by: Matthew Robeson [ ]
Originally published on:
IntroductionThis is a huge box, but once you crack it open you can see that it is really packed full to the brim. There is a very nice piece of artwork on the cover, although it has attracted some controversy because of the shipwreck on the cover.
The AirframeOpening up the box, the first thing to strike you is that the fuselage is split into four parts. Both fore and aft sections are split into port and starboard portions as well. Presumably this is to allow the fuselage to fit into the box, and also allows for more versions to be done using most of the same moulds. The large wing moulding is also in three parts on top, and four on the bottom. This is also to permit the huge wing to fit in the box. One imagines some kind of reinforcement will be needed at the seams to make sure nothing breaks, or perhaps a spar. There really isn't an integral support system as designed.
The surface detail is pretty nice, using Trumpeter's now standard satin grey plastic. There are rivets on the bottom of the hull. There are a lot of ejector pins inside of the fuselage that will need to be removed, or else the interior will really cause problems later on.
The EnginesThe kit engines are quite nicely done. Both come with a full compliment of pushrods and cylinder caps. The engines really are beautiful, sadly they will be hidden inside of the tight cowlings. Some very careful painting will let them shine though.
The Landing StrutsOne of the most noticeable areas on the outside of the aircraft are the large main landing gear bays. There is lots of good and accurate detail in the bays, and they are made up of around 20 parts to finish it all off. Remember to paint it before it is installed because it will be pretty much impossible once it's sealed in the fuselage. The front bulkhead also makes a nice structural element across the entire plane to add interest.
The nose gear bay is equally well detailed, although it will be almost completely hidden from view. It is made up of four walls and a ceiling, all with nice riveting and piping on it. Another plus in this area is that one is given a choice of either white metal or plastic landing gear. The landing gear in the kit is provided for in both plastic and metal, and the metal gear looks quite solid actually. Much better than the normal pot metal they tried in other kits. The instructions state one will need 50 grams of weight in the front, so that would put a bit of strain on the plastic gear.
The Interior Where the kit truly shines is in the interior. Most of us are used to the interiors of big kits being almost completely empty, but this one surly is not! It's filled to the brim with radios, shelves, seats and stretchers. The stretchers are provided on the photo-etch fret to allow for accurate scaling. One would suggest annealing them before trying to put them around the plastic frames. There are multiple seats to install in the rear fuselage along with the radio racks at the front. It would really be in the builder's best interest to take their time and paint all of this hardware neatly as it can be seen through all of the hull windows. The only thing missing are some seat belts and possibly some sound-proofing in the rear fuselage.
The cockpit is very nicely appointed as well. The instrument panel however is not. All that is provided is decals, which isn't to everyone's taste. It will look okay once it's inside the canopy, even with the top hatches open. These are provided separately, allowing them to be posed open or shut. One of the problem areas in the pit is that the top center console has zero detail on it. No decals, no surface details, no nothing. This is an unusual oversight since the top console is a very busy place on the real aircraft. Again this area needs seatbelts, but likely Eduard or HGW will provide in due time. The radio racks should all come out very well as long as the builder takes time painting them and has good references. The split floor is correct for the Albatross but will take a bit of work to get lined up right.
The interior can all be made up in one big tube like the recent Revell cargo plane kits. It can then be put into the fuselage. This will give a lot of time in order to align the parts and make sure everything is painted correctly. The floor has four tabs on it that should all lock it together, and get the front and back half of the fuselage to be sturdy. Without it, there won't be much of a contact area for the glue to adhere.
Decals and Clear PartsLooking through the rest of the box presents tires, decals, PE, and clear parts. First off, the tires are vinyl. Which is extremely aggravating to many builders. The PE has some nice parts to it, including the stretchers and some small bits for the rest of the airframe.
The clear parts come wrapped in some foam to protect the canopy from damage, and it really does help. The clear parts are alright, but some Future will really help. The curve on the windscreen is just enough to cause some distortion, so the Future will hopefully help with that. The rest of the windows are clear, and attach from the inside of the fuselage.
The SchemeThe decals look nice in the box, giving one USAF and one Chinese (Taiwan) option. One downside is that the yellow and black markings for the American option are not provided, so the builder is left to mask and paint those. It shouldn't be too difficult, and most would do that anyway to make sure there were no wrinkles or tears in the decals. The Chinese option looks nice, although for some reason on the profile the Chinese sun is blocked out. This scheme is Navy Blue over White, while the USAF marking is Aluminum overall.
The instructions are very nice, although they are lacking on color call-outs. The interior is all Interior Green, while the gear bays are Aluminum. Just make sure to take time and study the instructions, as there are multiple points where it could be confusing.
Review kit courtesy of Steven's International and Jim Starkweather.
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