by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Special Hobby set many hearts racing when they announced a 1:32 Tempest way back in December 2012. As the years crept by, periodic updates gave tantalising glimpses of the progress and hinted that we were in for something pretty spectacular, but I think it’s fair to say the final kit surpasses even my best hopes. It originally appeared to wide acclaim this summer as a Hi Tech kit and proved such an immediate success that it rapidly sold out. Special Hobby have announced that they will not be producing any more of that original boxing, and have instead released the new “basic” version reviewed here. This includes the same very impressive styrene parts, but minus the resin and etched extras.
To accompany this version, Special Hobby have also released an expanded range of aftermarket extras under the CMK label which I will review separately, because there are simply too many of them to do justice to here. So, what follows will be very much a first impressions review, because I intend to get the Tempest onto the workbench at the earliest opportunity, making full use of the aftermarket upgrades which Special Hobby have generously provided along with the “basic” kit.
Special Hobby’s Tempest arrives in a large and sturdy top-opening box, with the main sprues bagged together and the clear parts and decals bagged separately and attached to a cardboard insert for added protection in transit. The sample kit arrived perfectly intact.
The Tempest marks a dramatic and ambitious leap forward in quality and sophistication for Special Hobby. From their solidly short-run beginnings, this is really snapping at the heals of the best of the mainstream producers - and, to be honest, it’s a lot better than many kits from established “big names”.
The moulding is excellent throughout, with minimal flash and no signs of sink marks. Ejector pins have been kept out of harm’s way for the most part (there are just a couple in the cockpit that I think could have been better placed) and they are much lighter than in previous kits.
The exterior finish is superb, with engraved panel lines and subtly done rivets that should look great in this scale under a coat of paint. They give a real sense of the sheer size and power of the Tempest with being obtrusive. The fabric covered rudder is nicely done with the rib stitching depicted and a nice taught effect overall.
Test FitThe kit is quite modular in its breakdown because Special Hobby have designed it to allow for the radial-engined Mk.II in a future boxing, as well as the Mk.VI with its revised radiators. This is all very well in theory, and we all know parts can look great on the sprues, but convincing them to join together can be quite another matter, So I approached a dry fit with a degree of trepidation....
Happily, I needn’t have worried, because Special Hobby have done a remarkably good job on the basic airframe. The fuselage halves line up perfectly and drop solidly into the wings to provide a firm foundation for this massive model. The roots are a good fit, as it the rear joint under the fuselage. The stabilisers slot in without any fuss and everything sits square and true without adjustment.
That leaves us with the separate Sabre nose - probably the make or break point of the model, because any major sanding and filling will risk obliterating that fine surface finish. In the accompanying photos the nose is merely clipped in place (not taped), and I’m very impressed by the fit. It’s going to need a bit of care to ensure a smooth line at the top seam because any step will stand out, but the match is basically perfect in plan view and the detail at the roots all lines up precisely.
A Few DetailsConstruction begins with the cockpit as you’d expect, with 56 parts combining to form a beautifully detailed “office”. Decals are provided for the instruments (sadly, not printed individually, so you’ll want to punch them out for the best effect) and data placards. The seat is a multi-part affair with nicely depicted padding and lacing, and all that’s really missing is a harness. This was provided in the original “Hi Tech” release, but you’ll have to provide your own this time.
A 3-part assembly boxes in the tailwheel well prior to joining the main fuselage prior to attention turning to the separate nose. This includes quite an elaborate sub-assembly for the chin radiator and its rear shutter that can be posed open or closed.
Next up is the mainwheel well, which should look very impressive with careful painting and weathering. There are no less than 26 parts devoted to the well, and the level of detail is excellent.
The next stage is the crucial point in the overall construction where all the major sections of the airframe are combined. Certainly, on the basis of the test fit as outlined above, this should be relatively straightforward. The leading edges of the wing centre section are separate to allow for the radiators that will feature in later boxings, so you’ll need to take a little extra care here to ensure a smooth fit.
With the main airframe assembled, the kit can be turned over to tackle the landing gear. Again, this is very nicely detailed and looks suitably sturdy for what is a pretty heavy model. The main gear features a choice of styles of wheel hubs for the weighted wheels, while the doors are nice and thin with good internal detail.
There’s a choice of underwing stores in the kit, with drop tanks and bombs included. Note, however, that the instructions state that drop tanks were the most common on WW2 Tempests. The tanks themselves come with the fairings moulded in clear styrene and decals to depict the structural bands. The kit parts are actually clearer than how the fairings appear in most photos I’ve seen, so a little bit of weathering won’t go amiss.
Talking of clear parts, the canopy and windscreen are beautifully done, with the canopy being movable on the rails which are supplied as separate parts (along with a small section of the top decking) to ensure they can be moulded cleanly.
The massive propeller is designed with individual blades with shaped roots that key into the spinner’s backplate to set the correct pitch.
Construction ends with the exhausts. These are moulded split laterally to allow for semi-hollowed out pipes, which is a bit of a compromise and can’t really compete with the resin aftermarket upgrades that Special Hobby have released and which offer a definite improvement.
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are printed as a glossy full colour 16-page A-4 booklet with clear and easy to follow diagrams. The construction sequence is very logical and divided into 42 manageable steps. Colour suggestions are keyed to most details and matched primarily to Gunze Sangyo paints, plus Alclad including their new Mil Spec enamels. I think this the first time I’ve seen the latter featured in kit instructions.
Decals are provided for 4 aircraft:
A: Tempest Mk.V, NV969, SA-A, flown by Sqn. Leader Warren “Smokey” Schrader, 486 Sqn., Fassberg, Germany, April 1945
B: Tempest Mk.V, JN862, JF-Z, flown by F/Lt. Remy van Lierde, 3 Sqn., Newchurch, August 1944
C: Tempest Mk.V, EJ705, W2-X, flown by Plt.Off. F.A. Lang, 80 Sqn., Volkel, the Netherlands, winter 1944-45
D: Tempest Mk.V, SN165, ZD-V, flown by Sqn. Leader Emanuel Barnett, 222 Sqn., Lyons, Kluis, the Netherlands, April 1945
The decals are printed by Eduard and look excellent quality. The colours look good, the registration is spot on on the review sample and the items are thin and glossy. My recent experience with Eduard decals has shown them to be easy to apply and that they snuggle down beautifully for a “painted on” look over moulded details.
ConclusionSpecial Hobby’s Tempest is a beautiful kit. A real monster in the best possible way, capturing the sheer size and might of Sydney Camm’s powerful fighter. Miroslav Hraban recently showcased his superb build of the original Hi-Tech release in the Forum, and underlined just how impressive the kit is. Despite approaching the best fully mainstream standards (and coming in at a fraction of the cost of what "Tamigawa" would probably charge) this is probably still a kit that will demand a bit of experience to get the best results, but anyone used to Special Hobby’s earlier short-run kits will be astounded at just how much the company has progressed. Highly recommended.
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