One thing you can never say about Dragon kits is they don't give you a whole bunch of plastic for your outlay of freshly printed samolians.
I'm sure the aftermarket folks will work their magic in resin and brass for this kit, but in reality, little of it is necessary to the builder who wants a neat, well detailed miniature of the prototype for his collection. It's all right here in the box.
As we've said, if you like lots of plastic, there must be half a dead dinosaur in this box. Beaucoup interior parts including the requisite cockpit goodies are there along with nose cannon bay, multi-part wheel wells and two very nice "bonus" engines, which you do not have to use if the mood doesn't strike you. There are no corresponding "open" cowling pieces to go along with them, so without modifying the closed covers it's pretty much an all or nothing proposition if you want to mount one or both Daimlers exposed.
Nice decals and detailed instructions, which must be closely referenced, during the build round out the package.
Making no pretensions to any sort of Luftwaffe Experteinalleskennenesallenkeit, to coin a phrase, I am left with only the benefit of what research is available by which to judge the accuracy if the kit. From what I can tell, Dragon has pretty much gotten all the salient points of the D-1/R1 version pretty much on the money, to my plebian eye in any case.
The main distinguishing feature of the R-1 is the addition of the so called "Dackelbauch", fuel tank which probably produced more drag than it was worth, but does impart a certain unique wiener dog appeal to an otherwise sinisterly businesslike war plane. The new part has the exact look of the original, with some truly excellent rib and panel detail to match.
Initial fit up of the parts has not revealed any fit or molding flaws thus far, and the engineering of the whole package seems first rate. One aspect I particularly like the inclusion of a wing spar, incorporating part of the cockpit floor, which not only virtually guarantees accurate and equal dihedral alignment, but also significantly strengthens the joint.
Moreover, all the control surfaces are separate items allowing for a much less "posed" appearance of the finished model. To me, the best part of the forgoing is the separate leading edge slats. We modelers love to pose things like flaps, ailerons and rudders flopped all caddywompus which, like the de rigueur "preshade-paint-postshade-lighten the center panel" patchwork quilt "weathering" that's all the rage anymore, is perhaps an interesting artistic exercise, but has little to do with reality viz the full size prototype. Real aircraft, particularly tail draggers, are seldom left sitting around with flaps down for no good reason, and most have gust locks of some type or hydraulic systems or spring arrangement that position other flight controls into a neutral or nearly neutral position to protect linkages and hinges. Slats, on the other hand, particularly on WWII aircraft were often aerodynamically retracted which means they flopped out when the plane wasn't moving fast enough to push them back into their wells. They should be hanging out on the ground, and you can bet if they didn't, some mechanic was going to come by and set them right, or the Line Chief would know the reason why not.
In any case, getting accurate with Dragon's kit is going to be as easy as using a bit of research and a little glue. Put away the razor saw, sprue and putty for this one.
One area that does disappoint, particularly given Dragon's use slide mold technology, is the blank appearance of the exhaust stack ends. There's not even a dent to suggest that the original was really hollow. No easy fix on that one, and there are a lot of them. It's ironic too, given the otherwise superlative quality of the "bonus" power plants provided, which are truly excellent little kits in their own right.
Speaking of the engines, we'll start with those and the rest of the subassemblies next time.