Good scale models of unlimited air racers are few and far between. If modelers want to build any of the modified racers, they will be forced to make their own parts, cut a lot of plastic, and use a lot of filler. Once the basic airframe is finished, then the problem of decals comes into play. Manufacturers such as Tamiya, Hasegawa and others do not recognize any market for these exciting aircraft. We're almost left on our own.
Unlimited Air Models, from Japan, made a bid to change this "problem" with the production of 1/72 limited run injection kits of Dago Red several years ago. This kit was exquisite! The recessed panel lines and fit of the resin parts is extraordinary. Owner Naohiko Kamiya has turned his attention to the radial-engine Critical Mass, and has produced a limited run resin kit that matches or betters the earlier Dago Red kit.
The US retail price for the Critical Mass model runs between $80 and $90 depending on where you can find them.
The kits come in a relatively sturdy box, with the parts bagged to prevent damage. There are several sheets of instructions; one with a parts breakdown and assembly instructions, one that contains a history and notes on the racer, and another of photocopied walk-around / detail shots. Almost all of the text is in Japanese, but the English will have no problem with putting the model together.
The parts are injected resin, and are surprisingly good for 1/72 scale. Correct panel lines, or the absence of them, are noticeable. The Critical Mass kit comes with the A-26 cowling, but sanding it down to represent the DC-7 cowling should not be too difficult. (If you choose to do this, you will also have to change the exhaust stacks, as they are a different configuration.)
The decals in the kit are comprehensive, and contain all of the black and white stripes, numbers and markings. Several different style number "10's" are included, along with two extra "Taz" characters.
Although I haven't built my kit yet, the dry fitting of parts is excellent. The wing and fuselage are single pieces, with white metal landing gear, doors, oil coolers, cooler fences, spinner, and prop blades. Resin horizontal and vertical tail surfaces also dry fit well. The canopy is clear resin which can be polished for a clear look, or painted black. There is no cockpit to really speak of.
Overall, this kit - along with the earlier Dago Red - is an exciting and well made model that fills a void the major manufacturers ignore. High points are the finished of the parts - for a limited edition kit, they are excellent! The fit appears to be excellent, and the attention to detail of the modifications is well done. Even for relatively inexperienced modelers, this kit should present no problems as long as time is taken to clean up a few seems and ensure that the surface has been lightly sanded for paint adhesion. (There are FS numbers for paint matching in the instructions.)
It truly is unfair to list any drawbacks to this kit, but the major one has to be the price. However, Unlimited Air Models is the only game in town when it comes to limited run resin racing models. Coupled with the fact that it is an import, we can't complain too loudly about price. The only other problem that might come up is the translucence of the white in the decals; their level of opacity is a bit suspect.
Overall, Unlimited Air Models gets very high marks for their kits. Thank you very much to Naohiko Kamiya for the review sample of the Critical Mass kit. If you'd like to order one of these kits, please contact him at:
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