Tuesday, August 24

Build Review Pt.II: 1/32nd scale CR. 42CN WWII Italian Night Fighter From ICM Models

ICM's new 1/32nd scale Fiat CR,42 Falco "CN" model replicates the famous Italian night fighter of World War Two. Today Alister gives us the second part of his review of the kit with the colours, weathering & a finishing guide. See what he thought about it in his story..

Build Review Pt.1: CR. 42CN WWII Italian Night Fighter
From ICM Models
Kit No #32024
1/32nd scale
Model Length 258mm / Width 303mm
Number of Parts 178
Four marking choices in the box
Previous parts of this story:

Build Review Pt.II: CR. 42CN WWII Italian Night Fighter painting, weathering & finishing...

Choosing a paint scheme:
Given the choice of options in the box as detailed at the start of this article, it was my preference to build one of the camouflage schemes, rather than one of the all-black schemes. 

The schemes provided in the box from ICM
On doing a little internet sleuthing prior to starting the kit, I settled on a somewhat hybrid scheme for an aircraft flying for 300. Squadriglia. Based on the black and white photos below, these aircraft had a standard camouflage top side, with the traditional underside grey colour on the lower sides, but overpainted with black underneath the top wing, with black wing struts. The nose cowling, which might have started life in yellow, was overpainted in a dark green, with the camo applied in the lower side, thus covering all of the yellow. 
I found a drawing online showing all sides (as per below) which I have used as a paint guide. This image doesn’t show the top camouflage pattern well, so I’ve loosely based mine on the pattern of spots from the manual from ICM.

The first step of the paint was to apply the underside grey. For this, I have used the Vallejo Model Air Pale Blue Grey. The underside was then masked for the top colour, starting with Tamiya’s flexible tape for curves, like so:
The top colours I have mixed myself for this project, trying to eyeball the colour from my computer screen from photos of the restored examples in Museums.

Starting firstly with the base colour, this is a mix of three colours. Vallejo 71311 IJN Ash Grey, 71015 Dark Green, and a very small touch of Ammo A.MIG-0275 Giallo Mimetico 3.

Base colour complete
The next step was the most time consuming for the build, the two colour mottle camouflage, apologies for not enough photos here, I mostly just sat down and pushed through it all while the paint was still fresh in the airbrush. Again the two colours were mixed by eye. The green spots are mostly Vallejo 71104 RLM62 Green, with a touch of a darker green added. The brown spots are mostly Vallejo 71418 IJN Medium Brown with also a touch of a darker brown added (Hull Red in this case). They were hand-painted by airbrush, a Badger with a 0.2mm needle, at around 12-13psi. I had quite a bit of trouble with the airbrush tip drying on the green colour that was painted first, but some extra Vallejo Flow Improver added to the brown mix helped a lot with this problem for my second colour. The pattern is somewhat based on the instruction manual from ICM, but in reality, I found this difficult to emulate, so a fair amount of ‘artistic licence’ has been used here. Following the completion of the painting, I’ve had a little overspray around the edges of the spots needing to be attended to. This has been tidied up with a 50/50 mix of water and Simple Green cleaner, and cotton buds (cotton swabs). Once the swab is wet and softened, I’ve then buffed the paintwork with the cotton swab, focusing on removing any overspray from around the spots. I use this mix of cleaner and water to clean my airbrush when using Vallejo acrylics, so be careful if trying to do this yourself at home, it will strip the Vallejo back to plastic if too much pressure is used. 
The polishing I’ve done with it though leaves the surface nice and smooth and makes the spots really blend and flatten into the base colour. I’ve rubbed some of the raised surfaces a little bit heavier to simulate some wear and tear on the paintwork, i.e the spot camo being worn off from on top of the base colour.
The dark green top half of the engine cowling could now be masked and painted. This again was a mix of colours, Vallejo 71012 Dark Green and 71021 Black Green. The white tail band and white cross for the tail were also masked off, and these were painted with SMS brand, Insignia White. The coverage of this white was excellent to cover over the camo scheme underneath. This is my first time using SMS paints, and I was impressed with how well they airbrushed. I will definitely look to use them again in the future.

