Haunebu II Do-Stra (Dornier STRAtospharen Flugzeug/Stratospheric Aircraft)
Squadron – Nr. SQM0001 – 1/72
Haunebu II – the secret Nazi project that was going to be the means to be able to operate the Third Reich from Neuschwabenland, and later evacuate the Thule and Vril cults to South America via Antarctica, i.e. Neuschwabenland. Here are some Haunebu facts according to some “sources”:
The Haunebu I first flew in 1939 and both prototypes made 52 test flights. In 1942, the enlarged Haunebu II of 26 meters diameter was ready for flight testing. This disc had a crew of nine and could also achieve supersonic flight of 6,000 to 21,000 km/h with a flight endurance of 55 hours. Both it and the further developed 32 meter diameter Haunebu II Do-Stra had heat shielding of two hulls of Victalen. The craft were constructed and tested between 1943-44. The craft made 106 test flights.
By 1944, the perfected war model, the Haunebu II Do-Stra (Dornier STRAtospharen Flugzeug/Stratospheric Aircraft) was tested. Two prototypes were built. These massive machines, several stories tall, were crewed by 20 men. They were also capable of hypersonic speed beyond 21,000 km/h. The SS had intended to produce the machines with tenders for both Junkers and Dornier but in late 1944/early 1945 Dornier was chosen. The close of the war, however, prevented Dornier from building any production models. Yet larger still was the 71 meter diameter Haunebu III. A lone prototype was constructed before the close of the war. It was crewed by 32 and could achieve speeds of 7,000 to 40,000 km/h. It had a triple Victalen hull. It is said to have had a flight endurance of 7 to 8 weeks. The craft made 19 test flights. This craft was to be used for evacuation work for Thule and Vril in March 1945.
Further plans for a 120 meter diameter Haunebu IV were in the works but no such craft is known to have been
constructed before the end of the war.
Well, you can believe what you want about that but as far as I know there’s no evidence found of any Haunebu ever built – but if they had been built they would’ve been grabbed by Operation Paperclip and that would’ve been the last we heard of it 😉
This is not a (fictional) history lesson but a review of the eagerly awaited Haunebu II kit from Squadron – and trust me, I was like a little schoolboy waiting for Santa when I pressed “buy” on eModels.co.uk website and whilst waiting for it to arrive from England! A few days later it arrived and the box is the coolest box for any scale model kit bar none!!! I was so excited I had to take a break, make some coffee, and then open the box. Little did I know whilst being this excited that this is where my headache soon was going to start, and many weeks of agony and frustration – but we’re not there yet so let’s continue with this review.
The Haunebu II 1/72 scale model is 14″ diameter so the box is slightly bigger than that, which in itself is impressive too, and everything seemed very professional when I opened the box. Inside were the sprues – which had the thickest sprues I’ve ever seen in my entire life! The hull pieces were made really thick which made the kit weight quite a lot too, which only added to the professional look and feel. Let’s be honest, the Haunebu II isn’t a complicated kit. In fact there are only 125 parts and most of those are the control room and the landing gear, and the guns. I didn’t buy the Haunebu II for that reason, I bought it because it is the epiphany of all German “what if” and “paper panzers”, which I love, and this would fly above my wunderwaffen I’ve built as some sort of completion to the collection!
It comes with excellent decals, although one of mine did fall apart but that was down to a particular decal softener that was too strong for the varnish. You haven’t got a lot to play with when talking about decals, you have only what’s on the box – but it comes with digits from 0 to 9 so you can decide what number yours will have.
The instructions are very basic, but so is the kit. In fact I think the instructions are pretty spot on and the pictures are large enough so you don’t need glasses to read them – like some other manufacturers do…
All in all everything looked fantastic and now it was finally time to start the much awaited build of the majestic Haunebu II Nazi UFO, the very first kit from Squadron!
The build really consists of three parts. Lower hull, upper hull and control room/bunker. You start with the lower hull and that’s just two pieces, two half circles, that you glue together and this forms the base that the rest of the model builds upon. You can imagine my disappointment when my two lower hull pieces didn’t fit at all… 🙁 One, or both of them, were distorted and bent out of shape!?!
We all have had bent pieces before when scale modelling and it’s usually not a big deal. You just bent it into shape and glue it like that and it’s sorted, or if you need to bend it more you can hold it under hot running water, enough to soften the plastic a little and then bend it into shape and run it under cold water to fixate the piece. Well, the two lower hull pieces of the Haunebu II are the really thick parts I was mentioning in the beginning of this review and at this moment I didn’t know how hard they would be to bend into shape, nor did I know how much spring force that was going to be stored in those two pieces of plastic. Not only were they distorted/bent out of shape, one of them was also 5 mm narrower than the other. Reasonable usage of putty is normal on most scale models but 5 mm is a lot, and when it’s a thin outer edge it’s not great because putty will never be as strong as moulded polystyrene.
I didn’t realise how off it was so I decided to continue with the build and just force the two pieces together whilst applying cement. This was a bad idea.
As soon as I let off the force I used to hold it in place whilst gluing it snapped, right back into the bent shape. I tried again, and again but the same results every time. By now I was getting a bit stressed so I decided to try to clue one side at a time, and also gluing the bottom centre dome to help strengthening the lower hull, and also adding extra styrene on the other side to strengthening even more – and do all of this with the strongest CA glue I had at hand, an industrial strength CA glue from Loctite I took home from work once and the corresponding accelerator. This is the type of CA glue you can lift a car with and if that doesn’t work on my Haunebu II – nothing will!
