Tauro 1/48 MC 202 Folgore Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2008||Manufacturer||Tauro|
|Subject||MC 202 Folgore||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||48301||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Very detailed Italian fighter||Cons||Conflicting instrument dial decals. Only one set of National fasist marks vs 9 schemes on decal sheet|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$28.98|
In 1940, and as a result of direct initiative of the Macchi Factory itself, there was purchased in Germany a Daimler-Benz DB-601 that in that year equipped the German Messerschmitt Bf-109E and that, with minor adjustments of the fuselage, was directly installed on at Macchi MC 200. The Macchi MC 202, in fact, is directly and integrally originating from that fighter.
The interest of the Italian Component Ministries was immediate in consideration of the very high performance of the new fighter, so that it was decided at once to mass produce it. As was pointed out before, the Macchi MC 202 adopted most of the body of the MC 200, so that the mass production of the new fighter was facilitated as it required only minor structural adjustments, especially in consideration of the new engine and some adjustments to the cockpit assembly.
The adjustments permitted the Macchi MC 202 to adopt a very reduced section that was a very aerodynamic one. It resulted in a extremely elegant silhouette, perhaps even today a superlative shape in regards to a propeller-driven airplane. In consideration of these characteristics, its maximum speed was indeed better than the Messerschmitt Bf-109E, that was also equipped with the same engine.
Officially designated as the “Folgore” (Lightning), the Macchi MC 202 first appeared in the sky of North Africa by the end of 1941 and, for sure, it was not what can be considered a “WELCOME” surprise for all those Allied pilots that were used to fighting against the Fiat CR 42 biplane and the G-50 monoplane or the Macchi MC 200. In the sky over Malta, the MC 202 fought against the British Spitfire V. However, all these combats did not prove the superiority of one fighter over the other there. Perhaps the MC 202 did have just a little bit of an advantage in acceleration due to the very peculiar gasoline feeding system of the German DB-601 engine. On the other hand, it cannot be forgotten the enormous differences in armament of the two fighters. The MC 202 had two 12.7 mm (50 cal) machine-guns vs. the formidable armament of the Spitfire.
In order to try and avoid this severe handicap, beginning with the V (fifth) series, the MC 202 was equipped with two 7.7 mm machine-guns mounted in the wings in addition to the two 12.7 mm guns in the fuselage and firing through the propeller. The 202 was considered to be the best of the Italian fighter production in WWII and was later subject to a further evolution with the adoption of the new-born Daimler-Benz DB 605 of 1,475 hp. The 202 then became the Macchi MC 205 “Veltro”. This new fighter had better performance and more heavy firepower and was considered a much better fighter than the MC 202. On the other hand, it’s high wing-loading affected it’s maneuverability over 7 to 8000 meters altitude.
Tauro is a model company based in Taurino, Italy. To date, their kit releases can be counted on one hand. I have a German WWI tank by them in 1/35th scale, this MC 202 kit and they had a kit of the MC 205 Veltro at one time too.
The kit comes in a very sturdy tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a MC 202 flying over cloud cover at sundown. It is in the markings of the 85th Squadriglia, 18th Grouppo, 3rd Stormo C.T., Africa 1942 and is the mount of pilot Sergente Magg. (Sergeant Major) Luigi Gorrini. The aircraft is in a base color of light sand with dark green amebic shaped circles on it. The underside is overall light gray blue with white wing tips. The fuselage carries the black number 85 outlined in white, just in front of a wide white fuselage band. A white number 2 is just in back of the band. There is a squadron insignia of a blue triangle with a wasp holding a dagger on it and the words “3rd Stormo” above the wasp. The tail has small white lettering on it that says Aer Macchi C 202 A5. A white cross spans the tail with the House of Savoy shield in the center of it. This scheme is included on the decal sheet.
The box art also says that there are metal parts included in the kit, that it is designed for modelers over 12 years of age and that it has a detailed interior and visible engine. The kit holds over 120 parts. A side panel shows the boxart for the 1/48th scale Macchi MC 205 (kit no. 305) that Tauro also marketed. Next to that is a white line drawing on a black panel of the Alfa Romeo RA 1000 (license built DB 601) engine. The other side panel has a white line drawing on a black panel that is a cut-away profile drawing showing the insides of a MC 202.
