LTD Models 1/48 Dewoitine D.520 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||June 2009||Manufacturer||LTD Models|
|Kit Number||9801||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat WWII French fighter||Cons||Control surfaces molded solid; Puzzling second decal sheet; Breakage of prop in packaging|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft of WWII. The Dewoitine company was nationalized in 1936, becoming part of the SNCAM (Society Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Midi. On the outbreak of WWII the D.520, designed by Robert Castello, was the French Air Force’s most advanced fighter. Three prototypes were ordered by the French government in April 1938. The first D.520-01 powered by an 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y-21 engine, flying on October 2nd of that year. With this powerplant the aircraft did not achieve it’s required speed of 323 mph, but with an up-rated 12Y-29 engine with jet exhaust manifold, the design speed was reached.
The second prototype, D.520-02 with a redesigned tail and other aerodynamic improvements flew for the first time on January 28, 1939. It was fitted with a provisional armament of one HS 404 20 mm Hispano cannon firing through the propeller hub and two 7.5 mm MAC 1934-M39 machine guns in underwing fairings. It was powered by a 12Y-29 (later 12Y-31) engine and reached a top speed of 342 mph. The D.520-03 third prototype was similar to the second, and first flew on March 15, 1939. It had a steerable tail-wheel, instead of the tail-skid of the other two earlier prototypes.
The first production example, from an initial order for 300 placed in April 1939, flew on November 2, 1939, powered by a 930 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 engine. Orders up to April 1940 required 2,200 for the Armee de l’Air and 120 for the Aeronavale, but many were cancelled due to difficulties in maintaining the production rate. The fuselage of the production machines was lengthened by 20 in, the engine cowling was modified, two additional fuel tanks were fitted within the wing leading-edges and armor protection was provided for the pilot. The armament was increased by a further two 7.5 mm M39 guns enclosed in the wings.
Deliveries began in January 1940, but when the German armed forces made their attack against France in May 10, 1940, only 36 D.520’s, equipping GC 1/3, were in service. They flew their first operational sorties three days later and proved extremely effective under fire, establishing a 2 to 1 “kill ratio” over Luftwaffe opponents. As deliveries increased,D.520’s served with five Groupes de Chase during May and June, and by June 25, 1940, a total of 437 had been completed.
After the armistice with France, Germany permitted her a limited air arm, but there were no D.520 units in the occupied country. Over 300 aircraft, however, remained in unoccupied France and were used by the Vichy French Air Force.
This kit comes in an end-opening type of box. The box artshows a D.520 of GC III/6, flown by Warrant Officer Pierre La Gloan, the group’s adjutant. It has just flamed a Bf 109 that is going down trailing smoke. It is in a camouflage pattern of a dark blue gray, dark green and dark brown wave pattern above a light blue gray undercarriage. The spinner is light blue gray. The fuselage number is a white 6 outlined in black, which is repeated above the starboard wing. The squadron insignia of a black mask is on the sides of the tail. The rudder has the French tri-colors with black lettering that says Dewoitine D.520 no. 277 over them. The French roundels are in the usual 6 positions.
The box art also says that this mark is included in the kit, along with one for the 1st Battalion , 6th Regiment, Bulgarian Air Force 1943, and the aircraft of Marcel Doret, Groupe Doret (FFI) Southern France 1944. It is also stated here that the kit is for experienced modelers and that it is a limited edition series.
A side panel shows the box art for a Yak-9 in 1/48th scale that LTD also markets, with a short paragraph about that plane next to it and the fact that the kit is molded in the Czech Republic.
The other side panel shows a small repeat of the box art, next to a short paragraph about the D.520. The kit is for adult modelers and not suitable for children under 14 years. LTD’s address in Carrolton, Texas is given here.
The back of the box has three 2-views (profile and top) forthe 3 schemes provided in the kit.
About Gloan’s (the box art) aircraft is says that it was ser. no. 277. That he had 22 kills by June of 1940. Hewas flying this aircraft when he shot down five Italian aircrafton 15 June 1940.
