|1/72 Reggiane RE-2000
|Kit Number: 1272
|Reviewed by Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 32146
Imported by MRC Academy: Website: www.modelrec.com
The RE-2000 fighter was developed by the Reggiane Company, a division of the large Caproni organization, in the late thirties as a competitor for the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200. The designers obviously were inspired by the Seversky P-35, as the RE-2000 was nearly identical in many respects. Small wonder, since the designer, engineer Roberto Longhi had worked in the United States, and was very familiar with and certainly impressed by the Seversky design. The plane was designed in record time, and made its first flight on 24 May 1938. Armament was two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) Breda SAFAT machine guns mounted in the fuselage and firing through the propeller arc. Provision was made for bomb racks.
The RE-2000 had good performance and flight characteristics, and the prototype was sent to the Regia Aeronautica test establishment at Guidonia in 1939. The official reaction was mixed: performance was considered excellent, but the fuel tanks mounted in the wings caused some concern. Even the British considered ordering some of the fighters, but they lost interest when the Italian dictator Mussolini showed his potential for picking winners by joining Hitler in the war against the Allies. Production models had their problems, including critical engine cooling, poor forward visibility, gun jamming, and fuel tank vulnerability. A total of about 170 RE-2000's was built, with some going to Sweden and Hungary.
The RE-2000 was eventually developed into a more potent fighter with the RE-2001, powered by a German DB-601 engine, and the type was used in some numbers. The RE-2002 reverted to the radial engine, albeit the more powerful Piaggio P.XIX R.C.45, and these were used by both the Italians and the Germans, mainly as a close support type against partisan forces in France. The ultimate development, the RE-2005, used a German DB-605 liquid cooled engine, and only a few were built.
The reason why I am reviewing these kits together is that I recently read a review on another website which stated authoritatively that the Italeri kit was a new release. This is only partially true, as it is a new release from Italeri, but the kit is a revision of the old Supermodel molds, but with some definite improvements. This does not detract from the kit, as there are a number of older kits that, with some additional parts and added detail, could be brought close to the state of the art. Why this isn't done more often is a mystery, but Italeri has shown some initiative in this regard, and the result is a very nice kit of a significant airplane. Whether they will do the same with the old Supermodel RE-2001 and RE-2002 kits remains to be seen.
The Supermodel kit has been around for at least 30 years, and consists of 43 parts on three sprues. Two enclosed cockpit canopies are provided. Instructions are pictorial, and decals are provided for three aircraft, Italian, Swedish, and Hungarian. My 30 year old decals were long withered away, so I used the Italeri decals for both models. Panel lines are raised, and detail is rather sketchy. Holes are provided in the wing leading edges for guns that never were installed, although these do not appear in the instructions. Neither are the guns provided on the sprues. Landing gear detail is somewhat lacking, and no wheel well structure is shown. The prop and cowl are set up in such a way that the prop has to be installed on the engine before the engine is inserted between the cowling halves, meaning a fairly difficult masking and painting job. Or, you can do as I did and merely insert the prop and crankshaft into the engine after painting is completed. It could be glued, but I just stuffed mine in. Although old, the Supermodel kit can be made into an acceptable model with the addition of a scratch built cockpit and the removal of some overdone panel lines.
The Italeri Kit
This kit is identified as an RE-2000 GA. This was a long range aircraft, but this is not indicated in the instructions or drawings. The plane had extra fuel tanks, but there is no indication where these were located, whether inside the wings or fuselage or externally. Italeri's kit has a very complete cockpit, with seat with seatbelts molded in, an instrument panel complete with decals, a floor, stick, rudder pedals, and some apparently accurate sidewall detail. However, very little interior painting information is provided. The engines of both kits are identical except for the prop attachment parts. On the Italeri kit, the crankshaft is inserted in between the engine halves, and the prop can be installed after painting is completed. This is a real improvement. The Italeri oil cooler scoop fits much better than that of the Supermodel kit, which required considerable filling underneath the engine cowling. The Italeri landing gear and wheels had much more detail, and these have been reworked. The Italeri wheels are different, and have been flattened for realism. The Italeri kit also has a set of split flaps that can be installed in the up or down positions. Most photos I've seen of the airplanes show the flaps in the up position, although a few photos show them down. They appear to be segmented, with the outer or inner sections lowered at different angles. Your call on this one. The Italeri instructions are more detailed than the Supermodel ones, and use a photo method of presentation, without painting, which I thought was pretty clear. There is little cockpit detail or other interior color information, however. Exterior painting information is good, however, and the decals are excellent, except for the fact that the Hungarian aircraft decal sheet gives decals for V.406, while the drawings on the box and in the instructions show V.409. Picky picky.
One thing lacking on both kits is rivet detail. Although one would assume that an aircraft of this vintage would have featured flush riveting, this was not the case with the RE-2000. Closeup photos clearly show rows of round head rivets on the fuselage sides, and although there is some recessed rivet detail on the Italeri kit, the Supermodel kit merely has panel lines. I guess that it is unusual to complain about a lack of raised rivet detail, so I'll do it while I have the chance.
On the Supermodel kit, two canopies are provided, one with the solid rear portion, and the other with the windows. There is a clear bulkhead behind the pilot's head, which must have been intended as cockpit armor. I just ignored it and built a rollover structure just behind it. Neither canopy could be displayed open without a lot of work. The Italeri kit has a thinner canopy, in three sections, and this can be displayed opened or closed. Both canopies show the interior very well. The tail units on both kits are similar, although on the Italeri kit, there is no indication as to whether the trim tab fitting go on the top or bottom of the elevator surface. (They go on the bottom, as shown in photos and on the Supermodel kit instructions)
Small detail parts have been improved on the Italeri kit. The pitot tubes are much finer on the Italeri kit, and two are provided, one for each wingtip. You might wonder about this, but according to Capt. Eric Brown, RN, author of the old RAF Flying Review series "These Were The Enemy", Italian aircraft often has TWO airspeed indicators in addition to the two pitot tubes. He stated that the differences in airspeed on the wingtips was interesting to say the least. The venturi tube on the Supermodel kit is just a round rod on a smaller mounting post, while on the Italeri kit, it really looks like a venturi. Exhaust stacks are about the same, but the Italeri units are drilled out better. The wingtip lights are actually better on the Supermodel kit. I had to trim them off on the Italeri kit and make some from very fine plastic rod stock.
Having built and reviewed Italeri's new Fiat CR-42 kit, and also having built several of the old Supermodel kits in the past few years, I can appreciate Italeri's efforts to produce good models of Italian aircraft from the World War II period. I would suspect that the Supermodel kit can be found at swap meets and IPMS meetings, and they are probably available cheap. The new kit, in keeping with the inflation we have come to expect, is relatively expensive, although by no means as expensive as some of the newer Eastern European or Japanese kits. This kit does a lot to provide a good model of a historically important airplane (but then, aren't they all?) and I would certainly recommend getting one or two if you are interested in airplanes from this time period. It's a good kit, and I had fun building mine.
Thanks to MRC Academy and IPMS/USA for the Italeri review kit. It's a fun build. I've had the Supermodel kit for years.