Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/32 Ta 152H-1 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2010||Manufacturer||Zoukei-Mura Inc.|
|Kit Number||32002||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Beautiful molding, excellent detail||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$95.00|
Doctor Kurt Tank was the designer of the Focke Wulf Fw 190 series and put the name Focke Wulf forever in the history books. Nevertheless, Tank was given his own design team to tackle the problem of developing a high-altitude interceptor. The resources of Focke Wulf were left to production of the existing Fw 190 line.
The task at hand was to develop an interceptor that could reach higher altitudes with a combination of greater lift and more power. To counter the effects of prolonged operations at altitude, the cockpit had to be pressurized. The result was the Ta 152H, an aircraft that bears a strong resemblance to the Fw 190D series, but was in fact a completely different aircraft. The wingspan alone was significantly greater.
Deliveries of the Ta 152H commenced around December 1944 with some 60 examples being produced before war's end. How effective was this aircraft? Rather than quote some book, let me share an insight from a friend who flew the Mosquito for 418 Sqn (Canadian) and became an ace, then was drafted into the USAAF to fly 'weather reconnaissance' (OSS) missions with the Mosquito for the rest of the war. According to him, as long as both Merlins were running, there wasn't anything that Jerry could put up that could catch him on his high-altitude profiles. That changed with the Ta 152. The aircraft could easily reach his flight level, but could not mount an effective intercept unless it got above or in front of him. Evidently a few came close. If I recall correctly, one of these close encounters resulted in the loss of an engine, but they still managed to get away and limp home.
If you wanted to build the ultimate Focke Wulf in 1/32 scale, you used to have your choice of a vacuformed kit or Jerry Rutman's resin kit. With Hasegawa turning out re-tooled Fw 190 Dora variants in 1/32, I was hoping that they'd also tackle the Ta 152, but unfortunately that never happened. It was Pacific Coast Models who tackled the first Ta 152 in styrene in 1/32 scale. While the kit wasn't bad, it had enough glitches in it to set aside for another day.
If you haven't been paying attention to the modeling industry over the last year, we've seen a number of hobby companies shut down or at least put their operations into suspended animation. Even as some of these established names were falling victim to slow sales and continuous reissuing of existing kit subjects, several new kit companies have emerged and ironically all working in 1/32 scale. For you World War I builders, Wingnut Wings started turning out some impressive new subjects in this scale. Wing-Scale is about to release their first kits in 1/32 - three B-25 Mitchell variants and have announced the B-17G also in 1/32. LEM in the Ukraine is turning out beautiful resin kits of the MiG-27 and Su-22 in 1/32 scale, and last but certainly not least, is Zoukei-Mura Inc from Japan.
Zoukei-Mura started with the 1/32 scale J7W1 Shinden fighter and the engineering and detailing is awesome. This company also adopted an interesting business model - sell a kit that would look excellent built straight from the box, but keep it all-plastic to keep costs down. The result was a very beautiful kit for well under $100 USD. For those who wanted more, Zoukei-Mura also produced a number of products from turbojet conversion to metal landing gear struts, all available separately so you could acquire as much or as little as you'd like to render your Shinden.
Here is their second release and like the Shinden, this kit is a beauty! This is the Ta 152H-1, all in styrene, all beautifully laid out. The kit is presented on eight parts trees, five of which are molded in gray styrene, one in gun metal styrene, one in black styrene, and one in clear. You can see in the illustrations as well as the tooling that this kit was tooled from advanced computer CAD technology.
Like any good aircraft kit, construction begins in the cockpit and this project is no exception. The cockpit layout in this kit is quite exceptional right down to the rudder pedals with linkage arms and toe brake cylinders. You should see the throttle lever - it is huge. Most of it goes inside the left console, but you can see the leverage needed to smoothly run through the power range of that Jumo 213 engine. Two pilot seats are included, one basic seat, and one with seatbelts and shoulder harness detail molded into the part.
The instrument panel is nicely detailed and the kit also provides a full decal to cover the panel. The instructions show you how you can also simply punch out each instrument face from the decal and place them on the panel which would have the best result.
When you get the cockpit tub built up, you will also build up the GM-1 tank that mounts behind the cockpit (the GM-1 system injects nitrous oxide into the supercharger which significantly boosts power just like on US muscle cars) and a pair of fuel cells that mount under the cockpit floor.
The Jumo 213E is a very detailed model in its own right. It is a shame this engine isn't sold separately so you can pose one next to your completed Ta 152. The kit also has the MK108 with ammo trays set up to fire through the propeller hub.
The fuselage goes together around the cockpit in three panels, with the tail section plugging into the rear of the assembled fuselage. The kit offers positionable access panels for the rear fuselage and tail compartments.
The wings are done just as nicely as the fuselage, starting with a main spar assembly that strattles the main wheel wells and provides mounting points for the wing-mounted cannons. The wings go together similar to most kits except for a section of the wing leading edge that is done differently. I'll be interested to see how that comes together. Wing flaps are positionable as are the flight control surfaces.
So the features and highlights of this kit include:
- Beautiful cockpit
- Choice of pilot seats
- Positionable canopy
- Detailed fuel cells and GM-1 tank
- Exquisite Jumo engine
- Positionable fuselage and tail access doors
- Positionable landing flaps
- Positionable flight control surfaces
- Oxygen and compressed gas cylinders in tail compartment
- Detailed MK108 and MG151 installations
- Positionable gun access doors
- Positionable engine cowling panels
- Choice of open or closed cowl flaps
- Nicely detailed landing gear
A special note on the instructions - as I mentioned above, you can see the high-quality CAD renderings used in these instructions. The instruction book looks like the Ta 152 technical manual produced in 1945 (though the Zoukeimura AG company name on the bottom is a dead giveaway), so they've captured the feel of the German drafting and assembly drawings of the 1940s while using advanced CAD technology to make your building experience easier. The pages printed in color (though they feel like faded black and white) which make the special symbols easier to see when they want to let you know of a choice or a special step you will need to make.
The kit comes with a nice set of decals, and while one definitive subject is provided, the decal sheet provides a selection of red, green, and yellow tactical numbers plus a set of smaller block numbers to render any Ta 152H and its corresponding construction number. The sheet also provides complete national markings and a nice set of maintenance stencils as well. The subject specifically printed on the sheet is:
- Ta 152H-1, Green 9, Stab./JG 301, W.Nr. 150168, as flown by Obfw. Willi Reschke
The paint instructions are provided using Vallejo ModelAir and ModelColor paints.
This is a truly exceptional kit at a really nice price. What's more, this is easily the best Ta 152 kit in any scale ever produced to date (except perhaps the 1:1 scale production models). If you are a fan of the Ta 152 and haven't acquired the Pacific Coast Models kit, this is the one you want. If you already have the PCM kit, you might consider trading up. While the PCM kit was a nice effort at the time, it is easily outclassed by this release and now looks more like a 21st Century Toys kit in comparison.