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In-Box Review

by: Bryan Dewberry [ TIN_CAN ]

This full-build review of the AMtech Hs-123A-1 is a follow-up review to the inbox review I conducted several weeks ago. The inbox review can be found here. This review will focus on the overall construction of the kit to include assembly and decals.


Instructions and Construction
As stated in my earlier review, the instructions are stapled together which makes handling them much easier. Those steps of the instructions requiring modification of the kit contain photo-illustrated pictures of the construction process for that step. The steps depicted like this are the resin cockpit installation and the airframe modification step if you choose to install the unspatted landing gear (which I did). These photo-illustrations are a tremendous help in that they show the exact modifications required to the kit and in the case of the unspatted landing gear, show a picture of an actual stbd landing gear. There are also photos of the completed resin cockpit along with painting instructions. There is a nice paragraph on the last page of the instructions titled "Additional Color (Colour?) Notes" that describes the various color schemes used on actual aircraft and the transition from one to the other. Those steps not depicted by photo-illustrations are well represented by 3D line drawings of all the parts required for that step with each part labeled by number and name-a very nice touch. There are assembly notes scattered throughout the instructions to help in the assembly of certain steps.

Even though the ESCI molds used for the kit are dated, they are not bad at all. While most parts went together with no problems whatsoever, there was the usual filler and detail work required to tidy up the seam where you join the lower wing assembly to the fuselage (step 8). A little patience and you can attain a very nice joint between the two. The modifications required to utilize the Blackbox cockpit and unspatted landing gear are very easy to perform. There are two other areas that made assembly a little tricky and they were the cowl and "n" strut assembly for the wings. The cowl is molded in two pieces and when assembled makes a very nasty seam that must be cleaned up before painting. Again, a little patience and some needle files make quick work of it. When ready to glue the upper wing inplace, it was found the "n" struts were about 1.5 mm short and therefore didn't engage the upper wing. I overcame this discrepancy with a slight modification to the main wing struts which will be discussed in detail in my full build feature article. The construction of the kit is very straightforward and if attention is payed to the points above, produces a very nice kit.


Blackbox Cockpit and Unspatted Gear
The included 17-piece Blackbox cockpit is a very nice addition to the kit and is a tremendous upgrade to the standard kit cockpit. Both side panels, a new seat, instrument panel and various pieces of other equipment are included in the new cockpit. Those of you who have worked with Blackbox cockpits in the past are familiar with their detail and quality. This cockpit doesn't dissappoint. The detail is very fine and the fit even better.The newly molded unspatted landing gear by AMtech is another great bonus to the kit. The unspatted landing gear gives you the opportunity to model a plane typical in appearance to those flown on the Russian front in WWII. Though only six pieces total, the detail and craftsmanship are second to none. The pieces of the gear fit together flawlessly. The quality of the unspatted gear coupled with the photo-illustrations of the kit modification to accept them makes it very easy to model this version of the kit.


When writing my inbox review, I was hesitant to give the decals a high grade because you really don't know their quality until you actually use them. Any doubts I had about their quality were unfounded. These are some of the best decals I've ever used. None of the decals had any extra film that needed trimming and they were just the right thickness-not too thick that they didn't snuggle down and not too thin that they tore when positioning...just right. I didn't need to use setting solution for any of the decals.

One reservation I had when first previewing the decals was the two-part swastikas. As many of you know, the European Union has a ban on the display of the swastika and this pertains to model kits as well. To provide a workaround, AMtech provided the ability to construct the swastika using two decals layed one over the other. I was worried that with such small room for error that the decals wouldn't line up correctly. Man was I wrong. You can see from the picture to the right that the alignment is perfect.


The Verdict
Taking an old, outdated kit and adding some great features in the way of a resin cockpit, new tooled landing gear and new decals, AMtech has produced a real winner. While the ESCI airframe isn't perfect, a little patience and care will yield a great-looking airplane. Finish the kit off with the extras AMtech has put in the kit and you'll walk away with a great addition to your collection. Bi-plane enthusiasts will be very pleased with the kit.Thanks to AMtech for providing this review sample.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 489203
  Suggested Retail: $29.98
  Related Link: AMtech
  PUBLISHED: Jul 24, 2003
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Bryan Dewberry (Tin_Can)

My interest in modeling started while watching my dad work late night's on old Star Trek and WWII plane models. I modeled planes for about 3 or 4 years before joining the Navy in 1990 and then took a 12-year break from the hobby before starting back-up again last fall. Man has it changed since I'v...

Copyright 2021 text by Bryan Dewberry [ TIN_CAN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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