Monday, May 9

Gary's build of Zoukei-Mura's 48th scale Ho 229 Horten - Pt.I getting it all together...

Our good friend Thomas from Scale Plastic Aircraft Modeller forum has already shared his thoughts on Zoukie Mura’s new 48th scale Horten in an extensive review. However, now it is Gary Wickham’s turn to get building this kit so we can REALLY show you how it all goes together, and what it’s like to build. Let’s see how far into the build he is already with PtI. of his build…
Horten Ho-229 - Build Review Pt I.
Zoukei-Mura Super Wing Series No. 3

Scale: 1:48th
Started: March 2016
Finished: ...
Instruction download link
Product Link…
Horten H IX (or Ho 229 or Gotha Go 229) Overview
The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (or Gotha Go 229 for extensive re-design work done by Gotha to prepare the aircraft for mass production) was a German prototype fighter/bomber initially designed by Reimar and Walter Horten to be built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It was the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines.

The design was a response to Hermann Goring's call for light bomber designs capable of meeting the "3x1000" requirement; namely to carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph). Only jets could provide the speed, but these were extremely fuel-hungry, so considerable effort had to be made to meet the range requirement. Based on a flying wing, the Ho 229 lacked all extraneous control surfaces to lower drag. It was the only design to come even close to the 3x1000 requirements and received Goring's approval. Its ceiling was 15,000 metres (49,000 ft).
Since the appearance of the B-2 Spirit flying-wing stealth bomber in the 1990s, its similarities in role and shape to the Ho 229 has led many to retrospectively describe the Ho 229 as "the first stealth bomber".

A static reproduction of the only surviving Ho 229 prototype, the Ho 229 V3, in American hands since the end of World War II was constructed in the very early 21st century and later tested by the U.S. military, who found the basic shape, paint and laminating adhesive composition of the mock-up copy would provide for 37% reduction in detection range against the British Chain Home radar used for Ground Controlled Intercept (GCI) earlier in the war, but no significant stealth benefit against more modern radar systems in use when the aircraft was under development.
The Ho-229 V3 was larger than previous prototypes, the shape being modified in various areas, and it was meant to be a template for the pre-production series Ho 229 A-0 day fighters, of which 20 machines had been ordered. The V3 was meant to be powered by two Jumo 004C engines, with 10% greater thrust each than the earlier Jumo 004B production engine used for the Me 262A and Ar 234B, and could carry two MK 108 30 mm cannons in the wing roots. Work had also started on the two-seat Ho 229 V4 and Ho 229 V5 night-fighter prototypes, the Ho 229 V6 armament test prototype, and the Ho 229 V7 two-seat trainer.
During the final stages of the war, the U.S. military initiated Operation Paperclip, an effort to capture advanced German weapons research, and keep it out of the hands of advancing Soviet troops. A Horten glider and the Ho 229 V3, which was undergoing final assembly, were secured for sending to the United States for evaluation. On the way, the Ho 229 spent a brief time at RAE Farnborough in the UK, during which it was considered whether British jet engines could be fitted, but the mountings were found to be incompatible with the early British turbojets, which used larger-diameter centrifugal compressors as opposed to the slimmer axial-flow turbojets the Germans had developed. The Americans were just starting to create their own axial-compressor turbojets before the war's end, such as the Westinghouse J30, with a thrust level only approaching the BMW 003's full output. 
[source: Wikipedia]
The Build
I rarely, if ever, closely follow the order of assembly suggested by the manufacturer in the instructions. Having said that I'll lay out the parts of this build review using the assembly instructions as a guide. I do this because I want you to see the quality of the instructions provide by ZM and how a build of this complexity could quickly come unstuck without them. By providing all the internal framework, most of which you have to assemble, it's important to pay close attention to how each sub-assembly relies on the ones surrounding it. Failure to plan ahead with this kit will end in tears (or worse).

