Friday, March 16

In-Boxed:1/35th Scale Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri from MiniArt Models

Today Andy Moore starts looking at Miniart's new 35th scale version of the Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri ("Hummingbird")  in 35th scale. This is the start of a whole new series of aircraft from the Ukranian model maker. Before he starts construction in his review see what Andy thought of the kit and its contents.

In-Boxed: Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri 
From MiniArt Models
1/35th Scale
Kit No# 41001
Injection Moulded Kit
Series: Aircraft Miniatures
Box size: 345 x 240 x 60мм
Parts QTY: 185
Price -  ¥4,800/ US$47/ £32/ €38 from Hobbylink Japan

MiniArt's latest release came somewhat out of the blue when it was first announced, being an aircraft model (or helicopter, at least) rather than the company's usual stomping ground of AFVs and figures. It definitely piqued my interest when I first saw it though, as I always like to see manufacturers bringing out unusual of lesser-known subjects. I was very keen to see how MiniArt have tackled their first aircraft subject, but before we dive into the box, a brief history of the 'Hummingbird'.
The FL 282 Kolibri (Hummingbird) was developed in the early 1940's by German aviation engineer Anton Flettner, and is considered to be the world's first serial production helicopter. The Kolibri used an inter-meshing rotor arrangement which comprised two twin-bade rotors mounted side-by-side that would rotate in opposite directions. Power came from a seven-cylinder SH 14 radial engine mounted behind the single seat cockpit
A series of prototypes, carrying a 'V' designation, were used for trials beginning in August 1941, with the first untethered flight being made by prototype V-2 in October of the same year. The early models feature a glazed cockpit, but from V-5 onwards, the prototypes had either a fully open cockpit or a simple plexiglass windshield. The German Navy were particularly interested in the FL 282 for use in the submarine spotting role. Several sea trials took place, with the Kolibri carrying out repeated take-off and landing tests from a pad mounted on various Kriegsmarine vessels.
Although later 'A' and 'B' production models saw use in both the naval role and later in an artillery spotting role, the type never saw widespread use. As the war drew to a close, bombing and advancing allied ground forces resulted in most of the aircraft being lost. Three examples did survive though, one being captured by Russian forces, and the other two by American troops. These last two are still around, one housed at the USAF museum in Dayton, Ohio, and the other at the Midland Air Museum in Coventry, England.

The Kit
This comes in a standard medium-sized MiniArt box, with a sturdy corrugated base and a rather tight-fitting lid. Something you often expect when opening a MiniArt box is to be greeted by a huge number of sprues, often holding hundreds of tiny parts. It was something of a breath of fresh air then to find only a handful of sprues and a fairly average parts count. That's not to say the kit isn't detailed, because it is. It's just that MiniArt have resisted the temptation to provide ten parts for a section when one would do the job fine.
In total, there are seven sprues in a medium grey styrene, two of which are duplicates, plus a small clear sprue for the searchlight. In addition, there's a small photo etch fret, the decal sheet and, of course, the instruction manual. All the sprues are bagged for protection, although I did find one broken part despite this. That was probably more down to the delicate nature of many of the framework parts, rather than the packaging itself, although MiniArt could probably have used a smaller box to prevent the sprues from rattling around as much.
Sprue A
First up we've got the main fuselage sections along with some additional framework parts. The bulk of the real Hummingbird's construction was an open frame, skinned with doped fabric, and MiniArt have excelled themselves in the way they've reproduced that stretched fabric effect on the kit parts. It shows up particularly well on the tail boom sections, where the appearance of the framework beneath the skin can be clearly seen, without looking over-stated.
The effect gets a little lost under the camera lights, but you can still see how effectively MiniArt have captured the look. The plastic does look a little swirly here, but there are no imperfections on the surface, so it shouldn't be a problem once painted.
Sprue Ad
Here we've got the parts for the vertical tail and rudder, the tail skid, and more framework. The rudder had some odd patterning on it which I've seen on other sprue shots of this kit. It almost looks like the mould has been hit with a buffing wheel and left a mark that's then transferred to the sprue. I can't feel anything on the part, apart from the intentional stretched fabric texture, but I'll probably hit it with some primer before assembly, just to make sure.
This is the sprue where I found the one broken part. Unfortunately, it's on a rather awkwardly shaped frame section, and is quite visible on the finished build, being the main support frame for the tail and rudder. Hopefully though, I should be able to fix it without too much bother.
Sprue B (x2)
These two sprues hold some of the engine parts, the wheels, and the main rotors. Both the nose and main wheels are built up from two halves, so there'll be some clean-up required. Nothing too problematic though. It would have been nice to see the large main wheels moulded with a pressure bulge on the tyre, but you can always sand a flat spot yourself to replicate the effect (or wait for some after-market resin wheels).
It's nice to see that MiniArt have moulded the main rotor blades with some droop built in. That should make them look a little more natural, and saves you from having to bend the blades yourself.
Sprue Be
More framework, and the horizontal stabilizers. There's a lot of frame parts in the kit due to the design of the aircraft but, apart from that one broken piece above, MiniArt have done a great job with these sections. There's no flash, the sprue gates are fairly minimal, and there are only minor mould lines to clean up. Having said that, these parts are fragile by their nature, so you'll need to take care when removing them and doing any clean-up work.
Sprue C
Here we've got more engine parts and most of the bulkheads and panels for the engine compartment. You won't find masses of intricate detail here, as the real thing was a fairly simple machine. What is there is cleanly moulded and sharp though.
Sprue Ca
This one holds the bulk of the engine parts, together with some cockpit details and control linkages. There's one noticeable bit of flash in the middle of the engine cylinder section, but that can be removed very easily, and that was about the sum total of flash I found on the whole kit.
The seat pad has some great looking wrinkles on it. They should respond very nicely to bit of dry brushing.
The Kolibri only had a basic instrument panel, but it's nicely reproduced in the kit, and with the individual dial decals, it should look the part on the finished build.
Sprue D
The busiest sprue in the box, with lots of small details, although still fairly restrained by MiniArt standards. Most of these will go on the engine and in the surrounding area.
Clear Parts & Decals
There's only a small clear sprue in this release (there may be future releases of the Kolibri with the glazed cockpit), which carries the reflector and lens for the nose wheel-mounted light.

