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In-Box Review
PZL.43A Luftwaffe
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by: Mecenas [ MECENAS ]

Historical background

PZL.43 Czajka was an export version of the Polish light-bomber and reconnaissance PZL.23 Karaś airplane. In 1936 Bulgaria wanted to buy Polish PZL.23 Karaś but equipped with larger and more powerful engine Gnôme-Rhône 14 Kfs. This request forced a major change in the fuselage which had to be longer, cockpit compartment had to be moved slightly backward and pilot machine guns in the fuselage had to be relocated as could not shoot between engine cylinders anymore. Glazing of the cockpit was redesigned and reshaped. As this changes improved overall airplane characteristics two years later Bulgaria bought another 40 machines but this time with the Gnôme-Rhône 14N01 engine. At the outbreak of war six planes were still in Poland ready for shipping to Bulgaria. These machines were quickly unpacked, put together and sent to 41st Reconnaissance Squadron. All of these machines were lost in action. Two more planes, almost airworthy (which are depicted in this model kit), were found by the German forces. After running some tests these two planes were sold to Bulgaria in 1940 and early 1941.

The kit

Plastic parts
As can be seen on the photographs parts are moulded in grey plastic. I have not noticed any significant misalignments of the moulds or serious flashes though some can be seen. Kit contains a lot of parts dedicated to the Karaś kit, which will not be used for building this model kit. In the PZL.43 kit we get absolutely new fuselage, cockpit interior and engine with its cowling and equipment (exhaust pipes, radiators). Two sprues are common with the earlier PZL.23 Karaś kits. These refers to the parts of the wings, undercarriage and some internal details. Few parts, previously casted in resin, are now made in plastic and represents much better shape and quality.
The overall quality of the plastic parts depends on the factor on which part we look at. Its surface is nice and smooth. Side walls of the fuselage are very thin what causes that the whole halve is flexible. The fuselage and its internal compartment is very nice with many details and subtle, engraved panel lines. When we look at the wings we can easily notice that panel lines are much wider and deeper and definitely not subtle. What's surprising to me, panel lines on the upper sides are heavier than on the lower. What I really like in this kit are separate ailerons and flaps.
Between new sprues we will also find the cockpit and belly-gunner glazings. Cockpit glazing is absolutely new as it had to reshaped in the real plane in comparison to the PZL.23. In the box we have two small sprues of the clear parts. Mirage have provided two variations of the cockpit glass: with the closed and opened entrances for pilot and bombardier. Movable segments are given as separate parts. Although these parts are still too thick for my eye in comparison to the top-notch companies transparency of the plastic is still satisfying. What I don't like, and this probably will not look good on the model, are coarse frame ribs of the clear parts, as if the moulds were not polished or catched some tiny chips. This will surely require some sanding. A big “thumb up” to Mirage for making separate movable window vents in the pilot section.
I think that Czajka model kit represents better level of details in comparison to its predecessors, especially when we take a look at the engine or into the cockpit interior.

Assembly and painting instructions
Assembly process is shown in the booklet containing nice and plain 3D drawing of that particular parts. What is surprising, first step is not related to the cockpit interior but the engine – I don't remember the kit which does not start with the cockpit. New parts for each step are drawn in the blue colour while parts used or assembled in the previous step are grey, so it is a bit easier to orientate while building. Drawings are described with Polish and English hints and clues useful for the builder because it saves a lot of time and makes easier to keep your nerves in good shape.
Painting instruction is a separate A4 sheet, printed in colour. Producer have provided two painting options for the planes found by Germans at Mielec, used for different trials and later sold to Bulgarian Air Force. Both planes are shown in four views depicting each side of the plane supported by the painting scheme of the whole cockpit interior. Planes histories are briefly described in two-three sentences under the side profiles. I have found three most significant differences between both planes: individual number on the vertical stabilizer, size and position of swastikas on the rudder and types of balkenkreuzes on the wings. This sheet is also an instruction of the decals placement.

