One of the things that makes all the difference in a nicely detailed cockpit is to include accurate instrument dials. Many years ago I came across Reheat's instrument decals. They were a real boon and served me well through countless projects. Sadly they are long out of production, but a few years ago Mike Grant came to the rescue with his really useful sets of generic instrument. These actually proved even better than the Reheat items, with more opaque inks. But a downside for anyone seeking to model a specific WW2-era cockpit is that in both cases the designs of the instrument faces are generic, based on typical instruments of the period, so probably not strictly accurate for a given subject.
Now the bar has been raised again by Airscale with the release of a series of highly detailed instrument decals based on the specific instruments fitted to WW2 aircraft of different nationalities. At the moment RAF, Luftwaffe, USAAF and USN sets are available in a fast expanding range.
The other big advantage of the Airscale system is that the decals are printed as individual items with minimal carrier film so, unlike the others I've tried, these can simply be slid into place with no need for an expensive punch and die. The sheets are custom printed by Fantasy Printshop and the quality is quite superb with pin-sharp registration. They can be positioned in the bezels of a kit's instrument panel and "glazed" with drops of clear varnish, or applied to a backing plate behind a perforated instrument panel. For the latter method Airscale supply a thin sheet of clear film for the glazing.
A simple sheet of instructions describes how to use the decals and lists the instruments included. A really neat touch with the 1:24 and 1:32 sheets is that the instrument decals themselves are numbered, so you can be very confident of choosing the correct item to match your references. Strangely, this isn't repeated on the 1:48 sheets, so you'll have to go by eye - but with 150 to 200 dials on a sheet (depending on the nationality), you're pretty certain to find what you need, with sufficient for dozens of projects.
The current range of instrument decals is priced as follows:
AS24 LUFT - £4.75
AS32 LUFT - £4.25
AS48 LUFT - £5.25
AS32 USA - £4.25
AS48 USA - £6.25
AS32 USN - £4.25
AS 48 USN - £5.25
Of course, instruments aren't the only sources of information for crew in a cockpit. Just as important - but usually overlooked in kits - are the placards and data-plates that line the walls and consoles. So Airscale also produce a very useful set of cockpit placards for Allied aircraft. These are rather more generic than the instruments, but offer a wide selection of placards: General Warnings, Notices, Dataplates, Specific Warnings and other Labels, all in a variety of styles. Again, these are best used in conjunction with reference photos of the aircraft you're modelling. The layout of the sheets varies with the scale, and unusually, the larger the scale the more decals are provided. Grouped in two sets of paired decals, you get 240 placards in 1:48, 280 in 1:32 and no less than 312 in 1:24. The placards are priced as follows:
While both the instruments and placards are based on WW2 originals, in style they will also be applicable for models ranging from the mid 1930s through to the early Jet Age.
Airscale's instruments and placards are fantastic. They are simpler to use than comparable products I've tried, with specific items covering different nationalities. Whether you want to bring a standard kit cockpit to life or are a dedicated superdetailer or scratchbuilder, these decals are an almost indispensible addition to your modelling armoury.
I don't know if I've ever given a 100% rating in a review, but I would have in this case if the 1:48 sheets had the items numbered. Barring that tiny point, I simply can't fault the sets. Unreservedly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Precisely designed and printed. Simple to apply. Very affordable.Lows:Verdict: Airscale's instrument decals and placards will prove hugely useful for WW2-era modelling. I'd go so far as to call them as indespensible for anyone who likes to add detail to their model cockpits.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...