AZ Model's Avia B.135 arrives in a sturdy top-opening box, with the sprues and other parts safely packed in separate bags. The kit comprises:
20 x tan styrene parts
10 x resin parts
26 x etched brass parts
A vacuformed canopy (plus spare)
Decals for 5 aircraft
Bearing in mind that this is a limited-run model, the styrene parts are pretty cleanly moulded. There's a little flash here and there, but nothing serious and, encouragingly, I couldn't find any sink marks on my kit. There are some hefty ejector-pin marks to clean off before assembly, including a few that are very poorly placed in the wheel wells.
Exterior details comprise scribed panel lines (which can benefit from a quick extra swipe with a scriber in a couple of spots) and neatly represented fabric surfaces, but the really nice surprise is beautifully subtle embossed rivetting on the metal areas of the airframe. The effect is so delicate that you might miss it at first glance - which is just as it should be in this scale. (Some of the mainstream manufacturers who plaster their kits with massively overscale embossed rivets could really learn a lesson here... ) Of course, whether this rivetting disappears under even the lightest coat of paint remains to be seen...
With so few parts, there's happily not to much to go wrong with the basic airframe. The fuselage halves have a tendency to splay apart in my kit, but are easily taped together. The wings are perfectly straight and the fit at the wing roots isn't bad at all. The fuselage parts are taken from the earlier, fixed-undercarriage, Avia B.35 - the difference being new nose parts. A new resin radiator is provided, which features a more rounded opening and fitting this will involve a little careful surgery.
The cockpit is decent enough, kitted out with a mix of styrene and etched parts. There's a full seat harness and the instrument panel is etched with a backing film. The instructions indicate that a few items must be scratch-built - the seat support, rudder bar etc. - which is fair enough, but the instructions fail to include any dimensions, so some trial and error fiting will probably be needed.
Turning to the exterior, there are etched replacements for the exhaust outlets, with plain or ejector stubs (again, you must make the latter from carved plastic rod). The nose radiator and wing surface-cooling panel are also included on the etched fret.
The distinctive feature of the Avia B.135 was obviously its retractable landing gear and the kit features basic styrene legs which are embellished with etched oleo scissors, plus resin wheels and doors.
Lastly, there's the vacuformed canopy, which is pretty good quality, with well defined frames. Clarity is good, but a dip in Future/Klear will still improve matters. A nice touch is the inclusion of a spare, so there's no need to fear accidents.
Instructions and decals
The assembly diagrams are drawn in AZ's familiar style - at times slightly "stylized" and needing careful study to avoid confusion. I found a couple of typos with items misnumbered. Colour matches are included for Agama and Gunze Sangyo paints.
AZ provide decals for five aircraft, with a mix of real and fictional schemes:
"White 5" and "White 12" - a pair of Bulgarian Air Force machines, 1943-44.
D-IBPP - Luftwaffe, 1941
"White 6" in a speculative Czech Air Force scheme
An aircraft under test in Japan -again an imaginary scheme
The decals look pretty good quality - thin and glossy with crystal clear carrier film. The blue of the Czech insignia looks slightly textured when examined closely, but this effect may disappear when the decals are applied. Swastikas are provided for the German machine.
AZ Model's Avia looks a fine limited run kit. Despite its small number of parts, it's not really suitable for beginners, but experienced modellers should find few problems and it could make a good starting kit for anyone wanting to broaden their horizons beyond mainstream models.
AZ Model's Avia B.135 Ljastovica is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
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