by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Revell/Monogram were really at the forefront of 1/48 scale modelling at one time, with a series of kits such as the He 111, Bf 110G, Me 410, Helldiver and, of course, their remarkable Ju 523m that were not only excellent value for money, but seriously challenged the dominance of the likes of Tamiya and Hasegawa in terms of accuracy and buildability. Since then, to the disappointment of many, Revell have been relatively quiet, so the appearance of the Mosquito is warmly welcome and hopefully a sign of exciting things to come.
One thing that hasn't changed is Revell's penchant for end-opening boxes. While they undoubtedly look attractive on the shelves of model shops, they really are just dead-space once opened, and are impractical to keep parts and sub-assemblies in as you work on them. The sprues are bagged separately for protection, but despite this I found a number of parts broken and many sprue attachments snapped in my kit, while one part (one of the wing flaps) was quite seriously bent - I think that must have happened at the packing stage, because it seems too extreme to be explicable by just bouncing around in transit. The kit comprises:
186 x very pale grey styrene parts (plus quite a few unused in this version)
17 x clear styrene parts (again, with spares indicating future versions to come)
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
The moulding is quite clean, with just a touch of flash here and there, but I found one or two areas where parts weren't completely formed. The styrene used is slightly brittle, but easy enough to work with. The designers have tried to keep ejector pin marks out of harm's way as far as they can, but something you notice as soon as you examine the parts closely is a large number of sink marks. These show up on the wings and fuselage exterior where there are locating pins or deep moulding on the reverse side of the parts, but even on smaller parts such as undercarriage legs, the cockpit floor and bomb-bay fuel cells, the navigator's seat and rocket stubs (the latter are among the spare parts not needed for this version).
The main exterior parts have a satin finish, with engraved panel lines and embossed fasteners which are a bit soft for my taste, having a rather rounded contour. There are one or two areas of raised details details, for fittings and window surrounds and the rudder has crisply moulded (but exaggerated) rib stitching to simulate a fabric covering.
The fuselage is broken down into 4 main parts with a joint midway under the strengthening band of the full-sized Mossie. Alarm bells might ring for some modellers, because this could have been a problem area, but the fit is very positive. The breakdown isn't a question of size - the full length fuselage would ft on the sprues easily enough, so hopefully it's another sign of other versions to appear in due course. The entire nacelles are separate from the wings, which provides an easy option for 2-stage superchargers at some point. A quick test fit is encouraging, with both the wings and tail supported by spars and good fit at the roots. The wing spars are integral with the bomb bay roof and slot in pace very neatly. Be warned though - as I added more of the internal floors and bulkheads, the fit began to get very tight, forcing the fuselage halves apart, so be prepared for a bit of sanding and adjustment to squeeze everything in.
In terms of general accuracy, I compared the parts with scaled up MAP plans from Argus Books' 1988 Aircraft Archive Vol. 1. Bearing in mind my usual caveats about relying too heavily on such references, the overall impression is pretty good (the nose actually looks more convincing to my eye than the drawings). The elevators are slightly shorter and blunter than the reference, but it certainly looks like a Mossie and I'll have to get some detailed shots of Hendon's exhibit before deciding which is correct. Two areas did catch my eye though, even without comparison with the drawings; the mainwheels seem a bit thin and the spinners are distinctly odd, with a blunt bulbous shape that I've yet to find in any photos of Mossies.
A few details”Squeeze everything in” is an appropriate phrase, because Revell's Mosquito has a lot of interior detail. Starting with the bomb bay, there's 14 parts, including neatly handled racks. A set of 4 x 500 pounders can be fitted and the bomb-doors are moulded shut but can be sliced open to display the load.
