Trumpeter 1/48 S.M. 79-II Sparviero
First Look review by Steve Jantscher
When it rains it pours. Having gone so long in the modeling world without a modern kit of the dreaded Italian SM79 torpedo bomber, the "Hunchback" makes its appearance not once, but twice inside of half a year. First from the limited production house of Classic Airframes, and now from the major plastic giant from China, Trumpeter. The SM 79 is one of those also ran second tier of combat aircraft that still doesn't get the attention that it deserves, but this kit helps redress that previous error. As famous in Italy as the Spitfire was in England, the SM79 in its torpedo variant was the terror of the Mediterranean ocean. So how does the Trumpeter kit look? In a word, pretty nice. The moldings are done in the classic some what soft plastic that Trumpeter is famous (or infamous) for. Care must be taken when sanding, it a little goes a long way with these kits (I know, I just finished the 1/24th scale Spitfire, and I've been working off and on one of their SU-15s). Whatever the material, the moldings are crisp and show much detail. Recessed panel lines throughout. The instructions are typical Trumpeter, showing where everything goes, and generally sufficient for beginners. There ought to be no guessing where parts go with these instructions. How it fits though, is another question.
Knowing that I had this "first look" to do, I have been reading all I could about this kit, and how it compares with the CA kit. reviewers generally fall into two or three camps. There are the what I like to call the "Trumpeter bashers" who for some reason like to find fault with this kit, as with most other Trumpeter kits. They will point out how it differs from their plans or from the Classic Airframes kit, and complain that this or that part is "wrong". One such review stated that the clear parts "were unusable" for not being clear enough. My sample's clear parts are just fine, with the painted over section frosted over, and the window portions clear. I can read text through the windows. How much clearer does it have to be. The aft fuselage cloth section has been critized by some as too heavy handed, while others point to pictures of the aircraft in flight showing just such "sucked in" appearance. It's true that the fabric has some stretch in real life. If it seems too much for you, the modeler, just give it a couple of coats of a thick primer, and then sand the raised ridges of the fabric section down with a flat sanding pad. For other modelers, like me, the kit has to go together well, and look like the prototype. This is not a Tamiya "shake and bake" kit (from the build-up reports I've read), but in many ways it is easier than a limited run kit.
Trumpeter should be given mixed thanks for their engineering of the kit. They have so far given the modeler the option of positionable flying surfaces. This is generally commendable, but the separate leading edge (slats?) seems like overkill. I don't recall seeing those deployed in any of the photos I have. And while the separate ailerons, elevators and rudder are a "nice to have" option, they do add to the overall cost of the kit, for in my opinion, not much more modeling detail. But to each his own. the rear section of the cockpit is somewhat barren, and there really isn't the option to leave the top gunners blister open. The engines have suitable detail, and ought to look pretty nice. I've read that later in their service life, the SM79s went from having the exhaust go out on the same side, to opposite sides (away from the fuselage) to prevent night blindness for the crew. That is not reflected in this kit. From the little research I've done on the SM79, I believe that carriage of two torpedoes were only done for transport (of the torpedoes) and not for attack missions, which then would be carrying only one torpedo. By the way, the torpedoes are very well done.
The decals are very nice as far as I can see. They are thin, glossy, in register and sufficiently opaque. Only application will tell how well they go down. As you can see, marking are only provided for one aircraft of brown and rust-red splotches over a mustard yellow. Actually it is quite a nice looking (but challenging) paint scheme. Strange then that the box cover art isn't in line with the paint scheme as depicted in the instructions. The box art shows dark green splotches over a dark red-brown color. Curious.
Over all, I'd have to give this a "thumbs
up". It ought to make into a nice model.
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