First Look Review
Messerschmitt Me 262 B-1a
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Boxtop

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The kit
Dragon's Me 262B-1a arrives in a very solid conventional box and the packaging and presentation is excellent. Each sprue is separately bagged and the bags containing the clear parts, tyres, decals and etched frets are taped to a cardboard insert for extra protection. By combining sprues from previous kits in the Dragon range, the designers have inevitably included a number of unused parts destined for the spares box. Counting up what is indicated for use, the kit consists of:

126 x pale grey styrene parts on 8 x sprues
7 x clear styrene arts
198 x etched metal parts on 3 x frets
3 x rubber tyres
Decals for 3 x colour schemes

Dragon's original Me 262 dates right back to the famous TriMaster range of "Hi Tech" kits and first appeared around 1989 as a single-seater. TriMaster models were among the first mainstream kits to include white metal and etched parts as standard, but when TriMaster folded, Dragon took over the range and re-engineered the kits to make more use of conventional styrene parts. It was as part of this new series that the Me 262B-1a/U1 first appeared in 1993.

Comparing the latest boxing with an original shows the moulds are holding up very well despite their age. There are a couple of small blemishes on the port wing (also there on the 1993 kit) but, if anything, the current kit is actually moulded somewhat cleaner tha the old, and a few small areas of sinkage in the original are missing now. Surface detail consists of fine scribed panel lines, plus a few raised access panels. The wings and tailplanes are glossy, while the fuselage has a satin finish.

One of the highlights of the new kit is undoubtedly the inclusion of a pair of engines. Looking at the large gap in the sprues for the 1993 version, it does appear that these were intended as an option even then, but I've never come across them in any of the subsequent releases before now. Building the kit with the engines fully exposed will certainly make for an eye-catching model, but beginners should beware; fitting them requires some careful surgery to the wings - and once started, there's no going back. The engines themselves are very nicely moulded and have a fair degree of detail (although there's scope to add a lot more "plumbing". If you don't want to fit them to the airframe, you could always display them separately on a simple scratchbuilt stand.

When the Dragon Me 262B-1a/U1 Nightfighter appeared, it contained 2 small etched frets. With the new version, it appears Dragon have teamed up with Eduard to possibly the most comprehensive set of etched parts yet seen in an injected kit - it's almost like having a BigEd set included as standard!

The 3 frets comprise:

1. A pre-painted set of cockpit details, including instrument panels, side consoles and seat harnesses.
2. A small steel fret from the original Dragon release
3. A new brass fret containing parts for the undercarriage and wheel wells, plus wiring and a number of boxes to fold to shape.

A serious question of accuracy...

So, we have a well moulded kit, complete with engines for display, plus an exceptional set of etched parts... but Dragon have lifted the fuselage sprue straight from their Me 262 nightfighter kit, which begs the question - "Can it accurately represent an Me 262B-1a trainer?" Well, according to all my references, unfortunately the simple answer is "No".

The basic difference between the two aircraft lies in the rear cockpit. The 'B-1a trainer was fitted with a full set of dual-controls, none of which are included in Dragon's kit, plus the arrangement of the rear cockpit was completely different from the later nightfighter, with the instructor's seat and differently shaped side consoles and instrument panel all fitted further back. To depict this on the model requires the cockpit opening extending back to the next fuselage frame and then some serious surgery to the cockpit tub. Some profiles show the prominent FuG16 radio set mounted between the trainer cockpits, but I haven't found any photos to back this up.

Externally, the kit is configured for a nightfighter too. While the instructions do show that the radar antennae shouldn't be used, they fail to pick up on the mounting stubs protruding either side of the nose! The kit includes a pair of long-barrelled cannon as seen on some nightfighters, with the upper gun ports faired-over. There may well have been exceptions, but all my photo references show trainers with gun ports for a standard set of 4 x Mk 108 cannons (ironically, as shown on the box-art), so the upper ports will need opening up. There are actually guides on the inside of the nose panel, so this shouldn't be too painful a task.

Instructions and painting
The assembly diagrams are well drawn and break the construction down into 17 stages. They certainly demand close attention, because this is quite a complex kit with choices betweeen using metal or styrene parts at many stages and, to be honest, it's not always clear at first glance what's needed where.

The kit includes a neat set of decals printed by Cartograph. As usual with Dragon, no Swastikas are included, but the decals are printed in excellent register with a semi-gloss finish. There's a set of stencils included, along with dashes for wing-walk markings - although the latter look a bit oversized.

Markings for three trainers are included:

1. W.Nr 118639 "Red 35" - EJG2, Germany, 1945. Judging by the distinctive n/m nacelle intakes, I presume this is actually W.Nr 110639 "White 35" (the number was just an outline) captured and flown as one of "Watson's Whizzers". Part of the confusion may stem from the profile in AJ Press's Me 262 Vol. 2, which shows W. Nr 118639 "Red 35" - although this is contradicted by the clear photos earlier in the book and the list of Me 262 production batches which don't include any "118***" numbers.
2. W.Nr 110556 "White S", JV 44, Germany, 1945.
3. W.Nr 118639 (again?!) "Black A", JG 7, Germany 1945.

