Saturday, June 27

Review: Hong Kong Models 1/32nd scale De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IV

Like busses – 32nd model kits take forever to arrive and they often all come at once. The Hong Kong Models De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IV kit in 32nd will be shadowed into “service” by the Tamiya kit of the fighter version of the same aircraft. Our man Gary is already building the kit here on TMN and he has added his thoughts to this review of the new HK kit and it’s features and maybe some possible comparisons with the competition. Let’s have a look… 
De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IV
HK Models
1/32nd scale
320 Parts + Photo Etch
Decals for 3 Aircraft from Cartograf
Price around $170 USD from HK’s Distributors Worldwide
History
The DH-98 Mosquito is well known as one of the most elegant airframes to ever see military use. It’s prowess in service and handling characteristics along with its sleek looks and the fact it was used by many, many countries during and after WWII see this as one of the most popular kits for modellers.
We have been well serviced in “Mossie” kits in smaller scales (even in 24th scale from Airfix) but in 1/32nd scale all we have had is the Revell kit that was only released in the bomber variant and was rather “basic” in its details and downright wrong in others. Modellers therefor have long waited for a new mossie in 32nd scale and now it seems – like busses two arrive at once. More on the other release later…. For now this kit – the De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IV. More on the real thing in Wikipedia. The two main aircraft you could make without too much trouble with this kit are…
B.IV Unarmed bomber. Like the PR.1 but with longer engine nacelles. Rolls-Royce Merlin 21 and 23 engines.  Capacity for four 500lb bombs (with shortened fins) in the fuselage in place of the four 250lb bombs in the original design. Later modified to carry a 4000lb bomb (blockbuster or "cookie") with a bulged bomb-bay. The first operational sorties were made in daylight to Cologne. The first bombing of Berlin by daylight was made by B.IV's on 30th January 1943.
PR.IV Unarmed photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Like the B.IV, but with provision for cameras instead of bombs. A variant of the PR.IV was supplied to BOAC as the prototype Mosquito courier-transport. 'Accommodation' for the two passengers was on their backs in the felt-padded bomb bay.

This here modern newsreel from "the youetubes" that shows you a lot about the Mossie from an absolute beginner’s point of view..
The Kit from Hong Kong Models...
This kit sits in the middle of not two – but THREE 32nd scale Mosquitos launched by model making companies this year. The soon to arrive fighter variant of the mossie from Tamiya and the oft forgotten re-release and new decaled version of the Revell of Germany Bomber mosquito (did you forget about that one?) From what we have seen this kit is median in price and complexity between the three. Let’s get into the contents of THIS kit.
The 20.5 x 10.5 x 4.25 inch cardboard box is rather long and thick in appearance and it is that size because it houses over twenty sprues in grey plastic and some clear sprues and a small PE sheet. The cover art is evocative and I have to say it is so nice I would like to have it feature right across the box instead of the several banners and writings all over the cover which busy it up a little too much.

The art is great – however it is the kit that is the reason why we buy the box and on opening up the box it’s rather full of plastic often bagged in each sprue which. It avoids damage on the fine plastic that really does need to be preserved and even though some sprues are bagged together mine did not suffer any real torment in the post. The widest sprue is the reason the box is so very big. It sits right across the bottom of the carton.
What IS in the box is the unarmed bomber variant we are looking at is the Stage I Merlin powered B Mk. IV version. Stage II Merlin engined variant and other marks including the fighter nosed variant are promised in the future. But I am sure to get ahead of the competition from another brand this Mk.IV Plexiglas nosed bomber was brought onto our shelves as fast as possible. It makes sense to me.

The instructions.
Printed on black and white glossy paper these instructions are fairly easy to understand. The twenty eight pages of the instruction is fairly simple to follow and it betrays something of the model before you look at the plastic – simplicity. Some sample pages showing you the ease of construction for such a large kit...
Comprising 44 easy steps which kind of just roll off each other (for example the cockpit is finished in just three steps). They are not cluttered and show the kit from a good angle to expose just what you are looking at. They are in black and white, and later on we will look at the aircraft profiles for the three markings which are at the rear of the book. We got some from AK that were in colour and we will include them here.

