Frog 1/72 Dewoitine D.520 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||January 2009||Manufacturer||Frog|
|Kit Number||F222||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice basic kit of D.520||Cons||Thick canopy. Sparse cockpit detail, sink marks in fuselage|
|Skill Level||Novice||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft that entered service in early 1940, shortly after the opening of WWII. Unlike the Morane Saulnier M.S. 406, which ws at that time the Armee de l’Air’s most numerous fighter, the Dewoitine D.520 came close to being a match for the latest German types, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Because of a delayed production cycle, only a small number were available to meet the onslaught of the Luftwaffe.
Design of the Dewoitine 520 started in November of 1936, at the private design firm led by Emile Dewoitine. Trying to address problems with earlier designs, he created a fighter using only the latest techniques and engines. The new design was to be able to reach 520 km/h and became known as the “520”. Only months later the firm was conglomerated into one of a number of design-and-manufacturing pools, in this case SNCAM. Still known as the D.520, work on the design continued at the new company.
The prototype flew on 2 October 1938, powered by the new 890 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y-21 liquid-cooled engine. The aircraft only managed to reach 480 km/h in flight tests, much slower than expected. Most of the problems seemed to come from greater than expected drag from the underwing radiators, so these were merged into a single radiator under the fuselage. After minor damage in a landing accident, the engine was changed to a newer –29 and included exhaust ejectors for added thrust, along with an adjustable propeller. These changes were enough to allow the aircraft to reach its design speed.
The first production D.520 flew in November 1939, powered by the 830 hp 12Y-31 and armed with two 7.5 mm machine guns in housings under the wings. It had a curved, one-piece windshield and a sliding canopy. The rest of the production machines were delivered with the 930 hp 12Y-45 engine with the new superchargerr and a Ratier 3-bladed propeller (a few had the –49 engine of 910 hp). They were armed with a Hispano-Suiza 404 20mm cannon firing through the propeller and four MAC 1934 7.5 mm machine guns in the wings. The curved, one-piece windshield from the prototypes was replaced with one containing an optically flat panel.
The Groupe de Chasse I/3 was the first unit to get the D.520, receiving it’s first aircraft in January 1940. These were unarmed and used for pilot training. In April and May they received 34 production machines, which proved very popular with the pilots. In comparative trials on April 21, 1940 at CEMA at Orleans-Bricy, against a captured Bf 109E-3, showed that the German machine had a 20 mph speed advantage owing to it’s higher power. However, the D.520 had superior maneuverability. The D.520 matched the turning circle of the Bf 109, but displayed nasty departure characteristics, spinning out of the turn repeatedly during the tests. While the Bf 109, owing to its slats, could easily sustain the turn on the edge of the stall.
Frog was a model company that was based in the UK. It was founded in 1931, and at first produced rubber-band powered flying models. In 1936, a range of 1/72nd scale aircraft models in kit or pre-built form, molded in cellulose acetate was marketed under the Frog Penguin name. These were the world’s first plastic model construction kits. During WWII, the company produced flying models for target purposes and 1/72nd scale aircraft recognition models. The Penguin range was dropped in 1939, and a new range of Frog polystyrene kits was introduced in 1955. A wide variety of aircraft, ship and car subjects, in various scales were issued during the 50’s and 60’s. In 1971, Frog Tri-Ang entered receivership. Some of the molds were transferred to various factories in the Soviet Union (notably NOVO). Molds of WWII Axis Powers subjects were acquired by Revell around 1977. The Axis types having been declined by NOVO. Molds of many jet aircraft were acquired by Hasegawa. The last Frog-brand kits were produced in 1976.
This kit is packaged in a clear cello bag that is stapled to a header card. The boxart shows a D.520, in Vichy markings, flying escort to a Luftwaffe Do-217. It is in the French camouflage of dark blue-gray, khaki and dark brown above and light blue-gray undercarriage. Special markings were applied during the Vichy era. These consisted of white outlined fuselage roundels with a white fuselage stripe, and – from 1941 on the infamous “slave pajamas” with red and yellow stripes on the engine cowling and tail surfaces. However, this aircraft just has the yellow on the tail and a yellow propeller spinner. The white fuselage stripe has an arrow head on it and a large white number 29. There is a winged face mask insignia on the tail and red, white and blue vertical stripes on the rudder, with black stenciling on top. This is one of the 2 markings offered on the decal sheet in the kit.
Inside the bag what appears to me to be the remnants of a larger medium gray parts tree that has been chopped up into smaller sections that hold a few parts and some individual parts.
The loose parts are the fuselage and wing halves. The fuselage halves have some nasty SINK MARKS just above the first engine exhaust pipe on both sides. Putty work will be needed there.
There are 3 of the small sections (obviously cut to size to fit into the bag The 1st one holds: wing and horizontal stabilizer flaps and the rudder (6 parts)
The 2nd one holds: the propeller and its spinner, cockpit floor, landing gear legs and doors, tailwheel, main wheels and radio antenna (13 parts)
The 3rd one holds: the horizontal stabilizer forward section halves and pilot figure (5 parts)
Detail on the medium gray parts above is all of the raised variety.
The clear part is the single cockpit transparency. This is molded shut and is thick. Better to be replaced with a vacuformed thinner one. However, cockpit detail is next to nil, with just a floor, seat and pilot. Scratchbuilder can go wild in this area. The engine exhaust pipes need to be drilled out and detail added to the main gear wheel wells. At least, the separate flaps can be repositioned if desired.
The header card has two 3-views, in full color, on the half of it that folds over the back of the bag. One scheme is the cover art Vichy one. It is a aircraft with the G.C. III/6, 6th Escadrille “Laughing Mask”, Vichy French Air Force, Syria, June 1941.
The other scheme is for an aircraft with the Italian 24th Gruppo CT Autonomo, 370 Squadriglia CT, Regia Aeronautica, September 1943. It is in overall dark green above blue-gray undercarriage. It has a wide white fuselage band just behind the cockpit with black 370 – followed by a red 2 over this stripe. The white cross with House of Savoy shield is on the rudder sides. Black outline type facis roundels are above the wings only.
This is a nice little kit, as far as it goes. It is a good springboard for a superdetailist and an easy build for modelers of all skill levels.