Eduard have really gone to town on the recent well-received Airfix Seafire F.XVII, with a host of new photo-etched parts to lift the kit to the next level in terms of detail. The new items are available in two forms; a cut-down Zoom set
reviewed by Tim Hatton (I hesitate to say "basic", because it's anything but!) and the full set seen here.
Set #49583 contains two etched frets, one pre-painted and partly self-adhesive, for no less than 231 parts - most of which are devoted to the cockpit area.
The first fret doubles as the Zoom set, so I won't go into it in too much detail as Tim's already covered it so ably. Suffice to say, the pre-painting is quite superb as usual with Eduard, with a level of detail on the instruments, seat harnesses and plethora of smaller items dotted around the cockpit that few of us could ever hope to replicate by hand. My only concern is the shade of Grey Green that Eduard have chosen; although there were a number of colours used by different manufacturers, this does look a bit turquoise for my taste. Luckily, it will mostly be possible to overpaint if you wish without too much risk of damaging the other intricate details.
I'd rather naively imagined that Eduard would call the cockpit pretty much finished with just the Zoom fret and move on to the rest of the airframe, but no - the parts on the second fret carry on where the first leaves off to totally transform the Airfix "office". There's a new undercarriage position selector, rudder pedals (perhaps a surprising omission from the Zoom fret), more sidewall details and wiring, before adding the biggest upgrade - a new seat.
This is a multi-part assembly that must be folded to shape, and includes the flare rack under the front lip. along with new mounting brackets, seat adjuster and armoured panels. Also included is a padded cushion for the seat-back, but this may well look too 2-dimensional in this scale. However, the new seat and mountings, when combined with the pre-painted harness, should look much better than the kit's styrene version.
Now it is time to turn to the exterior, with new radiator faces, radiator flaps and hinges, and detailed liners for the exposed ribs if you're building the kit with the wings folded. The undercarriage is treated to new doors, oleo scissors and brake lines for the main gear, and new doors for the tailwheel well.
The final details are new multi-part assemblies for the pilot's access door and the roll-over bar. The door includes an etched crow-bar, which might be better replaced with a piece of thin styrene rod or stretched sprue.
The instructions are clearly drawn with about 20 main sub-assemblies to work on, and I think it's fair to say that this really isn't suitable for beginners as there are a lot of quite small items, many needing multiple folds. However, experienced modellers will revel in the challenge and the degree of eye-popping detail offered - the cockpit in particular should look simply superb when finished.
For me, this is exactly the sort of upgrade set that makes me want to go out and buy the kit it's designed for. In fact, with my original half-completed Airfix Seafire sadly semi-demolished - a victim of moving my workshop - I've ordered a second one from my LHS especially to make full use of Eduard's set! Highly recommended for experienced modellers.
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