The Plastic.
The model is moulded in light grey injection moulded plastic with little to no flash I could see and no sink marks what need any serious attention. There has been a marked amount of laser etched detail since the test shot that our man Gary Wickham is building at the moment. He has noted some differences in the kit that we will look at in this review along with what we see in these pictures.
The Photo Etch
The small photo etch fret contains two passable Sutton QK harnesses for the pilot and navigator seats. The oval mesh parts are screens that were fitted to the lower air intakes on each engine. It’s great to get the radiators but you will either love or hate the seatbelts. Other Sutton harnesses like Radu or HGW are of note in this class if you would want to replace these…
Transparencies
These come on a sheet of card stuck down to save any stress to the clear surfaces. You might notice the optional canopy parts here to suit better the kite that you intend to make and for the future it will make it cheaper and easier to supply the other variant’s plexiglass.
 The clear plastic is readily transparent which is good with such a closed cockpit that makes it hard already to see into.Of note on this sprue below are the bomber's nose, the rounded nav light tranperancies and wingtip lights.

Sprue A
The first of the sprues here is the cylindrical nose cone of this bomber variant. This is simplicity itself as it is without a seam to glue together like most models of this type would be moulded. This part fits to the one part wings and the one part rear fuselage. Incredibly simple and you do “wow” when you first see it. 
Practicality is good – but super detailers might want to go further on their kits. If they do want to add more detail than their kit allows room for you can open up the fuselage like our man Gary did. It did work but it’s a butt-clenching solution for a great deal of modellers.
 
The thing about this cockpit is that it is not that open once the canopy covers this hole and the cockpit parts sit rather deeply inside the fuselage. You might not WANT to super detail it and so just use the parts included. The choice is yours.
Sprue B
Sprue B is more like a tube than a sprue. Really impressive moulding is evident here and you can see from the attachments how a little plastic has gone a long way.
Again you can see here the 1 part rear fuselage is rivet-less because of the wooden constriction. No seams to fill, the ease of construction here is a positive thing that leaves me with no reservations when this part is concerned. Nice.
The tail sits nicely into the socket provided and the horizontal tails and wheel well slots in easily to the holes provided on the rear fuselage. The hatch that sits on the waist is positionable opened or closed as well.
Sprue C
Next we look at the third piece of engineering marvelling of this kit – the single piece wing. The whole wing is made from one piece of plastic and again this saves so much time and possibly mucking up the seams of your lovely wings.
The final production wings contain additional surface detail in the form of laser etched covers around each of the hatches. The one thing I think is a little heavily detailed is the long rib along the wing front top and rear edge that is a little to pronounced for my liking. A light sanding and it should flatten out a little.
The lovely surface detail with laser etching is evident with this shot against the light.
A slight sand on the ribs and it will be all good..
Inspection hatches under the wings are surrounded by etched surfaces and so detailing will be quite interesting.
Sprue D (x2)
Sprue D (of which you get two) contains parts for the merlin engine and the engine mounting brackets. As well as wheels, tyres and legs.
The parts for the V12 Merlin Engine look generally accurate but I would have preferred if HK had not moulded so much of the cabling to the engine block. It just does not look convincing in 1/32 and a kit of this size deserved more detail.
Detail of the real thing is pretty full on with  a lot of wire needed
HK (unlike Tamiya’s new kit) provides fairly traditional tire halves which include a nice subtle flat spot and weight bulge. I found the seam when joined was quite easy to remove and a very convincing result is possible with a minimum of sanding.
The spinner and backplate form a very snug fit to the completed nacelle and propeller assemblies. The primary engine oil reservoir which lives in the main wheel well has some nice surface detail but again I was disappointed that this part was moulded with a hollow back (which admittedly is mostly hidden when fitted to the firewall but non the less not up to expectations for 1/32 scale)
Two types of wheel hubs are provided. You can see here the main parts of the complicated landing gear in the shot. Delicate and fairly flash free here in this kit.
Sprue E
One of the two weapon options in this kit are 4 x 500lb bombs, which had a shortened tail fin to allow them to fit into the smaller Mosquito bomb bay. The kit also provides the option of a 4000lb “Cookie” bomb which required a bulged bomb bay on the Mosquito to accommodate it. This extension to the bomb bay is a pretty simple bolt on fit to the existing fuselage with no cutting needed.
Also on Sprue E are the optional wing tanks. Interestingly neither the 500b bomb load out nor wing tank fitment are included as an alternate option in the assembly instructions. You will need to drill the holes in the wings if you want to install the slipper tanks.
Sprue F & Sprue G
Two different propeller types are included in the kit, the three-bladed 12' 6" diameter de Havilland Hydromatic "Paddle Blade" prop on G and the “needle nose” version is include don the G sprue.
Compare them both to the pictures below.

