The Super Wing Series He-219 Uhu, First Impressions

Published: August 25th, 2013     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Robert Benson, IPMS# 44038
Scale: 1/32
Company: Zoukei-Mura
Price: $191.00
Product / Stock #: SWS006

Many, many thanks to Mr. Hideyuki Shigeta for honoring me with the privilege of building the Super Wing Series He-219 Uhu (Eagle Owl) model kit for public review as an IPMS Reviewer Corps representative.  I am deeply appreciative of the trust and confidence shown in me by both Mr. Shigeta and the IPMS Reviewer staff.

The Heinkel 219 Uhu was a highly effective but under-used Luftwaffe night fighter with a variety of innovations including obliquely firing guns and the first operational ejection seats.  An excellent summary of the Uhu's history may be found on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's webpage, along with restoration photographs of the Uhu in the Museum's collection.

Interview

I had the unique privilege of interviewing Mr. Hideyuki Shigeta and his Managing Director, Mr. Kuniyoshi Shigeta, at the 2013 IPMS National Convention in Loveland, Colorado.  The Super Wing Series (SWS) aircraft models are cutting-edge recent offerings in the injection-molded kit market.  My opening question to Mr. Hideyuki Shigeta was about his inspiration to produce the He-219 in the SWS line of kits.  In the delightful conversation that followed for nearly an hour, it became quite clear to me that both he and his company deeply share my passion for model building, well beyond kit construction, as documented by thoroughly delving into the subject's history, operating capabilities, and features, ultimately honoring the memory and legacy of the crews who flew the aircraft.  The Heinkel He-219 Uhu was chosen by SWS in part to honor the crews who did the best they could with what they had during the end stages of World War II.  As a result of the company's excellent research to produce the He-219 model, a superb reference book is available from SWS; the book is dedicated to the memory of the fliers and crews of all sides of the war.

Part of the SWS mission is to provide a sophisticated and thorough experience for the model builder that transcends the simple action of gluing part A to B by including part detailing and assembly orders that represent the actual aircraft as built.  SWS secured access to the restoration He-219 in the Smithsonian collection and incorporated much hands-on research into the model.  Some pundits may criticize the model's hidden details as unnecessary, but the belief of SWS is that even hidden details will thoroughly improve the model builder's experience by developing a deeper understanding and knowledge of the Uhu's construction and systems.  From my own experience, I will appreciate having the kit wing spar functioning much like the real item, given how often I have popped wing roots and other glue seams with unfortunate handling.  I am looking forward to learning even more about the Uhu.

I am deeply appreciative of the time Volks President Shigeta and Managing Director Shigeta shared with me.  All of the SWS staff were very busy during the convention but always had a quick smile and something to share and talk about in the model world.  On a personal note, when I returned home and began to write this review with their business cards and my notes in front of me, I recalled an inspirational article written by Mr. Shigeta in the IPMS Journal (Nov/Dec 2012, pp. 44-47) describing his reflections on his trip to Orlando for the 2012 IPMS Nationals.  If you have not yet done so, I highly recommend you read it.  Thank you, Mr. Shigeta, and as you wish readers at the close of your article, I too wish you and yours good health and a wonderful hobby life!

First impressions

The kit is packaged in a 21 x 13 x 6 inch stout, shrink-wrapped cardboard box with a tight-fitting lid covered in excellent box art and instructional photos.  On opening the box, you will find 15 medium gray sprues, 2 clear sprues, a decal sheet, metal gear struts, a custom balancing weight, and a color instruction manual.  All plastic part runners are individually contained in clear poly bags.  The metal struts are wrapped in foam packing and are in a cardboard box insert with the secured balance weight.  The manual, parchment-paper protected decal sheet, and a supplemental resin wing-edge lens are in another clear poly bag.  The entire packing method is excellent, with no loose parts in the poly bags.  I hardly felt anything shift inside the box as I carried it under my arm.

The parts are very finely molded with lightly engraved panel lines.  Sprue attachments appear to be designed to have minimal impact on construction and are generally very thin.  In other words, when you trim the parts off, there will be little excess plastic to remove from areas that are not too conspicuous anyway.  There are many small and well-detailed components.  A cardboard spacer is used on the wing spar as a "stand-off" to protect the parts located on runner H.

