a-im-title.jpg (7789 bytes) a-im-month.jpg (6572 bytes) a-top-corner.jpg (4494 bytes)

Aviation Usk's 1/72 SM-84

 

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

 

History

This kit just came in for review, so rather than waste time digging up source material, I'll just quote the brief history in the instructions, which say:

"The SM-84 was planned as the replacement for the aging SM-79. An elegant tri-motored design, it was produced at a time when Italy's forces were already on the defensive and the aircraft's true merits were difficult to assess. The aircraft was operated by both 98 and 99 Grupo in the defense of Sicily with some success. Although also used in conventional level bombing raids, both by day and night, the aircraft was designed as a torpedo bomber and it was in this field that it attained its greatest successes. With its considerable range, it raised havoc with the British Royal Navy with the accomplishment of such notable feats as torpedoing the battleship Nelson. After the armistice, aircraft were used by the Fascist Air Force, the newly liberated Italian Air Force and the Luftwaffe in a variety of roles."

The Kit (click on thumbnails for larger image)

When I heard that Aviation Usk was doing an injection kit of the SM-84, I immediately asked "Why? Didn't Supermodel do one already?" Of course, I was wrong, and the Supermodel kit was of the SM-81. With the Airfix kit of the SM-79, the Supermodel kit of the SM-81, and this kit, you can build almost the entire Savoia Marchetti bomber line from the Second World War. So what do you get for your $30 here? Well, you get a very nicely molded kit with recessed panel lines, resin engines, and a beautiful decal sheet. What more could you ask for?

Taking a closer look at the kit, while the details included are nice, in no way is this a weekend boxshaker of a kit. Just to make sure you know this, Aviation Usk clearly proclaims that this model is "not suitable for children: harmful if swallowed." While swallowing this might be difficult and would certainly be harmful, the other part merely means that it will take some modeling skill to build this kit. It is a true limited-run kit, with rather thick plastic (but the sprue attachment points aren't oversize) and a fairly basic interior. No locating pegs are to be found anywhere, and the wings have no locating tabs or slots. With this kind of arrangement, you could expect there to be some troubles in lining the parts up, but after an initial test fit it looks like this kit can go together with a minimal amount of putty.

The interior is, as I've said, rather basic. That said, there really isn't much you can see inside there anyway. The cockpit is made up of a floor, two seats, control yokes, both a plastic and an etched brass instrument panel, and a rear bulkhead. Brass seatbelts are also provided, along with some throttle knobs. There is sidewall detail molded into the fuselage halves, and once this is all painted up, it should look very good through those tiny cockpit windows.

The rear fuselage part is depicted by a basic floor. The rear gunner positions have a cover to place in the openings, eliminating the need to detail this area. For those who really want to go all out, though, this is one place where the super-detailer can really go to town, as the large openings for the gun positions will reveal quite a bit should you decide to leave them open.

The resin engines are just the front faces of the twin-row radial Piaggio P-XI engines, and this is all that is really needed, as the cowlings are very tight fitting and it would be difficult to see much else. The moldings are crisp, and some painting followed by a wash will really bring out the detail. The cowlings are split down the middle, and fit well against the nose and wing nacelles. The only real additional work needed here would be to thin down the trailing edges of the cowl flaps, a simple 30-second job with a sharp knife.

The rest of the kit is pretty straightforward and there should be no surprises. The landing gear needs some cleanup, but once that is done it should be plenty strong enough to support the finished model. The wheels have some very nice detail in the hubs, but are split down the middle, so some care will be needed to make sure they line up properly. The only weapon included (except for the turret gun) is a torpedo, which looks very much like the photos I've seen of Italian torpedos. Even if you don't use this on the SM-84, it will be a very useful thing to have hanging around your spares box. The canopy and clear parts are all vacuformed and are very clear and thin. The main cockpit windows are included with a piece of the fuselage, so getting a nice, blended fit will be simple.

The decals are definitely a high point of this kit. I don't know who printed them, but whoever did really knows what they're doing. Alignment is perfect, and the decals are thin. Even the tail insignia for the Italian SM-84s are correctly depicted with gold instead of yellow. Three choices are provided in the decals. The first one is an SM-84 from 258 Sq., 36 Stormo, August 1942 and is finished in the typical Italian mottle camouflage of Bruno Mimetico (brown), Verde Mimetico (green), & Giallo Mimetico 3 (yellow) over Grigio Mimetico 1 (gray). This is the one depicted on the boxtop. The second Italian option is a simpler one to paint, being a Grigio Azzuro Scuro (dark azure gray) over Grigio Mimetico 1 SM-84 from 9 Sq., 7 Stormo in Sicily, 1942. The third choice steps away from Italian soil and moves east a bit, with a dark green over gray SM-84 of the Slovakian Air Force.

Conclusion

While the other main belligerents of the Second World War seem to be getting their due in the modeling world, the Italian Air Force hasn't been very popular. While we have literally hundreds of injection Bf109 models in all scales, there is only one injection SM-79 kit out there, and only one SM-81 kit. Now there is an SM-84 to join these other two, so hopefully this will mark a new era of upcoming Italian bombers. I, for one, would like to see an injection kit of a SM-79B or a Fiat G.12, but maybe those are a ways away.

The Aviation Usk kit of the SM-84 is a very welcome on indeed, and if you have an interest in the Italian Air Force you won't want to pass this one by. Sitting next to an Airfix SM-79 and a Supermodel SM-81, it will make for an excellent display.

Available now at Aviation Usk for $29.95.





pragolog-sm.jpg (5410 bytes)





browse-book-stack-rev.gif (3989 bytes)

Next: Broplan's A-22 Hansa
Previous: First Looks Index
a-bottom-corner.jpg (4577 bytes)