by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Plastic PartsAn injection-moulded 1/48 scale Barracuda has long been high on the wish-list of British WW2 aircraft. Due its relative obscurity, it was unlikely to ever be kitted by the likes of Tamiya or Hasegawa, so it was left to a manufacturer of short-run models, Special Hobby, to come to the rescue.
The main parts are quite cleanly moulded in soft grey plastic. There is a little flash on small parts, but no sink marks to speak of. The spinner in my example has a few minor blemishes. A quick test-fit shows that all the major parts fit well and compare closely enough against quoted dimensions to satisfy most modellers.
Panel lines are beautifully engraved, although a quick pass with a scriber may be needed needed in a couple of spots where the moulding is slightly rough. Two small panels are engraved beneath the windscreen - these were windows on the full-sized aircraft.
Amusingly, the pattern-maker has seemingly forgotten to scribe the topside of the port aileron in the same style as the other control surfaces, but it shouldn't be too hard to run a scalpel along the hinge-line to match things up.
Cockpit details are a combination of both plastic and resin parts and should look great when painted. There are some ejection-pin marks inside the fuselage which will be visible, so it will be worth removing these and representing the internal structure with some plastic strip.
The instrument panel is supplied as a plastic part. It's well detailed, but a little soft. Special Hobby normally supply etched panels, so it's hard to understand why they haven't done so in this case.
The undercarriage parts have got a bit of flash on them, but they should clean up well enough to capture the distinctive look of the original. The wheels are moulded with fine tread detail, although the centres are a little crude on closer inspection.
Detail PartsA comprehensive set of resin components is included. These are beautifully modelled and cast and include cockpit sidewalls, radio gear and seats, machine guns and hollowed out exhausts. A small sheet of etched parts is supplied. These are seat harnesses, radiator grills and radar aerials. Some modellers may want to replace the aerials with HSP for a more 3-D effect, using the etched parts as a pattern. All my reference photos show debris-guards on the carburettor intakes, so it's a shame these weren't included on the sheet.
The clear parts are injection moulded and very clear. The "greenhouse" canopy is supplied as three parts, but no provision is made for an open pilot's cockpit. The side panels are, possibly, a little too deep compared with photos, but the parts certainly capture the distinctive look of the original.
Decals and Colour SchemesSpecial Hobby supply decals for three aircraft. The decals seem thin and well printed; registration on my sample was very good. The red used does seem a bit too bright - colour photos show Barracudas with Dull-Red markings (close to FS 30109). No stencilling is included.
The colours quoted for the spinners in the painting instructions is Sky: this is at odds with a Scale Aircraft Modelling article, which shows:
Scheme 1 - LS550 with a white spinner
Scheme 2 - LS542 with black spinner
Scheme 3 - PM954 with a red spinner
I haven't got photos to confirm this one way or the other, but it's obviously worth checking your references before painting.
ConclusionThe only real disappointment in this model is the total lack of stores; the Barracuda could carry a wide range of offensive armament, but nothing is provided in the kit.
If this has all sounded rather negative, don't get me wrong - this is a fine kit that will build into a very impressive model. Any flaws are minor, and shouldn't deter anyone from buying this kit. Special Hobby are to be applauded for finally providing an injection moulded kit of a long-neglected aircraft.