by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
backgroundThe Heinkel He 100D ranks among the great "what-ifs" of WW2. Despite arguably having greater development potential than the rival Bf 109 (by then already established in service), it was never chosen for mass production and only a small batch of this potentially potent fighter was ever built.
As well as their successful propaganda role as the "He 113" which convinced RAF intelligence that the fighter was in full Luftwaffe service (to the point where a number of RAF pilots even claimed to have shot this mythical enemy down!), a few of the pre-production batch were exported to Japan and the Soviet Union for testing. Quite how wise it was to reveal to Moscow some of the most advanced German fighter technology ahead of a planned invasion is obviously open to question...
While the Soviets studied the He 100D in detail and adapted some of its features for their own designs, the IJN was apparently so impressed that they planned to put the Heinkel into production in its own right in Japan. However, the necessary jigs and tooling were never forthcoming and the He 100's last chance of success slipped away.
the kitSpecial Hobby released the He 100D wearing propaganda markings as a 1:32 kit a couple years ago, and such was the popularity of the subject, it quickly sold out in the UK. Now they have re-released the kit with new markings for the export machines.
The kit arrives in a very attractive top-opening box with the sprues and accessories bagged separately. The He 100D comprises:
66 x grey styrene parts
4 x clear styrene parts
3 x resin parts
16 x etched brass parts
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
Special Hobby kits currently lie in that "grey area" between mainstream models and traditional short-run products. Their quality and sophistication is increasing steadily but, while some of the details may rival the "majors" (and indeed sometimes surpass them in delicacy), you often do still need to be prepared to do a little extra preparation work prior to assembly.
That said, the He 100D is really very cleanly moulded, with little sign of flash, and no sink marks that I've found so far on the sample kit. Sprue attachments are small, and ejector pins have been kept out of harm's way. The surface finish is nice and smooth, with crisply engraved panel lines and a very subtle fabric effect.
test fitThe fuselage halves line up perfectly and the stabilizers are a solid fit. The full-span span has a tendency to droop unsupported, so Special Hobby provide a "spar" to form the rear of the boxed-in wheel well and help keep the centre section flat. The trailing edges could do with thinning a bit, but the wing slots into the fuselage opening neatly and the wing roots are an encouragingly good fit. There's a slight step between the underside of the nose and the wing on my kit, and as the wing roots match so well, it could mean the nose needs deepening a bit to blend smoothly - certainly nothing that will worry anyone who's built a few short-run kits.
a few detailsThe interior is quite sparsely fitted out, but this is understandable because, as far as I'm aware, no clear shots of the He 100's "office" appear to have survived (although I wouldn't be surprised if some are lurking in a forgotten file somewhere in the former Soviet Union). One of the well known staged propaganda shots is taken from a high angle and shows the pilot being strapped in, but the cockpit is pretty much hidden in darkness, while a photo of the aircraft under construction offers a glimpse of what may be a sloping console on the port sidewall. Instead of consoles, Special Hobby have opted for a throttle unit attached directly to the cockpit wall, along with a few other control boxes and an oxygen regulator, more in keeping with the known layout of the earlier He 112 - all of which which is fine, as whatever you do will be largely a mix of educated guesswork and "gizmology".
There's a neatly cast resin gunsight (which, being sensitive technology, maybe wouldn't have been fitted to export machines?) and an etched harness and trim wheels, but the instrument panel is moulded in two parts in plastic. It's not bad, and has reasonable (if slightly soft) raised details - but it seems a shame that Special Hobby didn't provide it in resin or etched brass, which I'm sure would have looked better. As it is, it is a good candidate for some Airscale or Mike Grant instrument decals. The rudder pedals are styrene and rather basic, so I'll probably replace them with etched ones from the spares box. Special Hobby have opted for a rather basic spade-grip control column, as fitted to the He 112 - which could well be correct, or else you could again fit a more standard Luftwaffe fighter joystick.
The wheel well is boxed in and has some simple details on the rear wall, along with machine gun barrels. The undercarriage is nicely moulded with crisp detail on the main gear legs and wheels, while the tailwheel is separate from its two-part fork.
The propeller is cleanly moulded in one piece with a realistic aerodynamic section, but does look rather slim compared with photos of the full-sized aircraft so I'll build up the blades a little in a similar way to Eduard's 1:48 Fw 190D. It's no great hassle to do, and provides a satisfying improvement in appearance.
The exhausts are cast in resin and are hollowed-out with convincing welding seams.
The one-piece canopy is crystal clear and provided with etched hand grips. In the sample kit the canopy is a tad wider than the fuselage, so you may need to add a spacer to get a clean fit. Alternatively, slicing the canopy into three sections to pose it open as shown in the instructions may help disguise the mis-match - and also help show off the cockpit. If you do open the canopy, the sliding section is slightly bulged, and a test fit shows there should be no danger of it sitting too high due to the thickness of the plastic.
Instructions and decalsI always like Special Hobby's instructions as, although apparently drawn on a computer, they still capture a traditional "draughtsman" quality. The main illustrations are good and clear, with additional info-views to back them up. Construction is broken down into nine logical stages, and the assembly looks pretty straightforward for anyone with a few similar kits of this type safely under their belt. Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are keyed to most details.
Decals are provided for four colour schemes:
a. Heinkel He 100D No. 3006, tested in Moscow in 1940 in a mix of light grey paintwork with some n/m panels
b. Heinkel He 100D No. 3006, as exhibited in Moscow painted overall grey with Red Star national insignia
c. Heinkel He 100D wearing Japanese insignia over grey-green paintwork
d. Heinkel He 100D as purchased by Japan in overall n/m without insignia (presumably with red-oxide primed or silver or grey painted fabric surfaces)
The decals are printed by Aviprint and look to be very good quality - thin and glossy, in good register and with minimal carrier film.
conclusionSpecial Hobby's He 100D looks to be a very fine limited run kit, and this "export" version is an interesting twist in offering a welcome change from the better known "propaganda" colour schemes. It's not suitable for beginners, but modellers with a little experience should find it a rewarding and very satisfying build. Recommended.
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