- Published on Sunday, 12 February 2012 00:01 James Hatch
1:32 Henschel Hs 129B-2
Grey Matter Figures
Catalogue # GMAJR3209
Available from Grey Matter Figures for £129.00 (UK price), inclusive of delivery.
We recently reviewed an excellent MMP book about the Henschel Hs 129, so instead of re-writing the history regarding this machine, take a look at our review HERE. Consider this as perhaps a reference for this kit we are about to review.
Being a modeller that grew up in the 1970's and 1980's, the classic boxed Airfix kits were the ideal pocket-money fodder for us kids. The 1:72 Henschel Hs 129 was one of those models that I bought numerous times simply because it looked quite odd when compared to the Ju 87's and Bf 109's. A strange slab-sided, angular brute with a big gun and two undersized-looking engines.
For that generation of modellers who now look to build in 1:32, the only kit other than the Combat Models vac-form release, was Jerry Rutman's resin kit. The Rutman kit was a very accurate and detailed release with all the features that we larger scale modellers like, such as complete cockpit and nice panel line engraving. These kits became quite sought after as Jerry hadn't been making them for a while, and when he decided to stop production of all Rutman products and 'shut up shop', it left a number of modellers bereft, with it looking like they would never own a 1:32 Hs 129.
Enter Grey Matter Figures. GMF have acquired a number of Jerry's masters recently, and the interest shown on the Large Scale Planes website with regard to re-releasing the Hs 129 kit, had been enormous! Listening to us modellers, GMF decided to go ahead with producing this kit from the Rutman masters, and this kit , the B-2, is the first of two Hs 129 releases. The next will be the B-3 'Tank Buster'.
The 1:32 Henschel Hs 129B-2 comes in a deceptively small and rigid box measuring 325xx x 220mm x 50mm. The box lid carries an artwork of one of the 5 schemes included within the kit, namely a machine from 10.(Pz)/SG9, early 1944, flown by Lt. Walter Krause.
GMF's attention to detail is obvious when you open the lid and see the red tissue paper lining the box interior. Layers of bubble-wrap protect the parts within, and the many smaller resin parts are packed within numerous zip-lock bags, and then packed into a total of 4 re-sealable bubble-wrap envelopes. A hand drawn instruction sheet and a single colour scheme sheet are provided within a zip-lock bag, along with a sheet of decals. Two smaller packets are included also, with one of these being for a set of the excellent RB Productions paper and etch seatbelts, plus a set of RB Productions Luftwaffe Rudder Pedals. Lastly, another zip-lock bag is included which contains the brass Schatton-Modellbau-produced Rheinmetall-Borsig 3cm MK.103 cannon parts.
Under these packets lie the main protagonists within this kit; the fuselage halves and the wing parts. Here you will also find the two engine cowls.
GMF have cast the resin parts in this kit with a supple, light grey resin which has a degree of flexibility, and is also easy to trim with your knife, and easy to sand. The fuselage halves have a single remnant of a pouring spout at the aircraft nose. These have been thoughtfully added so that it is connected to the mating surface only, and not flush with the actual profile. For the purposes of this review, and to test fit these parts, I have trimmed these away.
Being large parts, that flexibility in the resin will be useful in helping you to line up the halves correctly. There are no alignment lugs etc, so you will need to come up with your own arrangement to ensure the parts mate perfectly. Test fitting these parts, and also visual inspection shows that you will need to gently and superficially grind the mating surfaces to a flat finish on some Wet 'n Dry paper of about 400 grade. When this is done, the fuselage halves should fit without any issue. The exterior of the fuselage exhibits some very nice detail, such as the MG channels and rivet detail at the nose, and the panel lines and various access ports etc. It is noticed that there are no connecting tabs etc for the vertical tailplane, stabilisers or wings. You will need to perhaps pin these, with tube and rod aiding alignment. The surface of the fuselage does exhibit a few sanding marks in places. While a micro-filler primer would probably soft these out, I would use a very fine sanding sponge to eradicate these.
The interior cockpit walls have the internal MG channels cast in situ, with the Hs 129's simple and limited sidewall detail. What detail there is here though, is nice and sharp.
The wings are cast in upper and lower halves, with integral flaps and ailerons. They are also hollow, as well as thin in some areas too. The wing root point is where you will find the remnants of the casting spouts also. The wings are supplied 'taped together' and it is evident from inspection that you will perhaps need to add some internal blocks in places so that you not only help to make the wing more rigid, but also that you help it conform to its proper profile. This is most obvious at the wing root. Here, you will need to pack the upper and lower parts so that they will match up perfectly to the wing root on the fuselage, otherwise the wing will be too narrow at this section.
External wing detail is very good, with crisply engraved panel lines and access ports. Like the fuselage, there is no rivet detail. If you like rivets, then you'll need to add them yourself, and preferably before you fit the upper and lower parts so that you don't strain the structure by applying too much pressure to the thin wing skins. A recess is cut away in each wing so that the detailed wheel wells can be inserted within. As the Hs 129 cockpit was so small, a number of engine-related instruments were situated on the inboard side of each engine, visible to the pilot through the canopy. These instrument locations and bezels are cleanly cast, and look correct.
The two engine cowls are nicely cast also, with some fine detail that in some areas, I would perhaps just re-emphasize with a scribing tool. The cowls are single part, and the only clean-up to perform is to remove the casting spout nipple from the forward intake, and also using a little sand paper on the internal radius, near the forward opening.
Cast in halves are also the undercarriage/engine nacelles. While these parts would also benefit from having their mating surfaces ground a little flatter, they do match up quite well 'straight from the mould', and won't take too long to assemble. External engraving is very good. Within the same zip-lock bag are the wheel wells themselves. These are thinly and neatly cast with a good representation of the aircraft construction within. Just a little clean-up will be required before fitting these.
