by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
When Classic Airframes ceased production, they left a legacy of some great short-run kits of lesser known aircraft, some of which have still not been tackled as new-tool models by today’s mainstream manufacturers. So, Special Hobby’s decision to re-release some of the subjects is very welcome indeed. A prime example is the Fiat CR.32, amongst the most advanced biplane fighters in the world in its heyday in the early to mid 1930s, but obsolescent as it soldiered on well into WWII as part of the Regia Aeronautica’s inventory.
Before going into any detail on the kit, I’ll begin with a reminder that this is a real “old school” mixed media short-run model. It was designed long before the major advances that we’ve come to take for granted, and was really the preserve of quite advanced modellers. That remains true with the re-release, and you will need additional skills and patience over a modern mainstream kit.
Special Hobby’s version arrives in a very solid and attractive conventional box, with the main parts and accessories bagged separately. It comprises:
34 x grey styrene parts (plus 6 parts unused)
1 x clear styrene part
23 x grey resin parts (plus 4 not needed)
38 x etched metal parts, some pre-coloured
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
Bearing in mind the short-run caveat, the styrene parts have stood the test of time pretty well. There’s not much flash to worry about and although I spotted a few small sink marks, anyone used to short-run modelling will simply take them in their stride as part of the game. Kits of this vintage could be notorious for large and obtrusive ejector pin marks, so it’s refreshing to see the original designers kept them out of the cockpit area.
The surface finish differs on the two sprues; the one containing the wings and tailplanes is much glossier than the fuselage sprue. It has a slightly “liquid” look, as though the surface has been restored somehow, but I’d have to dig out my original Classic Airframes boxing to be sure. Nevertheless, the fabric effect should look fine, and is noticeably more subtle than in many more modern kits. The fuselage features delicate fabric effects again, along with beautifully light scribed lines on the metal panels.
One of the most distinctive and unusual aspects of the kit is that the entire nose section is a one-piece resin casting. This is quite superbly done, with delicate cooling fins on the prominent radiators. It has a massive casting block which the instructions show removed entirely. Personally, though, I’d leave a little of it in place to help support the joint.
A Few DetailsIn terms of detail, we really are talking resin and photo-etch with this kit, as plastic only provides basic exterior parts. So, even the horizontal tail (with separate elevators) and an alternative rudder are supplied in resin.
Moving inside, the cockpit is nicely fitted out, with a beautifully cast floor, control column, sidewalls and seat/bulkhead forming a basis onto which attach a number of etched items such as the rudder pedals and numerous levers and handles. The typically elaborate Italian seat-harness is on the pre-coloured etched fret, as is a very neat instrument panel. All the latter needs is a drop of varnish in each bezel to really look the part. All told, the 28 metal and resin parts should make for a very effective “office”.
On the exterior, resin and etch combine again for the optional telescopic gunsight, while the control actuators and boost ailerons are all photo-etched and should look suitably delicate.
The last stage in the instructions deals with just the CR.32 Quater and adds an additional resin radiator under the nose, along with a pair of excellent resin bombs and their racks.
Instructions & DecalsThe construction guide is printed as a colour A5 booklet on good quality glossy stock. Assembly is broken down into just 11 stages and the sequence is very logical. The diagrams are well drawn and there are a few “info views” to aid the modeller and they work well, although I’d have liked to have a clearer illustration of the finished gunsight.
Special Hobby give suggested colours for most details, and these are all matched to Gunze Sangyo paints.
One of the major attractions for me of Italian subjects of this era is the spectacular and challenging camouflage schemes, and the kit certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department – in fact, it goes even further by offering a very attractive Hungarian aircraft which poses a real dilemma as to what to build. The schemes provided are:
A. Fiat CR.32 Freccia, 163-10 / M.M. 3518, 163. Squadriglia, Rhodes, June 1940
B. Fiat CR.32 Freccia, V-105 (C. No. 315), 1/1. Squadron, Hungarian Air Force, 1939
C. Fiat CR.32 Chirri, 3-61 (C. No. 111), flown by Capitán Ángel Salas Larrazábal, Escuadrilla 2-E3 Aviación Nacional, Zaragoza, 1937
D. Fiat CR.32 Quater Freccia, 160-10 / M.M. 4666, flown by Capitano Duilio Fanali, 160. Squadriglia, 12° Gruppo, 50° Stormo d’Assalto, Tobruk, July 1940
The decals are printed by Cartograf to their usual excellent standard with pin sharp registration and minimal carrier film.
ConclusionI’m delighted to see Classic Airframes’ CR.32 re-kitted by Special Hobby. It’s an important subject that deserves to be available. I must re-stress the caveat I made earlier, though – this is by no means a “shake ‘n bake” model; despite its apparent simplicity in terms of the number of parts, it will require some reasonably advanced modelling skills to get the best out of it. That said, if you’re up for the challenge, you can look forward to a rewarding build and a very attractive finished model. Recommended for experienced modellers.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.