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Tamiya 1/48 scale Heinkel He 162A-2

Kit: No. 61097
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Tamiya, from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922,
Price: $34
Comments: Injection-molded, 103 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent fit and detail, open and closed engine nacelles
Cons: Minor ejector-pin marks
Heinkel's He 162 has only one unconfirmed kill to its credit, but the latewar jet fills an important spot in the jet-fighter timeline. Tamiya's new kit of the diminutive single-engine fighter is beautifully engineered and a joy to build.

The kit is molded in dark gray styrene and the parts trees are individually bagged. A steel ball bearing is provided for nose weight, and the instructions are comprehensive and clearly illustrated. The 162 is known for its dorsal engine pod, and Tamiya supplies two: one's closed, and the other is open to display the kit's gorgeous BMW turbojet engine. As a bonus, the pods attach to the fuselage via polycaps and can be interchanged. If that's not enough, a 10-piece engine stand is included, too.

The kit falls together. Even the complicated 16-piece main landing gear and gear well assembled in a few minutes without a hitch. The three-piece ejection seat has decal belts and can be installed at final assembly, so masking the cockpit opening is a breeze. The compartment aft of the cockpit has pins to hold the ball-bearing nose weight; just drop it in and it'll be held securely without any glue. A sturdy cruciform part (No. A16) serves as a base for the engine pod and a spar for the wings.

I airbrushed my model using Model Master's RLM enamels. Several decal options are included; I modeled an unusually camouflaged 162 that was stationed at Leck, Germany, in the spring of 1945. The dual tail fins fit so well I was able to add them to the elevator at final assembly, which made painting and decaling the tail much easier.

Speaking of the decals, mine went on easily over a Future gloss coat. I used a little setting solution, but I don't know how much effect it had on the markings.

The two references I used were Dai Nippon Kaiga's Aero Detail 10: Messerschmitt Me 163 & Heinkel He 162 and Schiffer Publishing's Luftwaffe Profile Series No. 16: Heinkel He 162.

I spent a week of evenings building my Salamander, and I'm already thinking of diorama options for the nicely detailed kit. Intermediate modelers should have no problem with it, and the model will make a nice addition to any World War II fighter collection.

- Matthew Usher


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