by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundWhile itís never going to win any prizes in the glamour stakes, the SG-38 is undoubtedly one of the most important aircraft of WW2. Designed in 1938 for the Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps (NSFK) - the Nazi partyís paramilitary flying organisation, the Schulgleiter 38 went on to become the primary ab initio trainer for the Luftwaffe, and over 10,000 were built in Germany and under licence internationally.
The SG-38 was designed to be so simple to fly that a pupil would go solo immediately, relying solely on ground instruction in preparation for the first flight. Not surprisingly, an important feature was ease of repair after the inevitable prangs.
Post war, the SG-38 continued to be used, new-build British aircraft entering service with the RAF in 1948 as the Eton TX.1.
The KitSpecial Hobbyís SG-38 arrives in a compact end-opening box, with the main sprues and accessories bagged separately for protection.
The kit comprises:
32 x grey styrene parts
32 x etched brass parts
Decals for 6 x colour schemes
While Special Hobby have their reputation as one of the leading limited-run kit manufacturers, itís instantly apparent that the SG-38 represents a major step up towards fully mainstream production. The parts appear to be CAD produced and moulded with metal moulds.
There is no flash to worry about on the sample kit, nor any sign of sink marks. The only ejector pin marks Iíve found are inside the nacelle.
The surface finish comprises light, but really crisply defined ribs and spars, which will make masking much easier if you choose to represent the translucent look of the fabric flying surfaces.
Thereís very little you can dry-assemble on an airframe like this, but a quick test-fit of the main components shows they are precisely engineered and bodes well for a straightforward build.
A few DetailsWith such a simple open airframe, all its "guts" are on display, so there's plenty of scope for some delicate detailing. The main fuselage frame features neatly moulded-on fixtures and fittings and, with no flash to worry about, clean-up should be painless.
The cockpit (if you can call it that) has a 4-part seat, a control column and a choice of styles of rudder pedals. There are no instruments - this was real "seat of the pants" flying (although some modern SG-38s do feature a minimalist instrument panel at the pilot's feet). Surprisingly, considering the kit includes an etched fret, there's no seat harness included - really, the only criticism I can make of the kit.
The etched parts do provide rigging attachments, turnbuckles and control horns - and a nice touch is that the instructions include a comprehensive guide to adding the necessary cables, including giving the length of each wire.
If you chose to fit it, the little fuselage shell is actually added last, after all the rigging is completed - but I think I'd err on the safe side and at least try to fit it earlier in order to clean-up any seams if needs be.
Ironically, for such a deceptively simple model, the make or break point could well be painting the mix of wood and translucent linen. With the structure so clearly visible, the kit cries out for some of the clever texturing and shading techniques available, and it should be both challenging and a great subject to practise on.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly guide is printed in colour as a glossy 12-page A-5 booklet. Construction is broken down into 11 stages, with clearly drawn diagrams and a number of useful "info views". Colour matches are included for Gunze Sangyo paints. I'd definitely recommend consulting the numerous photos on the Internet for extra detail on painting the metal fittings and judging the wood/fabric effects.
Decals are included for six SG-38s in German and Slovak service. Four have an enclosed cockpit, with the remaining two fully open to the elements. The decals look to be excellent quality, being thin and gloosy and crisply printed. Swastikas are provided split into halves, and patches of white are included for over-painted double crosses on one of the Slovak aircraft.
ConclusionSpecial Hobby's SG-38 is a delightful little kit that will really repay careful construction and painting. Despite its apparent simplicity, I'd say it's best recommended for modellers with a bit of experience, and it would be an ideal subject for anyone looking to try their hand at rigging and doped-fabric effects, with the high quality of the moulding should make it a great first step beyond more obviously mainstream kits.
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