PIONEER 2 1:72 FW TA-154 MOSKITO
Reviewer: Jason Sou (rec.models.scale)
First flown on 1 July 1943, the Focke-Wulf Ta 154 began life as a proposed night fighter to combat the ever increasing RAF night bomber raids over the Reich. Like the ultimate FW 190 (the Ta 152) , chief designer Kurt Tank was permitted to use the first two initials of his surname to prefix the designation of this aircraft.
The Ta 154 was a twin engined monoplane of nearly all wooden construction with a typical armament of 2 x 20mm and 2 x 30mm cannon. Top speed was around 400 mph (644 kmh), and production was planned at 250 aircraft per month although after cancellation of the programme (after structural failure of 2 early production aircraft) in late 1944, only 50 were completed. The Heinkel 219 was preferred by the Nachtjagdwaffe and the Ta 154 saw very limited service as a night fighter.
This old Pioneer 2 kit (produced in Turkey) is reminiscent of old Frog/Novo kits and consists of 40 chunky, grey pieces, 2 clear bits, a small decal sheet, and a barely adequate instruction sheet. Parts are not numbered but it is quite easy to distinguish them. After examining the pieces for a couple of minutes I felt that this kit was somewhat basic, maybe inaccurate, and would require a fair amount of filler. Thus if a competition standard model was desired, a lot of time and effort would be needed.
Construction is illustrated by 5 small exploded views showing various stages of construction. The very basic cockpit area is sparsely furnished with 1 control column and two comfy armchairs not unlike what you would find in a lounge! No crew are supplied. It goes without saying that much extra detail will need to be added and seats replaced as the one piece canopy is large and clear.
This kit was relatively simple to build although some good size gaps were evident when the shoulder mounted wing was joined to the fuselage, and the engine nacelle to wing join was also not the best. I found the wing trailing edges far too thick and rectified this problem. The few panel lines evident are mostly raised , but as this aircraft was wooden, the lack of panel lines is acceptable. The four nose mounted aerials are overscale and I did not use parts 35 or 36 as they further detract from this area. The four aerials have a small locating lug on the base of each stalk and one would assume that this would fit in the holes provided in the nose. However, they did not fit at the right angle, so I removed the lugs and fitted the aerials at what I figured was the right position (after much reference to photos of Ta 154s). Much care, and a good eye, is needed here as they are difficult to align correctly.
The instructions suggest that weight is needed in the nose and fronts of the engine nacelles but no amount is stated, so the old trial-and-error method will need to be used. The Ta 154 has a pronounced tail-down sit similar to the Royal Navy F-4 Phantoms with their tall nosewheel strut.
The Jumo 213 engines were mounted behind annular radiators, which gives the appearance of being radial engines. No detail (like fan blades) is provided on the intake area, so this area behind the spinners looks quite bare.
Only one option is given on the decal sheet, with a colour three-view of TQ+XE on the back of the kit box. This aircraft was the V-15 which was one of the first to be fitted with the FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar. Paint colours are given as RLM numbers which will keep most modellers happy. The scheme consists of RLM 76 overall with RLM 75 splotches on the upper surfaces, RLM 70 spinners, and RLM 71 props. I was a little dubious about the red/brown hubs to the three mainwheels though would anyone else like to comment on the accuracy of this? The decal sheet is quite small but adequate and 2 swastikas are provided!
I would not recommend this kit unless your budget is limited and you cannot afford the more expensive, much superior, and more recent Hasegawa kit. If you do have a Pioneer 2 kit and contemplate building it, have plenty of filler ready, and references handy as the cockpit area is almost bare. Also required is plenty of time and patience. This exercise was comparable to building one of Frog/Novos lower quality kits.
NB. Revell/Matchbox have a Ta 154 listed in their catalogue, and I would assume that this kit is nearly identical to the Pioneer 2 kit. If the same moulds were used, maybe Revell have updated it and provided better instructions and decal choices? Would anyone like to comment on the Revell kit?
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