by: Sean Hadfield [ ]
Originally published on:
Background From what I’ve learned of the plane’s history from the included reference manual, after the great success of the Fiat CR 32 biplane during the Spanish Civil War, Italy stayed with the all-metal biplane fighter concept to develop the CR 42 Falco (Italian for Falcon). Unfortunately airplane designs were improving quickly in those years immediately preceding World War II, and the plane was soon outclassed in speed and armament by its monoplane contemporaries in most other major countries. It was a case of the generals fighting the previous war.
The Regia Aeronautica ordered 200 units, and more were exported to Sweden, Belgium, and Hungary before the outbreak of war.
In service in Africa, the plane performed evenly against the British-built Gloster Gladiator biplane, but otherwise the older design became more and more apparent, less suited to a fighter role than to ground attack. As the war progressed and the German Luftwaffe looked for more aircraft, they used the CR42 as well, particularly for night harassment.
After the war, the CR42 soldiered on, mostly modified as a 2-seat trainer, up until 1952.
Reference Manual The reference manual is 48 pages of introduction, history (with photos), technical details, walkaround color photos of a museum example, and nine color profiles (7 Italian, 1 German, 1 Swedish). The history is enjoyable, easy, informative reading in perfect English.
The technical details, showing the framework and mechanics under the skin, may be useful to someone making a cut-away or modeling damage. The details appear to have been pulled from a factory parts manual, with each part numbered but the names not included. (Did you ever wonder how many parts there were in the real plane? At least 5872)
The 21 pages of full-color walkaround photos provide a great amount of valuable information on detailing the kit. They are of a restored Falco at the Museo Storico dell’Aeronautica Militare near Rome. The photos provide close-up views of every conceivable detail and angle.
The color profiles provide examples from several years and locations during the Italian contribution to the fighting and later by the Luftwaffe. The profiles tend to match the historical photos earlier in the manual, including the restored Italian museum one. I would have expected the Swedish profile to match the surviving example in the Flygvapenmuseum in Sweden, but it is a different aircraft instead. The profiles are clear and colorful.
Parts There are 84 parts, by my count. The kit provides 6 options for building, based on Nationality and campaign, so not all parts are used on any one aircraft. The differences are skis or wheels, with or without spats, longer exhaust pipes, a ventral dust filter, or a bomb load. The 300th Sqd, Ciampino 1942 version has some things hanging off of it that I don't even know what they could be-- a large scoop under each wing, and a turbine-looking thing on the top wing.
I really like the thinness of the cowl part and the hollow ends of the exhaust pipes and the sharp panel lines and detail. There are plenty of locator pins on each part, and each piece seems to be braced two ways so that everything should go together firmly.
Instruction Booklet The instructions are drawn in isometric views, with arrows directing which hole or slot each locator pin fits into. The painting instructions are clear for each part, with reference to Model Master or Model Master Acryl paint numbers. For whatever reason, the paint guide only provides Federal Standard (FS) numbers for light ghost gray, flat black, and insignia white-- not for the light blue, red, yellow, and Italian olive green, where uncertainty could arise.
Decals There are a wonderful variety of decal choices — decals for 6 of the 9 color profiles included in the manual (4 Italian, 1 German, 1 Swedish)! The decals are crisp, in rich colors, and in register.
The instructions taught me that the Italian insignia is different left and right-- I never knew that-- and there's a choice of Italian insignia with white background or without. Oddly, although they specify a particular aircraft at a particular time for markings, you are left to choose whether to use the white background or not. Are historians still discussing this? The museum aircraft goes with it.
One oversight I found is that the Swedish markings have a large "12" for tail and cowl, but only 2 sets are provided. The instructions call it an "Alternative Positioning", but prototype photos found on the internet confirm that the number should appear in both locations on each plane. (Since I bought this to build Swedish, I intend to build mine with #1 front and back on one side, and #2 front and back on the other, and hope that not too many people notice.)
The instrument panels consist of 3 decals. There is a seatbelt decal, but no guidance of which way it lies across the seat (The museum aircraft seems to have no seatbelts).
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