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He 162A

Tamiya 1/48 He 162A-2 Volksjäger Build Review

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review May 2011 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject He 162A-2 Volksjäger Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61097 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, detailed engine, separate engine stand Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $28.00

Background

Hitler demanded his wonder weapons to blunt the expected waves of B-29s that were being gathered to finish off Germany once and for all. In just a little more than a month Karl Schwarzler, Chief Designer, completed the drawings for the 162. Using simple plank rudders, a separate engine pod and a stream line efficient fuselage, the aircraft was the perfect blend of ease of construction and leading edge jet technology. On the 6th of December, the He 162 took to the skies with a twenty minute hop. The test pilot said all was well but the plane had a tendency to turn to the left on its own.

Built from non-strategic materials it proved to be its Achilles heel when the test aircraft came apart in flight. Changes were made and the aircraft went into full production. Since the plane was design to be built in sub-assemblies and then shipped to a central plant to be fitted out and test flown, a new problem happened. Safe transportation of the parts was becoming more and more difficult with free roaming Tempest, Mustangs and Thunderbolts. Many of the sub-assemblies ended up as smoking rubble. The plane had minimum impact on the last few months of the war.

The Kit

This was a delightful kit to build. Very simple but actually following the way the real thing was built rather than strict adherence to the instructions might be helpful in building it. I will explain more as we go along. The kit has been out since the first quarter of 2006 and can still be found for around $28.00. The sturdy medium size box comes with the usual beautiful artwork that is standard for Tamiya. Cast in a medium grey which comes on five trees, including the clear tree which is individually bagged, and a metal ball bearing for keep the finished model from setting on its tail. A very nice touch that Tamiya has done for other kits with tricycle gear.

Another nice touch is the ability to build a well detailed engine and open engine cowling or close the engine cowling and place the engine on a maintenance stand. The instructions are the usual very good instructions that are a standard from Tamiya except for those blasted Tamiya paint codes which I have always hated. You get a very compressive four view drawings for decal placement so you know exactly where everything goes per the aircraft you are modeling.

The Build

Step one is the engine stand we talked about earlier. I opted not to build it but you can build it in just a few minutes if you wish. It’s your call. I have seen some wonderfully detailed engines built long after the kit has been finished and then displayed nicely next to the kit on the shelf. You will not get an argument out of me on this one.

Step two moves on to the cockpit. I noticed that the rudimentary ejection seat doesn’t have the distinctive side handles seen in pictures and restored examples. I decided to build this kit straight from the box so I didn’t add them but 3 minutes with some wire and you would have perfect representations of those distinctive handles. The instrument panel was left off but painted RLM 66 using my trusty Vallejo paints. Once dry, I added some detail. White glue for the dial glass and small decals to finish out the panel nicely. I left off the gun sight until the end of the build. The back rest and head rest got a rust color and glued it into the already painted seat pan.

Check out how part B9, seat fits into B7, ejection rocket. Then the whole thing just about snaps into part B12, bulkhead. Now you don’t really have a choice and have to put the clear part F2 into the nose wheel well part A4. You could put a little bit of masking tape on it to keep it transparent through the build if you wish. More clever engineering can be found with part A13, nose gear well and part A12, wheel well bulkhead. A small red decal, #54 goes onto the wheel well cover. You will clearly see how this all comes together when you test fit it to the fuselage half.

He 162Step three is the landing gear. The gear itself is like any other gear that you have put together. Struts, linkage, wheels and tires. But the wheel well is a bit of a departure of what you are used to as you quickly move on to step 4. The bulkheads and floor of the wheel well are well detailed. With all the piping and struts you will see it building up into a busy area. I have seen this area superdetailed a few times but a lot of it eventually will be hidden by the large wheel well covers. I found it easier to put the landing gear struts in place then place part B18, springs in place to get a good fit. With some painting as called out by the instruction sheet and some light weathering you will quickly have a nice looking wheel well by the end of step 4.

Step 5, While I had the airbrush out for the cockpit parts I went ahead and painted the fuselage halves. The instructions call out for RLM 66 in the cockpit area and RLM 02 in the nose area. I did that just to give some color variation to the darkened area. The cannon covers, part B22 got painted per instructions along with the side panels. I held off on putting the nose landing gear on until after sanding and painting but did put the pre-built cockpit components in place.

He 162Step 6, I lined up the metal pins into the wing t-structure, part A16 and put the two small caps on. You might not want to glue the pins but do glue the caps. This will make it easier to put the engine cowl on them later. I glued the small panel, part A3 to the right fuselage half and even though the instructions said not to I glued it in with some Elmer’s White Glue to keep it from rattling around. Then the pre-built landing gear well got put in and the t-structure got fed through the slots in the fuselage. I didn’t glue it to the fuselage halve yet so I could fit it better when the left half of the fuselage was put in place.

There are small tabs that have to be cut out to make room for the landing gear cover hinge points, so now is a good time to do that. If you forget, it is not a big deal to do it later in the build. The last piece to get glued into place is part A23 that goes right behind the cockpit aft bulkhead. I use some slow drying glue and glued it into place the same time I put the fuselage halves together. Rubber bands and clothes pins kept it all in place until the glue had time to dry. You will notice that it has no nose wheel but main gear. You just can’t get around finishing the main gear well prior to putting it in the fuselage halves. I did see a large seam on the small fairing right behind where the engine exhaust will eventually be. I put some putty in there and took just a few minutes sanding and that area was blended in just fine.

