You always end up learning something when you build a model. I learned that research comes first. I assumed that given when this was designed and being a US aircraft, the interior would be the usual chromate green. When I saw the instrument panel was very flat and there isn't any shroud over it, I start looking for photos on the web to see what it really looked like. I only found 1 cockpit photo and yes the panel is flat and did not have a shroud over so it seems. The color looked odd and with a little more research realized that Bell had there own color, appropriately enough, Bell Green. So my cockpit color is wrong but as I plan to do thing with the canopy closed maybe it won't be too noticeable. Wheel wells and gear door interiors will be corrected.
I have been tested fitting most of the major components and it seems to be pretty decent. Click here for a review that shows some minor problems that will need to be fixed. To make allowance for a different tail, the fuselage in the kit is in 4 pieces. The instruction sheet has you join the front halves then the back halves and join the 2 sections. I have found that tends to increase the chance of a step that will be more difficult to fix. I sanded each section on a large flat sheet of sandpaper on a sheet of glass. Note that this will require sanding off the locating pins. Before the front and tail section are joined, laying them flat on a sheet of glass, test fit and make any adjustments needed so there isn't any step. The 2 sides should now glue up with only minor filing required, since this seam is not at a panel line.
Hobby Craft 1/48 scale P-59 Airacomet
The IPMS rules for an out of the box (OOB) build state that after market decals can be used and that a modeler can "add simple tape or decal seat belts ". Since they don't specify where the AM decals can be used, I applied some Mike Grant instruments to the IP. I don't know if this is a bending of the rules or not, but I made the belts out of lead foil instead of tape. Since the back of the panel is going to be visible through the wind screen, some detailing was needed. In keeping with the OOB rules, I have to use plastic that is in the box. Instruments housings were made from sprue, chucked on a Dremel, thinned with a sanding stick, then sliced to an appropriate thickness. Cables are made from stretched sprue glued in holes drilled in the back of the instruments.
Fuselage is filed, filled, sanded and, after this photo was taken, rescribed. The seams top, bottom and where the tail section joins needed little, if any, filler putty. A couple of sink holes on top and a tiny pit near to nose gear well needed to be filled. Getting the parts ready for the wings… a little bit of flash here and there. The review linked above points out some unsightly gaps around the wingtips that should be filled with some sheet styrene. OK, so how do I keep this OOB and use sheet styrene? Looking in the box to see if there is an extra part that can be sacrificed I noted the tab on of the trees the said “HOBBY CRAFT”. After cutting that off and sanding away the raised letters I was left with a piece of OOB plastic sheet 1 1/2” by ¼” that should be enough to take care of the gaps and scratch some new oleo scissors for the nose gear.
I wish I had thought of this sooner.... all the individual part number tags could have made all kinds of cockpit detail.
To see how to make these details!
A tiny amount of filler was needed at the rear of the engine nacelles which was done before attaching the wings to the fuselage. The left photo show the wings and horizontal stabs attached. A nice feature of this kits is the way the wings fit under wing root that is molded as part of the fuselage. I wouldn't mind seeing that on all kits. A piece of sprue was drill out on one end making a concave that was painted silver and glued inside the nose to simulate the landing light. While th nose is molded clear, most will be masked and painted since only the small center portion is to be clear. The kit comes with 2 nose pieces and I messed up the first one without the gun ports. These have been filled with some gap filling CA and sanded smooth.
Bare Metal Foil was used to mask the canopy. The canopy frame edges are engraved instead of the usually raised detail. The groove gives the blade something to follow making quick work of this tedious task. If you happen to be a kit manufacturer reading this, please make this the norm instead of the exception.