Tamiya 1/48 Messerschmitt Me 262 A2a
with Eagle Editions 4 Gun Nose
and Eagle Editions Slats/Flaps
Model, Text and Photos by: Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
How does one even begin discussing such a famous aircraft as the Me 262. It is taking Classic Publications four volumes to cover all aspects of this aircraft. The mere mention of the fact that the Me 262 was the worlds first fully operational jet fighter sparks one's imagination and interest. The Me 262 effectively opened the door to the future of combat aircraft, and to this day its design features still have an impact on jet aircraft design. To be honest, a short paragraph or two, or three, cannot do justice in describing the history of the Me 262. Nor can the space allocated begin to scratch the surface of the various incarnations of the Me 262, and its combat history.
The real story here is Tamiya's kit. I remember it being met with great skepticism when it was announced. The world doesn't need another model of the Me 262, it was so expensive, and that little Kettenkraftrad (or as abbreviated, Kettenkrad) just added fluff for a price. Why the two gun nose bomber version first? I must say I was one of the skeptics. But like a condemnation of a book that one has not read, my judgment was quite premature and somewhat wrong. Sure there were other models of the Me 262, starting with the Lindberg Classic. Enough said about that. Then there was the Monogram kit. Inexpensive and easy to build, it was the mainstay for a good number of years. But after completing the Tamiya Me 262, I picked up the Monogram kit and built one. It was like facing a badly aging actress who we once thought was quite lovely in her youth. There is nothing to recommend this kit, other than it can be bought quite inexpensively, when you can find it. Sure you can put a lot of effort into it, but at bottom I do not believe it is worth it.
The next big splash in modeling the Me 262 was the release of the Trimaster kits. These were spectacular kits, with etched metal wheel wells that you had to fold into shape. They cost a lot back then and they took a little bit of work to get a good fit on the nacelles, but it was worth it. All that detail in the cockpit and gun bay, the finely engraved panel lines, white metal landing gear and rubber tires. Truly state of the art. But all good things come to an end, and they evolved (mutated) into the DML/Dragon/Italeri range of kits with the loss of etched and white metal and molds that have lost their sharpness also.
Now along comes Tamiya with its version of the Me 262. No etched metal, no white metal but all in all a beautifully crafted kit. Well engineered and well executed. The plastic used is of good quality, flash free and crisply molded. Granted the leading edge slats are not made to be extended, but none of the other kits of the 262 had them either. I would rather have had dropped slats than the Kettenkrad, however it is not the end of the world. Eagle Editions quickly released a set of replacement leading edges and deployable slats. Eagle Editions also addressed the issue of the two gun nose, by issuing a four gun resin replacement. But there is a little detail Tamiya included that I was glad to see, the covers that were put on the intakes when the aircraft was parked. I read somewhere that they were not used early on, but became necessary when it was discovered that birds liked to take shelter in the intakes. I once discovered that the wheel hubs from the old Lindberg Gladiator fit the intakes of the Trimaster kits just right. With a little plastic stock and some red paint, I had proper covers! (My good friend Ian Hartup - more about him later - thought I was certifiable when I told him of this.) There are also two nose wheels, the smooth and treaded styles, so you will need to check your references if you do not accept Tamiya's assignment, or want to do a different aircraft with aftermarket decals. The kit also includes three nicely detailed figures, two of which are molded in multiple pieces so as to be positioned as you would like. Finally, the kit seems to be designed for those who cannot even follow instruction. The parts are handed and keyed so that they can only fit one way.
The decals sheet provides markings for three aircraft. The painting guide says to paint them in Tamiya's Luftwaffe AS-23 Light Green and AS-24 Dark Green. Yet the painting narrative says RLM 81 and 82. Where in fact,81 was the Brown shade, while 82 was the Bright Green. So if you do not accept Tamiya's conflicting information, you have to do your own research and reach your own conclusions. The decals also provide a full set of stencils, some of which are in the optional red or black.
As has come to be expected from Tamiya kits, the instructions are exceedingly clear and logically laid out. Since step one called for the construction of the cockpit, I began with the nicely detailed cockpit tub. Granted the dials on the instrument panel could be a bit more detailed; there is an instrument panel decal (which I managed to mess up - oh well). But it is more than adequate for many modelers, and I would expect an after market resin set to come out at some point. I painted the underside of the cockpit with Alclad Aluminum and painted the inside of the cockpit with my home brewed RLM 66, a mix of Tamiya Dark Gray and Tamiya Nato Black. I dry brushed the interior with a little flat aluminum and picked out the various instruments and switches. I used the Tamiya decal seatbelt. But I first applied it to a piece of metal foil that is used on wine bottles. I carefully cut out the harness and bent it to shape and glued it in.
