WWII USAAF Fabric Seatbelts
Eduard’s original detail sets consisted of photo etch brass to be assembled and painted by the builder. More recently, they started producing pre-painted seatbelts and other details (still made out of brass). This is the next evolution in the ever-expanding world of Eduard’s accessories line.
Eduard’s #32771 set includes pre-cut belts made out of a fabric material and a photo etched hardware fret that assemble into one set of seatbelts designed for use in USAAF aircraft (primarily fighters). I believe this was originally a product developed by HGW (their logo is stamped on the fabric fret).
The belts are made out of some sort of fine gauze-type material, and have only small attachment points keeping them on their fret. The material is pre-colored, with the belts in an off-white, and the protective leather pad (for under the buckle) in a brown color. Very faint stitching lines and fabric weave details are evident as well. After cutting the belts free, one must remove the stiff backing paper – this is easily done with a knife tip. The back of the material is not adhesive, and I imagine this backing material is there only to keep everything stiff while the machines cut and color things during the production run. Eduard’s instructions recommend crumpling up the fabric after removing the backing, and rolling it in-between one’s fingers in an effort to make the material able to drape more easily. I did this, and to some extent the material began to curl up a bit on itself. More crumpling, followed by some pushing and prodding with tweezers and the material did settle down.
The belt hardware comes on the familiar small photo etch fret we are used to from Eduard. I found it pretty easy and straightforward to thread the various buckles and other items onto the belts. Being 1/32nd scale made this fairly simple – I would imagine in 1/48 (these sets are also available in that scale) this would be more hassle than it might be worth. The instructions were all very clear, with the exception of the buckles that go on the end of the shoulder straps. You are meant to fold the photo etch piece 90 degrees, and then (according to the diagram) run the belt though one bit, leaving the other section of the PE to hang vertically down (this is the “male” part of the buckle for the shoulder straps). There is an open slot on the vertical section, as well as the slot that the belt is supposed to go through. Using the part numbers Eduard refers to in the instructions, and orienting them per the instructions, I could only get the larger slot (meant for the belt to run through) to go in the vertical position. The narrower slot would not accommodate the belts. So I had to do a little bit of twisting to get things to line up properly. Not a big deal at all, and most likely it was something I misinterpreted on the instructions, but still something to be aware of.
Assembling the entire set took me about an hour, including my fumble with the shoulder strap hardware. Eduard suggests applying some light oil washes after installing the belts into your project, and I imagine that would enhance what is already a good-looking item. I would highly recommend this product. It’s a bit pricey for one set of belts, but the effect is impressive and in this larger scale it is worth the effort.
My thanks to Eduard for providing the review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.