After years of the Stearman featuring highly in modellers' wish-lists for a new-tool 1:48 scale kit, it was great to see Revell do such a good job on it in their 2014 release (reviewed HERE
It's a little bit surprising that it's taken so long for Eduard to release an upgrade for the model, but it's been worth the wait, as Set #49785
adds plenty of extra detail. The photo-etched set arrives on two frets – one of them being partly pre-coloured and available separately as Zoom #FE 785
The combined package tackles both the interior and exterior of the kit and, with 73 parts, it’s not overly complicated when compared with a lot of sets. That said, it’s still not suitable for inexperienced modellers, as there’s a fair bit of folding and surgery involved in using the new items, and you’ll also have to do a little minor scratchbuilding.
The pre-coloured parts are very nicely done, with pin-sharp printed dials for the instrument panels and a very passable Interior Green on the new side panels and rudder pedals – although, you may of course want to over-paint this to match whatever brand of model paint you’re using for other parts of the cockpit.
Work kicks off with the aforementioned rudder pedals and extra details for the side structure, such as throttles and document holders. These require folding (including tiny brackets), as do the next major upgrade for the cockpit – a new pair of seats and their support frames.
The seats look a big improvement over Revell’s, which featured rather unconvincing moulded-on harnesses. Sadly, it’s at this point that many will realise Eduard’s set doesn’t include new seatbelts. You have to buy these separately as Set #49788
. I have to say I do find this frustrating, because I think most modellers nowadays think in terms of instrument panel(s) and seat harness(es) as the core components in a cockpit upgrade. So, to have them split across two releases is quite irritating (especially if you didn’t realise it when buying the main set).
I suppose Eduard’s justification for the omission could be that they have broken away from their traditional way of releasing separate sets dealing with the interior and exterior details; the set under review tackles both. You could also argue that it leaves the option open to use the increasingly popular fabric-style seatbelts - but, by doing so, Set #49785
fails to complete the interior.
Back to positives; the parts include a handy template for cutting a spacer to give depth to the instrument panel. The colour-shaded instructions make jobs like this easy to understand – but I think I might modify construction slightly to avoid the instrument bezels being so deep. It’s also worth noting that you will find other configurations of instruments in photos – not surprisingly, as so many Stearmans are still flying.
Turning to the exterior, Eduard completely replace the undercarriage oleo scissors with delicate folded parts and brackets, and the result should be much more convincing. There are a number of small items to add to the airframe, including elevator trim controls and eyelets, plus lifting handles for the rear fuselage.
Finally, there’s a large surface panel for the fuel tank in the upper wing to replace the over-stated effect in the Revell kit. Fitting this requires a bit of surgery and, as it’s so prominently placed, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re confident in what you’re doing – mess this up and you’ll have an equally tough job hiding it. The other point of caution I’d add is that you will find other styles of tank in photos online – so, as with the instrument panels, if you’re modelling a specific Stearman, try to find references if you can.
Eduard’s Stearman upgrade is going to be very useful – and certainly, once you’ve added seat harnesses, the finished model should be a gem. However, for the price, I can’t help but think the set should have included “basic” seatbelts as standard.
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