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Tamiya 1/32 scale De Havilland Mosquito

See a gallery of the build process below
We’ve waited a long time for a replacement for Revell’s good, but old, 1/32 Mosquito. Those hopes have finally been fulfilled in a big way by Tamiya’s Mosquito FB Mk.VI — one of the most common versions of de Havilland’s iconic “Wooden Wonder.”

The kit’s loaded with features, including a detailed weapon bay with 500-pound bombs and 20mm cannons. Wafer-thin cowlings attached with small magnets cover the complete Merlin engines. (The U.S. release provides optional clear-plastic cowl panels.) Two photoetched-metal frets of different thicknesses and printed masks (you have to carefully cut them out) round out the package. From the box, you can build one of two Royal Air Force aircraft in sea gray camo with dark green patches or an overall silver Australian bird.

The well-laid-out instructions bear careful study because of the many options — crew seated or not, flaps up or down, multiple positions for the weapon-bay doors. It’s easy to miss parts that need to be installed for a later step.
To break up the monotony of the large, green cockpit, I painted the interior in layers from a darker green to lighter green using Tamiya paints. Clear painting callouts and numerous decals make detailing the cockpit easy.
The clear-plastic panel is detailed with a photoetched-metal face and reverse-printed decals for the instruments and looks realistic. Photoetched-metal seat belts complete the comprehensive cockpit.
All the photoetched metal is stainless steel, not brass. But don’t worry: The parts that require forming, such as the belts, are produced from much thinner metal than those that don’t.

Tamiya has you install the four .303-caliber machine guns in the nose early. But the gun cover fits well, so I left them out until after painting to minimize losses during handling and simplify masking.
All of the many interior subassemblies click into place and hardly need glue. The fuselage parts join nearly seamlessly.

The stabilizers fit snugly, but I noticed a minor misalignment in the horizontal stabilizer on my Mossie. I can’t tell where the error crept in; despite the excellent fit, it may have developed during installation of the vertical stab. So, be careful.

I built only one of the engines to display, so I left many of the detail parts off the second, using only what was needed to connect the prop, panels and exhausts. Pay attention to the instructions — especially which engine you’re working on — as many critical components are handed. Numerous magnets and metal plates are installed during engine assembly for the removable panels.

Two machine screws secure each engine to its firewall.

I encountered difficulty installing one of the pipes (Part 54). Pay attention to the drawings for details about which parts of the piping snake over and which parts snake under the engine mount.
Once complete, the engines and their nacelles fit perfectly. Tamiya molded a substantial wing center section as a single part, eliminating alignment problems. It’s a complex unit incorporating cockpit detail topside, gear-bay details underneath, and engine-mount details in front. Once again, the fit is outstanding with machine screws attaching the outer wing panels.

The landing gear is an excellent example of the kit’s fine engineering. The prominent treads on the wheels are molded as separate pieces, looking like chunks of Marvel’s The Thing. They install around the two-piece core of each wheel, eliminating seams in the center of the tread. A flat spot is included and a sturdy metal axle mounts them to the legs.

A jig aids alignment of the landing-gear struts, which slip over posts on the engine mounts. I left the legs off for painting.

The wing-to-fuselage joint mimics the real aircraft, with the fuselage center section cut out to accommodate the one-piece wing; the fit is flawless. Another machine screw, hidden behind the upper hatch, adds strength to the joint.
I was hoping to leave out all the weapon-bay detail during painting, but the shape of the round fuselage precludes adding the sides of the bay without the 20mm cannons installed. The detailed guns include mounts, ammunition cans and chutes, and heater hoses. The barrels are a cinch to align thanks to two photoetched-metal guides — more thoughtful engineering.

Numerous items need to be addressed before sending the airframe to the paint shop. The propellers may be removed if you install the included polycaps. You can also remove the spinners from the props, but if you do so you’ll need to fill joints on each blade.
The canopy frame was one of the last items I installed before painting. I assembled it prior to painting using the airframe as a jig.

With enlarged copies of color instructions as a mask, I painted the big Mosquito Tamiya medium sea gray and RAF dark green. I hoped to use the cowl panels as masks to cover the assembled and painted Merlin, but the magnets weren’t strong enough to stand up to the airbrush. I made a tent from business cards instead.
The decals went on well, but I suggest trimming as much carrier film from the large red “No Step” crosses as you can. The film is thick and noticeable. There are a large number of tiny stencils to apply, but the instructions are clear about placement.

Weathering was applied using Flory dark dirt wash. Then I attached all the bits and pieces, such as the landing gear and bay doors; the fits were first class.
I left the individual exhaust stacks off for easier painting and needed a lot of patience to get them all on and aligned at the end.
Install the nose-gun ammunition chutes prior to adding the ammo box, just like the instructions say — I didn’t and had fun dealing with the tight quarters. One of the wheel’s metal axle was loose and inclined to fall out, so I tacked it in place with a drop of super glue.

I spent 96 hours on the Mosquito and, with the exception of the individual exhaust stacks, it was a pleasure to build from beginning to end. Don’t let the complexity of this Mosquito bug you — even though it’s big, it won’t bite.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2015 issue.

As you might expect from a large-scale Tamiya kit, details abound. These are just some of the parts that make up the pilot and navigator stations. Although a bit difficult to detect, the armored bulkhead for the navigator is molded in clear plastic to allow for the vision port. Note the photoetched-metal instrument panel sections that hint at the detail to come.

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