We've covered the MiG-21 Brassin cockpits previously, and this one follows the pattern pretty much exactly the same as the previous releases. A nice resin base over which a multitude of color photo-etched parts are attached to achieve one of the most detailed cockpits possible in 1:48 scale.
This cockpit is very similar to the MiG-21PFM cockpit, featuring the top-mounted radar scope and lack of a HUD like the later MiG-21M series cockpits. It also features the added control panels for reconnaissance pods. Both D & R type panels are included. These mount to the top of the forward canopy frame. Otherwise, the parts very much follow the convention and what you will have seen before in other MiG cockpit releases.
For further reading check out:
Michal Sindera's Review of the Brassin MiG-21PFM Cockpit
These parts and all the commentary directly applies to 98% of what is included in this cockpit upgrade.
Building the Cockpit
Since there is not all that much new to say and having already completely built one MiG-21 Brassin cockpit (for a MiG-21SM), it might be worthwhile to post some notes on what they're like to build.
Your first challenge is matching the green color used for the pre-painted photo-etch. Eduard does not give any information for matching the color used. Not a brand of paint, not a pantone reference, not even a mix. The color is a little bit dark for what I am used to seeing, but then, at the same time, where this color of jade green is concerned with Soviet cockpits, almost every picture seems a little different, particularly where museum aircraft are concerned. My guess is that this is a factory fresh finish and isn't meant to represent any fading.
So in order to achieve this color I used a mix of blue, green and white from the Gunze Mr. Color. I wish I could give a specific mix, but it was very much a trial-and-error process. Ultimately my color match is close enough to the green, and outside of a very close look, once it's weathered a little and blended together with the right construction processes, it looks great!
Once the base painting is done, there are only a few bits that need to be picked out with color paint. The breaker switches that protrude from the breaker panel should be tipped in color - most photos show these in a silver color, while some show them in a light blue. As always consult your references. The base for the throttle, various oxygen fittings, etc. should all be painted. There are many, many excellent MiG-21 references with good cockpit photos, perhaps the best of which is the WWP title, the cockpit coverage alone is worthwhile!
Once the colors are picked out, it's time to start installing the photo-etched details. This is a long, tedious process, go SLOW, there are a seemingly endless supply of parts to scab over the resin base. My suggestion is to start on one side of the cockpit and move front to back, switch to the other side and finish up.
I actually use Future Floor Wax (or Kleer, or whatever-it's-called-today) to install these parts. It's actually a great photo-etched glue especially for ultra-fine, non-load-bearing photo-etched. Additionally, if you need a little more bond with a bigger or more stubborn part, 3M craft glue is an excellent alternative. Don't worry about a little extra Future, as it blends in and once you flat coat the interior, any evidence of the "glue" just disappears. At this point, it's worth noting that I would NOT use super glue (or any CA glue) for this process, as if it sticks wrong, or ends up aligned the wrong way, you're going to be in trouble. Future and the 3M glue give plenty of working time and more than enough bond for the small surface-mount photo etched parts.
Once you have all the parts installed, and each of the subassemblies built, finish as you would any normal cockpit, and set them aside to install in the fuselage.
Once you are finished with the subassemblies, it's time to install. The instrument panel and control column should be added into the tub before it is installed. This is much easier to do before it's in the fuselage. I leave the instrument coaming and radar scope out until the fuselage is together, as then it's easier to shift that part around to not only fit the tub, but also the rest of the fuselage.
Here's the other beauty of Eduard's engineering thoughtfulness in action. The resin parts are exactly tooled to fit the kit parts. The resin pieces are direct replacements for the kit pieces. Because they are computer designed they can be made to counter the shrinkage that is part of working with resin, and as such as very exacting fits. There is NO cutting or modification to the kit parts to get the cockpit installed!
I glued the cockpit to one side of the fuselage using epoxy. I made sure the sidewall aligned with the canopy sill, and that the rear bulkhead matched to the top arc of the fuselage. Make sure the other half fits without binding and adjust the fit accordingly, the epoxy allows enough working time to adjust the fit to ensure proper alignment.
Once you're satisfied the cockpit is properly aligned, clamp the other fuselage half in place - do not glue it yet. Make sure the cockpit has remained aligned and then make sure the fuselage halves are aligned and that there's no issue with binding or alignment. Leave the clamp in place until the cockpit is completely set.
From here, make sure ALL of the fuselage interior components are added (intake cone, wheel wells, exhaust, etc.) and then glue the fuselage halves together. I do not bother to glue the other side of the cockpit until the fuselage gluing is done. This way you get the fuselage halves aligned and properly glued, and THEN you can reinforce the cockpit gluing. The cockpit is still accessible from the outside of the model until other pieces of the forward fuselage are added.
In many cases if you glue the other side of the cockpit before gluing the fuselage together you can end up with misalignment problems. As always work slowly to ensure the best alignment and save yourself the work downstream on the project.
The instrument coaming can be added after the fuselage is assembled, and the seat can be added at any time. That said, I typically add the seat very late in the process as the cockpit is much easier to mask with the seat NOT in place. And with this much detail you're going to want to leave the canopy OPEN, and therefore won't be attaching it until late in the build (if not the very last step)
Service with a Smile
The resin casting in the Eduard Brassin sets are first rate. The resin is smooth, carries the detail very well, and is bubble free. That said, it's still resin, and as such is subject to errors and issues that don't typically plague mainstream kits. While the MiG-21R cockpit I received seems to be perfectly cast and complete, it's worth noting that there were a handful of small issues with my MiG-21MF cockpit. The cockpit was missing two parts (R10 and R21) and had a major bubble in the headrest.
I've had good service with companies before upgrading these parts, but in the case of Eduard they absolutely go above and beyond with their products. Eduard has actually implemented a ticketing system on their website where problems can be reported. Typically you send in an e-mail, and wait on a response, but in this case, you fill out a trouble ticket on their website, and the automated system takes it from there.
Once you get the ticket submitted, the automated workflow takes over and alerts you at every step of the process as to the status of your issue. I received acknowledgement of the ticket, that the ticket was being worked, that the replacements had been shipped, and that the ticket was considered closed.... And even after all of that, Eduard takes the time to ask about your experience. That is customer service that is absolutely second to none in the industry - others supplied replacement parts, but never as cleanly, promptly and completely as Eduard did.
Say what you will about Eduard and their hype and marketing around their kits and products. This is one of those unsung details that really demonstrates that Eduard is a company focused on its customers and that stands behind their products!
This is a superb upgrade. The detail is visibly better than the kit parts, the use of layering resin and photo-etch brings together the best of both mediums. The excellent 3D effect of resin with the superb printed detail of color-photo-etch. Truly a best-case compromise between the two leading aftermarket upgrade mediums!
Our thanks to Eduard for the review sample, we will put it to good use with the kit soon! As always stay tuned to RedStars for the latest in Russian modeling!