Fonderie Miniature's 1/48 Arsenal VG-39
The Arsenal VG-33 was an excellent fighter. It was produced in the late Ď30ís, but production was stopped by the war. Developed by the Arsenal de lí Aeronautique, the VG-33 was a light fighter built of non-strategic materials (wood). The VG-33 was powerfully armed: a 20mm cannon and four 7.5mm machine-guns. The prototype first flew during the spring of 1939 showing excellent performance. It reached a top speed of 346 mph (558 kph) during official test flights in August of 1939. Before the fall of France only 160 had been built of the 200 ordered. Of these hardly ten were ready for operational service. All VG-33ís were seized or destroyed by the Germans except for ten that escaped to the south.
The Arsenal VG-39 was a re-engined VG-33. The original HS 12Y-31 (860 hp) was replaced with the HS 89ter (1280 hp). The dramatic increase in power brought the top speed up to 385 mph (620 kph). Only one VG-39 was built. It was test flown just before the French surrender.
This model arrives packaged in a corrugated box decorated with a colorful watercolor of the Arsenal VG-39 on the ground. I have to assume the other aircraft buzzing by is a VG-33. There are two plastic sprues, a bag of resin bits, a photo-etched sheet, two vacuform canopies, one decal sheet and a set of instructions. It looks like everything needed to build a VG-39 is there.
The plastic parts are pretty good. The engraved panel lines look a little heavy and the surface seems a little rough. I imagine some sanding and a coat of paint will clear this up. There is a small amount of flash, but that will clean up easily. The gates are small and should not pose any problems. My overall impression of the plastic is fair.
The resin is a white material. The detail looks good. The four sided tub is going to be challenging to paint. Unfortunately one of my exhaust stacks was broken. Luckily I found the piece (I guess that's why they put them in bags). No bubbles are apparent in the resin bits. There are no casting plugs to clean up either. These resin bits just need to be washed, painted and popped into the model. That's nice for those of you snowbound modelers. No resin dust in the house. The resin looks good to me.
There will be some clean up required on the metal parts. That isn't too unusual for metal parts though. A little time spent with a flexi-file will get the parts looking fine. The metal landing gear struts will come in handy for supporting the model. The model will be heavier than resin landing gear struts could support. I would say the metal parts are as good as I have seen. Please keep in mind that all metal parts I have seen require a little clean up.
The photo-etched parts also look good. In fact, they might be the highlight of this kit. Using these parts will add that extra bit of detail to really make the cockpit stand out. The photo-etched instrument panel is nice, but there is no backing film provided. I find that to be a little surprising. The parts look great though.
Fonderie Miniature provides two vac canopies. Iím so happy when manufacturers make the little extra effort to do this. Invariably when I attempt to cut the first one out I botch it. I need that second canopy as backup. Unfortunately I have bubbles in both of my canopies. Maybe they can be polished out. I don't know as I haven't tried this before. Fonderie Miniature might send me replacement parts too if I ask. I'm glad Fonderie Miniature includes two sets of vacuform canopies. It would have been nice if one of them was bubble free.
The instructions are generic exploded drawings consisting of four steps. The exploded drawings are accompanied by French as well as English text. The English is a little broken, but the point comes across. The assembly process is very clear. My only beef is I wish they had included a more concise camouflage guide. They only provide one half of the camo pattern for the VG-39. That seems to be a chronic problem with 1/48 scale Arsenal kits Were these aircraft only photographed from one side? More research will be required to paint an accurate model. The colors are thoughtfully named with FS equivalents. Iím satisfied with the instructions. Thereís a little room for improvement, but I think some modelers enjoy researching their subject as much as building it.
The decals are pretty basic since there was only one machine built. Basically French roundels and some tail codes. The decals look very good to me on the sheet, but Iím going to withhold final judgment until I use them.
This kit is going to be a more challenging kit than some of the other kits out there. I don't think it will be that difficult. A little extra care in prepping the parts for assembly and painting will be needed. That's just more hours of modeling pleasure I like to say. Fonderie Miniatures have done a good job in supplying detail parts. The only thing that could be added is an instrument film. I find the overall quality of the kit to be good, but not great. The only true disappointment being the canopies.
I also must include a warning to those who havenít built a limited run kit before. There are no locating pins and a little more work will be required than on a Tamiya kit. If a Classic Airframes kit is too challenging for you I would advise avoiding this model.
My final advice is if you want to build a quarter scale Arsenal VG-33, go purchase the Azur kit. However, if you want a quarter scale Arsenal VG-39, purchase the Fonderie Miniature kit. I think the F-M kit will be easier to build than performing the surgery on the Azur kit. Of course, that's just my armchair opinion. Ask me again after I get them done.
My thanks to Roll Models for the review kit!