About the Bulgarian scheme it says that Bulgarian D.520’s carried a variety of schemes and markings. The one featured in the kit did not carry underwing insignia. This is strange, because the decal sheets provide six of these.
The Groupe Doret scheme just has the colors and marks described and that the aircraft was very weathered.
Inside the box are 3 light gray trees of parts, clear vacuformed parts, 2 decal sheets and the instructions. The light gray trees and clear parts are in a sealed cello bag.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 8 ½” x 11” (stationary sized) format.
Page one begins with a statement that says: LTD kits are produced to offer the 1/48th scale modeling enthusiast subjects that, for one reason or another, have been constantly overlooked. Having been a modeler for some 45 years and in the hobby business for almost 30 years, I have time after time tried to interest manufacturers in the some-what lesser known, but never-the-less historically important aircraft (and to be honest, aircraft that I wanted to build).
Consequently, it is with great pleasure that we at LTD models are able to offer this line of limited production, short run kits to those, like myself, who wish to add these aircraft to their collections.
However, please note that these kits are not produced from highly sophisticated long-run hardened steel molds and consequently some details, such as locating pins, etc., cannot be provided and may have to be fashioned by the modeler. Heavy sprues, and a certain amount of flash are unavoidable in the molding process. Care must be taken in removing each part from the sprue tree and additional time must be taken in cleaning up and dry fitting each part before assembly.
This is next to a black and white photo of the model made up in Le Gloan’s aircraft marks. Below this is a history of the D.520.
Page 2 begins with international assembly symbol explanations, followed by the first 3 assembly steps.
Page 3 has the fourth, and last, assembly step, followed by a discussion of what SCALE COLOR is. Colors of parts in each step are called out in FS numbers. (Federal Standard).
Page 4 has a 2-view illustration, drawn to 1/48th scale, ofthe markings and scheme of Le Gloan’s aircraft (already described above).
Page 5 has a 2-view illustration, also in 1/48th scale, of the Bulgarian aircraft. It was camouflaged in German colors. Underside and lower fuselage RLM 76, mottle colors are RLM02, and gray 74 and 75. Upper surfaces splinter pattern of RLM 74 and 76. Undersides of wingtips and spinner in yellow. Rudder is Green over red.
Page 6 has a 2-view, in 1/48th of the Group Doret aircraft.The aircraft has three white and two black stripes around the rear fuselage, and around the wings. A black number 5 on a white circle is carried on the tail. The fuselage roundels have a yellow outline.
There are no part trees illustrations in the instructions. Parts are not numbered in the instructions nor on the trees, so they will have to be identified from their shapes in the instructions. Bad move LTD.
The first light gray parts tree holds: the fuselage halves, belly air scoop parts, exhaust pipes, dash board, tail wheel, propeller spinner, propeller (mine had a blade broken off it), pilot seat, joy stick, pitot tube, landing gear doors, etc. (23 parts)
The second light gray parts tree holds: the cockpit floor and bulkhead, horizontal tail surfaces, wing halves (bottom wing being full span) (8 parts)
A small third light gray parts tree holds the landing gear legs and wheel halves and a pitot tube (7 parts)
The 2 sheets of clear vacuformed parts each holds the cockpit transparency and two tear drop side windows (6 parts) LTD has graciously included the second set in case modelers ruin one…you have a spare.
There are 2 decal sheets. The larger one has been already described. The second one puzzles me, because it holds 2 more Bulgarian national black cross markings on white squares, bringing the total on the two sheets to 6. However, the instructions and the box rear say that this aircraft did not carry these marks below the wings. Also this second sheet carries a repeat of the lettering for Le Gloan’s aircraft that was carried on the tail.
This is nice limited run aircraft kit. Panel lines are very lightly scribed and may disappear under a coat of paint and therefore have to be re-scribed before painting. Control surfaces are all molded solid and would take surgery to reposition. There is no pilot figure in the kit. There is some cockpit side wall details molded inside the halves of the fuselage, however those of us with AMS will probably want to add someseat belts here.
Highly recommended to modelers of advanced skills.