Mister Kit 1/72 Fiat CR.42 Night Fighter
By Chris Banyai-Riepl
The Fiat CR.42 had the distinction of being the last biplane fighter to see combat, taking to the skies over Europe during the Second World War. While in looking back at that time it is obvious that the biplane era was definitely at an end, viewed through the eyes of air forces and pilots of the mid-1930s shows that the biplane design was still potent. This is obvious by the many number of people interested in the Fiat CR.42 and resulting sales to Belgium, Hungary, and Sweden. While the faster monoplanes quickly took center stage during World War Two, the CR.42 soldiered on, with one Italian squadron actually preferring the type to the newer Macchi MC.200s! When the CR.42 found itself outgunned in the day skies, it made the move to night fighter where it performed admirably. Its time was definitely at an end, though, and by the end of the war it could only be found in limited service.
For a long time I've wanted to build an accurate Fiat CR.42 in 1/72. I remember building up the ancient Revell kit way back when and I have another Revell kit waiting to be built up. In comparing these two kits, however, I will probably end up tossing my Revell kit away. The errors of the Revell kit are all the more glaring when held next to the Mister Kit jewel that is this kit. Starting at the front, while the Revell kit has a poorly shaped cowling the Mister Kit model comes with two resin cowlings, meticulously detailed with all the small bumps perfectly cast. Why two cowlings? Well, one is for a regular CR.42 and the second allows you to build up the tropicalized version. A nice touch indeed.
The interior is very nicely done and while it doesn't provide everything, at least the instructions are up front about it and state "Being a 'short run' model, the modeller is required to make some minor scratchbuildings." A drawing is included showing what the modeller needs to scratchbuild, taking all the guesswork out of this part, a nice touch indeed. A combination of plastic and etched brass are used for the rest of the interior and once done it should really look sharp.
The rest of the construction is straightforward and thankfully the wing struts are not set up like the Revell kit. There are no large holes in the wings for the struts. In fact, there are no holes or marks whatsoever, so you'll definitely have to read the instructions on this step. The instructions give you specific measurements as to where each strut ends up on the upper and lower wing. By following those closely you should end up with the top wing set up perfectly. It will definitely take some fiddling, though, so it's probably not wise to use CA initially in setting the struts.
The nightfighter version comes with some absolutely stunning resin exhausts as well. There were several different styles of exhaust flame dampeners used on the CR.42 at night and Mister Kit provides three of the different styles. You'll have to do some research to make sure you've got the right ones for your particular model, but it's nice to have the choice there.
The decal sheet is small but so is the finished model. Two choices are included, one Italian and one German. The Italian one is from 377a Sq. and is finished in black overall with a white fuselage band. National markings are found on the lower wings only, with the usual white cross on the rudder. A unit badge consisting of an owl sitting on a crescent moon finish off this scheme. The German option is denoted as being in RLM74/75/76 and is coded E8+FK. A white "2" is on the rudder.
The Fiat CR.42 was an important milestone in aviation and while it was overshadowed by the Spitfires, Bf109s and Mustangs of World War Two, it is nice to finally have an accurate and well-detailed model of the type in 1/72. I'll definitely be picking up a few more of these kits in the future. I've got to build at least one Swedish example, and a couple Hungarian ones, and that Belgian one looks interesting. Then there's all those neat Italian schemes.....
Our thanks to Pacific Coast Models for the review sample. Check their website for all your Italian aircraft needs!
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