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In-Box Review
German MG 81 and MG 81Z
German aircraft machine gun MG 81 and MG 81Z
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Originally published on:

If aircraft modellers are cut from the same cloth as armour modellers, be it a different colour, then we all share something in common. That something is the desire to improve upon models via the addition of after market products. Many modellers adorn their models with photo etch and resin parts, and even purchase after market decals for their builds. Armour modellers are very keen on turned metal barrels for their builds and it is brass barrels for aircraft models that this review looks at.

Master Reality in Miniature have a very good selection of brass barrels in five scales, 1/24th, 1/32nd, 1/35th, 1/48th and 1/72nd scale. In addition to metal barrels they also have a fair selection of pitot tubes and radar aerial assemblies.

The product is packaged in a Ziploc bag with a card sleeve and card hanger. Inside the Ziploc bag is a sealed compartmental plastic bag with the barrels, barrel sleeves, aiming points and photo etched parts inside. In the back of this packaging there is also an instruction sheet.

The MG 81 and MG 81Z are one and the same weapon with the only difference being that the Z stands for Zwilling which just means twin. The weapon is a belt fed machine gun as opposed to the more usual magazine fed machine guns of the German Air Force during World War Two. This machine gun was produced from 1940/41 through to the end of the World War Two and the MG 81Z being introduced in 1941/42 and both were used on a number of aircraft. Master Reality in Miniature list this MG as having been used Messerschmitt Bf 110, Junkers Ju 87 and Ju 88; however it is my belief that this weapon system was used on many other German aircraft types of the period.

This product depending on which of the two MGs you plan on using it for does result in slightly different assembly. The MG 81 only requires the barrel be inserted into the vented sleeve and then the protruding portion of the barrel is inserted into a receiver part which is in turn inserted into a hole you will need to drill into the body of the MG after removal of the plastic barrel, you will need a 0.8mm drill bit for this assembly. Assembly of the MG 81Z requires in addition to the above that a 0.3mm hole is drilled into the plastic frame for the insertion of the rear portion of the sighting system; to say that these parts are small is a big understatement, I looked at the packaging three times before I could see them. There are 2 types of photo etched quadrant sights included with the product, with each type having a duplicate provided. Checking this offering from Master Reality in Miniature against images online shows a good scale match as far as I can see, and there is a particularly fine replication of the vents in the sleeve as the vents are not equally spaced.

As far as I can tell these barrels accurately replicate the MG 81 and MG 81Z barrel and sights and they will improve the look of the machine guns any on model on which they are used. These and all of the other barrels I have looked at from Master Reality in Miniature have impressed me and I believe they will impress you all too.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: A great set of barrels with the vented sleeves being particularly well replicated.
Lows: The small size of the rear sighting device will make attaching them difficult.
Verdict: A worthy purchase for your models if you want an eye catching addition on them.
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: AM-32-026
  Suggested Retail: £7.oo to £8.oo
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 02, 2014

Our Thanks to Master!
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.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2020 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the review, Darren. No styrene or resin guns can come close to brass, and not having to "roll your own" barrels is a blessing IMO.
MAY 05, 2014 - 04:11 AM

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