Special Hobby 1/72 MÁVAG Héja II
Hawk
by Philippe Martin


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The Hungarian Ministry of Defense (HMOD) requested a license to produce the Re.2000 Falco during purchase negotiations with the Italians in 1939. The Ministerio de'l Aeronautica (Italian Air Ministry) approved this proposal and the Hungarians signed a purchase and license production contract with Reggiane at the beginning of 1940. This contract allowed MÁVAG (Magyar Királyi Állami Vas-, Acél- és Gépgyárak; Hungarian State Iron and Steel Works) at Gyor to manufacture the Re.2000 with the 950 HP Weiss Manfred WMK-14KirsNO engine. The powerplant was the Hungarian-built Gnome & Rhone K-14 Mistral Major, a 14-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine. Hungarian use of the WMK-14KirsNO allowed them to reduce their dependence on Italian engines and parts. The Hungarians shipped a WMK-14 to Italy for testing on a Re.2000 on 5 January 1940.

Reggiane was unwilling to produce the Re.2000 for Hungary without an Italian-built engine. The firm lacked the time and interest in making the necessary technical modifications and testing requested by the Hungarians. Reggiane's own engine and airframe production fell behind schedule, which further cut into their interest. This resulted in no Héjas (Hawks) built in Italy with the Hungarian engine; all such production was shifted to MÁVAG. The HMOD approved equipping the MÁVAG-built Re.2000 with the more powerful WMK-14B, a 1085 HP engine. Weiss Manfred (WM) originally planned to produce 329 WMK-14Bs, with 247 engines earmarked for Héjas and 82 spare engines. The first Re.2000 to receive this new engine was V.401, which was delivered to MÁVAG for trial purposes. These trials were successful, and the Ministry of Defense then ordered 100 Héja IIs from MÁVAG in two batches: 25 in the first group and 75 in the second batch.

Engineer Tibor Takatsy led a three-member Hungarian delegation to Italy in early 1940. The Hungarians were sent to acquire the necessary plans to begin producing the Re.2000 in Hungary. The Italians sent these plans by courier to Hungary on 11 October 1940. This project was completed by June of 1941 and the first WMK-14B-powered Héja II was test flown by WM's test pilot, Count Taszilo Szechenyi.

The Hungarians were allowed to license manufacture German military aircraft - including the Messerschmitt Bf 109 - under the German-Hungarian Aircraft Industry Inter-State Treaty, ratified on 6 June 1941. The HMOD realized that producing a new fighter aircraft in quantity could not begin until 1943. They viewed the MÁVAG Héja II as filling the gap until these newer fighters were built and insuring continual replacement fighters to the Royal Hungarian Air Force (RHAF).

Re.2000s in Hungary received several modifications based upon Eastern Front experience. From August of 1941, 8mm thick armor plates were fitted to the seat backs. An additional 26.4 gallon (100 L) fuel tank was mounted in the fuselage. This tank had a self-sealing coating to reduce fuel leaks and the risk of fire from combat damage. The aft window panels were plated over with sheet metal. The Ministry of Defense also asked MÁVAG to modify the Héja II to carry a 551.1lb (250 kg) or 1102.3 lb (500 kg) bomb under the fuselage. MÁVAG replied that adding a bomb-carrying capacity required major structural modifications to the Re.2000 airframe.

The first batch of 25 MÁVAG Héja IIs began construction in November of 1941. The WMK-14B engine was fitted with a Hungarian-made Weiss Manfred three-bladed, constant speed, hydraulically controlled, variable pitch propeller. This propeller measured 10.5 feet (3.2 M) in diameter, compared to the 10.2 foot (3.1 M) diameter of the Piaggio propeller on Italian-made Re.2000s. The combination of greater engine horsepower and a larger propeller resulted in the MÁVAG Héja II's top speed exceeding that of the Italian made Re.2000.



