Originally built for SAMI and appeared in the June 2005 issue.
Always attractively packaged, this model is nicely presented in Special Hobby's end opening carton. It shows a nicely done mottled camouflaged aircraft on the lid. However, according to the respected Aerofan publication, the only Ro.57 known to have a mottled scheme is the prototype, which had the cockpit located nearer to the fuselage midpoint, a smaller canopy and a correspondingly smaller spine. The model represents the revised variant, which had the cockpit moved further forward to increase the pilots field of view. This has to be borne in mind when building this model. Despite providing specific parts for the prototype, which includes a retractable rear wheel and smaller spinners, it is not possible to build it, unless the fuselage is altered accordingly and a new canopy made. Now onto better things! The standard of moulding is first rate with clean engraved panel line detail and very well cast resin parts, which includes the cowlings, engine and cockpit detail. The canopy is very crisp and clear and a very good decal sheet is provided.
Very easy to follow. Using two sheets of folded A4, providing an 8 page booklet, the lead page provides a very brief history, followed by a parts breakdown and colour chart (using Gunze Sangyo and Humbrol), a logical seven step assembly sequence and diagrams for two schemes, including the so called prototype, spread over the next 7 pages.
It starts with the cockpit and fuselage. The cockpit itself is all resin, although there is no side wall detail at all. I used a mix of Humbrol 120 and white to get a reasonable pale interior green shade to the floor bulkhead and sides, the seat being silver and the instrument panel black. The whole assembly is very straight forward and there were no problems with the fit of parts. Only the lower fuselage window posed any problem, needing a careful trim to get a good fit without falling into the fuselage cavity. An inset diagram shows the retractable tail wheel arrangement for the prototype, which can be safely ignored.
The two resin engines are an exercise in patience, as they are made out of individual pistons that need careful placement on each crankcase. The resin cowlings are a nice friction fit over them and can be carefully pushed into position at the very end of the assembly process, as can the propellor-spinner parts. Special Hobby have indicated the correct rotation for these items, the arc being very close to the fuselage! The once piece lower wing is carefully trimmed and test fitted on to the fuselage. It fits perfectly, as do the upper wing halves. The undercarriage fairings, split in two halves, are joined together and then glued in place. The horizontal tail surfaces are also careful trimmed of any moulded seams and butt joined into place. No filler was required anywhere. This leaves the unusual undercarriage assembly and tai lwheel fairing to do. After that, the canopy is masked and fixed in place with white glue. It was now ready for its primer. Smaller details such as the exhaust and tail plane struts are applied when the camouflage is completely dry.
The kit measures 173mm in span, 120 in length and 30mm in height. Against the dimensions given on the instruction sheet, it is only slightly short in length. The modelis quite faithful to the real aircraft, but the the shape of the nose looks a bit pinched to me.
Apart from the prototype, all Ro.57s had the late WWII camouflage of overall dark olive green with pale grey undersurfaces. As its a pre-serie aircraft, there are no squadriglia code numbers or even insignia, just wing roundels, white fuselage band and rudder cross. I used my favoured Xtracolor X109 for the green and X134 for the lower surfaces.
Very nicely printed and their application was trouble free, although they were very delicate, requiring care when handling them. Rating 9/10.
This is a very nice easy model to build. The unusual undercarriage arrangement is a bit difficult to visualise during construction, but careful study of photos, especially those from the Aerofan publication (Issue 74) will be of great help. Special Hobby have released the bis version of this aircraft, which is the dive-bomber variant assigned to 97 Gruppo in 1943. I feel this would be a more popular choice of model. Anyone wanting to do the mottled camouflage will have no choice but to consider modifying the model to get closer to the prototype configuration.
Many thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample.