Despite there being over 600 parts and 52 stages in the instruction manual, this doesn't seem to be an overly complicated kit; however, there are places where care with assembly will be needed to ensure that there are no fit issues later on - I'm thinking particularly of the undercarriage, which will probably be the most fiddly part of the build. The amount of detail seems reasonable for the scale, and bearing in mind the fairly simple nature of the actual aircraft, but I am sure there will be some who wish to go the extra mile and add more; I am planning on doing this build OOB, but I reserve the right to change my mind as I go along. For those who wish to upgrade their references in preparation for the build, I can recommend SAM Publications Aviation Guide 2 - Mosquito FB.VI by Dave Brown that has many useful detail photos of the insides of a Mosquito, with tech manual diagrams as well.
But I am getting ahead. The instructions would have you start with the cockpit - no surprise there - but for no particular reason, I decided to start with one of the Merlin engines. The Mosquito VI used the Merlin 25 engine, and Airfix have included both in full detail, with many of the cowling panels molded separately so you can show them off or cover them up as you desire. I've decided that I will have one of each so that I can do a mini-diorama - if you can call something that would be 3 feet across "mini…"
The engine itself is easily assembled, though there is some tedious clean up of the parts as there is a mold separation line on just about every part - it's not bad, or very "flashy" but there's enough that it would show if not removed. So just about all 600 pieces will need some clean up; time-consuming and not much fun. Hey-ho.
There's been some discussion online as to what colours to paint the engine, with some opting for all-black while others have gone for various combinations of black and metals; I decided to follow Airfix's color guide. One area where I deviated was in the painting of the Rolls-Royce name that is inscribed on the crankcase covers. On many Merlins, these were infilled with red enamel paint, so I did the same using thinned red paint that I allowed to fill each letter by capillary action - I used a jeweler's loupe and a very fine brush for this. Excess was covered up by lightly dry-brushing aluminum paint across the covers once the red had dried overnight. The effect is very pleasing.
With all the paintwork done, I used a black wash across the whole to add some depth and to simulate grime in the recesses. The various pipework and lines were painted and glued into place; looking at photos of the real thing, Airfix only provide a representative amount here, presumably the most important ones. I may add some extra ones later to jazz things up a bit, if I decide to go "beyond the box."The instrument faces are represented by decals (or perhaps screen-printed?) on a clear backing plate - this comes ready for use, and encased in foam to protect it - a nice touch by Airfix. The backing plate affixes to the back of the panel, with raised sections representing the glass faces of the instruments slipping firmly into the bezels, creating a most realistic look when complete.
Next up were the seats and I started by painting the leather pads, two for each position. Airfix would have you paint these in brown leather, but they should actually be in the institutional bright green leather favoured in Britain by Corporation buses, pubs and the House of Commons. These were distressed by randomly flicking a scalpel blade across the pads to represent the cracking that appears in well-used leather, and with some dry brushing of tan paint for worn areas and a dark brown wash for shadows and creases.
The pilot's seat is a four-part affair, painted interior grey-green (as is most of the cockpit) with black arm pads. In front of the pilot, the floorboards are Bakelite and therefore the color should be a brownish-red, while the control column is painted interior grey green and black with silver levers and highlights. The leather boot at the base of the column is in brown leather. The rudder pedal assemblies can be made to swing back and forth, and as the rudder is separate, they can be posed to match each other. These were painted aluminium with black foot pads. The compass is a neat little molding, but no decal is provided for the face - Airfix would have you paint it silver - so I made my own with some white decal strips and careful painting, topped with a couple of coats of Future to represent the glass.
The navigator didn't have a seat per se - he had seat and back pads with an armor plate behind. Underneath his position are two sets of flares and a fire extinguisher which were carefully painted; to his side are a couple of small instrument panels. He has a drift indicator in front of him and, again, Airfix don't include a decal, so this was painted white with black markings.
Everything fits together nicely as a unit ready for inserting into the fuselage and I think it's going to look nice once the model is complete. Next time, I'll be tackling the nose gun bay and the ventral weapons bay.