by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
SBS Model breathe new life into the cockpit of another classic kit with their Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo) upgrade set. Designed for the excellent 1:48 Hasegawa model, the new set completely replaces the original "office" with a highly detailed combination of resin and etched brass parts.
The set arrives in one of the maker's familiar cardboard packets and comprises:
16 x grey resin parts
25 x etched brass parts
4 x printed film items
As usual with SBS Model, the casting is basically perfect, with no bubbles or other flaws, and the only clean-up required is to remove the parts from their casting blocks.
The Hasegawa kit's cockpit certainly isn't bad, but the new multimedia version puts it totally in the shade, replacing every part with a far more detailed counterpart - the original 12 parts becoming around 40 in the process. A little surgery is required, thinning the cockpit sidewalls ready for new liners, and the headrest/crash pylon must be removed. Pilot access doors can be displayed open on either side, and these will need trimming out - it'll certainly be worth doing this to show off the upgraded interior.
As you'd expect, resin parts provide the basis of the new cockpit, with the floor and sidewalls showing some truly excellent detail. Onto these attach a delicate resin seat and support frames, control column, rudder bar and gunsight, plus etched instrument panels, pedals and levers - and, of course, a seat harness. The latter consists of only lap belts, which seems a little surprising for a mid-war aircraft, and I would have expected a shoulder harness as well - but I may be mistaken.
The side access doors have etched levers, and rounding everything off is a brass interior support for the sliding canopy.
The instructions are very clearly drawn and easy to follow. No painting instructions are given, so you'll need to go by the original Hasegawa colour suggestions, or any references you have.
ConclusionMy Hasegawa Ki-44 has sat in the Stash for quite a while, but the arrival of this upgrade set brought it straight out, blinking in the winter sunlight! It really is the set the kit's been waiting for - and wihle not overly complicated, will turn the cockpit from "sufficient" to "superdetailed" at a stroke. Recommended without hesitation for anyone with a little experience of working with resin and etched parts.
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