By John Lester
The Henschel Hs126 was a progressive development of the earlier Hs122. Designed as a two seat reconnaissance/spotter aircraft, it first flew in the autumn of 1936. Development proceeded without many glitches, and by mid 1937 pre-production aircraft were being operationally evaluated by the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War. The type began to enter Luftwaffe service the next year, replacing obsolete He45 and He46 aircraft. For the first two years of the war, the Hs123 was the Luftwaffe's best mid-range reconnaissance platform, and it was used extensively on all fronts. Combat on the Western Front showed it to be generally inferior to the opposition, and production ended in January, 1941. Surviving airframes were gradually transferred to the Russian front, where the type soldiered on until replaced in the reconnaissance role by the Fw189. Those aircraft still flying took up secondary roles as glider tugs, hacks and nocturnal raiders.
I stumbled across this kit while poking around Hannants, and having slightly more money than sense (and precious little of either commodity) I immediately ordered it. I have this thing for the obscure and under-appreciated, you see, which is why I have six Swordfish and no Bf109s. I feel fairly safe that no mass-market injected kit of this aircraft will ever be released in 1:48th, so it's this kit or none for me.
Inside the sturdy cardboard box is enough room to pack another kit - in my case, a 1:72 Vickers Wellesley from Matchbox - plus a couple handfuls of packing peanuts. Good thing I ordered the Matchbox model with this one - I'm sure I would have little beside resin dust had this kit wandered across the Atlantic on it's own. All the parts are enclosed in the typical Czech plastic pouches, but with all the room for them to slide around in. The fuselage halves and wing halves (right side and left side) are the biggest bits and were molded separately; most of the rest of the parts come on resin wafers. There are a few small pits and bubbles evident, as well as some flash, but on the whole the quality of the castings is pretty good. Detailing is sharp. Panel lines are finely engraved and the interior is crisp, with none of the muddy, overscale features that one usually sees. Separate parts are provided to make the landing gear with or without the pants that covered the wheels. From the scanty references I have, it appears this kit accurately depicts the later B-1 model with the uprated engine.
Instructions, short history, and a painting/marking guide come in an eight page booklet. The assembly guide is six pictoral steps, with clear diagrams detailing where all the bits go. As instructions go, they appear to be quite good.
Decals are provided for two machines, one based in Finland and one in North Africa. The Finland bird wears RLM 70/71 splinter cammo over RLM 65; the North African, RLM 79/80 over 78. Decals are sharp and perfectly registered, and appear quite opaque. Not having used MPM decals before, I don't know how they'll perform, however.
All-in-all, this looks like a typical resin aircraft kit. It will require plenty of dry-fitting, sanding you know, that modeling stuff but I don't expect more than the usual hassles one gets with limited run kits. I'm sure I can make a decent looking model from it, and I know it will stand out on any contest table it appears on, if only because of it's uniqueness!