Hobbycraft 1/48 Avia S-199

101 Squadron, Israeli Air Force, Israel 1948

I purchased this Hobbycraft kit in 2001 and built it during 2007 alongside a sister kit, Academy’s Spanish HA-1112-M1L. It’s a good kit. The surface detail was a little inconsistent, so I rescribed the recessed detail. I didn’t have any references for this aircraft, so I relied upon what’s on the various modelling websites, used the excellent 109 Lair and 101 Squadron websites, and what I could find in the modelling magazines I have. Still, I let a few errors slip through!

The overall fit of the kit was good. I built the cockpit straight from the box, so the seat is lacking belts, but the detail is good enough for me. Because the cockpit is so dark not a lot can be seen. The upper wings were attached to the assembled fuselage, to ensure the best fit possible, and then the lower wing was attached. Assembly was fast and uneventful. The only major fit issue I found was the canopy and windscreen, which are an appalling fit to the fuselage. Not a lot one can do about that…

Some small changes were made to the kit. I replaced the pitot tube and underwing guns with brass tube and drilled out the barrels of the fuselage guns and the engine exhausts. I was not convinced with the kit instructions to attach the wheels vertical to the ground, since contemporary photos of IDF S-199s show them canted. I would have used the thinner wheels, but had to use the wider ones since the thinner examples were in England and the model was built in China. References led me to use the short tailwheel and tall antenna mast, remove the smaller strake from the cannon bulges, and use part D16 instead of D4. Cameron Lees, in his article on this model in Scale Models International (September 1995) stated that Hobbycraft got the shape of the the wheel wells wrong; they should be round. However, photos on the 101 Squadron website clearly show (in my opinion) that at least some IDF Avia’s had the wells as shaped in the kit. So I left them alone.

The assembled model was cleaned in detergent and then primed using Mr Surfacer 1000. I then only handled the model wearing gloves and preshaded the model with black followed by airbrushing white on the rudder and the rest of the airframe Mr Color RLM02. The spinner was sprayed red and the prop black. Johnson’s Klear was used as a clear coat followed by a pin wash of black oil paint thinned with Zippo lighter fluid. The kit decals were used, but I sliced the red stripes from the rudder decal and applied them separately. The kit instructions offer many choices for stencils and I just guessed which ones to use. They also offer the rear fuselage stripe in red or blue; I believe that, going by contemporary pictures, blue is the correct colour. The kit decals were thin but lacked adhesion; I didn’t like them. They did not react especially well to Mr Mark Softer. The finish was toned down using Pollyscale Flat and Satin finishes mixed 50/50.

I read Yoav Efrati’s article on the S-199 in Model Aircraft Monthly (June 2007) two days before I finished the kit. This revealed several errors in my build which, in hindsight, were obvious. First, I painted the prop black. Photos show a lighter tone, and Mr Efrati used the airframe colour, so my propellor is the wrong colour. My second major error is that I may have used the wrong colour for the airframe. Mr Efrati believes, on good authority, that RLM02 is incorrect (although it was believed to be correct for many years) and that RAL6013 was the true colour. We live and learn. If Mr Efrati’s information on the stencils is correct, I also made some small errors here — I should have used red for the handhold and step stencils and probably some different triangles. One further detail was the wingtip lights. Photos of most Bf109Gs I could find on the ‘Lair’ showed clear lenses with coloured bulbs, although I did find some pictures of restored aircraft with coloured lenses. I thought about this detail too late, and if I were building the kit again, would cut out the wingtip lights and replace them with clear sprue.

Despite my errors, I am quite pleased with the overall effect. The colour is close enough, to my eyes, to be passable, and the prop I will have to live with. A nice kit that was a fairly quick build.

Year bought: 2001 (Dorking Models, Dorking)

Year built: 2007 (Caiyuan, Zhengzhou, China)

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