Kitty Hawk T-6, Pt. 2 – The Cockpit

Welcome back, everyone!

We left part one wondering what the hell Kitty Hawk was thinking when they molded the sidewalls of the cockpit.  Thankfully, the rest of the cockpit isn’t full of the boneheaded mistake that plagues them.  Let’s take a closer look at the rest of the cockpit.

The seats aren’t anything special, but there is some nice rivet detail on the bottom as well as the framework on the back.  A separate photo-etch fret is provided for the seatbelts.  It provides two identical sets of belts, but no where in the instructions is there any guide for how the belts should attach to the seat.  The belts should go between the seat back and framework, but I glued the two pieces together before inserting the belts.

This isn’t a difficult thing to overcome, but it could have been avoided had there been any mention of the belts in the instructions.  I ended up cutting the belts apart and making them different lengths, just to get some variation.  Once they were cut, I bent them to shape to minimize any chipped paint.  Glued in position, I was able to paint and wash them.

After filling most of the ejector pin marks on the side walls, I began work to paint them and attach all of the little detail pieces.  The instructions aren’t great here.  One of the first steps involving the side walls show a fire extinguisher attached to the framework.  Well, there’s no extinguisher there, nor is there one shown in the instructions up to this point.  So after an extensive search through the sprues, I found a piece that looked to be the right one.

Turns out, the piece (or pieces as it’s actually two) is on the instructions about 3 steps away.  It ended up not being a big deal but KH could do a better job here of showing the sidewall in the condition that it should be in on the current step.  Surely all it would have taken would have been hiding the piece in the CAD drawing.

Moving along on the rest of the cockpit, I completed the instrument panels and added a new weapon to the modeling arsenal.  I had heard good things about using Bondic, a UV -cured adhesive that is completely clear once set.  I’ve seen it used for exterior lights but wanted to try it as instrument panel glass.  It works beautifully.  Before applying, I used Airscale instrument decals on the front panel.  Once they were set, I applied the Bondic with a needle to the instruments.

With the instrument panels complete, I started assembling the various pieces of the cockpit.  This part is a little tricky.  There are a lot of moving parts that need to slot into various holes on both sides of the cockpit framework.  To start, the floor goes into three holes on the bottom of both sides.  At the same time the 4-piece rudder assembly needs to be installed and if that isn’t aligned correctly, it won’t fit into the side walls.

I first installed the rear rudder pedals, making sure they were square with the rest of the cockpit as the glue set.  Once it was in place, I attached the starboard side linkage that connects the front and back set of pedals.  Again, holding it square to the cockpit while it set.  Finally, I installed the front set of pedals.

With both sets of pedals attached to the starboard side of the cockpit, as well as the starboard rudder linkage, I attached the port linkage and sidewall.  The front instrument panel was also installed.  The panel is supposed to go in before the port sidewall is attached, but it went in just as easily after it was on.  This actually all went together much better than I expected.  As long as you take some care when attaching everything it’s really not that bad.

At this point, looking at the entire assembly, it appears that the cockpit framework is a bit bowed.  But dry fitting it into the fuselage halves don’t show any problems.  The only thing I may have to do is hold the tops of the framework to the canopy sill.  I did leave the top bars of the framework disconnected from the rear bulkhead so, in case there is any bend, I’ll have a little bit of wiggle room when I install the cockpit into the fuselage.

Now the cockpit itself is basically done, though there are a few things to attach to the rear bulkhead and the firewall needs to be attached to the front.

There is some confusion with the direction the top of the rear bulkhead should face.  This piece  has two raised or recessed areas, depending on which way you install it.  The instructions don’t show which way it should go.  It makes the most sense to me that the areas would be recessed, so that’s how I installed it.  There are also two ribs that stick up off of the rear deck.  The locating holes for these pieces are way too big so when installing the ribs, keep them as far forward as you can.  Once the fuselage is together, the backside of the ribs, and the holes, won’t be visible.

Installing the rear instrument panel, it doesn’t sit securely in the sidewalls.  It has just two small nubs that sit on top of the sides.  The bottom surfaces of the IP are angled, so it should sit in place with some pressure, but with the walls being a bit bowed, they have to be held in place.  The panel is a bit more snug once the top, angled framework is added as they touch on both sides.

That’s all there is too it.  A lot of pieces in this assembly but they really don’t go together too poorly.  The most difficult part was getting the rudder pedals and their linkage together amongst the rest of the cockpit.  And the ejector pin and sink marks that plague some of the bigger pieces aren’t really visible.

With the cockpit all finished, we’ll move onto the R-1340 and it’s installation.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

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