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1/32 ID Models  He-219 Part I

by Brian Cauchi


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1/32nd SCALE HEINKEL 219


Below is a description of some of the work involved in building the vacformed I.D. models, Heinkel 219. It took me roughly 3 years to complete this model which was a sort of experimental build for the following reasons:

- It is my first vacform kit

- I tried out a new process whereas all the kit was constructed without painting any part beforehand.

I had obtained this kit from Doug Feeney himself (the big man behind ID Models, now retired). He had visited Malta a number of years ago and had written to me asking whether I wanted any model from his range. I had chosen the 219 since I thought it would be nice to have in my collection. It is also the kind of aircraft which is not normally built in 32nd scale.

As a first vacform, I donít think it was a wise choice since the kit is hopeless and requires major reworking of all parts except for the fuselage which I found to be acceptably accurate. It is also a very difficult and large subject. (I am still trying to find a place at home where to display it) Last consideration is the limited literature and details pertaining to this aircraft especially during the first two years of construction. This is no longer true because ever since Tamiya released their 1/48th model, a multitude of aftermarket stuff followed. A factor which outweighs all this heavily is the sheer beauty of the finished model.

Since I knew that it would be a long time before the model would be complete, I decided not to paint any part or section before constructing as much of the kit as possible. The whole model was therefore completed to a high degree including all minor details. I dry fitted the whole thing so that I assembled the whole model with tape before touching any paint or glue. What usually happens when I complete a section such as the cockpit and paint it is that by the time the model is complete, this would have been handled so often that it requires a repaint. I tried hard to avoid this and managed successfully. 

As a guide, due to the relative scarcity of literature and the fact that line drawings from one publication do not tally with another, I bought a 72nd scale Dragon model. This I found to be very accurate except for the keeled ventral tray which needs flattening and rounding off. Some time after the Tamiya kit was issued, I borrowed it together with all the aftermarket products which were released by Verlinden, CMK and Aires. I braced myself for a shock since I had by now completed all detailed areas including interior, wheel bays, dinghy compartment, fuel cells and engine bay. To my relief I found out that all my detailing was correct to a T and tallied with the Aires detail set which is brilliantly accurate and the only one worth buying.

The only aftermarket set for the 32nd scale 219 is a detail set by Marine Air Products which is a mixture of sponge like resin and molten masses of white metal. I donít know whether mine was a sample or the normal production set but boy was it bad. Although pretty extensive, the set required as much work as the basic kit and was a headache. The resin is very bad and highly porous, the white metal castings are beyond use and do not resemble anything they are meant to reproduce and to top it all, most parts are highly inaccurate. A number of the parts supplied were also broken.

The set included:

- A cockpit of sorts including sides, navigatorís instruments, seats, gun sight, front armored panel and joystick. Most of the items were modified and used. The side consoles were heavily warped and were greatly modified to an acceptable level. The seats were mostly scratch built and I only retained their basic shape. The joystick was broken and the top part was used.

- Engine cowlings. These were retained, rescribed and hollowed out since they were solid masses of resin. The result was a couple of cowlings each made up of two separate parts. These were modeled on the Tamiya cowls which are highly accurate.

- Propeller spinners and blades. The blades had to be reshaped. However, these items were used.

- Wheel bays were highly inaccurate and discarded.

- A complete set of wheels were about the best thing provided and these were used after the multiple blowholes were filled in. With this set, this was a never ending process because as soon as you try to sand the filler, you unearth a multitude of new holes and so on.

- Undercarriage legs were masses of bent and distorted white metal which were immediately discarded.

- Also included were the supports for the radar antennae on the aircraft nose which were of the wrong shape for my particular model and were therefore not used.

Starting out.

Being my first vacform, I tried to follow all the advice Iíd heard from various sources. I traced around all the parts with a black marker and cut these out making sure that the marker remains visible. A length of sandpaper roll was pinned onto a flat strip of wood at least 1m long. All the parts were then held lightly and run over the sanding strip till the black mark just disappeared, making sure that even pressure was applied to the various parts being sanded. The different parts were tried together and sanded in particular areas as required.

I then transferred all the panel lines from the dragon 72nd scale model onto mine following careful measurement and using a pen. The position of the cockpit opening and front wheel bay were marked only after all the panel lines were positioned correctly. I then went through the literature I had available and decided on which areas to expose. My choice fell on the dinghy compartment, the electrical equipment bay on the rear underside of the aircraft and the fuel cells top. The aircraft has three cells but I only had information showing the rear two and so decided to expose these.

