by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
The Hs 126 first flew as a prototype in 1935 and was derivated from the Hs 122 which meet a 1933 Luftwaffe requirement for a battlefield observation aircraft to replace the Heinkel 46. The Hs 122 was underpowered, so Henschel were asked to change the design to use the Bramo radial engine instead. This was designated the Hs 126, with Henschel using the opportunity to make significant changes to the basic aircraft design. Early Hs 126 production aircraft were fitted with the BMW 132 engine, as the Bramo engine was not yet available. These early aircraft were designated A-1's, and Bramo-engined aircraft were B-1's.
Some Hs 126 A-1's were sent to Spain in 1938 for evaluation, being operated by the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War. By the outbreak of WW II, the Hs 126 was the main co-operation and battlefield reconnaissance aircraft of the Luftwaffe . During the Polish campaign, it was also used to strafe and bomb Polish forces once general air superiority had been achieved. However, in the campaign against France, it became clear that the Hs 126 was very vulnerable to enemy fighters. Accordingly, production ceased in January 1941, with just over 600 aircraft having been built. Almost all surviving Hs 126's were sent to the Eastern Front, and as they were replaced in frontline service by the Focke-Wulf Fw 189, they were adapted for such roles as glider tug for the DFS 230 and night harassment aircraft. Some aircraft based in the Balkans operated in the latter role until almost the end of the war.
The new Fonderie Miniature kit is packed in their usual carboard box with a nice cover artwork which, for sure, will be usefull for painting and decalling the model (picture 1). The box is rather big as the Hs 126 is quite an imposing single engined airplane compared to a Bf 109 fighter for exemple. The kit is a typical short run production with injected plastic sprues, resin and white metal detail parts, vacuform canopies, decal sheet and instuctions.
Let's take a look at the plastic parts (picture 2). They are very crude and it seems as if the kit has been designed by a logger as there is a lot of flash, a bad surface finish and an important amount of moulding issues (picture 3). The engine cowling in particular is badly done and will require a lot of work to end up in something acceptable. Some parts, such as the fuselage halves, suffered while being expelled of the mould (picture 4). But what to think about the ailerons (picture 5)? The best will be to cut them out and to scratchbuild new ones!
You thought you've seen the worst of the kit? Then take a look at the cabane struts (picture 6 and 7)! The logger was a clumsy one for sure! Fortunately the bigger struts are far better (picture 8) even if one was broken in my sample... oh well, it's nothing compared to the things I mentionned earlier.
The gear legs (picture 9) can be mounted with or without covers for the tyres as the two versions are provided. There are small sink marks on the unspatted legs but this is not dramatic and won't represent too much additional work to eliminate them.
Resin parts are included mainly for the cockpit area (picture 10). They are good except for one which had some air bubbles. The white metal parts are typical of Fonderie Miniature (picture 11). With some sanding they will probably look ok but I would suggest you to replace the tailplane struts with some replacement made of styrene.
The "greenhouse" is vacuformed and comes with a replacement in case something bad happens while cutting (picture 12). They are not as good as many vacuform canopies I saw in other short run kits but better that what I was used to from Fonderie Miniature.
The decals (picture 13) are unfortunately very much the same quality as the rest of the kit... pretty bad! It seems that to much black ink was employed at the printing stage (picture 14). The letters are usable (after all, some markings were painted in as hasty way on real aircraft) but the insignia suffered badly. Considering that this is quite a specialist kit, I don't think many aftermarket decals will be available for this model in the future, so you will have to search for replacement ones in the spares box. Markings are provided for three machines:
- 5F CK of Aufklärungsstaffel 2 (H) 14 in North Afrika in 1941
- 4E ML of Aufklärungsstaffel 3 (H) 13 in Greece in 1941
- P2 FL of Aufklärungsstaffel 3 (H) 21 in Russia
The instructions are printed on two A4 sheets (picture 15). They are composed of a brief history, a five steps assembly guide with written instructions (French and english), a decal placement guide and a 3 view plan with color indications for the RLM 70/71 splinter camouflage. If you want to do the plane on the boxart, you will have to rely on... the boxart!
Thanks to Fonderie Miniature, we have at last a Hs 126 in injected plastic, but unfortunately it's not one of their better kits, to the contrary! I have their Breguet 693 and Blohm&Voss 212P kits in my stash and I must say they are much better than this one. I don't really know how it was possible for the French manufacturer to regress so much, but they did!
I only recommend this kit to "hardcore" and skilled Luftwaffe model builders as it will imply much more work than any other short run kit produced in the Czech Republic for exemple. It is a bit pricey too, so the only plus of the kit is that it is the only one available in injected plastic in that scale!