Tuesday, November 18

Review: Zoukei-Mura’s new add-ons for the SWS 08 Horten Ho 229 Tyres, tubes, barrels and gear.

As if it was not good enough already Zoukei-Mura has added some nice add-ons to it’s new Horten Ho 229 kit in 1/32nd scale. Designed to further improve on the sold injection moulded base today we will review and fit for the most part the weighted tyres, cannon barrels and muzzles and Pitot tube plus the white metal wheels on our kit to show you what they are like.

Review: Zoukei-Mura’s new add-ons for the SWS 08 Horten Ho 229

Ho 229 Turned Metal Machine Gun and Pitot Tube Set
Includes: 2x Barrels for Mk 103, Muzzle Brakes x2, Pitot Tube x1
Price: 1300 JPY (+P&P)

Ho 229 Metal Struts (Landing Gear)
White metal
Includes: Nose Landing Gear x1, Main Landing Gear x2
Price: 2450 JPY (+P&P)

Ho 229 Weighted Tires
3x Grey Resin tires
Includes: Nose Tire x1, Main Tire x2
Price: 2000 JPY (+P&P)

All of these are available thru Volks Store Online

We looked at the human element of this aircraft the other day when we saw the pilot in his space age pressure suit and his willing groundcrew on two separate kits. Today we get more mechanical with the undercarriage legs front and rear, the MK 103 Autocannon barrels and muzzle break kit with Pitot tube and the weighted tyres made from grey resin.

These seven parts of white metal are mastered to create two rear smaller gears and the larger main centre front gear. Two scissor oleos for each of the back wheels are included. No other parts like the long support for the

Now the Plastic on hand is already pretty good so these had better be even better for you to fork out your cash. I already have my ideas on these before I try to fit them all together so let’s see if they are anything like I suspect in this construction review.

Ho 229 Turned Metal Machine Gun and Pitot Tube Set
Includes: 2x Barrels for Mk 103, Muzzle Brakes x2, Pitot Tube x1
Price: 1300 JPY (+P&P)

Firstly some background on the Mk 103 Maschinenkanone...
The Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 103 cannon was to be used in the Horten Ho 229 and in the kit we have two guns and barrels represented by injection moulded plastic. Those who are unaware of this high powered weapon made by the Rheinmetall-Borsig company. It was a 30mm calibre autocannon that was intended to be a dual purpose weapon for anti-tank and air-to-air fighting in mainly ground attack and heavy fighters or Zerstorers that the RLM seem to have favoured.
The cannon was MK 103 used a belt feed, allowing it to potentially carry a larger ammunition load in the two side drums we have in our kit. The MK 103 gun mechanism used electrically primed ammunition rather than percussion primed ammo. After firing, gas pressure serves to unlock the breech, while barrel recoil cycle the action to eject the shell.

The cannon under a HS-129 - this shows a little more of the barrel and the muzzle brake
The Armour-piercing 30 mm cartridge retained a full propellant charge, as the resulting higher muzzle velocities were felt to be worth the risk. It is the Muzzle which is mainly showing on this gun in our model.
The instructions for this kit are given in colour and although they are in Japanese they are easy enough to follow. They tell you just where to supplant these from the instructions in the kit version. A little cutting is involved but these will be stronger than the plastic versions.
The plastic is well moulded with a slight seam mark down the barrel. The main thing that you may notice about the barrel is the barrel is slightly hollowed at the end only and the muzzle brake holes are not hollowed. Now you can drill holes in these if you have intense patience and a steady hand, but if you are a little lacking in either of these (not to mention the time to do it) these are left solid. 
The kit parts..
When painting the kit parts up i did not worry too much about the barrels as unless you would display them outside of the kit (on a table or some such) - if shown in place you would only see the muzzle brake poking out of the front wing.

In real life you would have been able to see through the brake so in the constant effort to improve on all things in models Zoukei-Mura has introduced two barrels and muzzle brakes created by Piotr from Master Model who is one of if not the best in the business at creating the most delicate of aircraft barrels, antennas and pitot tubes.

Here are the parts you get i the kit - the muzzle brakes in grey resin, the two barrels and the Pitot tube
These barrel tubes in brass are not hollow – and neither do they have to be as they are concealed inside the flying wing of the airplane. The barrels though are made with a resin like material which you will have to superglue to the metal barrels which in turn are the direct replacement for the plastic barrel. The kit part again had a seam running down it but otherwise was pretty well moulded.
 Here you can see the gift of simplicity this resin muzzle brake gives you. I have seen one modeller drill these out - at great care and time. If time is money then i am voting to pay up!
The muzzle brake showing from out of the Horten's front wing fuselage
The Pitot tube is all class – thinner slightly than the original, but a hell of a lot stronger this is a no-brainer as long as you can secure it with superglue. It is a drop in replacement for the kit part so this makes this set seem a little more attractive. the difference is plain to see without me going on about how this one will not break so easily etc, etc.
To sum up – if hollowed out barrels matter to you – then get this set. I would get this set just for the Pitot tube and the resin muzzle breaks which are excellent.

Ho 229 Metal landing gear struts
White metal
Includes: Nose Landing Gear x1 + main Landing Gear x2
Price: 2450 JPY (+P&P)
Usually the wheels on a large scale model like this take a little more weight than they were designed to. The fact that they are plastic and not metal re more important in the twin engine bombers and even heavies but this kit is so far not a tail sitter. The weight does not seem to be that bad either so you would wonder how these are an improvement.

