Horten Ho-229 – Zoukei-Mura’s flying wing in 32nd scaleDN Models
Horten Ho-229 flying wing was first in many achievements once it was introduced in the late days of WWII. For its time it was beyond revolutionary and you can tell by looking at it nowadays. 70 years later. This is twin-engine jet-fighter/ jet-bomber, implementing flying-wing concept, stealth capabilities and ejection seat.
For the current times it might not sounds like a lot, but at the time of its first appearance it was almost science-fiction.
The airplane was designed to fit the 3 x 1000 requirement. Carry 1000kg bomb at a distance of 1000km with speed of 1000km/h. Ho-229 actually got pretty close to that: it was able to carry two 500kg bombs, with a speed of over 900km/h, with unknown exact range, since the program was killed by the end of the war. Ceiling that Horten was able to reach was over 15 000m, at a stunning rate of 22 m/s. It was planned to be armed with 2 x MK 108 guns and with R4M rockets. Pretty sophisticated technology for 1944-1945.
In addition to all that, this is considered to be the first stealth fighter. Reimar Horten mixed charcoal dust with the glue for the wood parts in order to help radio wave absorption. That, with the fact that the cross-section of the flying-wing design is pretty low in general, helped to hide the airplane from the radars, especially the early versions. By many this is considered a happy coincidence, while others claim that this was thought-through idea by the German engineers.
Whatever the case, that was closer to an alien spaceship than to the aircraft typical for the time. Just take a look at the Me-109 and P-51.
The Box and the Boxart:
Even though planned as a jet-bomber, the plane was more suitable for a jet-interceptor and no-fly-zone protector. Maybe that is the reason why, Zoukei-Mura picked that particular boxart image for their 32nd scale beast. We have a flying Ho-229, just pierced through a British Lancaster, falling from the sky in flames.
The camouflage depicted is more idea than reality, since there were no production aircraft flying. However, the look of the two planes in the skies depict pretty neatly the idea: old-looking obsolete 4 engine prop-bomber, being attacked by an engineering miracle. Something like the past on the background and the future wiping it off from the skies.
The box itself is with rather luxurious appearance. Almost glossy surface of the top, looking like a canvas. For example, the Hobby Boss or Trumpeter models with the same box size show the cardboard lines beneath the picture and the lower quality is quite visible. Here, nothing of a kind can be seen.
The sides are yellow, just like on the Zoukei Mura’s Heinkel He-219 Uhu kit.We have pictures, depicting what can be considered as the “highlights” of the kit. Everything is described with a short text beneath the shots, unfortunately in Japanese only.
The pictures speak about themselves though. They show just enough, so to reveal the complexity of the design of this Zoukei-Mura Horten kit. We have a stand-alone engines, which if you decide to display on their own, you will be still more than good to go.
We have the fuselage frame, which can be left as it is also. The outer parts, seen here are depicting the frame tube structure and the assembled kit on the box sides gives a clear vision of the option available. Alongside with that, we have two shots of the built and fully completed airplane, making you wonder what’s beneath the finished surface and somehow makes you feel sorry for all the goodies that can be displayed and not been in this particular case.
Tricky move Zoukei-Mura! That will make us want more than one kit on the bench!!!
The Instruction sheet:
As with the Heinkel instruction sheet that we have reviewed already, this one here is superbly done helping tool. It has a lot more than the regular instruction sheet that you are used to see in a scale model kit. Besides being done in a retro-manner, with wonderful colors and slightly worn appearance, the booklet is made from great material as well.
The contents are arranged just like a book and if you are careful enough and follow closely the advisory, you are almost guaranteed to be successful in the end. That should not full you to think that the build is easy. It has been simplified as much as possible and alongside with this wonderful instruction tool it will definitely be breeze compared to DML build for example. However, as a whole, the kit is challenging and first-timer might have substantial troubles taking the right decisions every step of the way.
All that being said, you can see that the SWS Design Concept boxes are all over to guide you, we have color depictions and clear and not over-busy areas of building. We have Vallejo paints described as colors, which is also pretty straight forward process, since those are available pretty much everywhere.
I know that many don’t like them, nor AK or MIG in that matter, but once you get to know them they are OK. Besides, Vallejo RLM colors are very good and many agree on that. If you take the long and unhealthy road to research RLM, you will find out in the end, that if you want to use solely one brand for those, Vallejo is the name.
The Decals and Masks:
If you are reading this, you are probably familiar that DN Models is based on mask designs. So, I know my way around those products. With Zoukei-Mura’s Ho-229, we have canopy mask set included in the box. It is made from light-green flexible masking tape, unknown origin – at least for myself.
The masks are great looking, and even though they appear to be shrinking a bit in time, the change is minimal. Outlines of the shrunken product are even easier to be found, so removing the mask patch from the sheet is easier. Of course, as everything else, the downside of shrinking has its upside too.
The decal sheet is not as big as seen in the Zoukei’s He-219 A-0 Uhu in the same scale, but the quality is again – superb. We have numbers in three different colors.
