Planet Models | 1/32 Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister

Reviewed by Gene Nollmann

This 1:32 scale resin kit from Planet Models of the Czech Republic seemed to quietly creep onto the modeling scene about a year ago. Perhaps there was some fanfare that just didn't cross my path (32nd scale) till I saw it on Squadron.com and Great Models Webstore and then several times on eBay; finally, my curiosity kept gnawing at me and could no longer be stymied. Perhaps some kit review on the web would have satisfied my curiosity, but then, nothing quite satisfies the senses as opening a box to the aroma of fresh resin!

History

For me the Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister was pretty much a mystery; there is so much aviation history to explore and so little time! In brief, I didn't know what to expect except the published box art somehow suggested to me something of the size of a Boeing F4B/P-12. Much to my surprise and delight the Bü 133 is smaller having a wingspan of 259.8" and a length of 237" making it more the size of a Pitts S2B or a Christian Eagle II. And in researching some of its history, demonstrations of the Bü 133 in the US did indeed contribute inspiration to Curtiss Pitts in producing the legendary Pitts Special.

Carl Clemens Bücker, coming from a long involvement in early aviation, including service as a German naval pilot in WW I, established Svenska Aero AB in Sweden after WW I. Soon after Hitler's rise to power and Göring's charter to establish an Aviation Ministry, Bücker returned to Germany to form a new company, Bücker Flugzeugbau GmbH in October 1933. Six months later the Bücker Bü 133 Jungmann was brought into production. (Planet Models via Squadron.com has recently introduced this kit in 1:32).

The Bü 133 Jungmeister was introduced in 1935 and rapidly established its reputation as an exceptional aerobatic aircraft. The Bü 133 served its two-part mission very well-to promote dominance in aerobatic competition and to sharpen the skills of future Luftwaffe combat pilots. In the former the Bü 133 dazzled the world with spectacular aerobatic performances and in the later it succeeded in preparing thousands of pilots for Germany's soon to emerge military air force, a deception violating treaties signed ending WW I. For the aviation modeler, the Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister stands at the crossroads of a significant new chapter in aviation and world history.

The Kit

The kit comes in a sturdy box with its 37 resin pieces individually sealed in plastic (greatly reducing shipping and shelf-shuffle damage). Aside from the resin, there is a clear vacformed windscreen, one sheet of decals and instructions.

The instructions come on two A4 size sheets printed on both sides. One sheet devotes a paragraph to some of the early history of the Bü 133 (Czech and English) and a pair of 4-view drawings for decal placement of the two variations, training aircraft of Jagdfliegerschule 2 and JG 101. Color call outs are for RLM 70 and RLM 02 with equivalent FS 595a colors provided. The second page, being strictly pictorial, includes an identification of parts and the assigning of numbers and then proceeds with 7 exploded assembly views and two rigging views. And, in my humble opinion, the boxtop art is an exceptional piece of work, not only for the quality of the rendition, but is packed with very good detail information useful to a modeler. It portrays the aircraft in its 'Jagdfliegerschule 2' scheme.

The one-piece resin fuselage is solid with a cavity to receive the cockpit tub assembly. The fuselage has a slight texture continuous over 'fabric' and 'metal panel' areas of the fuselage (maybe mold release?). Fuselage panel lines are sensitively engraved; one may want to deepen the two vents in the cowl area. On the empennage, some raised detail is provided for control cable fairings and a 'v' shaped 'zippered' access panel. The bottom displays a raised zigzag-stitching pattern along the centerline. Always a troublesome decision in mold making, where to put the mold parting line. On this fuselage the mold parting (and mold distortion) resulted in a split-level side panel. Care is required to blend the two surfaces without destroying the subtle rib line just above it.

The upper and lower wings are each molded as solid pieces. Each are finished with the same slight texture mentioned regarding the fuselage; the ribs are expressed and the 'valleys' appear convincing for a fabric-covered wing. Their trailing edges are very thin. Indications are molded in for placement of struts, bracing wires, and cabling (no wires or cables were included in my kit). The bottom wing continues the zigzag-stitching pattern established on the fuselage. Also molded into the wing are various handhold grips. These will require some work to refine, but a nice touch and reminder to the modeler to detail. The wing parting lines are on the edges and easy to clean-up (why couldn't the fuselage part on the lower edge?). Ailerons are incised and can be easily cut if repositioning is desired. With resin wings the issue of warpage is not uncommon. The type of resin used in this kit can be reformed quite readily in hot water. I don't know what kind of resin it is (and other resin kits I've seen from Eastern Europe have used the same type) but it seems to be softer than many of the resins commonly used in aircraft kits, but fortunately responsive to the hot water re-forming.

The empennage is assembled from two resin pieces, a horizontal tail and a vertical tail. The surfaces of each have the subtle highs and lows of fabric covered surfaces. Molded with the vertical stabilizer is a small piece of fuselage fairing, which appears will easily blend once mounted on the continuous horizontal stabilizer. Locations for the empennage bracing wires are molded in. The rudder and elevator can be easily trimmed for repositioning if desired.

On the business end of the fuselage, the kit supplies a one-piece cowl and 10 engine pieces. 7 of those pieces are the engine pushrods pre-formed in a 'v'. These miniscule parts will require tedious clean-up once trimmed from the 'flash' carrier; much better to find some fine rod/wire and scratch build the pushrods. Photo reference suggests there should also be 3 'v' supports running from the crankcase to the cowl front lip-these will need to be scratchbuilt.

The 'crankcase /cylinder' casting seems to be quite serviceable with a little clean up. Compared to the reference, this piece seems to be a good representation of the 7-cylinder Siemens radial and not something borrowed from some other source-quite daring to cast a piece like this in resin. However, visually significant to the Siemens is an exhaust collector ring that mounts on the front of the engine. The kit's cylinders have both intake and exhaust ports on the rear of the engine; the Siemens Sh 14 has its exhaust port on the side of the cylinder.

