Thanks for checking in guys! Especially for those comments about your Trumpeter 262 build, Tom. Any hints on this particular kit are helpful and I'll keep that in mind about the nose panels.
I've come to the biggest and most questionable aftermarket piece... the Aires cockpit and wheel well set. Since cockpit tub is integral with the wheel wells on the 262, it makes sense that any cockpit upgrade would have to include the wheel well too. The Aires set is well appointed and includes a bunch of resin in grey and creme as well as a fret of photoetch and a clear sheet of printed acetate for the instrument dials and gunsight glass.
I really like the PE/acetate/resin sandwich approach to the instrument panel, especially when the PE itself is layered with separate sections and bezels. Much preferred over the pre-painted Eduard stuff. One can even highlight the instruments with some color if so inclined. The PE fret also includes harnesses and separate buckles for the seat belt system. Redundant for my build since I'll be using the HGW belts but nice to have. That large rectangular piece? Keep that in mind as I look at the next component in this set.
Aires also includes a nose wheel bay, cast in one, inconveniently deep, piece. How you go about painting and weathering inside this narrow orifice is a big head- scratcher. That big rectangular piece on the photoetch fret above is supposed to be rolled into a half-tube and glued into the deepest recess of the nose wheel bay... are you kidding me? I'm picturing the designers giggling amongst themselves when they got away with that one.
The central piece is the cockpit tub. Very nicely molded with lots of detail but similar to the nose wheel well, cast in a way that will make painting difficult.
The outside of the cockpit tub is the tubular ceiling of the main wheel well.
The next two pieces are the sidewalls of the wheel well, festooned with detail including wiring harnesses. I really like how crisp Aires casts their resin parts... top of the line quality.
What's NOT so top of the line are the Aires instructions. All of the Aires parts are represented in relation to each other but do you notice the lack of reference to the Trumpeter kit? After studying the Aires instructions, I have little or no idea where the resin parts end and the kit parts begin. I don't know what modifications of the kit parts are required for the resin parts to fit properly. And the illustrations seem to be inconsistent with the resin parts, showing notches on the top edge of the cockpit tub and bulkhead where none exists on the part itself. Resin upgrades, in my limited experience, are usually inexact affairs with no positive locating pins or tabs and relying on edge to edge connections. This inexactness is further complicated by casting blocks along the join edges... a sloppy cut or imperfect trim will rob you of precious contact surface area for joining parts. Lots of uncertainty about this set in my mind.
So before doing anything on this build, I have to figure out how this Aires set works with very little help from Aires. I've decided the best way to do this is to assemble, by dry-fit hopefully, the kit components first. Putting together the kit cockpit, wheel and nose well will hopefully shed some light onto the Aires replacement parts. I need some more confidence before I commit to using this set.
I've cobbled together the main components of the kit cockpit using tape.
Those big tabs fit into slots in the fuselage sides, giving the cockpit a firm and positive fit. No problems fitting the fuselage sides together, trapping the cockpit in between. Ah... so easy and simple. I'm wondering if the Aires upgrades are worth the effort.
Concurrent to this, I've started to remove the casting blocks off of the resin components and do some preliminary assembly of the Aires cockpit.
I'm getting a better picture of how things fit but I still have a lot of learning to do.