1/72 Revell Horten Ho229A-1

Gallery Article by Gavin Parnaby on July 26 2016

 

      

This was a relatively straightforward build. I planned to build the A-1 initial production version, as represented by the Revell kit. This is based closely on the V-3 as currently undergoing a long-awaited restoration at the Smithsonian Institution's Silver Hill facility at Maryland. The only difference, so far as I can determine between the surviving airframe (the only Horten aircraft of any type to survive, the V2 having crashed on landing and the V-1 and earlier designs having been unceremoniously torched by the US Army) and the A-1 is the presence of armament. The kit includes particularly detailed representations of two of the sizeable MK103 30mm cannon, although the much smaller MK108 was a possible alternative. 

The kit comes on two main sprues of firm grey plastic, with a clear sprue holding the canopy. The parts breakdown of this flying wing is naturally not complex, with the aircraft divided into centrebody leading edge, upper and lower centrebodies and outer wing panels.

I began as usual with the cockpit section. I was using the Eduard and Airwaves cockpit detail sets, so the throttle and radio boxes moulded onto the side struts were removed. It is worth noting here that the Horten 229 had an unusual method of construction, being of covered steel tube, rather than the conventional monocoque arrangement - there are thus no sidewalls. This has led to the suggestion that engine fumes leaked into the cockpit, overcoming test pilot Zindel and leading to the crash of the V2, although engine failure seems the more likely scenario. The strut assembly in the kit is largely accurate, but there are two superfluous minor struts, identified as such in the Eduard instructions. These were removed.

The seat is relatively accurate, but the headrest requires attention to attain the correct shape and inclination. I also scratchbuilt the foot restraints. Although the Eduard set offers a replacement, I found the seat to be more solid when I used the metal seat as an applique layer on the plastic one. The seat belts were added at this point, followed by the joystick. The seat was then undercoated, and painted overall RLM66 Schwarzgrau, with the belts picked out in white and the boot of the joystick in Humbrol 62 Leather Brown, as was the headrest. 

After adding the Eduard throttles and radio boxes, along with the rudder pedals at the very end of the floor panel, the cockpit interior struts were painted in RLM02, using the Revell acrylic, while the cockpit floor was painted in RLM66, this seeming to be the most logical colour combination (requirements stating that the visible areas of cockpit interiors being painted in RLM66 and general interiors being painted in RLM02). The lever heads were picked out in black. Meanwhile the Eduard instrument panel was assembled, painted RLM66 overall, with the lever heads picked out in black and white. The completed sandwich was then attached to the notches on the cockpit struts.  The RLM66 areas were washed with Citadel black ink, whilst the RLM02 areas were washed with a mixture of Windsor and Newton burnt sepia and Citadel black ink.

In the meantime, the interiors of the centrebodies were attended to. For some unknown reason, Revell chose not to represent the lower jetpipes on the upper centrebody half, leaving gaping voids that had to be filled with Milliput and sanded to approximate the shape of the aft ends of the Jumo004 engines. They also do not bother modelling the midsection of the engines at all, despite these being far more visible through the cavernous nose gear bay than the cannon, which are fully modelled. Eduard provide a plain sheet of etched metal to bridge this gap.

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The centrebody interiors, upper and lower, were painted in RLM02, and shaded.  The engine aft centrebodies, terminating in the famous Zwiebel fairings, where painted in a mixture of Humbrol 56 Aluminium and 34 Matt White to simulate oxidation. The turbine faces at the base were painted in black, then the highlights picked out in Humbrol 53 Gun Metal. The bases were mated to the centrebodies and the assemblies set aside. At the same time, the intake centrebodies had the cartridge starter hole added via rings from the Airwaves set and were painted in Humbrol 56. The intakes themselves were given a Humbrol 33 Matt Black interior, and the forward insides painted in Aluminium. The engine midsections were assembled, but the three stages left separate for the time being. 

The panel lines in the kit agree substantially with available drawings, but some extra fuel cocks and inspection panels were added, and the edges of the control surfaces and some outer panels rescribed somewhat. The accuracy of this is moot, however. The kit does represent the small outboard drag rudders as being present on both upper and lower wing surfaces. Surviving photographs seem to indicate that these were on the upper wing only, and so the lines on the lower wing surfaces were filled. The slots for the drag rudders were cut out with a miniature saw and the inner faces from the Airwaves set attached. I might recommend some sanding of the inner face of the wing surface before this happens, though.

The Airwaves set contains the forward faces, complete with holes, for the drag rudders, along with the upper faces. The former were attached to pieces of 10 thou plasticard, and the holes cleared through the faces (they extend through the entire drag rudder). The upper faces were attached to the body of the drag rudder and the interior faces painted in RLM 02 and shaded. 

With this done, the outer wing sections could be mated, and the fit is fine, with negligible filling required. 

The cannon come in two internal parts, the body of the weapon, and the terminal ammunition feed. These seem to match photos of surviving weapons well, and were painted in Humbrol 201 Metallic Black, with the exposed shellcases painted in Citadel Shining Gold. Once these were dry, they were attached to the inside face of the lower centrebody, just inboard of the outer wing panel joint. The struts at this point are also included in the kit, and seem to compare well enough to contemporary and more recent photographs. These were attached and painted in RLM02. The panels directly beneath the guns are moulded separately, and the inside of these was painted in RLM02, then shaded. 

