For some reason, I've always been keen on the Heinkel 111 as far as German combat aircraft goes. Something about its "Bug or dragonfly-ish" appearance from the front view seems slightly demented to me. The Heinkel 111 was the workhorse for Germany from the Spanish Civil War all the way to V-E day and enjoyed continuous service. It was pretty much unstoppable in Poland and France, however, due to a top end speed of about 270 mph and relatively inadequate defensive armament, it proved to be easy prey to RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain. In fact, Bomber losses were getting so bad, it was necessary to change the 111 to a night bomber which gained notoriety during the ”Blitz” on London in late 1940.
Being an avid Battle of Britain buff, I opted to build my Heinkel in this scheme from 1940. I secured and Aeromaster sheet with one such Heinkel of KGr 53, which flew out of occupied France to attack Britain. I don't know alot about KGr 53 but I know it took part in the Battle of Britain which was good enough for me. I was a little disappointed by the somewhat boring scheme and was hoping to find a 111 with colored spinners available somewhere (I like those yellow or red ones…..like from the movie). Oh well, at least it has the three white identification bars on the port wing typical of Battle of Britain 111's and will be historically accurate to boot.
This is an excellent kit. The detail is comparable to that of Hasagawa or even Tamiya with nicely engraved panel lines and rivet detail. I do have gripes though. My original intent was to create a small diorama with the bombs being loaded into the bomb bay as if it was being prepared for a mission over England. Guess what. No open bomb bay option in the likes of the Monogram B-24 or 29. Furthermore, my example’s port wing was badly warped. I had a quarter of an inch gap at the wing root. This went from bad to worse when I tried to fill the gap with superglue and it leaked out the landing gear to coat the under side of the wing for me. NOTAFINGA! It’s like running 99 yards with the football and fumbling at the goal line or sticking your tongue in a garbage disposal. Both options are painful and or embarrassing. Undaunted, I was off to the local hobby shop and my dilemma was explained to personnel there. Sympathetic, they were gracious enough to provide me another one at a significantly lower than original price to ease my pain (thanks Loren). The construction of this new airframe went without a hitch and my already previously completed cockpit, painted in RLM 66, was installed in the new replacement fuselage.
The cockpit was very detailed making resin unnecessary. A wash and dry brushing really popped out the detail and I did my usual masking tape seat belt trick to the pilot’s seat. The only problem is that it’s difficult to see once the glass nose is in place. What a waste. I wish Monogram would have given the option of opening the pilot’s top hatch to allow a better view inside as in their fighters. Fortunately, some detail can still be seen. Of course I learned after the fact there are aftermarket options involving the canopy.
The scheme is in the standard RLM 70 and 71 on the upper surfaces with RLM 65 on the bottom. I utilized my usual pre shading of panel lines before the paint and must say it turned out great. There are a lot of small panels on the wings of the 111 and it became very monotonous after a while, but the end result was worth it. I can’t wait to try this technique on my B-24 with raised panel lines. The 111’s nose was initially intimidating to me with all that glass. I just took my time and taped off each frame individually with Tamiya Masking tape strips thusly. Once complete, I went back and filled in the rest of the pane(s). This took about two nights of work. Nothing to say about the decals, their of Aeromaster’s usual quality.
As said before, I wanted to try a first diorama. I was leafing through Squadron’s “Heinkel 111 in action” book and on page 23, I saw German ground crew loading some mammoth “Blockbuster SC 1000 (1000 kgs)” bombs to the underbelly of a 111 via a bomb loader. The caption stated it was “for a mission over England in 1940”. Additional research revealed that this was common practice in the Battle of Britain days for these particular bombs (and the SC 500’s) were mounted underneath for they were too large to fit internally. The kit fortunately came with this option. Lightbulb!.….all was not lost!
I did my usual display base constructed of real dirt (sifted) and a railroad grass/saw dust mixture. A few months ago, I found a rare kit at the Hobby shop called “WWII ground equipment” by Pro Modeler. I’m told this kit is hard to find. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a Luftwaffe bomb loader included. I looked in my kit stash and found Hasagawa’s Luftwaffe Equipment set (given to me last Christmas) which came with two Luftwaffe ground crewmen.
Wallah!.....My first diorama.
The instruction sheet called for a red stripe on the middle of the loader. I first painted this area and taped off where the stripe should be. RLM 02 was then sprayed down per the instructions. The tape was lifter to reveal a perfect stripe. There were apparently several paint schemes of this loader to include one of solid RLM 66. I opted for the RLM 02 one since it looked the best to me. After a wash and weathering it turned out fairly convincing. I was unable to find satisfactory reference of the apparel worn by Luffwaffe ground crew. The instructions were vague so I improvised. I made a custom mixture of blue and grey quite similar to German pilot suits of the time. The flesh was custom mixed with Model Master skin tones. The figures were then washed and dry brushed with a lighter version of the original color at the clothing creases to pop them out. For my first figure painting session, I don’t think they turned out too bad. Granted the diorama is not Shep Paine caliber, but it will do.
This kit did produce some headaches and was one of the most challenging thus far. Some issues that surfaced could’ve been attributed to operator error and just plain stupidity. I have not touched superglue since due to mental trauma. Maybe I’m too accustomed to Tamiya’s shake and bake kits. This is and outstanding kit and requires patience, however, its still highly recommended for experienced modelers. Beginners might launch it into a wall. That said, it’s still probably the best Monogram kit out there and the only 1/48th scale Heinkel 111 on the market. I have another one in the stash which will be built as a Night Bomber. Next up are my Hasegawa Hurricane and Tamiya Spitfire to complete my growing Battle of Britain warbird collection. Anybody got an ME 110 out there?
Oh yeah, I gotta build Tim’s Jolly Rogers F-14 Tomcat first……..Before you ask, there is a loophole that allows me to stray from props. Second though, don’t ask. Wait for narrative on that plane.
Happy Modeling, enjoy the photos……..