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AZ Model 1/48 Saab J29 Tunnan


AZ Models of the Czech Republic has given us the first injection-molded kit of the Saab J29 Tunnan in 1/48 scale (there has been a resin kit, from Neomega of Russia).

The Tunnan looks to have been heavily influenced by the World War II German Ta 183. It demonstrates, even if only in my mind, that many of those German designs were way ahead of their time and could have been successful.

AZ’s kit consists of 49 short-run-style injection-molded parts plus 14 parts in resin, three in photoetched metal, and one film for the instrument panel. Surface detail on the airframe parts is nice, with rivet and panel-line detail where appropriate. However, the detail varies in depth and finesse. Sprue attachment points are thick and the plastic is brittle, making removing parts more difficult. Several parts broke, no matter how careful I was removing them from the sprue.

Details in the cockpit look a little on the soft side, but come up OK under a coat of paint. The cockpit side walls do not fit the cockpit tub. I ended up leaving them out. You can’t see them under the closed canopy, anyway.

Construction was a challenge! Being a short-run kit in nature, it has few of the conveniences of mainstream models. There are no alignment pins to aid assembly of the fuselage or to locate items like the cockpit tub or wheel wells inside it. The undercarriage legs have no positive alignment aids either, which makes getting both legs at the same angle tricky to say the least. Several connectors and struts on the undercarriage have no positive location aids; they weren’t long enough anyway, so I left them off. The instrument-panel hood has no positive alignment, either; the canopy will not fit over it if it is mounted too high. I used a blob of Blu-Tack to hold the hood, and pushed the canopy down into place. I then removed the canopy and glued the hood in place.

The wings are butt-joined to the fuselage and have quite a large degree of dihedral if mounted as supplied. But the full-size airplane had no dihedral. So, I sanded the wing roots on a flat sheet of sandpaper to achieve this on the model. Another thing with the wings is the shape of mating surfaces. The wing root profile is not the same as the fuselage wing mount. I didn’t try to correct this before my review was due.

The canopy is a poor fit and only comes as a single, closed piece. It would be possible to cut it into two pieces, but I shudder at the thought! Be sure to add plenty of weight to the nose of the model or it will be a tail-sitter for sure!

I painted the natural-metal scheme with a base coat of Tamiya silver leaf synthetic lacquer, decanted from the spray can and airbrushed. Different shades of Alclad II accented various panels. The flourescent orange is Humbrol enamel.

The decals behaved well; the only markings are for the Austrian air force. I chose the scheme with the Lion of Aspern badge on the nose, linking it to II Gruppe, Jg 54 in WWII, which was manned predominantly by Austrian personnel. Another boxing of the kit offers Swedish schemes. 

As I said earlier, this kit was a real challenge — I came close to giving up on several occasions. Because of this, I can only recommend it for people who are experienced with poorly fitting kits. But I do feel that I really accomplished something by finishing it. The model looks good now, and it captures the lines of this barrel-shaped early jet fighter well.

A version of this review appeared in the May 2012 issue of FineScale Modeler.


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