M.B. Mk GQ-7A Ejection seat
Thanks to Aires for providing more of their excellent aftermarket parts for IPMS USA to review, and to IPMS leadership for sending it my way.
This looks like a simple item to replace the kit ejection seat, and in practice it is. However, be forewarned that the harness assembly is not a “do it and done” loom job. Ejection seats tend to be cluttered affairs, and the Marin Baker series of seats are considered to be some of the more complex seats on the market. They WORK, but they are tough to buckle into. Tab “A” into slot “C”, when it is supposed to be slot “B”, can really ruin your day. So it is with this model seat.
There are four extremely-detailed, hard gray resin parts, (the entire seat in one cast piece, two pull handles, an emergency oxygen bottle with fitting), one soft, flexible resin hose, and a fret of photoetch for the harness and fittings. First step is to spray all the gray resin and metal photoetch resin parts with primer; I used my new favorite, Tamiya Gray in a rattle can.
The seat is the logical beginning point. I used Vallejo acrylics to do the work, using leather, gloss black for the basic frame and headrest/parachute pack, white for some details, Iraqi desert tan for the harness, and blue as well for the lap belt. On the harnesses, I mixed them 50/50 with “Chain mail silver” paint to provide the silver-ish sheen which appears on these items.
The harness was the hardest part of the build, and took a lot of time (This was a five-hour effort). First, they need to be painted the correct colors. Next, the miniscule buckles, belt ends, and threading through the small belt ferrules about drove me mad, because when you paint them the thickness (go ahead, say it) increases and the belts don’t want to go through. I used a bit of muscle, tweezers, special words, and failed attempts, finally getting the parts into place. Once finished, you will have quite a maze of belts and buckles.
Last things involved scratchbuilding the face curtain pull handles and the between-the legs secondary pull handle. Take some floral wire, use the resin parts to use the “TLAR” method of manufacturing (“That Looks About Right”), which means wrap the wire around an appropriately-sized paint brush handle; Paint by priming with white, then shoot with bright yellow spray (I used Tamiya Camel yellow). Let dry, then paint the black rings on the handles (you DO have pictures from the internet to do this, right?), paint the center bar red, then clip the excess and cement into place.
The flexible black oxygen hose is attached to the emergency oxygen bottle on the left rear of the seat. There is a bracket and shelf for this, and the green bottle fits well into its place, The flexible resin tube attaches to the nozzle of the bottle, and the other end goes on the environmental distribution manifold on the lower left of the seat.
One caution; if you install the center lower handle, it won’t allow the seat to fit into the cockpit tub because it interferes with the control stick and quadrant.
You may (1) use gorilla methods to get it into place, or (2) ignore it and just press on. Your choice. Notice it’s not in the “installed” pictures.
As the cockpit is the focal point for most models, this seat goes a long way towards improving the basic seat in the kit. Although Italeri has included PE harness and buckles in the kit, the Aires seat fits like a glove into the seat rails and looks like it belongs there.
End game: A must-buy for those contemplating the Italeri F-104G or S. Grateful appreciation goes to our friends at Aires for a most-welcome upgrade to the kit!