by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
backgroundThe Messerschmitt Me 328 was originally designed as a parasite aircraft to protect Luftwaffe bomber formations during World War II. During its protracted development, a wide variety of other roles were suggested for it. Late in the war, the design was resurrected for consideration as a selbstopfer (suicide weapon or kamikaze) aircraft, but was judged unsuitable even for this purpose. The tiny fighter was to have been propelled by pulse-jets, but the unsuitability of these engines doomed the Me 328 from the start.
the kitThe Encore Me 328 is based on the old PM kit and arrives in a very attractive new end-opening box, with a painting of an Me 328 in fictional operation markings on the front, and pictures of the contents, including useful shots of the unpainted assembled model, on the back. The basic PM kit really is just that - basic - so the styrene parts are completely overwhelmed by what would normally be called aftermarket extras to produce what is, in effect, a new kit. PM's original kit depicted only the parasite fighter configuration, but Encore have added new parts to both add more detail and produce the pulse-jet-powered version. The kit comprises:
16 x grey styrene parts (9 of which aren't needed)
1 x clear styrene parts
33 x beige resin parts
A new vacuformed windscreen
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The styrene and resin items are bagged separately, but the clear parts are packed with the plastic sprue, which is asking for them to get scratched. Ironically, it was the resin parts in the review sample that took a slight knock in transit, part of the landing skid being broken off, but it will be a quick fix.
The styrene parts used are very simple, but quite cleanly moulded. The exterior has a slightly textured feel, so a good polish won't go amiss, Panel lines are engraved but, to be honest, those on the fuselage don't line up at all, so it won't be much of a tragedy if they are lost in the course of polishing. Only the wings and fuselage are used in the Encore kit - the fuselage halves are a little warped in the review sample, but will clamp together neatly enough, while the wings will need a bit of adjustment for a clean clean fit at the roots. Oddly, the wings seem to have a symmetrical airfoil section - whether that's authentic, and quite how well it would actually fly is anybody's guess...
New detailsThe new resin parts are very well cast and nicely detailed. The new cockpit is quite simple, but the 5-parts should look fine with careful painting. The pilot's seat features a cast-on lap harness, but no shoulder straps (which presumably would have been fitted).
There's a little surgery needed in the new kit, with replacement ailerons provided, and a completely new horizontal tail that looks immeasurably better than the crude unused styrene parts. Fitting the new resin nose with its guns looks quite a simple job, but the landing skid will be a bit more complicated though, as the bottom of the fuselage must be cut away using the template provided. Attaching to this is an Me 163-style wheeled dolly.
Of course, the real point of the Encore model for for many Luftwaffe '46 modellers will be the wing mounted Argus pulse jets. Quite what it would have been like to sit in the cockpit with those blasting away so close either side of you hardly bears thinking about! In the kit, these consist of 2 parts each, plus a pylon. The front section has the burner cast in the intake, while the hollowed-out exhaust is good and deep.
Finally, there's a new alternative vacuformed canopy. This is quite nice and thin, so you can slice it to pose it open. It's not exactly Falcon/Squadron quality, but should look fine with a dip in Future/Klear. To be honest though, the original PM canopy is surprising clear (probably the best of the original parts), albeit too thick to display open, and quite usable if you prefer. No spare is provided for the vacuformed canopy, so be careful trimming it to size.
Instructions and decalsThe instructions are printed in colour, and include a very useful shaded diagram highlighting where the original plastic parts must be modified before construction can begin. Assembly is broken down into 9 logical stages, and RLM paint references are included for the details.
Decals are provided for a pair of fictional colour schemes, illustrated in colour on a separate sheet:
1. Yellow 4, III./KG(J)54, 1944
2. White 3, early 1944
The decals look excellent quality, with the thin and glossy items printed in perfect register by Aeromaster. The colours look good and a pair of swastikas are included.
ConclusionDespite the simplicity of the basic styrene parts, Encore's Me 328 isn't a beginner's model by the time you add all the resin extras. The end result is a definite improvement over the original PM version - plus, of course, it takes the model into Luftwaffe '46 territory and opens up a whole new range of modelling possibilities. Recommended to modellers with experience of resin and short-run kits.
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