When MPM released their 1/48 scale He 177 last year, one of the biggest surprises was that it didn't contain any etched parts. We've almost come to taking it for granted that short-run kits from Eastern Europe will feature etched details - e.g. instrument panels, gunsights etc. - yet here was a kit that didn't even include a set of seat harnesses. Of course, all this was put to rights by the follow-up "hi-tech" version, but that still left all of us who ran out and bought the original "basic" kit high and dry. Thankfully, Eduard have brought out a series of sets that work on several levels, filling in the gaps and then taking the kit to new heights.
EX186 Painting Masks - $9.95
For modellers content to build MPM's kit out of the box, Eduard have a very useful set of painting masks to help make tackling the "greenhouse" canopy somewhat less of a chore. The set comes on two sheets of die-cut kabuki tape. For me, this is the perfect medium (it's what's used for Tamiya's ever-popular masking tape), in that it combines the three most important attributes for masking - it holds a sharp cut edge, it has a degree of flexibility to get around compound curves and the adhesive allows for repositioning and leaves no residue.
The set contains 84 separate masks and covers the following areas:
The glazed nose, canopy and gondola
The dorsal turret and tail position
The wheel hubs
Some idea of the time-saving this set represents comes from the hemispherical nose section - this alone requires 28 individual masks - so that's probably at least a long evening's masking session in itself if you were cutting and measuring each panel.
49035 Seatbelts - $7.95
The first step in improving on the original MPM kit is to add a set of seat harnesses. Although the kit's cockpit is fully enclosed, their absence will be plainly visible. Eduard have released a very nice set of pre-painted harnesses for each of the crew positions. The single A-5 page of colour-printed instructions makes light work of what to fit where... basically it's divided into two sections:
1. Preparing sub-assemblies of lap and shoulder belts
2. Showing which of the above is appropriate for each of the kit's seats.
The lap belts are each made-up of several parts and require some simple folding, while the shoulder harnesses just need their buckles folding over and then the belts trimming to fit the seat. As such, the set is ideal for anyone wanting to go one step beyond the original kit - basically, if you have enough experience to build a short-run kit like the He 177, this harness set will be a breeze.
49365 Interior Details - $29.95
If the previous sets were nice and simple - this one could hardly be more different! The four etched frets contain a staggering 296 parts. Two of the frets are pre-painted with beautifully detailed instrument displays, radio fascias, throttle quadrants etc. There are a further 6 parts on a sheet of clear film.
Now I'll be straight up and state that this set represents an unfortunate "first" in reviewing Eduard's etched details; it's the first set that's arrived with a damaged part. Nothing major, and it seems to have happened at the manufacturing stage. The victim was a fine set of wires (part 109) which was incomplete. According to Capt. Eric Brown's "Wings of the Luftwaffe" the wires are vertical drift guides. Luckily, they should be simple to replace.
Bad news out of the way, what does the set cover? The well-drawn instructions begin with the interior of the nose glazing and work backwards, so...
There are new perforated barrels and ammunition for the nose gun, plus a sight and trigger. The clear film is intended for open clear-view panels and these include interior framing and locking handles.
Etched rudder pedals are almost to be expected in an Eduard set, before attention turns to the cockpit proper... and basically, all of the kit's moulded detail on the consoles etc. is destined for the bin. Eduard provide new panels - usually built-up in layers for a 3-D effect - for all of the cockpit displays. The radios on the rear bulkhead are all replaced by folded etched boxes which even include cooling louvres.
There are extra details for the control column and wiring for the main blind-flying panel. The real showstopper comes with the pilot's side console - here, the kit parts must be cut to a skeleton that is dressed with etched fascias before throttles and a 3-axis trim wheel gimbal is fitted inside the unit... mind boggling! but the final effect should be superb.
With so much new detail in the cockpit, it's hardly surprising that Eduard have tried to show some of it off with the aforementioned clear-view panels and also a new boarding hatch for the gondola.
Finally, the turrets get additional details in the form of gunsights and ammunition feeds.
Eduard have been clever in how they've produced their detail sets for the Greif, catering for everyone from the modeller who just wants to make painting easier, through to the super-detailer. The seat harnesses are really a "must" for anyone who bought the original MPM release. The main detail set is aimed fair and square at experienced modellers, but if you've got the skill and experience to take full advantage of it, the results should be be superb. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: A range of sets to suit modellers of all experience levels.Lows: A single etching flaw - almost certainly unique to the review samples.Verdict: Barring the one tiny hitch, each of these sets is beautifully produced to the highest standard. Together, they take the original MPM He 177 above and and beyond its
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...