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Frems 1/48 MB.339A Frecce Tricolore Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2000 Manufacturer Frems
Subject MB.339A Frecce Tricolore Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4801 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, colorful markings Cons
Skill Level Novice MSRP (USD) $35.00

First Look


The Aermacchi MB339 project began as a 1972 Italian Air Force requirement for an advanced replacement trainer for Aermacchi's successful MB326. The first MB339 prototype took to the air in 1976. Based on the airframe and engine of the MB326, the MB339 featured a reshaped forward fuselage and improved cockpit and avionics fit. The engine is a license-built Rolls Royce Viper 632-43 turbojet producing 4000 lbs thrust.

The MB339 entered service with the Italian Air Force in the early 1980s, and has been exported to numerous countries around the world in both the training and light attack configurations. The MB339 is probably best recognized as the long-time mount for the Italian Air Force air demonstration team, the Frecce Tricolore.

Frems is a new manufacturer on the hobby scene. This first offering provides us with the first injection-molded MB339 produced in 1/48 scale. Molded in light grey, the kit has no flash, nor are there any ejector pin marks on any part of the kit that would be visible after construction. The only flaw I could even find the the kit was a slight sink-mark in part 44, a cockpit bulkhead.

The instructions are the first thing that will get your attention. The assembly diagrams are nicely done. The few text instructions that are on the sheet are in both Italian and English. All of the assembly portions are labeled with letters which correspond to a color-guide table in the back to aid in painting during construction.

The next things you’ll notice are the ejection seats. Each seat is seven parts and make up a complete model of their own. While harnesses are not represented in the mold nor by decal (easily fixed), this is one of the first kits to provide the warning and data stencils found on virtually all ejection seats.

The instrument panel is beautifully detailed with recessed instrument faces, and both cockpit tubs come complete with control sticks and rudder pedals. No throttles are provided, but again, this is very common in kits and also easily fixed.

Assembly appears to be very straightforward, and you are provided with options to position the canopy open or closed; the flaps can be positioned up or down; and the ventral speedbrake can be positioned open or closed. This kit provides plain wingtips, two underwing smoke generator pods and two optional underwing external fuel tanks.

The decals provide options for any one of the 10 Frecce Tricolore air demonstration team aircraft. The paint scheme is straightforward, you paint the airframeW an overall dark blue with silver undersurfaces. The decals provide the red/white/green markings. In fact, it appears that the white markings (as well as the other colors) are quite opaque, and will not allow the colors underneath to affect their appearance. Nice touch!

The MB339 has always been my idea of a graceful looking trainer, and like many other contemporary trainer subjects, has been ignored by the model industry. Thank you Frems for filling in part of this void! If this kit is any sign of their future, we will want to pay attention to Frems in the future. In fact, the planned release after the standard issue version of the MB339 will be none other than a 1/48 Lockheed F-104G Starfighter. Hopefully they will give us an accurate F-104S/ASA version as well.