Photo-etched fret
Photo-etched fret is bigger than I expected. Fret is made from brass. We will find here a lot of useful details which could not be made in plastic with this level of detail. One of the details which we get on the fret are circular inspection hatches, however I find it very difficult to locate them in the assembly instruction, I found just two of them. Other details are gun-sights for machine guns, imitations of machine gun radiators on the barrels, few handles and crew seat-belts of course. One of the belts have an imitation of leather skin – it looks interesting and should ease achieving different tones and shades of leather during painting.

Decals in my model kit consists of three sheets. One of them are just two balkenkreuzes. On the second we can find Bulgarian stencils and producer emblems together with few decals for cockpit instruments. The biggest decal contains other remaining balkenkreuzes, sliced swastikas and red decorative details for the fuselage. What I'm already afraid is a problem of matching the right colour for the engine cowling with the colour of these decals.
Carrier film is very thin and hard to see. You can't even feel it under a finger. This is an advantage of course as it should nicely settle down on the kit surface.


My first dry fittings showed quite nice match of the main parts. I suppose this kit will be very similar in building to its predecessor. Although it still lacks the quality of the best world producers it still represents a very solid “good” level of details. It's a pity that Mirage decided to release the kit only with the Luftwaffe markings. I think three or four options would be perfect (say one for Polish and German and two for Bulgarian machines). Let us hope that Mirage will soon release this kit in the “Bulgarian only” boxing, as it was done with P-11c or P-24.
To sum up this kit is in my opinion one of the best model kits ever released of the Polish designed and produced airplane. It's really worth building.

Related reviews published on Aeroscale

Below you can find some reviews of the kits related to PZL.43 published by other Aeroscalers.

PZL-23A Karaś review by Rowan Baylis.
PZL-23B Karaś review by Rowan Baylis.
German WW1 & Polish WW2 Bombs review by Jean-Luc Formery.
German WWI & Polish WWII Pt.I review by Stephen T. Lawson.
German WWI & Polish WWII Pt.II review by Stephen T. Lawson.
”PZL.23 Karaś” - Mushroom Model Publishing book review by Jean-Luc Formery
PZL-23A Karaś – Eduard details review by Rowan Baylis.
Highs: Nice level of most details, multi media kit (brass and plastic), very thin decals, interesting subject and last but not least: it simply is.
Lows: Some panel lines are too heavy, few imperfections of details.
Verdict: Highly recommended to the enthusiats of Polish airplanes, although used by foreign air force.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 481311
  Suggested Retail: 120PLN (ca.30euro)
  PUBLISHED: Mar 22, 2012

Our Thanks to Mirage Hobby!
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About Mecenas

Copyright ©2021 text by Mecenas [ MECENAS ]. 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.


