Because I had no prior experience at all with Eduard kits, I followed closely the instructions manual, skipping only the landing gear assembly and leaving it for last, in attempt to protect it. I should have done the same with the antennae!
In very “traditional” fashion, the assembly starts with the cockpit. It is time consuming because includes pre-painting of styrene parts and bending and gluing of PE parts. It took me some two-three days, but after I joined the halves and I had for the first time the vision of the complete assembly, I was pretty much speechless. I just couldn’t believe such level of detail can be achieved in 72nd scale – but it was right there, under my nose!
“The engine” is just a “tube” with a “plug” at its end! Not much more is needed, since there is well hidden in the complete assembly. Some perfectionists might find this a shortcoming, but for me worked just fine – there is no need to fiddle with detail impossible to be seen. I never looked up, but I think must be resin alternatives available out there.
Once the cockpit and the engine are painted and assembled, the fuselage close around them from the sides, in “classical” fashion. This step includes also the rudder assembly and the added nose weight. And of course I forgot the weight (duh!). Luckily the air intakes weren’t sealed yet by the nose ring and I could cut small lead pieces and affix them with CA glue thru the small openings. I didn’t forget to make the auxiliary antenna hole, though.
The assembly of the wings is deceptively easy because the fit is perfect; just a little sanding was needed at the leading edge. I also drilled the external fuel tanks holes, because the reference photographs of the Romanian aircraft shows them clearly. I managed to confuse myself with the horizontal stabilizers and I wasn’t quite sure which is for left side and which one for right but Eduard came to my rescue. They graciously thought of lunatics like me and the alignment pins for those parts are keyed (thicker for the right, thinner for the left). Well done, Eduard, and thank you!
The under-the-nose area is teeming with detail and is more complicated than I initially estimated. Some additional nose weight is called out here and I haven’t omitted it this time, the front wheel is being added, the intake ring with the landing light, the MGs / gun pods and the front wheel bay doors – all are crammed there. I had some issues with the fitting, especially with the intake ring alignment which I had to correct later. I also replaced the MGs barrels with stretched tube and drilled the gun barrel. All that detail is very delicate and the model handling became suddenly a high-risk operation. I budged and re-glued several times the MGs barrels replacements until I gave up doing it and I waited to finish the model and then go over it one more final time.
This assembly shouldn’t be too complicated per se, but the parts are very small, and there is a mixture of PE and plastic parts the make the things quite hard for the modeler. For instance, the upper covers for the landing gear has to be supported by a pin molded on the main strut that has to be bent to an angle. Well, that might sound easy, but it’s not with small joining points and all that PE around! It took me four sessions to get it properly done (target-less curses included).
I chose to show the canopy on open position (just for the sake of that lavish interior!) and I attached the front piece only. The sliding part I masked it outside and inside, painted separately, and glued it in place later. I glued the gliding rail behind the pilot’s seat with white glue, just in case I needed more weight added; it was not the case. Note of advice: the canopy slides on the rail upwards and in open position the rear does not touch the fuselage. Eduard points this out but the detail is easy to overlook and I’ve seen already modelers “correcting” the canopy’s stance because it looks a little awkward. Maybe it does, but so must be.
First I needed to deal with the assembly gaps. I had the usual joining line along the fuselage to address and just a little to fill at the wing and stabilizer roots. That is just model aircraft routine and nothing to complain about. I was disappointed though by the fit of the intake ring not because a gap remains – that’s easy to fix and acceptable – but because it’s slightly sideways. Therefore I had to sand more one side to make it line-up symmetrically to the fuselage and that maimed my little aircraft for life. One has to look at it dead-center to see it but is still noticeable for an expert eye.
Furthermore I added all the small easy to break parts at the build’s end (except for the canopy) and I was ready for painting. Even so, attaching the antennae proved to be a mistake, because some more sanding was laying ahead…