by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Revell's 1:32 Arado Ar 196 has rightly proved an enormous success since its release last Christmas. Beautifully moulded and highly detailed, it flies in the face of the ever escalating kit prices we've witnessed and goes to show that top quality mainstream kits needn't cost an arm and leg.
But of course there's always scope to add more detail to even the best kits, and Eduard have released a series of upgrade sets for the Arado, tackling the interior and exterior, along with a separate set of seatbelts which did not arrive in time for this round-up and will be reviewed later.
Set 32 681 – Ar 196A-3 Interior – $33.95This upgrade arrives on two etched frets. The first is partly pre-painted and self-adhesive (also available as Zoom set #33076, price: $22.95), while the second fret is plain metal. Together they add 94 new parts to the interior, along with a clear film for reflectors for the pilot's gunsight. The set breaks down into the following basic areas:
Instrument panels and consoles
A navigation chart and instruments
Throttles and control boxes
Straps, levers and brackets throughout the cockpit
A perforated jacket for the MG15 barrel
The biggest change over the standard kit are "sidewalls" that run the length of each side of the cockpit, effectively hiding most of the complex structure as moulded by Revell. In a way this is something of a disappointment, as the open structure looks very attractive, but the few photos which I've found online indicate that Eduard are correct in boxing everything in.
Eduard are undeniably the market leaders with their pre-painted etched parts, and the level of detail is here in the Ar 196 set is excellent. The sheer quality and miniscule detail of the pre-painting is quite superb, far beyond the finest that most modellers could ever hope to paint by hand. The navigator's equipment is a real delight, with a map and various items such as dividers, a set square and ruler for plotting a course.
When it comes to pre-painted cockpit consoles etc. there's always the inevitable slight problem of matching your preferred model paints to the colours Eduard have used – in this case RLM 02 and RLM 66 – but you can always argue that any difference is down to the use of pre-painted sub-assemblies in real life. More of a concern with the Arado is that Eduard have painted the instrument panels in RLM 02, whereas I think RLM 66 would be more usual. Admittedly there is sometimes a degree of variation evident in photos of German cockpits of the period, but Revell have gone for RLM 66 and I have to say I think they're right. I suspect Eduard have based their choice on colour photos of an Ar 196 main instrument panel which appears to be a replica and painted in a modern match for RLM 02, rather than the regulation (as I presume) RLM 66.
Eduard provide a perforated jacket for the machine gun barrel. The instructions indicate simply cutting off the kit's barrel and replacing it with the etched jacket, but in this scale I think you may want to simulate the barrel inside with a length of thin rod. Incidentally, Eduard show the ring and bead sights reversed compared with kit's gun, but I've found photos online showing this arrangement so I guess you can take your pick.
In terms of complexity, the set itself shouldn't present any major problems for anyone with a bit of experience working with etched parts. There are few boxes to fold to shape, but the large scale means none of the parts are too small. On the other hand, the surgery needed to fit some of the parts will certainly require care and patience. The observer's instrument panel looks particularly awkward to get at without damaging the surrounding details, so be sure you know what you're doing before attacking it with a scalpel or modelling chisel.
Set 32 267 - Ar 196A-3 Exterior – $22.95The name suggests the second set deals purely with the kit's exterior, but in practice, that means anything beyond the cockpit, so the set adds detail to the engine as well as the outside of the airframe, covering the following areas:
Tie-rings and brackets for the floats
Springs and actuators for the water rudders
Actuators for the control surfaces and trim tabs
Hand and foot-holds for the fuselage
Engine baffle plates and cowl ring supports
Interior structure for the cowl panels
Stays for the bombs' fins
While it may not have the same immediate visual impact as the interior set, the single fret contains 147 new parts, so there's plenty to keep you busy. And this time some of the items are quite small, but there don't appear to be any difficult folds to make – those that are required are merely "doubling up" to give greater thickness. No major surgery appears to be needed to the original kit parts, but of course you're working on the exterior so any slips will be all the more visible, so once again care is essential. Overall, the set is more a case of delicate touches rather than radical changes, but Eduard's etched items should certainly add a worthwhile degree of extra finesse to the already excellent Revell kit.
ConclusionOne beauty of Revell's Ar 196 is that its low price means you can afford to splash out on some upgrades for it without fear of breaking the bank. Eduard's sets certainly provide a feast of eye candy in the cockpit along with subtle improvements to the exterior. While the etched parts themselves shouldn't prove too difficult to work with, some of the surgery required to fit them could be tricky, so the sets are best recommended for modellers with a fair degree of experience and confidence.
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