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Me 262B-1a/U1

Trumpeter 1/32 Me 262B-1a/U1 Nachtjäger Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2008 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 Nachtjäger Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2237 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch, White Metal
Pros Detailed cockpits, gun nose, and engines, internal fuel cells, external tanks - optional clear cowls Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $94.95

First Look

Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1
Me 262B-1a/U1

When the Me 262A first appeared in operational Luftwaffe squadrons, it became quickly apparent that some pilots were going to need transition training to deal with unique issues of the aircraft. Since many of the pilots coming through the training pipeline were single-engine trained, the blessing and curse of a twin engined aircraft like the Me 262 was having a 'spare' engine when one inevitably failed, but not having the experience to maintain airspeed (greater than 300 kph) will cause the aircraft yaw/roll out of control due to assymmetric thrust. Even with two good engines, if for any reason you needed to abort a landing approach, piston-engined fighters had almost instantaneous throttle response to get you more airspeed and altitude. These early jet engines like those on the Me 262 took a painful amount of time to spool up from idle and pilots would quickly get behind the power curve and smack the ground.

The answer was simple enough, build a two-seat trainer to give new pilots a few hours of instruction with an experienced pilot before venturing off solo in their Me 262As. Messerschmitt managed to turn out a small number of two seat trainers, designated Me 262B-1a to help with the transition, but most of these were redirected to night fighter duties with many of them receiving the FuG-218 Neptun radar system and designated Me 262B-1a/U1. The aircraft did see action with 10./NJG 11 where several pilots were highly successful in providing a little 'payback' to the Mosquito night fighters that had been running almost unopposed in the night skies over the continent in the later years of the war. Had the single and two-seat Me 262s arrived in larger numbers earlier in the war, the firepower of their 30mm guns and R4M rockets would have had a devastating effect on daylight and night bombardment while remaining out of reach of the piston-engined escort fighters.

Yes! The two seat night fighter is here. For those of you who've been keeping score, the Me 262 is one of the few subjects produced by Trumpeter that hasn't been picked apart by the chat rooms. Their first release, the Me 262A-1a, was a big hit. In a surprise second release, Trumpeter reissued the kit as a 'heavy fighter' variant with additional details in the kit. These included the R4M rockets, external fuel tanks, and even fuselage fuel tanks that cannot be seen after assembly.

In this release, we have the same parts trees as the heavy fighter, plus the new fuselage and canopy parts. The kit is molded in the usual Trumpeter light gray styrene and presented on nine trees, plus a duplicate tree containing the nacelles molded clear, and two additional small parts trees containing the windscreen, canopy, instrument panel, gunsight, etc.

The landing gear struts are cast in white metal (and nicely done at that!). Three rubber tires are included, two mains, one nosewheel. A small fret of photo-etched parts is included containing seat belts and shoulder harnesses.

The kit cockpit tub is revised to accommodate the second cockpit and this one was done right. If you have the Hasegawa 1/32 Me 262B-1a/U1 limited edition kit, this is little more that their single seat kit with a few extra parts to represent the larger cockpit (surgery required), new canopy, and some white metal parts to represent the rear seat and radar set. Trumpter has a new cockpit tub to accommodate front and rear crewmen and all of the details you'd expect. Kudos to Trumpeter as these details look right given the few photos I've seen of the sole surviving two seater in South Africa.

The gun bay is nicely laid out with the cannons, ammo feeds, and electrical junction boxes on the rear bulkhead. You might want to busy up that area a bit with some wiring as the bulkhead wall is a bit barren. See our photo walk around of the Me 262 to see what I mean. The gun bay access doors can be positioned open or closed.

As I said earlier, this kit has the tree from the 'heaver fighter' containing the internal fuel cells and the two external fuel tanks. While the internal tanks are only remotely visible, they add a great deal more fidelity to the model over the first release of the Me 262A-1a. The external tanks and RATO bottle also are options for this nachtjäger variant.

The Jumo engines are very nicely detailed, though detailed engines are one of the areas that Trumpeter excels at. In this case, you can build and paint up your engines as you'll have the option of replacing one or more of the nacelle halves with clear parts to show off your work!

One of the other nice features of this kit is the separate flight control surfaces. The ailerons, rudder, elevators, leading edge slats, and trailing edge flaps are all separate parts that can be positioned however you like. The best part is that you can cement them into place and they'll stay there - no photo-etched hinges to contend with!

The rear fuselage also receives some nice detailing that will be visible through a positionable access panel door in the right side of the fuselage behind the cockpit. This is one of the areas where the new rear fuel cells will be visible.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • Me 262B-1a/U1, W.Nr. 1110635, 10./NJG 11, Red 10, as flown by Oblt Kurta Weltera
  • Me 262B-1a/U1,W.Nr. 1110494, 10./NJG 11, Red 11, as flown by Lt Herbert Altner

The color profiles in the kit use Gunze Sangyo color numbers. The decals also include a set of maintenance stencils.

This is still the nicest kit released by Trumpeter. While Trumpeter has released other kits that of favorite subjects of mine, many of these have been the subject of extensive discussions within the modeling community over one bug or another in the models' designs. This series of Me 262s is probably the best and most accurate model produced by Trumpeter to date. With the addition of these details in this release, you've got some excellent opportunities to detail out your Schwalbe.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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