Hamilton standard made under licence or De Havilland Hydromatic paddle blade & the needle nosed props and the angle of both blades is in this shot… I'm not sold on the shapes of the propeller compared to the pictures below but sand them to take off the squareness and i think they will come out OK.
Sprue H
The largest sprue in the box and one that spans the whole width of the container there is a lot here –  the vertical and horizontal tails, the engine nacelle pods and gear bays, radiators and some hatches.
The engine nacelles on the Mosquito are one of the few components that made from metal. I would have liked to see HK add some more surface rivet detail here. Gary has indeed added some recessed rivet detail to his rear nacelle metal parts.
Like all aircraft with water cooled inline engines, the Mosquito had large radiators installed. De Havilland made the clever decision to mount these in the inboard wing leading edges. Air flow could be controlled by the pilot via positionable doors on the underside of the wing behind the radiator itself.
The inside of the main wheel well is home (unfortunately) to a myriad of ejection pin marks. Due to the ribbing found on these parts the removal of these marks is quite tricky. This is a common challenge for aircraft modellers and so HK should not be marked down too harshly for this.
A nice shot showing the internal detail on the landing gear doors as well as the horizontal tail top right.
By contrast to the overall wooden construction of the Mosquito the elevators and ailerons were made from metal. The rudder from cloth and the flaps from wood. The surface detail on the HK metal parts is excellent.
The cloth ribbing on the rudder has been reproduced by HK using laser etching once again. I think this will look quite convincing on the painted part. This finish was not evident on the test shot we saw earlier so HK added these touches late in the preparation of the moulds.
Sprue K
A rather simple sprue that houses most of the leading edges of the internal control surfaces. Nothing much to see here..
Sprue L
To accommodate the large 4000lb Cookie bomb in the Mosquito larger ‘bulged doors had to be fitted and enlarged fairings (forward and aft) of the bomb bay.
These are curved nicely and in the instructions you can see how they curve and the metal latch detail on them
The small curve is for the rear trailing edge of the Bombay and t sits flush on the belly of the kit, Like I said earlier no surgery needed here.
Sprue M
You can see here both sides of Sprue M as there is detail on both of them that is important. The cockpit side wall insets, the interior framing of the canopy, the fuel tanks from the bomb bay, wing tip insets and details like the control yoke and crew access door are all on this runner.
Sprue M is a bit of a catch all sprue. The cockpit ‘module’ sidewalls are here as are the main fuselage fuel cells and bomb bay bulkheads. The main canopy interior framing is provided as a single piece which provides a solid attachment point for the array of clear part options. Here it is so you can see the reverse side detail.
The cockpit crew access door, dual navigation light wingtip sections (the single navigation light are also provided) round out the contents of this sprue.
Sprue N
The standard (non-bulged) bomb bay doors and 500lb bomb rack are provided on Sprue N. The bomb rack is quite simplified compared to the real aircraft and I’m sure the PE and resin aftermarket detailers will come to the party here.
Some large holes in the front inside of the doors are for some Mossies which had inspection holes in the doors. Again the reverse side here.
Sprue P
Cookie time!! These specialized 4000lb bombs are included in this kit and this and the bulged bay doors make an interesting option to have with this kit.
Sprue Q
HK have hinted numerous times at plans to provide later boxings of the Mosquito kit with two stage engines. Sprue Q is clearly one sprue that will be replaced by its two stage counterpart should HK ever follow thru on the two stage engines (and nacelles/cowlings)
The intakes are seen head on here with slide moulding taking centre stage to get these as a one piece part with no seams.
Sprue T
Sprue T contains most of the parts for the cockpit. Also here are the main retractions struts for the main undercarriage. The flaps, tail wheel and horizontal tail are also provided here.
HK have further refined the texturing on the pilots seat cushion since the test shot we saw. The main instrument panel has good surface detail and whilst not a big fan of the decision to mould the rudder pedals on I was not too worried as these are buried fairly deeply in the finished cockpit. The decals can fit straight into the instrument panel to make a pretty neat IP if you like.
Edge detail and laser etched skin is again held to the light to see the texture here.
Sprue Y
The Exhaust stacks are the subject of Sprue Y. Although they are flared at the end, they are not hollow – so either you have to give them a good rimming (the art of hollowing out and end – not what you are thinking) or opt for replacement hollow exhausts or get the paint brush out. I would have preferred these to be at least partially hollow. There are some sink marks under them as well -  you can get away without filling them in though if you don't look too hard.
Sprue Z
Last of the box – this is the top surfaces of the engine nacelles and some retraction gear arms nothing major here to see.
Decals:
The kit decals are printed by some of the best decal makers in the biz Cartograf. Three decals markings are supplied on one sheet complete with the aircraft stencils you will need to complete the kit (for one aircraft).
Cockpit instrument dials and the smallest of stencilled detail is evident. The colours are great and the white is not opaque.
Markings
Three aircraft markings are included and the research has been credited to AK International. There are all angles of the kit shown in these profiles (great) but they are rather simple and seeing a paint company was involved then maybe some colours in the instructions here might have been a good addition? I think for a kit worth the money it is colour instructions for the camouflage would have been standard.

