by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Continuing Eduard's policy of releasing some of their most popular kits in the "Dual Combo" format, the Airacobra arrives in a large box packed to bulging with parts. Hardly surprising, considering that it holds two complete kits with a generous supply of etched "extras".
Each individual kit consists of:
127 x pale olive green styrene parts (some of which are unused)
6 x clear plastic parts
100 x etched metal parts (some pre-painted) on 2 frets
1 x white-metal nose weight
A set of painting masks
The set includes decals for 6 x colour schemes.
The Airacobra is very crisply moulded and the sprues show no sign of wear despite the kit having been in pretty constant production since its release. The scribing is very nice throughout and the fabric surfaces are subtly represented. I built the kit when it first appeared and encountered no fit problems, the only change I felt essential being to thin the wings, particularly the trailing edges - a simple task that makes a dramatic improvement in the appearance of an already excellent kit.
DetailsFor its latest incarnation, Eduard have given the Airacobra a very impressive selection of etched details, many of which are devoted to the cockpit. The basic plastic parts provide a pretty convincing on their own, but the etched extras include an excellent new multi-part pre-painted instrument panel, and a quite elaborate seat harness with separate straps and fasteners.
There are a lot of small extras such as levers, wiring and minor consoles. One beauty of the Airacobra is that, thanks to its "car-door" entry, all the extra work will be clearly visible when the model is finished.
The nosewheel bay is cleverly designed to incorporate a weight to avoid the model being a tail-sitter. With this added, it's surprising just how heavy the finished kit is. The nosewheel leg is provided with neat oleo scissors which must be double-folded for thickness. The kit also includes several complicated runs of etched electrical cables. They may be a little 2-dimensional, but they'll save hours of scratchbuilding...
The wings get a few etched extras such as faces for the radiators and folded vent-doors. An etched brake-line is provided for the undercarriage - something that I'm never totally convinced by in this scale, but it provides a useful reference if you choose to add a fuse-wire alternative.
Lastly among the etched parts are an auxiliary gunsight and rear-view mirror to attach inside the canopy, plus handles for the entry doors.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly instructions are very clearly illustrated and break the construction down into 7 basic stages, with a number of sub-stages along the way. Where new etched details replace the original moulded parts is well highlighted.
There are excellent painting mask and stencil placement guides and the camouflage schemes are illustrated in full colour with quite detailed notes explaining the probable colours used. One thing that's always been frustrating with Eduard's Airacobra series has been the lack of markings for the aircraft during its short-lived RAF career... until now! The new kit included decals for six aircraft and two of them are 601 Squadron machines.
a. AH601, 601 Sqn., flown by Sq/Ldr. E. J. Gracie, Duxford, 1941.
b. AH585, 601 Sqn., Duxford, 1941.
c. BX228, 19th GIAP, Karelian front, 14th Army, September 1942.
d. AH636, 19th GIAP, Karelian front, 14th Army, September 1942
e. S/n u/k, 2nd GIAP SF, Northern Fleet, Murmansk, Winter 1942/43
f. S/n u/k,uncertain unit, Northern Fleet, Murmansk, Winter 1942/43
The RAF aircraft are finished with Mixed Grey/Dark Green upper surfaces, with vestiges of the original US-equivalent Dark Earth showing. The first two VVS machines have their former RAF roundels painted out and the last pair feature winter camouflage.
The decals arrive on 2 sheets and are beautifully printed. The items are thin and glossy with excellent register throughout. The first sheet contains national markings and personal insignia, along with a few stencils and items for the cockpit. The colours look good, with a nice distinction between the Dull Red RAF markings and the Red Soviet stars. The second sheet includes a very comprehensive set of stencils - there are 50 or so for each aircraft...
ConclusionEduard deserve credit for reawakening interest in the Airacobra and their kit really marked the point when they claimed their place among the major kit manufacturers. Certainly this "hi-tech" version with etched details can more than justify its place on the shelf despite the appearance of a rival from the Far East. I recommend it to modellers who have a little experience working with photo-etched parts and, of course, for RAF modellers, the 601 Sqn. markings are a prayer answered. The Dual Combo format is ideal for anyone planning on adding several models to their collection - it amounts to 2 x Profi-Pack kits in one box and represents a saving of approximately $10 over buying the kits individually. The Airacobra Mk 1is a limited release and, at the time of writing, Eduard report that their stocks are already running low, although the model can still be found in good hobby shops.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.