Thursday, December 7

In-Boxed: Hong Kong Models 1/32nd scale De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IX

Hong Kong Models released their Stage Two Merlin engined Mosquito B Mk.IX late last year - and now the new year's haze has passed we thought we would give you a look at the kit, what is new and what we thought about the model in our "In-boxed" review...

In-Boxed: De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IX
Hong Kong Models

Kit no#01E106
1/32nd scale
375 Parts on 24 sprues in grey & clear
Two Photo Etch Sheets
Decals for three Aircraft from Cartograf
Price around $170 USD from HK’s Distributors Worldwide
Before we get rolling, a brief history and my liking of the de Havilland Mosquito.
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.
The "Wooden Wonder" was an interesting kit to me growing up, as it was able to outrun most of the German single-engined aircraft of the time and it had the punch of a bomber and performance of a fast heavy fighter. 
One of the places where the RAF's wooden Mosquito fighter-bomber is made is at the Walter Lawrence & Sons joinery works in Sawbridge, Hertfordshire.

Originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber, the Mosquito was adapted to roles including low to medium altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike aircraft, and fast photo-reconnaissance aircraft.

Entering service in autumn 1941, the first Mosquito variant was an unarmed high-speed, high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Subsequent versions continued in this role throughout the war. The first Mk. B.IV bomber entered service in November 1941. From mid-1942 to mid-1943, Mosquito bombers flew high-speed, medium or low-altitude daylight missions against factories, railways and other pinpoint targets in Germany and German-occupied Europe. From June 1943, Mosquito bombers were formed into the Light Night Strike Force and used as pathfinders for RAF Bomber Command heavy-bomber raids. They were also used as "nuisance" bombers, often dropping Blockbuster bombs – 4,000 lb (1,812 kg) "cookies" – in high-altitude, high-speed raids that German night fighters were almost powerless to intercept.
As a night fighter from mid-1942, the Mosquito intercepted Luftwaffe raids on Britain, notably those of Operation Steinbock in 1944. Starting in July 1942, Mosquito night-fighter units raided Luftwaffe airfields. As a fighter-bomber in the Second Tactical Air Force, the Mosquito took part in "special raids", such as Operation "Jericho," an attack on Amiens Prison in early 1944 Operation "Aarhus," a similar attack on Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark as well as the pinpoint attack on Gestapo headquarters in Oslo, Norway. 

During Operation "Jericho" liberating agents from the Gestapo Prison in Amiens as well as Operation "Carthage" against the Gestapo building in the centre of Oslo

In 1943, said Reichsmarshal Göring was reported to have said -
“It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked.”

Mosquitos supported the British Army during the 1944 Normandy Campaign. From 1943, Mosquitos with RAF Coastal Command attacked Kriegsmarine U-boats and intercepted transport ship concentrations.
The Mosquito flew with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and other air forces in the European, Mediterranean and Italian theatres. The Mosquito was also operated by the RAF in the South East Asian theatre and by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) based in the Halmaheras and Borneo during the Pacific War. The RAF replaced the Mosquito with the jet-powered English Electric Canberra in 1950's.

The Mosquito in 1/32nd scale:
I was most interested to model the "Mossie" as I grew older, and now, in 1/32nd scale, there are four kits now available. These kits scale roughly for me the order of their complexity and detail, ease of build and finished look from...
1/ The Revell Mosquito  (Bomber nose Family Ill count thee as one)
2/ Hong Kong's release of the De Havilland Mosquito B Mk. IV (bomber nose)
3/ Hong Kong's release of the  Mosquito B. MK IX and XVI  (Twin stage merlin bomber nose)
4/ Tamiya's De Havilland Mosquito FB Mk.VI
By no means is this list in an order of my of preference. Those not wanting to spend a fortune and wanting an easier construction might want to get the Revell kit, Those wanting easy buildability and a median-to-high price and detail will like the HK kit. Those who want to take all year to make a model and pay a premium and want a fighter nosed variant may want the Tamiya kit.

So that's out of the way - what about THIS kit from Hong Kong Models?

The Kit from Hong Kong Models...
This kit is a replica of the "B.IX" marque Mosquito. As in the real production of the Mosquito, this model was an upgrade to the "B.V" model with longer nacelles to fit the new two-stage Merlin 72 engine, this variant had a new two-speed two-stage supercharger providing increased power at medium to high altitudes. 

B.IX Bomber. 

First high altitude unarmed bomber version powered by 1680 hp Merlin 72 with a reverse flow coolant system. These intercooled engines had two speed, two stage superchargers. These had longer engine nacelles which featured an air intake for the intercoolers underneath them. The first of this marque made their maiden flight in March 1943. Capacity for four 500lb bombs in the fuselage and two 500lb bombs on the wings or extra fuselage fuel tanks and 50-gallon jettisonable wing tanks. A few were converted to take one 4000lb bomb in the fuselage with two 50 gallon jettisonable wing tanks which were later in 1944 replaced by 100-gallon jettisonable wing tanks subject to a weight limitation of 25,200lb. A Pathfinder version was developed by the RAF.

PR.IX Photo-reconnaissance aircraft. 