The instructions to fit this gear is shown on a fold-out colour sheet with the kit instructions noted for the big switch
The other thing is that i was expecting something of a different material to be used for these landing gear. It seems these are not mastered by the previous makers of ZM's metal landing gear ernie Gee. The G-Factor gear is first class and I did notice that the clean finish of material used here is a little bumpy and not so smooth as i would have liked to have seen.

The rear gear on the prototype
 The front Gear has very chunky
The gear supplied in this kit is made from white metal and in need of a little sanding to bring up to a presentable finish. You can either use a sanding stick like these thin ones from flex-i-file or you can use a conventional small modelling metal file – but this way you will probably need to use a sanding stick or file to finish off the surface to eliminate any scratch marks. 
The third way would be to use a Dremmel tool with a wire brush and then a smoother polisher to shine up this gear to make it look like the right surface texture we need to see. If you look closely the gear on the right is polished to more of a shine that the standard one on the left.
Indeed I got to work with both the Dremmel rotary tool and the Flex-i-file sanding sticks and polished it all of the parts up pretty quickly. The front landing gear is here polished up - it could actually do with a finer grade than I have done here. It is dimensionally the same as the kit parts with a few slight differences. A fair amount of metal flash is still a consideration but after some work your oleos should be shiny silver. This eliminates any need to paint the silver hydraulic part as well. 

Let’s start with the main front nose gear first – I mean you can’t miss it can you? A massive thick front gear is the same shape exactly as the part on the kit. It is a shame that this large wheel and nose gear wasn't so much designed to take a lot of weight but a lot of speed. The fast landing speed of this jet with no conventional tail necessitated a lot of force from a higher speed of landing. Hence the extra strength.
 You can see the seams of the original which cannot be seen when the wheel is there, but these can be avoided completely with just a polish to the metal of the aftermarket wheel. 
The nose gear went into the slot for test fitting. Mine took some wiggling before it found the hole - a little trim as well and it slipped into the slot. The gear itself is malleable but you would not want to push your luck. It is more easily recoverable than bending plastic. You will have to do this to get the axle around the tyres to insert the front wheel into place 
The fact that the support to the gears is not included in white metal is not a problem because it is not load bearing anyway. 
On to the rear gear - These parts were buffed with a rotary tool at a fairly low speed and with not to much pressure otherwise you will be damaging the white metal which is soft enough to harm with this type of tool.  These need a quick smoothing as well as there are some lines left over from the dremel with my tiny standing flex-i-files- and they will come out alright.
Here they are located with the wheel in place - I could not place them on my kit as the standard kit wheels were already glued in there. These arriving after the fact.
Adding some primer first after you have sanded these metal parts wand a quick sand will eliminate the scratches or nicks you have no doubt created with a file or rotary tool or rough sandpaper. Paint will adhere directly to white metal parts, however, a light coat of primer first will guarantee adhesion of the paint and smooth finish desired. Just like the real thing.

Ho 229 Weighted Tires
3x Grey Resin tires
Includes: Nose Tire x1, Main Tire x2
Price: 2000 JPY (+P&P)
Now there are some injection moulded plastic tyres in the kit release – and these are pretty good actually. There is a little bit of a seam running down the centre but this can be eliminated with some flattening out but the tyres are not at all sagging with the weight of the aircraft. All aircraft sit differently on their tyres and not all tyres are inflated to the same pressure at all times. The general consensus is that most aircraft have tyres that slightly flatten out to some degree when they are under the weight of the aircraft.

Sllllliiight bulging on the tyres as seen below on the prototype as it was discovered all those years ago (and the others in the background)
Why the kit tyres are not really bulged a little more is a bit beyond my thinking. It could have easily been done so why it wasn’t – well I do not know. Some people do not bother with bulged wheels and I understand their thinking with no problem. I am happy enough to use the kit wheels but the extra “flair” of these is tempting. Let’s see them.
Again the instructions are in the colour printed booklet and these are easy to follow without them being in English. Basically they tell you replace the kit parts with the resin ones and which step of the original kit on the instructions.
Installation is simple – they are flat at the bottom and all they need is an undercoat spray before they go on. I would say if you can find a hard wearing black undercoat then scraping the nose gear past them will not damage the paint. You can then lighten them up with grey colours to replicate a tyre black.

Here are the resin unpainted tyres with the painted up kit tyres...
You will notice with these maybe that the printing on the kit version of the tyres are visible, and that they actually spell “Oontinental” instead of “Continental” which I would think was done to prevent the trademark cost of having such a well-known name – I know it sounds silly but I bet you that is what led to this and not an oversight. This was an easy fix and to be honest hardly noticeable in the first place. All you needed to do was to cut the lettering out to make a “C” shape.

From this angle you can see that the kit tyres are a circular shape where the resin replacements are flat bottomed just enough
Again this is a good set to have but not entirely necessary – it is up to you how much you like bulged tyres.

For all of these sets i can see the merit in each. They are not all without my complete approval. The metal landing gear is good but not great, the metal barrels are not needed bu the included muzzle breaks and Pitot tube are excellent while the tyres are a margin call depending on your taste. 

 - That is your taste and how many Yen you have in your wallet to spend on extra parts to improve an already pretty good kit. Having said that these replacements would be my choice over the kit parts.

Adam Norenberg

Both of these sets, as well as the other additions for the Horten are available through the ZM online site and their Distributors worldwide.