Kit Preview: Comparing 1/48 Ta-152 kits
Lee Fogel sent in this thorough comparison between two 1/48 Ta-152 kits. Great stuff lee- thanks for sending it in!
The Ta 152 has always had a bit of an allure to it. The ‘152 series was the ultimate realization of Kurt Tanks’ piston-engined fighter aircraft. Over the years it’s been represented in the major scales (1/72, 1/48 and 1/32) with some kits being well regarded and others tolerated. Then, six years ago, Zoukei-Mura released their 1/32 Focke-Wulf Ta-152H-1 and it ushered in a different and, for some, fresh approach in both construction and display of the finished kit.
In the fall of 2014 Z-M released a 1/48 version of their larger scale Ta 152H-1. While not a direct pantograph of the 1/32 scale kit this boxing has plenty going for it and looks very similar in layout and parts breakdown. The box is much more square than rectangular and it’s packed with 6 sprues (each individually wrapped) along with a very comprehensive decal sheet and detailed instructions. My review will compare this kit to the old Trimaster Ta 152H kit of 1989 vintage as they are the only two ‘152 H versions in 1/48.
The plastic is molded in light grey and one small clear sprue. There is very little flash and the parts, while clean and nicely molded, do not have the level of fidelity that we saw in the Trimaster molds of the Ta 152H. I was a bit shocked and non-plussed by this discovery. The finish also has a very slight pebble texture as well. It’s not heavy handed or detracts from the model but it is noticeable. Also, the fuselage and wing parts breakdown are very different. What you notice right away is that the wings have a (for 1/48 scale) pretty complete inner structure that the wing skins are attached to. This way you can display the wing sans its panels. Included in this are the inner gun bays. The Trimaster kit has your prototypical wings molded as upper and lower halves with no gun bay details. Details here are, again, very nice but not as fine in some regards as the Trimaster kit. Panel lines in particular, while recessed, are not as fine as the older Trimaster kit. The Z-M kit allows for the flaps to be dropped whereas the Trimaster kit has the wing and flying surfaces molded as one piece. This is more of a personal preference kind of thing here.
The fuselage, as done by Z-M, is broken into three sections- tail, mid and nose. This has potential for serious stumbling blocks when trying to line everything up. Unlike the Trimaster kit there is a wealth of detail on the inside of the fuselage and tail halves. The let down though is that the areas are littered with ejector pin marks and will require a lot of cleanup/filling if you choose to display these areas open. The Trimaster kit only has the cowling separate and the rest of the fuselage as one piece.
Both kits offer a complete Jumo 213E engine and both look great on the sprue. The level of detail here is about equal to my eyes.
The cockpit from Z-M looks a bit better to me except for the instrument panel. Oddly, the bezels are out of scale and very thick. This might not be as prominent should you choose to use the kit-supplied instrument decals from Z-M. The Trimaster kit offers no decals for this but it has far better and more realistic details than the Z-M kit. Pick your poison, as they say.
Looking over the main gear the Z-M kit has brakes lines molded as separate pieces and the gear leg itself attaches in an odd way (you twist it to lock it into place…be careful). Remember that the Trimaster kit has the oleos at full extension and therefore are slightly taller than the correct Z-M pieces. The main wheel hub design looks odd when compared to the Trimaster kit and to my references. It’s a bit of a give and take here as to which is the best. In the end main wheels are easier to replace than cutting up main gear in my opinion.
The decal sheet is pretty darn nice with the werknummers being separate allowing the builder to make up a correct combination for any number needed. The marking numbers are 0 thru 9 and offer three colors (green, red and yellow). This helps make the sheet very valuable for other late war Luftwaffe builds. Finally, there are both spinner stripes and instrument panel decals. Both look very good.
Swastikas are included but are split in half and there are JV bands in yellow and red along with stencils.
The Trimaster sheet offers the same number and bands choices but with a more muted look/feel to the colors. Full stencils are there too. However, the werknummer are for three specific aircraft though.
The instruction sheets for both the Z-M and Trimaster kits is well detailed and easily leads the builder where they need to be for each step. The Z-M sheet even includes a handy breakdown on how to have the flaps lowered to the correct position. Color call outs for the Z-M kit are for Vallejo paints while the Trimaster kit uses Humbrol for the colors. Both could do a bit better here as other manufacturers have included a list of comparable paints among different manufacturers (ICM immediately comes to mind).
So, which one to buy? That is tough. The pictures only show part of the struggle. Personally, I was really thinking that the Z-M kit would be superlative to the Trimaster kit. But, after a closer look-see and comparison between them, I have to admit that I prefer (in the box anyway) the old Trimaster kit.