Horten Ho 229

This aircraft, to me anyway, is one of the most interesting to have reached the flight test stage during WWII. Not only for the futuristic design but the way in which it was conceived and built. The fact that Walter and Reimar Horten built the first prototype right under the noses of the RLM without any official sanction is a story worthy of the History Channel. There are a number of references available on this craft but the best one in my opinion is the Monogram Close-Up series volume 12. The author, David Myhra, interviewed both of the Horten brothers prior to their deaths and shares the story as it was told to him.

The Kit

Dragon has, at various times, released two versions of a kit for the 229, a day fighter and a night fighter. Both of these are basically "what if" aircraft as the 229 never made it past the prototype stage and only one of those, the V1, actually flew. So most of the kit is based on plans or details existing on the surviving prototype in the Smithsonian Air and Space collection. I started my kit prior to starting this website so no photos were taken of the sprues. It has been reviewed favorably several times and two of these are listed in the links below. The one I chose to build was the day version. 

Links to kit build or reviews

A review / build can be found here and here.


"Monogram Close-Up 12 Horten 229" by David Myhra 

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The Build

This kit, like many other Dragon kits, has a number of fit issues. I decided early on, based on another review, that since I wasn't planning to make the wings removable (one of the available options) that I would assemble the upper wings to the upper fuselage and lower wings to the lower fuselage. These two assemblies were then mated. This reduces but does not totally eliminate all of the alignment issues.
Prior to that the internal parts were painted and assembled. These included the cockpit, engines and gear bays. Since I was not going to open the engine covers the only parts of the engines that would be seen were painted, basically the intakes and exhausts. The cockpit is pretty spartan but so was the original although it had a bit more than the kit supplies. Eduard at one time made a PE set for it but I had no luck tracking one down. I was not happy with the instrument panel as the detail was very shallow and I'm not good at dry brushing anyway. In the end I sanded all of the detail off the panel except the bezel for the artificial horizon and using photos proceeded to redo the panel. I made bezels by punching holes in .010" thick styrene then cutting out a square around the hole and then beveling the corners. These were then glued to the panel. Once this was done the panel was painted RLM 66 and the bezels flat black. Once dry instrument decals were punched and inserted in the various dials and glued in place with Future. A drop of Future was placed over the decals to act as lenses. The final product is shown below.

While not perfect it looked a whole lot better than kit supplied panel. Once the upper and lower halves were joined, I test fitted the engine bay doors. These too have fit issues and once installed the fill sand repeat drill began. This tends to delay my projects big time as I get tired of this real quick. In fact the kit sat on the shelf in a box for close to year before I finally decided to get back into it. I finished one more round and decided to give it a coat of primer to see what I might have missed. Prior to this I masked the canopy and spent another hour getting it to fit. It looks like it will be displayed in the open position when complete as the fit in the closed position is nothing to write home about. The canopy was tacked with clear parts cement to hold it during painting and the canopy was given a coat of RLM 66 prior to priming to provide the correct inside color to the canopy frame. Once this was dry the gear bays and engine openings were filled with damp tissue and the entire airframe given a good heavy coat of Mr. Surfacer 1200 thinned 50/50 with Lacquer thinner. Naturally it showed that I still had some filling and sanding to do. Eventually I got a finish put on and the decals which also gave me fits. Due to the necessity of sanding due to the rough surface finish and all the fill required around the engine covers and all the other parts that didn't fit well by the time it got a couple coats of primer and finish coats the surface detail was too shallow to take a good wash so the upper surfaces ended up looking clean. The bottom was not as bad so it has a bit more weathering on it. The kit bedeviled me to the very end as one of the wing seams popped and required filling and sanding. Finally all the fiddly bits were on and it was ready for display. Below is the end result.

I had intended for this build to be my first after getting back into the hobby but it was not to be. My reason for that was that the last kit I finished before leaving the hobby behind was a 1/72 scale Ho 229. It was a vacuform kit by Rare Planes if my memory serves me correctly. It has survived the years and I have included a few photos of it below.

The nose gear was rather simplified in the kit so I fabricated some additional struts from thin copper wire and solder them together as shown below.

Other than some slight yellowing of the surfaces and decals from the Dullcoat used as a flat finish it has held up well.

 While it didn't turn out that bad the kit was a real pip to build. The complexity of the removable wings and the poor fit of such things as the engine bays and gun bays made what should have been an enjoyable build into a nightmare of fill, sand and repeat. I would recommend the kit only to experienced modelers with a lot of patience.

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Updated 8/5/08