by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Considering how popular the Ta 152H is among Luftwaffe enthusiasts, it's very surprising that there's only been a single 1/48 scale mainstream kit of the aircraft. Luckily, it's a very good one and, despite being almost 20 years old now, the Dragon (ex-Trimaster) Ta 152H can still sit happily alongside the latest releases.
Since it first appeared in 1989, the basic kit has been available in a number of forms. The original Trimaster model (sold as an 'H-1, not an 'H-0) included extensive white metal and etched parts. With the demise of Trimaster, the model was re-engineered by Dragon to replace most of the white metal parts with styrene equivalents and cut down the number of etched extras, which disappeared entirely in some subsequent re-boxings. The kit first appeared with a detailed engine and this was also omitted later (notably in Italeri's simplified version of the model that appeared a few years ago).
Now Dragon have re-released the Ta 152H complete with its original engine parts and a set of etched details, making this the closest to the original Trimaster version that I've seen. Arriving in a very attractive "Dragon Expo" box adorned with artwork courtesy of Eagle Editions, the kit comprises:
124 x grey styrene parts
5 x clear styrene parts
19 x etched metal parts
Decals for two colour schemes
The moulding is generally excellent and there's basically not a trace of flash to give away the age of the moulds. There are a couple of small points to watch out for that have appeared in every release including Trimaster's original: a touch of sinkage on the fuselage alongside the cockpit and ejector pins showing on the exterior of the wing top surface. Neither are a major headache and few minutes' work will rectify them.
Surface finish consists of precisely engraved panel lines, with raised hinges etc., plus subtly depicted fabric-covered control surfaces. A test fit of the major parts is pretty good - the fit isn't as precise as some recent kits, but nothing that modellers with a bit of experience can't cope with. Those long wings are a little drooped - something true in every version of the kit I've got, even Trimaster's. (I've read elsewhere on the internet that Trimaster's wings weren't warped, as though it was, somehow, Dragon's "fault" in subsequent releases - well, all I can say is that they are in the original Trimaster kit in my stash.)
It's great to see the Jumo 213 back again. The engine is crisply moulded and, combined with a 30 mm MK108 cannon, comprises nearly 40 parts. A cradle is provided should you wish to display the engine separately. The original kit included etched ignition wiring etc. and wire to make piping out of; that's all gone now, but the styrene engine is still impressive in itself.
The 13-part cockpit is neatly detailed with well formed instrument panels and consoles and is rounded off with an etched seat harness.
One part that suffered after Trimaster folded was the canopy. It's still nice and clear with precise framing, but someone, in their wisdom, re-engineered it with unrealistic slots on the inside for the plastic headrest that replaced Trimaster's original etched piece. Dragon have reinstated the etched headrest here, but the slots are still present, so it looks like the canopy mould must have been modified irretrievably at that time.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly diagrams are clearly laid out, unchanged for the most part from the 1980s instructions. Colour matches are included for Gunze Sangyo paints.
Dragon have included decals for a pair of Ta 152Hs - "Green 1" and "Green 9", both of Stab/JG 301. No W.Nr are included, but the decals mark a real change for Dragon in that swastikas are provided. True, they're split into two elements that must be assembled to form the offending items, but it's very welcome to see them included (and, of course, swastikas are easily obtainable on aftermarket sheets if you prefer).
The decals are printed by Cartograph with quite a matt finish. Carrier film is minimal and the thin items show precise registration. I'm wary of the green used for the unit insignia; it may darken when the decals are applied, but on the sheet it's too much of an "apple green" compared with my references.
ConclusionIt's great to see Dragon's Ta 152H again and looking in such good shape. Considering that it's been in production, on and off, for nearly twenty years, the moulds are in remarkably good condition. It's not overly complex (unless you choose to fit the engine), but it's also not a kit for total beginners. In skilled hands, though, it'll build into a very impressive addition to any Luftwaffe collection.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.