Inside the box are 3 medium gray trees of parts, a tree of clear parts and a small sealed cello bag of metal parts all in a large sealed cello. These parts trees tightly fit the tray in all four directions. The large decal sheet and 2 postage-stamp sized decals in a sealed clear envelope and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 9 ¾” x 7” format.]
The first page begins with a black and white photo of an actual MC 202 sitting on a grassy field. The coding on it is 353 white fuselage band 6, with the gruppo insignia of a black cat on the fuselage band. This is an aircraft of the 353rd Squadriglia, unknown Gruppo, 51st Stormo. This scheme is not included on the kit’s decal sheet. The rest of the page has the history of the MC 202 Folgore in 3 languages, including English.
Page two begins with a continuation of the history in German. This is followed by a listing of the kit’s parts in Italian and English and rather tiny parts tree drawings. These drawings will have go under a magnifying glass, for sure, to see the part numbers. Also, the trees are not alphabetized and there are no part numbers molded on the actual part trees. This will make for extra work trying to identify parts. Bad move Tauro. The problem carries on into the assembly step drawings as the part numbers labeling parts on them are printed very small too. I wear tri-focals and do not appreciate any of this!!
Page three continues, at the top, with the balance of the list of parts names for a balance of 112 of them. This is followed by some general assembly instructions in the four languages. The bottom of the page has the first 2 assembly steps. These steps are alphabetized rather than the normal numbering we see on most kit’s plans. There are written instructions next to each step in the four languages.
Pages four through six give a balance of a total of 9 assembly steps (letters A to I)
Steps A & B are for assembly of the DB 601 engine, which can be displayed by leaving the cowling panels loose if desired. However, I have heard it said by some modelers that they had trougle getting the cowling parts to fit over this engine. That it was too big. I don’t know if that is true or not. It will remain to be seen after I assemble the model.
Down the side of page four are geometric symbols that indicate different colors to use on the model. There are 13 colors called out with these symbols and some of them reference Federal Standard numbers along with saying what the colors are.
In step F we are directed to putty over 6 access panels and erase them on the upper wing halves. The wing flaps are separate and can be posed to our taste. The tail flaps and rudder are separate parts too. Instructions are shown for how to stretch sprue to make the aerial wire.
In step I we are told to drill holes in the top cowling for the machine gun barrels.
The canopy comes with alternate windshields. One is an armored one and the other is not. The canopy can be posed open to show the interior and the interior is very nicely done with only shoulder and seat belts needed to further dress it out maybe.
The decal sheet is a large one. As earlier mentioned, it comes in it’s own sealed cello envelope with a sheet of instructions included. There are 2 small decals in the bag for dashboard instrument faces. The sheet has 10 different marking schemes on it:
- A 202 of the 351st Squadriglia, 155th Gruppo, 51st Stormo CT. It is in a camouflage of light sand with a tight net pattern of dark green lines above a gray blue undercarriage. The fuselage code is black 2, then a white fuselage band, and black 361, There is a small blue circle with the fascist symbol on it just in front of the cockpit and the white cross on just the rudder with the shield of the House of Savoy in the center. The propeller spinner is white. The black cat Stormo insignia is on the fuselage band. The extreme end of the wing tips below are white. The black circle with 3 black fascist axes is on the top and bottoms of the wings
- A 202 VII series aircraft of the 382nd Squadriglia, 21st Gruppo, 51st Stormo CT, Russia 1942 it is in the same camouflage as the first scheme with a yellow spinner and nose of the cowling and a yellow fuselage band. The white cross with the shield is on the rudder only again. It carries the fuselage code 382 in black, then the fuselage band and the number 3 in black. The underside is gray blue with yellow wing tips There is no Stormo insignia on this one
- The boxart scheme, already described above
- A 202 AS MM 9454 of the 8th Gruppo Caccia Aeronautica Co-belligerant. Lecce, 1944. It is in a base of light sand with the amebic dark green shapes over it and the blue gray undersides. It carries red, with and green roundels only. The very tip of the propeller spinner is red
