Classic Airframes 1/48 Heinkel He 112 B-2
Model, Text and Photos by: Joe Frazier
1st Esquadrilla, Grupo 27 - Nador, Spanish Morocco 1943
Classic Airframes (Kit 97-408-2995) has produced a fine 1/48th scale replica of this lesser known Luftwaffe fighter aircraft, with the usual plastic, resin, and vacuformed parts which have come to be associated with this growing series of limited run models.
Introduced into active service in 1937, the Heinkel 112 lost out in competition to the Messerschmitt ME 109, and was only produced in limited numbers, most aircraft seeing service with other nations after a short period with the Luftwaffe. Some were pressed into service with the Spanish Air Force, and the later B2 version served with the Rumanian and Hungarian Air Forces. One Spanish HE112, piloted by Lt. Miguel Klett, damaged a 14th Fighter Group P-38, forcing it down in Spanish Moroccan territory. Plagued with engine problems, the aircraft never quite reached its potential. It does serve, however, as a bridge between the last of the Luftwaffe biplane fighters, and the later famed ME 109 and FW190 series.
Construction of this kit was simple and straightforward, but not wholly without problems. I will review the major areas separately, and offer comments about each of them.
Fuselage and Cockpit
The fuselage is well molded, with very fine engraving, which is perhaps the best feature of the model when finished. The two halves line up well. The upper air scoop is not hollowed out, so I built a back plate from plastic stock, which was glued inside the fuselage to close the back area, and hollowed out the scoop area. I used very thin plastic sheet to cover the area just forward of the scoop and hide the glue seam from the fuselage halves. If this is not done, it is very difficult to sand out the centerline.
The resin cockpit interior is another very nice addition to the kit, with more than enough detail to make it appear realistic and accurate, especially with the canopy opened. The builder will have to do some cutting and fitting to make the resin parts fit well inside the fuselage area. I would also recommend doing some measuring and then the use of plastic strips as guides for gluing the cockpit floor at the right height, since there are no tabs to help with this.
The tail wheel housing is not open on the model as cast, and I had to open it and file it to shape for a more realistic look, as recommend in the plans.
Gun ports and air scoops were drilled out for a more realistic look.
One real weakness of the kit as molded is the fact that the retractable radiator part for the front of the lower wing has no inner detail, but is actually just a shell to be glued to the wing radiator base. I added internal sections and screening, using photos from Squadron Signal's excellent Heinkel HE 112 In Action (Number159) for reference
Wings and Elevators
The Wings are well molded, with very fine surface detail. There are some minor fit problems to the fuselage, which are easily corrected with a little sanding and use of filler.
There are no locating pins for the elevators, so I lined up the right and left halves with the mating surface on the fuselage and used brass pins to help center and strengthen the joined surfaces. The elevators are a bit thick, but I left them alone, rather than lose surface detail in the process of trying to thin them down. One nice thing about camouflage finishes is the fact that they hide problems like this.
The wheel well areas are completely open, which could easily have been corrected by the manufacturer with resin inserts. The builder is left with a choice of leaving them that way, or boxing them in with hollow plastic stock. I boxed the area in, and it looks fine when finished.
Other Construction Areas
The canopy is wellmolded and two are provided, which lets the builder risk cutting one of them apart in an attempt to open the cockpit area up for viewing. If the project fails, the second canopy can go on closed. I had good luck with cutting the sections apart, and chose to show my model with the canopy open. The canopy is a little thick, as is to be expected with a vacuform process, but it clears up nicely with a few coats of Future liquid wax. Care should be taken when drilling a hole in the canopy for the aerial mast.
The landing gear covers are much too large in comparison to the wheel well dimension; I made a template of the wheel well opening, and cut them down to that size.
The landing gear legs are actually a bit short, and not cleanly cast. I used them anyway, but if I were building this kit again, I believe I would replace them with struts from the spares box which are longer and more cleanly molded.
The two blade propeller is a little on the thick side and I had to do some filing and fitting to get it to fit inside the spinner and spinner backplate. It looks fine when sanded down.
Finishing and Decals
Using the kit painting instructions as a guide, I finished the model using Model Master paints throughout, after first using an undercoat of Mr. Surfacer which I lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper to ensure a smooth finish. I varied the camouflage outline a bit in places, again using the In Action pictures as a guide. Interesting enough, it appears that the fuselage sides of Spanish aircraft follow a softly blended splinter pattern, while the wings and elevator have a much more freely patterned look, much like British and American wing camouflage patterns. I think the builder is free to use a little poetic license here.
The decals are well within register and went on very nicely after a light coat of clear gloss on the model.
I ran a light wash of oils and turpenoid, along all engraved panel lines, wiping away the excess after it had dried. Then, using pastels, I dirtied up the service areas, and added engine exhaust stains, using red, brown, dark gray and black pastels. A final coat of 3 to 1 flat to gloss clear was lightly sprayed on.
I personally like the Classic Airframes series of models. They are mostly unique subjects, which the major manufacturers are probably never going to produce. I also like the fact that Classic Airframes pays a lot of attention to modelers' comments and concerns, and as a result their later kits just keep improving in accuracy and fit.
However, a model which is priced as expensively as this one should have items like enclosed wheel wells, accurate radiator areas (it is very prominent on the real airplane), properly sized wheel well covers, and a better fit of resin to molded parts.
Having said all of this, I would add that if the builder does not mind cleaning up small parts, doing some cutting and pasting, and using intermediate modeling skills, this model will be a real pleasure, and will add a nice addition to any collection of World War Two fighters. It really does look good when finished!
Finally, thanks to Brent and Mike at Roll Models for allowing me to produce this article for their website. I hope others will buy Classic Airframes models and enjoy building them as much as I do.
Squadron Signal Heinkel He112 In Action. Aircraft Number 159.
Model Master enamel paints
Micro Sol decal
Editors Note: This kit is currently not in production, but may be readily found at swap meets.