Revell's 1/72 Heinkel He-177 "Grief"

By Brent Theobald

History

Arguably the largest bomber built by the Germans, the He 177 suffered many flaws and turned into one of the Luftwaffe's biggest failures (when comparing service use to the amount of resources invested.) A significant problem that plagued the program from the beginning was a ludicrous requirement that this extremely large aircraft be capable of dive-bombing. This combined with the attempt to reduce drag by coupling the engines, while theoretically sound, proved to be impossible in practice for no aircraft in history had engines that would so readily burst into flame. 75% of the prototypes crashed and a good percentage of the 35 A-0 pre-production airframes were written off in crashed or in-flight fires.

About 700 served on the eastern front using 50mm and 75mm guns for tank-busting while a few brave aircrews ineffectually bombed England. The He-177 proved to be such a big problem that Goering forbade Heinkel to develop a four-engine version. Heinkel did anyway, the result being the He 277.

I found this information on the Luftwaffe Resource Page.

The Kit

Shaking the plastic sprues out of the box I was taken with how many parts there are to this thing. This plane must have been huge! The parts barely fit inside the box. (This is one of those kits that never goes back into the box right). Anyhow, Revell of Germany supplies us with six trees molded in a hard light gray plastic and one more tree for the transparent parts. None of the trees in my example had any noticeable flash and at first glance all the ejector pin marks look as if they will be hidden once the model is built. There are markings for two different aircraft. After sampling so many limited run and resin kits it is very refreshing to see the very clear and well illustrated instructions included. The parts break down is predictable: Two fuselage halves, upper and lower wings halves, etc. The construction appears as if it will be straightforward without surprises.

The exteriors of the fuselage halves have inscribed panel lines and rivets. The interior is also has some detail. It will look nice if built straight from the box, but I know some of the super detailers out there are going to want to add more. An interesting feature the fuselage has is the gun turrets are designed such that a block out part could easily be manufactured. This is good news. Perhaps Revell of Germany will release a few more versions of the aircraft. Even if they don't the job of the scratchbuilder or aftermarket companies has been made easier.

The wings are detailed to the same level of quality as the fuselage. The panel lines will look great once the model is painted and given a wash or two. Much like the fuselage the detail is nicely done, but the modeler who likes to customize his models is going to want to drop the flaps and move the ailerons. The only negative criticism I have is the wheel openings need to be cut out. That's not such a big deal, but it strikes me as odd.

The detail parts, including the Fritz glide bombs, all look really good too. There are detail parts for the cockpit and bombs for the bomb bay (whose fins might be a little thick, but then I'm picky). The bomb bay itself has lots of structure shown. That is another piece that will look great with a little paint and some dry brushing. Interestingly the rudder is molded separately. That seems a little strange when none of the other control surfaces were molded this way. The radiators in the front of the engine nacelles are represented well, but will pose a challenge when it comes time to paint them. The Fritz glide bombs are little models unto themselves. They are very nicely done. I can see kit bashers robbing He-177 kits of their glide bombs for other projects. A feature I like is the kit was obviously engineered to be displayed wheels up or down. We don't see that too much any more. The main gear doors will need to be cut out of the wings and the tail gear doors need to be scored and folded in order to display the model gear down.

As I mentioned earlier I am very happy with the instructions. Very clear graphical representations of what part goes where with clear painting instructions. The steps are broken down so only a few parts are added during each step. This makes it ideal for the younger modeler who wants to build a larger more challenging model. The He-177 would be a great kit for that first, multi-engined bomber (overlooking the Luftwaffe paint scheme of course). The decals supplied are basic World War Two German: crosses and tons of stencils. However, swastikas will have to be supplied out of the spares bin. So the decals are pretty tame, but then the Germans never did enough nose art to suit me anyway.

Conclusion

I hate to think that I only ever report the good points of a kit, but this kit really looks good. It's big, has lots of parts with nice detail and those recessed panel lines we all love so much. Cutting open the gear doors is inconvenient, but certainly nothing to get upset over (especially if you want to hang it from the ceiling). The level of cockpit, undercarriage and engine detail is just fine for out of the box. My problem now is do I shove everything off the bench in order to start this beast or do I wait for Aries to produce a super detail set? Then they can start making conversions for the He-277 and He-274 (hint).

References that might come in handy:

German Heavy Bombers from Schiffer Publications -book number 82. It's cheap and give a relatively brief history on the He-177 among others.

Heinkle He-177/277/274 by Manfred Griehl - This book describes the He-177 and its derivatives very well. The engineer in you will love all the technical data on the engines. The modeler in you will appreciate all the photographs.

I would like to thank John Roll of Roll Models for making the kit available for review. John also has the reference books I mentioned.


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