I then set aside the cockpit and went on to step two in the instruction: the beautifully done gun bay. At this point you will want to make a decision, or maybe not. Do you want the bay open or closed. The kit has two sets of covers, so you have a choice and no effort is involved. If you want it closed and not bother with the guns and painting, you will still need to install parts C37 (gun bay floor) and C38 (forward bulkhead). I painted the bay according to the instructions, which matched the gun bay on the Me 262 in the Deutsche Museum in Munich.
In step three is where I begin to deviate form the well laid out instruction, primarily because I am a klutz. At this point they have you installing the nose wheel, and I could imagine that between step three and step twelve I would snap it off. So the solution was easy, I super-glued part C3 to the nose weight, which makes a lovely nose wheel well. I then put in (DO NOT GLUE) part C11, and trapped it in place by gluing the gun bay assembly to the nose weight. Part C11 should swing freely, and can be kept up in the wheel well out of harm's way.
I then turned my attention to the fuselage, as that is what is called for in step four. I sprayed the inside with Alcald Aluminum and gave it a dark wash using my Windsor Newton Acrylic Oils. The cockpit, nose wheel and gun bay sub-assemblies were then put in and the fuselage closed up. Again I deviated from the instructions. After closing up the fuselage I put in parts A4 and A5 on the underside and covered up the guns and gun bay. About those bay covers. Tamiya has molded a small teardrop bulge on each side of the bay cover. After going through a number of books, it appears this was not universal, and clearly was not on the aircraft I wanted to model. I am not sure if this bulge was on later production aircraft or peculiar to aircraft produced at a certain location. No matter, it had to be sanded off. I am also not sure about the panel line that runs across the cover. Granted the Me 262 had many of its panel lines puttied smooth, but in close ups of a number of aircraft, that line is just not identifiable. Even though I had Eagle Editions beautiful four gun resin replacement nose, I wanted to do a certain two gun fighter.
After the fuselage was all closed up I turned my attention to the wings. In order to use the eagle Editions resin slats, I cut off the leading edge of the top wing along the slat line. Several passes with a new No. 11 worked quite well. With the Eagle Editions resin replacement slats, the finished model will be parked with the slats extended, just as was the case with the real aircraft. The extended slats added lift and lowered the stall speed. They were mechanical and rolled forward when the plane sat on the ground. As the aircraft became air borne, the force of the air pressure pushed the slats into place against the leading edge. I must admit the resin slats required great care in fitting and were extremely fragile. Great care must betaken in removing them from their casting blocks. The wing inserts have the extension arms molded on. But mine came with one already broken off and as sure as the sun comes up, I managed to lay waste to a number of others. My solution was to notch, with the tip of a knife blade, the points where the arms were, after I had glued the inserts in place. Just before I attached the slats at the end of construction, I glued in place small pieces of 15 X 30 thou plastic strips trimmed to the proper length. From the picture I have seen, these arms are not visible from above. When installing the leading edge insert, remember that the tops were not flush with the wing, there was a slight drop to accommodate the slat as it retracted against the leading edge. I must admit that installing the leading edge insert was not as easy as it seemed, and I did not get it quite right. But then again, I do require my wife to sign an agreement not to complain about the outcome of projects I do around the house. I attached the wings and tail plane and rudder. But I left off until the end parts B1 and F1 on the horizontal stabilizers and rudder; just more tiny parts that can get knocked off while painting.
I skipped step seven, although I did pre-paint the parts. Steps eight and nine went together quite nicely. I painted the engine parts similar to what was called for, but at to parts C7 and C8 and the inside of parts E6 and E7, I painted them Testors Model Master Metalizer Burnt Iron. The nacelle to wing attachment is nearly flawless, especially with regard to the exhaust portion fitting against the upper wing. This ease of attachment puts all other kits in history's dust bin, as far as I am concerned. Because of the aircraft I wanted to model, I did not assemble or attach the bombs or the RATOGS. Finally I masked and attached the windshield, part F6, after attaching part F5.
PAINT AND DECALS:
When this kit came out a cry went up from the crowds: "Why not a fighter version first!" Of course Eagle editions listened and came out with that lovely four gun resin nose. But I knew there had to be another solution. While on the telephone with my good friend in the UK, Ian Hartup, I was thumbing through MESSERSCHMITT Me 262, by Radinger and Schick. There it was, as big as it could be on pages 56 and 57, a close up of the front of a two gun fighter, White 2 of Erprobungskommando 262. It was in a line with a number of four gun Me 262s at Lager-Lechfeld . Best of all, as far as I was concerned, was that it appeared (in my opinion) to be in a 74/75/76 (Grey-Violet/Gray-Green/Pale Blue) paint scheme. I barely finished telling Ian about it when he came back with the serial number - 170071 (A palindrome!). He had been looking through Osprey's German Jet Aces of World War 2, and on page 15 was a picture of the same line up of aircraft and it appears to have been taken at the same time as the picture of the front end. We both decided this was the one we had to do. Note: Profiles of this aircraft show it with a four gun nose. Never trust a profile.
