Academy 1/72 Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

The world’s first operational jet fighter, the history of the Me 262 is well known. Several excellent books have been written on the subject, including the multi-volume set by Classic Publications, and I would recommend those looking for an in-depth history of the Me 262 to seek those books out.

The Kit

As I just got this kit in a mere two days before this issue went up, I was somewhat pressed to put together a review. Luckily, though, I happened to have some Me 262 references out, along with my Hasegawa and Revell 1/72 kits, so with everything close at hand, here is as thorough a review as I could put together in a couple days. Of course, with those two previous kits out there, I was wondering what Academy could bring to the table. On initial glance, this kit looks quite nice, with recessed panel lines, a detailed cockpit, and an impressive decal sheet. In addition to the basic parts for the Me 262A1a, this kit also includes an alternate tail and associated piping for the Me 262C1a, the Me 262 with a tail-end rocket propulsion system. That alone sets this kit above the rest, as there is no other injection-molded 1/72 C1a variant out there.

Moving on to the assembly, there is quite a bit different in this kit than the other available Me 262 kits out there. You start with the nose gear assembly, and this has a separate nose wheel well with a separate rear bulkhead. This assembly provides quite a bit of strength to the front end, and also creates a nice little shelf for the nose weight that is required. As the gun ports are on a separate piece, you can put the fuselage together and add those weights afterwards, once the model is together. This will allow you to make sure you have the right amount of weight in there. Also, the kit includes both a smooth nosewheel and a ribbed one.

For the cockpit interior, this is designed to be inserted into the fuselage after the fuselage is together. You have a cockpit tub that then fits inside another tub, which provides the ‘roof’ to the main wheel wells. This is the best out-of-box representation of this area that I have seen in 1/72, compared to the Hasegawa kit (which has the curved roof molded into the lower wing) and the Revell kit (which has blanking plates with no curve molded into the lower wing; oddly it DOES have detail molded into the bottom of the cockpit tub, you just cannot see it after the wing goes on). In addition to having the proper shape and depth, there is plenty of raised detailing in both the cockpit and main wheel well, and with a bit of careful drybrushing, both of these areas will really pop.

While on the subject of the wings, the engines are molded separately and are built up of no less than seven pieces. This will allow you to paint up the inner parts before assembly, greatly simplifying matters. A quick test fit, though, shows that these engines will have the worst fit issues in the kit, with both sides having about a 1.5mm gap at the wing joint. Also, the upper wing nacelle piece is not a good fit either, so those who thought they could paint these separately and attach them later, no such luck here.

For underneath, the landing gear overall is nicely detailed, with sharp inner door detail for all the gear doors. The main wheels have separate hubs, which should make painting simple. For weaponry, this kit provides 21cm BR rocket tubes, like the Revell kit, but include a complete rocket rather than the separate nose cone/rear piece found in the Revell kit. The Academy kit also comes with R4M rockets, done similarly to those found in the Hasegawa kit with separate rockets and separate rails. The detailing is much better here, though, again putting this kit above the Hasegawa one. Also included, but not noted in the instructions, are a pair of bombs that would fit in the same spot as the 21cm rockets.

While on the subject of the differences between these three kits, a cursory glance reveals the following differences. First, the rudder is different in all three of these kits. The Revell and Hasegawa kits have a more rounded bottom edge, while the Academy kit has a straighter edge. A quick comparison to photos is inconclusive, and this will require some additional research. Second up, the Hasegawa kit features the flare ports in the port fuselage side as raised areas (incorrect), while the Revell kit has these beautifully represented in recessed holes carefully outlined. The Academy kit is very similar to the Revell kit, but they are not quite as deep or as defined. In terms of overall detail levels, the Revell and Academy kits are roughly on par, while the Hasegawa kit definitely lags behind.

What really puts the Academy kit over the top, though, would have to be the decal sheet. There are more options in this kit than there are kits to a case (a dozen options, and only ten kits to a case). So even if you bought a case of these, you’d still need to pick up two more to build them all! All but one (WNr 111711, which is overall natural metal) are shown as being in RLM 81/82/76, but I would check your references to verify that.

1. Me 262A-1a, <+, WNr 111918, III./JG 7
2. Me 262C-1a, V186, WNr 130186, III./EJG 2, March 1945
3. Me 262A-1a, B3+BR, 7./KG(J) 54 Totenkopf, Neuberg-on-Danube, March 1945
4. Me 262A-1a, Yellow 7, WNr 500491, 11./JG 7, Obfw. Heinz Arnold, March 1945
5. Me 262A-1a, 'Ginny H,’ WNr 500491, USAAF, May 1945
6. Me 262A-1a, FE-111, WNr 500491, USAAF, October 1945
7. Me 262A-1a, Red 13, WNr 111591, III./EJG 2, Obstlt. Heinz Bar, March 1945
8. Me 262A-1a, WNr 111711, Test Pilot Hans Fey, March 1945
9. Me 262A-1a, White 8, WNr 110400, Kommando Nowotny, November 1944
10. Me 262A-1a, 11./JG 7, Obfw. Heinz Arnold, April 1945
11. Me 262A-1a, 'Jabo Bait,' WNr 11367?, USAAF, Newark, September 1945
12. Me 262A-1a, <-+-, JV 44, Gen. Lt. Adolf Galland, 1945

It is quite nice to see some of the captured aircraft portrayed here, as those always make for an interesting model. Most of these I have seen before, but number ten in the list, Heinz Arnold’s aircraft from April 1945, is a new one to me. Overall RLM 81 with RLM 76 undersides, this plane has no markings other than Arnold’s kill markings on the rear fuselage (43 surrounded by oak leaves, and an additional set of bars denoting his Western Front kills). If anyone knows of a photo of that one, I would appreciate the reference.

Conclusion

Academy just keeps adding to the great number of 1/72 kits out there, and this is no exception. The excellent molding, coupled with the great options (like the C1a tail) really set this one apart. With a retail price of only $22, it will be quite affordable as well (I expect discount sales to have this around $15 before too long). My thanks to MRC for the review sample.

References

Balous, Miroslav and Jiri Rajlich. Messerschmitt Me 262. Prague: MBI, 1995.
Peczkowski, Robert. Messerschmitt Me 262A Schwalbe. Redbourne, UK: Mushroom Model Publications, 2002.
Murawski, Marek J. Me 262 Units. Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2005.

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