Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Detailing the Airfix 1/72 scale
Henschel Hs 123B

by Glenn Irvine


Henschel Hs 123B


Airfix's 1/72 scale Henschel Hs 123 is available online from Squadron 



The Henschel 123 was a 1930’s design that was relegated to second line duties fairly early in its life due to advances in aeronautical design, but as history would show, was later to achieve much greater success in its field due to its basic and rugged design than it’s much more modern replacements which struggled when the conditions were too harsh for their finicky design.

The Russian front during the extremes of climate change is no place for wimps or finicky highly strung engineering designs. Unfortunately the German war machine was filled with such ‘wunder weapons’ and as impressive as they were to the rest of the world, they had not factored in the extremes of the environments they would be asked to operate in. This blinkered approach would eventually be part of the great undoing of the Third Reich’s vast war machine.



To give an example of the simplest of problems that happened in winter in Russia was the problem of finding the round would not fit in the chamber of your rifle due to such extreme contraction of the metal in the cold and the very fine machining tolerances commonly used by the German manufacturing industry. The Russian machinery on the other hand was a lot cruder, but, it did continue to function even under the most extreme of climatic conditions.

The Henschel was an example of the latter and as such was able to function when a lot of the other war machinery would not. It was basic in design and thus, easy to maintain, easy to fly and much loved by its pilots. The aircraft soldiered on until there were none left. At one point an attempt was made to put it back into production, such was it’s effectiveness, unfortunately this was not possible as the jigs had been destroyed long before as more modern machinery succeeded it. 





The Kit - Airfix 1/72 scale Hs 123B-2

This was one of Airfix’s early bagged release kits, and I remember building it for the first time in the early 70’s. As a kit it is typical of the time, fairly basic components, crude detail by today’s standards and not particularly accurate. Unfortunately it is the only game in town. It represents an early A series airframe with the fabric wing and the later headrest fairing as found on the B series.



I wanted to build the B series which had the wing fully skinned in metal so I had to do a lot of sanding first. Fortunately there is a lot of excess plastic built into the kit. The first thing I did was attack the flying surfaces with a small bastard file to bring the wing back to something approaching an aerofoil shape then finish of with successive grades of sanding stick. After this, the entire airframe was rescribed using the plans in the Wydawnicto book as my primary reference with extra detail added after detailed examination of available photographs.



The fuselage came in for some extra detailing and accurizing as well. The cockpit was entirely scratchbuilt using drawings and photos as reference. Some of these drawings came from Modeldad, thanks! , also reference was made to the 1/48 resin set in the AML kit, photos of these are found in one of Hyperscales reviews. The fuselage was thinned down to paper thin with my Dremel and bulkheads and stringers were fabricated. The seat was plunge formed out of a coffee sipper lid! These are great for those little plunge form jobs like this as they have a stiffening rim which gives you something to hold it with and to support the softened plastic while you plunge your master into it. I use a small candle to apply heat. They are made from about 8-10 thou sheet so are perfect for this sort of work and, best of all, they are free!!



The instrument panel, side consoles, throttle quadrant, radio boxes and oxygen regulator and bottle was built up using sheet styrene and stretched sprue, plus the odd leftover etched metal part as lever handles with white glue as the knobs. Seat belts were etched metal from an Airwaves set for the shoulder harnesses and foil, tape and wire for the lap belts.

The rudder pedals were plunge moulded and drilled to represent the early style pedals that were in use at the time the Henschel was built. The control column was built up from strip and wire and includes the brake lever and the gun firing button. The oxygen hose was from fine wound guitar string. The side access doors were cut out and masters made to plunge mould new ones of the correct shape, padding was added from fine lead wire. This was also added to the forward cockpit edge either side of the gunsight. 

Now for the main fuselage, for a start, the headrest fairing had to be reshaped and shortened and a new headrest pad made from plastic sheet, the forward fuselage was circular in cross section and this was incorrect as the cowling complete with exhausts would not fit. So, after analysis of photos it was found that the fuselage was actually oval in cross section and this allowed the exhausts to fit. The upper gun decking was attended to at this point too, as it was very crude and required the gun ventilation louvers to be entirely redone out of 5 thou card embossed with louvers of the appropriate size. These panels were then fitted to areas that were slightly recessed with my Dremel. After gluing they were blended in with filler. The upper gun decking did not match the curvature of the lower forward fuselage at this point and was blended in with super glue. Provision was made to fit gun barrels later so stops were glued in just aft of the gun openings. New reversed vent scoops were made and glued in place behind the louvers.

