Air War in Europe
A while back 21st Century Toys started producing a line of 1/144th scale WWII aircraft models and selling them at WalMart stores nationwide. While originally limited, the range has proven popular and has continued to grow. These are nice little models and the price (~$3.25 ea.) is definitely right. I already have too many painting projects, but these prepainted models offered me a chance to expand my WWII aircraft collection into a new area without the time commitment required to get all of the models painted up. I’ve purchased a number of these for the late war ETO and late war PTO. Recently I found a great source of some of the prepainted Japanese gasaphon collectible kits, offering reasonable prices and, even better, reasonable shipping. So I ordered a few additional German planes to add to my collection.
The first wave of gasaphon kits included a FW 190D-9 from the Bandai WIng Club collection, a FW 190D-9 from Takara, and 3 Bf 109K-4 from Takara. The Takara kits required a bit of assembly, with each kit consisting of two fuselage halves, the prop, the main wing, canopy, and two tailplanes (plus various cosmetic bits). The Bandai kit on the other hand arrived virtually completely assembled. I only had to put on the landing gear and the canopy. I had a few “issues” getting the Takara FW 190 together, but learned the tricks of these kits and the Bf 109s went together easily.
Once assembled, I glued a 3/16″ x 1/32″ rare earth magent (from K & J Magnetics) to the underside of each aircraft. My aircraft stands have a steel ball glued to the top and the aircraft is connected to the stand via a 3/16″ x 1/16″ ring magnet that grips the steel ball. This allows me to slide the planes around the ball and easily show pitch and roll.
The gasaphon kit planes fit in nicely with the 21st Century planes. I have 3 more Bf 109s on the way, which will give me an air fleet of 6x Bf 109, 4x FW 190A, 2x FW 190D, and 2x me 262 – enough to play a variety of scenarios. My US forces currently consist only of some P-51’s from 21st Century and a couple of Corgi P-38J Lightnings that I had around for use as ground support aircraft in FOW. Fortunately they are almost exactly 1/144th scale, so give me a couple more planes, although the die cast metal planes do not work with the ball and ring magnet set up – they are too heavy and fall off the side if you try to show pitch or roll… Perhaps I’ll pick up some larger (and stronger) ring magnets next time I make an order.
There are currently more choices for German aircraft out there than American. Apparently sales of the 1/144th line from 21st Century have been strong and the company plans to continue to expand the line (I have seen photos of a couple of new aircraft on the interwebz). A P-47 would be great.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get these into a game soon. I picked up Check Your 6! at Historicon after playing in a demo and I’m excited about trying out the game.