Kopro 1/72 MB-200 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2007||Manufacturer||Kopro|
|Subject||Aero MB-200 Bomber||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||024||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$15.98|
In the mid-thirties, there arose numerous problems with the modernization of the Czechoslovakian Air Force. One of them was the choice of a suitable heavy bomber of modern construction. Domestic aircraft factories were not able to offer any prototyped due to insufficient experiences with surface metal structure. The Czechoslovakian government addressed on France, with a query for the purchase of license rights to build a bomber, whose construction would be simple and the introduction into the series production could be fast. However, the situation with bombers in the French Air Force was not much better at the time.
The choice was very limited. After the negotiations, there was selected the twin-engined, high wing bomber, the Marcel Bloch MB-200 En4 of all-metal construction. This flew for the first time in 1933 and after 1934 it was manufactured by Potez, Loire, Breguet and SASO. In early 1935, the MNO (Ministry of National Defence) joined a contract between Henry Potez and the AERO Factory in Prague. Potez received for license documentation 300,000 francs and for each MB-200 built in Czechoslovakia a further 12% of its price.
The MNO ordered one original French MB-200 for study purposes. This one was intensely studied in the Spring of 1935 at the VTLU (Military Technical Air Institute) in Prague-Letnany. The Military Administration ordered a series of 74 MB-200’s, which were to built by the AERO and AVIA factories. The AVIA factory completed only 12 MB-200’s, series 37 – 48. The price of the bomber, without long-range tanks, was 1 340 317 Kc, and with tanks 1 402 317 Kc. The first series production MB-200’s were delivered in April 1937. Some troubles with the license production were partly caused by Bloch , who in May 1936, delivered 85 additional plans that contained 183 construction changes.
The construction of the MB-200 was all-metal with stressed skin structure. Czech manufacturers gained useful experiences with the work on all-metal construction. At last, they surpassed the early customary style of semi-metal building (metal fuselage – wooden wings). Smaller conversions, of armament and equipment, were of Czech origin. Then started long lasting flight testing. An auto-pilot was installed. One MB-200, serial 52, was converted into a photo-recon version for use by the Military Geographical Institute.
The bomber was powered by two license-built 588 kW radial engines of the Walter K-14-I type with Letov Hd-43 airscrews. The right engine was left-revolving, the left one revolved contrary. The fuel that was used was a Bi–B0– Li mixture. The crew consisted of from 4 to 6 men. The armament consisted of five 7.92mm machine-guns of the Strakonice VZ-30 type and 1400 kg of bombs, which were released pneumatically.
The MB-200’s were delivered to No. 81, 82, 83 and 84 Heavy Bomber Squadrons of the 5th Air Regiment in Brno, and to 85 and 86 Squadrons of the 6th Air regiment in Prague. At the time of the Munich Crisis, the Czechoslovakian Air Force operated with 54 Bloch’s. A number of the series was taken over by the Germans, direct from the production line of the factory after occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939. The Germans delivered a number of Czech-built MB-200’s to the air forces of Bulgaria and Romania, where they served with MB-210 “Verdun bombers” which were delivered from occupied France. The MB-200 was a modern aircraft at the time of its origin, however. Soon it became obsolete, particularly in the second half of the 30’s. The greatest disadvantage was the problems encountered when trying to fly it on one engine.
The kit comes in a large and long tray and lid type box. The box art shows two MB-200’s in overall dark green with a squadron emblem that is an eagle covered in a checkerboard pattern (I believe). The aircraft in the foreground has the fuselage number 10 in white. This marking is included on the decal sheet. The aircraft in the rear on the box art has the fuselage number 30, which is not on the decal sheet. Two side panels have full color profiles of two other aircraft with this squadron badge and the fuselage numbers M7 and P4. (markings included also on the decal sheet)
What is odd, is that these numbers are reversed on the other side of the fuselages of these aircraft, so 10 becomes 01, P4 becomes 4P etc. A strange Czech practice.
Inside the box is a huge white parts tree that is actually crammed against all sides of the bottom tray. It is in a large cello bag with a slightly smaller white parts tree and two loose fuselage halves. A small tree of clear window parts, in it’s own cello is also in this large bag. The decal sheet and instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instruction consist of a six page unstapled booklet.
Page one of the instructions begins with a black and white photo of the rear of one of the MB-200’s engine with the planes crew, standing at attention in the background in front of the plane. This is followed by the history of the aircraft in Czech, English and German.
Page two begins with “Before you start” instructions in the same three languages. This is followed by first assembly drawings, which are called out alphabetically instead of by the usual numbered system for this. Steps go from letter A to F.
The top of page three has the parts tree drawings and a list of 26 aircraft kits that KP markets. This MB-200 kit is listed as number 25. This is followed by an assembly drawing for fabricating the fuselage and it’s interior.
Pages 4 and 5 have two large, and busy, exploded drawings for the rest of the assembly of the kit.
Page 6 is line drawings for the three marking options offered, along with a general head on view of the aircraft.
The first largest parts tree holds: the rudder, horizontal tail surface, bulkheads, bombs, engines, cowlings, props etc. (90 parts) My kit arrived from Krakow with the two three-bladed props broken to pieces. I got replacement ones from Roberts Models, who makes after-market resin aircraft parts.
The slightly smaller parts tree holds: wing halves and the fuselage top and bottom pieces. (6 parts)
Final white parts are the two fuselage halves, loose.
The last tree of parts is the clear windows and turret blisters (24 parts)
The decal sheet completes the kit and the markings on it are already described above. Unfortunately, we are not told what squadron this checkered eagle represents (at least it looks like an eagle to me…I may be wrong?)
The detail on this kit is quite good. There is a decent interior and the surface detail on the wings and fuselage is very well done. Recommended. It is only unfortunate that my kit arrived with the props smashed. Only one engine exhaust ring and one wing half had otherwise parted company with the trees.