Revell Heinkel He-162 A-2 in 1/32 scale
         Started: March/2018
Current state: Main assembly

This project is another integrant of the Leaving the Tunnel diorama, on which I have been working on and off over the last three years. Having finished the WR-360 locomotive and the flatbed gondola, the main missing part of the project became the Heinkel He-162 that would be transported by the gondola, besides the scenic part (terrain, figures, etc.), of course. Both, the WR-360 and the gondola are in 1/35 scale, while the Salamander is the 1/32 Revell kit 04723:

The difference in the scales would be mitigated by the fact that the He-162 will be mounted on the gondola without its nose, tail and wings/engine. I planned this diorama showing the composition about to leave a factory tunnel in Austria carrying a batch of partially finished Heinkels in an effort to hurry up their delivery to the frontline in the last weeks of the war. 

Since the wings would be removed, I had to start by practicing some butchery on both fuselage halves. This comprised to remove the section along the fuselage halves (parts 24 & 29) running immediately under the engine. Yes, I would need to scratchbuilt the internal details along that area later. The nose and the tail cone woul be removed later, too:

It is not easy to find clear photos of the area where the wing is embedded into the fuselage. I don't mean the area atop the wing - those are plenty, but the area you see when the wing is removed. I took some photos from the He-162 A-2 w/n 120227 in the RAF Museum in London, but they didn't help much. Later I found some good material online and I was covered 
well enough to go ahead.

The part removed from the fuselage does not follow anything molded in the kit parts, though. I had to carve the wing root profile out and then proceed to a straight cut (blue) running from the flap station up to the electrical compartment of the engine under the nacelle intake. This area would be covered with a single plate, isolating the engine from fuel tank and landing gear wells. I played with the factory drawings to make the idea more clear:.

Revell provided parts to display the starboard 20 mm MG 151 cannon bay open (contrary to the He-151 A-1, whose 30 mm Mk108 barrels protuded to the exterior, the barrels of the MG 151 were barely visible). Because aircraft factories were hastly finishing their planes at that point of the war, paint, instruments and armament were not always available to be installed at factory. I chose to glue the cannon door shut, and re-scribed the seam lines to match the port side fuselage half. While at it, the signal flare hole is oversized in the kit. I reworked the area to accept a piece of brass tubing of suitable size and sanded everything flush:

At this point I started to work on the inner side of the fuselage. Revell parts are good enough for a closed cockpit. However I planned to leave the plexiglass hood open (a
couple of slave workers will be tying the He-162 to the gondola...), and so a better cockpit was in order.

Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I grabbed the excellent Legend Productions cockpit set for this kit and my problems were solved (and I could resin copy the oxygen regulator for a couple of other projects!): 


Work on the cockpit started with the installation of the resin sidewalls. I first removed the molded-on details of the fuselage using a rotary tool and then glued the resin parts using epoxy glue. Note that the nose was not removed at that point - this is because the resin sidewalls were kept in place by a few clamps. In order to avoid distortion, I dry assembled the fuselage with rubber bands while the epoxy dried. Had I removed the nose, the lack of stiffness could let some unwanted deformation. This simple expedient avoided any possible warping of the cockpit:

I also started to prepare the wheel bay area. Wheel bay roof and bulkheads (parts 31, 32 & 33) were assembled and primed. This assembly would be the canvas of the landing gear area. If by one side I love to detail this kind of thing, it was obvious that not much of it would be visible once the Heinkel was tied to the flatbed rail car. Therefore I avoided to go overboard, but a couple of things should be done. 

One of the things done at that stage was to remove a window from the rear landing gear rear bulkhead to install a new hydraulic accumulator.

The other thing was the accumulator itself, a left over resin part that I cast years ago. I added some plumbing and hoses, a few more would be added later. The only problems at that point would be to decide which color to use, as both RLM02 or natural Aluminum were used, sometimes both:

The next natural step was to start scratchbuilding the upper fuselage deck. Without those parts, I couldn't close the fuselage. So I got as many photos of the area as I could and started... and this is not the most well photographed area of any He-162 in the world, believe me. I found a few very useful photos of the Salamander owned by the Le Bourget aviation museum in Paris, showing that particular machine being disassembled for overhaul. Those are private photos and I couldn't find the owner to publish them here, but the famous photo below show about the same stage of the airframe that I intend to depict, sans the fuel tanks:

The carnage started by cutting off the nose and the tail cones. The nose cone will be preserved as it probably will be used in the diorama, but I'm not sure about the tail assembly. Anyway, I trimmed the engine lips molded on the fuselage parts and thinned them from inside. A plasticard support was  glued to support the parts depicting the top of the fuel cell, which had to be scratchbuilt.

