This set consists of 11 resin and 19 photoetch parts, and one sheet of film from which 4 parts are to be cut. There are two more each of photoetch and resin than are shown on the instructions, but there was no issue with assembly. The set is intended to replace the cockpit floor, seat, sidewalls and instrument panels which come with the Academy kit. I confirmed that it will also fit the Tamiya E-3, and with some more drastic surgery, could be made to fit even the Hobbycraft kit.
The first pictures are of the packaging and the set’s parts and then a shot of the kit’s fuselage halves, from which you will have to remove the sidewalls. I do not picture the process here, but it can easily be seen that the Aries sidewalls are much nicer. The kit cockpit floor and seat are also very simple.
The casting was of high quality with almost no flash and the parts separated easily from the pour stubs, with one exception. Take care while cutting the sidewalls from the stubs as they are very thin, which is an advantage when installing in the fuselage. I damaged the lower portion of the starboard sidewall, but this will not be noticeable once installed in the finished model.
Construction is straightforward and just plain fun. You will build up 4 subassemblies: the cockpit floor with seat, control stick, rudder pedals, the trim wheel assembly, seat adjusting handle and seat belts; 2 cockpit sidewalls, and the instrument panel. The starboard sidewall merely needed to be cut from the pour stub and painted as there are no parts to attach. The port sidewall has only one part and is quickly finished. The sidewalls were painted at this stage.
A word about painting here: Model master acrylics were used throughout, aircraft interior grey for pre-shading, resin cockpit and gunsight parts, a lightened olive drab for the belts, and RLM 02 for the cockpit base color. There is one picture each of the finished sidewalls.
The main cockpit assembly is much better than the parts provided in the kit. The Aries seat rails alone are worth the price of the set. I put the seat on the rails and painted this subassembly before adding the belts. On reflection, I would have painted the linen portion of the belts a lighter color. I lightened my khaki considerably, but will use a darkened white next time for more contrast. The stick and rudder pedals were assembled, painted, and attached next, and then came the four-part photoetched trim wheel and chain assembly. It presented absolutely no problems, and attached easily right where it should have gone. I added the resin seat adjustment handle, and it was weathering time.
The Bf-109 cockpit has very little color to it, Adolph Galland’s apocryphal cigar lighter notwithstanding. I merely added a burnt umber oil wash for contrast. The piping and wiring is a bit simplified: for example, I couldn’t find the oxygen piping on the sidewall to add a bit of blue there.
The real beauty of this set is the instrument panel, and I hope it shows up well in the picture. I made it straight from the package using the 4 photoetched parts, 4 film parts, and 1 resin part. The dials and bezels are stunning. There are two gunsights offered; I used the larger for ease of assembly and because it had less flash. I left a line on the film parts so that they could more easily be seen in the photos. I used thick super glue with no issues.
There are three PE parts for the canopy. They fit well, but I couldn’t get them to show up in a picture no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t notice that my Virginia Carpet Monster snagged the seat adjustment handle; at least, I can’t see it in my pictures.
This is a great way to "tart" up your ‘schmitts, with the only disappointment being the rather simplified throttle quadrant on the port sidewall. It’s still better than any of the kits offerings.
After completing this very enjoyable and pleasant build, with everything so well engineered even the photoetched parts seemed to stick themselves onto the finished product, the only question to remain is why would anyone want to use the kit parts?
Many thanks to Aries for providing this set and to IPMS/USA for a several very pleasant hours of building.
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