Airfix's quarterscale Sea Vixen has justifiably proved a massive success. Interest in the kit was such that it was "promoted" from a limited edition release, as first planned, to become a standard addition to the company's range of classic British jets.
The kit includes quite a decent cockpit, but even a cursory glance at Barracuda Sudio's definitive study of the Sea Vixen (reviewed HERE
) or our own Walkaround
reveals that there is a lot more detail that can be added. Pavla Models have recently released the first in series of interior and exterior upgrades for the kit in the shape of a complete cockpit along with a new vacuform canopy.
The sample set arrived packed in a tough little cardboard box, with the parts further sealed in a zip-lock bag with a card display-header. Sadly, despite this care, a couple of the smaller items had still come adrift in the post - a constant headache for manufacturers when large and small components a packed together. (If you spot a gap on one of the casting plinths in the photos opposite, a tiny lever launched into the jaws of the carpet monster as I tried to reattach it for the review picture.)
The set includes 28 x dark grey resin parts, plus the vacuformed canopy. The casting is excellent - there's a touch of feathery flash to clean of here and there, but preparation should be quick and simple. The new main cockpit tub is very impressive, with a mass of extra detail compared with the kit item. It fits as a direct replacement; the only modification needed being to remove part of the original locating mark in the kit's nose. At first I thought it would take some thinning and trimming to squeeze in the nosewheel well, but it fits without surgery and actually acts as a support for the tub.
Added to the tub are applique panels and control boxes, plus a number of tiny resin switches and levers. The new instrument panels are a big improvement over the originals, which featured rather clumsy dials. You'll need to source suitable decals for the instrument faces to really maximize the impact of the new parts (perhaps this, or etched panels with film instruments, is something that Pavla might consider in future to provide a really all-in-one package). To fit the new panel you must carve away the area under the windscreen (probably the trickiest part of installing the upgrade) as the resin part includes a shroud over the rear of the instruments. This looks a bit crisp to me, so I'll smooth it a bit with white glue or Mr. Surfacer.
The new resin ejector seats are very nicely done. The radar operator's seat features the vanes to shatter his canopy. A full harness is cast integrally with each seat, along with cushions that have a far more used look than the Airfix seats. A nice touch in the instructions is the inclusion of a very detailed painting guide to really bring out the best of the detailed new seats.
With the full upgrade costing half as much as the Airfix kit itself, a nice touch for anyone looking for a simpler and cheaper way to add some eye candy to the kit cockpit is that Pavla also market the pilot's seat separately as Item S48035 (hopefully the navigator's seat will follow).
One of the only parts of the Airfix kit which I really didn't like was how they'd designed the canopy with a separate frame. This is just asking for trouble with misting and a hard to hide joint. Pavla obviously feel the same way because they've included a nice vacuformed replacement. This is good quality and should look good after a dip in Future/Klear. The centre heating duct is supplied in resin and I'd attach it with Gator's Glue to avoid any chance of accidents. (As with the ejector seat, the canopy is available separately as Item V48-11.) A nicely detailed new resin frame for the observer's canopy is provided, but no corresponding glazing. The instructions suggest making it from scratch, but hopefully the kit's original part can be persuaded to fit.
Accompanying the upgrade is a beautifully illustrated sheet of instructions that include a comprehensive painting guide. I'd recommend using this in conjunction with the reference shots in Roy Sutherland's book because there are a lot of little touches of colour beyond the scope of the instructions that will help relieve the otherwise unremitting black.
Pavla Models' Sea Vixen cockpit upgrade is a real cracker with some eye-popping extra detail compared with the standard kit parts. With a new air-brake assembly already announced, Pavla look set to have everything you need to turn Airfix's excellent kit into a real showstopper. Highly recommended.
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