One thing that has changed since my modeling during my pre-teen and teen years in the late 70’s and early 80’s is that the price of a model has gone up dramatically. I can well recall buying kits for as low as US$.99, and most kits were less than US$5.00. Today’s kits are generally far more expensive- often US$30-$40 for a typical aircraft kit. So finding a kit that has nice detail, good fit and a reasonable price tag is quite a treat.
Enter Revell’s 1/48 Me262-1a. Listed at $14.98 at my local Hobby Lobby, I used one of their frequent 40% off coupons and took home this gem for a mere $8.99- a great bargain by today’s standards.
Though the kit itself is basically the same molds I would have built in my youth, they’ve held up well over time. Though the kit does have raised panel lines, the fit and detail approach that of most modern kits which cost far more. And in the final analysis, Revell’s kit can be built into one that looks far better than it’s pricetag would indicate.
The cockpit is a simple “tub”, with the seat built in. Detailing is minimal, but adequate. A separate throttle quadrant is provided, as well as a nice IP panel with a good decal. the rudder pedals are simple, blocky looking affairs, but evenn OOB, a little dry-brushing can bring them out and gives a perfectly adequate result. I added in some Eduard photoetch seatbelts (they’re actually a U.S. set of belts), and I painted the interior in Polly Scale RLM 66.
The IP decal adds a touch of realism
The Me262-1a had 4 30mm cannons in the nose, and the kit allows the modeler to have the gun bays open, showing the cannons and feed trays, etc. Though certainly not as detailed as Tamiya’s Me262 offering, it will still look good OOB, and a few bits of wire and stretched sprue will liven things up a bit. As I was not planning on using the kit in a diorama, and was building it as almost a quick-build kit, I chose to leave the gun bays closed. Also, a simple engine is provided for one side, and this may be left open as well. Again, the detailing is rather basic, but can look nice. As with the gun bays, I chose to button up the engine.
Construction of the kit is fairly straight-forward, and the fit is the best I’ve seen on a Revell kit. It’s quite good, with only a little sanding needed along the fuselage join, and the engine nacelles to wing join needed a little work. Keep in mind that since the 262 was a tricycle landing gear aircraft, adding some nose weight will prevent “tail sit”. Though a clear plastic rod is provided to hold the aircraft upright, nothing works as well as a weighted nose. (I know, because I forgot to add nose weight….)
Many Me262’s (as well as other German aircraft) were painted in a “mottled” pattern, which consisted of many spots of color along the sides of the aircraft. I has a little intimidated by painting this at first, as I’d only recently started using an airbrush. I decided I may as well give it a try, figuring if I made a mistake, I could spray over it and start again.
I started by painting the aircraft undersides and most of the fuselage sides in PS RLM 02, a very light gray. One hte sides, this color would be the base under the two-colored mottle, comprised of PS RLM 80 (Olive green) and PS RLM 81 (Brown violet). At the time I built this model, I was using an Aztek 370 and a Paasche VL as my airbrushes. the Paasche had an adjustment wheel that allowed the airbrush to operate in something like single action mode, so a quick tap on the trigger would give a small burst of color. I began applying the mottle, using a reference pic of the aircraft. it took a bit of time- the Paasche suffered horribly from “tip dry”, a condition where the paint dries on the airbrush needle. (I’ve since started using Aztek’s 470, a dula action airbrush with a similar adjustment wheel, and have almost no tip dry issues.) In more than a few places I over shot the mottle, and simply oversprayed the area with RLM 02 to correct it, then re-did the mottle. Once the mottle was complete, I finished the upper surfaces in PS RLM 80 & 81, doing the work freehand, and letting the solid camo on top of the fuselage and nacelles, “blend” in with the mottling.
Once the painting was done, I wanted to do something to make the panel lines “pop” a little bit. As I mentioned earlier, this kit has raised panel lines, and I wasn’t sure how doing the type of panel wash you would apply to recessed line kits would work. (Of course, you could opt to rescribe the panel lines, but I chose not to.) I read on several forums of folks using pastel chalks to highlight panel lines, and so after a quick trip to the arts and crafts store, I started applying a mixture of black and gray chalks. Using a small brush trimmed to only about one-eighth inch bristles (as used in dry-brushing), I would rub the brush in the chalk, and gently drag it across the panel lines. Blowing off the excess, I’d repeat the process until I was satisfied with the results.
I was very happy with the outcome. You can really see the difference when you compare the picture in the preceeding paragraph with the one prior. The chalks really make the panel lines stand out, but I think it’s not overdone. If you do get excess on the aircraft, a cotton swab seemed to work quite well for pulling off excess chalk.
Finally, the last bits and pieces were added. The landing gear and tires look very nice, and even have molded in brake lines. the canopy is a tad thick, but is fairly clear. The decals went down very well and lloked excellent, as seems to be typical for Revell.
In the end, it looks like an Me262-1a….. exactly what a modeler would hope for. Close examination, especially if compared side-by-side with the Tamiya 262, would clearly show the difference in engineering and detailing. Yet the Tamiya kit was also at Hobby Lobby the day I bought the Revel one, and it was US$44. Even with the coupon, it would’ve set me back more than US$26. And sitting on my shelf, I like the look of a good looking Me262 for US$8 far more than a good looking one for US$26.