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Super Model 1/72 scale Aermacchi MB-339 A-Pan

Kit: No. 10-014
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Super Model, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 972-242-8663.
Price: $11.98
Comments: Injection molded, 68 parts, decals.
Pros: Good ejection seats, excellent decals.
Cons: Limited detail, poor fit.

Designated 313 Grupo Addestramento Acrobatico, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale, the "Frecce Tricolori" is the Italian Air Force's official aerial demonstration team. It has flown the Aermacchi MB339 since 1982 at airshows worldwide. I had the opportunity to see the Frecce Tricolori perfort at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1994. Watching 10 aircraft fly loops and opposing crosses in a small parcel of airspace, I was impressed.

Super Model has marketed the Aeromacchi MB339 in three versions. In addition to this one, you can also get it as a light strike aircraft and a military trainer. Each kit includes weapons.

The light gray injected-molded parts are thick, show many mold seams, and suffer from sinkholes. Many of the raised panel lines disappear when you sand seams. Detail is sparse, especially in the cockpit, except for two well-detailed ejection seats. There isn't even a tail pipe, just an open hole in the rear of the jet.

Options include an extended speed brake, raised or lowered canopy, and the attachment of wingtip fuel tanks, which the Frecce Tricolori only carried during long flights between shows. The rocket launchers and additional underwing tanks won't be needed for this aerobatic Macchi, but Super Model did include two small canisters that carry the oil used for making the team's red, green, or white smoke.

While there are no assembly steps, the instructions identify each part with a number and a code letter for painting. The part numbers are not pressed on the sprues, but a parts map shows their locations.

Assembly is simple, most of it spent on the cockpit, which has two instrument panels with no detail, two control sticks, a cockpit tub, and two ejection seats each with separate side panels. A coaming is placed over the rear instrument panel, and an actuator and canopy brace are fitted to the canopy (if you pose it open). Decals provide detail to the panels and consoles. There are large gaps between the side consoles and the fuselage wall.

The fuselage fit is good with minimal filling, but the wing/fuselage joint is poor. I used gap-filling super glue to fix the seams. The canopy fit badly on my model; it was warped left to right and up and down. I usually use white glue to attach canopies, but this time I was forced to use liquid cement to get a firm set.

Once the wings were attached to the fuselage and the seams filled, I lightly tacked the main wheel well doors (leaving off the gear struts) before painting and decaling. The underside of the wings and fuselage were painted Testor Metallizer Aluminum. The top of the model was airbrushed with Testor Blue Angel Blue.

When the paint was dry, I applied the decals, which are the highlight of the kit. They're well printed and opaque, except for the small Frecce Tricolori legends on the tail, and went on fine with a little Solvaset. Once they were dry, I carefully sliced through the decals and popped the gear doors off. A topcoat of Future floor polish was sprayed over the entire model after the decals dried.

I attached the gear struts, wheels, and underwing canisters. I had to trim 3mm from the nose gear strut to give the MB-339 its nose-down stance.

The model took 25 hours to finish, most of the time spent on sanding seams, painting, and decaling. While the model scales correctly according to the information in Airtime's Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft, it is not up to today's standard of fit and finish.

- David P. Anderson

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