Azur's 1/72 Bloch MB 152 C.1
Marcel Bloch has been known for a great number of French aircraft designs, both under the Bloch name and his postwar company Dassault. The MB 151 was a late 1930s design, first taking to the air in August 1938, and with a new engine and two 20mm cannons instead of the four 7.5mm machine guns in the wings, the MB 152 was born. Orders were placed in 1939 for 400 planes, 60 of which were the MB 151 while the rest were MB 152s. The first planes found their way into French squadron service in November 1939, while early in 1940 several MB 151s went to the Greek Air Force. By the time the Germans invaded France in 1940 the MB 151/152 entered combat with II/1, III/9, II/10, III/10 and II/6 Groupes of the Armee de l'Air as well as Escadrille AC-3 of the Aeronautique Navale. The plane performed reasonably well, but the huge numbers of German planes and quick ground conflict limited their effectiveness. After the fall of France, the Vichy forces flew the MB 151/152 and a few even found their way into Luftwaffe hands for use as trainers.
Azur's kit of the MB 152C.1 is nicely done, with injection plastic, resin, etched brass, and vacuformed clear parts included. The injection parts are molded in a light gray plastic and feature finely recessed panel lines and no flash. The majority of this kit is made up of the injection pieces, with only minimal amounts of detail provided by the resin and brass additions.
The cockpit looks decent, with sidewall detail molded into the fuselage halves, a photoetched instrument panel and seat belts, and resin details including a rudder pedal assembly and control stick. The vacuformed cockpit will show off all of this detail and there is sufficient stuff in there to show up well under some careful painting. The canopy will be a bit tricky on this kit, as there are rear teardrop windows that you'll have to work into the openings. I'd do some careful fitting of these windows before you start any other assembly of the cockpit, just to make sure you get the best fit and don't mess up anything you've painted or detailed.
The engine is one of those resin dream engines, with separate cylinders and crankcase. Two rows of cylinders are present and the only thing missing is the wiring harness and the exhaust collectors off of the rear of the cylinders. The former is simple to add and the latter is impossible to see when the cowling is in place. Other resin details for the front end include the extra bumps for the cowling.
The rest of the construction is very straightforward, with a one-piece lower wing, solid stabilizers, resin exhaust stubs, and resin 20mm cannons. The propeller has separate blades that fit flush to the hub. This would probably best be modified by pinning the blades and drilling small holes in the hub. The landing gear will benefit from some careful cleanup, but for the most part this should be a pretty simple kit to build up.
The decal options provide a couple choices, both finished in that interesting French three-color camouflage of blue gray, khaki and brown over light blue gray. The first option is an MB 152C.1 from GC II/1, 3 Escadrille; while the second is an MB 152C.1 from GC II/9, 4 Escadrille. Both options were from 1940 and the only difference in the markings is the fuselage numbers and the size of wing roundels. The decals are printed by Propagteam and are up to their typical quality, thin and in excellent register.
Azur does it again with yet another French plane from WW2. Thanks to this company we now have plenty of quality kits of lesser known French planes, and the Bloch MB 152C.1 is no exception. This is a nice kit that should build up very nicely and will make a very nice addition to any World War Two aviation collection.