MÁVAG Héja II, Re.2001 Delta, Re.2006




The Re.2000's two upper fuselage 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns were replaced with two Hungarian weapons of the same caliber on the MÁVAG Héja II. This replacement gun was designed by Ferenc Gebauer and built by Danuvia. The Gebauer weapon had a firing rate of 1000 rounds per minute and was supplied with a 300-round box magazine in the forward fuselage. The bulkier gun breeches and ammunition feed systems resulted in the Héja II having upper fuselage decking bulges or blisters.

Tibor Takatsy flew the first upgraded and re-engined Héja II (V.402) from Budaors airfield on 20 April 1942. Flight testing continued at the RHAF's Experimental Institute at Csepel. These tests resulted in modifications to the throttle controls, control stick, and tail wheel. The RHAF accepted the MÁVAG Héja II for service on 25 September 1942.

MÁVAG completed the first production Héja II in early July of 1942. The factory discovered that 'Herboloid,' the Italian fuel tank sealer, was ineffective at preventing nearly constant fuel leaks. Chief engineer Takatsy immediately designed smaller replacement fuel tanks to be installed into the mid-wing section. The aircraft received 22 tanks, each capable of 5.3 to 6.6 gallons (20 to 25 L). Surprisingly, the replacement tanks noticeably improved the fighter's stability. Fuel tank and other modifications were completed on the first 25 production Héja IIs by October of 1942.

The HMOD ordered 100 more Héja IIs on 29 September, before the second batch of 75 aircraft began construction. Tibor Takatsy flew the first Héja II (V.4+71) on 30 October 1942. The final aircraft of the initial batch (V.4+95) completed test flights by the end of March of 1943. The second batch of 75 fighters (V.4+96 to V.5+70) was on the MÁVAG assembly line when the third batch of 100 Héja IIs began production in September of 1943. Aircraft of the second batch received codes from V.4+96 to V.5+70, with the last aircraft completed on 7 March 1944. The final two aircraft of this batch were modified for dive-bombing. These Héja IIs received underwing dive brakes, which were powered by Bosch electric motors. A dive-bombing sight and a centerline bomb rack for either a 551.1 lb or a 1102.3 lb bomb were also fitted to these aircraft. A third Héja IIs (V6+60) was later modified for dive-bombing. None of these modified Héja IIs were believed to have been used operationally.

By early March of 1944, the import of various parts and instruments from foreign sources became increasingly difficult. A British air raid hit the WM Aircraft and Engine factory at Csepel during the evening of 3-4 April 1944. This attack destroyed most of the warehouses and 95 percent of the spare parts on hand. The Hungarian Ministry of Defense halted production of WMK-14 engines and WM propellers at the end of April. The WM factory was hit by another raid on 27 July 1944, which completely destroyed the engine factory, assembly shop, and warehouses. The factory's destruction rendered incomplete the 25 to 30 remaining Héja IIs in the third production batch.

The final Héja II produced (V.6+87) was test flown on 11 October 1944. Four or five additional aircraft were at Budaors airfield awaiting flight tests at the end of December of 1944, when Soviet troops approached the facility. Hungarian engineers destroyed these remaining Héja lIs with hand grenades before Soviet forces could capture the aircraft. MÁVAG produced 203 Héja II fighters for the RHAF.



Operational History
The Royal Hungarian Air Force (RHAF) sent at least one squadron of MÁVAG Héja IIs to the Eastern Front. Héjas were used as advanced fighter trainers in Hungary, as well, a large number of Héja IIs saw action defending Hungarian skies against Allied bombing raids.

At the end of 1942, the RHAF planned to equip the 5/1 Night Fighter Squadron with eight Héja IIs. These fighters were to be equipped with German FuG (Funk Gerate; Radio Device) 16 radio sets; however, this project was cancelled before the pilots could begin night flight training. On 20 August 1942, personal tragedy struck the Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy, when 37-year-old István Horthy, Horthy's eldest son, Deputy Regent of Hungary and a Flight Lieutenant in the reserves, was killed while flying Héja V.421 of 1/1 Fighter Squadron Royal Hungarian Air Force near Ilovskoye in Russia.

