Last year was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, yet it passed without the fanfare I would have expected. Some kits have been released, though in 1/32nd only the Luftwaffe has fared well. Revell of Germany began with their superb JU-88A, followed on by a spate of Bf 109 Emils from Eduard (E-1 E-3 and E-4), Trumpeter and now Dragon (both the ubiquitous E-4). Unfortunately, book releases have been surprisingly thin. So Kagero’s series entitled “Battle of Britain” in two volumes (part of their Top Colors series) comes as a welcome addition to hobby resources.
The strength of the book is its combination of full-color aircraft profiles with decals for those same aircraft in three popular scales (1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/32nd). The first volume was devoted entirely to German planes, but the second book, though still weighted heavily towards the Luftwaffe, has some excellent Spitfire and Hurricane subjects. Tucked away on the first page is an exhaustive reference list of the sources used in compiling the books’ subjects.
The 34-page book measures 8" x 10 3/4" and has full-color profiles of:
4 Mk. I Spitfires
6 Mk. I Hurricanes
1 Bf-109 E-1
2 Bf-109 E-3
4 Bf-109 E-4
2 Bf-110 C-2
1 Bf-110 C-5
1 Bf-110 D
Plus three decal sheets with unit crests, kill markings, and numerals, plus sequential fuselage numbers for German aircraft (the small digits along the base of the port side at the seam of each section).
The challenge in building a model other than using the decals and painting guide provided by the manufacturer isn’t just that those profiles are sometimes boring or even incorrect. The trick is finding the right decals to recreate the exact plane from your reference(s). The profusion of photographic evidence makes it harder to “fudge” markings these days. We not only know what Adolf Galland’s or B.J Jennings’ aircraft looked like, but we often are faced with the exasperating realization that period camouflage is so damnably variable. No sooner does a historian declare that a particular group had a particular combination of national markings and numbers than a photo turns up that turns our certainty on its head.
Then we find that, given the wide variability of markings throughout the war, no one makes decals for that particular variation (especially difficult in 1/32nd scale).
Kagero has provided a one-stop-shopping solution: ten RAF and eleven Luftwaffe aircraft to choose from with the decals you need in three scales. They include enough material for a shelf-full of kits, though no national markings are included. Unlike with most AM decal manufacturers who include everything (at the same price as this book), Kagero assumes you’ll use the basic decals (including any stenciling) from the base kit, and provide only those markings that give the particular aircraft its unique identity.
And unique some of them are: several of the RAF planes have no national markings on the underside of their wings, or non-standard roundels. And the Luftwaffe camo is decidedly NOT the usual “yellow nose” Emils that every kit maker feels obliged to use. For example, “White Nine,” a Bf-109 E-4 flown by Oblt. Hermann Reifferscheidt, the Staffelkapitän (“squadron commander”) of Jagdstaffel 2, has its Kommodore (“commodore”) markings over-painted in RLM 02, and a disruptive pattern of RLM 71 sprayed over RLM 65 that looks as if the painter had the shakes of someone coming off a Meth high.
The one serious flaw with the book is its omission of roundels in non-standard sizes. Several of the profiles involve “small” Type C roundels on the under wing, and at least one Spitfire uses the oversize 49” fuselage roundel. In my particular case, I’m rescuing an old Revell/Hasegawa Mk. I with only one size of roundels. I can appreciate the added expense of including roundels, but the non-standard profiles may leave consumers scrambling.
My other criticism of the book is the inclusion of two Polish aviators in the profiles, Sgt. Stanislaw Karubin and an unidentified flyer whose plane sported the Polish national markings on both sides of the cockpit. I get it that Kagero is a Polish company, and non-British pilots are definitely heroes of the conflict. But there are only ten RAF profiles included, with no other exiles or Commonwealth pilots. A better solution might have been to devote the entire volume to the RAF and thereby include more non-standard planes.
Serious modelers will research a kit before building it. That’s the way it should be. Unfortunately, not all of us want to devote that much time (and resources) to building a kit or two for subjects we may only have limited interest in. This book probably isn’t for the dedicated “Battle of Britain” aficionado. But for anyone who wants to go beyond OOB paint schemes, it will give you excellent options that require nothing more than a base kit and paint.
Not bad if you ask me.
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Highs: Clear, colorful profiles of specific aircraft with the decals to customize OOB kits to those particular planes. Good, if brief details about the aircraft and its pilot (where known).Lows: Not enough RAF profiles (given volume I) and odd, non-standard roundels not included.Verdict: An excellent resource for anyone who wants to customize their builds without spending a fortune on decal sheets.
Our Thanks to Kagero Publishing! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.