Octopus (Pavla) 1/72 IMAM Ro.43. Originally written for SAMI

This is a limited run kit from Pavla, using their customary combination of injection and resin parts. The instruction sheet is well laid out and provides clear information, including colour call outs during construction. A small vac-form sheet is provided for the clear parts. There is a nicely printed decal sheet that's in very good register. There is a fair amount of clean-up required on most of parts, but that is to be expected with this type of limited run model. Surface detail is very good, with nicely done engraved panel lines and good fabric effect. Dimensionally, the kit is a good match to plans found in Ali d'Italia #12.

The cockpit is a somewhat simplified affair. What you get are a mix of injection and resin parts for two seats, a floor, a quite well detailed gun emplacement, a few control & radio boxes and instrument panels. What you don't get is any of the tubular framework, which was prevalent in this aircraft. It will have to be scratch built and will mean thinning the fusleage sides down quite a lot otherwise nothing will fit. The vacu-form side windows, after careful trimming and test fitting, proved to be a snug fit as were the windshield and mid-cockpit canopy.

Both wings are moulded as a single piece, the top wing being very thin in the centre which makes it all too easy to break, leaving a seam to fill should this ever happen. The lower wing fits quite nicely onto the fuselage, but only after a little dry-fitting. The centre float is moulded as a large single piece with a separate base that fits up 'inside'. This is the only poorly fitting part. I glued the front tip first and allowed it to dry thoroughly before teasing and bending the rest of it to fit. The seam left all around was the only area that needed any filler.

There are a choice of two tail fins to apply. The aircraft in this build had the larger version. There are quite a few struts to fix in place between each wing, which all need a test fit. The rear struts on the main float were shortened to get the correct 'sit' between the float and the fuselage. The engine cowl is in two halves and has rather thick walls. The rear edges should therefore be made thinner to improve its appearance and to allow the exhaust to fit between the cowl and fuselage. The resin engine has reasonable detail, but is obscured by the oil cooler ring, which was delicately cast in resin and needed careful tidying up. The prop blades were shortened to clear the centre float.

Having masked off the clear parts and the open cockpit areas, the fuselage was prepared for the camouflage. I used the WEM ColourCoat Grigio Azzurro colours, using the Chiaro for the lower surfaces, followed by Scuro for the uppers. The dark grey was applied to all the struts, with only the small outer float struts in the lighter grey, contrary to the instruction sheet.

The fuselage band was hand painted, as was the black sections of the floats. The decals were no trouble to apply.

This is a nicely prepared limited run kit and a quantum leap over other Ro.43 kit's produced in the past. It's not without its problems though, but any one who is familiar with this type of modelling should still be able to build a good looking model. The Ro.44 single seat fighter version is also available from Octopus.

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