Sunday, March 29

Hong Kong Models 1/32 Mosquito B Mk.IV Series II - Build Review Pt I

In mid-February TMN was fortunate enough to receive a parcel in the mail from our good friends at HK Models. We eagerly opened the plain cardboard box and within found the assorted sprues for the latest test shot of HK’s upcoming 1/32 Mosquito. Adam looked at me and said “So do you want to build it ?”

Mosquito Mk. IV
HK Models
1/32nd scale
Release date: April/ May 2015

Test shot build Part I
Full kit Review
Pt II of the build

Pt III of the build
Pt IV of the Build

We thought about the best way to share the details about what this kit contained (bearing in mind it is a pre-release set of sprues) and quickly decided that basic photos of sprues would just not cut it. We needed to build it to really share with you what the kit was like. So rather than make you wait to get it all in one big bang it’s my intention to do small updates on a regular basis as the build progresses.

With that in mind, today we present the first part of the build, which focuses on the general engineering of the kit and then dives (pretty deeply) into the cockpit. I want to say upfront that this is a PRE-RELEASE set of sprues I am working with and can (and most likely will) change before the kit is released for general sale.

From what we know the first boxing of the HK Mosquito will allow you to build the early Mk IV Bomber and PR variants.

The kit as supplied to us comes with the Series II nacelles and single stage merlin engines. HK have said repeatedly on their Facebook page that they are working on parts for the two stage merlin and I’d expect those to be provided in a future second boxing. I have not specifically seen any mention of a FB version but that seems logical also.
I’d like to start off by saying I am not a Mosquito expert. Like most of you I get what reference material I can from the internet and books/magazine I have on hand. I usually don’t go too overboard when it comes to detailing my usual 1/48 scale kits but I feel that 1/32 lends itself to (almost demands) an extra level of detail which can be appreciated with the naked eye in the larger size this scale affords.
Like most of us, I too have read much about the new moulding technologies that HK are using to greatly simplify the fuselage and wing into single piece moulds and having now seen and worked with them first-hand they certainly offer many benefits (and perhaps some drawbacks, but more on that later). 
Based on my progress so far I’d say the general fit of the parts is very good with very little trimming or adjusting needed. The moulding is on par with HK’s previous kits such as the B-17. Shortly after our box of sprues arrived we also got some preliminary assembly instructions in PDF form which I am using during this build. We have yet to see the final decal or paint schemes to be offered.