I thought your review was very informative and clear. I am new to modeling and noticed in your review that you talked about quality of models from different companies. I just finished a P 38 lightning by revell and found it to be okay to build but was not of very good quality or fit. You mentioned that there were some model makers that were much better that others. Could you provide a list or just name a few of the better kit makers. I am interested in building a quality kit. Thanks
MAR 22, 2012 - 12:11 PM
Hi Daniel, That subject is pretty broad, and been covered many times in the past. If you search the site, you can probably find several discussions on the matter. Tamiya, Hasegawa, and Revell of Germany are generally condidered to be good. There are many others who make good kits which require a little more in the way of skill and finesse to build. Your best bet is to ask in the "General Aircraft" forum about a particular subject and which kit is best. With Revell, you have to remember that they've been in business for almost 60 years, and they keep kits in production as long as they can, so the quality varies widely. Read the reviews here to see what others think about the particular kit you may have your eye on.
MAR 22, 2012 - 12:57 PM
Thanks for your reply, looks like I need to do a lot more research. I have just started building and just finished my fourth kit and love it.
MAR 22, 2012 - 02:26 PM
Hi, well, Jessica got it right what I meant. A female intuition?
MAR 22, 2012 - 06:12 PM
There were two versions of this aircraft, P.43 and P.43A. In the past some authors have referred to the P.43 as the P.43A and the P.43A as the P.43B which can be confusing if you are not aware of this. The initial Bulgarian order, negotiated with PZL, called for 12 aircraft. Despite the factory designation number changing to P.43 the new variant retained the name Karaś. To comply with the Bulgarian requirement, the P.43 was to be provided with a more powerful Gnome-Rhone engine and armed with two, instead of one, forward firing synchronized guns. Priced at 135,000 złoty (£5,400), less engine and equipment, changes in the airframe were necessary to offset the C.G. movement resulting from the heavier engine. No true prototype was built and the first production aircraft served as the development machine for the series. Deliveries of the 12 P.43s powered by the 930 hp Gnome-Rhone 14kfs radial engine, bought by the Bulgarians from France, were delayed until the end of 1937 because of over-heating and frequent fires. Once the problems were solved the aircraft gained an excellent reputation and a repeat order for 36 aircraft, later increased to 42, was placed with PZL. These aircraft, designated P.43A, differed in having the improved 970 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N01 radial engine. Externally a box was added under the cowling (extended air intake I think), some small changes to the exhausts and the single large oil cooler of the P.43 replaced with two smaller ones. Deliveries were scheduled for April-September 1939. The despatch of the first 21 was completed by early spring and a further 12 between May and August. There is uncertainty over the exact number of P.43As still in Poland at the outbreak of war on 1st September 1939. At the outbreak of war it was decided to reassemble the aircraft packed for shipment. The 41st Reconnaissance Flight had only received eight of its intended complement of 10 Karaś, and was asked, on the 3rd September, to send crews to the P.Z.L W.P.1 factory at Warsaw-Okęcie to collect some assembled P.43As as reinforcements. According to the account of Czesław Malinowski there were at least eight P.43As at Okęcie and Bielany airfields with a ninth still being assembled. Just before the crews reached Warsaw, on the morning of the 5th September, a heavy German air raid damaged three P.43As prepared for takeoff. Malinowski learned from a factory technician that there were five previously assembled machines at the forward airfield Warsaw-Bielany. This information proved correct and the 41st Reconnaissance Flight was reinforced with five new aircraft. However, according the research of A.Glass and W.Mazur into the exports of P.Z.L, 36 of the 42 aircraft ordered had been despatched to Bulgaria, which casts doubt on Malinowski’s number of eight plus one P.43As in Poland. Nevertheless, it is known that the 41st Reconnaissance Flight had at least two of the Bulgarian P.43As. One was lost on 10th September, shot down by the Bf 110 of Gefr. A Warrelmann of I.(Z)/LG 1, crashing at Michałowek near Miłosna with the loss of the entire crew. The second, while on a reconnaissance of the Ciechanów-Płońsk-Nasielsk area, was attacked by two Bf 109s north of Warsaw and damaged. The pilot evaded and managed to make it to Brześć only to crash into a bomb crater on landing. The crew received only light injuries. The Kit Mine arrived about three weeks ago and I had good root around in the contents and a through examination of the instructions before putting it on the pending pile. The first thing I noticed was that some of the parts on the new sprues have tooling marks from the moulds, in particular the propeller and engine cowlings. No big deal, but they will require a light sanding to remove them. The engine is quite a big lump made up of three parts; two banks of