Revell have put a lot of effort into the cockpit, with a total of 25 parts. The pilot's seat is made up from 4 parts, the navigator's from 2. Oddly, there's a mix of moulded-on and decal harnesses provided, but no decal for the navigator's seat base. While I wouldn't use the decal harnesses myself, their inclusion is a nice touch because the moulded-on alternatives are rather weak. The cockpit's rear shelf (part #9) is a bit odd, not only because it creates an unnecessary joint across the cockpit floor, but also because the rear of it appears to be damaged - in fact a new end piece is included (part #12), but where the parts join is ragged as though snapped off... weird. Radio consoles are nicely detailed and the main instrument panel has extremely delicately raised bezels. There's also a decal provided and, although it's a bit basic, matches the instrument layout in references better than the moulded detail, so I'll use it as the basis of my panel. The rear of the panel has moulded instrument backs (probably not strictly accurate, since they match the moulded front layout) which will add to the busy look of the office if some wiring is attached. The cockpit sidewalls have plenty of consoles and other equipment to add, and rounding everything off is an optional open/closed entry hatch.
The wings and tail feature separate control surfaces - the ailerons, rudder and flaps are moveable, and there's the option to open up the nacelles to reveal a pair of Merlins. The latter is a nice touch and should certainly appeal to youngsters, but the engines are very simplified and will really need a lot of extra detail added to be convincing in this scale. To display the engines, the instructions seem to show the cowl panels sliced open and hinged down, which I've never seen in real life – as far as I know they are removed entirely. There alternative styles of propeller provided (pointed and paddle-bladed) before fitting those peculiar spinners...
The mainwheels maybe a little thin, but Revell include a choice of hub styles and the tread pattern is crisply moulded. The undercarriage itself is neatly represented with its complex struts and cross-bracing and 4-part mudguards, but the prominent wheel door guides are missing. The recommended construction sequence goes against all your best modelling instincts, with the fragile gear legs being fitted into each half-built nacelle and then left exposed to damage while the rest of the kit is assembled, but fitting them in the normal way looks like it could be very tricky.
The transparencies are nice and thin and pretty distortion-free with crisply defined framing. I found one or two faint flow marks which hopefully won't show up on the finished model too much. The canopy has separate side panels to allow the blisters to be moulded. The bomb-sight is moulded clear and was broken in transit in my kit because it's very delicate and has a large projecting tab that caused it to twist on the sprue. The kit includes clear navigation and landing lamps.
Instructions and decalsRevell include a 15-page A4 booklet and manage to break the construction down into an astonishing 67 stages! To be honest, rather than clarifying what really isn't an overly complex kit, they actually make things more confusing than need be at times and some stages are quite chaotic. In the muddle of densely packed diagrams, parts are occasionally shown detached many stages after they've already been fitted and some drawings seem contradictory. On the plus side, colours are keyed to most details and matches for Revell's own paints are included.
The kit includes markings for a trio of Bomber Command aircraft:
1. B.Mk.IV s/n DZ518, F-AZ, 627 Sqn.,Oakington, January 1944.
2. B.Mk.IV s/n DK333, F-HS, 109 Sqn., Marham, 1944.
3. B.Mk.IV s/n DZ548, D-GB, 105 Sqn., Marham, June 1943 flown by Wg. Cdr. John de L. Wooldridge.
The decals look to be very good quality, with excellent registration and colour density. The colours themselves look good, with a nice Dull Red and Sky. The finish is semi-matte, with the carrier film trimmed close to most items. There's a useful set of stencils included for both the airframe and bomb-load, and a nice touch is that the centres for the fuselage roundels are separate to ensure perfect alignment. I've found Revell decals prone to silvering in the past, so particular attention to providing a gloss finish on which to apply them will be worthwhile.
ConclusionOn the basis of my kit, Revell need to double-check their quality control but otherwise, with a few caveats, appear to have made a pretty creditable job of the Mosquito. I'm sure "rivet-counters" will be falling over each other to tear holes in it and, obviously, it's going to go head-to-head with the well established Tamiya kit, which is a classic example of that company's high grade moulding. Nevertheless, Revell's new kit has some good detail and positionable control surfaces, while youngsters will like the "detailed" engines and operating flaps. It's not up to the standard that Revell set in their heyday but, for me, the most important thing about the kit is that it marks Revell's return to producing new-tool WW2 kits in 1/48 scale. As such, it's very welcome indeed and I really hope the kit sells sufficiently well to encourage them to keep going.
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