Avia BK.534 Czechoslovak Biplane Fighter

Published: August 31st, 2017     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1/72
Company: Eduard
Price: $21.21
Product / Stock #: 70105

History

The Avia B.534 was one of the major achievements of the Czech aircraft industry during the late thirties, and their biplane fighter was as advanced as any European fighter during the middle thirties. Numerous variations were produced, and Eduard has seen fit to produce kits of just about all of them. I have written several reviews of earlier issues of this kit over the past several years, and I refer you to these for a detailed historical account.

The BK.534 variant differed from previous production models in that it was armed with an Oerlikon 20 mm cannon firing through the crankshaft and mounted between the cylinder banks of the Hispano Suiza 12Ycrs. Engine. Two of the fuselage mounted machine guns were removed to save weight. The installation did not prove successful, and later the aircraft were modified by replacing the cannon with another machine gun. Otherwise, the aircraft was nearly identical to the production B.534 Series IV.

Only a few BK.534's were delivered to the Czech Air Force, the remainder going to the Germans after the takeover in 1939. These were used by various agencies, including the Luftwaffe and the Slovakian military.

References

Quite a bit of information is available on the Avia B.534 series. The type is well covered in the William Green book, War Planes of the Second World War, Vol. 1, and the old Profile No. 152. The Avia B.534, by Josef Krybus, also has good coverage, including a lot of useful photos. Other volumes dealing with fighter planes of the Second World War also have information on the type. And, of course, the internet is another source of data.

Instructions

The kit instructions are extremely well done, with 16 pages which provide a good historical account, sprue diagrams, a color guide, 7 pages of assembly instructions and drawings, 5 pages of color four view drawings of the aircraft for which decals are provided, and a stenciling positions drawing. The back cover illustrates two other versions of the kit produced by Eduard, and these drawings, along with the box cover art, provide enough information for rigging wire locations. The instructions are worth keeping as a reference source in themselves.

The Kit

The kit consists of three grey plastic sprues with about 55 parts, one clear plastic sprue with 3 canopy parts, one small PE sheet with 20 parts, and a mask sheet with masks for the canopies and some other parts. Molding is exceptionally well done, with almost no flash and no irregularities. There are numerous parts designated "not to be used" and these are worth saving for later use. The decal sheet contains markings for four aircraft as well as stenciling for all versions. You won't need any after-market parts for this little jewel.

Assembly

Assembly is very uncomplicated for a kit with such a wealth of detail. The cockpit interior is a kit in itself, with side structure, floor, seat, seat harness, control stick, instrument panel, machine gun breeches, and a PE gunsight. Be sure to follow the directions during assembly, as skipping a step means that you will probably have parts left over that should have been used. All of the parts fit together perfectly, and painting is not a real problem, since nearly everything inside is painted aluminum.

Once the interior is installed, the fuselage halves can be joined, and here is the only place I used any putty at all, as the seams needed a little work. The wings and tail units went together flawlessly, and fit was tight enough that there was no problem with alignment. The only problem I encountered was installing the tailhook on the version I selected, although I just added a small mounting unit and eventually glued the tailhook in place.

The wings attach easily if you do it right. Having built this model several times, I learned to trim down the mountings of the wing struts to where they fit inside the mounting holes. I used a dab of superglue, and the struts attached easily. The cabane struts have no strut-to-fuselage mounting hole, but the ends can be easily glued with a dab of superglue. This is one of the easiest biplane kits I have ever built. The landing gear consists of two side struts, a central strut, and two wheels. Wheel pants are provided, but you won't need them for these versions. Needless to say, the plane should be painted before final assembly, especially if you use one of the multi-colored paint schemes.

Painting - Finishing

Painting the model is very easy. Some masks are provided for the undersides of the horizontal tail unit, and also for some of the yellow trim on the Slovakian plane. The masks also should be used for the canopy parts. I did the Luftwaffe aircraft with a light grey undersides, and before the upper wing was installed, I masked off the grey undersides. I then painted the rudder band red, as this is not provided in the decal sheet, and then, after final assembly, I applied the decals.

The decals are thin, and do not need any softeners. I had a problem with one of the letters on the wing registration, as the decal folded inward, and I was unable to get it to straighten out. I just cut part of another decal and covered the missing part, and no-one will ever notice. Not a problem.

Rigging

I can't imagine anyone building a model of a biplane without adding some kind of rigging. I've tried thread and fishline, but have found that stranded electronic wire works easiest, and looks more like the real thing when completed. There aren't too many wires on this airplane, actually 8 wires on the wings, and four bracing the center section. Rigging this model took me about 15 minutes. There are no exposed control cables, so rigging is simple.

Recommendations

This kit has to be the best issue of the B.534 from any manufacturer. It is well molded, clean, well engineered, and easy to assemble, ever for a modeler of limited experience. It will, however, prove to be addicting, so if you're not careful, you'll find yourself with a half a dozen of them in your stash, and I'll guarantee that in a short time, you'll have them built and want to buy more. I would certainly very highly recommend this kit. Don't miss out on this one.

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