- Published on Monday, 02 July 2012 00:00 James Hatch
1:32 Heinkel He 162A-2 'Salamander'
Catalogue # 04723
The Heinkel He 162 was one of Germanys last ditch attempts to produce a low cost, lightweight fighter aircraft, using a minimum quantity of strategic materials, and one that could be flown by pilots with only limited experience. Unfortunately, this was a machine which needed a pilot with plenty of experience, and for the Luftwaffe, most of those were now dead, missing or no longer on operation duties due to injury. The He 162 went from drawing board to runway in the space of only a few months, and despite the flight quirks of the type, in the right hands, it proved to be an efficient and highly manoeuvrable aircraft with plenty of potential. The bombardment of Germany by the Allies, saw production dispersed to underground facilities, and many components and assemblies were produced by slave labour, and not always to a high standard. Many He 162's were lost due to defective glues, poor quality parts or even sabotage.
The biggest question I have to ask is why Revell discontinued this model in the first place. I had always thought this as being a big seller. There were certainly many online builds of this, such as the amazing one from Klaus Herold, and I know so many people that were after laying their hands on one. Until recently, I was building one of the original releases, but had to stop because I needed some replacement parts. Unfortunately for me, Revell told me they couldn't supply them anymore, so I had to source an old kit elsewhere. My build of this model is HERE.
Now here we are again, with the Heinkel He 162A-2 'Salamander' making a very welcome return to our shelves with this re-issue, coming only seven years after its initial introduction. Even the catalogue number is the same. Perhaps now I can make all those variants I always envisaged?
As the moulds aren't that old, I wouldn't expect much has changed for this release, but let's take a look anyway.
As expected, Revell have maintained their packaging standards with the awkward end-opening box, meaning that putting sprues back inside can be testing, plus you don't have a style of box that you can store your assemblies. Never mind, as with this release, we have a spanking new artwork depicting a more stylistic image of a He 162 overflying a B-17 which has just been successfully attacked. The images on the side of the box show some snapshots of a completed and painted model.
Inside the box, we disappointingly find all of the kit sprues packaged into a single clear bag, but with the clear sprue thankfully within a separate bag. Come on Revell, at least bag things properly, even if you retain the end-opening box!
The Heinkel He 162A-2 is comprised of FOUR sprues of a pale blue-grey styrene, and a single clear sprue. Having built two of these now, I'm pretty intimate with this kit and can look across the sprues to see if the moulds have stood the test of their relatively short existence.
I am noticing a few areas where flash has begun to creep in, such as the ejector seat handle grips, plus I can see one of two ragged edges on some part edges, as is evident on the gun bay insert. These themselves are no real problem and simply require you to be a little more thorough in your part preparation than you might normally have been. Ejector pin marks are thankfully not going to cause any distress due to their clever placement, and the only sink marks which are evident are on the fuselage exterior walls, in the cockpit region. These sink marks form lines which coincide with the internal cockpit formers. This is in fact something of a blessing, as the He 162 did exhibit a stressing of the metal here, and these subtle sink marks are a dead-ringer for this.....so unless you have OCD and want a smooth surface, then use this 'fault' as part of the scale effect!
Generally speaking, all plastic moulding is still of a very high standard, and certainly no worse than your average model release. The clear parts are superbly moulded, with excellent clarity and well-defined framing. A dip in Klear will make these sparkle.
For those that haven't had the pleasure of seeing this kit in its first incarnation, I'll do a résumé of this release for you.
Revell's Heinkel He 162A-2 builds up into an excellent model, straight from the box, and should provide enough detail to keep the average modeller more than interested. With a little extra wiring and plumbing, you will have a seriously eye-catching model of this bizarre looking and deadly machine. Should you have a serious dose of AMS (Advanced Modellers Syndrome) though, you will be delighted to know that Eduard, Aires and CMK have a number of sets for this on the market, such as full etch metal suites, cockpit, landing gear, control surfaces, engine, and a whole new 'V' tail section, to name the key ones.
This is certainly a model which lends itself to being super-detailed, and yet looks impressive when simply built OOB. For those who prefer the latter, this is what Revell supply.
