I tend to spend most of my time dabbling with 1/48 scale aircraft. 1/48 is more or less the “standard” scale for World War II subjects and boasts far and away the greatest selection of kits, aftermarket goodies, decals and so on.
But lately I’ve been building a respectable stash of 1/32 aircraft, and I’ve been itching to play with the larger scale, so I decided to pull Eduard’s Bf 109E-7 Trop down off the shelf.
If there’s one thing I’ve been looking forward to tackling in a 1/32 scale aircraft, it’s the cockpit. 1/32 kits are 50% larger than their 1/48 equivalents, which means all those fiddly little details found in the cockpits are also, you guessed it, 5o% larger.
In the case of Eduard’s E-7, these details are represented in a mix of styrene and photo etched parts.
I started the build by assembling the bulk of the cockpit – namely the seat risers, lower instrument backing, rudder pedals, and attaching the cockpit sidewalls to the fuselage. The styrene was attached using Tenax 7R, the PE parts using dots of CA applied with toothpicks.
These were then primed and painted with Model Master RLM 02 Grau (German for gray). Starting around mid-war, the Luftwaffe switched to the darker RLM 66 gray as their standard cockpit color, so encountering this sandy-brownish gray was something of a surprise.
After the base color was applied, I did a general dry-brushing with Model Master Aluminum, then went about applying the color PE bits. After fighting Eduard’s PE seatbelts on a few 1/48 aircraft, I have to admit, they’re a pleasure in the larger 1/32 scale. The lower instrument panel looks pretty great, too. I secured the dial backing to the panel face with Future, then used dots of CA to attach the additional panel faceplates.
All this time, I’d been painting the cockpit as per the instructions. But this resulted in a uniform, bland look:
At this point I made an excursion to King’s Hobby and picked up a handy reference book on the Bf 109E. This armed with actual, real examples of a 109 cockpit, I returned to my scale version, painted it up properly, and added some wiring detail where appropriate.
I then hit the entire cockpit with a thin wash of raw umber artist oil to dirty the place up a bit, and viola!
Overall, the cockpit is way more spacious to work in than your typical 1/48 aircraft. Many of the molded and etched details are very strong, but a few of them feel somewhat clumsy. The control stick, in particular, appears way too chunky. That and the cockpit should be “busier”. If I were building another one of these, I’d seriously consider springing for the Aires cockpit set.
Next up…main assembly.