Tuesday, November 11

Review: Zoukei-Mura Concept Note SWS No. VII Ho 229

Zoukei-Mura often releases a book that accompanies with their flagship Super Wing Series aircraft models when they are released. This is a companion book that shows off the model, the history and the details of the original aircraft with a little of their own reasons why they chose that particular aircraft thrown in. Would this be a good idea for the Horten Ho 229 or Lost in translation? Let’s have a look in our review.

Zoukei-Mura Concept Note SWS No. VII Ho 229
112 Pages, All in Colour
Language: Japanese & English
Price: 2500 JPY (P&P)

When making such a kit as the 1/32nd scale Horten Ho 229 from Zoukei-Mura you WILL need every bit of reference that you can have to hand. The complex nature of the kit and the relative lack of real photos of the real thing really make putting this together not a walk in the park. You can easily miss things even thought this is one of if not the best instruction manual I have ever used.

The original instructions are just great - but could this be bettered?
This is where the Concept Note SWS No. VII for the Ho 229 for the Zoukei-Mura kit comes into it’s own. Part dream of making the plane, part history lesion and part model build this is like the instruction manual you might make if you were selling a car to an overseas market.

That is what it feels like on the first impression. Mine came in a box with bubble wrapping from Volks in Japan directly in a box. The things you notice firstly are the matte fine finish of the softcover. And the extra little thin cover on the bottom that replicates the dust jacket that is sometimes on Japanese books and records called an "obi" (or "belt" colloquially "belly band" in English), which is generally disposed of and serves a similar function to 19th century Western dust jackets. It is a thing that reminded me of overseas imports from Japan I collected as a youngster.
The gust jacket mirrors this “obi” and the two meet seamlessly. The cover is actually the model all though it looks just like the real prototype in an old picture. Only through looking hard can you tell.

The inside cover is the model again – in a black and white shot soaring over the countryside. Again it is shot with the light just at the right angle. You would be hard pressed to know that this isn’t an original picture of the Horten in flight. It opens out into a wraparound cover showing the whole sweeping span of the ‘229 in the air.
Pictures like this one in the book make it very hard to tell which is real and which is a 1/32 scale model mock up. The model sure does fit the scenes they have masterfully reproduced with clever tricks of lighting and scenery.

The binding is a "lay flat" style like the Rinaldi Studio Press books so you can read hands free.
After a brief introduction we go straight into the galleries of the model first. This lovely green/green version of the kit is made by Japanese modeller Naoki Kobayashi who had more than a little to do with the development of the Ho 229 model. This is a flawless build and something we have all seen in the press so far about the kit.
We go into the history of the aircraft. From the concept and development of the thought of using a flying wing as an aircraft design. We learn a little about the Horten brothers who designed the aircraft as well as the concepts they designed on the way to the subject of the book. There are several pictures of the early gliders and evolutionary steps which the brothers went through before they could say they had the design nearly completed.

We look at the VI, 2 & 3 aircraft in pictures and captions which lead to numbered pictures throughout this section of the book.
The writing in this book, it is in Japanese and English text. One thing I must say about the mix of text is that unless you are concentrating you do sometimes get lost in the pages. The text could be bigger and if a system of Japanese one side/ English the other was followed the book would be a little easier to read. However if this is the strongest criticism I have of this book – one of layout – well it’s not that big of an issue.

Because the aircraft was never operation the colour schemes stretch as far as your imagination can take you. However there are a few here in the book laid out to show you some casual guesses at what might have been.
The next part of the book is a walk around in detail of the real thing and the kit after it has been constructed.  The engines, instrument panel and cockpit, the frame and the wings and the outer surfaces are all explained and compared to the kit as it is presented through reference shots of the real thing (some I haven’t seen before in a lot of research) and drawings from the plans of the original. This is a very interesting expose of the real thing and how it compares to the built kit.
Next we look at a build of the kit – a very well made and clean kit I must mention – in isolation as it is built. Step by step we look at the construction, and paint and weathering, of this kit as it is assembled together. It really is well done by a modeller with careful hands and a lot of time. The modeller also conveys just how he did it very well also. 
One of the largest challenges of this aircraft build is the clean parts. More to the point how to make them all up without scarring it and transmuting the surface from a fuzzy plastic to a clear plastic that enables people to see all of the good work you have done. This past of the build process shows you how and what grades of sandpaper you can used to enable you to see clearly through your kit after you have made it.
Putting it all together is next – all the very precious parts you have sanded to a mirror finish and painted inside and out now have to be secured together. A Lot of tape and Berna clamps look to be the ticket as you finish it with the extras at the end like the removable seat and cockpit canopy.
We then get some galleries of the second way to show off your Horten after the skeleton – the cleared skin.
Next we get two special model builds - one by the talented modeller Radu Brinzan . He shows you how he has made this (I think test kit?) kit completely see through and how he has detailed everything inside with a removable panel that is was not the final way the wings were built but an interesting way to expose the good work. The wood paneling inside and the very clean insides combined with a nice scheme make this a lovely kit and a well written piece that I must say is a great excuse for him to publish his models again.
Next for a German’s perspective on a German plane is the excellent built by Thomas Mayer from the Scale Plastic Aircraft Modeller forum. He has taken just as much care and by the look of it just as much time to build this grey on green scheme with an interesting marking scheme. It sure looks great to me and an enviable skill is shown in the build. I hope mine turns out as good as the build here and through the book.

These builds are definitely a great source of inspiration.
Lastly we have a fictional story for more inspiration. The story is told in a graphical way that awakens the imagination. It is a lovely way to further convey the feelings of the SWS team about this aircraft model.

Well I did say my first thoughts were that this is like a brochure you get when buying a large order of cars.. It’s a little more than that now I have read and understood what is inside. It is more of a quality of the brochures you get when you buy a handmade luxury boat or when you go to a very expensive auction. It is really that classy. Yes the writing is a little small and the layout could be a little simpler. But I suppose I could be a little smarter too!

If you have a Horten or are interested in this aircraft you should get this and please DO read it or borrow it from a mate who has it before you build your kit. The instructions are already great – but this is even better than the instructions.

Adam Norenberg
Thanks to the team at Zoukei-Mura for sending me this book to read and review.