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Me 321B

Testors 1/72 Me 321B-1 Gigant Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review July 2008 Manufacturer Testors
Subject Me 321B-1 Gigant Scale 1/72
Kit Number 0865 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat kit Cons Final positions of parts not always clear in exploded assembly step drawings
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B
Me 321B

The Messerschmitt Me321 was the largest operational aircraft of WWII’s European War. It was designed for use in Germany’s postponed invasion of Britain. In response to Hitler’s prediction of October, 1940, that the invasion would be postponed for no more than 18 months, the German Ministry of Aviation requested proposals for a very large glider for troops and supplies. Less than five months later, in February, 1941, the first 321 was rolled out. Production progressed rapidly with the total order of 200 being completed in slightly more than a year.

Surprisingly, few technical problems arose, but many operational difficulties were to plague the 321’s during their short life. These difficulties stemmed from the initial lack of a suitable tow plane. The advent of the Heinkel He111Z (Testor/Italeri kit no. 867) and the addition of eight take-off-assist rockets to the underside of the 321’s wings solved the difficulty. The lack of sufficiently large airports in intervals consistent with the short range of the aircraft continued to plague the planners. Finally, this problem caused the end of the 321’s operations.

The 321B was equipped with dual controls for pilot and co-pilot. The original 321 was flown by one pilot. However, the strain on the pilot for anything but short training flights was too great. In normal operation the aircraft took off on wheels and then dropped them to land on skids. The ship normally rested on the tail and had to be jacked up or propped up to rest on all four skids or wheels for loading and unloading.

Italeri is a model company based in Italy. Testors is a model company based in Rockford, Illinois USA. Testors periodically imports Italeri kits and sells them under the Testor label.

The kit has the copyright date of 1979.

The kit comes in what was Testor’s signature type box that they used in the 70’s. It has bright orange trim. The box is a end opening SLEEVE into which a tray is inserted. The box for this kit is quite large. But – HEY – so was the “Gigant” in real life. Parts fit the tray inside tight.

The boxart shows the model made up and sitting on a modeler’s workbench amid tools and paint bottles. It is in one of the two schemes provided on the decal sheet in the kit. It has upper surfaces of dark green and black green splinter with light blue undercarriage. It carries the code W1+SX on the fuselage sides and under the wings in black. The undersides of the wings have yellow tips and the there is a yellow band around the fuselage just in front of the tail. The back of the box has four-color photos of various parts of this made up model, next to a color 3-view illustration of it.

A side panel has a short history of the Me321 next to a color side view of the same aircraft. What is strange, here, is that the swastika has been deleted in this side view illustration, whereas it appear on the photo of the model in the boxart and one of the 4 photos on the back of the box (one is a shot of just the tail). The three-view on the back of the box is missing the swastika too. The other side panel has a repeat of the color side profile, next to a listing of materials required to complete the assembled kit: Testor brand liquid and tube glues, Testor bottled & spray can paints, Testor hobby tools, Testor brushes and Scotch “Magic” frosted tape and masking tape.

Inside the box are five trees of what the box says are neutral gray parts. This means dark gray. Two trees of clear parts, the decal sheet and the instructions complete the kits contents.

The instructions consist of a unstapled booklet of 8 pages in 8 ½” x 11” (stationary size) format. A single sheet is inserted into this booklet has the parts tree illustrations on one side and figure painting instructions and weathering hints on the other side. There is also a mail-in coupon, to send to Testor if any service is needed with the kit (like a missing part etc.).

Page 1 of the instructions begins with a black and white photo of the model made up in the markings of the boxart, as a profile shot. This is followed by the history of the Me321 in English, followed by “Before Starting” instructions “Preparation of parts” and “Painting” instructions.

Pages 2 through 7 give a total of 8 assembly steps. Steps are accompanied by blow by blow text telling you what to do. Good move Testor!

Page 8 is the decal applications instructions and illustrations of two schemes.

A Me 321B-1 on the Russian Front 1941-42 (unit not mentioned). It is in the markings of the boxart (already described above)

A Me 321B-1 in Southern Russia 1942-1943 (unit again not mentioned). It has the same camouflage pattern as the 1st scheme one. The fuselage and underwing code, in black, is W6+SW.

The parts trees are labeled with geometric shapes, instead of the usual alphabet letters we normally see in kits.

The first dark gray parts tree is called out with a solid black circle. This tree holds the upper and lower outer wing panels, inner wing spars, loading ramps and take-off rockets (26 parts)

The second dark gray parts tree is called out with a solid black square. This tree holds the inner wing section’s top and bottom pieces and wing flaps (10 parts)

The third dark gray parts tree is called out as just the outline of a square. This tree holds: horizontal tail surface parts, upper and lower fuselage parts, forward fuselage floor, vertical tail surfaces and rudder, wing flap balances, flap hinges, braces etc. (87 parts)

The fourth dark gray parts tree is called out by just the outline of a circle. This tree holds: main wheels, horizontal tail flaps, a dorsal fuselage panel, undercarriage skid parts etc. (38 parts)

The fifth dark gray parts tree is called out by a star. This tree holds: the fuselage sides, fuselage interior tubular bracing, clamshell doors and their inner braces, pilot and co-pilot etc. (46 parts)

One of the clear parts tree holds the cockpit windows. There is also what appears to be a two part desk stand on this tree. This is something I haven’t seen since the old Airfix aircraft kits of 30 to 40 years ago. (7 parts)

The second clear parts tree holds the fuselage side windows. (24 parts)

The decal sheet, already described above completes the kits contents.

The clam-shell loading doors in the nose can be posed open or shut. I intend to do mine with it offloading a German AFV of some sort.

This is one neat kit. As far as I know, this kit and a second kit of the 323 (powered version – also marketed by Italeri) are the ONLY model kits of this unique aircraft. Because of the number of parts and the complexity, at times, of this kit I only recommend it to modelers that have a few other aircraft kits under their belts.