Aires | Supermarine Spitfire Mk.V Cockpit Set
Reviewed by Randy Bumgardner
Finally. That's what can be said about the arrival of Aires' cockpit set for the 1/32 Hasegawa Spitfire Mk.V update set. Anyone who has a desire to dress up the big Spitfire has been waiting for this set for a long time. Unless, of course, you were willing to dive in and try your hand at scratchbuilding. The kit parts actually provide a nicely detailed cockpit, although rather generic, straight from the box. The kit parts provide separate throttle/airscrew controls, radio controls, remote contactor switch, chassis controls, and other details molded onto the sidewalls. All in all, not bad for an out of the box cockpit. As modelbuilders grow up, so do their tastes in accuracy. The kit interior, whilesuperior to equivalent kits of the era, was inadequate and inaccurate as we flash forward 25 years... (Well, I'm guessing it's about 25 years. I have the original S18 boxing and the 1992 ST2 boxing of the kit in my stash. I can't find the date on the S18 boxing - but I know it's fairly old because I built up the original boxing just after I graduated high school!). Here we are in 2007, and we are seeing an explosion new tool 1/32 kits and a larger explosion of aftermarket goodies for these kits from the likes of Aires, Eduard, and Cutting Edge. One of the goodies in the latest flurry of activity is the Aires update set for our venerable 1/32 Hasegawa Spitfire Mk.V.
What'd I get?
So, what's in the box? It all arrives packaged in the typical Aires plastic bubble pack - a very sturdy arrangement. The set itself contains 11 peices of biege colored resin, a fret of photoetch, and an acetate film for the instrument panel and the gunsight glass. The photoetch fret contains the main instrument panel and the panel for the flight gauge cluster, the rudder pedals, and the Sutton harness. The harness is composed of 11 parts and should look very nice when built up. One detail Aries provides is the cabling through the rear bulkheads that was a component of the Sutton harness. I'm partial to the photoetch instrument panel with acetate guages. I feel that combination renders a very good scale instrument panel that looks very well done when the cockpit is opened up for viewing. Some white paint on the back of the acetate, sandwich it all together with Future, and presto!
The resin parts are well done with no flash and minimal casting blocks. So, when it comes time to build it up, you'll spend more time actually building, painting, and weathering, rather than most of the time struggling to saw off the casting blocks and clean up the excess flash. The detail on the resin bits is outstanding. It is very delicate and well done. This is evident in the hydraulic lines coming from the undercarriage lock as well as the hydraulic lines running from the chassis controls. The amount of detail contained in the set is fairly complete - the modeler may wish to add some electrical wires to the ribbing as needed. Be sure to check your references. One possible omission that caught my eye was the lack of the remote contactor on the starboard sidewall. It's the big black box in the upper left corner of the photo on the left below. The photos below were taken from Volume 35 of the Warbird Tech Series,Merlin Powered Spitfires by Kev Darling, and are fairly representative of the Mk.V Spitfire. However, some photos from Morgan and Shacklady's,Spitfire, The History, show the distinct lack of a remote contactor. So, bottom line, you make the call and check your references for your specific model.
Would you like Door #1, #2, or #3?
There has been some speculation around the 'Net on various sites concerning the mysterious appearance of a starboard door. Some started to complain that Aires got it wrong. Others screamed, "It's sacrilege! Two doors on a Spitfire... Get the torches!" Well, alright, no one grabbed any torches. However, people were wondering why the "door" was there in the first place. At first I couldn't figure out what everyone was on about. Then, as I was staring at the starboard sidewall shown above, I realized what appeared to be the "door of mystery"... Examining the photos above, the Aires' representation of the internal structure is absolutely correct. The door appears to be an illusion created by the internal ribbing circled with dashed lines below, and accentuated by the oversized corner braces circled below. This illusion is bolstered by the gaps in the stringers to allow for the fitting of the rear bulkhead.
Another item that caught my attention appeared on the port side of the cockpit. Aires modeled the camera controls into it's port sidewall. The cockpit between the Mk.V and it's P.R. variants didn't change, so if the modeler desired a photo recon version - Bam!, there you go. If, however, you want a non-P.R. version - and you're quite anal about the little stuff - you better get out the scraping tools. Remember, only remove the round control unit, not the utility plug with the wiring below it. Most Spitfires retained the wiring harness for the control unit. See images below for greater detail.
So... should I buy it?
Well, in a word, "Yes!" This set easily beats the kit offering hands down, and is faster to prepare than scratchbuilding it yourself. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking scratchbuilding - I love nothing more than what can be done with some styrene, Ambroid Pro Weld, and a Waldron punch set. This update set brings some life and detail - not to mention accuracy - to an area of the Hasegawa kit that has been missing for quite some time now. And... you can use this set in the Hasegawa boxings of the Mk.VI, as well as all of the boxings of the Mk.V that Hasegawa has reissued.
This review sample was courtesy of Great Models.
© Randy Bumgardner 2007
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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016