On 19 March 1944, German forces occupied Hungary to prevent the country's defection from the Axis. The Germans forbade the delivery of MÁVAG Héja IIs from the factory to airfields and halted further test flying. This prohibition remained in effect until 1 April.

An offensive sortie of the Héjas took place on 2 April 1944, when 180 15th Air Force USAAF bombers, escorted by 170 fighters, bombed the Danube Aircraft Works in Budapest and other targets. The Fighter Control Centre dispatched one wing of Héjas from 1/1 Fighter squadron, along with a couple of Messerschmitt Me.210Cs and 12 Bf.109Gs. The Honvéd pilots claimed 11 American aircraft (six of them confirmed). USAAF pilots reported to have shot down 27 Hungarian aircraft, while only two Hungarians were actually killed.

The US 15th Air Force began regular bombing attacks against Hungarian targets on 3 April 1944. In spite of these raids, and the critical shortage of spare parts, the Hungarians were able to test fly 30 MÁVAG Héja IIs at Budaors during the month of April. The parts shortage reached such a critical stage that many aircraft could not be test flown.

On 13 April 1944, Budapest was attacked by 15th Air Force bombers, escorted by P-38 Lightnings of the 1st Fighter Group (FG), led by 1/Lt Alford. The P-38s engaged what they thought were a flight of Re.2001s at the west end of Lake Balaton, claiming two 'kills.' The Hungarian adversaries were actually MÁVAG Héja IIs and the Americans only damaged one of these fighters.

Fighter Control ordered eight Héja IIs of the 1/2 Squadron from Szolnok to rush to Csepel Island, just south of Budapest. Four Héjas attacked the bombers of the 454th Bomb Group, but broke off their attack when they ran into heavy defensive fire. Two Héja IIs were damaged, one of which had to make a belly landing. The other four Hungarian fighters failed to reach the bombers, but ran into P-47 Thunderbolts from the 325th FG. The American pilots claimed one Re.2001 shot down and one damaged. Again, the Re.2001s were actually MÁVAG Héja IIs. 1/Lt Eugene H. Emmons was credited with the victory, while 1/Lt. George P. Novotny was credited with damaging the other fighter. True enough, two Hungarian aircraft were knocked out of the sky.

In September, many of the semi-finished Héja IIs were still waiting for various parts, including compasses, variometers and batteries. Twenty fighters lacked propellers and another ten lacked engines. An unsuccessful attempt was made to salvage propellers and engines from damaged aircraft for the incomplete Héjas.

During the last months of 1944, the 101/6 Squadron - the training squadron of the Puma Fighter Wing - possessed six flyable MÁVAG Héja IIs. The last official report mentioning a Héja II was written on 22 February 1945. This report indicated that Héja II V.6+09 had an unspecified accident during a training flight.

Source: Squadron/Signal Books - Reggiane Fighters in Action - SS1177

Construction

This is the Special Hobby 72100 1/72 MÁVAG Héja II. Special Hobby multimedia kits are difficult to build with many errors such as the engine cowling in this case which is too small and the fuselage decals which are too large by 1cm! The Hungarian crosses are painted using custom masks and the camouflage scheme was painted on using a green and German brown (Hungarian CR.32 colors) on a Giallo Mimetico II background.



Technical Data

Aircraft: MÁVAG Héja II
Manufacturer: MÁVAG (Magyar Királyi Állami Vas-, Acél- és Gépgyárak)
Type: Fighter
Year: 1941
Engine: Gnome-Rhône (Weiss-Manfred) 14B Mistral-Major, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 1085hp
Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.0 m)
Length: 27 ft 6 in (8.39 m)
Height: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
Weight: 5,555 lb (2,520 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 350 mph (563 km/h)
Ceiling: 26,700 ft (8,138 m)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm Gebauer machine guns
Crew: 1

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