I built Tamiya’s big Mosquito. It’s the latest tooling in Tamiya’s 1/32 aircraft series, and it is nothing short of fantastic. I’ve built their Corsair and that is also superb. One of these two must be the best model kit ever produced to date.
You get an enormous amount of kit for your money, and with this one not having many options, you’ll be using most of the parts. Actually one of the most surprising things with this kit is how reasonably-priced it is. In the UK it sells for about £150, where Tamiya’s other big props are in the region of £90-120 depending on model. If you feel that Tamiya’s other big props are worth the money, then this one is even more so.
Tamiya’s engineering is always impressive. With the Corsair, the engineering provides a huge array of display options while making each one fit well. With this kit, you get fewer options (more to do with how much of the internals you want to display) but they have managed to make such a huge, complex kit go together not only flawlessly, but in an absolutely idiot-proof fashion.
We often talk about building a complex kit in subassemblies. What’s interesting here is that it doesn’t really work like that: each piece adds to the whole, and the whole is strengthened by the parts being added. The only exception is the engines, which build up into their nacelles before being joined to the wing.
I love the little Tamiya touches throughout. Things like the way all the many elements in the cockpit just come together so well, with instructions that make their placement obvious. Or how the nose MGs are built up on the back of the cockpit panel, so their alignment is guaranteed. Or the solidity of the giant wings: the wing centre section literally snapped into position, not just while being test fit but two more times afterwards. Snap in, snap out, and held perfectly in place. I especially appreciated the multi-piece wheels which go together seamlessly and guarantee the correct angle for the weighting. These are a huge improvement on the rubber ones provided with their other big kits.
Despite how much I enjoyed this build, there remain a couple of tiny issues. One is the cockpit framing: unlike any other kit I have seen, large parts of the canopy frame are assembled separate from the transparency. Unfortunately, this process was exceptionally fiddly and I departed from the instructions because I don’t think it could easily be neatly built up and painted in the order they show. I opted to assemble and paint the whole frame off the model, then drop it all in as a complete piece. The other is the “removable” panels, secured with magnets. I just don’t think that these are secure enough, so after photographing the interior, it was sealed up.
The question was, which aircraft to portray? I love the Mosquito and could definitely see myself building more of these. The kit comes with three aircraft: two European fighter-bombers and one Australian PTO one. However, the more I read about this aircraft, the more I wanted to build a night fighter.
I eventually settled on one from 23 Squadron RAF based in Malta during 1943, during which time they acted as night intruders over Italy and France, attacking enemy aircraft, airfields and probably any other interesting targets. These activities caused great psychological strain on enemy aircrew in what became known as “Mosquitopanik”. An interesting little detail: though a night fighter, it is correct to represent the aircraft without airborne radar. This gear was only used over Britain, due to fears that it could be compromised if an aircraft were forced down over enemy territory.
This is where my new Silhouette mask cutter really became useful: I was able to cut myself masks for both the YP-J squadron code and the DD795 serial number. This means that I can now find an aircraft or unit that interests me and recreate it even if its markings aren’t available in the aftermarket realm. As usual, I used Topnotch masks for the camo pattern and roundels, which were fantastic; and Montex for the canopy, which were a pain. I find Montex tend not to conform to the complex curves as nicely as I would like, but since they provide both exterior and interior canopy masks, it’s a toss-up. The only aftermarket parts were HGW fabric seat belts.
Thoughts on the build
I am happy with this build. It’s a stunning model, and I think it is the best I have done to date.
I’m very pleased with the basic assembly, and a lot of the techniques used throughout. The oil paint weathering worked well, inside and out. The final use of loose pigments and stippled pigment fixer worked as well as I hoped and added nicely to the finish. Chipping was good, I felt in control of it, and on this aircraft it needed to be subtle. Only certain parts were metal, and not all of them chipped. Most of the markings were sprayed, something I’m getting used to and at least in 1/32 I’m feeling comfortable with. Even some of the more ambitious effects like the heat weathering on the flame suppressors worked well and look reasonably authentic. This is the first time I feel that I’ve been able to get a decently random, grimy look on the top of an aircraft. That was a combination of multi-colour mottling in my paint, use of a couple of colours on top with stencils, oils, and finally stippled loose pigment. However, I’m not 100% there as I feel the effect could be tighter and I have some ideas on where to go.
Some things didn’t work so well. Especially underneath, the weathering attempts just didn’t come out so well. The pattern is too big and doesn’t really look right. Since doing this, I’ve seen a different approach using multiple coloured oils dabbed onto sponge and blended, which looks really promising.
Full photo tour