Tamiya 1/48 He 219A-7 Uhu Build Review
|Date of Review
|Heinkel He 219A-7 Uhu
|Easy build, excellent ballast design
|Single version, VERY delicate antennae
There was a lot of buzz after the release of Tamiya's 1/48 scale Heinkel He 219 Uhu. The initial reviews were outstanding and the kit featured one major innovation not previously seen on a large scale production kit - an integral part of the model was cast in metal, complete with cockpit and nosewheel well detail, to serve as ballast. Given the aircraft's forward mounted wings, the center of gravity of the kit would be well behind the main gear and the model's tail would be planted on the ground as firmly as a Monogram B-25 Mitchell. While I don't normally build German aircraft from WWII, I am interested in the history of radar-equipped night fighters, and the He 219 was one of the best in its day.
For a closer look at the kit in the box, check our in-box review here.
The kit offers several options: the wing flaps can be displayed up or down, parts are provided for open or closed cowl flaps, and the canopy is molded in three excellent pieces that can allow the aircraft to be displayed with the canopy open (though no instructions are provided for this option).
The cockpit goes together extremely well. Themetal ballast is an integral part of the cockpit tub and nosewheel well. A plastic overlay fits over the top of the ballast to provide cockpit side console detail. I painted the inside fuselage halves, seats and ballast RLM02 Grey, while the plastic overlay, radar equipment rack and instrument panel were all painted RLM66 Black-Grey. Details were picked out with technical pen, dry brushing and the usual steps. Seatbelts are provided as decals and were applied at this time. Installation of the upward firing guns was also completed before gluing the fuselage halves together. The radar antenna struts are mounded to the nose under the round nose fairing. The engineering of this kit is superb, and I haven't found any real problems. A supplemental note that is inserted into the kits indicates that the armor shield that mounts inside of the windscreen needs to be trimmed in order to fit right. This was a two-second modification.
The fit of this model is almost perfect. This is easily one of the best assembling models I have built in years. The wings assemble with only a slight problem that requires a little filling and sanding at the aft end of the engine nacelles. The wings mount solidly to the fuselage with the help of main spars, and there is NO filling or fussing with the wing-to-fuselage joint. The horizontal stabilizer and vertical stabs also go together easily.
The main gear is a multi-piece affair with what appears to be telescoping main struts. I 'fixed' that feature. The wheels are not flattened as contemporary kits feature, but a quick spin of the Dremel tool took care of that. The four main gear tires are two-piece units that have nicely detailed wheel hubs and treadless tires.
With the major subassemblies completed, it is time to paint. The aircraft was primed and checked for seams. A few minor spots showed up and were quickly corrected. I chose to build a black-bottomed night fighter, so the first color was RLM76 Light Blue. The demarcation line was then masked and the underside of the aircraft was painted Interior Black (a slightly lightened black). The job was then completed with spots of RLM75 Grey-Violet. The propellers were painted RLM70 Black-Green and the spinners Gloss Black. The variations of blacks provide some eye-catching contrast. The spinners also received white swirl decals (not in the kit) to complete the process. The exhaust flame suppressors were painted flat black, dry-brushed with grey and weathered with some rust.
Once the painting is completed, the decals were applied over a coat of Future floor wax. The decals were nicely registered and the white was opaque over the black paint. A few of the decals required a little coaxing with Solvaset to avoid silvering, but they finally settled down nicely. The final coat, Testor's Dullcoat is applied over the aircraft and left to dry.
The final phase was to add all of the little parts onto this machine. The gear doors fit right into place and stayed there with a touch of cyano. The clear plate over the hole in the dorsal spine was dry fit, and the fit was SO good that it didn't want to come back out. Likewise the clear cover over the landing lights in the leading edge of the left wing. A touch of watch crystal cement kept both parts in place. The windscreen, aft canopy and clear armor shield were also given a dose of watch crystal cement. The fit of the hinged canopy is so good that I left it unglued so it could be removed.
The front radar antennas were well engineered to mount in place with no fuss and just a drop of cyano. The rear antenna was not engineered at all, so I drilled a pin in the fuselage mount point and a hole into the antenna base and put it all together with cyano. The antennas were painted dark grey except for the white/red warning combo on the lower half of the lower front antennas.
Overall I rate this a four star kit. It went together with a minimum of fuss. On the other hand, the finished product should be parked and well protected. The antennas are very delicate and I knocked an antenna off trying to park it on my shelf after taking the above photo. Keep all fingers and feather dusters well clear of this baby! Oh yes, the nose ballast worked perfectly. The aircraft sits firmly on its nosewheel without the slightest hit of being out of balance. Excellent work Tamiya! The model was a joy to build and I highly recommend this model to anyone (who does not have kids or cats).
[Ed Note] After I wrote the above, I decided to take the Uhu to an IPMS club contest. Sure enough, I broke off an antenna getting it there and another bringing it home. After this, I'll stick to radar night fighters that use radars under radomes. Please don't misunderstand, if you don't build this kit, you're missing out on a well-designed kit that was so amazingly easy to build. I'd just consider building it as an early prototype without the antennas in place.