An insightful comparison between this, the 48th scale kit and it's older brother (- which it shares many simlarities) in 32nd below.
ZM have logically sequenced the assembly by essentially starting from the centre of the aircraft and working outwards (like peeling an onion in reverse). Buried deep in the heart of the Ho-229 are its two Jumo 004C engines. I'm impressed with how ZM have accurately identified each subassembly (e.g. Intake and Compressor Housing, Turbine Nozzle etc.) in the build thereby helping to educate the builder as well as guide them. Modelling to me is much more than just glueing and painting a bunch on plastic pieces, it’s a chance to learn about the machines themselves and the passion that ZM brings to the subject is evident.
Straight off the bat I could tell that this was going to be an enjoyable build. Each part was a sturdy and accurate fit and despite the seemingly large number of parts, the assembly went very smoothly. As I plan to leave at least one of the engine panels off to show off the engines I needed to treat the engine bodies with respect as they would be front and centre on the top of the finished model eventually. It’s a safe bet that any and all metal parts you see in my builds are finished with Alclad Metalizer.
Surrounding the engine body are a multitude of cabling, piping and actuating rods/shafts just like the real thing. These will be painted separately and attached last prior to weathering.
A useful reference photo of a real Jumo 004C provided by ZM in their 'Concept Note' book ( that we reviewed here on TMN) which is designed to accompany the 1:32 and now 1:48 kits of the Ho-229.
The cover of the "Concept Note"
And useful pictures of the engine and other internal components
I was interested to try to reproduce the discoloration effect on the unpainted metal parts of the engine body and exhaust. I started by spraying a very light coat of Tamiya XF52 Flat Earth and left it a couple of minutes to go off. I then took a small piece of soft foam, dampened it with thinners and dabbed it over the soft paint in a stabbing/stippling motion (not wiping motion). This resulted in random splotches of paint being lifted and giving me a finish close to what I saw in the photos. More weathering is needed to the engines but for now, I'll put them aside and press on.
I have to admit that I was quite intimidated when I first got this kit and leafed thru the instructions. I had visions of extreme frustration trying to assemble and align what looked like a bird’s nest series of framing and connectors. When I got to this point I studied the instructions multiple times, took a deep breath and starting cutting parts from the sprue. It only took me a few steps to realise that I had been worried for no reason because each part I added attached solidly to the next with little or no alignment problems and before long the framing was starting to take shape in my hand.
It's easy to think this is an overly engineered and complex model but my experience with building it has made me realise that is not the case. Each part requires minimal clean-up and if you follow the assembly sequence laid out by ZM you will find that with some liquid glue (I used MEK) and a minimum of fuss you will arrive at this stage very quickly. Note that I have dry attached the top framing to the model just for the photo.
I assembled as much of the internal fuselage framework as I could which was to painted in RLM 02. Any extra parts like linkage rods etc. that would not be RLM 02 I left off to be painted separately and then attached last. It's important to read all the instructions thoroughly especially the footnote 'Warnings' which highlight to you when parts need to pass thru others or if they need to be cemented now or later. Ignore these callouts at your peril.
The skin of this model is provided by ZM in clear plastic, not my favourite thing let me tell you. Clear plastic is much harder and therefore more brittle and less forgiving than normal plastic. I had no intention of displaying my model with clear panels at all. With the bulk of the main framing now assembled I took the time to dry fit most of the outer skin panels. Without exception, these all fitted like a glove.
The cockpit of the Ho-229 consisted only of tubular framing onto which the seat was attached. The cockpit of the Ho-229, unlike other aircraft, had no side consoles or floor boards. Switch and instrument detail in the cockpit is provided by ZM as decals.
Late war Luftwaffe cockpits were mostly finished in RLM66 Schwarz Grau [black grey]. Once again I used Gunze Mr Color paints with the switches and handles being picked out by hand with Vallejo acrylics. For hand painted metal parts I like to use the war gaming Citadel range as I find they look quite convincing when brush painted in small areas like the rudder pedals shown here.
The instrument panel is provided in clear plastic (not really sure why). Modellers can choose from a single piece decal that covers the whole I.P. or use the individual decals for each dial. I have not reached that point in my build yet but will probably go the second option as I think it will yield a better result.
The Ho-229 ejection seat is a simple affair (well it is when compared to modern day ejection seats). I was quite surprised that ZM did not provide any form of harness either in PE or moulded on. I quickly fashioned my own using lead sheet and some PE buckles.
Here we see all the major parts of the cockpit. The canopy framing does not have its clear glass added yet.
The main landing gear was next on the build list and to make painting easier I decided to assemble each gear (minus the wheel) first.
