This is the classic asymmetrical aircraft designed by Richard Vogt for the Blohm & Voss company. It was intended for short-range reconnaissance and ground support. Eight version “A” aircraft were built, followed by a run of the “B” version, probably around twenty in number, though records are hazy and the final disposition of many aircraft unknown. Production was cancelled before it entered active service—not because it was particularly unairworthy, but because of competition for the scarce BMW 801A engine. It ultimately lost out to the twin-engined Fw 189.
The kit provides parts for the “B” version, and decals and painting instructions for two airframes—call-sign NC+RA (pictured on the box art above) which was one of the test aircraft for the “B” series; and GK+GH, a wrecked late model photographed by Allied troops at Blohm & Voss’s Wenzendorf factory. I’m building NC+RA, using the kit decals but ignoring the painting instructions. Hobby Boss call for a dark grey interior, which would be odd for a Luftwaffe aircraft that first flew in the middle of 1941, so I’ve opted for RLM 02 Grau (a sort of greeny-grey shade), which would be typical for this period of the war. The dark grey RLM 66 Schwarzgrau corresponding to the Hobby Boss instructions wasn’t generally introduced until November 1941. The instructions also call for an upper splinter camouflage pattern of RLM 02 and RLM 71 Dunkelgrün, which would show a fairly high contrast between the pale and dark colours. But I don’t see that in the black-and-white photographs of the real aircraft, on which the upper camouflage colours are almost indistinguishable. So I’m going with the more standard mix of RLM 70/71, which are a dark green and an even darker green.
There’s one big problem with the kit, which is that its propeller is mirror-reversed—that is, it’s designed to rotate in the wrong direction. That’s a fairly significant error in any aircraft model, but for one that is grossly asymmetrical in order to counteract the torque from the engine and propeller, it’s a disaster. Fortunately, True Details make a replacement propeller, which is an essential after-market replacement for this kit. Here’s the True Details prop (left) compared to the kit prop.
Although Hobby Boss provide a good level of detail, I’m also using Eduard’s photoetch detail set, which has unfortunately been discontinued since I obtained mine. Another prerequisite for this kit, if you want to retain your sanity, is a paint-mask set for that huge glasshouse of a crew compartment. Montex produce a set of masks for the interior and exterior. Eduard make a set of exterior masks. I hate working with Montex masks, which I find too thick and intolerant of repositioning, but I really wanted to paint this canopy inside and out, so I ended up springing for both Montex (as the only interior option) and Eduard (as my preferred option, for the exterior).
Here are the transparent crew-compartment parts with their Montex masks in position:
I partially assembled some of the interior parts, including a fair number of Eduard’s PE details, before applying primer:
Eduard provides a bomb-sight which attaches to the right side of the central tunnel at the front of the aircraft (covering one of the paired cannons), but there’s no way in which it can placed so that it’s actually centred on one of the floor windows, so I had to carve it up a little.
After priming, I blocked out some initial colours, and added some more of Eduard’s details:
Although Eduard provides a lot of nice instrument panelling, for some reason they omit detail for the unit in the mid-compartment, for which I used the kit’s decal.
The three objects at right, above, are dispensers for the drum-magazines used by the aircraft’s rear and upper MG-51 machine guns. The kit parts depict a stack of five magazines that go all the way to the floor, but the real thing had a gap at the bottom, with the lowest magazine dispensing above this.
I’ve contented myself with blanking out the lowest moulded magazine in the kit part. (Eduard provides some nice PE dispensers, which have a more realistic wall thickness, but the kit parts would need to have their moulded walls carved off and replaced.)
The Eduard set includes a pilot’s harness and two lap-belts, but the instructions only mention the lap-belt for the rear gunner. The crew positions for take-off looked like this:
The observer, in the mid-compartment, sat on a little wheeled chair that ran on rails between the upper gun position, above the main spar, and the forward bomb-aiming station. So I added Eduard’s second set of lap belts to the observer’s seat. The kit provides no seating location for the rear gunner, and Eduard’s instructions just have the belts attached to a corner of the floor. But the pilot and observer sat on their parachutes in bucket seats, and I presume the gunner did the same. I built a little seat for him so that he could perch on his parachute, as in the diagram above. It’s all a bit cramped, however. Beside the gunner’s take-off station, there was a box for spent cartridges positioned against the back of the main spar (they tumbled down a canvas tube connected to the upper machine gun). The kit places this in the mid-line, whereas in fact it should be off to one side. Here’s a photograph of the real layout, looking back from the rear gun mount, with the cartridge box at the left of the picture, and the gunner’s station at right.
Moving the kit’s cartridge box would also require moving one of the magazine dispensers, which is positioned too far back, which in turn would require surgery to the floor … Sigh. Having already partially assembled and primed the parts, I contented myself with squeezing in a slightly undersized gunner’s seat fashioned from styrene strip.
I painted up the canopy interior, and removed the masks:
The three roof hatches will eventually be modelled open, but I’ll fix them in the closed position with clear glue when I come to paint the external surfaces, and then pop them off later.
Lots of detail needs to go into the interior, including an overhead panel, various instruments, and a gunsight:
The object sticking out of the floor transparency at right is a primitive bomb-sight for the pilot, presumably only used if the observer was manning the upper gun position. It’s no more than a vertical rod, coming up from between the pilot’s feet and attaching to the cockpit ceiling. You can get a nice view of it in the Alamy photograph here. Eduard provide a nice PE part, but the problem is how to position this thing properly, since it attaches to the upper and lower canopy parts, which must be close around it. My present solution is to glue the sight in position on the floor, and to attach a thread of monofilament (visible in the photo) to its upper end, which I can then pull through a tiny hole drilled in the roof of the upper canopy as I close the two parts together. I’m slightly nervous that I’ll only succeed in pulling the lower end of the sight off the floor, however, at a mission-critical stage in the assembly process.
The final stage before closing the canopy around the crew compartment was to give the whole thing a bit of weathering—I dry-brushed with flat aluminium and buff enamel, applied a wash of Payne Grey watercolour, and then assembled all the bits and pieces. Here’s the result, just before I added the side walls on the starboard side:
Next time: closing the canopy and doing something with all the other bits of the aircraft!