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SMER 1/72 Dewoitine D.500/501 Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review October 2007 Manufacturer SMER
Subject Dewoitine D.500/501 Scale 1/72
Kit Number SR830 (151) Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat looking 1930’s era fighter Cons Missing markings on decal
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $9.98

First Look


The Dewoitine D.500 was an all-metal, open cockpit, fixed –undercarriage monoplane fighter aircraft, used by the French Air Force in the 1930’s. Introduced in 1936, the design was soon replaced by a new generation of fighter aircraft with enclosed cockpits and retractable undercarriage, including the 510’s successor, the Dewoitine D.520.

The Dewoitine D.500, designed by Emile Dewoitine, was based on C1 specifications issued in 1930 by the French Air Ministry. It was to be a replacement for the Nieuport 62. The prototype first flew on 18 June, 1932. In November 1933, sixty aircraft were ordered, with the first production D.500 flying on 29 September 1934. Aircraft were armed with a 20 mm cannon firing through the propeller hub instead of two nose-mounted machine-guns received the designation D.501. A total of 381 D.500 and it’s derivatives were built.

The D.500 and D.501 entered service in July 1935, with the more powerful D.510 joining them in October 1936. They were the primary fighters employed by the Armee de l’Air until replacement by the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 in 1939. As of September 1939, the D.500/501’s had been relegated to regional defense and training squadrons. At the start of WWII, D.510’s were still in operation with three Groupes de Chasse (Fighter Groups), two Escadrilles Regionale de Chasse (Regional Fighter Squadrons) in North Africa and two Escadrilles de Aeronautique Navale (Naval Aviation Squadrons).

In Morocco, one escadrille of D.510’s (ERC 571) was activated in November, 1939. These planes lacked cannon. In May of 1940, this escadrille merged with ERC 573 to form GC III/4. This group was disbanded by the end of August, 1940. At Dakar, one group, designated GC I/6, remained in service until being replaced by Curtiss H-75’s at the end of 1941.

Seven D.500’s, originally sold to Lithuania, and two D.510’s ostensibly intended of the Emirate of Hedjaz, saw service in the Spanish Civil War, arriving in Spain in mid-1936. When the French government found out about the delivery of the D.510’s, the demanded return of the 12Y engines. The aircraft were then refitted with Klimov M-100’s (a Soviet –built copy of the 12Y) from a Tupolev SB bomber. The aircraft served with the Republican forces. The two 510’s were posted to the 71st Coastal Defense Group. Neither engaged enemy fighters. In 1938, one was irreparably damaged while landing and the other was destroyed on a runway during a bombing attack. In 1938, 18 Chinese D.510’s saw action against the Japanese, including the defense of Chengdu and Chinese wartime capital Chongqing.

This SMER kit is a re-pop of an older Heller kit. It has been reboxed a few times by SMER too. SMER is based in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

This is a two in one kit, that can be made into either the D.500 or D.501 with 3 alternate parts in the kit of different noses for the aircraft, different machine gun upper nose panels and different propellers.

The box art shows a D.500 flying over the countryside. It is overall bare metal, with French roundels on the wings and their tricolor on the rudder. It carries the fuselage code RO-46 in black letters and the same code in larger black letters above the wings. Oddly, the decal sheet only provides the upper wing codes. There are no codes for the fuselage sides as shown here. The code should be on the under side of the wings also, and you don’t get any for that.  You can barely see that there is some small black lettering on the tri-color on the tail of this version, as is on the other two versions, but you cannot make it out and it is not included on the decal, as is the tri-color stripes too are missing.

A second scheme is shown on a side panel of the box. It is light gray with dark green upper wings and fuselage spine. It carries the normal French Air Force roundels and has a squadron marking of black pennant with a black bird on a white circle on it. From the propeller spinner shown on it, it must be a D.500 version. There is smaller black lettering on the tail, over the French tri-color stripes, that says D.500 over N.47. However, no decal for these stripes is provided on the decal sheet, only the lettering.

On another side panel is a scheme for a D.501, missing the spinner. It is in overall bare metal with a red rudder with the number 9 on it in white. It carries the normal French roundels and has a squadron marking of a large red trident on the sides of the fuselage. There is smaller black lettering on the tail, over the tri-color stripes, that says D.501 over N.146.

The decal sheet is missing the tri-color stripes for the tails of these aircraft. It also does not provide the black lettering RO-46 for under the wings of the first aircraft described above. Somebody at Smer dropped the ball here somehow.

Inside the box is a single cello bag with 3 light gray parts trees enclosed in it. There is also a 2 parts clear stand in the bag. SMER always supplies these for those that want to make a desk model out of their aircraft. This is a feature that usually adorned most Heller and Frog Airline kits in years past. In a small cello, stapled shut, and taped to the outside of the large cello bag is the one clear cockpit transparency piece. The decal sheet and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.

The instructions are in SMER’s usual format that they use in all their 1/72nd aircraft kits. It is a single sheet that is folded in the center into 4 pages and then folded once again to fit the box.

Page one begins with a color copy of the box art, followed by the history of the Dewoitine D.500 and D.501’s in Czech only. As in all their instructions, the left half of page 2 has blow by blow written instructions of how to build the kit. Unfortunately, in Czech language only. The right side of the page and the left side of page 3 show 9 assembly step drawings. In step one, you opt for a propeller with a spinner, and the nose piece to make the aircraft into the D.500. In step two, you opt for the propeller with the hole in the center for the 20 mm cannon muzzle, and a different nose piece to make the kit into the D.501.

The right side of page 3 has a listing, again in Czech only, of the names of the kit parts. There are 44 parts named, so this is an easy kit to build for any modeler.

Page 4 has a side and top view of the D.500 version with the pennant insignia on the fuselage sides (already described above).

There is only a side view of the D.501 version with the red trident mark on the fuselage.

The final illustration is for the D.500 shown on the box art. It is a bottom view and shows that the black registration code of  RO – 46 should be also on the bottom of the wings. However, the decal sheet only gives you ONE SET of these letters.

Also missing on the decal sheet, as already mentioned, is the French tri-color stripes that go on the rudders of these aircraft schemes. Perhaps these stripes would be better painted on anyways.

The first light gray parts tree holds: the fuselage halves, the spats for the landing gear, the upper nose piece with cannon gun troughs molded in it, the two alternate propellers, and landing gear legs (11 parts).

The second light gray parts tree holds: the lower wing half (which is full span, setting the dihedral nicely), the ventral air intake scoop, 2 alternate noses of the aircraft, landing gear struts, the pilot seat, joy stick, venturi tube, a step for boarding the aircraft, ventral radio aerial, head rest pad, tail skid and the horizontal tail surfaces supports (22 parts)

The third light gray parts tree holds: the upper wing halves, horizontal tail surfaces, an alternate upper cowl piece (with the gun troughs eliminated), the two underwing machine-guns in small teardrop fairings, the cockpit floor, pilot seat, main wheels and a propeller retaining washer (12 parts).

The single windscreen clear part and the clear 2 piece stand complete the kits contents of parts, along with the decal sheet and instructions, in the kit. The decal marking have already been described above.

This is one neat looking aircraft. It was pretty much obsolete by the beginning of WWII, but did soldier on for a bit yet then.

It seems with SMER, that when a kit has a open-cockpit, that there usually is provided a few more details that go in there. No so with the ones with closed canopies. Detail is all of the raised panel line variety and flaps and rudder are molded solid. The inhuman looking pilot, present in a lot of ex-Heller (now SMER kit) is absent in this kit and as bad as these usually are…is not sorely missed