I painted may Me 262 with Testors Model Master acrylic in 74/75/76. I did not pre-shade any panel lines. The Me. 262 had putty applied to the panel joins so as to achieve a smooth surface. Only later as production became more slap dash did the putty lines show through hastily painted aircraft and aircraft with worn paint. I did not have a picture of the wing tops, and I painted them in the typical hard edged splinter scheme. I tacked the slats to the leading edge so the pattern would match the top of the wing pattern. With regard to the interior colors of the slats and the leading edge insert, I used dark gray, as this seems to be the color that was on the slats on the Me 262 in the deutsche Museum. The fuselage is a wonderful soft spray of 74 and 75. At this time I masked and painted the center and rear canopy.
After the paint had dried, I spray the model with a coat of Future and when that had dried the decaling began. The decals are a mix of the Tamiya decals and markings from an old Aeromaster sheet, 48-107. The Tamiya decals are a marked improvement over past efforts. They are much thinner than before. The serial number was easy to put together, as all the serial numbers in the kit were in the 1700xx range. After the decals dried, a final coat of Model Master acrylic flat finish was applied.
FINISHING AND THE LITTLE KIT IN THE KIT:
Finishing up went quite quickly. Back to step seven to attach the landing gear. When I put in the nose gear, I attached the retraction arm that I put in at the beginning. I also carefully put in the nose gear door closing arm. Not a problem at all. Much better than dealing with a nose gear that was snapped off at some point! One point here on the proper length of the gear leg. Many people have said that models of the Me 262 sit too high. After going through all my books, I noticed one thing, the height varied, especially of the nose gear. It all depended if the aircraft was pushed forward, pushed back, cane to a sudden stop or any of a number of other reasons. I found the Tamiya kit to sit within the ranges that I observed. The canopy was added and all the other little fiddly bits glued in place. With regard to the canopy, I did add the little triangular ears, made from plastic sheet stock, that pointed inward at the rear of the center canopy. Finally I attached the extended slats. I first super glued in the small plastic stock in the little notches I cut where the arms broke off. I then glues the slats to them. The slats only extend slightly and do no go beyond the leading edge. I then touched up the plastic arms with a bit of dark gray.
Now for that little Kettenkrad. A miniature kit in the kit. The hardest part was painting the black on the edge of the road wheels. But before I began assembly, I sprayed all the parts with Testors Model Master Panzer Dunkelgelb 1943. After assembly, just some touch up. I then gave the Kettenkrad a light brushing of dark pastels and a final flat coat. It is cute at 2.3 inches, an all that, but I still do not feel it was necessary as an integral part of the kit. Tamiya could have offered a separate Luftwaffe ground crew kit with the Kettenkrad. I understand that the A-1a fighter version kit will not have the Kettenkrad, and the price will be slightly less.
For all those interested in the subject matter this is not just another Me 262 kit, the Tamiya kit is the Me. 262 kit! This is not about being unable to make a silk purse out of the old Monogram sow's ear. This is about a high quality kit, that is well engineered and one that will hopefully keep the general interest modelers involved in the hobby and purchasing kits. Granted at the price you may have to do with fewer, but most modelers only buy one, and this one should be the one they get.
One final note, I may just get a couple of figures from various sources and pose them sitting on the bay cover, just like the picture.
I would like to thank Roll Models for the review sample and their continued support in my efforts to be a reviewer.
1. Messerschmitt Me 262, by Willy Radinger and Walter Schick; Schiffer Publishing; 1993.
2. Messerschmitt Me 262, by Miroslav Balous and Jiri Rajlich; MBI, 1995.
3. The Worlds First Turbojet Fighter Me 262, by Heinrich Hecht; Schiffer Publishing; 1990.
4. Messerschmitt Me 262 Vol. II: The World First Turbojet Fighter, by Manfred Griehl, Schiffer Publishing; 1992
5. Stormbird Colors: Construction, Camouflage and markings of the Me 262, by Brett Green; Eagle Editions Ltd. 2002.
6. German Jet Aces of World War 2, by Hugh Morgan and John Weal; Osprey Publishing; 1998.
FOR THE KETTENKRAFTED:
The picture of the nose of White 2 is from Reference #1.
The Picture of the tail of White 2 is from reference #6.
Yellow band had to be "Photoshoped" to add yellow as it was washed
out by the light and showed as white. My first attempt at that.
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