Battle Axe 1/48 Bloch 174 A3






See Review


John Lester


Low pressure styrene (i.e. limited run)


The multi-role Bloch 174 was a three-seat, twin-engined armed reconnaissance bomber developed from the earlier Bloch 170. The prototype displayed exceptional handling characteristics and good all around performance, and development was rapid. The prototype first flew in January 1939, and just eleven months later the first production aircraft took to the skies. After a slight delay caused by modifying the engine cooling and armament of the first twenty aircraft, production hit stride, and fifty aircraft had been built by the time of the German invasion in May 1940.

The aircraft was powered by two Gnome-Rhone 14N 14-cylinder engines which provided a max speed of 329 mph at altitude. Armament consisted of seven 7.5mm machine guns (two in the wings firing forward, two on flexible dorsal mounts, and three on ventral wobble mounts), up to 882 lbs of bombs internally and small bombs or flares on the wings. In service, crews found the aircraft fast and maneuverable, easily outpacing enemy fighters at altitude.

Combat service was brief. The Bloch 174 entered service with Group de Reconnaissance II/33 in late March 1940, followed by GR I/53, I/33 and II/36. By June, only II/33 was fully equipped with the aircraft, the other units having a mixed assortment of types. In the fighting that preceded the Fall of France, the Bloch 174 distinguished itself. Few were lost to enemy action; most, however, were destroyed by their crews when it became evident the cause was lost. The few remaining machines were operated by the Vichy GR II/33 from Tunis in North Africa, and several fought beside Allied forces after the TORCH landings. In June 1943, the survivors were relegated to training duties, where they remained in service until the end of the war.


Before this kit, the only Bloch 174 that I could find was the decent little Heller kit in 1/72 scale. Of course I had to rush right out and get a 1/48 offering the moment I saw it was available. I tore right into the box the moment the UPS guy was out of sight. Imagine the look on my face when I found that it contained a bagged kit. For fifty bucks, you'd think they'd have at least put it in a box! My dismay grew when I pulled the sprues out. You get two, almost identical, and molded in grey plastic so oily from mold release they could have starred in a bad porno flick. Sprue gates are heavy and mold seams are annoyingly prominent.

Ok. Deep breath. Calm down.

On closer inspection, things aren't so bad. Detail is not terrible - a little soft, but I can live with it. Panel lines are engraved - not petite, but not deep enough to plant potatoes either. The exterior surfaces of the parts are pretty smooth, and the plastic is not brittle or terribly soft.

The decals look very good. You get two sets of markings, both from the 2 ieme SdEscadrille, GR II/33, one of which was the mount of Capitaine de Saint-Exupery (THAT St.-Exupery?) used at Arras in May, 1940. The other is the same as the subject of the Heller kit. The decals are sharp and perfectly registered. That's good.

Instructions are generic, printed on two sheets of paper. Not great, but sufficient enough for someone with a few limited run kits under their belt. The marking guide doubles as "box art", so it's a good thing I have the Heller kit and a few photos to fall back on. 


I am such a sucker - give me an airplane in 1/48 scale that will never be released by a mainstream company and I'll buy it. Was it worth fifty bucks? Given that I could have a Tamiya Swordfish (ANOTHER Tamiya Swordfish to join the air wing I already have), with PE fret, for the same price .... I don't think so. Too late now, I guess. Given what I see in the bag, I'm sure it will build up into a nice-looking model. I just hope it's not the nightmare the Mirage 1/48 PZL-37 "Los" was.

Review copy courtesy of my long-suffering wallet.

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