cylinders and an exhaust collector at the rear. There is some fine moulding on the cylinders but a little flash to remove down the sides. This should not be noticeable when the engine is surrounded by the cowling but might be a problem if you want to leave off the cowling and have the engine exposed, in which case you will need to find a resin replacement. Techmod have several Gnome-Rhone replacement engines for the P.24 kit but I do not know if they are suitable, or can be adapted for this kit. If you want to decorate it with ignition harness etc., then you need to do some further research. LINK Take careful note of the assembly instructions for the engine. You need to temporarily join the two cylinder banks together while the push rods are attached and then separate them in order to install the propeller. Sandwiched between the propeller and the engine is a dish and circular frame to support the three piece cowling. As this will need careful alignment I would suggest that this assembly be left until you are ready to attach the engine to the fuselage. In addition there is a very intricate exhaust system to fit around the engine and along the fuselage. Don’t forget the decals for the propeller logos. The rest of the build should be relatively straightforward. Instrument dials are supplied as decals. Polish interwar aircraft had colour co-ordinated instrument dials, red, blue and brown being used with hardly any in black. Decals are the only way to achieve authenticity and it is a shame Mirage does not include deals in their other kits. If accuracy is important to you, you will have to leave out the machine guns as no armament was carried during testing at Rechlin. This includes the two forward firing machine guns. Colouring In. Polish Khaki is something very simple that has been over-complicated in recent years with earnest discussions and various FS numbers being quoted for what are only small differences in lightness and darkness. A few years ago Mirage became the Polish agents for Vallejo and now only give references to Vallejo colours. Vallejo have three ranges of paints, Model Color, the best known, Model Air, which are thinned ready for use in an airbrush, and Game Color. For Model Color the reference number is preceded 70, Model Air 71 and Game Color 72. Model Color are not placed in the rack in reference number sequence which can leave you spending many a happy hour in the model shop scrutinising the labels. Helpfully, Vallejo give each colour a rack position number which makes things a lot easier. So before you embark on your shopping expedition it’s a good idea to find out what the rack numbers are. I will put them after a slash like this 70.nnn/nn. The names I quote will be the actual Vallejo names, not the ones Mirage use. In this kit Mirage recommend 70.887/93 Brown Violet for Polish Khaki. This matches Humbrol H155 Olive Drab. H155 is a brownish shade of Olive Drab. You can get Polish Khaki from the Jader Shop which is made form them by Agama. This is based on the colour uncovered during the restoration of the PZL P.11C in the Krakow Museum. It matches Humbrol H142 Field Drab which Humbrol no longer produce. It is a slightly lighter shade of the H155 colour and is what we used in the modelling dark ages of the 1960s and 1970s. H142 is also what Mirage used to recommend in their kits before Vallejo. For the Polish Light Blue on the undersides things get complicated. Mirage would have you mix four different colours, 71.990/155 Light Grey, 71.905/156 Pale Blue Grey, 71.951/1 White, and 71.997/171 Silver in the ratio 5:5:3;15. Experience tells me these concoctions seldom give satisfactory or consistent results. Nor is it necessary. Polish Light Blue is also available from Jader/Agama and again it is based on the colour found during restoration of the P.11c. I not much interested in Luftwaffe ‘targets’ but I recently purchased a tin of White Ensign Models RLM 76 for use on a Rumanian P.24 and discovered that it is only very slightly lighter than Agama’s Polish Light Blue. They are so close in colour that I can only see a difference when they are next to each other and I am looking at them from a distance of a few inches. So there you have it. If you cannot get, or don’t like Vallejo, choose a brownish Olive Drab and RLM 76 from your favourite range of paints and use those. Don’t let the ‘experts’ browbeat you into ‘it’s not quite right’. For the majority the results will be perfectly satisfactory. Seeing Red. The last of the exterior colours is the red used to paint the cowlings and the stripe down the side. This has to match the colour used on the decals. For their pre-Vallejo Bulgarian P.24 kit they recommended Humbrol H60 Scarlet. If there is one thing Techmod are good at it is matching their decals to a particular shade of paint. Sure enough H60 matches the decals exactly. So you can use H60 with this kit? No, it’s slightly lighter than the red used on these decals. The cowlings and various bumps and lumps need to be painted to match the decal colour and if you used H60 I am sure the difference would be noticeable and look odd. So what does Mirage recommend? Game Color 72.011 Gory Red. There are two model shops in my home town, both having the Model Color range but neither stocking Game Color or Model Air. This is, I think, typical of model shops. By some