Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/32 Hs 129B-2/R3 Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Beautiful molding, excellent detail
When you think of a twin-engined close air support aircraft with an armored cockpit and a 30mm gun that could take out Soviet tanks, my first response is always the A-10 Thunderbolt II. But back in the days of the first Thunderbolt, there was another such tank killer - the Henschel Hs 129. Originally developed in the pre-war timeframe that fostered twin-engined heavy fighters like the Bf 110, the Hs 129 and Fw 189 were developed for the close air support role. Once Operation Barbarossa was underway for the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Hs 129 was given a series of armament upgrades to help counter Soviet armor opposition. After the Mk.101 and Mk.103 30mm guns exhibited limited effectiveness, the Hs 129B-2 received the 37mm BK 3,7 (modified Flak 18) in a ventral centerline pod with ammo storage extending up into the fuselage behind the pilot. The Hs 129 saw extensive combat inside the Soviet Union including the Battle for Kursk as well as in North Africa. The German Air Ministry attempted to mount a modified 75mm PaK 40 gun in place of the 37mm gun, but the weight of the gun and ammunition rendered the underpowered Hs 129B-3 difficult to fly, though some 25 examples still made it into combat, and the gun could knock out any tank that it hit.
Zoukei-Mura first announced their Hs 129 project along with another twin-engined design, the Ki-45 several years ago. They released the first Ki-45 last year with the long-nosed Tei and Hei-Tei versions, and that was followed by the short-nosed Ki-45 Ko and Hei versions last October. Just in time for Christmas, Zoukei-Mura has now released their Hs 129 to round out these twin-engined projects. The box is large and for good reason, there is a lot of plastic inside. As you can see in the images to the right, the kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on 17 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) and one tree of clear parts. As with other kits in this series, Zoukei Mura offers multi-media detail parts like photo-etched cockpit details, turned aluminum gun barrels, and resin wheels, all separately. Unlike the Ki-45 though, there are no clear fuselage or wing options to help display the details inside. More on this later.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Very detailed engines
- Contra-rotating propellers
- Optional display stand for one engine
- Choice of opaque or clear instrument panels for both versions
- Very detailed cockpit
- Choice of instrument panel (clear or opaque) with decal instruments for both
- Positionable boarding ladder
- Positionable canopy
- Very detailed fuselage interior with some positionable inspection panels
- Four nice 20mm cannons in fuselage gun bays
- Positionable access panels for the 20mm guns
- Detailed landing gear and wells
- Positionable flaps
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable elevators
- Internal wing and fuselage structure provide extra strength to the model
- Detailed Mk.101 30mm gun and gondola
- 2 x 150kg bombs on underwing racks
ZM provides markings for one example:
- Hs 129B-2/R3, W.Nr.0310, 4.(Pz)/Sch.G2, Libya, 1943
Decals are Cartograf and are provided on one sheet with optional instrument panel details and various stencils.
There is some very impressive mold engineering to be able to render the details you'll find in this kit. The instructions are Zoukei-Mura's usual high-quality printed using CAD drawings with color images to illustrate the appearance of each subassembly after painting. The paint call-outs are all using Vallejo colors as well as Mr.Color, but you can find other paint options below.
A few thoughts:
- There are many details that won't be seen after the model is built unless you pose some or all of the access panels open. Spend time studying the instructions to see whether you need to do all of the interior painting called for if you're going to pose the model ready for flight.
- Though Zoukei-Mura hasn't announced it, there may be other versions of the Hs 129 coming in our future. This kit features the early B-2/R3 with the Mk.101 30mm cannon. They could also do the Mk.103, but the 37mm or 75mm guns would be very interesting as well. What hints at future versions are the two additional cowling options not used in this build as well as other bomb loads included. Having clear fuselage halves would also be a nice option to show off all of the details inside. We shall see...
This is a very impressive kit and getting past the shock and awe of the duplicate clear parts trees in the box, this model provides quite a few options for showing off its details. As with previous kits from Zoukei-Mura, there are optional details available for this kit from this company, including flight crew figures, resin wheels, photo-etched cockpit details, metal landing gear struts, display bases, and more.
I'm looking forward to building this beauty (once I get caught up on the backlog) though I'm going to see what I can do for an Eastern Front tank plinker.
Here is a list of paints Zoukei-Mura identifies for use with this kit:
My sincere thanks to Zoukei-Mura Inc. for this review sample!