.IV 991/16 in a scheme as per No. four. Lastly is G.IV 232/17 in late war thin Balkan crosses with "linen" wings and "Matt natural wood" fuselage.
I wouldn't bet on the accuracy of these schemes as indicated by Roden, but would advise you to check the Americal/Gryphon decal sheets made especially for Gothas - their sheets numbered 51, 52 and 101. All superb and also covering the same subjects as noted here. Also, I'd consult the book "Gotha!" for better color direction… The Decals: Lastly, we come to the decals, which of course go hand in hand with the six schemes represented. These are quite thin and well printed, though on my copy the name "Morota" is a bit off register. Everything else appears useable. As said, these are very thin and will require careful handling.
How does this compare with their G.II/III kit you ask? (well, okay you didn't ask, but humor me!). I'd say the quality is identical (very good), the accuracy is 'spot on' in almost all cases (excellent), and those areas where there are discrepancies they're minor (tolerable). Molding quality is superior to their earlier version, but more plastic surgery to get a G.IV is required here. So given all of this I've gotta give it a B+ this time (a little bump upward from before). Mostly because this is a more attractive offering with more options and ever so slightly better molding.
Guess I can get rid of my old Rareplanes
vac and Aeroclub white metal parts now! Now go build! Steve Hustad
(The Mad Norseman!)
There are lots of books out there where you can find information about the Gotha. If you are going to build this model you are absolutely going to need to get your hands on a copy of the Gotha Datafile (ALBDS02) which is published by Albatros Productions and is written by Peter M. Grosz. This is the foremost reference on this aircraft and is recommended. The older Profile Publication isn't a bad reference either (it was also written by Mr. Grosz). It has a few color profiles that do not appear in the Datafile but many of the pictures are repeated there.