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Me 262A-1a

Trumpeter 1/32 Me 262A-1a 'Heavy Armament' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a 'Heavy Armament' Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2260 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch, White Metal
Pros Detailed cockpit, gun nose, and engines, internal fuel cells, R4M rockets, external tanks - optional clear cowls Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $94.95

First Look

Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a
Me 262A-1a

In 1938, Project P.1065 was presented to the German high command in response to a request for concept to utilize a new type of engine - the turbojet. Three prototypes were ordered in 1940, but these were ready well before the engines, so the airframes were test-flown with piston engines.

By 1942, the Jumos were ready for flight and the Me 262 took to the air for the first time under jet power. By the time the aircraft had entered production and initial quantities were available for operations, there was only ten months left in the war. To delay matters further, Hitler himself protected many US bomber crews by demanding that these aircraft be used as high-speed bombers, despite Willy Messerschmitt, Adolf Galland, and others pleading to the contrary. Thanks Adolf!

Adolf Galland was allocated some Me 262s for air defense and these went to JV 44, which used the Me 262s to attack the daylight bombing and used Fw 190D-9s to protect the Me 262s from the allied fighters that waited for these jets to return home low on airspeed, altitude, fuel, and armament.

One of the late-war modifications to the Me 262 interceptors was the addition of the R4M rocket launchers. This was little more than a wood rack that was mounted to the undersurface of the wings and could carry 12 small rockets per rack. In order to extend the aircraft's range/on-station intercept time, two external tanks were fitted under the nose, and the additional weight would usually mean a RATO bottle needed to be used to get the aircraft off the ground in the available runway length.

It is hard to believe that this kit first appeared from Trumpeter almost two years ago. To be honest, when this kit arrived, I wasn't expecting another release of the Me 262, but after looking this kit over, it is a natural progression from the first release of this aircraft. With the exception of two new parts trees, this kit is identical to that first release of the Me 262A-1a nearly two years ago, but those two new trees do make a difference!

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!). Unlike the first release, only one nosegear strut is provided and one nosegear tire, as you would expect for a heavy aircraft. If you'd rather use styrene landing gear struts fear not, these are also provided. 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 the nicest I've seen for the Me 262 and actually one of the nicest I've seen from Trumpeter. The pilot's seat is nicely done, especially with the photo-etched harnesses, and this drops into a styrene tub with separate side consoles. The throttles, stick, rudder pedals, and other detailing are all present as separate parts. The kit also uses the same sandwiched acetate instrument faces behind the clear instrument panel. The rear of the instrument panel also has detailing when viewed from above and behind the panel.

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.

One thing that is different for this kit (I believe this tree was released in the Me 262A-2a version and definitely in the Me 262B) is the tree 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 heavy fighter 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.

Last, but definitely not least, is the new tree containing the R4M rocket racks and rockets. The Smithsonian's beautifully restored Me 262 has the R4M racks installed and can also be seen in our walk around.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • Me 262A-1a, unknown unit, White 3
  • Me 262A-1a, 9./KG(J) 54, Yellow 3

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!