So one side first, I bent the two half-moons so they were flat, managed to add a lot (!) of CA glue and whilst making sure the outer edges met, I sprayed the accelerator to make it harden. I must’ve held it for 30 seconds after spraying the kicker, just to be sure, and when I let go it seemed to hold! Now for the other side, same procedure, bend, hold, CA glue, kicker, hold, wait, and…
…it was holding! I was now facing an unforeseen problem an that was because I was focusing on making the outer edges to line up, now they didn’t line up a bit further in, and we’re talking quite a lot here. The two halves were not in plane. This meant I now had to sand off half the difference in the thickness of one side, and build up the other half of the difference with putty. I knew I could say goodbye to the panel lines long before I begun this activity, but this was no longer a nice scale model build – this was now only about trying to salvage something, and it was not a good feeling…
After a lot of scraping, dremel sanding and a lot of Tamiya white putty I sort of had made a flat-ish surface on both sides of the seams. Not pretty and who knows for how long it would hold. I took this picture and when I lifted the model up again after taking this picture it snapped again…
I tried again with CA glue and accelerator, and Tamiya cement and putty – and using clamps. I also used about every swear word I had in storage. It worked but now it looked like a dogs breakfast and I no longer wanted to continue with this build because this would never hold in the long run. I remember a friend who had received a questionable sprue from Takom and he emailed them with the problem and he got replacement parts only a couple days later! I had spent $115 on this kit – the kit that made me feel like a child on Christmas again. Surely Squadron must have a working support organisation, I though? I sent Squadron support an email describing the faulty/distorted parts and the problems I was having and I super kindly asked if I could PURCHASE replacement parts so I could fix my kit and build it? Obviously I wrote “purchase” in order to be polite and friendly but I was expecting a free of charge replacement service for faulty parts, just like all the other scale model manufacturers out there…
Squadron support sent an answer the day after and it basically was this. “that is a common issue with big kits. nothing we can do”.
My heart stopped for a moment whilst reading this. This is a common issue? Good. You should have a system setup for sending replacement parts then?! But the “nothing we can do” made me lose my colour vision for a brief moment. Here is a customer who has paid $115 for a kit, that has manufacturing faults, and you refuse to help him – even as he’s offered to purchase replacement parts???
I was really angry now. I mean furious. I decided to wait a couple of days to respond in order to calm down and be almost as polite and kind as I was when I sent them the support request the first time. In my reply I added another picture – including a red arrow in the picture, showing exactly where the irreparable problem was and a in depth explanation of the fault and why it can’t be fixed by me since it’s a manufacturing fault, ergo it should be replaced. They never replied. sigh.
After two weeks of waiting for the reply that never came I reached out to Squadron via Facebook, via a bad review from me. Now they responded in only a couple of minutes stating that they would get someone to contact me. This didn’t happen. I emailed another email address I found to Squadron, noting happened. What else can I do?
I just put all the pieces back into the box and put it away. Here was the most exciting kit I’ve ever done – the most expensive kit I’ve ever bought – and by a company of modellers that makes products for modellers – and it was just broken.
I didn’t look at it for weeks and one day I decided to put it in the bin (garbage) because not only did it annoy me – it had made me hate modelling full stop and I had done zero modelling at all during these weeks. Just before I was going to throw it away I decided to give it a last attempt, and this time not care so much about the appearance, just make it work and assemble the whole kit, so I did.
The rest of the pieces worked like they should and after a couple of hours of first re-gluing the dodgy hull pieces, it was now assembled. I primed the whole kit, including the interior and all external parts before I went to bed. The next morning I was going to pre-shade the whole model and then start masking a 3-colour splinter camo, and this is where this story almost ends – again. As soon as I lifted the lower half (the model is split into lower and upper half to make it easier to paint and handle) one of the dodgy glue joint snapped again. I managed to keep calm and I were able to glue it again, but any kind of splinter camo on the bottom was impossible because that would certainly crack it again. It’s now not even going to look like planned… But I decided to keep it light blue on the bottom and instead focused on the upper side. My 3-coloured splinter camo was masked and painted. Even looked half descent too, but there was no real joy in doing this, just getting it done in a brute force style. I painted all the guns, landing gear, interior etc and put everything together. I then put on two coats of varnish and then added the decals the next day. The day after the decals I weathered the model and I’m calling it done now. I’m not even going to bother installing the electronics and the custom PCM I designed for the Haunebu II – I’m just glad it’s done.
If we stop here for a second and think what had happened if Squadron had just sent me the replacement parts I needed to complete the build instead of just giving me the “nothing we can do” answer? I would’ve still been that little boy waiting for Christmas – only now it’s after Christmas and I’d be playing with my toys. I wouldn’t have told my friends about the ordeal which resulted in them cancelling their orders of their Haunebu II models. I wouldn’t have written this honest and negative review and instead I probably would have given it a 5 out of 5. Perhaps Squadron doesn’t need our business because they have enough money already? I don’t know. There can be faults when you deal with thermoplastics, especially 14″ large pieces. I expect better quality control when paying $115 and I certainly expect better customer care and support!
Due to the issues above and the pathetic response from Squadron support – and their subsequent refusal to respond, I can only give this a 1 out of 5 – and that’s only because I love the Haunebu II concept and artwork. It was killed by themselves.
You can make up your own mind and do what you want. If all the pieces are correct this is a really nice kit, but if you’re in trouble you’re on your own…
I waited a couple of months before I wrote this review just to give Squadron every chance possible to right their wrongs, but they never did – and they never will. Thank you eModels Hobby Store in the UK who sold and shipped the kit to me! You were super friendly and very supportive! I will use you again for sure! Squadron – no chance.
The end results of what should’ve been a great adventure that turned into the opposite.