The camouflage schemes match official '262 patterns well enough and colour matches are included for Gunze Sangyo paints, but you're still left with a set of decals that aren't appropriate for the kit parts as supplied.

I can't help but feel that Dragon have concentrated so hard on adding the mega-set of etched parts, they've let themselves down by not doing some basic research - you can't just put some new decals on an Me 262B-1/U1 nightfighter and call it a 'B-1a trainer. By doing so, they've produced a kit which is neither fish nor fowl; it's a great nightfighter, but doesn't have any suitable decals included, while it can't be built as an accurate trainer either. As it stands, you're left with several choices:

1. Build it as an Me 262B-1/U1 nightfighter and buy a set of aftermarket decals or hunt for some suitable markings in the spares box.
2. Build it OOB and ignore all the problems.
3. Get ready for some modification work... either making some minor external modification and turning a blind eye to the cockpit, or going the whole hog to model an accurate Me 262B-1a trainer.

It's hard to know how to rate this kit. It's beautifully produced, comes complete with a great set of etched parts, but it simply can't be built OOB to represent what it says on the box. Dragon's target market of Luftwaffe enthusiast are bound to be very disappointed by this missed opportunity, because we still don't have a 1/48 scale kit of the 'B-1a trainer. But, trying to look on the bright side, it's a lovely Me 262B-1a/U1 nightfighter - now if only Dragon will re-release it with a suitable set of decals...

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Well moulded. Highly detailed. An exceptional set of etched parts.
Lows: It's simply not an Me 262B-1a trainer and can't be built as one without tricky modification.
Verdict: A beautifully produced kit let down by poor research. On the positive side, it's the best Me 262 nightfighter release to date - but you'll have to provide your own decals to build it that way.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 5512
  Suggested Retail: 23.99
  PUBLISHED: Jul 25, 2007

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I got mine in the mail today. It looks like an outstanding kit. It has two huge cannons on one of the the parts sprues. What are those? I haven't found any of them in my references for 262s
AUG 06, 2007 - 06:01 AM
I cannot wait to see this built. Good luck!
AUG 06, 2007 - 12:34 PM
Hi Carl Sorry - I missed your post while I was away on holiday. Those aren't for use in the Me 262 - they are left-overs from Dragon's Horten 229 which was the kit the engines are taken from. All the best Rowan
AUG 09, 2007 - 03:27 AM
They are pretty cool looking. I was thinking about using those to replace the spandaus on a Fokker D.VII.
AUG 09, 2007 - 07:28 AM
Hi Carl I wouldn't want to be in any WW1 kite that got in the way or a pair of those! - or any a/c from any era, actually... All the best Rowan
AUG 09, 2007 - 07:41 AM
Are they 30mm?
AUG 12, 2007 - 02:59 AM
Hi Karl Yes - they're MK 103 30mm cannons and match one of the armament options for the Ho 229 V6 as described in Monogram Close-Up #12. All the best Rowan
AUG 12, 2007 - 06:41 PM
Guys dont be put off by this review, with all due respect the reviewer is wrong in his criticism of the kit fuselsge and cockpit area. I cant speak for the sidewall detail but the canopy length, shape etc are spot on. I received my kit today and its a beauty. It is the same in form as the excellent hasegawa boxing, though that was in 1/72. The 262 Night fighters were straightforward adaptions of the trainer, the fuselage exterior remained the same. The modifications required to turn this into a trainer would be very minor, I agree with the comment about the weaponry, 4x 30s would be standard. I'm sorry to say that this kit has been trashed and orders lost because the reviewer has made serious mistakes in his assessment. Buy the kit, its one of the finest I have ever seen
MAR 29, 2008 - 05:39 AM
Hi Merv I think we might have our lines crossed slightly - because I have no issue with the canopy length and shape. It's the interior where I think the kit falls down because, according to the references I consulted, the rear cockpit was modified beween the trainer and nightfighter versions, with the seat moved forward and a fuel tank inserted behind it. The kit doesn't include any dual controls for the trainer and, with the seat in the nightfighter configuration, there's no room for them. If you compare photos of the full-sized aircraft, you can spot the different seating positions of the instructor and the radar operator. I agree that the kit is excellent for a nightfighter - and, with my remarks like "it's the best Me 262 nightfighter release to date" I hope that came across in my review. But you can't just add new decals and call it a trainer... All the best Rowan
MAR 30, 2008 - 03:16 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Packaging
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Parts_1
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Parts_2
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Parts_3
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Parts_4
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Parts_5
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Clear
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Etch_1
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Etch_2
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Etch_3
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Tyres
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Decals
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Engines
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Gun-cowl
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Tub_1
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Tub_2
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Bulkhead
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Seat
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Tanks
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Main-Gear
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Nose-Gear
  • Dragon_Me_262B_Hubs