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1/72 Airmodel Heinkel He 59C

by Carmel J. Attard

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Kit: Airmodel Heinkel He 59C Kit No 172

Scale: 1/72

Cost: aprox 12 Euro

Type: Vacform kit less decals or detail parts 

History of the Heinkel He-59

The He59 was designed in 1930 from a requirement issued by the still-secret German Air Force for a torpedo bomber and reconnaissance sea plane able to operate with equal facility on wheels or twin-float landing gear. It was an equal span biplane with an unstaggered two-bay wing cellule and was based on a rectangular section fuselage of fabric covered welded steel tube construction faired at top and bottom into rounded shapes that give the fuselage an oval appearance in frontal elevation.. Flying surfaces were fabric covered tail unit and fabric covered wooden wings. Floats were single step wooden construction. The engines were installed in nacelles carried by interplane struts; each drove a four-bladed, fixed pitch wooden propeller. In due course the landplane variant was not proceeded with. 

TheHe-59B-3 was intended for long-range maritime patrol tasks with auxiliary fuel tanks and reduced armament of just two machine guns. In 1936 the Luftwaffe which was by then revealed to the public the previous year commissioned its first coastal floatplane units. Soon after, Germany decided to send the Legion Condor to fight alongside Spanish Nationalist insurgents in the Spanish Civil War. The He59B-2 being employed against light shipping. Arado ceased production of the He59B early in 1938 after completion of 140 such floatplanes. In 1938 the He59 was seen as an intrimically obsolete in its originally planned roles but the type acquired a new lease of life when it was used for training and air-sea rescue roles. These were all surviving He59s adopted as unarmed He59C-1 trainers with additional navigational equipment, or He59C-2 air/sea rescue types with provision of 6 inflatable dinghies, emergency needed equipment, and an external folding ladder in ventral position. A few He59C were transferred to Finland. The limitations of the He59 in the air-sea rescue role led to replacement of most of the floatplanes by Do18 and Do24 flying boats in 1941. The type was released from this role in 1943 except in Finland where a number (3) remained in service into 1944. 

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The kit 

The 1/72 scale Airmodel kit No172 comes sealed in a polytene bag containing 2 sheets of soft white styrene with all the kit parts in vac form. There is a 4 page instruction sheet and a 2 page side view in black and white giving details or suggestions of typical markings of several examples. The instructions have detail history and method of construction. The folding centre pages have detail drawings of assembly views and section scrap views to help with interior decorating. No scale plans were provided and I found it very essential to have plans, thanks to plans that I had from past issue of Aviation News although this lacked adequate rigging detail. The kit contains no struts in spite that there are so many to go on the kit. One therefore has to provide his or her own. I made mine from Contrail struts supplied by Roll Models. These were cut to correct length as shown in the instruction sheet. No decals are provided with the kit. The kit is quite detailed particularly the fabric ripples on side of fuselage and wings. There are several moulding pips that need to be removed prior to assembly. The good thing about this model was that the plastic was very soft and welds very well with Humbrol liquid cement.

Construction 

Being a vacform kit, one can follow any procedure found on vac form kit build reviews as this is absolutely a standard one. The only difference being that since the kit is of a fairly large size it would benefit if a large sanding wet and dry paper is attached with a double sided tape to multiple plywood of reasonable length and width to match the size of the model. As with all vac forms, the most daunting part of the kit is removing the pieces from the backing sheet. I trace around all the parts with a soft pencil, then scribe around them with a new blade in my knife. I cut at a 45 degree angle. The parts are then sanded on the prepared sanding plywood linisher. Items like the cabin floor, and those for the front gunner and rear observation compartment, these are all cut from the surplus backing plastic. Engine mounting struts were made from Contrail struts as mentioned earlier. These were cut to conform to width and length as per drawings given. One can use the kit parts to make the propeller blades in which case once the props are cut and shaped the rear void is filled with filler. One can purchase a set from mainstream suppliers as in fact I did. 