The main undercarriage legs are cast in black resin, for some unknown reason, and these look very good, with excellent definition. I don't know if there is a metal rod in these. The wheels also look great, with the correct raised detail where appropriate. They are 'weighted' too. You will need to drill them out though in order to plug them onto the gear axles. The tail wheel and fork are also superbly cast, with some particularly fine detail on the wheel itself.
The tailplane parts really are superbly mastered and cast. The rudder and elevators are cast onto their respective static tail surfaces, but the representation of these is excellent. Jerry is to be applauded for his depiction of the fabric on these parts. In the whole, they look correct, and not over/under-done. Where there are trim tabs, these really do look very nice, along with their finely cast actuation rods. Again, panel line detail is also subtle.
Whilst the cockpit on this machine is quite small, as I have already mentioned, this hasn't prevented Jerry from giving the modeller an excellent level of detail in this area. The main cockpit 'tub', comes complete with side consoles and lever/instrument positions, as well as a detailed seat location bracket, rudder pedal locators so that the etch metal pedals can be installed, and also the leather gator for the control column base. LSP modellers know that a key piece of 'eye candy' on any model of this scale has to be the instrument panel, and here you won't be disappointed. For a small cockpit, there is still a lot of detail crammed onto this part, and all of it sharply cast. This part fits cleanly to the cockpit tub also. The interior of the cockpit also has a large number of resin levers and other paraphernalia that won't disappoint detail freaks.
Obvious cockpit areas such as the hear armour plate and other heavy-gauge structures are also included. Generally speaking, all these parts require is removing from casting blocks and a quick bit of work with a knife and/sanding stick. Casting quality is excellent throughout.
The engines are supplied as individual front and back cylinder banks, with the exhaust gas collector ring fitting to the rear bank. The actual exhaust stubs themselves are supplied as pre-cut lengths of thin aluminium tube, which is a great touch! These will need some filing to clean up the ends. A spacer fits to the rear engine bank which sets the engine at the correct distance from the nacelle. The propeller is constructed from separate blades, and these plug into the one-part spinner.
The belly gun pod is cast as a single resin part, and a turned brass barrel is included, with numerous parts, to plug into this. Made by Robert Schatton, this barrel is supplied in a small case, similar to those that hypodermic needles come in. A small drawing is included for assembly of the barrel.
There really are so many other small resin parts within this kit that it's not really feasible to talk about them all, as the photos here of the kit will testify too. These parts include 'wheel down actuators', undercarriage hydraulic retraction mechanism, wing mounted oil coolers and flap hinges, but to name only a small number. I guarantee you will be impressed with the 'parts count' in this kit.
Two vac-form canopies are supplied, just in case you have an, er, accident with the first one! This part represents the sliding rear portion, and I am quite impressed with the sharpness of detail on these parts; something you don't usually see on vac parts. The forward armoured windscreen is cast from clear resin. This needs a polish to be honest, in order to improve the clarity. I recommend using micromesh, followed by a dip in Klear/Future. Overall, resin casting quality is excellent. There is a little flash to remove and an occasional pin hole, but nothing at all challenging.
A Radu Brinzan seatbelt set is included for this, and if you've never seen these before, then you are in for a treat. These are constructed from paper, with etch buckles. They can be adjusted, as per the real thing, so fit perfectly within your model. A set of photo etch rudder pedals are included also, but as this fret contains various different pedals, you will need to check your references as to which ones to use. I suggest parts '1' as the main pedals.
The instructions do leave a little bit to be desired, as they are the original hand drawn sketches from Jerry Rutman. Clarity of these isn't particularly good, and you will need to have some references at hand when it comes to building this kit in order to build the ambiguously drawn areas. There are plenty of references in Inter-web land which can help you with this.
The 5 colour schemes are printed on a double sided colour A4 sheet. One side shows the 5 schemes themselves, with scheme notation given, whilst the reverse side shows the Hs 129 in upper and lower elevations, with stencil placement given. Artwork is by Radu Brinzan, and Jerry's references are given also.
The schemes given are:
- W.Nr. 0364, 8.(Pz)/Sch.G.1, Kuban, Russia, May 1943
- W.Nr. 0350, 4.Pz.Jä.St/JG51, Eastern Front, Spring 1943
- 10.(Pz)/SG9, Early 1944, flown by Walter Krause
- W.Nr. 0342, (Pz)/Sch.G.2, El Aouina, Tunisia, Early 1943
- W.Nr. 0310, 4.(Pz)/Sch.G.2, Castel Benito, Libya, February 1943
Decals are supplied on a single sheet, printed by Fantasy Printshop. The good news is that the swastikas are included too, so no need to source these individually. National, unit and stencils are supplied on this same sheet. Printing is both solid and in perfect register, with minimal carrier film too. The decals are also reassuringly thin.
So what do we think?
To start with, I feel I must say that this is no model for a novice to resin kits. You will need to have a good set of constructional techniques under your belt, as well as the ability to problem solve as you progress, and to think several stages ahead. Having said that, this is a very welcome return of what is essentially an excellent kit. While this isn't a cheap purchase, relatively speaking, it offers excellent value for money with an impressive parts count, and a project that will satisfy the most demanding of builders for a reasonable amount of time. If you have worked with resin before, and perhaps had a couple of full resin kits 'under your belt', then I would heartily suggest that you try your hand at this kit.
Very highly recommended
Review kit courtesy of my wallet. To purchase this kit, head over to the Grey Matter Figures website and place your order.