Despite the failure of the He 112 in competitive trials against the Bf 109, Erst Heinkel sought permission to evaluate its combat effectiveness under operational conditions. After undergoing a series of modifications, including the fitting of a larger radiator and the replacement of the machine guns with a single 20mm cannon firing through the spinner, the He 112V-6 (identified as the 'V-3 in some books) arrived in Spain in December 1936.
The first pilot to fly the new fighter on operations was Gunther Radusch, who battle-tested the aircraft around Madrid, but it was in the hands of Wilhelm Balthazar that the "Kanonenvogel" hit the headlines. During an attack on the aerodrome where the prototype was based, it appears that Balthazar basically bluffed his way into the cockpit, claiming to be an experienced pilot when, in fact, he was serving as an observer in an He 45! On his first sortie he attacked a Republican armoured train with devastating results; his cannon-fire hit the ammunition truck which exploded, destroying the train.
The He 112V-6 flew successfully until July 1937 and its cannon armament proved particularly successful against ground targets. Finally, it was involved in a heavy crash landing following an engine failure. The pilot, Max Schulze walked away, despite having almost bitten through his tongue in the impact, but the 'V-6 was a write-off and was shipped back to Germany for examination.
Rest Models are a small Ukrainian company who specialise in resin kits of Soviet subjects and the He 112V-6 is their first model of a foreign aircraft. I came across them quite by accident whilst researching for my recent VVS aircraft builds and was instantly struck by the apparently incredible quality of the kits shown on their website. With my interest thoroughly piqued, it was inevitable that I'd have to buy a couple to see if they were as good as they looked! So I ordered the He 112 and Polikarpov I-3 (to be reviewed soon).
The He 112V-6 consists of:
50 x Resin parts
21 x Etched parts
1 x Vacuform windscreen (plus spare)
Decals and bilingual instructions
It's not often you open a kit and your first reaction is "That's impossible!", but that was my feeling more than once as I examined the parts. The photos of the parts on the Rest Models don't show any casting blocks and I'd assumed that they must have been cleaned up for the pictures. Not a bit of it! That's how the kit arrives - I can honestly say the design and casting here is better than on any other resin kit I've seen.
Surface detail consists of very finely scribed panel lines and subtle fabric effect on the control surfaces. Despite examining the parts closely I've managed to find just 3 tiny bubbles. The general finish is very smooth, but I found one small mark on the bottom of the port wing that will be very simple to correct.
The fuselage is a one-piece hollow shell with thin walls and detail on the inner surface for the cockpit entry doors. Now, one-piece fuselages in kits aren't uncommon, but they almost always share in common one nasty downside; somewhere or other there's always a nasty seam-line and usually a degree of mould-misalignment meaning a pretty major sanding and filling job. Not here... the pour stub is a small mark where the spinner attaches and the seam consists of a faint line running vertically around the fuselage. The mould halves were aligned perfectly so clean-up will be a matter of moments. Despite the fact that it's hollow, the casting is also absolutely straight.
The wings also arrive a single casting, again with a tiny pour stub and just a faint seam to take care of. The flaps and ailerons are separate and fit into correctly contoured cutouts. The wheel well is nice and deep and has some simple rib detail.
Now for the moment of truth - without any clean-up at all, I test-fitted the fuselage to the wing. They simply click together and align perfectly. The joint is so tight that filling will hardly be needed. With a natural metal finish required for the 'V6, this good fit and the minimal clean-up needed will be a huge benefit.
If the main parts are a surprise, the detail parts are astonishing. I've never seen such delicate parts in a resin kit. Items like the undercarriage doors and radiator flap are almost unbelievably thin - they would normally have to be etched metal to come close to this. Despite the delicacy, everything arrived intact and, because the parts aren't attached to casting blocks, they are almost ready to use when you open their zip-lock bag. Almost all the parts are cast individually - the only exceptions are a few items attached to "branches" on the cockpit floor.
The casting detail is great, with excellent cockpit sidewalls and seat. The undercarriage is beautifully detailed and is thankfully cast around a wire core to bear the weight of the finished model.
Rest Models supply a neat little etched fret. The principle elements are a two-part instrument panel with accompanying films and a nicely detailed seat harness. Also included are several levers for the cockpit and alternative rudder pedals which must be folded to shape. Finally there are control surface actuators.
A small vacuformed windscreen is included and Rest Models thoughtfully provide a spare. There's no framework moulded, so some strips of decal film or tape will be needed. The shape looks good, and the plastic is nice and thin, but its clarity can only be described as "adequate". A dip in Klear/Future should help, but the windscreen is probably the weakest part in an otherwise exceptional kit.
Instructions & Decals
Two sheets of instructions are provided. The first contains a detailed history of the aircraft written in English with some useful reference photos. The second is an assembly guide with excellent illustrations and bi-lingual notes. Construction is broken down onto 16 stages and, while none of the parts are numbered, they are simple to identify in the diagrams. With a relatively small number of parts and so little clean-up required, Rest Models' He 112 looks like will be a very straightforward build.
The painting instructions are very limited. There are no colours quoted for the interior at all and a simple painting / decal placement diagram merely describes the exterior as Aluminium with White tactical markings. What few photos I've seen of an He 112 prototype's interior seem to show a mixture of very pale grey and natural metal. Shots of the 'V6 in Spain indicate that the exterior n/m finish was very dark with large tonal differences between the various panels. K.A. Merrick believes that the highlighting was due to the n/m being coated with a translucent pale greenish Zinc Chromate finish, which should make for a really spectacular model.
The decals provided are simple but of very good quality. They are glossy, very thin and printed in excellent register. The fuselage markings are provided in two forms; as complete combinations of numerals and roundels or as individual items - presumably to minimize the carrier film, which has a tendency to show up on n/m finishes. This is a nice idea, but is let down because the sheet only contains one separate roundel - but you can always trim out one of the others. Finally, there are two sets of 3 black stripes which aren't shown in the painting instructions or any of the reference photos.
What a superb kit! Rest Model's He 112V-6 is a unique subject which will really stand out among other Spanish Civil War models and, in terms of its design and casting, it would make an ideal first resin kit for anyone. The only downside is that many people may blanch at its price. But, to put this price in context, compare it to the extraordinary £45 that Tamiya tried to charge for their basically re-boxed AMtech Ta 183. Of course, that doesn't make the He 112 cheap - but, let's face it, resin models never are - and certainly not of this quality. Considering the amount of work that must have gone into this kit and that I dread to think how labour-intensive it is to cast resin parts to this quality, I think it actually represents good value for money. Thoroughly recommended.
I bought my model from Neomega
and found their mail order service to be excellent with very speedy delivery.
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