Photo-reconnaissance version of the B.IX, used by the RAF and US 8th Air Force for meteorological reconnaissance over Europe before all major day and night bombing raids. These have an Astrodome in the canopy and they carried the same camera set up as the PR.IV model.

You will need to build your own cameras as they are not here - lucy they are not really visible when sealed inside the Mossie
With four 225-kilogram (500-pound) bombs in the bombay and a 225-kilogram bomb under each wing, the B.IX normally had a maximum bombload of 1,350 kilograms (3,000 pounds). Some of the B.IXs were fitted with bulged bomb bay doors to carry a Cookie bomb. The B.IX was generally used for Pathfinder duties.
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 it would stand out compared to many other box arts on the Hobby store shelves.

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 to 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 are 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. 
The instructions are printed in a simple 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. some of the thinner edges like on the tips of the propeller and the leading edge of the wings will need some attention from the anding stick but nothing major at all to be concerned about.
The Photo Etch
The small photo-etch fret contains two pretty 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 replace the seatbelts according to your preference. Other Sutton harnesses like Radu or HGW are of note in this class if you would want to replace these…
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 aircraft 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 transparencies 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 with 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 with his Mk.IV build of the same kit. It did work but it’s a butt-clenching solution for a lot of modellers.

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.

The fuselage joined to the cockpit section
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 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 a rear edge that is a little too 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 leading edge seam 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) gives us most of the parts for the Merlin 72 engine, as well as wheels, tyres and legs. on both sprues. I noticed the engine mount has been removed from this sprue.
The parts for the Merlin 72 Engine look generally accurate but I would have preferred if HK had not moulded so much of the cabling straight to the engine block. It does not look as convincing as some might like 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.
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 4000 lb “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 loadout nor wing tank fitment is 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 (X2 each)
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 included on 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. 
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 in 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.

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, wingtip inserts 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 internal fuel tanks in the bomb bay are present on this sprue with the metal straps which secure them in there, the piping between the tanks also, the only thing missing in comparison tot he photo below is an opening to drain the fuel.

Both sides of the bomb bay bulkhead are here on this sprue, there is some wiring already here, but those modellers who just need that extra detail might want to add some looms of their own (you can see the rear bulkhead in the picture above showing the fuel tanks).

The cockpit framing is included, this makes it a little easier for you to paint this first, and then construct the glazed parts around that - the opening side and top glazed panels can be posed open to give you a little better of a look inside that cramped hole of a cockpit.

The cockpit crew access door, dual navigation light wingtip sections (the single navigation light are also provided in clear) 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.
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 R
Sprue R is one sprue that houses the covers on the engine nacelles of the two-stage Merlins.
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.
 The texturing on the pilot's seat cushion is seen here, it looks nice enough for this modeller.

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.

The rear wheel of the mossie is replicated in two halves here so assembly is without a problem and the slight ribbed tread detail is nice to me.
The tail and control surfaces of this can be posed which is great, simple construction for these parts and adding them to the wings and tail section makes this kit (again) a relatively simple build compared to that other brand kit in this scale of the same aircraft....
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.
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.
Four 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..
'Happy Xmas Adolf' - ground staff 'bombing up' Mosquito Mk XVI MM199 of No. 128 Squadron, No. 8 (PFF) Group, at Wyton with a 4,000 lb 'Cookie'. This aircraft was shot down by flak and crashed near the village of Benthe while on an operation to Hanover on the night of 4/5 February 1945. Lt Lt J K Wood and Fg Off R Poole were both killed.
Mosquito PR Mk.IX ML897 ?D?, of No. 1409 (Meteorological) Flight, #RAF Bomber Command - based at Wyton, Hunts "Mosquito D for Dorothy" flown by Maurice Briggs and John Baker.
Mosquito serial LR503, "F for Freddy" was a Mark IX, was built at the de Havilland, Hatfield, England plant in early 1943. The aircraft was delivered to No. 109 Squadron at Wyton, Huntingdonshire, flying her first operation on 28 May 1943. The unit was one of the original Pathfinder Force squadrons and made history flying the first radar blind bombing system known as “Oboe”, 20/21 December 1942. Mosquito LR503 received the unit code letters HS-F.

The Mosquito became known as “F for Freddie” and soon sported impressive nose art of a funny looking mosquito dropping a 500-pound bomb on a running Hitler, with original bomb operations painted white. After completing 203 operations, Freddie was transferred to No. 105 Squadron in early March 1944 and received code letters GB-F.
Flown by many different crews, Freddie flew the last operation, on 10 April 1945, to the Wahren railway marshalling yards at Leipzig, Germany.[F/O John Baker left and pilot F/L Maurice Briggs] crashed “F for Freddie” at an airshow while on a promo tour only two days after VE Day in Calgary 10th May 1945 in interesting circumstances. (see this story online for more on that)
Artist rendering of ‘F for Freddie’ buzzing the streets of Calgary on May 9, 1945.

So that is all that is in the box...

As an improvement on the previous release from HK, I can see nothing of a different quality, which is great because this kit is a good display of something that might well get made a lot simpler and quicker and with a great result that is hard to pick out from the Tamiya kit (of course the nose and the aircraft variant are obvious) but the quality of this kit built up is top drawer.

Adam Norenberg

This 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.