Among the latest upgrade sets from SBS Model is a very nicely detailed landing gear bay designed for Hasegawa's quarterscale Arado Ar 234 (also re-boxed by Revell). In fact the set goes one step further than its name suggests, also including recover parachute-packs for the Walter RATO units.
The sample set arrived sealed in a zip-lock bag and bubble-wrap inside an attractive end-opening cardboard packet. This is one of SBS's simpler upgrades, comprising just 4 beautifully cast resin parts and two etched brass pieces. The resin parts are direct replacements for the original kit items, requiring minimal preparation to fit them. There is no flash present and clean-up is limited to removing the casting blocks.
I've always liked Hasegawa's Ar 234, and the undercarriage bays are certainly pretty good for injected parts, with some structural details and a bit of pipework. Seeing the resin replacements is a bit of an eye-opener though, with a mass of extra cabling and connectors. They really are quite exquisite.
My worry was just how much of this fine detail would ever be visible on the finished model, because the main doors to the bays are moulded shut (they only opened to allow the undercarriage to be retracted or lowered). Like so much of the extra care we lavish on our models, it's rather a case of "knowing that it's in there", but you can actually see a fair amount if you peer in through the small openings, so care spent painting and weathering the resin wells won't be entirely wasted. In contrast, the brass parts will be very much in view as they fold to form a new "sill" for each bay, covering the blank area in the kit with some nice structural details.
There's nothing included for the nose-wheel well, which is understandable given the way it's moulded integrally with the cockpit in the Hasegawa kit. I hope SBS Model also turn their attention to the Arado's cockpit in a future release, because based on what they've done here, it would be a show-stopper and would presumably include the nose-wheel well too.
Hasegawa's parachute packs are a bit "rigid" and basic, and the new resin replacements totally eclipse them with a convincing crumpled surface and detailed retaining straps.
As you'd expect with such a simple set, the instructions are very straightforward with clear diagrams that leave little scope to go wrong.
This is an excellent detail set - beautifully produced and simplicity itself to install. It would make an ideal "starter" for anyone trying their hand at resin and photo-etched parts for the first time. Recommended.
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Highs: Beautifully detailed and flawlessly produced.Lows: Much of the detail in the wheel bays is hidden on the finished model unless you make a point of peering inside.Verdict: A simple and very well designed set that is straightforward to use. The parachute packs are an instant and obvious improvement, while the u/c bays add greatly - if you take the trouble to look.
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...