By now, I am pretty confident with what I am going to get from a Special Hobby kit. In this case, as with their Tempest V, “special” means short run. Short run means an interesting and often under represented subject, with engineering that goes from as good as can be expected to sloppy, with detail to match.
Their kits are relatively simple in execution, which is great when one is looking for an escape from Tamiya or more complicated and ambitious builds, as I was. But, while there should be a time cost savings in parts simplicity, there is a time penalty when some things need significantly more attention.
There were three significant issues with this build.
The first is that the kit came with multiple broken parts including, astoundingly, parts of the wing. To compound this issue, I either had to wait on the U.S. distributor of the kit to get replacement parts from the manufacturer, or buy a new kit. I opted to buy a replacement kit and was going to use the replacement parts from the manufacturer to refill the parts in the kit, and then re-sell the unused kit. I’m still waiting on the replacement parts.
The second is the wheel wells. Like the aforementioned Tempest V, Special Hobby has an almost singular ability to make construction of the wheel well as frustrating as possible. It’s the worst combination of bad design and poor parts fit. My solution, after ruining one set of wheel bay inserts, was to simply leave the parts that run along the leading edge of the wing out until the wing was closed, and then trim, sand, file those to fit. Good luck. Also like the Tempest V, this seems like it could be easily remedied with resin replacement wheel bay inserts. Note that the issues with the wheel bay parts also throw off the construction of the little intakes on the leading edge of the wing. Be prepared to play some jazz here.
Third are the instructions. Special Hobby’s instructions are beautiful, but sometimes utter and complete nonsense. There is no guidance I can give here except to read the instructions enough to commit them to memory so you understand what they want you to do, and then disregard all of that using your experience and constant dry fitting to determine the build sequence.
I wish I could say those were all of the problems, but they aren’t. Those are just the problems that are unusually difficult for a build of this scope.
All of that said, this model was a fun and worthwhile departure from the meandering and ambitious P-61A I’ve been building for almost 8 months. And, one of the weaknesses mentioned above, that of the wheel well and landing gear, turns into one of the best aspects of the build (after you’ve pulled all of your hair out getting it together).
Similarly, the cockpit was well detailed out of the box and fun to build, paint and weather. I hand painted the whole thing except for the individual cockpit dial decals. I knew that would be good enough given that I intended on closing the cockpit and a close inspection would be almost impossible. Note here that there is very few in the way of positive location features and good fit/alignment comes from lots of test fitting and patience.
This kit took significantly less time than other builds I have done in this scale, a mere 40 days from start to finish, even with some extra time being spent to work with the problem areas. It’s a good kit of an important subject that builds into an impressive addition to my World War 2 fighter collection.
Full build log here.
You are a very resilient model kit builder!