The relative panels were removed resulting in a very flimsy fuselage with gaping holes. I decided against fitting bulkheads till the individual detailed areas were complete. Most of these provided bulkheads and supports which would once again consolidate the fuselage. An edge made from scrap plastic card was created all around the fuselage perimeter on the inside so as to have a support when both sides are mated together.

Cockpit and Front wheel well

This was the first area to be tackled. The cockpit floor was made from plastic card. The underside of this is in fact the front wheel bay. This was fixed to one side of the fuselage.  

A resin bulge which formed part of the detail set was used and fitted inside the plastic card. This provided space for the wheel leg when the wheel was retracted. The sides of the wheel bay were then detailed. Details include the compressed air cylinders for the ejection seats and various pipes and wires including a couple of pressure gauges on the cylinder tops. One side of the bay would be impossible to paint following installation so that this was made separate and modeled to fit exactly in place once painted. 

This aircraft poses an immediate problem. It has a nose wheel and no front beyond the cockpit. The cockpit floor is the front wheel well top and where does this all lead to? No room where to put weights for the aircraft to sit on its front wheel instead of its tail. So as not to waste precious space, I filled the very short limited nose space in front with lead shot. A large compartment was constructed immediately behind the radio operatorís position and this was also filled with lead shot. The first impression is that this is overdoing things and the kit weighs a ton. But in the end, it ensued that this weight was not enough and I even had to resort to fixing more lead weight under the seat. The resin sides were corrected for the various mistakes and omissions but at least they fitted in the allocated space. The rear panel with a mass of equipment was also detailed and plastic added to its sides so that it would fit snugly into the fuselage. The instrument panel was scratchbuilt using plastic card and bezels. A mixture of 32nd and 48th bezels is normally required. The rudder pedals were mounted on their shaft and the joystick made up from the resin top part and aluminum tubing. 

 Next came the seats. The resin seats were modified and accurized. Some of the resin was replaced with plastic card. Head and foot rests were scratch built and the whole assemblies mounted on a scratchbuilt dividing frame which includes the rails onto which the seats slide since these were ejection seats. 

 Seat belts were made of masking tape and photoetched buckles. This completed the cockpit. The weight compartment also provided support to the first third of the fuselage so that no additional bulkheads were necessary.

Dinghy compartment

This was constructed from thick plastic sheet. (extra plastic from the same kit) Incidentally, one really good point in ID models is the plastic used. It is thick and allows for easy scribing. You can also have a decent butt joint a good area for glue which will not come off easily. During the course of construction, this proved invaluable in many instances. What I can say is that all the extra plastic surrounding the parts has been used. The dinghy was made from milliput. The compartment cover was made out of aluminum sheet. The compartment itself and cover were detailed with frames and the release mechanism. When the pilot pulled a lever in the cockpit, the compartment cover was released and at the same time, a compressed air cylinder activated. This automatically inflated the dinghy and pushed the cover away from the aircraft. 

Rear Electrical Equipment Compartment

Here is one area which I overdetailed. Starting out from the rear electrical equipment bay, the whole internal structure up to the fuel cells was constructed. The initial idea was to open up a side panel. This I in fact did but it immediately became apparent that the fuselage would become too flimsy since the side panels are huge and run for most of the fuselage length aft of the wings. The panel was once again reinstated and in the end, only the bottom access hatch is opened offering a view of the electrical equipment and the fuselage heating unit. All internal structures were made of plastic sheet, plastic rod and aluminum tubes.

Fuel Cells

The fuselage sides were at this point taped together and the wing supports tacked. Due to the envisaged weight of the finished model and also due to the fact that the modelís weight would be supported by the wings, a strong support was required. An I section plastic beam was used together with a circular section thick rod. The rod was located at the wing leading edge and apart from offering support would also serve as a gluing surface for the part of the wing leading edge. The I-beam is located at the thickest part of the wing section and serves the same purpose. It was intended to run this beam to the main landing gear wells so that it would bear the weight but this was not possible following detailing of the wings and wheel wells.

Since I did not know what happened in the DF circular aerial section, I opted to uncover the two rear fuel cell tops and these were detailed using brass and aluminium tubing and wiring. The cell top was made from very thick plastic which allowed me to give it its rounded edge shape and also served as a support between the fuselage sides. The fuselage cover was made from aluminum sheet. 


Click here to go to part 2 of this article

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Photos and text © by Brian Cauchi

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