- A 202 1st Series of the 71st Squadriglia, 1st Stormo, Campino 1941. It is in overall dark green above and blue gray below. It has the small blue circle with the fascist axe on it on the sides just in front of the cockpit. It has a white fuselage band and the white cross and shield on the rudder. It has number 10 in red outlined in white just behind the fuselage band. There is a Stormo insignia of a hexagon with a white figure holding a box and arrow on it that is on the fuselage band. The white words Incocca Tende Scaglia are on the top of this insignia
- A 202 VII Series of the 356th Squadriglia, Gruppo Autonomo CT, Russia 1943. It is in a camouflage of light sand with dark green spots a yellow spinner and cowling nose and yellow fuselage band. The white cross and shield appear on the rudder again. The fuselage code is 356 in black, with the 56 on the fuselage band. There is a black shield insignia on the rudder with the horoscope figure of Sagitarius on it in white
- A 202 II Series of the 363rd Squadriglia, 150th Gruppo, 53rd Stormo CT, Libya 1942. It is in a base of light sand with small dark green spots. It has a white propeller spinner and fuselage band. The white cross and shield are on the rudder. The underside is blue gray again. The fuselage code is 363 in black with white outline, then the white fuselage band and a black 2 outlined in white. There is a Stormo insignia on the white band of a gray circle with 3 black birds in flight and a palm tree on it
- A 202 of the 369th Squadriglia, 22nd Gruppo, 53rd Stormo CT, Napoli Capodichino 1943. It is in the light sand with amebic dark green shapes over it and the blue gray undersides. It has a white propeller spinner and fuselage band. The fuselage code is 369 in black with white outline, then the fuselage band and a red 6. The Stormo emblem, over the band, is a triangle with a black scare-crow smoking a pipe on it
- A 202 III Series MM7844 of the 73rd Squadriglia, 9th Gruppo, 4th Stormo CT, Africa. The mount of pilot Tenente (Leutenant) Guilio Reiner. It is in a base of light sand with a tight net pattern of dark green over it and the blue gray below. It has a white spinner and fuselage band, the white cross with shield on the rudder. The fuselage code is small black numbers 73-7 all on top of the fuselage band. Above this is a black shield with a rampant white horse on it, for the Stormo insignia
- A 202 VII Series MM9056 of the 151st Squadriglia, 20th Gruppo, 51st Stormo CT, Foligno 1943. It is the mount of Sergente Maggiore (Sergeant Major) Ennio Tarantola. It is in a base of light sand with the amebic dark green shapes over it and the blue gray below. It has the white spinner and fuselage band and the white cross with shield on the rudder. It carries the fuselage code 151 in black, then the fuselage band and a red two, all outlined in white. The insignia on the band is a white circle with a black cat on it that has 3 mice in his claws. The words Dai Banana! in cursic yellow letters appears on the nose. I think I once read that this was the aircraft of a pilot that sold bananas and fruits for a living before the war and it translates to “Go Banana”??
This is one doozer of a decal sheet. My only complaint is that there is only one set of the national wing fascist marks and only one set of the little blue fascist circles, the white cross and shield for the rudder. If there were a set of these for each scheme, you could use more of the Italian makings. The decal sheet also has logos that go on the propeller blades. There are two small decal sheets that have the cockpit instrument faces on them. Which is strange, because the larger sheet has the dashboard with the instruments on it as a decal too? I do notice that these two decals do not agree on the positions of the dials. I don’t know which one is right?
I am going to take a departure from my usual habit of naming all the parts that I can on the trees in the kit. There are just too many small parts. So, I will name the main ones on the tree and readers can see for themselves in the photos what’s on the trees.
The first medium gray tree holds: the fuselage halves, propeller spinner and back plate, landing gear doors, air intake scoop, cowling bottom, tail flaps and rudder, exhaust pipe, engine parts (that have already been removed and assembled – more on this later) etc. (29 parts).
The second medium gray tree holds: the propeller, upper cowl piece, main wheels, engine bearers, dashboard, tail wheel, wing flaps, fire wall, cockpit floor and bulkhead etc. (86 parts) Some engine parts have been removed here too.
The third medium gray tree holds the wing halves. The lower wing half is full span. (3 parts)
The clear parts tree holds: the cockpit transparencies, which include two windscreens. You can opt for either an armored one or an unarmored one. There are also two alternate gun sights. (5 parts). This canopy can be posed shut or open to show the interior off.
There are a bunch of metal rods in the kit. I don’t know what purpose they will serve until I start assembly. They are different lengths.
This is one very detailed kit. Panel lines are engraved. The attachment points on the parts to the sprues are rather heavy in places and care will have to be taken not to damage the smaller parts when removing them from the trees.