The Breda Ba.65 was intended as an aeroplano di combattimento
, capable of fulfilling the roles of interceptor fighter, light bomber or reconnaissance/attack fighter as required. That's fine on paper, and indeed the resulting aircraft was compact and quite well streamlined for the mid-1930s, but the Ba.65 never really stood a chance as a fighter thanks to the weight of the fuselage bomb bay. However, aircraft from the first production run of 81 Ba.65s were sufficiently successful in the attack role during the Spanish Civil War to merit further production. A second series of 137 aircraft were produced with more powerful engines.
During WW2 the Ba.65 fought almost exclusively in North Africa, although by then it was clearly obsolescent. In an environment notoriously harsh on all aircraft, the Ba.65s proved especially vulnerable and their reliability was dismal – sand in the engines proving almost as great a menace as RAF fighters. By February 1941, all the Ba.65s in the campaign were unserviceable or lost in action, and their place was consequently taken by ground-attack versions of the Fiat G.50.
Special Hobby's Ba.65 arrives in a sturdy top-opening box, with all the sprues and accessories bagged separately for protection. The kit comprises:
103 x grey styrene parts
9 x clear styrene parts
32 x beige resin parts
47 x etched metal parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Bearing in mind that this is a limited-run kit, the moulding is generally very good, with little flash and, as far as I can see, only one small sink mark on the review sample. There are a couple of ejector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the tailplanes to trim off before assembly, but it's encouraging to see that the designers have kept them well clear of the cockpit or anywhere else likely to be visible. The exterior finish is very nice, with finely engraved panel lines and subtly represented fabric areas.
A test fit of the main components is mostly very encouraging. The fuselage and wing halves line up perfectly, and the wings slot into the belly very neatly. Turning the model over though, there's about a 1mm gap at centre of each wing root, because the fuselage sides tend to flex inwards slightly. Note: that's without the interior fitted, which may help spread the fuselage sides a bit.
A few details
As was clear in Jean-Luc's report on his and Steffen's visit to MPM earlier this year, the designers had really pulled the stops out for the interior. The finished kit certainly lives up to expectations in this department, with over 50 parts forming the pilot's cockpit and the vertical bomb stowage behind it. There's no cockpit floor, or tub – instead, there's a complex internal framework which is moulded in styrene. As you'd expect with a short-run kit, this will need extra clean-up compared with a mainstream kit, and probably some adjustment for a clean assembly, but the result should be very impressive. This isn't going to be a model for beginners or the ham-fisted – the etched pilot's harness is made up from 7 separate pieces and his seat itself is a further 6. I would have expected an etched instrument panel, but in fact it's plastic - quite nicely detailed, but I can't help thinking an etched version would have looked better. Ironically, the styrene panel is embellished by an etched console beneath it with tiny levers.
To build the bomb bay you'll need to roll some perforated etched tubes ready for a quartet of nicely cast resin bombs . Although this is all tucked away behind the pilot's seat, the bomb bay should still be visible through the extensive glazing, including a large belly window, so it'll be worth the effort of doing a neat job. The clear parts themselves look very good quality, being nice and thin with crsply defined framing.
The main undercarriage also looks nicely detailed, with another styrene framework to slot into the wheel wells before joining the wing panels. The same care will apply here as with the interior fuselage structure, and you'll need to make sure all the elements are lined up square or it might make the undercarriage cock-eyed. A point to watch out for is the angle of the gear – one built-up example I've seen has an uncharacteristically "stilty" sit.
The engine looks like it should be great, comprising a separate crankcase and cylinders, all beautifully cast in resin, which slot into a resin cowling. It's slightly disappointing that there's no ignition harness provided among the etched parts. The instructions don't show any push rods, but there are holes for them in the crankcase so they'll be simple to add from plastic rod or stretched sprue. Casting in resin really comes into its own on the cowling, allowing the blisters to be represented without any awkward moulding lines, plus really thin cooling gills. The intakes and exhausts are hollowed out, and everything is finished off with a resin propeller. This is cast with separate blades and a well detailed hub.
Instructions & decals
The assembly guide is printed as a 12-page A-5 booklet, with clear illustrations breaking the assembly down into 10 stages. The sequence looks pretty logical, although the undercarriage looks like it might be a bit vulnerable. It might be hard to fit later, so making a simple shield to protect it could be a good idea while you work on the rest of the model. Colour suggestions are keyed to most details during assembly and these are for Gunze Sangyo paints.
Three alternative colour schemes are offered. These are illustrated in B&W, but colour versions (as shown here) are available at the CMK website
A. Breda Ba.65 A-80, s/n MM.75244, 159-14, flown by Tenente Adriano Viscont, 159a Squadriglia, 12° Gruppo, 50° Stormo Assalto, Tobruk, November 1940.
B. Breda Ba.65 A-80, 159-12, 159a Squadriglia, 12° Gruppo, 50° Stormo Assalto, Tobruk, October 1940.
C. Breda Ba.65 A-80, 159-4, 159a Squadriglia, 12° Gruppo, 50° Stormo Assalto, Benghazi-Berka, spring 1940.
The sample decals by Aviprint are very good quality, with the thin, glossy items printed in perfect register.
Special Hobby's Breda Ba 65 looks a really neat kit, packing masses of detail into quite a small model. It's well up to the standard for modern short-run moulding, but it's definitely not a shake 'n bake model, so it's not suitable for inexperienced modellers. But for anyone with a few kits of this type under their belt, the Breda should prove a really satisfying build of an important, if somewhat unglamorous Regia Aeronautica workhorse.
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