In 1935 the Italian Ministry of Aviation issued specification R that called for a cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear, preferably powered by a Fiat A.74RC-38 engine. Several companies entered the competition with one of them being the Fiat Company. The development was complicated by the Ministry's vague and constantly changing requirements that ranged from light interceptor to fighter bomber. The prototype first flew on February 26, 1937. It was then handed over for military trials after some slight modifications. The initial order for 45 machines was placed even before the machine was transfered for trials. Compared to its competitors, the G.50 ended up in second place behind the Macchi C.200. Eventually both types were accepted by the military. In February 1939 12 machines were sent to Spain for combat trials but they arrived too late to see combat. Service experience found issues with the original bubble canopy material and faulty landing gear retraction. Newer machines were designated G.50-II were equipped with a semi opened canopy, new landing gear and modified tail planes. In 1940 production was switched to the G.50bis version which featured the final shape of the tail planes, enlarged fuel tanks and strengthened armor plating. Due to its common African assignments this version was often equipped with a dust filter. By 1943 the G.50bis was already becoming obsolete compared to other Allied types and many were switched to the fighter bomber role with wing racks installed. 67 of them were defending Sicily when the Allied landing occurred. When the armistice was signed, the Italian Allied Air Force took over 48 machines. Finland placed orders for the G.50 in October 1938 and the aircraft was quite successful in Finland, during the Winter War they had a victory to loss ratio of 11/2 and during the Continuation War 88/4. In small numbers the G.50s served in the Croatian Air Force and the Luftwaffe.
The Special Hobby Fiat G.50 comes in a fairly large (for the contents anyway) top open box with nice artwork on the top. Inside the box is one large resealable plastic bag containing four sprues of medium gray plastic. Also in the bag are two small zip lock bags, one with the clear parts and the other resin parts. In the box is another medium sized resealable bag containing the decals, a PE fret and on very small acetate piece. The plastic parts are representative of what Special Hobby parts have looked liked in their most recent kits, a smooth almost glossy finish with fine engraved panel lines, subtle fabric detail on the control surfaces and raised or recessed surface detail as applicable. The parts are cleanly molded with only a minimal amount of flash. As is typical with short run kits the sprue attachment points are heavy in some places and care needs to be used when removing them. I did not find any sink marks or other defects on any of the airframe parts and only two raised ejector pin towers in the cockpit area and no ejector pin marks any where else that might show. Mold parting seams on a few of the smaller parts were a bit heavy but this also seems to be the norm on limited run kits. The ailerons are molded in the neutral position as are the flaps and the demarcation lines for these seemed a bit shallow to my eyes but that is relatively easy to fix. The elevators and rudder are molded separately and as such are positionable for those so inclined. The cockpit is well appointed consisting of molded, resin and PE parts including the chain and strap harness and belt arrangement the Italians used. The instrument panel consists or raised bezels as well as internal instrument detail and should look great for those who are talented at painting these up. The level of detail here should satisfy most but in this scale certainly more can be added. The small acetate piece included is for the gun sight reflector. The engine assembly is quite complete and complex done entirely in resin with separate cylinder heads and exhaust stacks. Wire is called out for the push rods but you must supply that yourself. A large exhaust collector ring is also supplied in resin with hollowed out ends. Unfortunately unless you cut open the cowling, much of this will not be seen. The engine cowling itself will be a bit of a challenge as all the rocker cover bumps are supplied as resin and must be applied individually. These are quite small in size and there are 28 of them. Their locations are marked on the cowling. Most of the resin parts are relatively flash free and very well molded, the engine crankcase is a real jewel. A few of the exhaust parts have some thin flash that should be easy to clean up. The wheels are not weighted. The propeller is the multi part type and is not keyed so care will need to be used to get the blade angles set uniformly. There are a number of parts that are not used on this version which indicates other versions will be released in the future. See photos below.
Photo below show the molded interior framework, only one of the ejector towers may show and even it may not be that visible once the cockpit parts have been installed.
The PE fret is mostly for the seat harness but there are a couple of other cockpit details as well.
The clear parts are reasonably thin and nice and clear, other than the windscreen the only other parts supplied clear are for a navigation light, only one of the four shown are called out in the instructions.
The decals are thin, well printed and appear to be opaque where needed. On some of them you may want to trim away some of the excess film. Markings are supplied for four different aircraft, all in the usual complex Italian schemes that will test your talent and patience. See below.
The instructions are printed on three A4 sheets folded and one half page put together to form a small booklet of fourteen pages. The first page has the aircraft history in Czech and English, pages 2 and 3 contain a parts map and symbols chart, pages 4 through 9 are the assembly steps with one containing a color chart with Gunze numbers and generic color names, pages 10 through 13 have the painting and marking instructions and page 14 is a catalog of Special Hobby items.
After Market Goodies
Other than resin wheel sets offered by both CMK and Squadron I have found no other items available at the time of this review.
This is another nice kit by Special Hobby of a significant aircraft that has been mostly ignored by the main stream manufacturers in this scale. Special Hobby kits have been getting much better the past few years and while they are far from being a shake and bake kit they do build up into nice models even though they still have some fit issues and challenges. Recommended to modelers with some limited run kit experience.
Links to kit build or reviews
A build review of the non bis version but essentially the same kit can be found here.