To ensure perfect alignment with the mounting points on the fuselage I recommend you hold the parts in place with small pieces of tape and the glue them together using liquid glue. By glueing them together in this way you can avoid any fit issues later on when you go to mate them to the fuselage.
The oversized nose wheel of the Ho-229 helps give the aircraft its very distinctive nose high stance. The wheel itself is massive when compared to more traditional nose wheels and is significantly larger than even the two main wheels.
Again using my philosophy of assembling as much as you can before painting I determined that the entire nosewheel strut and guard could be assembled now even though the wheel needs to be sandwiched between the axle supports. You will normally find that by applying slight pressure to the plastic parts they can be widened enough to allow the wheel to be added and removed as needed. To make this a little easier you can trim some length (not too much) of the axle locating pins so that you don't need to spread them quite so far when adding the wheel later on after final painting.
It was now time to focus a little on the outer skin of the Ho-229. On the real aircraft, this was made from plywood and I have seen some interesting builds online where they have used woodgrain decals etc. to reproduce this finish. That is not my plan and so the skin parts will need to be painted both outside and inside (remember they are all clear plastic).
You can see here why providing all that interior tubing detail was not just ZM going overboard but it’s actually necessary as a great deal of the interior will be seen if you leave any of the outer panels off on your finished model. Each of the outer panels fits very well with no alignment issues being found during my dry fitting. As seen here I have already primed the framework with Alclads Black Primer paint.
A close in shot shows how the cockpit framework fits together. The ejection seats actually slide down on the rails and the cockpit subassembly (as yet unpainted) interlocks with the main structure via small tabs making the resulting model sturdy with no warping or twisting evident when handling the model.
The top outer skin of the model in 1:48 is made up of a single piece with the engine covers (J1 & J11) being separately moulded to allow removal during display.
The interior of the aircraft was painted in RLM02. To give the paint some variation I once again undercoated with black (Alclad Primer) and them applied light coats of the Mr Color paint.
The Ho-229 wings are detachable from the centre fuselage section by means of two locking bolts on the top and bottom. ZM have likewise engineered the models wings as independent sub-assemblies, with their own accurate internal framing and fuel tanks.
Just like the fuselage the outer skin of the wings are made from a clear plastic. As none of the internal framing in the wings would be visible once attached to the fuselage and the outside painted I did not feel compelled to paint them. The surface panel line detail on the wings was nice but I went over it anyway with my trusty Tamiya Scriber to ensure they would be sharp enough for the panel wash down the track.
Here we see one of the wings being dry test fitted with tape, something I would encourage all modellers to do more often. I have not yet added the trailing edge flaps and ailerons. I can report that no fit issues were found at all with the whole thing clicking together nicely.
ZM suggests that you add the outer skin to the wings after you join the internal framing to the fuselage. This did not seem like the best option to me and so I decided to assemble the wings separately (sand the joints etc) and then attach them to the fuselage as a whole unit.
A couple of good close up photos of the outer skin of the wing. I have lighted buffed the clear plastic which is why it does not look very clear here. I found the surface finish of the clear parts to be somewhat rough (by design I think). Lightly sanding the plastic will also help the paint to adhere.
All the assorted doors are once again provided in clear plastic. The Ho-229 used a drag chute to assist with braking on landing and ZM provides a detailed interior with optional open doors. Also, note in this picture the deployed airbrakes positioned directly behind the main wheel wells.
I like to use tape to secure flat parts for painting. I paint one side, let it dry them flip them over to do the other side. Don't waste your expensive Tamiya Tape for this purpose instead, obtain some cheaper painters tape from your local hardware shop.
At the time of writing, I had not seen any figures released by ZM for this kit. I hope they will in the future much like they have done for most of their other models in the past. I dug into my stash of 1:48 figures and plan to use some Verlinden resin pilot and groundcrew figures along with the Tamiya Kettenkrad with a driver.
With the bulk of the assembly complete it was time to load up the airbrush and start laying down paint. Here we see the Mr Color C60 RLM02 layered over a black undercoat. I have yet to apply a light wash to further accentuate the detail in the framework.
Alclad Grey Primer and Microfiller has been applied to the wings and then sanded back with MicroMesh cloth. This has highlighted some blemishes present on one of the wings. Sink marks (left by the internal ribbing) need to be filled with filler and then sanded flush.
The primed wings ready for mating to the fuselage. Note the empty bays for the spoilers on the wingtips.
More of this build to come - click on with the links below to see how Gary progressed with this kit.

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Zoukei-Mura for sending this kit to us to build and review
See more of Gary's wonderful builds on his Facebook Page and his Scalespot Website.