At this point I noted that the fuselage deck shown in the factory photo above (the plate fulll of holes between the cockpit and the tail) was actually the roof of the main landing gear bay - part 13 in the kit. The two oblong holes on the top of part 13 were shouldn't be apertures, but bulges to make room for the wheels when the
main langing gear was retracted:

Revell missed the height by almost 5 mm, so I decided to use optical illusion instead of trying to correct the kit part. Anyway I needed to close the bulges accordingly. Due to their shape, the best way to make such parts is thermoforming them,. I found an acrylic part with about the same curvature of the interior of the bulges and used it as a male to shape the parts using a metal template as a guide. Later they would be glued to the top of part 13:

Work started making the main deck plate, which is the most visible of the deck parts when the wing is not installed on the real aircraft. I used a 0.5 mm plasticard and reverse engineered the photos to make the holes at the correct locations:

The actual part had raised lips around most holes, but I simulated that only on the circular one by glueing a stretched spue ring and smoothing the boundary with putty... too much work. After scribing the location of the several plates/reinforcements that would go on top of the deck, I also marked the rivet lines. The real thing had several round head rivets and good photos are necessary to find their correct positions. Once I marked them, it was just a matter of applying the rivets. Yes, applying them! After testing a number of methods to simulate the structural rivets, I opted for using Micro-Mark Water Slide Surface Detail decals in HO scale. Worked like a charm. After applying them in individual rows, I think I succeeded in eliminating any sign of the clear film step.with a good coat of Walthers Solvaset decal setting solution:

Next, I scratchuilt the top of the fuel tank, ahead of the main deck plate. I used plasticard and several Plastruct and Slaters plastic rods:

The reinforcements were cut and embossed from litho plate, while bolts were added using Tichy Train Group and Grandt Line bolts and rivet heads. A rear bulkhead was also scratchbuilt using plastic bits and litho plate to be installed later aft the main deck::

Here is a photo of the initial tests of these parts fitted inside the fuselage:

And the final testing before setting aside these parts (several smaller details still had to be finished and installed):

The next major structural part was the bulkhead closing the tail end. This was a circular plate supporting the jacking point of the aircraft, so alignment would be crucial here later. Also, the rudder and elevator bars would protude out of this part through an elliptical hole. I used a mix of Aluminum litho plate, rivet decals and brass parts from K&S:

And just because people are always asking about my workbench, here is a glimpse of it during this project. What a mess...

The bulges that I thermoformed before were glued to the ceiling of the landing gear bay, closing the oval apertures on top of part 13. Like I mentioned before, these are there to provide space for the wheels retract completely into the bay. Actually, the top of part 13 should be the visible structure on top of the fuselage. Anyway, the bulges were painted Aluminum and worked preety well (sorry for the messy glue marks):

And talking about it, I finished the main deck plate by adding the bulges and reinforcement strips. The bulges were heat formed and the strips are litho plate riveted on the underside. There are one or two smaller details to be added later, but it is basically finished:

As for the fuel tank, I spent some time duing the associated details. In particular, I scratchbuilt the main fuel line, fuel tank vent and the tank filler opening. I used a mix of clock parts, pieces turned on my lathe and some gizmology. Not much of it will be visible, so I didn't go overboard. Besides, there are bundles of electrical wires to go on top of it at the end. Still missing is the fuel pump and several hoses that I found in the photos of this area:

I found some quite old railroad detail parts in brass, as well as some newer detail parts for 1/24 cars... I forgot them somewhere in the back of a drawer, but I found them quite usefel, particularly to create some of the missing parts. More on that later...
Moving to the tail, structural details were added to create illusion that the area is not empty when viewed from the bulkhead opening at the end of the fuselage:

And here is another of the countless dry-fittings:

Still a long road to go. Stay tuned...


Technical file
- Revell #04723
- Legend Productions LF3214 - He-162 cockpit set for 1/32 Revell kit
Basic colors: 
- Primer: Automotive universal grey primer
- Camouflage: 

- Flat finish: 
- Many scratchbuilt details (see text).

Rato Marczak 2018