stroke of good fortune a branch of the Boyes chain store recently opened 20 minutes walk from my home. They have a small model section which has Vallejo and Humbrol paints. They do have the Game Color and Model Air ranges so off I popped to shops and one hour later I had the Gory Red to compare with the decals. It came as no surprise to find it a prefect match. It may be possible to find same colour in another paint range but I cannot help you in that respect. Another solution might be to apply the decals and use them as a guide for masking tape and then over spray with your own choice of paint that is similar in colour. The Interior Various parts of the interior are painted khaki, Aluminium and a blue-grey colour. For the blue-grey Mirage recommends Model Air 71.005 Intermediate Blue. If you have trouble finding Model Air then Model Color 70.903/60 is also Intermediate Blue. Of course you can use any Intermediate Blue from any paint range you choose. Some of the interior structure seems to lack any colour callouts on the instruction sheet. I presume these would have been Aluminium. The rest of the colours listed on the instruction sheet are for painting various details and I expect most people will prefer to substitute something similar that they already have. You are provided with some colour drawings to show you what all the bits and pieces should be painted but it is difficult for me to follow the thin black lines to where they end. The following is a list of the other Vallejo colours used with their full reference numbers. The numbers in brackets are the Humbrol equivalents if known. Model Air 71.062 Aluminium (H56) Model Air 71.080 Rust (H113) Model Color 70.801/174 Brass (H54) Model Color 70.828/182 Woodgrain Model Color 70.834/183 Natural Wood Model Color 70.842/3 Glossy White (H22) Model Color 70.861/170 Glossy Black (H21) Model Color 70.862/168 Black Grey Model Color 70.863/179 Gun metal Grey (H21) Model Color 70.864/178 Natural Steel (H27003) Model Color 70.881/112 Yellow Green Model Color 70.901/62 Pastel Blue Model Color 70.907/153 Pale Grey Blue (H146) Model Color 70.982/137 Cavalry Brown Model Color 70.994/166 Dark Grey (H27) Model Color 70.855/205 Black Glaze The only good photograph of the kit subject that I know of. There are in fact two machines to choose from in the kit but the only difference is in the size and position of the crosses on the wings and the Bulgarian serial number. This machine is often shown as having the engine cowling painted khaki but I cannot see anything in the photograph to support that. Note the absence of the forward firing machine guns and the very pale appearance of the ornate exhaust system. The kit instructions indicate that the exhaust should be painted Aluminium and Black Glaze but do not explain if these should be mixed together of if the glaze should be painted over the aluminium. Perhaps the exhausts were painted with some kind of heat resisting paint that no doubt soon began to flake off. They are not typical and I have not seen this pale colour in any photographs of the Bulgarian P.43s. What Next? So what future boxings might we look forward to? Surely some Bulgarian examples are on the cards. Only a new decal sheet and art would be required. The post Soviet invasion scheme with yellow cowlings, wing tips, fuselage stripe, elevators and rudder would probably be irresistible for some. The new sprues have the single oil cooler of the P.43 amongst their parts so it look like a release this earlier model has been envisaged at some point. One of the P.43As that was commandeered at the start of the war that crashed at Brześć. Some accounts say it overturned in a bomb crater; obviously that did not happen. The Bulgarian markings and red areas were painted over in a darker colour than that used on the airframe before Polish markings were substituted. The machine guns were substituted with a different model from that supplied to the Bulgarians. Both types are supplied in the kit and which to use noted in the instructions. You would only need to source some suitable chessboards to model this particular example.
MAR 25, 2012 - 10:40 PM
Hi All, We (Mirage Hobby) panning to release next two PZL P.43 versions: 1) Polish PZL P43 with three paint versions: a. Silver prototype (Very rare, with new parts) b. Dark olivegreen / Silver paint - Okencie 1939 c. 41. Eskadra Rozpoznawcza - September 1939 (Dark olivegreen / light blue paint with white-red chessboard) 2) Bulgarian PZL P43 A, version with additional under wing Swiatecki 24 x 12 wz.37 bomb racks + small bombs. Happy New Year! Piotr M from Mirage Hobby
DEC 31, 2012 - 12:30 AM
Hi Piotr and all, Here are some pics of a finished Mirage Hobby PZL.43 kit... I have used the "Luftwaffe" boxing and did a Bulgarian aircraft using spare decals and own made masks. Otherwise the model is "from the box". I wish you all a Happy New Year too... Jean-Luc
DEC 31, 2012 - 01:16 AM
Thanks for all the cool info. Makes me what to order one for myself As always a stunning build from you, Jean-Luc. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year to all
DEC 31, 2012 - 02:01 AM
Wow. What a fantastic looking aircraft in an eyecatching colour scheme modelled to perfection by Jean Luc. This is now on my wish list too. Simon
JAN 02, 2013 - 12:18 AM

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