Broplan's I.V.L. A-22 Hansa
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World War I proved the military value of aviation so thoroughly that nearly every nation in the world was forced to confront its need for aircraft. At that time, aircraft technology was not yet so advanced that lesser nations could not themselves build their own warplanes. Among the nations who took steps toward this was Finland, which established the Industria Valtion Lentokonetehdas (I.V.L.) factory at Sveaborg in the spring of 1921.
One of the I.V.L.'s first undertakings was license production of the Hansa Brandenburg W.33, which was re-christened the A-22 and made its service debut in 1923. The new aircraft differed from the German machine by the use of a Fiat 300-horsepower six-cylinder engine, which provided the machine with the stunning top speed of 106 mph and gave the front end a different appearance than that of the German machine. The plane made extensive use of Finnish-made plywood, and alighted upon Finnish waters with the aid of two flat-sided, single-step floats. Some machines were also equipped with skis for inland use.
For its time, the A-22 was a solid performer; it could climb to 3000 meters in 22 minutes, and served as Finland's standard reconnaissance and day-bombing aircraft for many years. In doing so, the plane helped build the foundation of the Finnish air force, a foundation that would prove rock-solid twenty years later.
Recently, the Hansa Brandenburg series of floatplanes has been the subject of several kits. The Broplan kit undoubtedly carries the least-known variant, at least among non-Finns! The kit is comprised of 14 vacuformed parts and 16 injection molded pieces. As is the norm with Broplan's vacuforms, there are no decals, but a nice sheet of drawings provides two similarily-marked A-22s and makes reference to a sheet by GAL Decal that will provide the needed markings.
The vacuformed wings are very nicely done, and the lower wings have petite dimples where the float struts attach - a nice feature that will simplify building the somewhat complex float arrangement. The floats are very nicely done in two pieces, a hull section and a detailed top section that provides detail not often found on vacuformed floatplanes. Between the floats goes an injection-molded H-frame, which should help stabilize the floats for the addition of the struts. Four more N-struts join to the float and H-frame, with two small strut stabilizing the inner two N-struts. All of these struts are provided in injection-molded styrene. The styrene parts all have considerable flash and some time will be required to clean up the parts, but they will make construction much easier than it would have been had the modeler had to provide the strut material.
Once you have the floats and struts together, the rest of the model should seem like a breeze! There isn't much interior detail to speak of, and the machine gun and ring for the rear cockpit are missing altogether. The kit includes a simple front seat and control wheel and post and a sparsely-detailed control panel. All of these components rest on a central wing spar, a good feature in what is a rather large vacuformed model. There's nothing in the back seat. Modelers will want to apply some creativity and perhaps some aftermarket parts to improve these very visible areas. Modelers are also required to make a windscreen from clear styrene sheet.
The tail is a two-piece affair that joins atop the under-slung rudder in a kind of primitive T-tail, a trademark of the Hansa Brandenburg design. The radiator is neatly done in injection molded plastic, as is the propeller, which needs some careful clean-up and perhaps a brass prop hub from an aftermarket manufacturer. A bank of exhaust stacks exiting the right side of the cowling is provided as a single piece, but it might be easier and more effective to drill out holes for these and use metal tubing to replicate the exhausts.
While there is plenty of room for detailing, this is a solid basic kit. Because of the complex strut structure, lack of details and decals, and flash-covered injection-molded parts, I can't recommend it to newcomers to vacuform kits, but I can give it a hearty thumbs up for its interesting and unusual subject matter.