Scale Model Kit Overview: Monogram/Pro Modeler He 111H-22/Fi 103

This is an extremely impressive-looking model kit. It is big (Lindberg once had a crude He 111 that was supposed to be 1/48-scale, but even as a ten-year old it didnít look this large. The He 111H-22 was a late model with a power dorsal turret. It was used for air launching of Fi 103 (V1) cruise missiles after all available ground launch sites had been overrun by the Allies. An Fi 103 is included in the kit, emphasizing its size even more.

Monogram provides decals for one aircraft from each of the two units involved in this operation. The sheet includes stencils but not swastikas. Both airplanes were finished with dark-green/black-green splinter over black undersides. One was also oversprayed with a mottle of light blue-grey (RLM 76 ) on all upper surfaces.

Panel lines are very finely engraved. Parts seem to fit fairly well, but the fuselage halves are markedly warped in this sample. Alignment may prove tricky given the largely unsupported, open front end of this aircraft. There is one particularly welcome structural feature, though: a pair of separate wing carry-through spars that are meant to lock the wings into the fuselage. Itís a dandy idea, if it works.

The cockpit is extraordinarily detailed, though many of the parts are close to the limits of what injection-molded plastic can represent. Internal structure is molded into the rest of the fuselage around the turret and fuselage windows. It is very heavy, but probably looks fine through the transparencies. The impressive nose glazing may be a problem. The sample looks a little cloudy. This may be a mold-release compound that will wash off. But the He 111ís deep, rounded nose is molded in one great, hollow piece, a feat of molding I donít remember seeing even in 1/144-scale kits of this airplane. Iím afraid that the distortion may be stretch marks.

The Pro Modeler instructions continue to be a major bonus. You get lots of detailed information keyed to the assembly process. I think that they make these "Pro" kits more suitable for beginners than the regular Monogram offerings. The photos are considerably clearer than those in the Pro Modeler P40E, but they still look a bit too cheaply printed. Surely the cost of the research and design shouldnít be thrown away on murky ink and cheap paper.

While we're griping about the minor matter of graphics, the box art is awful. It shows a pair of He 111H-22s launching V-1s in formation over a city lit by AAA and searchlights. The whole point of the missile was to keep the vulnerable Heinkel out of the lethal Air Defense of Great Britain zone. The lumbering bombers generally carried out launches from wave-top height in Dutch coastal waters. Even so, they suffered heavily from nightfighter attacks. Starting the buzz bombís Argus pulse-jet was like lighting a beacon that could almost be seen in England. In his memoir, Night Fighter, C. F. Rawnsley gives a dramatic account of intercepting one of the Heinkels (Rawnsley was night fighter ace John Cunninghamís radar operator).

All these criticisms are minor quibbles. Even if the canopy does prove to be defective, the kit is still magnificent. Monogram is also to be commended for its daring in issuing so esoteric a subject.

Our thanks to Monogram for the review sample.

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© 1996 by Robert Craig Johnson. First published in Eagle Droppings, the Newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Chapter, IPMS/USA.