Paint call outs are included in Gunze/Mr. Hobby, Tamiya, and AK Interactive brands. The aircraft featured in the markings are..

Marking A - DK296, No.305 FTU Errol Autumn 1943
 
A Soviet operated aircraft – this Mossie was delivered to the Soviet Union on 20 April 1944, but it retained its RAF serial number. It was heavily damaged upon landing and not repaired. 
Colours were Dark Green and Ocean Grey upper surfaces with Medium Sea Grey undersides. Spinners and serial were painted Black. Discoloured areas where RAF markings overpainted. No stars on the upper wing surfaces.
Marking B - DZ637/P3-C No 692 Gravely Spring 1944
 
From the 692 Sqn, the RAF Serial: P3-C (DZ637) this aircraft was from RAF Gravely, UK and captured here in spring 1944. This Mossie had dark green and ocean grey upper surfaces with black painted undersides and spinners. Red codes and serial with the 'B' Type roundels on upper wing surfaces.
Marking C - DZ637/ AZ-X, No 627 Sqn, Woodhall Spa Summer 1944

Code: AZ-X; unit: 627 Sqn, 5 Group; crew: Flg.Off.Ronnie F.Pate; Flt.Lt.Edward A.Jackson; Woodhall Spa, 3rd July 1944 although some sources state that it was delivered in September 1944. 
This bird participated in the Gestapo headquarters raid in Oslo on 31st December in 1944. It was shot down over Siegen two months later on Feb 1st 1945 with the loss of it’s crew Flt Lt R Baker and Sgt D G Betts.
Alright so now we have seen the kit…

You couldn’t talk about this kit without mentioning that the Tamiya Fighter nosed kit is on the way.  Now from what we have seen of that kit and what we know about the Spitfire and Mustang in that scale that they are technically brilliant but also unforgiving and sometimes not as fun as they could be if they were a little simpler in engineering. As for the Revell kit – well that’s great if you want a modelling exercise but a lot of aftermarket engines/cowling and cockpit work to emulate the quality of Tamiya and this kit.

When it comes to this release from HK Models. I feel that sometimes they have gone for flashy one piece moulding of the cockpit instead of a cockpit in two halves you could detail up a little better. However if you see that the two halves and the wings with easy construction of the engines there is enough detail in this kit for it to become a fair priced but more importantly simple kit to build – and dare I say – fun??? Remember that?

If you like to get models built instead of just staring at them in a box or half completed this kit gives you PLENTY of bang for your buck. Its easy construction sings out for you to keep making it and the size is large but not too big for people with restricted space.

I am really glad this has landed and I think I am not alone in that feeling. There is room for more than one type of modelling ethos in the world and also in this market. I reckon the middle ground this kit takes between detail levels, simplicity to build and price will suit more modellers than you might think.

Adam Norenberg

Before I finish this review I must give thanks to Gary Wickham who gave insight to the changes to this kit since the test kit which he is building on this site 

The new 1/32nd scale Mosquito MKIV kit is now available worldwide from HK Models Distributors worldwide. Thanks to HK for sending this kit to us to build and review.