Green and white parts complete:
The decals were next, and this scheme only requires 12 to be placed onto the model. I did not apply a gloss varnish prior to placing the decals, the surface was already suitably smooth enough. The decals from ICM are in my opinion a mix of good and bad characteristics, that requires handling with care. They are very thin and soft, so the positive to this, is once done, they look amazing, and look very much painted on. The negative is they are inclined to curl up on themselves, and are difficult to move once placed.
 I found myself stretching the insignia decal on the top of the wings, rather than moving it around and into place. As such one side isn’t placed exactly where I wanted it, but at risk of damaging the decal trying, I had to be happy with how close I managed to get it. The squadron logo just under the cockpit is not placed exactly where I wanted it either, but once the first one was placed this just didn’t want to move at all, and the other side was placed to match it. But, now they are done, and under a coat of Vallejo Mecha Satin varnish for the whole model, they really do look painted on and I can’t ask for more than that.
The Falco’s propeller is a simple affair, just flat black on one side, with a grey colour to the front. Pictured here is a dry fit of the propeller and a close up of the engine subassembly, ready to fit at the end.
With the camouflage complete on the top wing, this was now masked off, and black primer (Ammo One Shot) and then Tamiya Rubber Black was applied to the lower side. I removed all the wing struts from their sprues and painted these at the same time. So I wouldn’t have any difficulty in fitting them later, I labelled them for the painting process. As you can see here though, the wings have nice recessed areas for the wing struts to mount into, and it would be difficult to mount one into the incorrect recess hole. Prior to attaching the top wing, I have applied an all-over oil-based wash over the model (but not the black underside of the top wing). This was mixed from Ammo Oil Brusher “Starship Filth” and white spirit, then brushed on, aiming to hit all the panel lines, of which there are very few on this model. Once dry, I’ve rubbed this off with a dry paper towel.
To fit the top wing I followed the steps as suggested in the manual and took my time. Some elastic hair ties from my wife’s collection assisted in the process to hold the wing in place while the supports over the fuselage set with the top wing in place. The remaining wing struts fitted easily once I figured out which way round they mounted. With the upper wing now attached to the lower, the resulting structure was very strong!
From this point, it’s all about attaching the last of the subassemblies. The landing gear firstly. I was a bit concerned about how well this might stay in place, so I attached both the main legs with super glue. But once the supporting arms were mounted this all appears to be strong and secure. Once the wheels were on, the engine and cowling with the propeller now fitted could also be fitted. Machine guns were painted in Tamiya Rubber Black, before a light dry brushing with Vallejo Gun Metal. Once the cockpit masking was removed, I recreated the leather padding on the framing of the cockpit with a seam of Micro Krystal Klear laid down on the edge of the framing (see photo below), and left to dry. This is then painted in the Vallejo Leather Brown as the headrest was. The leather padding was also applied to the framing of the windshield and this was finally fitted to the model as well.
The wire rigging on the outer spars of the wing struts were made from offcut sprue stretched over the heat of a candle, as are the control lines for the ailerons and rudder. After fitting and painting these I called the model complete.

E finito!
ICM has a real winner on their hands with this kit. I applaud them for taking on a project that didn’t yet exist in this scale, and they have produced a really great model of this unique aircraft that will be a welcome addition to any WW2 1/32nd scale fighter aircraft collection. The fit is perfect in places, and close to it in others that aren’t so perfect as I’ve mentioned above.

A close up of some of the Falco
The model was a no stress build from start to finish, is well engineered and flawlessly presented. The decals require careful handling, but provide an exceptional finish when set in place. The ICM plastic is quite soft compared to other brands, but I don’t feel it affects the build quality, it’s just a different feel that requires the builder to be careful with a sharp blade. This was a really enjoyable kit to build, and I hope my review today will inspire you to build your own ICM CR.42 in the future.

Alister Curnow

Thank you to ICM for sending this to Alister to build. You can find out more info on this kit on the ICM Website
See more of Alister's work on his Facebook page "Alister's Model Hangar"