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SMER 1/72 Dewoitine D.520 Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review January 2008 Manufacturer SMER
Subject Dewoitine D.520 Scale 1/72
Kit Number SR837 (158) Primary Media Styrene
Pros Sleek looking French fighter Cons Next to nil cockpit interior & no wheel-well detail
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $8.98

First Look


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 was 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 Bf-109. Because of a delayed production cycle, only a small number were available to meet the Luftwaffe.

The Groupe de Chasse I/3 was the first unit to get the D.520, receiving the first aircraft in January 1940. These were unarmed and used for pilot training. In April and May they received 34 production machines, which proved to be very popular with the pilots. In tests against a captured Bf-109E-3 (handicapped by an engine that didn’t develop full power) the D.520 proved to be 20 km/h slower, but had better high speed 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.

When Germany invaded France and the Low Countries on 10 May, 228 D.529’s had been manufactured, but the Armee de l’Air had only accepted 75, as most others had been sent back to the factory to be retrofitted to the new standard. As a result, only GC I/3 was fully equipped with the D.520, with 36 planes. They met the Luftwaffe on 13 May, shooting down three Henschel Hs-126’s and one Heinkel He-111 without loss. GC II/3, GC III/3, GC III/6 and GC II/7 later completed their conversion to the D.520 and all took part in the Battle of France. A naval unit, the 1st Flotille de Chasse, was also equipped with the D.520. GC II/6 and GC III/7 converted to the D.520, but too late to see action.

By the time of the armistice at the end of June, 437 D.520’s had been built and 351 of these had been delivered. In that time they had 108 confirmed kills and 39 probables, losing 54 of their own to enemy action. As French resistance collapsed in the middle of June, GC I/3, II/3, III/3 and II/7 flew their aircrafts to Algeria so as to avoid being captured. Three more, from GC III/7, escaped to Britain an were delivered to the Free French. 153 machines remained in mainland France.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a D.520 flying over a landscape that appears to have a train running on it and there is a smoke column coming up, like he may have just shot something down. The aircraft only markings are the normal French roundels and tail tri-color stripes and the Roman numeral “II” in white on the tail. This is the only marking on the decal sheet in this kit. We are not told what squadron this aircraft is from.

Camouflage is as described above.

I like the way SMER does their box arts, without a lot of text cluttering up the paintings. I wish more model companies would do this, so a guy could maybe frame these pictures to put on his hobby room wall.

Inside the box is one light gray tree of parts, 2 loose fuselage halves, the loose lower wing half (full span) and the usual 2 part clear desk stand that SMER sticks in all their 1/72nd scale aircraft kits, if a guy wants to make a flying display out of the aircraft.

Also, a SMER constant in their kits is a small stapled cello that is Scotch taped to the other cello, that contains the clear cockpit windows and a pilot figure.

The decal sheet and instructions complete the kit’s contents.

The instructions follow SMER’s formula in all their kits for it. It consists of a single sheet, folded in half into 4 pages.

Page one begins with a color repeat of the box art, followed by the history of the D.520 in Czech only.

The left side of page two has a step by step numbered narration, in Czech, of how to proceed with building the kit. The right side of the page and the left side of page three give 6 assembly step illustrations.

The right side of page 3 has a listing, again in Czech, of the names of all the kit’s parts. There are only a bare 26 parts in the kit. The interior parts are only the pilots seat and the pilot, so the purist will want to add something more in there for sure. Detail is all of the raised panel line type.

The final page 4 has a 3-view, full color illustration of the single scheme offered in the kit (already described above) Colors are called out in Humbrol paint numbers next to color swatches. At the bottom of the page, in Czech again, is a customer service coupon.

The parts tree holds: the propeller, it’s retaining washer, the landing gear doors, upper wing halves, pilot seat, landing gear legs, tail wheel, main wheels, propeller spinner, radio mast, horizontal tail surfaces and pitot tube (18 parts)

The fuselage halves and lower wing half (full span, setting the dihedral nicely) are loose.

The clear parts tree holds 3 parts for the canopy windows.

Detail is of the raised panel-line variety. However, there are few panel lines and what are there are lightly done. The flaps on the wings and tail and the rudder are all molded in, but the fabric work on them is nicely molded. The wheel wells have no interior detail and could stand something more in there.

This is a neat, sleek looking French fighter. It is a follow on to the D.500/d.501 and the D.510 (kits that SMER makes, already reviewed here on Cybermodeler) and completes the series to put on a modeler’s shelf. Recommended to all modelers, regardless of their previous building experience, due to the kit’s simplicity and part count.