The clear parts have excellent clarity and have several options for installation.  I am intrigued by the canopy options.  I will try to paint the canopy frames before installing the glass. However, I will paint the other canopy parts so I can experiment with the included masking.  Having a custom masking set ready to go is a very nice touch.

The metal struts have a good polish on them.  I initially thought there was some flash, but the small projections looked too uniform to be flash.  I discovered that they are actually finely detail parts of the strut.  There are plastic struts included if you choose not to use the metal equivalents. The metal balance weight is a custom casting that fits inside part F-14, the forward fuselage fuel tank.  It is a hefty 5 oz/140 g casting, suggesting that you will have a solid feel in the completed model.

The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and appears to have thin decals with minimal clear carrier.  Marking for two different aircraft are provided, along with excellent stencils and instrument bezels.  The decal placements are clearly keyed to the locations on the model.  Decals 68 through 71 are narrow dashed walkway markings printed as single pieces.  These will likely need careful application.  If you've ever put foul lines or pinstripes down, you know what I mean.  Oddly, the manual illustrations of the aircraft show no swastikas on the tails of the aircraft, yet there are swastikas on the decal sheet.  This could be an oversight, but given the exceptional quality of the instruction manual, it may be that this absence is intentional due to German market restrictions.  The decal sheet in my review kit may be a USA export version, and kits bound for Germany may not include the swastikas on the decal sheet.

Simply stated, the instruction manual is stunning.  At times, all of us have struggled with substandard instructions; the Uhu manual sets a new high standard.  SWS has a stated philosophy of bringing model building well beyond the construction experience to a greater understanding of the real thing.  This philosophy shows in the manual.  The plain brown cover with no-nonsense lettering gives the impression that an actual aircraft instruction document from OCT 44 follows.  The forty-six plain-paper interior pages continue the tone set by the cover and host an absolute wealth of information.  All kinds of detailed assembly drawings, excellent color photos, and background data are included.  Of the five chapters, chapter 3 is the bulk of the manual, with seven subchapters describing major subassemblies.  Plan on spending considerable time reviewing the instructions prior to getting started.  When you are done, you will be able to determine not only what part is attached to another, but also what the part is, what Vallejo color to use for painting, what role that part plays in the bigger picture of kit construction, and what that part functions as on the actual aircraft.  Cautions, options, and paint codes are clearly marked, and SWS design notes frequently appear as insets. The design notes often refer to unusual aspects or features of the Uhu that are not always critical to assembly but are very interesting extra insights.  The entire instruction manual is available for download on the SWS website.  I find downloads to be very handy, not just for when I spill coffee all over the instructions, but also for pulling up on my computer for enlarging and other reading.

What is next

This is the first installment of a series of about 8 construction reviews.  My intent is to produce a review for each of the steps in Chapter 3.  I hope that you will be able to learn from my mistakes, which I will gladly share.  I think I avoided one already by not rushing right into the project.  I actually read the instructions first!

Conclusion (for this review)

My first reaction after peeling the shrink wrap and opening the box was, "What have I gotten myself into?  Can I do this kit justice?"  After removing each runner from the box, seeing the quality of the molding, appreciating the careful packaging, and lastly discovering the instruction manual, my trepidations vanished.  The SWS philosophy really does permeate this kit.  Although I haven't started on assembly yet, I will be very surprised if there any major problems.  I am certain there will be challenges to my skills.  The Uhu truly is an exception value.  Stay tuned...

Again, my sincerest gratitude to both Zoukei-Mura, Inc. and IPMS/USA for providing me this kit for review.

  • It is a big box!
    It is a big box!
  • Canopy framing and associated clear parts
    Canopy framing and associated clear parts
  • Clear part clarity - note the clear framing
    Clear part clarity - note the clear framing
  • Lots of stencils! Note the Swastika halves, upper left
    Lots of stencils! Note the Swastika halves, upper left
  • Nice polish on the metal parts
    Nice polish on the metal parts
  • Sprue A
    Sprue A
  • Sprue B
    Sprue B
  • Sprue C
    Sprue C
  • Sprue D
    Sprue D
  • Sprue E
    Sprue E
  • Sprue F
    Sprue F
  • Sprue G
    Sprue G
  • Sprue G detail
    Sprue G detail
  • Sprue H
    Sprue H
  • Sprues I and L
    Sprues I and L
  • Sprue J
    Sprue J

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