Construction of the He 162 begins with the nose gear assembly, onto which the cockpit assembly is connected. The wheel well actually protrudes into the cockpit, forming a key, characteristic feature. The retract mechanism for the nose gear is included, complete with torsion springs, counterweight etc, but these are hidden by the aircrafts nose cone, which is moulded to the fuselage as a single part. You are also advised to add 45g of weight into this small space, which seems inconceivable. My model has the nose cone removed to display the wheel retract mechanism, and I find that you can secrete the weight immediately to the rear of the cockpit, with no ill effect.
The cockpit itself is really very good, with superb side-wall constructional elements, as well as the priming pump and separate side consoles and MG barrels/leather gaiter for each side. The instrument panel is more than adequate, and will look good with the supplied multi-colour instrument panel decal. Personally, I would perhaps use some Luftwaffe instrument decals, as supplied by MDC. As the canopy can be posed in an open position, you can show your efforts here to maximum effect.
A detailed ejection seat is also included, but the seatbelts are poorly defined and would benefit from some of those produced by Radu Brinzan. There I go again....suggesting aftermarket! Still, these would massively enhance the cockpit. If those seem too much for you, consider some of the Eduard colour printed ones.
The main gear well is built into the fuselage, and must be incorporated before closing up the fuse halves. The well itself is built up from around 10 parts, not including the u/c struts. Again, for injection plastic moulding, the detail is excellent, and would benefit from a little lead wiring and some careful washing and dry-brushing.
The undercarriage legs themselves are excellent, with good definition and positive connection to the wheel bay. The two-part wheels are realistic, but are not 'weighted', so you'll have to sand flats onto them, or use some resin parts (there I go again!) One anomaly in the main gear area are the curved edges for the gear doors. These were straight on the real aircraft. To correct this, glue the doors to the centre exterior panel, whilst in situ over the model, in order to get the correct overall shape, and when dry, remove from the model. The shell can now have the two points of each undercarriage door joined in pencil, bypassing the curve, and then carefully cut. You'll just need to fill the anomaly on the interior of each door.
Wing construction is pure simplicity. These are split into upper and lower halves, with integral flaps and ailerons. You'll need to conduct some surgery if you wish to pose these, or of course, there is the resin route. The tailplane is simplicity itself with an upper and lower 'V' section with integral elevators, and vertical tail-planes with integral rudders, moulded in inner/outer parts.
The modeller has an option of posing the engine doors either open or closed. A reasonable BMW engine is supplied, but it is rather simplistic and would definitely benefit from some plumbing being added. Without it, it is rather bare, but would perhaps suit the younger modeller, or a modeller who wants a simple, fun build.
Revell's instructions are identical to the previous release and they contain 42 constructional sequences, not including the scheme application. The illustrations are typically 'drawn' in style, which while not as clear some manuals we are used to, do have an appeal for me. Make sure you better test fit parts before committing to glue.
A single decal sheet is included, and from this, TWO schemes are possible. These are different to the original release, and are:
- He 162A-2, Wk.Nr.120027, 'White 1', 1.JG/1, Lt. Rudolf Schmitt, Leck, May 1945
- He 162A-2, Wk.Nr.310018, White 5', 1.JG/1, Hptm. Heinz Künnecke, Leck, May 1945
The decals, minus Swastikas, are printed on a single, small sheet, and have a matte finish to them. Now displaying that Revell is a subsidiary of Hobbico Inc. these decals are printed in Italy (presumably by Cartograf), and are reasonably thin and in perfect register. As well as markings for the two schemes, a full set of stencil data is supplied, as are various placards. Carrier film is minimal and colour reproduction excellent.
So what do we think?
I really am so pleased to see this model available again. For its cost at under £20, it represents both amazing value for money and also a base for a number of conversions and other unusual subjects, such as the Mistel 5. The quality of this release hasn't really degraded much since it first was released in 2005, and I'm pleased to see that two NEW schemes have been included, although I would perhaps have liked to have seen at least another extra one, as the initial release had 3 schemes to choose from.
Very highly recommended. Get out there and get one before Revell inexplicably see to withdraw it again!
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