Tamiya 1/48 He 162A-2 Volksjäger Kit First Look
|Date of Review||May 2006||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Subject||Heinkel He 162A-2 Volksjäger||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||61097||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, detailed engine, separate engine stand||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$46.00|
Towards the end of World War II, the Germans wanted to mass-produce a jet fighter that made little use of strategic materials (e.g. aluminum), made use of the available jet engine (BMW-003A-1) and would be simple to fly. Heinkel was able to achieve a number of amazing feats that have never before or since been accomplished with a jet fighter.
First, Heinkel was able to get a prototype flying in 69 days after project initiation. While the fuselage did employ metals in its construction, the wing was wood. And due to the Allied bombing campaign against industrial targets, Heinkel designed the He 162 to be built in components around the country, then assembled underground before being pressed into operations. In three months in early 1945, 116 of these aircraft were delivered.
Despite Heinkel's amazing feat in design and production, the war was nearly over. Fuel resources were scarce and experienced pilots were even more scarce. Many of the pilots that flew these new fighters had little flight time in piston-engined fighters, so they didn't have the practical experience to employ the aircraft and survive.
Most of the aircraft would be assigned to JG 1, the 1st "Oesau" Fighter Wing and despite its late entry into the war with little available fuel or experienced pilots, the He 162 was credited with a few kills prior to the war's end.
This kit was been anticipated by many modelers ever Tamiya announced this kit. The Volksjäger was previously offered by Trimaster in 1/48 scale and was offered in two versions, an inexpensive one with the engine bay closed, and an AMS modeler's dream with the cowling open and lots of detailing inside. DML has offered the simple Trimaster version on occasion, but otherwise this nice He 162 has been largely unavailable in 1/48 scale for some time. When Revell/Germany released their 1/32 version of this kit, the sales were predictably good.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene, and features nicely scribed details throughout. The kit is presented on three parts trees plus a small tree containing the clear transparencies.
The instructions in this kit are very well done and provide clear parts placement and colors (using Tamiya color notations, of course).
The first item to be assembled is an engine stand (for a change). You'll be wanting this.
Next comes the cramped cockpit with the nosewheel well in its midst. The early ejection seat is nicely done. A nice big steel ball bearing is provided for behind the cockpit for ballast.
The main gear wells are next and have the same detailing as the Revell/Germany kit here - nice! Oddly enough, the main gear doors and center structure are molded as one part, making gear-up assembly a snap. The instructions show where to cut to separate the main gear doors for gear-down display.
Since the engine is the clear centerpiece of this model, as it was with the DML release decades ago. Tamiya has taken an interesting twist with this kit. First, you assemble the engine clamshell doors closed and install the detailed intake and exhaust ducts in place. This assembly attaches to the dorsal motor mounts using poly caps. Why? Wait for it...
Next up is the engine itself. This is as nicely done as the DML versions sans the wire for the plumbing. You can add the plumbing if you wish. Inside the engine are poly caps as well. These allow the engine to be mounted to the engine stand without glue.
The final assembly is another set of clamshell engine doors mounted open. That's why you'll see two sprues of parts with the engine ducts and clamshell doors. This allows you to remove the closed engine pod from the fuselage, remove the engine from the engine stand, place the open clamshell assembly on the posts atop the fuselage and put the detailed engine atop this. You can pose your engine open or closed at any time. A nice bit of engineering!
Markings are included for three examples:
- He 162A-2, W.Nr. 120074, Yellow 11, 3./JG 1, Leck/Holstein, Germany, May 1945
- He 162A-2, W.Nr. 120077, Red 1, 2./JG 1, Leck/Holstein, Germany, May 1945
- He 162A-2, W.Nr. 120027, White 1, 1./JG 1, Leck/Holstein, Germany, May 1945
This kit is a work of engineering beauty and Tamiya should be proud. The use of poly caps to allow reconfiguration of the model allows more versatility in your displays. If you don't want that versatility, simply glue everything in place.