by: Mecenas [ ]
Arma Hobby have once again, after their P.7a kit, made another step in right direction. This time they have provided a brand new model kit if the famous Polish pre-war fighter plane – the PZL P.11c. Since about 1988 this is the first new long-run model kit (AZUR’s P.11c/P.24 were short run kits) of this plane. For today this is surely the best P.11c kit on the market.
Arma Hobby have released the kit in two standards: as a Junior and Expert set.
Junior Set – catalogue number 70016
Expert Set – catalogue number 70015
As the plastic parts are the same in both boxings, the main difference between them is the number of add-ons. In the Junior boxing we are given a small photo-etched fret with pilot seat-belts, gunsight and underwing bomb release mechanisms. Painting options comprises of two markings for which Techmod have printed the decals.
The Expert set is a bit more complex. The photo-etched fret has multiple details for cockpit interior, armament or exterior hatches and other tiny bits and pieces. The decal sheet is also much bigger as it contains markings for four painting schemes. This one was printed by world-class decals producer Cartograf.
Available painting options:
70016 Junior Set
121. Fighter Squadron from Cracow, in 1939 in the Army "Kraków", pilot 2nd Ltn. Wacław Król
122. Fighter Squadron from Cracow, in 1939 in the Army "Kraków", pilot Cadet Władysław Chciuk
70015 Expert Set
113. Fighter Squadron from Warsaw, in 1939 in the Pursuit Brigade. Airplane of 1st Lt. Hieronim Dudwał
"White 3", new camouflage tests in the Aviation Technical Institute. In 1939 assigned to one of the squadrons of the Pursuit Brigade.
131. Fighter Squadron from Poznań, in 1939 in Army "Poznań".
141. Fighter Squadron from Toruń, in 1939 in Army "Pomorze", pilot Cpt. Florian Laskowski.
Plastic partsAll plastic parts are located on a single sprue. Breakdown of the plane parts is more-less typical. Fuselage is made of two halves. Both wings are moulded together with upper fuselage section, separated horizontally into two halves. Thanks to this solution the producer managed to avoid the risk of plastic shrinking which can sometimes be noticed on thick single parts. Engine sections are divided into four parts: engine cylinders moulded together with its nacelle, Townend ring and two halves of the cowling. Another characteristic feature for Arma Hobby kits is the undercarriage legs moulded together with a lower fuselage part. This makes the undercarriage already fixed at the proper angle and improves its durability by eliminating weak points at joints. If the undercarriage parts were separate, their connection points would be very small and could cause some problems with attaching to the fuselage.
In comparison to the previous release of a PZL fighter, the P.7a, the designers have significantly improved the design of the characteristic corrugated sheet covering wings and empennage. It is more pronounced here but still subtle. On two wings panels, first from the fuselage on upper surfaces, you will have to carefully remove the corrugation as on real plane these were covered using plain sheet. I’m afraid that the kit designer was a bit too enthusiastic here. On the other hand the centre panel of the tail-plane is designed as plain while it should be corrugated.
Thankfully it will be almost entirely covered by the vertical stabiliser. Another weaknesses are few shrinks of plastic which are seen on more than just my example – one on the rudder, a second on the port fuselage side near cockpit, on the oil cooler (which will be most problematic to correct) and a few smaller ones on the wings struts or headrest. These are the most time consuming issues of the kit which are really worth correcting.
Another error is the spent ammunition chute under the port wing. On the real plane there was no left or right wing machine gun so the chutes were also the same. Only this one under the starboard wing is correct. The port one should be the same while it is a mirror reflection of the starboard one. You don’t need to bother about it if you’re going to build a model with four machine guns as the openings in teardrop shuts will be covered by the arched chutes of cartridge cases outside trickle stream.
The last problems that needs solving are partly wrong panel lines on the belly. Two lines, those near the undercarriage, need filling while two other have to be scribed. Take a look at the plans and you will see what's gone wrong straight away. These lines are intended to imitate some skin reinforcements and in the real plane these were just long thin stripes of metal sheet. In my model I have decided to fill all these engraved panel lines on the fuselage and spray them with a thick layer of paint so it will look more like on the real P.11.
Let’s look at the positive side of this kit. First of all it has nice and sharp panel lines and parts are almost free of any flashes, which could be often annoying on P.7a kit. Arma have done their homework here. In comparison to the AZUR kit its wings are much more correct, with correct joints of skin sheets on the upper surface and armament access panels typical for P.11c instead the P.24.
Also the fuselage section between wings looks more like P.11c than P.24. With this kit you can build a replica of the plane with and without radio equipment. One of the antenna masts is located on the vertical fin so this part will have to be removed if you decide for an option without radio equipment. The starboard fuselage bulge seen on radio-equipped planes is an optional part. Another good improvement, in comparison to previous releases, is a very thin wing trailing edge. It’s so thin you really need to pay attention while removing sprues connectors as one file move too much can damage the edge. The corrugated metal skin, which is a distinctive feature of Polish gull-wing fighters, is very very subtle. You will have to pay a lot of attention not to damage it with file or too coarse sanding paper. A dry fit of main parts (fuselage, wings, engine) is very promising. Wings and fuselage match perfectly. In my build I will try to paint them separately as it will be much easier than masking and further gluing together shouldn't leave any gap or misalignment.
Assembly InstructionsThis is prepared in a typical style for Arma Hobby with a booklet containing B&W assembly instruction and colour painting schemes. As for assembly, the Expert set starts with the section dedicated to photo-etched parts while the other section presents only the plastic parts. This requires you to pay more attention to the details and at least thinking twice. Painting options are nice and legible, depicting both profiles as well as upper and lower surfaces. In the Expert set each painting scheme is printed on a single page while in the Junior we have two schemes on one page. What is a bit odd in my opinion is putting a step of adding PE underwing bomb racks to the painting scheme instead to assembly instruction.
DecalsAs I mentioned at the beginning, there are two options of decals, depending on the box “standard”. Those in the Junior set were printed by Techmod while those in the Expert set by Cartograf. Both are printed without any fault or misalignment. Details are sharp and colours are saturated. Carrier film is nicely thin, however I have a slight impression that this on Techmod decal is bit more delicate and subtle. Of course the most important difference will be noticeable after soaking and placing on the model.
ConclusionAlthough not perfect and free from errors, this is for sure the best 1/72 scale kit of the P.11c fighter. Both sets offer good value for money. I have already managed to start building this model using the Junior set. If I didn't make few changes and improvements the build would be very straightforward, even including making few corrections like filling all of the plastic shrinks or drilling holes here and there. Assembly of all parts in the cockpit, engine, fuselage halves and wings is very good if you pay some attention to the fit. It's not a carefree or self-assembling model, but honestly presents good engineering skills of its design team and even your slightest effort of improving will pay off with a good looking miniature.
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