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Heinkel He 177

Scale: None
Manufacturer: Meng
Ref No: mPLane-003
Material: IM
UK Price: £11.99

Kit Review
The Meng Kids series of caricatures offers models of ships, tanks and aircraft and whilst not to everyone liking they are fun and really easy to build, so have a far greater likelihood of bringing people into this hobby than more traditional kits. I got this He 177 just for a break from standard aircraft modelling, although, as always, it took a while before I started to build it and even longer before it was finished (it's my age you know!). 

My example was one of the earlier production batches, so it had just grey-coloured and clear plastic in the box, more recent ones I believe have multi-coloured plastic? There are just thirty grey and five clear parts, all beautifully moulded with engrave panel lines the works. Assembly could not be easier, you add the wings to the fuselage, which already has the tailplanes moulded in situ, along with the upper rear section of the nose glazing, rear gunner's turret glass and propellers. These latter items I left off until after the painting and marking stages. Next comes the upper sight and remote barbette, upper fuselage half and the main rear turret glazing - actually all of these parts except the upper fuselage half are best left off until final assembly. The ventral gun can be left off in the next stage, but add the glazing and canopy frames along with the tail. It is best to paint all the bulkhead of the nose black before fitting the nose glazing, otherwise the bare plastic is visible. The last stage in the instructions are again things that can all be left off until after painting, these being cute little Fritz X bombs and the undercarriage.
About the only problem area I found during assembly was the seam for the upper and lower fuselage halves, as these did not quite match and so some sanding and filling was needed, the rest just snapped into place though and before you know it, it was time for paint.    

Colour & Markings
The single scheme is black underneath and RLM 76 on top with RLM 75 blotches. I used Mr Aqueous Hobby Color paints for all these colours along with RLM 70 for the spinners and propellers and RLM 02 for the Fritz X bombs. Painting such a caricature aircraft is kind of fun, but you are working in a very compressed space, so masking is necessary for the windscreen glazed panels and the demarcation between the upper and lower colours.  
You do not get traditional waterslide decals in this kit, instead they are self-adhesive and for that reason I replaced as many as I could from suitable sized ones in the spares box (most match with 1/72nd scale markings). I also sourced swastikas for each side of the tail in this manner as well, as they are not included in the kit. The only kit markings are the fuselage codes and although put onto a glossy surface and I tried to level them afterwards with varnish, the thickness of the clear film means that this can clearly be seen once the model is given a coat of matt varnish.
Final Details
You will need to do something really with the top cupola (B5), because as supplied if installed you have a blank area of the fuselage camouflage visible. With hindsight I should have used the clear part to mark out the area below it and then masked and sprayed that area black - alternatively spraying the cupola itself with Tamiya Smoke, along with all the other clear parts, would have also worked with this type of model? All remaining detail parts such as the guns, undercarriage and Fritz X bombs were assembled and pre-painted, so they literally just snapped into place at the very end, along with the propellers, which I omitted from stage 1 of the assembly and cut the flanges off the back of each mounting shaft (A1), so that this allowed them to be slid into position at the very end.

What fun, this was a true antidote to the complex and often infuriating nature of building mainstream 'authentic' aircraft kits. I loved it and it even looks good in the display case. To prove how enjoyable it was I have the B-24 on the bench now and I hope to get hold of a Lancaster once they are readily available again in the UK.

Paints used
Gunze Mr Hobby Aqueous Hobby Color acrylic:
Mr Surfacer 1000 Grey
Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 (Black)
Mr Levelling Thinner
H65 RLM Dark Green 70
H69 RLM Mid Grey 75
H70 RLM Grey 02
H417 RLM Blue 76

Tamiya Color acrylic:
X-1 Gloss Black
X-7 Gloss Red
X-22 Gloss Clear
XF-85 Rubber Black