SMER 1/72 Bloch MB 152 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||SMER|
|Subject||Bloch MB 152||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||SR840 (160)||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice subject. Easy build||Cons||Next to nil interior|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$10.95|
The Marcel Bloch 150 to 157 series of aircraft were French single-seat fighter aircraft. Designed to a July 1934 French Air Ministry specification, the Bloch 150 was an attractive, all-metal low-wing monoplane fighter with a retractable landing gear. However, the original prototype was considerably overweight and two first flight attempts, on July 17 and August 8, 1936 both proved abortive. Both failures were followed by extensive structural redesign, and eventually, on September 29, 1937, with wings of increased area and a more efficient 940 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N engine, a successful first flight was made. Even so, the design was considered unsuitable for mass production, necessitating yet further redesign (as the Bloch 151) in order to implement the initial contract for 25 aircraft.
The first Bloch 151 had a 940 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N and was flown on August 18, 1938. More than 300 should have been delivered to the Armee de l’Air from the SNCA du Sud-Ouest Factories by April 1, 1939. In fact, only one had been delivered by that date, and only 85 by the outbreak of WWII. Production was limited to 140 aircraft and their disappointing performance, combined with problems of control and engine overheating, led to their relegation, after modification, to training roles. Armament consisted of four 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine-guns in the wings, outboard of the propeller arc.
The prototype of an improved version, the Bloch 152 (subject of this kit), had been ordered in April 1938. This aircraft, first flown on December 15 that year, was powered by a 1,030 hp Gnome-Rhone 14N 21 engine. Production aircraft, built from 1939 in parallel with the Bloch 151, were powered by either a 1,080 hp 14N 25 or a 1,100 hp 14N 29. Armament consisted of either two 20 mm Hispano HS-404 cannon and two 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine-guns, or four MAC 1934’s.
By the outbreak of WWII, the Armee de l’Air had only one squadron equipped with the Bloch 152, and even these were non-operational. By the beginning of 1940, the Armee de l’Air had just over 100 in flyable condition and nearly twice as many lacking propellers were non-operational. When the Germans attacked, on May 10, 1940, eight French pursuit groups were equipped with Bloch 151 or 152 fighters.
The eventual total of Bloch 152’s delivered was 482, of which about two-thirds were still effective at the end of July 1940, many of these were used by the Vichy French Air Force, and Germany supplied 20 to it’s ally, Romania. At about the same time, one Bloch 151 (of 25 ordered) was supplied by France to the Royal Hellenic Greek Air Force.
The final development of the series was the Bloch 157.
This SMER kit (out of Prague, Czechoslovakia) is a re-pop of an older Heller kit. SMER’s box has the date 1988 stamped on it, and I know that the Heller kit came out years before that. I also have the Heller one built. The markings that were in the Heller kit had a different squadron logo, that went on the sides of the fuselage, than what SMER gives in their kit. The mark in the Heller is a red archer on black circle. I don’t know what squadron that represents.
The SMER kit comes in a sturdy tray and lid type box. Inside is a single cello bag that holds everything but the decal sheet and instructions. The box art shows a Bloch 152 in a dog-fight with a Me-109E. It is in a brown and green wave pattern camouflage above and very pale blue undersides. It has the fuselage number 71 in white and a squadron logo of a shield on top of a sword on the tail. This is the only scheme offered on the kit’s decal sheet.
The instructions follow SMER’s usual routine for these kits with it’s layout. It is a single sheet that folds out into 4 pages.
The first page repeats the box art in color, followed by the history of the Bloch 152 in Czech only.
The left half of page 2 has what looks to be written and numbered blow by blow instructions of how to proceed with assembling the kit. The right side of the page and the left side of page 3 show 7 assembly step drawings. The right side of page 3 has a listing of the names of the parts in the kit, again only in Czech. Wish SMER would put some English in their kits.
Page 4 has a full color 3-view illustration of the only scheme offered by the decal sheet (already described above). Next to this illustration is some tech data about the Bloch-152 in Czech again. There is a coupon on the page to send to SMER for any assistance with the kit, also in Czech.
There is one parts tree in the kit that is molded in light gray. This color seems to be the common one in all SMER kits that I have seen. This tree holds: one half of the fuselage, the propeller, the cowling parts, upper wing halves, pilot seat, landing gear parts, horizontal tail surfaces, pitot tube, wing cannons, underwing air intake, ventral radio antenna, tail wheel and horizontal tail supports (the horizontal tail surfaces wind up with quite a dihedral when assembled, as illustrated with a small scrap drawing in assembly step no. 2)
The other half of the fuselage was loose in the kit, as well as the lower wing half (which is full span). The pilot figure part was also floating around loose. One of the propeller blades had busted off and it was floating around loose in the cello too.
The final parts in the kit are the clear cockpit windows. These consist of 4 parts: windscreen, center section and the two tear-drop shaped rear windows. The center section can be slid back and shown open or closed if desired.
However, there is only a seat and the pilot in the cockpit….nothing else! The pilot look inhuman and the seat looks like a Lazy-boy recliner…and not a pilot seat. Some scratchbuilding is sorely needed in the cockpit. Without a floorboard offered in the kit, you see right up into it through the wheel wells…sigh.
Thirty-plus years ago, when I built the Heller kit, I was just a novice at plastic models. The omissions did not bother me then, but they sure would now. Panel lines are all of the raised variety and the wing and tail flaps are all molded solid.
This was a neat looking French fighter, although…as you read above…not the most successful aircraft ever built. Still, it deserves a place on a shelf of WWII birds. Recommended to modelers that are just starting out. It is a simple build, with few parts.