by: Mecenas [ ]
introAlthough an Airfix 1:72 scale model kit of Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 is a rather good quality product for its price it still has some shortcoming typical for the plastic injection technology. Youngsters or less demanding modellers will most probably accept it and will enjoy the pleasure of assembly but those more dedicated to historical accuracy will be looking for some ways of improving the kit interior. For those latter Aires comes with solution to their problems.
ContentThis set is dedicated to one of the latest releases of Airfix 1:72 scale Emils – the Bf 109E-4 kit, catalogue number A01008, however I'm quite sure it will also fit the Trop version.
Box content is quite simple: resin, photo-etched fret and a clear film. Too simple description? No problem. Aires provides three major parts creating cockpit “tube”: two side panels and a large base with a rear wall. This part is designed similar to original Airfix one. We also get a new pilot seat, control stick, gun-sight, rudder controls and some additional control panel (which at this moment is unknown to me, but it looks as if it was some radio transmitter control box. It is dedicated only to E-4 version). On the photo-etched fret we get typical details for this medium: two parts for instrument panel, rudder pedals, seat belts, flap wheel and elevator trim wheel and few control levers on the dashboard. A tiny but important supplement of the PE fret is a clear film with two parts of instrument gauges and also two parts of gun-sight glass. Aires suggests to add a plastic spacer under the upper part of instrument panel to increase the depth of whole dashboard.
Set also includes a single sheet of assembly instruction, with clear and plain drawings.
Comparisons and qualityActually there's nothing to compare. Aires set beats the original Airfix details in every aspect of quality and reality. These details which were made in plastic injection technology can be described only as symbolic while Aires makes most of them looking as scaled down original ones.
Resin casting from Aires are absolutely free of any air bubbles. Only some cosmetic cleaning will be required here and there. My first dry fitting gave quite positive results although I still keep some reserve for final verdict until final assembly. Aires assembly instruction mentions only about removal of all internal structure detail of Airfix Emil, there's no word about the need of thinning of cockpit walls. I hope the final assembly will be as easy as the assembly instruction shows it.
The only detail which I really miss, and which also makes Aires product a bit incomplete in my eyes, is the armour plate behind pilot head. In the Airfix kit it has wrong shape and thickness so it requires a lot of reworking. Aires do not provide this detail.
On the attached pictures you may notice a broken control stick. My parcel has suffered some serious beating from the postal service and I'm afraid that the part was broken then. I hope yours will be more lucky.
ConclusionAires set is a good improvement and I think it will be welcomed by many modellers. It nicely and almost completely upgrades a really weak point of Airfix kit which is cockpit interior. With a great quality and transparency of Airfix clear parts, the whole pilot office is easily visible, not to mention situation when you will make it open, what is also possible in the original kit. If we won't encounter any serious problems with cramping all these resin inside plastic fuselage halves this improvement set may be just a “shake&bake” upgrade.
EDIT - 2nd January 2013
OK, I've learned few things. The unknown to me "box" under the dashboard is the control panel for dropping bombs. It is appropriate for "jabo" E-x/B variants, not just E-4 as Aires suggests in the assembly instruction.
I've also started working with the resin. General fit is quite good except few points. First of all the photo-etched instrument panel is quite large. To fit under the windscreen you will have to thin the plastic fuselage. Thinning of Airfix fuselage will be also required to accomodate the "cockpit tube" - both side walls and base. However in some places you will have to remove more styrene than in others so very frequent fitting is necessary.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.