Hobbycraft 1/48 Avia S.199 Mule Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||December 2007||Manufacturer||Hobbycraft|
|Subject||Avia S.199 Mule||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||HC1524||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$14.98|
The Avia S-199 was a fighter aircraft built after WWII by the Avia Company, a branch of the enormous Skoda Works in Czechoslovakia. It was built using parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production that had taken place in the country during the war. Despite the aircraft’s numerous problems and unpopularity with it’s pilots, it achieved some fame as the first fighter obtained by the Israeli Air Force for use during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Czechoslovakian pilots nicknamed it Mesek (“Mule”), while in Israel it was officially know as the Sakeen (“Knife” in Hebrew). In practice, the aircraft was more often called Messerschmitt or Messer (which also means “Knife”, in German and Yiddish).
Avia had started building Messerschmitt Bf-109G’s straight after the war under the Avia S-99 name. They soon ran out of the 109’s Daimler-Benz engines after many were destroyed during a warehouse fire. The S-199 continued to use the Bf-109G airframe but, with none of the original engines available, an alternative engine had to be used. It was decided that as a replacement for the original engine, the aircraft would use the same engine (Junkers Jumo 211) and propeller as the Heinkel He-111 bomber. The resulting combination of parts was an aircraft with extremely poor handling qualities. The substitute engine was heavier than, and lacked the responsiveness of, the Daimler-Benz unit. The torque created by the massive paddle-bladed propeller made control difficult. This, in combination with the 109’s narrow-track undercarriage gear, made landings and take-offs extremely hazardous. A final hidden danger lay in the gun synchronization gear, which did not work as it was meant to, leading a few Israeli aircraft to shoot off their own propellers.
Around 550 S-199’s were built, including a number of conversion trainers: CS-199 (armed) and CS-210 (unarmed). The first flight took place in March 1947, and production ended in 1949. The last examples were withdrawn from Czechoslovak service (with their National Security Guard) in 1957.
Israeli agents negotiated the purchase of Avia S-199’s from the Czechoslovakian government in defiance of an arms embargo that Israel faced at this time. Twenty-five aircraft were obtained, and all but two were eventually delivered. The first examples arrived on May 20, 1948, six days after Israel’s declaration of independence, and five days after the commencement of hostilities by Egypt. They were assembled and sent into combat for the first time on May 29th, attacking the Egyptian Army between Isdud and the current Ad Halom Bridge, south of Tel Aviv. This was the first action of 101 Squadron IAF. In combat, the type proved unreliable and performed poorly. One Avia pilot remarked “She tried to kill us every take-off and landing!”. Furthermore, maintenance problems meant that no more than 5 were typically airworthy at any one time. However, the type scored victories over its opponents, including the Spitfire. The Avia’s were mostly withheld from service by the end of October, at which time only 6 remained operational. The S-199 continued making sporadic sorties through mid-December. American pilot Wayne Peake flipped one on its back on December 15th.
The kit is from Hobby Craft of Canada. It is currently out of production. Hobby Craft did two boxing of the S-199 the other kit has a box art of it in Israeli markings and that kit can still be found a few places.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a flight of two S-199’s. They are in an overall dark green (top and bottom), have the Czech roundels and the one in the foreground has the fuselage code EX-54 in white letters. Its propeller spinner is all white. The aircraft in the background is in the same scheme and carries the fuselage code of EX-57 in white (both of these schemes are on the decal sheet).
Side panels of the box have the box arts of four other Messerschmitt versions that Hobby Craft marketed: HC1522 a Bf-109G-10, HC1541 a Bf-109G-6, HC1542 a Spanish Ha-1112M-1-L and HC1543 a Bf-109G-3 all in 1/48th scale.
Hobby Craft has just about done every mark of the 109 in 1/48th by the way.
Inside the box is a single cello bag that holds three trees of medium gray parts and a tree of clear parts. The decal sheet, instructions, a suggestion card (to mail into Hobby Craft with ideas), a catalog ordering blank (printed in English on one side and French on the other) and a slip with “Cautions” on it, in nine languages.
The instructions consist of a single large sheet that accordion folds out into six pages.
The first page begins with a black and white repeat of the box art. This is followed by “Kit features” in four languages, including English. Next, is a list of paint colors that calls out the Floquil, Humbrol and Testors Modelmaster brands, needed to finish the kit. The bottom of the page has a bunch of international assembly symbols and what they mean.
Pages 2 through 4 give a total of seven assembly steps. There are steps where you have to drill holes for things along the way. Step no. 5 asks if you want to use the alternate “flattened” tires in the kit, or the un-flattened ones. There is also an option of two different chin scoops to choose from in step no. 4. In step 6 you can opt for a belly fuel tank or not. The tail wheel can be positioned either extended or compressed and a scrap drawing shows you that the landing gear legs should be set at a 21 degree angle.
Pages 5 & 6 have four marking options. All are in overall RLM 71 dark green (top and bottoms)
- A Czech Air Force S-199 (three view) with fuselage code EX-54 in white letters and a white propeller spinner
- A Czech Air Force S-199 (side profile) with fuselage code EX-57 in white letters and white propeller spinner
- A Czech Air Force S-199 (side profile) with fuselage code I F-01 in white letters With a spinner the same dark green as the rest of the aircraft
- A Czech Air Force S-199 (side profile) with fuselage code LS-15 in white letters with the front of the cowl in white and a blue propeller spinner
We are not told what Czech squadrons these might be from.
Tree letter C holds: the wing halves (the bottom wing is full span), and the main wheels (5 parts).
Tree letter D holds: the fuselage halves, the propeller, nose air intakes, alternate main wheels, nose cannon blisters, propeller spinner, ventral air scoop, nose guns upper access panel, radio antenna etc. (19 parts)
Tree letter F holds: drop tanks, optional propeller spinner, cockpit floor, underwing cannon pods, horizontal tail surfaces, exhaust pipes, tail wheel, upper wing bulges, main gear doors, DF loop etc. (45 parts)
Next, is the clear parts for the cockpit and light lenses (6 parts)
The decal sheet is large and holds the Czech roundels, the white fuselage lettering (although I could not get them to show up on my scanner against the white backing, but they are there) and lots and lots of stenciling. In some cases they want you to BUILD the roundels from pieces, which may work out better results. The sheet has the date 1995 on it, which may be when this model first hit the market.
This is a neat subject and one that needs to be included in any collection of Messerschmitt 109 types. Highly recommended.