One of the areas inviting extra detail in the Czech Model 1:32 F-80C is the cockpit. Although it features a resin ejector seat and great pre-painted etched parts, the overall effect is still rather simplified and empty. Squadron have clearly recognised this and released a complete new cockpit under their Avionix label.
The set comes packed in a very tough little cardboard box and the sample survived the tender mercies of the international post perfectly. Moulded in beige resin, the new cockpit comprises 21 parts that completely replace the original. The casting throughout is flawless and the detail by the pattern maker Jef Verswyvel is some of the nicest I've seen.
The main component is a hefty one-piece tub. This is an instant major improvement over the plastic version, and fits in its place without any need for modification. It features much more detail on the side consoles, cabling and other components around the base of the cockpit and on the rear bulkhead, plus a far more convincing mount for the ejector seat.
As for the seat itself, of course the kit already contains a very nicely cast one, so you may wonder why there's a need to replace it. Well, one criticism was that the kit seat is the later (T-33) type not usually found in the F-80, while I found the moulded-on harnesses rather thin and unrealistic. The Avionix set answers both points by including the two styles of seats and they are both more crisply detailed overall and feature a much better harness.
Turning to the main instrument panel, Avionix have designed a beautifully detailed new resin piece. It's much better than the kit's styrene panel with its detailed bezels and tiny knobs and switches, but it also presents something of a dilemma; no matter how carefully you paint it, you'll struggle to match the eye-popping finesse of the pre-painting on the Eduard etched version also included in the kit. On the other hand, it scores over the etched panel with its more 3-dimensional look. Perhaps there's a way of combining the two for the best of both worlds?... it's definitely tempting to consider drilling out the bezels to mount Eduard's instrument faces behind them.
The rest of the set provides a new gun sight, sidewall sills, rudder pedals, control column and throttle, before moving outside the cockpit to the rear decking and a neatly detailed canopy mechanism behind the pilot's headrest.
Backing up the resin parts is a single page of A-4 instructions illustrated with black & white photos of the actual parts. I have to admit that I generally prefer conventional diagrams because I find them clearer, but in this case there should be few problems. What is a little disappointing is that no painting instructions are included for all the extra detail provided, but the instructions do list a couple of references to get you started.
Avionix's F-80C cockpit set is excellent and a very worthwhile addition to the standard kit. The cockpit is usually the area of a model that attracts most attention and this resin upgrade raises the kit's entire "office" to a new level, as well as answering the concerns about whether you've got the correct style of ejector seat fitted. The set isn't complicated to install, so it should be suitable for anyone with a little experience. Highly recommended.
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Highs: Flawlessly cast and highly detailed. It appears straightforward to install.Lows: No painting instructions.Verdict: This is an excellent upgrade for the standard kit, offering both styles of ejector seat and a lot of extra detail throughout.
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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...