Right then - off we go...
Before committing scalpel to plastic, I mentioned above that the kit is not without it's problems. Whilst the various bits do actually fit together after a fashion, whoever cut the mould seems to have used a hacksaw, chisel and dressmaker's tape measure in doing so. The gates are huge.
... and that ain't the smallest example, by far. Note, too that the spue tree is misaligned.. that's not two sprues in the pic!
Fit can, for the main part, be kindly described as "loose" warpage abounds and alignment pins are scarce.
Fortunately, I made myself a curry last night, so I popped the left fuselage half on top of the rice pan as it was steaming and after a few mins on a med/high heat, the plastic softened enough to coax back into reasonable shape.
At least the highly visible panel lines that run around the fuselage, and which are a major feature of the ship, line up reasonably well - this is a good thing, as the belly pan is also a loose fit; it can move around 1mm fore/aft, and is very vague in "yaw". Only one tab, no locating pins. The huge slot will receive the locating tab on the nose landing gear leg.
The fun and games contunue on the belly pan itself. If you study the pic below very, very carefully you might just be able to spot the very subtle stand locating slot...
and the superbly placed copyright mark. Yes, let's put that on the outside - well done, everyone! Modellers who suffer with consistantly producing mirror-finish paint jobs and struggle getting that elusive perfect orange peel effect need not worry with this kit. If you squint a bit you can also make out that the entire external surface has been treated to a fine, soft, textured finish. Lovely.
What surface detail there is, is quite soft - for example, the open bays on each side of the fuselage:
... and with that, I'd better start.
First up, that stand slot.
Card backing, Vallejo putty and Mr. Surfacer 1000, and slot-b-gone. Copyright notice is also no more.
Cockpit tub built up and most of the surface detail scrubbed off ready for PE. The panel face wasn't a bad fit and just needed a smear of putty. The rendition of the seat is pretty wooden. I may yet chop it out and replace it with a resin one - which reminds me, I need some belts, too. I don't know why the rear wall of the tub is shaped as it is - it bears no resemblance at all to the shape of the fuselage inner surface. You could drive a truck through the gap. (Tub, walls and rear plate just dry fitted here).
The instructions would have you assemble the cockpit tub sides to the tray, but doing so would make pacing various decals difficult, and given the approximate fit of the parts so far, I decided to glue them to the fuselage halves, fill the gaps, and then sandwich the tray between them.
More woeful fit issues, mahoosive gaps and thoughtfully placed ejector pin marks to fill. However... good news! Once attached, and with a small roll of Blutac behind it to brace it in position while it sets up, the joint between the cockpit wall and tray is impressively tight and disappears completely when the fuselage halves are joined.
With that, the sun is out, it's lunchtime and I have a cold beer to hand.