The large engine cooling louvers on either side of the forward fuselage were cut in and shaped as they were gone completely after reshaping the forward fuselage, not that they were there in the first place, at least not properly.

The engine in the kit was a complete waste of time as supplied from the kit and I had to find a replacement, so, after looking in my kit stash, I found I had nothing that would work, so, what does a resourceful modeler do? Why raid a friend’s stash that’s what!!

After looking in Lawrence’s stash I found an engine from the Hasegawa 1/72 Buffalo which filled the bill nicely. I took this part home and made a silicone rubber mould of it and cast it in resin twice.

I only cast the rear face as the front face had pushrods moulded onto it and I did not want that as I was going to replace all that with stretched sprue. So, there I was with two copies which I then sanded back till they were each half thickness, I then glued them together as perfectly aligned as I could. Sprue pushrods were added and the ignition wiring, the reduction gearcasing was turned up on my dremel from some thick acrylic rod. This had holes drilled to take stretched sprue as bolt heads and lead wire for the oil pipes and the forward rim of the casing. This land would later be the location for the cowling bracing wires so evident in photos of the real aircraft. I also added a shim of rod on the oil sump painted as the BMW logo which is often very visible on their radial engines

The rear of the engine had the exhaust manifold constructed from solder of various thicknesses and the exhaust outlets were made from heat formed rod that had been hollowed out with the dremel tool. All this would be invisible once the cowling was fitted to the fuselage but it made me feel better that I had built it as it was quite a bit stronger and ………just because …OK. To tell you the truth I had planned to open up one of the forward fuselage panels and the lower cowl on one side, but could not find enough info on what this area would have looked like, so did not go ahead with it.

The propeller was thinned down to more scale like aerofoil thickness and the hub scratch built from tube, rod and sprue. This was a complete pain as it broke in the middle of the blades several times as it was so thin, however MEK to the rescue. I don’t use this stuff all the time, but, it is good for really quick solid joins with very little excess melting of the parts.

The cowling was cleaned up and the lower induction scoop and oil cooler cover was shaped from plastic stock and attached including the drain tube and starter crank hole. The interior was thinned down extensively to fit the new engine in and to look more to scale. The gun blast tubes were made from plastic tubing and thinned down on the ends; these were fitted to holes drilled in the cowling.

The cowling joint stiffeners were replicated with strips of stretched sheet styrene to get extra thin strip and the cowl was scribed.

The tail wheel was scratch built as the kit one was totally useless, so a wheel was turned up from acrylic rod and a yoke made from plastic scrap and the leg from wire. The canvas/leather boot was shaped from plastic scrap and glued in place. The tail wheel drag strut shroud was also hollowed out and the drag strut made from stretched sprue. The rear bump stop was built up from scrap plastic super glued in place. This tail wheel area was misshaped and suffered from sink marks so was built-up with putty before replacing all the detail.

The main wheels were undersized, so spare wheels from the ‘thou shalt not throw anything kit related away collection’ were put to good use. (no, I don’t know what they came off, they just measured up to the correct scale size). The main wheel covers had some sinkmarks and were filled, scribed and extra detailing added, they were also hollowed out with the ….you guessed it! Dremel tool. The support struts to the rear of the covers were thinned down to aerofoil shape as well.

The flying surfaces were all removed and hinge detail added. At this time Mr Surfacer 500 was brushed on with a 000 brush in fine lines that were tidied up after drying to replicate the stitching on the fabric covered structure. The ailerons posed a special problem as they had an unusual shape and no drawing or photograph showed clearly how the hinges were aligned or how it worked.  The underside of the wing had a 45 Degree angle back to the top surface of the wing which closely matched the aileron, so there was a large gap between the lower surface of the wing and the forward edge of the aileron. This design is consistent with a Friese type aileron but the leading edge of this type usually has a forward edge on the lower surface further forward than the top surface. This means that with the hinge placement on the lower surface of the aileron and level with the top surface joint with the wing, when the aileron is tipped up a large gap forms between the ailerons lower forward edge and the lower wing surface and this projects into the airflow causing drag which helps assist further deflection.

Such seemed not quite the case with the ailerons on the Henschel. As I couldn’t work out exactly how the whole thing was designed, I compromised as best I could. – I think it looks OK and I think I got it nearly right.

I wrote this to illustrate how I went about detailing this area and the kind of understanding of the mechanical design sometimes needed to determine the detail required in an area not sufficiently covered by references.

