The Ho IV was probably the most elegant of all the Horten brothers' flying wing gliders. Designed to investigate the characteristics of an extremely high aspect ratio wing, the first Ho IVa took to the air in May 1941 with Heinz Scheidhauer at the controls. Lacking a conventional fuselage, the Ho IVa instead featured a small pod in which the pilot knelt to adopt a semi-prone position. The glider was controlled by triple-elevons and retractable speed brakes. Construction was wood and fabric, except for the metal centre section structure and pod, plus the wingtips which were so thin that metal had to be used.
Three additional Ho IVs were built, including the unsuccessful Ho IVb featuring a laminar-flow wing. Two of the Ho IVa gliders survived the war and fell into Allied hands. The Ho IVa was studied closely by US flying wing pioneer Jack Northrop, and also tested extensively at Mississippi State University in 1959. A modified Ho IVa is on display at Planes of Fame in California, while D-10-1451 has been fully restored to its original condition and displayed at Deutsches Museum at Flugwerft Oberschleissheim.
Planet Models' Horten Ho IVa arrives in sturdy little top-opening box, with the parts sealed inside a series cellophane pouches. It's a very simple kit, consisting of:
18 x beige resin parts
2 x vacuformed clear parts (plus spares)
Decals for all three Ho IVa prototypes.
The casting quality is excellent throughout. Despite being so long and thin, the wings are perfectly formed and dead-straight. Surface finish consists of finely scribed panel lines and a beautifully subtle fabric effect.
Construction is a little unusual in that the wing panels butt-join to the centre section some way outboard of the joint on the original aircraft. This ensures the correct dihedral for each wing, but means a joint to fill and disguise right in the middle of the fabric area.
The pilot's pod isn't hollow, so cockpit detail is restricted to what's visible through the vacuform transparencies which form the leading edge of the centre section, with a bulged canopy over the pilot's head. The couch and flying simple controls and structure are nicely cast and should give a good impression of the cramped cockpit.
The clear parts are neatly formed with crisp frame details and the inclusion of a pair of spares is a nice touch in case of slip ups.
Instructions and Painting
The construction instructions are presented in Planet Models' new style and consist of just four annotated photos of the model at various stages of assembly. I must say I far prefer conventional exploded diagrams; it's lucky the Ho IV is such a simple kit, because the photos of the cockpit structure are quite confusing!
The painting instructions are much better handled, with nice full-colour 4-view diagrams of each Ho IVa in alternative schemes:
1. Ho IVa V1 LA-AA in clear doped linen or RLM 05 Elfenbein.
2. Ho IVa V2 LA-AB / D-10-1359 in RLM 02/05
3. HO IVa V3 LA-AC / D-10-1451 in clear doped linen.
The small decal sheet is fair quality, although not quite up to Planet Model's usual standard. The items are nice and thin, but there was a little bleed apparent on my sheet. Swastikas are provided split into halves.
This is a very attractive kit that will make a real change from the usual diet of WW2 aircraft. Coming out of such a small box, the real shock is the wingspan of the Ho IVa - its matches a Ju 88! Recommended to all Luftwaffe modellers with a little experience of resin kits and detail sets.
Planet Models' Horten Ho IVa is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
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