Reviewed by Mike O'Hare
AiRes is well known for their superb range of aftermarket detail sets. Unlike some of their other sets, this cockpit, designed for the Revell Tornado (now the best one on the market in 1/72), is quite simple. This does not, however, mean that it's not detailed!
1/72 kits tend not to be as detailed as larger scale kits.
One of the most visible areas that typically need work is the cockpit. Unfortunately, most aftermarket sets coming out lately are geared towards 1/48 aircraft, and those that are released in the smaller scale tend to be for WWII subjects, so it's nice to see a great cockpit set for a 1/72, modern jet (and a great looking one to boot!)
The bulk of the detail is supplied in 8 cast resin pieces: the tub, fore and aft glare shields, two seats, a stick and two braces. Smaller details, such as seatbelts, control panels, etc., are on the etch fret. Luckily, most of the instruments are a combination of etch/film, which makes painting realistic dials much easier.
The cockpit tub is moulded as one large piece. Detail here has to be seen to be believed, and not even the pictures do it justice. I was initially disappointed in the set: the detail is so fine that you can't see it on the bare resin. The parts here have been primed and given a wash to help things stand out. All the hoses have ribbed detail and the fabric textures are captured beautifully. The instruments moulded on to the tub (as well as the glare shields) look like they were made out of photo etch.
The seats are similarly remarkable, featuring lines of individual rivets, combined with fine, crisp detail. The belts and ejection pull handle are photoetched, which is my only real criticism of the seats. I'm a lazy modeller and I can never make my own belts look as good as Black Box or True Details.
Unfortunately, a few of the parts were damaged in the shipping of the set. One half of the HUD snapped off, though it was a clean break, and the part was in the box. Both of the braces for the rear seat broke off their pour stub, in spite of the protective blocks cast in. I found one of them floating around inside the package, though the other seems to have disappeared forever. Luckily, it's an easy part to scratchbuild.
The cockpit should be a drop fit if AiRes' other sets are any indication. While the instructions are clear, some of the sidewall part locations are a bit vague, and there are no paint instructions - which are always a welcomed inclusion. Of course, there are loads of great reference books out there, and even some good on-line references, so it's not really a big deal.
The detail on this set really is amazing. But, as great as it is, I just can't get over the price. It's cheaper than any Eduard set, and provides better detail! If you're building a 1/72 Fin, this is a must-have detail set.
Let's hope this trend continues with AiRes, as there's an awful lot of great 1/72 jets out there that only need a decent front office. I know I'll be crossing my fingers for a Gripen cockpit soon!
Review Copyright © 2000 by Mike