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Zoukei-Mura 1/32 scale Horten 229

Kit:08 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$152
Great detail; the scale is really a plus to the presentation; terrific instruction booklet
Some difficult/balky fits
Injection-molded, 315 parts, decals, masks
The Horten Ho 229 has to be one of the most futuristic aircraft designs to take to the air during World War II. The Horten brothers’ design was so far ahead of its time that in the early 1980s a team from Northrop-Grumman, working on the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, traveled to the Smithsonian Institute’s facility in Spring Hill, Md., to study the partial Ho 229 being stored there!

Zoukei-Mura’s all-new Ho 229 is the first-ever 1/32 scale model of the aircraft. Cleanly molded in clear and gray plastic, the kit’s details follow the usual Zoukei-Mura style of extensive interior and structural parts. Clear exterior parts give you the option of showing interior detail while leaving the exterior intact. No crew figure is included, but Zoukei-Mura offers separately a pilot and ground crew figures related to the Ho 229.

I had mixed emotions on this build. It was hard to decide if I should build and paint it (or not) to display all that interior detail, or treat it more as a traditional model and emphasize the external aspects.

Before jumping into assembly, I carefully studied the instruction manual — all 46 pages! Zoukei-Mura’s high standard of providing multiple-aspect diagrams and photos for complex assemblies is commendable (and in this kit, essential).

Following the instructions, I started construction by building up the engines. Two complete Jumo 004 engine replicas are provided. The detailing is remarkably complete — even the compressor fan assembly is present — and includes 27 parts for each of the two engines.

 The central cage-frame parts are beautifully executed, with two upper and lower frame parts that are amazing one-piece moldings. I was stopped in my tracks for a moment (OK, several moments) by the complexity of the assembly diagrams, but once I started putting parts together I was impressed with the precision and fit. Be prepared to put a lot of time in here, as there are more than 60 parts for this phase.

All flying surfaces are separate parts, so they can be posed in deployed positions if you desire.

The exterior skin parts are clear plastic. Be careful removing them from the sprue, as clear plastic is more brittle and sometimes does not cut cleanly. Also, any paint on the clear parts must be applied to both interior and exterior surfaces to avoid a translucent effect.

I found the wing-panel fit a bit problematic. The upper and lower wing parts didn’t fit over the interior framework smoothly, but a bit of glue and pressure brought things into alignment. Make sure you get the wing locking pins/plates (parts G6 through G19) into their positions smartly; they can affect the wing-root fit of the exterior wing parts.

I found the landing gear assemblies were neat and attached well to the frame. They hold the weight of the completed model without a problem.

I painted my Horten with Gunze Sangyo Mr. Hobby Color Luftwaffe acrylic paint.

The decals are not for any specific aircraft, but they provide numbers, identification bands, and national insignia. Thin and well-printed, they applied perfectly over my semigloss paint surface with some help from a touch of decal solution.  

My primary reference was Jet Planes of the Third Reich, by J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek (Monogram Aviation, ISBN 978-0-914144-27-4).

I completed my Ho 229 in 57 hours, and it is an impressive model. It’s a complex build aimed at experienced modelers. But if you are a Luftwaffe aircraft enthusiast and prepared to meet the challenge, you will want to add this one to your collection.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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