by: Antoni Lachetta [ ]
Photos: courtesy by Jean-Luc Formery.
Troublesome beginning The kit has just arrived in the post and the bad news on opening the box is that some of the clear parts are broken. This is not the fault of the postman as the broken parts are not in the bag so it must have been broken before it was packed. Fortunately the shop where I bought the kit have always been extremely helpful in dealing with problems of the type, and hopefully a replacement will not be long arriving.
Box content As you would expect, the kit is basically the already known Karaś with a few extra parts for the small differences found on the Romanian machines.
There are three options, aircraft 10, 6 & 12, which are illustrated in colour in four views. These are accurate representations with notes on the features of each aircraft. There is a list of references but these will be difficult to come by now.
Option one is an early version before Romania entered the war, with roundels instead of St. Michael's crosses and may appeal to someone looking for something more unusual.
Aircraft 6 has the Karaś A wings with leading edge slats. Anyone that encounters these on Mirage's Karaś A kit and had an urge to go and hide under the bed will be relieved to learn that on Romanian machines these were locked in the closed position and it is only necessary to bend the brass PE parts to fit over the leading edge of the wing.
On aircraft 12 the dorsal gunner was protected by a 'Ned Kelly style' sheet of armour plate. This is provided with the brass PE.
There is a bonus forth option on the decal sheet for aircraft 13 but the only reference for this is a photograph in the instruction sheet and you are left to discover its peculiarities by yourself. If the kit does not offer you enough options, there is a Techmod decal sheet for aircraft 3,12,13 & 17.
Instrument dials on Polish aircraft were colour coded to their function and decals for them are included on the decal sheet.
The brass PE sheet is not extensive. There are seat belts but mostly it is made up of parts for the exterior. If you feel that this does not fulfil your need for PE Part have two extensive sets that can be used with this model.
Packed separately in zip lock plastic bag are four sprues of parts for bombs. The instruction sheet has a drawing showing two bomb loads used by the Romanians but there is no information about size, colour etc. The bombs appear to be the Polish type which IIRC were German WW I casings. Based on the instruction sheet from another of Mirage's kits the body should be coloured Intermediate Blue (Vallejo 903) with Silver (Vallejo 997) tips and the raised band around the middle Oily Steel (Vallejo 177).
Painting and colours Some time ago Mirage became the distributors for Vallejo paints in Poland. Consequently they now list only Vallejo colours in the instruction sheets, occasionally giving an FS reference if you are lucky. This can lead to some complex mixtures being given for a colour that can be obtained off the shelf. For the interior the US colour Intermediate Blue can be used.
During overall the Romanian Karaś were repainted in dark green/light blue different from the original Polish colours. The Mushroom publication Romanian Fighter Colours 1941 – 1945 describes the dark green colour as similar to RAF Dark Green or perhaps RLM (64) 83 and the light blue as similar to RAF Sky Blue. The FS refs given by Mirage correspond to RML 83 and Sky Blue. Both these colours can be found in the White Ensign Models Colorcoats range.
Having obtained the RLM 83 for use on a Romanian PZL P.24 model I can tell you that it is almost identical to RAF Dark Green, being a little more olive green. I can only see a difference when both are placed next to each other. RAF Dark Green would be perfectly acceptable if you cannot find RLM 83 in your favourite range of paint.
RLM 76 has also been mentioned in connection with the light blue. Sky Blue is similar but noticeably lighter.
The book gives Gunze Aqueous 36, Lifecolour UA054 & Xtracrylics 1226 as colour references for the dark green and Lifecolour UA515 for the light blue. I am not familiar with these so cannot comment on any differences or similarities to the WEM colours.
Other aftermarket improvements Last Montex long ago produced masks for the Karaś kits which can make this chore a lot easier.
Photo-etched parts and masks are also available from Eduard.
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