In brief the sequence of assembly is to build the fuselage complete with all the interior details added. The two engine nacelles complete with side exhausts are then assembled and placed aside. The wing halves are sanded to correct thickness, added interior webbed stiffeners and glued together. The fuselage was then cemented to lower wing and the floats are then set at relative position using scrap piece of wood of suitable height and using a card template and the length of bracing struts are checked and measured. The struts are trimmed to suite and cemented in place. Procedure was repeated to inboard struts and again for the outside struts. The upper wing is then set to correct position relative to the fuselage and with a template the length of outboard and interplane struts are checked. Procedure is repeated for the cabine struts and for the nacelle struts. Assembly was allowed to set for about 12 hours. Tail plane complete with struts was cemented in place. 

In the end all the outside details as the generator to cabine struts, searchlight, trailing aerial tube, wing ladder, DF loop, and ring mounted machine guns are all added to the fuselage. Anchor points made from metal wire were also added to the floats. A wind screen is cut from a piece of clear acetate, bent to shape and fixed to the front cockpit. Careful study was made to the rigging that ties the wings together. Tiny holes were drilled at the different positions and the wings were literally sewn using invisible thread. Rigging was proved to be the most difficult job with this kit. Because of their thickness the wings are hollow so that when you drill a hole right through the surfaces, this would be a problem of threading the flexible invisible thread through both holes. This is so as it would be difficult to connect with the second hole through an empty space inside the wing. Only through perseverance and patience I finally managed. The wing rigging was a combination of single or double wires. For reference the Aviation News scale plans were definitely of no help and the best source was finding enough close up pictures from internet web sites. When complete the kit now took a sturdier shape and I took a deep sigh of relief. 

In line with every floatplane model that I build I made my own beaching trolley for the heavy seaplane. Basically the trolley was constructed from various plastic card shaped pieces and wooden blocks using scale plans which I first drawn to 1/72 scale and also contemporary reference photos. They seemed to be strengthened with metal on the sides and at the bottom. A set of wheels of correct shape and diameter were picked from the spares box. The floats would not sit directly on wood but on rubber ends at the rear ends. One should note that there is a castoring wheel at the rear of each float. This is in the form of an extendible wheel within a hollow bar. This assembly I did not add to the kit in time for the preparation of this write-up so that I could figure out a method whereby the end wheels are slotted in the rear of the float and remain detachable. The trolley was given a coat of varnish.

These rescue boats were soon camouflaged after Britain discovered that the SAR boats were used as minelayers and then started to be pinned down from the sky. Two were shot down to the west of Malta by Ta'Qali based Spitfires when their mask was uncovered.

Colour and markings. 

The engine front was dark grey; prop blades light grey; the floor was RLM 02 Grey and sat pan in aluminium while the seat back brown leather. Control column was black. Gunner seat was brown with RLM 02 gray tubing. 

As I have decided to make a Finn AF example this was finished in aircraft grey undersides. Unlike the German machines the Fin AF ones did not have splinter camouflage but was olive green RLM 72 upper surfaces. Finn AF swastika and registration letters and numbers came from spares decal box. 

Conclusion. 

This is definitely not a kit for the beginner but certainly not out of reach for the average kit modeller with some experience with vacform kit making. The kit will not therefore be difficult to build for those who have experience in this kind of kits. I always enjoy building a vac form kit now and again and the trick is never to rush to get the job finished quickly. The He59 has a definite graceful shape and I already made my first steps of assembly with another He59, yes sir… a vac form type once more but this time from a different make. An Aviation USK kit, also to 1/72 scale.

The next He-59 that I built in Luftwaffe SAR markings is an Av USK vacform model, also 1/72 scale. This was more or less closely related to the Airmodel kit but the plastic, also vac form type was thicker, hard and brittle. The kit contained Spanish Civil War decals and three Luftwaffe squadron markings. The advantage with this model is that it supplies injection moulded struts, ladder prop and other detail parts which saves the modeller a lot of work.

Carmel

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Photos and text © by Carmel J. Attard

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