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Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter

Revell 1/32 Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2017 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter Scale 1/32
Kit Number 4995 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing, straightforward build Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $39.95

First Look

Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter
Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter
Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter
Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter
Me 262B-1/U-1 Nightfighter

The Me 262 is credited as being the first operational jet-powered combat aircraft, entering service in mid-1944. As with any revolutionary weapons system, the Me 262 had numerous advantages as well as a few serious disadvantages that the allies soon identified and exploited. As the Luftwaffe gained experience with the aircraft, its tactical development was temporarily hindered by Hitler's diversion of the aircraft to become a 'schnellbomber'. While the Me 262A single-seat fighters took part in the Luftwaffe's daytime air defenses, the defense of the night skies was lacking operational capabilities.

While it is widely known of the RAF's nighttime bombing of Germany, more information is coming to light about the covert air operations conducted by the allies deep inside Germany. According to one pilot who flew the Mosquito for the USAAF in these operations, few aircraft posed a threat to the later Mosquitos with the two-stage Merlins. Whenever the Luftwaffe attempted an intercept, these Mossies could push up the power and walk away from nearly anyone (including P-51 Mustangs). It was only the Ta 152 which had the power and higher altitude performance that could close and engage the Mosquito and in one case, shot out an engine before he could duck into cloud cover.

It was against these high-performance threats that the Luftwaffe pressed into nightfighter service their latest high-performance fighters, including the Me 262. The two-seat Me 262B trainer was converted into a nightfighter by adding the FuG 218 Neptun radar system operated by the rear seater. A number of examples had been converted before the end of the war, but not in sufficient numbers to affect the outcome.

Last year, Revell of Germany (Revell AG) produced this new-tool Me 262B-1a/U1 nightfighter kit which is noteworthy since Revell AG had previously released the Me-262B-1a/U1 back in 1974. Why is this noteworthy? How many model companies retool a given subject that was previously released in that scale? In 1/32 scale, your only real choices for this subject are the old (1974) Revell AG kit, the Hasegawa 'Hi-Tech' two-seat conversion of their venerable single-seat kit, the more recent Trumpeter kit, and now Revell AG's retooled kit. The Trumpeter kits have been hailed as the best for the Me 262 in this scale but now there is a real choice.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 11 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown), plus two trees of clear parts. The surface detailing is finely scribed and consistent on all surfaces. The layout of the kit is straightforward and won't be a big challenge for modelers with less experience, but offers some great potential for the AMS modeler as well.

Among the features of this kit:

  • Detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Decals provided for crew restraints
  • Instruments are provided as decals and nicely printed
  • Positionable canopies
  • Windscreen designed for easy installation/sanding/blending
  • Detailed gun bay
  • Positionable gun bay doors
  • Airframe details provided inside the main wheel wells
  • Nice Jumo engine details
  • Positionable engine cowling covers
  • Positionable leading edge slats
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable landing gear

For external stores:

  • 2 x external tanks

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • Me 262B-1a/U1, Red 12, 10./NJG 11, Schleswig, May 1945
  • Me 262B-1a/U1, Red 8, 10./NJG 11, Schleswig, May 1945

The external tanks installed on this nightfighter were supposed to compensate for the fuel capacity lost when the rear cockpit is installed in place of the fuel cell that normally occupied that space. Had the war continued, Messerschmitt was already developing a radar interceptor version of the Me 262 which would have featured a stretched fuselage for greater fuel and options for rocket-assisted take-off given that the thrust ratings of the available jet engines were still not growing fast enough.

So is this kit better than the Trumpeter nightfighter? The Revell kit features some sharper surface details, but once the model is assembled and painted, will that make a big difference? If you have the Trumpeter kit (and I do), you'll be happy with the results. If you don't have the Trumpeter kit or you wish to build a second example, then the Revell kit is well-worth consideration as it has great details like the Trumpeter kit but it is less expensive. The only two complaints I have with the Revell kit are 1) the wheels are round (not a bad thing if you're modeling the aircraft gear-down in flight, but not so good if it is parked on a shelf), and 2) the Revell AG box is their usual flimsy end-opening packaging that doesn't do well with sitting in a stack on your shelf.