by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Originally published on:
The Fiat CR.42 Falco ("Falcon", Falchi) is a single-seat sesquiplane fighter developed and produced by Italian aircraft manufacturer Fiat Aviazione. It served primarily in Italy's Regia Aeronautica both before and during the Second World War.
The CR.42 was an evolutionary design of Fiatís earlier CR.32 fighter, featuring a more powerful supercharged Fiat A.74R1C.38 air-cooled radial engine and aerodynamic improvements to its relatively clean exterior surfaces. The aircraft proved to be relatively agile in flight, a factor that had been attributed to its very low wing loading and a sometimes decisive tactical advantage. RAF Intelligence praised its exceptional manoeuvrability, further noting that "the plane was immensely strong", though it was technically outclassed by faster, more heavily armed monoplanes. While primarily used as a fighter, various other roles were adopted for some variants of the type, such as the CR.42CN dedicated night fighter model, the CR.42AS ground attack aircraft, and the CR.42B Biposto twin-seat trainer aircraft.
During May 1939, the CR.42 entered service with the Regia Aeronautica; it was the last of the Fiat biplane fighters to enter front line service. By 10 June 1940, the date when Italy entered the Second World War, roughly 300 of the type had been delivered, which were initially tasked with defending Italy's cities and key military installations. By the end of 1940, the Falco had been involved in combat on various fronts, including the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain, Malta, North Africa, and Greece. By the end of the war, Italian CR.42s had been used on further fronts, including Iraq, the Eastern Front and the Italian mainland. Following the signing of the Italian armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943, the type was primarily relegated to use as a trainer by the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force, while some Italian CR.42s were seized by the Germans and used by the Luftwaffe to perform ground attack missions.
ICM really seem to have the box sorted out with a thin but colourful top/lid under which is a solid carton a with a flip-up lid solid enough to survive even the worst postal service. Some really nice artwork on the lid which is a real eye-catcher.
Inside you have a resealable bag (another plus side for the reviewers amongst us) with the ability for placing it all back in the bag and resealing it and not having to cut it open really is a good point.
So inside the bag is five light grey sprues that contain the aircraft, one clear sprue with the cockpit glass. A colourful, front, inner back and back page the later two pages are the two options for finishes the rest is a black, white and red step by step in 97 stages to finish the build. One decal sheet with two finish options.
So upon opening the bag and pulling all of the sprues out of the re-sealable bag, (HINT, HINT to all other model kit manufacturers) I spread them out on my workbench looked over them and thought well this looks really nice. Picking up the first sprue that was closest to me which happened to be the main fuselage in two halves and incidentally sprue A, thought we should start here then. I really like the look of it and wondered just how easy it would all fit together, I am used to even some of the new tools, the fit is not necessarily going to be an excellent fit, however, to my surprise the two halves fitted so well, it was a hand into glove moment. The seam was there but it was just that a seam without any light leaking through any gaps that were not meant to be there. So on the sprue is the propeller with the main fuselage with the tires the wheel hub had some small amount of detail but unfortunately the tyres were very sparse. A spinner cover from the centre of the prop has a good moulding the only other parts on this sprue are two small instrument panels with various dials and a couple of switches.
One of the things that I really do like the look of is the framework in the cockpit area which is a plus and ultimately adds realism to this kit, however, some of the frameworks is very fragile and will require some care in cutting these off the sprue. The construction of the cockpit is over 21 step by stepstages which in itself I do believe to be a true plus point as it does not confuse the mind or result in you placing the right part into the wrong place? The engine is the Fiat A 74R Radial engine and has some detailing around the heads themselves which is very nice I am not sure you will see too much of it once in place unless you leave off one or two of the cowling panels. Once you start the build process of the full engine it does have plenty of detail. Looking around the different parts of the aircraft engines some of them do carry some really nice detail, like the propeller control mechanism which has rivets and bolt detail though I feel that in this scale they really should be there. The build of the engines like with the cockpit extends over 29 step by step boxes which means less confusion and gives you plenty of time for you to add any further detail as you proceed with the build. I really like the finish on the propeller it is very crisp, as is the detail on the engine cowling though not tested for fit yet.
The lower halves of the main wings have plenty of detail with the fabric over the wing ribs with footings marking the location for the inter-plane inner struts making it much easier for location and stronger fixing point. The top main wing is full length but in two halves and the underside of the upper wing has all the footings so hopefully making the inner, outer and fuselage upper wing struts should be much stronger supports. The outer struts also carry the pitot heads which are very fine and easily snapped but representing the real pitot head in shape and relative size. The main wings hold good detail as in the shape the stretched fabric going across the wing structures and ribs, the front edge holds the inserts for the navigation lights. The aileron leading edge balances were very good in detail, having been used to modelling aircraft in 1/48th scale you don't always see some of the detail that I was seeing in this 1/32nd scale offering. Now going back to the ailerons when looking initially I was starting to wonder just how the ailerons themselves were going to fit. So I cut off the ailerons the upper wings I was still wondering so started a dry fit which I am glad I did, ICM has designed these really well so once you have the two halves together you just push the ailerons connecting tab into place and surprisingly the slight angle that they have made the ailerons at fit flush. You could have the ailerons at rest the way they have designed it.
The inner and outer struts look good and with the cut-out footings in the top of the bottom wing will all fit well, the same for the upper fuselage struts with footings in place on the edge of the fuselage making it a solid structure. At this point, I think I would be looking at the rigging points and marking accordingly so you can place anchor points into the wings ready to rig it all up nice and properly same said for the aileron control cable at its insert to the wing.
The propeller, the propeller hub and spinner are all that is left of the engine to be finished, I am very tempted to leave one or two of the engine cowling off's to be able to see some of the engine detail once completed.
The undercarriage is the next area to scrutinise the leg trouser attachment detail is good for what it is and the fit is an easy one I like the undercarriage rear strut which has the same footings as the inner strut and outer strut. At this point, you do have to make a decision as to variant one or variant two.
Variant one has a slightly different wheel fitting, variant two has a more traditional landing gear undercarriage leg with axle but still has the same trouser leg too. Lastly comes the four bombs and variant one has an extra long exhaust than variant two which has a more traditional smaller exhaust
ICM has really come a long way with the way they now deal with newly tooled kits and certainly find some very interesting projects, this model kit of the Fiat CR. 42 LW German Ground Attack Aircraft is one of the projects. The first time you get to look at the box the artwork stands out and I believe will tempt many modellers who have popped into their local shop for a quick look around will be going home a few pounds lighter. I already believe that ICM already make the most secure boxes out there at the minute. The kit itself is a superb looking kit and each time I tried to fault it I realise that the fault is not there. The fuselage sits together without any daylight seeping through it is clean no flash or sink marks the kit looks so good and will make a fantastic model of the Fiat CR.42 for anyone's collection. I really tried to find fault with it but apart from things like a fragile piece of detail that may be difficult to extract from the mould without being very careful and taking your time to do it, but hey that is most kits nowadays right. Would I recommend this kit 'Yes', do I think it is going to be a good kit when finished 'Yes', is it going to be an easy kit to make 'No', but I don't think it is going to be one of those that takes you a few months to get right either?