The jetpipe interiors and the cockpit assembly were then glued to the upper centrebody interior. With this dry, the two main centrebody halves were then mated. Only minor filling was required here. The intakes were attached to the forward centrebody, which was then attached to the main centrebody, after the engine midsections had been fitted to the jetpipes. This required significantly more filler. 

The undercarriage, meanwhile, was largely assembled out of the box. An extra jack was added to the nose gear retraction strut, whose wheel was painted before the assembly of the forks. I overdid the flattening of the tyre, pressing it for too long against the plate of an iron which was too hot. The significantly smaller main wheel tyres were treated rather more successfully. The wheels were painted matt black, while the struts were painted in RLM02 and shaded, the oleos being picked out in Humbrol 11 Silver Fox. Brake hoses were added to the main gear legs. The gear doors were sanded flat, and the Airwaves fascias added, before being painted in the same manner as the struts. The Airwaves and Eduard sets complement each other superbly, about the only area of overlap being the instrument panel and seat belts. It should go without saying that it would be good to see this happen with other kits, if more than one detail set is to be produced.

The outer wing panels were mated to the centrebody, the starboard joint requiring significantly more filling than the port. With this complete, the panels beneath the gun bays, so to speak, were attached. The main gear wells were painted in RLM02 and shaded. Detail is good and the gear attachment points very nicely engineered. 

A scratchbuilt gunsight was added to the framework above and behind the instrument panel. The clearance between this and the windscreen is limited indeed, and quite a lot of fitting was required. The canopy and windscreen had been dipped into Humbrol Clear, and the Eduard boot frame attached to the latter. The few solid areas in the cockpit glazing were painted in RLM66, with the boot being picked out in black.

With the assembly complete, the canopy was temporarily attached in the closed position with PVA. The area behind the cockpit that would be covered by the canopy was painted in RLM66. 

The dorsal D/F loop and the ventral radio aerial was attached, along with the pitot tube on the port wing (needless to say, this broke and had to be reattached). Some extra framing from the Eduard set was attached in the nose gear bay, and painted to suit. With assembly complete, the canopy, windscreen, gear wells, and intakes were masked off and the model primed with Hycote grey primer. All remaining dings, dimples, cracks, and other surface imperfections were attended to with Mr. Surfacer.

A first attempt at preshading followed. Some difficulty in control of the jet width was accompanied by considerable cleaning-off of excess paint.  The kit provides markings for two schemes, both for a putative JG400 machine in late 1945, the ansatz presumably being that the unit would have exchanged its Me163s for saner mounts. One scheme is for the 1945-standard Luftwaffe day fighter scheme of RLM74/75 dorsal surfaces, and RLM76 undersides. The other is for RLM 82/81 upper surfaces with an unnumbered mix on the undersides similar to the British Sky. The first was rather more precise, so I went for that. Using Xtracolour enamels, I painted the lower surface first, followed by the upper surface (RLM74 Grau first, followed by the RLM75 Graugrun splinter pattern), maintaining a plain demarcation along the leading edge. The underside of the centrebody leading edge, and the nose door, was represented as being being bright yellow. I employed Humbrol 196 Lufthansa Yellow, thinking that a white undercoat on RLM76 would have been too bright. This was a mistake, and I wound up applying far too many layers in an effort to compensate. This naturally extended the touchup phase, too. 

Once the paint scheme was finally finished, the kit decals were applied. These were perfectly fine, going on readily enough using Superset and Supersol, with no failures. The placing of the most infamous national marking of all time is of course problematic on aircraft with no vertical surfaces. The Smithsonian example has two large Hakenkreuzer either side of the aft end of the centrebody. While I wasn't clear whether these were original, or applied after capture, I judged that the Nazis would have insisted on their insignia being applied to any aircraft that was not partially or entirely disposable, however awkward it might look, and followed suit with two examples of the white outline variety from the Microscale sheet. 

With the decalling complete, a couple of coats of flat varnish were applied. The jetpipes were painted in mixture of black, Humbrol Authentic Colour Track Colour, and Humbrol Gun Metal. The tip of the radio aerial was painted black, and the pitot head in Aluminium. The canopy was carefully separated from the model at this stage, and the excess PVA removed. The external MK103 gun barrels (the gun was generally too long for an entirely internal installation) had previously had the Airwaves muzzle faceplates added and their muzzles opened up with a drill. They were now attached into the sockets in the leading edge. 

Attaching the gear was relatively simple, although the nose gear struts had to be squeezed a little whilst being fitted into place. The arrangement seemed to be sturdy enough, and the main gear legs slotted into place with comparatively little effort. With the gear fixed, the doors could be added, two extra actuators being added to the twin nose gear doors from plastic rod. The model was then attached to the plastic base of its display case (actually of a shape generally more suitable for large-scale cars than aircraft, on account of the absence of a fuselage), using pins inserted into the wheels. 

Once the model was bonded to the base, I attached the canopy, somehow managing to break the aft tip off in the process, which was a first. But then it is very crisply moulded.

Overall, this is a most useful kit, and streets ahead of the only other offerings in 1:72 scale. To build the V2, however, the PM kit is still a better choice due to the substantial changes in engine location and centrebody plan shape between the two. It would certainly have been better if Revell had thought somewhat more about the representation of the engines, but overall it was a straightforward build.

Gavin Parnaby

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Photos and text by Gavin Parnaby