by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Originally published on:
BackgroundFiat’s G.50 Freccia (Arrow) was the first all-metal single-seat monoplane with a retractable undercarriage produced in Italy. First flying in 1937, it also originally boasted an enclosed cockpit, but this proved unpopular with conservative members of the Regia Aeronautica and was replaced with a simple windscreen and partial side panels. Always somewhat overshadowed by the rival Macchi C.200, the G.50 was reasonably fast by Italian standards and very manoevrable, but was hamstrung by lack of power and a very light armament.
The G.50 fought on all fronts with the Regia Aeronautica, even making an ineffectual contribution in the winter of 1940/41 in the closing stages of the Battle of Britain, where their performance proved no match for RAF fighters. While rapidly proving obsolescent in the west and North Africa, those G.50s exported to Finland continued to serve right through to the end of the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, with the last aircraft finally being retired in 1946.
The Kit Special Hobby's G.50 has appeared several times previously, with its latest boxing being the 2. serie in Regia Aeronautica service. The kit arrives in a very solid and attractive top-opening box, with the sprues and accessories bagged separately. The kit comprises:
73 x grey styrene parts (plus 4 spare)
4 x clear styrene parts
50 x grey resin parts
29 x etched brass parts
1 x clear film
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
Special Hobby have established a high reputation at the forefront of the market based on “limited run” technology, and the G.50 pretty much embodies everything good about the latest kits of this type. There’s no flash or sinkage to worry about and the details are crisp and sharp. Panel lines are delicately scribed and louvres neatly represented, while the control surfaces have a subtle finish that gives an excellent effect of taught doped fabric. I’ll give the exterior a gentle polish to remove a faint “grittiness” - but, saying that, it’s actually smoother than many modern mainstream kits.
Test FitBearing in mind that the kit is “limited run”, assembling the major parts of the airframe promises a very straightforward build. The fuselage halves splay slightly at the nose and tail, but are easily held together with tape, and the important thing is that the engraved panel lines match up perfectly.
The joints at the wing roots are pretty tight even before any trimming, so should be spot on with a little adjustment. The trailing edges are quite fine, but I’ll still sand them down a bit for more realism. The panel detail lines up again, but the openings for the pitot and navigation lamps don’t quite match - something that’ll take two ticks to sort out.
The stabilisers slot in solidly, but sit a little too far forward - again, easily solved. You’ll need to do some minor surgery for this version of the G.50 to remove the long tail-cone and attach the shorter alternative. This version also has a slightly different style cowling, and a full replacement is provided, so there’s no need for any cutting up front.
A Few DetailsThe construction sequence is refreshingly logical and begins with the cockpit. This is mix of styrene, resin and etched parts which should all combine to produce a nicely busy “office”. The typically complicated Italian seat harness is supplied as photo-etch, as are the numerous small levers and handles dotted around the cockpit.
The instrument panels are moulded in styrene - reasonably well done, but I can’t help thinking they could have been better still either as resin or etched with a film backing. Nevertheless, they should repay careful painting (or look even better with Airscale decals used for the instrument faces).
There’s a slight mystery surrounding what I guess must be the trim wheel, nicely cast in resin and sitting in an etched frame; the instructions don’t show where to install it. Tracking down some cockpit shots should reveal all and highlight any additional details - extra work won’t be wasted, thanks to the Fiat’s open cockpit.
The resin engine is a real beauty, consisting of 31 parts. The detail is very finely reproduced, and the casting is flawless in the review kit. The parts count shoots up further still once you add the pushrods from wire or styrene rod/stretched sprue. The instructions don’t show the ignition wiring, but it should be straightforward to work out from photos. Rounding everything off is a horse-shoe shaped exhaust, which has neatly hollowed-out openings.
The propeller consists of a 2-part hub, split front and back, plus separate blades. Additionally, there’s a small spinner for one of the colour schemes. The hub detail is quite crisp, but the locators for the blades do look a bit short and softly moulded, so it could be a good idea to reinforce them with brass pins and use a simple jig to get the angles of the blades matching.
The next stage covers the undercarriage, which features well moulded wheels with unweighted tyres. If you’re not satisfied with the kit items, MPM produce a neat set of replacement resin wheels under their accompanying CMK range. The main gear legs should clean up well enough and the attachments into the deep well look pretty solid. The wheel well itself is bare, so superdetailers may want to hunt out references to add some extra detail (I imagine there must at least be some riveting etc. in the original). There’s a choice of plain or spatted tailwheels, depending on which colour scheme you opt for.
Pretty much rounding things off, the cowl guns have very nicely cast resin barrels with open ends, while a delicate resin gunsight with a reflector made of plastic film tucks in behind the windscreen. The latter is thin and crystal clear, with neatly defined framing.
Instructions & DecalsSpecial Hobby appear to have moved on from their “hand-drawn” of instructions (which I actually really liked) to a much more modern looking style. This is certainly more functional, printed with spot colours on high quality glossy stock as a 12-page A5 booklet.
The assembly sequence is straightforward in 19 stages and easy to follow (apart from the trim wheel getting lost as noted above). Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are included throughout.
Decals are provided for a pair of Freccias, the first sporting classic “poached egg” mottling, while the second carries broader patches and a yellow cowl:
Fiat G.50-II, 354-3, 354a Squadriglia, 24° Gruppo Autonomo CT, Albania, January 1941.
Fiat G.50-II, 20GR, MM5372, 20° Gruppo (20/JG 56), 56° Stormo CT (JG 56), Corpo Aero Italiano, Belgium, autumn 1940 / spring 1941.
The decals look excellent quality, being perfectly in register on the sample sheet, with minimal excess carrier film on the thin and glossy items.
Both schemes are very attractive, each offering an interesting airbrushing challenge - and, of course, Italian paints were notoriously prone to quite some phenomenal weathering, so you can really have some fun depicting that if you choose.
ConclusionSpecial Hobby’s Fiat G.50 looks a beautiful kit. Obviously, beginners should approach it with a degree of caution because it’s not going to be a “shake ‘n bake” build like mainstream kits, but anyone used to limited run modelling should really enjoy it, and the result will make a spectaclar addition to any collection of largescale WW2 fighters. Recommended.
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Well moulded, with a good level of detail. Excellent resin parts and decals.
Items like the instrument panels would be better provided as resin or etch. A slip in the instructions with a location not being shown.
This is an excellent limited-run kit that will offer a very enjoyable challenge for modellers with a little experience.