As you would expect construction starts with the interior. Because HK have moulded the nose in a single piece they have needed to devise a way to assemble the interior as a standalone module which can then be inserted, when complete, into the single piece nose section. (Below are the test shot instructions which are again not the final ones you get in the retail kit – but close to it.)
Here we see the interior “module” dry fitted with tape. Note the alignment channels on the side walls that ensure you will not have any fitment issues when mating this with the nose section.
At this point I had not consulted any photos of the real aircraft but was already feeling that the interior detail looked a bit sparse for 1/32, and that it would therefore benefit from some additions. I want to point at that I’ve yet to find any detail that I would consider inaccurate (ie needed correcting).
The floor of the cockpit forms the roof of the bomb bay, much like the real aircraft. I’ve yet to compare the detail in the bomb bay to photos (more on that later on in the build) but it does look quite busy and once painted up may be more than adequate.
Construction started with the pilot seat. I’ve never really liked moulded on seat cushions as it seems virtually impossible for any manufacturer to reproduce the look of the cloth/leather realistically. Removing the seat pan cushion was achieved by discarding part T37 and building the seat pan frame using some plasticard. The seat back cushion was a bit more of a challenge as it is hollow and this results in a large cut-out on the back of the seat. This needs to be dealt with as it will be very visible on the finished model. 
The single piece moulding for the seat back and cushion means you need to either fill the hole on the rear like I have done or cover it over. I think it would have been better if HK had melded the seat and cushion in two separate parts rather than one in this case. 
During my initial dry fitting I also noticed a number of other things I added to my fix list. I noticed that the sidewalls of the interior module did not extend all the way to the front of the nose and the rear of the cockpit. This results in a noticeable step where the module parts end and also means that any attempt to run wiring or cabling along the sidewalls would be a challenge (if not impossible). I needed to find a way to solve this so I put my thinking cap on. 
Much like the cushion on the pilot’s seat, the navigator’s seat is moulded in the same way, as a single piece. This time both the seat and backrest cushion are affected. The seat cushion has been moulded onto the shelf on which it sits. The underside of this part forms the top of the bomb bay. As a result, the cut-out left by the cushion results in a large visible hole that has to be dealt with in the bomb bay roof. 
Here we can see the partially assembled cockpit as seen from below. The cushion cut-out is very noticeable on the horizontal part. Also notice the small square cut-out on the vertical wall caused by another moulded on part in the cockpit. As before with the pilot seat, perhaps a better option for HK was to mould the seat cushion(s) separately so they did not compromise the parts they attach to.
My solution was to fill the hole with plasticard and replace the missing detail on the bomb bay roof. It’s possible that this will be addressed on the final release parts. 
One last example of how the one piece seat cushions are not ideal is on the navigator’s backrest. 
Here I have added a back plate to both the radio transmitter/receiver components and discarded the navigator’s armoured backrest in favour of some 20 thou card. I have also removed the seat cushion and repaired the hole with card. The R1155 radio receiver module has been raised up on a scratch-built rack as this better matched photos and drawings I was able to find of the normal configuration in wartime Mosquitos. 
The instrument panel is quite nicely done when viewed from the front. I would assume that HK will provide us with some decals for the instrument dial faces. From the rear it lacks any instrument body detail or cabling and so I added a few short lengths of plastic rod and some wiring from 0.3mm lead solder. The rudder pedals are also moulded in one piece with the bottom of the instrument panel.
At this point I needed to figure out what I was going to do about the sidewalls. My first idea was to use plasticard to extend the sidewalls (parts M20 and M21) and you can see here I started down that path by laminating some 20 thou card on the back of the right sidewall. This bit was easy enough but the curves of the nose gave me a moment of pause and I wondered if there was perhaps an easier way.
Decision time: After much thought and consideration I concluded that the easiest way for me to get proper access to the full length of the cockpit interior sidewalls so I could detail them was to cut open that wonderful single piece nose. It seemed like a shame and some people would never dream of doing this to a kit, but I decided that it was not that big of a job when you consider it’s only four cuts (and then the subsequent seams to re-join). The Mosquito has virtually no panel lines to be lost by cutting and so my mind was made up. I measured carefully (and then measured again) and used a 10 thou PE saw blade to cut along the centreline. Pactra vinyl tape was used as a guide to ensure no slipups. 
With the nose now separated, detailing the cockpit could continue much more like a normal model. I realise it may seem odd to essentially un-assemble something the kit maker has so carefully engineered, but to me this hobby is about problem solving and the way the nose was moulded was not working for me. Others may think I am crazy and perhaps there is a better way, but for me this was the best solution. 
The first task in improving the sidewalls was to remove the step between the module sidewall and the fuselage. For this I tried something new for me, Tamiya Epoxy Putty. This worked much as I expected and I finished off the blending with plain old Tamiya Basic Putty. Using several sources of reference I set about adding bits and pieces here and there.
The final result was actually considerably more than I have originally planned. I was enjoying the detailing work so much that I just kept adding things. There is always more you can add but once I got to this point I decided enough was enough. 
The port sidewall took a little less time than the starboard but essentially I just looked at pictures and drawings and manufactured each part I needed from copper wire, lead solder, some brass rod and lots of plasticard. I also decided I wanted to move the instrument panel rearwards (closer to the pilot) by about 10mm which meant the compass also needed to be relocated.
With the sidewalls detailed up I returned my attention to the floor and rear shelf. Magic-sculpt was used to create new cushions for the navigators set and backrest and detailing was added to the R1154/T1155 radio components mostly using my punch sets (round and hexagonal). 
Wiring looms were added to give some visual detail to the rear cockpit bench. Several sizes of lead solder was used to give some variety. 
With most of the detailing complete I was of course curious to see what it looked like when assembled. It’s the age old modeller’s dilemma, why put effort into something you won’t really see on the finished model? My take on this is that whilst you may not be able to see the specific detail of everything that’s been added, it’s the cumulative effect that having all of it “being there” that adds a “busy” feel to the cockpit and hence life to the model, at least I think so.
I realize that most people will not want go this far with their build. That is fine as there are many schools of thought, and opening it up this way will not be for everyone. I like to challenge myself on each new build and in this case I saw a good chance to try out some new scratch-building techniques. It’s a bit old school I guess using just plasticard, putty and wire and a little bit of elbow grease, but it is rewarding and you get a real sense achievement, more so that using resin that someone else has created.
So that’s where it’s at for the moment. Next step will be to start applying paint and then move on and see what else this model has in store for us. Stay tuned for more updates.

My very sincere thanks to HK for supplying us with a test shot, it’s really quite exciting getting early access to a model like this, in that respect I’m very much a noob. I almost feel like Indiana Jones “giddy as a schoolboy” 

Gary Wickham

The new 1/32nd scale Mosquito MKIV kit will be available worldwide by the end of April 2015 from HK Models Distributors worldwide.