Manufacturer: Hasegawa, distributed by Marco Polo Import, 532 S. Coralridge Place, City of Industry, CA 91746, 626-333-2328.
Kit: No. JT71
Comments: Injection molded, 138 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent exterior detail, cannon options, weighted tires
Cons: Simplified interior detail, some minor fit problems
The Henschel 129 was the Luftwaffe's lean, mean, ground attack machine. Built and armed like a flying tank, with everything from machine guns, 20mm, 30mm, or even a 75mm anti-tank cannon, its main role became tank destroyer. It fought in North Africa but found its fame on the Eastern Front against the Red Army's T-34 and Stalin tanks. (It was also used in small numbers by the Romanian Air Force; by a twist of fate they were used against German forces when Romania changed allegiances.)
Hasegawa's new Hs 129 kit is only the second in 1/48 scale, the other being the 27-year-old Esci kit. Hasegawa's is cleanly molded in gray plastic with crisp panel lines and no flash. Features include two types of 30mm cannons (MK101 and MK103) and a pair of bombs. Weighted tires are also included. A small number of unused parts indicate other versions to come.
Inside the cockpit, the heavily armored seat is well represented, though the rear support and the pass-through feature of the seat harness are not represented. I was a bit surprised at the minimal amount of cockpit detail provided. The side consoles are simple. Two instrument panels are provided, one engraved and one flat (for use with the instrument decal). Watch the fit of the cockpit tub into the fuselage halves, as it is tight and somewhat finicky. The canopy is molded in two pieces and can be displayed open.
The fuselage halves went together well, after some attention at the front to handle the fit of the cockpit. The joint on the fuselage spine posed a problem as it is slightly concave! I tried correcting this by sanding alone but eventually I needed to use some filler.
The kit captures the unique external features such as the massive Revi gunsight, exterior engine gauges, and large cannon pods. The wings went together fine, and the unique slotted ailerons are neatly done. Note that the aileron hinges are different sizes and are installed in a particular sequence. Take time after assembling the engine nacelles to test-fit them to the wing. The assembly is complicated with multiple seams, and I needed a little filler in odd spots to fill gaps. The attachment of the wing to the fuselage requires the same care to avoid mismatching the joints below the gun ports.
Note the part numbers of the props: they rotate in opposite directions, so don't mix them up. The tailplanes feature interlocking tabs; great, but pay close attention to the fit. It took me several tries to align them horizontally.
I painted my Henschel with Gunze Sangyo aqueous colors. Decals for two Eastern Front machines were included, and they went on well with a little decal solution. I found the white spinner bands fit poorly; paint them instead.
When it comes to references, Martin Pegg's massive book, Hs 129 Panzerjger, is the best on the subject. I also found MBI Publications' Henschel Hs 129 to be useful. The kit's appearance is excellent and scales out well, though the wingspan appears to be a few scale inches short.
The kit required care and attention with some of the parts fit, but it is a state-of-the-art representation of this World War II tank buster. I spent 22 hours on it, a good portion of that going to the camouflage scheme. Luftwaffe enthusiasts will definitely appreciate it.