Dragon's Heinkel He 162 first appeared in 1988 as part of the famous Trimaster range of "hi-tech" kits. In their day they set new standards in terms of presentation and were many modellers' (including myself) first introduction to the dark art of photoetched and white metal parts along with the standard styrene components. With the demise of Trimaster, Dragon re-engineered the kit to do away with the white metal and it is in this form that the kit has been reboxed now.
Dragon have long had something of a love affair with Mistel composites. They released a Ju 88 / Fw 190 combo in the '90s and bounced back onto the aircraft scene in 2004 by releasing a" Luft '46" double-Me 262 Mistel. The new kit builds on that and features the new Me 262 "bomb" and dolley from that model, along with the He 162 which (as far as I know) has been unavailable for some time.
Dragon's He 162 Mistel arrives in a very sturdy box which is packed to the brim with parts. The new-style packaging deserves a mention - the clear parts, etched frets and decals are separately bagged and taped to a cardboard sheet to protect them in transit. Turning to the parts themselves, you're immediately struck by the number of sprues (13!) and what looks like an extra Me 262 lurking in the box. Actually, there isn't - but by using existing sprues from their existing Me 262, Dragon provide you with masses of spare parts that aren't needed for the "bomb", including a complete fuselage and all the internal fittings. The spares box will have a field day.
So, including the spare parts (I'll make the reason why clear later), the kit comprises:
253 x grey styrene parts
4 x clear styrene parts
19 x photoetched brass parts
2 x steel hinges and rods
The really nice surprise comes in comparing the He 162 parts with an original Trimaster kit from 1988. There is hardly a trace of flash or other signs of wear to the moulds. The kit hasn't had that many outings and it really shows - this is as good as it was 18 years ago! Even the Me 262 parts - a kit which has appeared many times over the years are in surprisingly good condition. In fact, they actually look much cleaner than a 1997 Revell re-box! The dolley and Me 262 "bomb" are, to all intents and purposes, new - so the quality is, as you'd expect, spot on - and a small sprue of struts specific to the He 162 really is brand new.
Panel detail is nicely scribed. That on the Me 262 is a little finer than on the He 162 and there are some embossed rivets and fasteners. The He 162 includes some delicate detailing on the cockpit sides. Some of the parts such as the mainwheels for the He 162 are quite thick but, despite this, there's no sign of sinkage on the review sample. There are a few ejector pin marks, but these are mostly hidden out of sight.
Work begins with the He 162, starting with its BMW003. This is nicely detailed for this scale, comprising 16 parts including an etched wrap-around representation of the complex wiring . Admittedly, this is too 2-D to satisfy purists, but it does save hours of work. There is still ample scope for adding more plumbing if you wish to display the engine covers open. The original TriMaster kit included a diagram for this, and I've scanned the old instructions
as an aid.
Stages 2 - 6.
Attention turns to the cockpit, built up of 25 parts, including quite a decent version of the ejector seat. The new kit goes one better than the TriMaster original by including a nicley done etched seat harness. The instrument panel is etched and includes a small fold-in tab to represent the oxygen meter. The detail in the bezels is rather stylized, but some careful painting should help.
Time for the wings - and construction could hardly be simpler, with just 4 parts to assemble.
Now everything comes together. The cockpit is trapped inside the fuselage and the wings and engine are added, along with a choice of standard or "butterfly" tails. The TriMaster kit included ballast, but that's gone now - the instructions merely noting that some weight is needed in the nose (it doesn't state how much).
Thanks largely to its new Mistel guise, the He 162's undercarriage is omitted from the instructions. But the parts are still supplied (OK, a couple of etched items haven't made it to this release), so the scope is there to stand the Salamander on its wheels and increase the kit's potential even further. Again, I've scanned the original TriMaster instructions
and included the missing diagrams for anyone wanting to use the undercarriage parts.
If you want to display the engine, nows the time to make up 2 delicate metal hinges for the clamshell nacelle.
Time to finish off the He 162 by adding the canopy, which can be posed open or closed, along with smaller details like the cannon and pitot tube.
Stages 10 - 15.
The standard Trimaster/Dragon Me 262A is a complex kit which many modellers still prefer in some ways over the more modern Tamiya release. Although most of the parts are still included here, building the Mistel's lower component requires just 41 parts for a very simple assembly. Obviously all the cockpit and armament are unused, and even the undercarriage is blanked off to allow the aircraft to sit on its launch dolley. Would the "real" lower component have included an undercarriage? Dragon haven't included the rubber tyres, so you can't display the "bomb" without the dolley.
A neat pair of RATO rockets attach under the centre section and a small new fret carried the pylons to support the He 162. Stangely, the instructions for the Me 262 don't mention any ballast, so it could well be advisable to leave off the nosewheel doors until you've had a chance to test-fit the kit onto the dolley to check the balance.
Stages 16 & 17.
The massive rocket-powered dolley for this Frankenstein contraption is assembled now. The body is hollow and built from 4 parts, allowing plenty of weight to be added. The steerable front wheel is a 4-part item, while each 2-wheel bogey is made from 9 pieces. The tyres aren't "weighted", which seems slightly implausible considering the weight of the Mistel composite.
Finally, the Me 262 and He 162 are combined to complete the model. The Me 262 gets its stabilizers and rudder - which really would have been better added in Stage 13 (in fact they are shown already in place in Stage 14...).
The kit includes markings for 2 Mistel composites and 3 additional He 162s. Obviously, the Mistels are speculative. The painting diagrams include refs for Gunze Sangyo paints.
1. Mistel with a V-Tailed He 162 - Lech Airfield, 1945 in overall primer and filler, with an RLM 75 engine nacelle.
2. Mistel with a V-Tailed He 162 - Trebbin, 1945. This time the aircraft are camouflaged with "dark green" topsides and RLM 76 undesides and the He 162 carries markings as seen on JG1s aircraft at the end of the war.
3. A standard-tailed He 162, Junkers Factory Airfield, Bernberg, 1945, in overall primer and filler with an RLM 71 rear fuselage.
4. A captured standard-tailed He 162, as displayed at RAF Chivenor in 1971. You're given a choice of "Yellow 1" or "Red 2". The yellow looks rather too "lemon-yellow" for RLM 04 - but the colours would probably be non-standard with a post-war museum restoration paint-job.
5. A captured standard-tailed He 162, as tested at Farnborough in 1945, with what is presumably RLM 81/82 topsides.
The decals themselves are printed by Cartograph and thin and in perfect register. The sheet doesn't include any Swastikas.
As noted above, the He 162 can be modelled with it's undercarriage lowered, but it's the Me 262 which offers the most intriguing possibilities. The new fuselage for the "bomb" offers the perfect basis for modification into one of the Schnellbomber or AufKlärer designs, with a forward-mounted cockpit. True, you'll need to scrounge some wheels - but it presents some really exciting possibilities for Luft '46 fans.
I must admit the arrival of Dragon's He 162 Mistel caught me totally off guard and it's a delight to see one of the first "hi tech" kits I ever bought appear again looking so good. Despite the rather daunting parts count, this actually isn't a complicated kit and can be thoroughly recommended to anyone looking for something "different." Luft '46 modellers will love it - and, of course, Dragon have sneakily got their classic He 162 back onto the market in a very dramatic new form before a certain "young upstart" has even been released...
Thank you to Dragon Models for kindly supplying the review sample.
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