F-22A Raptor Cockpit Set
The Revell 1/72 F-22A Raptor model kit has been out several years and I can remember a review of it that mentioned the cockpit would be ripe for the after market resin folks to upgrade. Well, Aires has done just that with this latest release of theirs, comprising 13 resin parts, 14 P.E. parts and one small sheet of film for the HUD. The resin parts are finely cast and I only had three parts that had broken when I opened the package. Once these were glued back in place (with some CA) the real fun began.
The cockpit is mainly composed of three resin pieces: the ejection seat, the instrument panel/coaming and the cockpit tub. With all three parts you have very high level of detail that greatly exceeds that of the injected molded parts. As usual with Aires on their blue instruction sheet the parts are shown and areas that resin has to be removed are shaded. I had no troubles removing the excess resin, but one must be careful in handling the large cockpit tub as not to bend the ejection seat rails. If you do just glue them back on with some CA, but use it carefully as the ejection seat slides down these rails. (Yes, it is that tight)
The first step is to add the six photo-etch pieces to the ejection seat, this being mainly the seat belts and the between the legs ejection activator that one pulls to get out quickly. One thing that is lacking is the Aires instructions is any reference to color, so I would use the Revell kit for that or search the internet. Step 2, have you removing the smallest resin parts (RP11 and 12). These are beastly tiny and requires a steady hand in removing them from the casting gates. While Aires provided duplicate throttles (RP5 and 6) they did not provide extras for these parts, so be very careful. The parts in question form the canopy locking surface on the Revell upper fuselage. This step also has you cutting out the instrument coaming that Revell molded onto the upper fuselage. I used a new #11 exacto blade to scrape straight down until I broke thru, and then cleaned up the edges. Aires combined the instrument panel with the coaming so that is why you’ll have to remove the Revell coaming. Dry fit until the Aires coaming fits, but be careful as its easy to remove too much as I did but that can be quickly fixed with some epoxy putty later.
Step 3 has you put all the parts together and some how it all fits, but it isn’t quite that easy. While the resin cockpit tub almost fits some grinding is required. I used a 1/8” round bit on my Dremel tool to do the grinding. One note of caution, there is a lip on the Revell upper fuselage cockpit area where the plastic tub and the Aires tub has to fit to, don’t grind this away. As luck would have it, this is the area where the removal has to be accomplished. So I used that #11 exacto blade and scribed this line deeper, then carefully removed material with the Dremel up to this line. I then used a scraper to remove the remaining portion of plastic. All this took about ten minutes and a few trial fits to get a close fit. With the cockpit tub fitted the ejection seat and coaming can be added along with the P.E. and resin parts. Again no color has called out in the Aires instructions, so one will have to use the Revell instructions or find other sources.
Now in addition to the cockpit one also gets a resin piece that fits into the canopy and allows a very detailed rendition of the bottom of the open canopy. The only problem is that Aires never tells you how to fit that piece into the Revell upper fuselage. You will have to be careful in removing the unwanted resin from this part (RP9) and you will find two support arms at the back. At the back of the Aires cockpit tub are two locations that mark where these support arms are to go. Using a pencil mark where these support arms are to go further forward on the Aires cockpit tub, then place the tub in the Revell upper fuselage and transfer the pencil marks onto the Revell upper fuselage. Now use a razor saw and cut two slots the width of the support arms. These openings are where the support arms go and will hold the canopy open. Aires provides resin parts (RP1, 2 & 3) and photo-etch parts (PP12, 13 & 14) that will further detail the resin canopy bottom part. To get the Revell plastic canopy to fit on this resin part will require you to carefully sand the resin part until a good fit is achieved. Use some epoxy to bond these two parts together.
All this sounds like a lot of work, but a superior cockpit for your Revell Raptor will be the final result. While not a drop in replacement I can highly recommend this product. I want to thank IPMS/USA and Aires Hobby Models for the opportunity to review this aircraft detail set.