Inside of the cardboard box, there is a separator in the middle, dividing it into two halves. Each halves contains two kinds of sprues, arranged in layers:
First we have transparent parts. At first glance, this is pretty scary, since transparent parts are more pretentious when it comes down to airplane modeling. Not in this case though. Here they are presented more like an option, than a mandatory transparency. The only actual difference is the material: you can see through it and it is clear, although somehow – milk-ish. This is probably to make difference from the canopy clear part itself. Transparency is perfectly suitable to see through and examine the internals of this Horten twin-jet.
On the second layer of sprues, we have the light grey plastic, the same that we’ve seen in the Heinkel He-219 Uhu kit. It is soft and easy-to-work with material. Everything is molded with precision and even though the parts are big, the details are superior than any other company out there, giving us 32nd scale kits. Maybe Tamiya are the only one comparable and only about their newest props. Otherwise, ZM is better.
Combination of those two types of plastic is interesting approach toward a modeler. I have built 32nd scale kit with transparent parts /F-4 Phantom from Tamiya/ but it was only the front of the jet. Here we have most of it with the option to leave it out for viewing. This means a lot of things: you should be very careful building the interior frame and parts of the bird – like the engines, the tube frame and the tanks. It also means, that gluing the transparent parts will require your best skills and devotion, so to manage to hide all the glue marks and attachment points.
In the same time, you have the option to paint only parts or 1/2 of the model, and leave one side visible, while the other – with standard camouflage and markings.
Whatever floats your boat.
The first thing that caught my attention when I was looking at the instructions were the engines. The fact that we have the rotors and the stators inside just stunned me. After all, this is 32nd scale kit and not all the internals are to be done and presented. Obviously, Zoukei-Mura decided otherwise.
The jet engines of the real Ho-229 were state of the art technology. The jet engines of the ZM plastic model kit are alike. The transparency of the outer shell of the aircraft is mandatory, when you come to look at that perspective. It is a heresy to leave those two babies hidden beneath the surface. Cutaways are another great idea if you ask me.
Take a moment to look closely at the pictures and you will see my point:
The clear parts /of the canopy & engine covers/:
We have two options for the canopy. What is interesting to be mentioned, is that the clear material for the outer parts of the aircraft and clears for the actual transparent parts are different. With slight exclusion mentioned below. This is clever move from Zoukei-Mura, simultaneously arousing your attention and interest, and give you a warning hint.
There is no other way around it if you come to think of it. It will be pretty odd looking if the transparent intakes were clear as the canopy. This can be seen on airshows, where jet engine manufacturers have their turbofans on display with all the moving parts inside rotating and stealing your attention. The whole engine looks naked, purely for advertising purposes.
Zoukei obviously didn’t wanted to create that sort of a display case, but rather more delicate and sophisticated look. With what you can see as a difference here, I think you would agree, that they did it!
What they did in respect of the engines was, that the top covers of the engines were made more transparent. That way you can have a glimpse inside. Just like Tamiya did with their transparent nose F-4 in 32nd scale. The overall body transparency is milk-ish the engine intakes too, only the tops clear the view.
More than enough!
Additional part included in my package:
Upon delivery, inside of my cardboard box but outside my kit box, I found what you see on the picture above. This is a substitute part for one you can find on the sprue OOTB. The reason for having this part replaced is kinda obscure for me, since at first glance I saw nothing wrong with the original part. However, Zoukei-Mura probably know better and I am sure it will all be revealed once I get to know the kit better during the assembly process. It is a nice touch to have this included and means a lot to many modelers. It is a clear sign that the company values the clients and respects their needs while keeping its own reputation at the highest.
The profile of the Horten Ho-229 is pretty much an exact copy of the profile of a Peregrine Falcon. For that you can judge from the long-circulating picture of a B-2 comparison with that bird of prey. However, B-2 is not the plane that everything started with. Just the contrary – it was the one that it is in the end of the story so far. It started with Ho-229 and its scaled-up proposal for Amerika Bomber – Horten H.XVIII. Then many designs followed, based on Horten Brother’s ideas.
Zoukei-Mura managed to combine many ideas into one scale model kit as well: Engines and their internals, transparent parts, aicraft airframe and internals – quite a mix of ideas. Just like Horten Ho-229 was in real life.
The kit itself is massive and will present the modeler with challenges, although Japanese maker tried to simplify it as much as possible and pulled-of instruction sheet that will go along the build as a true helping-tool not just a guide for what step comes next.
Material quality is superb as well, decals are beautiful nevermind that you can do a damaged unmarked vehicle out of it. Masks are included and a lot of aftermarket stuff from Zoukei-Mura themselves are available. So…
Horten Ho-229 is one of a kind, stunning in appearance, full with innovations engineering miracle, which served as a base for many aviation inventions later incorporated in other designs. No wonder why Zoukei-Mura introduced such a serious kit with such amazing quality to the market.
It definitely deserved the respect and the effort.
For any WWII fan, any aviation fan, any German warplanes fan – this is a MUST!