Fonderie Miniature 1/48 Breguet 693 A/B
reviewed by Paul Bradley
The Breguet Bre.690 series was one of a number of superb French designs that, due to political maneuvering and bad tactical usage, was not fated to make an impact on the course of World War II. This trim twin-engined aircraft was originally designed to a 1935 Armee de l'Air specification as a three-place fighter, in much the same vein as the Fokker G.1 or Messerschmitt Bf110. However, as the Breguet company had refused to become part of the French government's plan for a nationalized aviation industry, the shapely Breguet was denied the use of engines! Instead, the prototype languished for a year, before a pair of Gnome-Rhone engines was fitted and the aircraft took to the air for the first time in 1936.
Although it immediately established its superiority over the government's winning design, the Potez 630, the Breguet was not destined to enter production as a fighter, but as a light attack bomber. Capable of over 300mph and armed with a cannon and up to six machine guns, plus a useful bomb load of 800lbs, the Breguet was just beginning to reach operational units as the War started. At the time of the German blitzkrieg on the West in May 1940, only a handful of front-line escadrilles were equipped with Breguets. Most were thrown into suicidal attacks on the spearheads of German tank columns. Dispatched in small penny-packets, without fighter escort, the outcome of these missions was almost pre-ordained, yet their crews bravely went all the same, determined at least to say that they had tried to defend their country. In total, 49 were shot down and 41 crew members were killed. Breguets claimed seven victims, three Bf109 and four Hs126. Had they been given better strategic and tactical help, and if there had been larger numbers, maybe they could have made a difference.
As it was, the Armistice relegated the Breguet to a peripheral role for the remainder of the War. Small numbers equipped Vichy French units in the Middle East and North Africa, while the Luftwaffe found the Breguet to be a useful training machine. Some were later transferred to the Italians.
Fonderie Miniature's kit is the not the first of this aircraft in 1/48th, there being the Pend Orielle kit, plus the old Heller kit in 1/72nd, and represents a Breguet Bre.693 powered by two Gnome-Rhone 14M powerplants, rather than the unreliable Hispano-Suiza engines of earlier variants. This kit has been available for a couple of years, and as such, is one of FM's earlier releases.
Opening the sturdy box, one finds it almost full of parts, a nice change from kit boxes that make more noise that a rainstick! All the main components are on three sprues of soft, gray injection-molded plastic. The detailing is engraved, rather heavily in places, and the plastic has a slightly pebbly texture. Many of the parts have light flash, but there are no significant mold marks or sinkholes to be concerned about. There are no locating pins. The detailing on the interior of the fuselage halves is poorly defined, and I will use it as a guide and replace it with strip styrene. The wings are a little thick and will need to be sanded down, while the tail assembly could also stand sanding and redefinition. These are also butt-joined to the fuselage and will probably need reinforcement of some kind. Overall, these parts give the impression of an old Novo kit from the seventies, but with engraved panel lines. In other words, these are typical short run components and nothing to be overly worried about!
What makes this kit is the detail parts. Sensibly, FM has decided to make these in multiple media. Included are white metal, resin, etched steel and vacform parts. The white metal parts include the landing gear, tailwheel assembly, separate propeller blades and machine guns. All are well cast with just a minimum of clean up involved. The machine guns are too small, but this is not a problem, as only the barrels are visible and these I will replace with metal tubing. The resin is soft and slightly chalky, but the parts clean up well and are very useable. These include a pair of very nice engines that require only ignition harnesses, the wheel wells, wheels, ailerons and flaps, the cockpit tub and the spinners. The photoetched steel sheet includes useful details for the interior areas, including the cockpit, sidewalls, bomb bay and gunner's station. A complete set of harness buckles is included, and I will make the fabric with tape or lead foil. The canopies and fuselage windows are vacformed parts. These are clear, but I will probably replace the fuselage windows with Krystal Klear or similar.
The decal sheet includes markings for three Breguets, one Battle of France aircraft, one Vichy machine and a Luftwaffe trainer. The decals are nicely printed and are in perfect register. I tried a spare one on the "hanger queen" model I use for airbrush trials, and it behaved perfectly with MicroSol.
Filling out the box are the instruction leaflets in both French and English. There are two double-sided A3 sheets, the first covering construction. This has exploded diagrams with many helpful hints and is of good quality. The other has a short history, and color and markings instructions. Colors are named in French, but the correct FS number and Humbrol and Aeromaster paint equivalents are indicated. Both sheets are very useful indeed.
This is one of those aircraft that, although
not well known, was actually quite widely used. It is also a very pretty airplane.
This kit does seem to capture that look. Although not up to the standards of,
say, Classic Airframes, it is better than many kits of this type and I think
that this will be a relatively uncomplicated build. The lack of positive location
of the various parts will probably cause a few gray hairs, but having a few
"limited run" kits notched on my "victory stick", I feel
confident that the basis of a good model is here. I will report back with a
full build at a later stage, and let you know how it went.
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