The decal sheet is printed in Ukraine by a company called Decograph. It's clear and sharp for the most part, but a few of the smaller decals have some missing sections. As is common with WWII German subjects, the swastikas are printed in two sections, as those markings are illegal to reproduce in full in many countries.
The dials for the instrument panel are supplied both as a single panel decal and as individual dials. Personally, I'll be going with the separate dials, as they'll look far better over the raised detail on the instrument panel.
As mentioned above, a few of the smaller decals have been miss-printed slightly with small areas missing. It's a bit of a shame, but I don't think it will be all that noticeable on the finished model.
Photo Etch
The PE fret comes in its own neat little card envelope. It helps to protect the fret from damage. The sheet comes with a clear film on both sides which keeps it clean and helps to prevent parts from pinging off into thin air when you cut them away from the frame.
The fret is a fairly small one, with a few brackets and details for the engine, and a set of belts for the pilot's seat.
MiniArt's standard style A4 portrait format manual. It's well printed, with glossy paper for the front and back pages, where you'll find the marking guides, and regular paper for the remaining pages. There are 31 build steps in all, spread over six pages with clear line drawings for each step.
You get a choice of four marking options, although three of those are broadly the same, being an overall light grey. The fourth has RLM 71 dark green upper surfaces and RLM 65 pale blue undersides. Bear in mind that this kit represents a specific prototype and as such, all the marking options are of that one aircraft. Unlike some of their recent releases, MiniArt haven't specifically teamed up with AMMO on this release, but they do list their paints in the colour chart, along with Vallejo, Mr Color, Humbrol and Testors, so there should be at least one range that suits your preferences.
Sometimes when I open the box of a MiniArt kit, I'm a little nervous about what I'm going to find inside. In my experience, they can at times over-engineer their kits, which can make the builds more complex than is really necessary. I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when I opened this one though, as MiniArt seem to have got the parts count just about perfect. 

There's enough there to keep you busy and result in a detailed model, but not so much that you become overwhelmed. The parts all look cleanly moulded, and I don't foresee any real problems with assembly. The only real concern I have right now is that the kit looks like it has the potential to be a bit of a tail sitter and, with the open cockpit, there isn't really anywhere to put any nose weight. I think, for that reason, some sort of base might be in order. I'll have a look at that, and see how well the kit goes together in the upcoming build. From what I've seen so far though, this looks like it should be a fun build and result in an interesting and unusual model. 

Definitely a great start to MiniArt's aircraft line.

Andy Moore

Many thanks to the guys at MiniArt in Ukraine for sending Andy the kit. Stay tuned for the build here at TMN.