Mirage Hobby's 1:48 scale Halberstadt CL.II isn't a new kit (see the review of the first release by Rowan Baylis here
.) but it is now available with a full set of lozenge decals in this Special "Schusta/Schlasta 21b" Edition. WWI modelers will be pleased to note that this time everything is included in the kit to make a very detailed replica of one of the first ground attack aircraft in aviation history.
In the relative small box, featuring a spectacular artwork on the top cover, one will find the following content:
- Several sprues of light grey plastic protected within one bag.
- One big etched fret.
- One small acetate sheet.
- Four decals sheets ( a small correction).
- One instruction booklet for assembly and painting.
- One sheet of instructions for applying the lozenge decals.
In total, there are 143 plastic parts (including the optional ones and the two positioning jigs for the top wing) and about 130 etched brass parts which make this kit quite an ambitious project to tackle. With the plastic alone I would have said the Mirage Hobby Halberstadt is only destined to experienced modelers but with the additional photo etched ones it really becomes something for specialists only!
The moulding of the plastic parts is very crisp and, as Rowan already said in his review, the limited amount of flash on some parts will not be a major problem. I'm more concerned about the part attachment points which are quite prominent. Extreme care and a sharp blade (or a photo etched saw?) will be required to free the most fragile parts from the sprues. Also, some work will be necessary to eliminate the remaining step on the surface of the plastic. One issue in my sample is the presence of heavy sink marks on the cylinder heads (see accompanying photo). Let's hope that the whole batch does not suffer from this problem.
The surface of the model features very nice relief details that some may find a little too heavy (wing ribs) but I think it is just right and will look good under coats of paint and layers of decals. Optional parts, of which some are not used in this kit, include three propeller types, three exhaust stack configurations, two different engine cowlings configurations, two different spinners, two different wheel types (to accommodate spokes or fabric covered) etc… Overall the impression is very good.
The photo etched parts will greatly enhance the level of detail of the model but be prepared to work with tiny pieces of metal! At this level it is "micro-detailing" so small or thin they are. Very precise tools and a good eyesight will be mandatory if you want to incorporate every part to your build. I won't list everything but here is an excerpt of what is present on the sheet: seat belts, instrument panel, levers, hatches, grills, lacings, bomb cases, etc… Again, listing everything would be too tedious but rest assured that no detail seems to have been omitted in this kit by Mirage Hobby.
There are no transparent plastic parts but a small acetate sheet is provided with the pilot's windscreen and instrument faces.
For a kit made of so many parts, a good construction guide is vital. The booklet present in the box is a real labor of love by Mr. Piotr Mrozowski who did the research for the kit. Accompanying the usual history, parts layout, building sequences and painting guides, there are numerous vintage photos, reference photos, walkaround photos, explanations in both Polish and English languages and templates. Even two 1:48 scale maps have been printed on page 14 to be included in the cockpit. A rigging diagram is of course also included.
The only problem of the instruction booklet is it's small size. I can imagine that some people will have difficulties to read through the twenty four A5 size pages. Sometimes the amount of information is so important that it is not easy to keep a good overview of what's going on. Other than that, I second what Aeroscale member and WWI modeler Terri Werner said about the Mirage Hobby kit: "it's like a miniature Wingnut Wings kit!". This is certainly true for the superb instruction booklet.
Painting and Decals
This kit comes with full decal options (a boxing without the lozenge decals can be purchased as well) and there is enough to keep you busy for many evenings. The first sheet carries the markings, the second is composed of the mottled pattern present on the fuselage and the central part of the upper wing, the third features the daylight 5 color dark pattern lozenges and rib strips and the fourth the daylight 5 color light pattern lozenges and rib strips.
The decals have been printed in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, yellow and Black) and not in serigraphy. This means that all the colors are obtained by printing small dots of primary colors. For example Cyan and Yellow for Green. The result is very good though with no impression of rasterization at all. Unfortunately, the white is slightly offset on the markings sheet. The people of Mirage Hobby are aware of this (I got my sample at the Nürnberg Toy Fair) and they will correct this issue soon hopefully.
With the decals provided, it is possible to choose between three color schemes:
1 - Halberstadt CL.II, "ANNI", Schusta 27b, Villers-au-Tertre airfield, winter 1917/1918.
2 - Halberstadt CL.II, "BRÜNHILDE", Schlasta 27b, Boucheneuil airfield, 1918.
3 - Halberstadt CL.II, "THEA", Schlasta 27b, Masnu Sud airfield, summer-autumn 1918.
This is not a kit for the beginner! The precise and delicate plastic parts and the small, sometimes tiny, photo etched details will test your skills to a degree seldom reached! Add to this the complex camouflage and lozenge application and of course the rigging and you will probably face one of the biggest modeling challenge of your lifetime. But if you master the Mirage Hobby kit, the model will be a true masterpiece!
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