The exhaust from this manifold connects to a single pipe that cuts through the bottom of the cowl and runs aft below the fuselage. The box art very well illustrates how this assembly should appear as it runs through a heat collection boot before it is finally vented; the supplied resin piece doesn't quite capture the idea.

Bü 133 had a wood prop with a unique cone shaped nose-mounting flange; the kit part nicely captures these details. Some references show a laminated wood prop, some others show the prop in a solid color (painted?).

One fairly serious shortcoming with the kit is the transition from fuselage to engine and cowl. Through study of reference on the internet, it would appear the last bulkhead selected for the model should actually have occurred some 14 scale inches further aft. From that bulkhead, a contoured fairing covers all structure clear up to the rear of the crankcase and inside the cowl. In the photo below, a fairly sizeable styrene block has been added to bridge the area from engine to kit's fuselage bulkhead. The rear of the cowl never touches the fuselage, but in fact is supported by tubular rings braced from within the fuselage and the engine crankcase. The cowl clearance is not constant because of the fuselage shape being blended into the circular cowl, but the cowl is supposed to be clear of the fuselage all around.

The cowl is a single piece of resin and will slip snugly over the engine, but, not surprisingly, once it is aligned with the rocker-cover blisters, the fit is quite loose. When the fuselage to engine fairing is addressed, the final attachment of the cowl will also have to be addressed. The blister shape is unusual and nicely done.

A detailed Bü 133 cockpit would start with a fabric covered metal tube spaceframe. With its 6 resin pieces the kit approaches an appropriate 'look'. The kit's integral floor and rear bulkhead make the basis of the tub. The floor has some nicely done straps and buckles holding down control rods with foot pedals unfortunately molded against the forward stub-bulkhead. The rear bulkhead expresses some tube frame, which aligns with tubes molded into the side panels. Completing the tub assembly is an instrument panel with nicely detailed raised instrument bezels and switch plates (but no instrument dials). A delicate, thin-sided, seat with cushion, lap and shoulder belts mount to a block molded into the rear bulkhead for proper angle. The shoulder harness, with a little nudge, aligns with a fuselage cross tube molded into the rear bulkhead. A resin control stick rounds out the cockpit. The tub assembly slips into the cavity in the resin fuselage, but bear in mind, some of the interior of the fuselage casting will require some finish as it can, in part, be seen from the outside.

Two clear vac windscreens are provided, an nice extra effort on the part of the manufacturer that might as easily been cut from flat clear stock and bent to shape (all 3 facets being flat).
The landing gear is composed of 2 wheels with quarter fenders, 1 set of cross brace tubes, 2 faired struts, and a tail wheel unit. Considering the weight of the solid resin fuselage and wings, I wouldn't look for the resin struts to successfully support the finished model; the tension members would be fine but the faired struts, which are splayed at an angle off vertical do not convince me of being adequate and will need to be rebuilt with some metal rod or otherwise modified.

Similar to the landing gear struts, the wing attachment is also with resin struts. Although appearing accurate in size and section, they are far too fragile in this application and should be replaced with something stronger (shaped wood or metal, maybe even styrene). The box art is invaluable for clear rigging (BYOWire).

Decal markings are for two training units; 'yellow 271' of Jagdfliegerschule 2 and 'white 209' of JG 101, and for one aircraft, five pairs of small 'maintenance' signage, an octane marking and one tail number. Historically a 'swastika' appears on the tail of training aircraft and the decals are arranged in a clever way to allow you to use a 'place-holder' or to assemble a swastika. Fuselage and wing crosses are common to both aircraft. It is unfortunate that one or more of the early German aerobatic team or Olympic team or Swiss Air Force markings were not provided. The plane found service in many countries. Although historically significant, the RLM 02 gray trainer is quite uninspiring in appearance.

Conclusion

Planet Models' Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister is a well designed resin kit with many features that allow a progressive build whether you do it out of the box or elect to enhance its detail. It has a few shortcomings, but no difficulties that a resin modeler cannot overcome. From the wide range of prices I have seen this kit offered at, it is difficult to understand its value and due to its extreme esoteric nature, value is strictly personal. If you are building a collection of aerobatic aircraft, this aircraft should be in the collection as well as Planet Models other offering of the Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, which is the Bü 133's progenitor and quite possibly more significant historically.

References

A great reference site, all in German, a few key words will get you around:
http://www.buecker-museum.de/geschichte/home/home.htm

The Fantasy of Flight Museum in Florida (not too far from Theme Park Land) has one of each of the Bücker 'Jungmann', the 'Jungmeister', and the 'Bestmann'; their Bü 133, registration YR-PAX, is in 'Olympics' markings and has been in flying condition.
www.fantasyofflight.com
1400 Broadway Blvd.
SE Polk City, FL 33868
area 863-984-3500

More of an owner/operator site, but lots of great information on Bücker aircraft: www.bucker.info

Die Bücker Flugzeuge [anniversary edition in German with English]
Erwin Konig
NARA. Verlag. 1987.
ISBN 3-925671-00-5

Bücker - Flugzeugbau [German text]
Wietstruk, Siegfried,
Aviatic Verlag, 1999.
history of Bücker aircraft, many photographs & scale drawings,152 pgs.

Other aircraft that used the Siemens Sh 14:

Arado Ar 69
Bücker Bü 133 "Jungmeister"
Darmstadt D 29 b
Focke-Wulf Fw 44 "Stieglitz
Heinkel He 72
Klemm Kl 31, Kl 32

© Gene Nollmann 2003

This article created on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Sunday, July 14 2013