Antares Models 1/48 Gotha Go P.60 A-2

Kit #ANT-22                                            MSRP $75.00
Images and text Copyright © 2007/2008/2009 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        The Horten Brothers claimed a spot in aviation history with the development of their flying wing interceptor the Ho.229 which made it into prototype construction and a single example exists still at the Paul Garber facility in Washington D.C. When this aircraft was being considered for full scale production by Gotha it was immediately apparent to their engineers that the intended engines were going to be either in short supply or completely unavailable. There were other choices available in power plants but due to the design of the Ho.229 with the engines embedded within the wing structure there was not sufficient space to accommodate the new hardware. Also with new data available from flight testing of the 229 some aerodynamic changes were needed.
        Gotha designers proposed an alternative all-wing design that would allow for the external mounting of engines and the addition of extra crew and/or equipment. Mounting the engines externally did make for easier maintenance and for several alternative engines to be used however did increase the drag of the overall airframe. Two configurations were proposed with one engine mounted on top and one underneath the wing body and the other with both engines mounted ventrally. Crew positioning was altered from the 229 design from upright seating to prone position. This gave the crew an advantage when experiencing high G maneuvers. Construction was based along the same principles as the 229 with “Formholz”, a molded wood sheathing assembled around a welded tubular structure.
        The A-1 version would have the engines mounted dorsally and ventrally while the A-2 version would keep both turbojets mounted side by side ventrally. Both versions would include three large internal fuel tanks, would incorporate a pressurized crew compartment and a leggy tricycle landing gear. Flight controls featured hydraulically activated leading edge flaps, flaps, elevons and ailerons as well as split wingtip flaps and small ventral stabilizing fins. Designed as a heavy interceptor the type would be fitted with four MK 108 30mm machine guns located in the wing leading edge. The P.60 series of interceptor never made it off the drawing board before the end of the war but could have provided an interesting avenue into supersonic flight.

The Kit
        This is the latest offering from Antares Models in Argentina just hitting the market in late 2006. It is basically a resin kit with white metal, photo etched and vacuformed detail pieces. The kit is securely packaged in a sturdy white cardboard box with colorful box art. Internally components are bagged and padded with Styrofoam packing material. The resin parts are of a good quality light tan resin that looks to have been cured properly before being removed from the molds and no obvious warpage is present. The wings and main fuselage body are solid core pieces of resin displaying no micro bubbles and relatively good surface texture. I did note some minor roughness to the wing surfaces but this was easily remedied with a quick pass of 800 grit sanding film. Panel lines are subtle and engraved. They show good consistency across the model.
        Smaller resin detail pieces include well detailed engines, un-weighted tires, various landing gear doors and crew door. Flight control surfaces are all molded in the neutral position. A small bag of white metal components cover the main landing gear struts, access ladder and cockpit instrument panels. Two small photo etched frets give the modeler crew seat belts – hold down straps might be a more appropriate term when used in this configuration. The kit contains two sets of clear vacuformed canopies that demonstrate well defined raised frame lines. A single white vacuformed piece is provided for the nose gear mud flap. A sheet of acetate material is included to fashion the small wing tip fins from. Overall the kit contains twenty two resin pieces, twenty one white metal pieces, two clear canopy pieces, a single white vac piece, an acetate sheet and twelve photo etched parts for a total of fifty nine parts in the box not including the duplicate canopy pieces.

You may click on the small images above to view larger pictures

Decals and Instructions
        This kit includes a good set of instructions printed on A-4 sized paper. They begin with a nice historical background of the aircraft and some basic instructions for handling resin parts. There are three pages of assembly instructions consisting of about seven exploded views and a couple of profile sketches. There are several construction notes scattered throughout along with several color call-outs. Two pages are done in color and cover basic exterior paint schemes and decal placement for three aircraft.
        Kit decals are done by Condor and come with a rice paper protective sheet. The sheet contains the basic markings for three aircraft and includes two styles of Swastikas. They do not contain any service markings or warning stencils. Colors are vibrant and density looks good, print registry appears perfect. The decals appear to be nicely thin and will most likely settle into the panel lines very well. While I have not yet had an opportunity to use any Condor decals I do not anticipate any difficulties with setting solutions.

        Antares specializes in Luft ’46 kits and does a good job filling this nitch. This kit is well done with good surface texture, excellent surface detail, and no obvious warpage or bubble issues in the resin. The inclusion of white metal main gear struts is an absolute necessity with a kit of this mass. Kit instructions are well done and provide the modeler with all the necessary information. Decals while brief and lacking in the finer items like service stencils look good and should behave well. This is certainly an unusual subject and this is one of only two kits covering the aircraft type (Fliegerhorst P.60 C is the other). If you are a fan of Luft ’46 subjects you not only need to get this kit into your collection but it would be wise to review all the subjects offered by Antares. This kit is recommended for modelers of average or better skill and with some experience working with resin models.