The interplane struts were thinned down to scale thickness and the cuffs were simulated with a layer of Mr Surfacer 500 painted on and sanded lightly. The pitot tube was added from fine steel wire sheathed in stretched tube and faired in with plastic and superglue. The other struts were thinned down to scale as well, they had been removed from the fuselage complete and had to be carefully refitted to the fuselage after fitting the top wing as they were glued to it first, as were the interplane struts.

When the upper wing was sanded to shape a thinner section was sanded in the center section as the real aircraft had. I then had to add a strip of baremetal foil in the centre to simulate the jointing section in the middle of the wing. Navigation lights were made from krystal kleer over painted with transparent red and blue/green.

The horizontal tail planes were separated and hinge detail added. The rear edges were recessed and the trim tab actuators added. The support struts were added from stretched plastic strut stock and the joint to the fuselage faired with super glue.

The kicksteps were made from wire, sprue and sheet. The drop tank was turned up from plastic stock and all connector’s hoses and the rack were made from wire and plastic. The bomb racks were made from strip, sheet and wire. The forward braces were a complicated shape difficult to replicate individually in this scale until I realized that making a length of ‘stock’ material of a cross section of the same shape as the aforementioned  forward braces, I could, when dry, simply slice off sections of the correct thickness to replicate each brace and glue these in place. Amazing what comes to you at 3 in the morning!

The bombs were junk and I built a new one of accurate size and shape, but had such fun with the 5 thou fins individually glued in place and aligned, I decided to cast this bomb in resin and save myself the stress.

The side pitot tube was made from stretched tube and fine wire and mounted the very last thing. The aerial was made from synthetic stretchy transparent material coloured with a permanent marker, I suspect is knitting elastic or lycra, anyway it is incredibly fine, very hard to break and stays taut.




Painting and Markings


The interior was painted in 02, washed with oils, dry brushed and detail painted. The engine was painted semigloss black and dry brushed with dk. grey. The gear housing was 02 with a wash and dry brushing. The ignition was copper over dk. brown; the pushrods were semi gloss black with spots of silver applied to each end.

I have always liked the rather plain dark green schemes of the Luftwaffe on the Russian front, with their yellow theater markings to liven things up, and I feel they are rather underrepresented in modeling as people go for the really bright and gaudy schemes that were used at the same time.(nothing wrong with that).

I painted the model with Aeromaster  76 and Pollyscale 70 and 71 as they seemed to be the best out of bottle representations of these colours I have yet seen, as they correctly depict the very low contrast between the two colours. They also have not been lightened off which is a pet hate of mine as I think most lightened colours look hopelessly wrong and it alters the entire dynamic of the original colour contrast. Besides, if I want them lightened, I am quite capable of adding a lightening agent and adjust the colours to suit me. I clear coated with a product like Metalizer sealer, then added decals.The basics came from generic sheets . The infantry logos on the forward fuselage and the red ‘L’ all came from EagleCals sheet #17.



The triangle posed a problem as I had none that were acceptable, so I used clear decal sheet and made my own by spraying a white area, then made a mask the right size for the black triangle, this was then sprayed over the white and the final decal trimmed to the correct white edge width using scissors. A generic werk nummer was made up from eaglecals sheet that seemed to fit in the range of numbers I knew of from my references. A final gloss coat and all the panel lines were washed with very dilute oils after which a couple of coats of dullcote, then I  post shaded with a very dilute mix of Tamiya matt black and red brown, the exhaust staining was achieved with this as well. The airframe was dry brushed with a lighter olive green to highlight the surface detail.

Pastels were then used to add detail weathering to the exhaust and the airframe. Diluted with water pastels were applied to the spats to represent accumulated dirt and dust, also the spatter of dirt under the wing from the wheels. Chips and scratched were applied with a silver pencil.

The bombs are a neglected piece of hardware with WW2 aircraft, as they were colour coded and some were quite intricate and colourful, it certainly adds interest to the model. Try finding out next time, you might be surprised. Try this web site; http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/bombs.html

My Henschel is equipped with two each of general purpose SC50 and C50A incendiary 50kg bombs, which in its role of dive bomber/ground attack/close support would be entirely appropriate.



A base was made with groundwork and an engraved brass plague applied and I found a figure I had modified on an earlier project that I sent to the Russian front to keep my Henschel company.

I hope you like it.  



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images: 

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Glenn Irvine
Images of finished model on white background Copyright © 2004 by Brett Green 
Page Created 25 April, 2004
Last Updated 25 April, 2004

Back to HyperScale Main Page