Step 7 is another departure from the instructions and more to the way the real thing was assembled. It was easier to paint the rudders and set them off to the side then paint the elevator and set it off to the side. I painted them at this time. Much like the cottage manufacturing the real plane was built under. Not all 162’s were painted the same so check your reference to stay true to the version you want to build. Sometimes the tail plane was painted RLM 82 on the left with the elevator painted RLM 81 and the reverse on the right. Then back to the instructions by using the back side of a new #11 Exacto blade to score the landing gear covers apart.

Painting & Finishing

Step 8 is simply gluing the wing tops and bottoms together. More clothes pins put everything together. I sanded the wing leading edge being careful not to sand down the small bit of tab at the wing root which is supposed to be there but look suspiciously like flash which, of course we all know, Tamiya kits never have. You can paint the wings at this time. RLM 76 on the bottom and whatever colors the plane you are modeling is painted. Don’t assume they are all the same. Some wings had the left wing painted RLM 82 and the right wing painted RLM 81 and both ailerons painted RLM 82. The same goes for the fuselage. Most are painted RLM 82 but the best thing to do is go to your reference. The internet is full of great color profiles and pictures. You can put the nose gear on now and set it up on its gear for the first time.

Step 9 I put the instrument panel in and the pre-assembled tail section on and then the pre-painted wings, landing gear covers and the splitter plate that goes between the main gear. Don’t forget the machine gun barrels to complete step 10. We are on a roll now.

He 162 He 162

Step 11 is the engine nacelle. The particular plane I wanted to model I saw in one of my books that said the intake was RLM 02. It could be bare metal, red or even yellow as some have suggested. It is all up to your research and what you want to do. Anyway, the intake got fixed to the tube that leads to the front of the turbine which I painted silver and set it aside for now. The tail cone assembly was next, which became the most tedious part of the entire build. I painted the inside silver knowing that the dull coat coming at the end of the build would tone it down. Same for the tail cone and aft turbine section, Part D2. But you could really see the seam when you put the turbine covers on, Parts D9/D10. So I went ahead and glued the two turbine covers together and then puttied and sanded them with a sanding stick, painted them silver on the inside and black on the outside, then glued the turbine into place.

At this point you have to be very careful and get the edges of the engine cover lined up smoothly with the front intake and glued into place and the back turbine covers and glued into place. Once dried you can put the engine mount together. Part B17 has these small cups in it to place the nylon bushing into. Don’t glue these into place but do glue the small covers into place carefully. And leave off the HF loop antenna; you will break it off a dozen times before the end of the build if you do….ask me how I know. Now you have the engine pod ready to go. Let it dry fully before attempting to put it on the plane. I had some trouble getting it to stay in place. The nylon bushings wanted to make the pod springy instead of a good mate to the fuselage top. Maybe a touch of graphite or moly on the pins might make it easier. I used liquid glue and glued the thing on around the seams.

Step 12 is all about building that wonderfully detailed engine and since I didn’t. I will not write about it.

Step 13 ties the finally assembly together. I carefully masked off the very nice thin clear parts and painted them per my research and glued it into place using white glue. I left the tape on to protect it from the flat coat that will go on after the decals. Be careful when removing the lugs from the lower edge of the front wind screen. A razor saw or very sharp knife is needed to keep the area from being gouged out or stress fractures to appear in the glass. You can use the pilot if you wish but I think it blocks a nice view of the cockpit. I still kept that long Pitot tube off and the HF antenna on top of the engine cowl off until the very end.

He 162 He 162

The decals were good. Not great but good and very useable. I did W.Nr. 120074, Yellow 11, 3./JG 1, Leck/Holstein, Germany, May 1944 which can be found in lots of research material. So I thought it was a good candidate for my build and represents a good example of the late war aircraft. I was trying to figure out how to do the nose when I came up with the idea of painting the nose red to just ballpark where the white and black stripe decal would cover the red, giving me a clean edge rather than trying to mask and paint the quickly tapered nose. The decals that go around the gun ports were difficult to get into place. One or the other would always be out of alignment. Trim off as much of the carrier film as possible to help you get them into place. The kill markings on the tail are two parts so put the white part down and walk away. Come back with the black part and you will be happy with your alignment much better than trying to get two decals to cooperate at the same time. Even though very tedious, all the little decals do help and I recommend doing a few and taking a break and doing some more. Before too long you are finished.

A coat of Future to lock in the decals and a coat of flat and painting and decals are done. I peeled off the tape from the wind screen and finally got to the pitot tube and that darn HF antenna. Note that the antenna is offset to the left. The canopy was glued in the open position and we are done!

Conclusions

It was a very easy build that can almost be done in a weekend and you can superdetail it or build it out of the box with nice results. Small dioramas of the last days of the war can be done showing bare metal versions of the plane, or showing off that engine or even the destruction of the jet prior to surrender. I got a little frustrated with the engine pod which just wouldn’t sit flush with the top of the wing and I thought the fit of the front windscreen could be better. I don’t think the real thing fit that well either. The decals are just fine and the metal ball bearing is a fantastic addition that Tamiya has used in other tricycle gear aircraft they have done.

He 162

Overall I am pleased and minimum skill was used. Although I would not recommend this kit to a new beginner, I would feel fine recommending it to a more experienced beginner to stretch their skills. I would recommend it to the expert to go to town on that large cockpit and wheel well area. Recommended to all for its superior engineering and subject matter.

References:

  • Heinkel He 162 From Drawing Board to Destruction: The Volksjager by Robert Forsyth and Eddie Creek
  • Classic Publications, 2008 ISBN 978-1-906537-00-5
  • He 162 Online Reference

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