Construction Begins 12/20/08
        Periodically I get the taste for Luft ’46 projects and when that happens strange things start to rise from my work table. This time that strangeness takes the form of a Gotha P-60. I began with parts preparation which with a resin kits always begins with a good dust respirator and a Dremel with sanding drum. Moving to my outside shop I ground off the pour stubs from all the pieces then moved back inside to finish them on some wet sandpaper taped to the surface of my workbench. The resin used by Antares is very hard and somewhat brittle, shaving piece off with a razor like you could with European resin is not an option so all clean-up work is done with sandpaper and diamond needle files.
        Initially I did not pay attention to the left and right markings on the wings and was puzzled by a large fit discrepancy but once I kick started the brain things started fitting a lot better – don’t make my mistake, clearly mark your lefts and rights before your start grinding off the tabs. The primary fuselage/wing assembly is really only three parts so once the basic sanding was done I could superglue these right together. I did have a little bit of a step from the wing to the fuselage and decided to make a good alignment on the top and deal with filler on the bottom of both wings. The engine pod inlets and exhaust were prepainted with Alclad lacquers then assembled. As with the wings some filler was going to be needed to blend this part to the fuselage. Rather than used superglue for this piece I mixed some five minute epoxy which gave me the added benefit of some filler right there.
        Once the epoxy had cured overnight I started filling my seams with White Milli-Putt then smoothed off the seams with a wet cotton swab. Once this had dried I sanded things smooth then rescribed the panel lines with a JLC Razor Saw. The cockpit interior was airbrushed with RLM-06 and the interior details were placed. It looks a little plain and just somewhat odd without conventional seats so I think I will add some wiring to busy things up a bit.

       Next thing to deal with is the vacuformed canopy. Fortunately Antares provides two because I screwed up the first one trimming it too small. The second round of trimming worked out a little better. After the canopy was trimmed and test fit I dipped it in Future and let it cure before masking. It was attached with superglue and accelerator then the seams were touched up with some Mr. Surfacer 500. Since there was no framing involved with the clear nose piece I opted to leave it off until after all painting was complete rather than fight with masking it.
       Prior to painting all openings were masked off with damp tissue paper then the entire model was coated with Mr. Surfacer 1200 cut 50% with lacquer thinner. Next some very dilute Testers flat black enamel was used to preshade the model. The yellow nose and wing tips were painted then masked off once cured. I used RLM-76 enamel for the lower surfaces then moved to the uppers. First some RLM-71 was applied followed by some lightened with white to create panel fade. Once this was masked off I reapplied some flat black to the panel lines then airbrushed the RLM-71. Now most of the masks can come off.

       I have to touch up a few areas around the engine nozzles and the kit does not include any antenna pieces so that stuff will have to be either scratch built or found in the spares box. I think I will work on some landing gear next.

       The landing gear struts provided with the kit are very long giving the model a very ‘leggy’ appearance. I personally do not like this look and feel that it makes the aircraft appear very unstable on the ground. Since this is a ‘what if’ project of an airframe that never made it into even a prototype stage I feel pretty comfortable making some changes. I started by cutting about a quarter inch out of the centers of the main gear. Once I started to shorten these I realized that I had seen this gear somewhere else before. A quick review of the parts graveyard produced a set of gear struts from a Dragon Ju-88 that I had built in flight and these were a perfect match for the shorter kit legs. Rather than continue to fight with cutting down the metal legs I just used the Dragon Ju-88 legs. The kit nose gear did need to be cut down a little to match and care was taken to retain a slight nose high attitude on the ground.
       The wheels were removed from the pour blocks and axel holes were drilled out. Gear doors were removed from the pour blocks and placed on a piece of tape for painting. Everything got a coat of paint in the appropriate colors and was set aside to dry. The gear struts were attached to the model and the model was then sealed with Future. Decals were applied using all the basic kit decals plus service stencils and warning markings from my spares box. Each deal was dipped in Future before application so no setting solution was needed and the decals did not need a second sealing coat before the application of a sludge wash. By time the whole wash process was complete the rest of the landing gear parts were ready to be installed after which the lower section was sealed with Micro-Flat. A little bit of Alclad jet exhaust lacquer paint was dusted around the engine exhaust area to give it some heat stress.
       On the top side I added some scratch built antenna and directional mount. The directional antenna was from the PE spares box. Now the top side was sealed with Micro-Flat and the last of the masks were removed. The single toughest aspect of this build is now in front of me – placing the clear nose cone. It’s a good thing that Antares provided two copies of each clear part because I really needed them. I think this is the first time I have ever had to resort to using the back-up clear parts in a kit. After several aborted attempts to attach the nose I finally got there with a combination of fine spots of superglue and a bead of Testors clear parts cement. And there it is, one completed Gotha P-60A-2, not something you see on the model shelf every day.

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