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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

WWII Italian Bomber Class: 1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

The new-tool release of the 1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero came about in 2003, giving model makers a modern injection molded version of this big Italian WWII air force example. While the addition of this type was appreciated, upon closer inspection, Trumpeter had included some obstacles to be overcome in this kit release as well.

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

Notable Kit Features:

  • Basic interior details provided

  • Positionable leading edge slats, flaps and flight control surfaces

  • Open or closed dorsal gun area (or a start on it)

  • Rear crew entry door can be positioned open or closed

  • Open or closed waist machine gun windows

  • Twin torpedoes provided

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

Build Inspiration:

What attracted me most to this Italian WWII bomber was the variety and colours in the paint finishes on these aircraft. When I came across a re-sale of this 1/48th tri-motor kit at a hobby show I decided to jump in and give it a go.

S.M.79-II Sparviero

Heads-Up Report:

I thought this might be a straight forward build... and then I did some research on the aircraft and the kit itself. This changed the course of the build (so if you want to complete your build in blissful ignorance you may want to skip over the next few sections :)

  • Interior detail is a bit sparse especially behind the pilot seats

  • If you look at the kit cowl openings (and box drawing) they appear too open compared to aircraft reference photos. Some digging seemed to verify this to be true and gave me a setback correction #1

  • Reading further into Will Riepl's build article Setback correction #2 arose - The kit horizontal stabilizers are noticeably too short in length (by about 1 scale foot)

  • The Trumpeter kit has the horizontal tail surface metal brace supports while many later aircraft had the three wire upper supports (also if you correct the horizontal stabilizers you will have to remake the supports as well as the kit ones will be short)

  • Bomb bay is molded closed

  • Engine detail is missing the cylinder to collector ring stacks

  • Short external exhaust stacks exiting on port side provided (This is an early style so, check your reference photos as this may not be true for your aircraft)

  • Rear fuselage has detail more akin to metal reinforcement strips running the length rather than the fabric covered surfaces that were on the actual aircraft. I sanded this down to reduce this strip effect

  • Some filler required on this kit at the wing root join

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Details were added to the interior (although lack of interior reference shots at the time led to some artistic licence being employed)

  • Reduced the diameter of the three cowl openings by adding strip styrene to the interior openings plus lots of superglue, filler and sanding

  • Added heavy strip styrene to lengthen the horizontal stabilizers and control surfaces

  • Remade the horizontal stabilizer supports to correct for the additional length (the upper one probably should have been 3 wire instead?)

  • Sanded down all rear fuselage and control surfaces ribbing to look less like metal exterior strips and more like fabric support (still missed it by a bit)

  • Added step and rail details to the rear door to better depict detail

One thing a "less-than-perfect" kit build does for you is to make you a better model maker. Kits that challenge your abilities and force you to provide solutions to improve the end result can prove to be very rewarding (as well as frustrating). If you have the patience to persevere through these challenges you could be left with a kit you are more proud of than the "shake n bake" variety. Having said that, sometimes you just need a stress free build (which is how the "Shelf of Doom" items get created).

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero


Getting a good paint finish laid down was the best chance to have this 1/48 Trumpeter SM.79-II kit stand out on the shelf. I chose a tri-colour upper camouflage scheme version as I was always fond of this Italian desert finish. An article I read suggested Italian WWII paint schemes were not standardized at this time and each factory interpreted the paint tone and scheme differently (therefore I figured that I had a bit of latitude here). First the white fuselage and tail bands were sprayed on and masked off using some near-white paint. I also gave the canopies a shot of RLM02 to give the appearance of a grey interior paint. The undersides were then given a coat of Italian grey (based on FS 36293), with a bit of tonal variation added on the fly, to represent some weathering. I then used RLM 79 for the upper colour base paint, which got wrapped around the lower wing surface a bit, at the leading edges. The (more challenging) camouflage splotches were then added to fill in the look using RLM 80 and a custom mix rust-brown, based on RLM 26. Spraying these splotches with a fine needle in your airbrush takes some planning and practice, as well as getting the paint viscosity, air pressure and distance from subject correct and consistent. (Best to try this on a test area prior to hitting your aircraft with paint.)

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

While not perfect, I managed to get an acceptable end result (especially for a large subject) so decided to seal it with a gloss coat (using my "go-to" Pledge floor finish) in preparation for the decal and weathering stages. (Typically I wait at least 24-48 hours before clear-coating any paint job.) The Trumpeter kit decals were used and I applied some washes to bring out some of the panel lines (some of which were not properly wiped down as I later viewed). The final matte coat was then sprayed on using Model Master acrylics and then the finer details were then added.

1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero

The After-Build Report:

This 1/48th Trumpeter S.M.79-II Sparviero build ended up being a lot more work than intended (mainly to correct issues). Built out-of-box it is probably pretty straight-forward, as once the main fixes to the engines and tail were completed the build progressed fairly smoothly. I still would hesitate to recommend this kit although it may be the best starting point if you want a 1/48 SM.79-II in your collection. Following the 2001 1/48th Classic Airframes multi-media release by just a couple of years, model makers now have at least a couple of options for a SM.79 Sparviero - if you can find one. (Aside from the older Smer beast of a kit) The recent 1/48th Eduard kit is based on the Classic Airframes with additional detail items provided by Eduard.

Completed build #235 - June 2020 using the 1/48th scale Trumpeter #02817 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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