Photo & Review by Jason Aufderheide
OUT OF THE BOX
Fujimi's Val has been around awhile. Parts of this kit show its age and other parts fit right in with modern, state of the art models. On the out-dated side, the biggest flaw in this kit is the canopy. It is very thick and comes in two awkward parts making it impossible to show the pilot's cockpit and very difficult to show the back seat cockpit open without modification. Also, the cockpit detail is poor. The interior parts that are provided lack finely molded detail.
The Val's exterior is another story. It has nice recessed panel lines. The kit's engine also has good.
The kit's directions pack a lot of information into each assembly step. The exploded view diagrams are small and I spent a bit more time studying them to make sure of part placements than I would have preferred. I would rank these instructions somewhere in the middle of the pack. I've seen better... and worse.
Decals are provided for several IJN gray or IJN green over gray early war Vals. Underwing and centerline bombs are also provided.
Fujimi should be proud of the fuselage and wing fit on this kit. It is as good as can be. There is VERY little sanding and filling required to hide those seams. The wing roots were a little tight but I'd rather have it that way than too much space between the fuselage and wing.
The Val is a very easy kit to assemble provided you can overcome the tiny direction diagrams and their dizzying array of lines ending in minute arrows. I built it pretty much straight from the box with the exception of after-market decals. I also stole the bombs for my Val from Nichimo's Kate. The kit provided bombs looked like they had spent a few too many weeks on Slim Fast.
The biggest construction dilemma involved the cockpit. I don't
mean fit or warping issues. Despite the substandard detail, I
intended to build the rear cockpit open to display the rear
firing machine gun. I find it is easier to explain WWII attack
planes and their intended uses when defensive armament can be
seen. People not familiar with the subject have a hard time
telling the difference between a fighter and a dive bomber. The
canopy is so thick it can't be cut into smaller sections to
display it open. If it is cut, the parts are too thick to fit
under one another. I eyeballed and dry fitted the rear canopy in
an open configuration over and over but it became obvious this
was just not to be (without a vac). The other alternative would
have been to simply eliminate the back seat canopy part (two
but that would have sacrificed accuracy. I finally gave up and just built it closed. I also decided the kit's included crew were poorly molded so I
elected to exclude them.
Beginning modelers should have no problem constructing and painting the Fujimi Val. The kit's nice panel lines and good exterior detail do a good job of taking attention away from the detail starved interior (if you can see the interior through that thick clear plastic). The great fuselage fit will also help to produce a good finished product for the novice.
Experienced modelers may wish to add after market detail to the interior and use different bombs. I enjoyed building Fujimi's Val. The superior fit alone was worth it for me. I intend to build at least one more Val but I will probably wait for the new Hasagawa kit which promises to be a great model. I believe Fujimi has discontinued their Val and I have noticed it is now hard to come by in hobby shops. A future comparison between these kits may be only for academic purposes.
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