Azur's 1/72 Ro.37 bis
The Ro.37 was an Italian observation biplane that was originally built in two versions: one with a 550hp inline engine and a second with a 560hp Piaggio P.IX radial engine. This second option is the basis of this kit, the Ro.37 bis. The Ro.37 saw service in Ethiopia and Spain before the Second World War and by 1940 nearly all of the Regia Aeronautica's observation squadrons were equipped with the Ro.37 and Ro.37 bis. As the Second World War progressed newer designs came out and the Ro.37 found itself relegated to the training role. It also flew against partisans in Yugoslavia and served in South America with the Uruguayan Air Force.
This kit is very likely the first injection-molded kit of the Ro.37 bis, and it's one of the few non-French kits put out by Azur. The kit is made up of a blend of light gray injection-molded plastic parts, etched metal detail parts, and vacuformed clear parts. The plastic parts are well molded and will require only a little cleanup. Starting with the interior, the cockpit is made up of injection parts, with etched metal instrument panel and seat belts. Fuselage stringers are injection plastic and fit into the fuselage sides. Notches are cut into the cockpit floors to fit around the stringers. The detailing is somewhat sparse, and could probably use some extra details as a lot of the area will be visible due to the openings in the fuselage sides.
The wings are one piece, with the lower wing fitting into the bottom of the fuselage. The outer wing struts are nicely done with the sprue attachments at the middle of the struts, keeping the ends nice and clean. There are no alignment pins for the struts, but the upper and lower wings have outlines showing where they go. The cabane struts are similarly molded, with similar outlines showing where they align on the upper wing. There are no marks on the fuselage, however, so it would probably be best to fit them to the upper wing first.
The landing gear of the Ro.37 Bis features spatted wheels and this is one area that will really look good in this kit. The wheels are split in halves and feature photoetched spokes. These will be very simple to put together and will really add a lot of realism. The engine is injection molded and is one of the weak points in this kit, as it is only a front half engine. With the cowling as open as it is, the engine would be better represented as a whole engine, front and rear.
The decal sheet is printed by Propagteam and is in excellent register. Three choices are included: two Italian and one Uruguayan. The Uruguayan example is finished in dark green over light blue with an aluminum cowling. This somewhat bland scheme is offset by the rather colorful Uruguayan markings. The first Italian scheme is that on the boxtop and features a Ro.37 bis from the Spanish Civil War. Finish is the standard sand and olive green mottle, with light blue undersides. The final option is another Italian plane, this one from 1938. The camouflage is a five-color camouflage consisting of sand, light green, brown, red-brown and dark green over light gray. This scheme is before the Regia Aeronautica adopted the white cross for a rudder marking, so the rudder features the red/white/green stripes. A red winged horse is on the fuselage sides.
Italian aviation isn't the most popular out of all the subjects from World War Two, but it's starting to get its due from some of the smaller manufacturers. This kit is an excellent example of that trend. The interesting look of the Ro.37 bis coupled with the great selection of markings included in the kit makes this a great option for someone looking for something different. If you're interested in aircraft of the Second World War and are looking for something different, check this model out.