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Aerocraft Models - Initial assessment of replacement Trumpeter 1/32 EE Lightning windscreen and canopy

Derek B

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Hi All,


Ali, of Aerocraft Models, has very kindly and generously provided me with an advanced copy of his forthcoming 1/32 clear resin replacement windscreen and canopy (with 3D printed details and masks) for initial assessment purposes - thank you Ali! :)


The reason Ali sent me his new replacement clear resin canopy is because I am currently making the Trumpeter 1/32 EE Lightning F.2A/F.6 kit for a friend, and he requested my honest feedback about it, so, below are my thoughts and experience with the Aerocraft Models product so far. It should be noted that I have never used clear resin or 3D printed parts before, so this was also going to be a learning curve for me also.


What you get


Upon opening the sturdy cardboard box and examining the well packaged and protected parts, my initial impression is that they are beautifully casted and are crystal clear - a testament to his casting skills and techniques. There were no instructions included (these may come later), so I used the primary reference for my build (the DACO English Electric Lightning book) to identify some of the parts. What you get are the windscreen and canopy cast in clear resin, and a number of 3D resin printed parts (two mirrors, two sets of handed canopy locks - these are duplicated in case any of them is accidently damaged) and the mechanical air drying cannisters with integral internal canopy roof and rear bulkhead. Another very nice touch is that a sheet of vinyl windscreen and canopy masks are also included.


The replacement windscreen and canopy set provided by Aerocraft Models does not attempt to correct the known shape and position issues of the Trumpeter kit, but address (or lessen) some of it by providing a direct replacement (same shape and size) windscreen and canopy that have deeper (and more accurate) framing which improves the appearance compared to the kit provided parts. The internal 3D printed parts improve this level of detail even more.
















Preparation and comparison


As with the original kit transparencies, care has to be taken to both prevent accidental damage or scratching of the very clear resin parts. during removal of the windscreen and canopy from the casting blocks. I used micro saws to accomplish this and model snips for the thinner areas of the canopy.




The windscreen and canopy were then very carefully filed and sanded (with a sanding block) to the frame lines moulded on the castings. Any slight distortion observed after this process can be corrected by the usual method of warming the part in hot water, correcting the shape, then immediately putting it in cold water to 'set it' into position if required.


Conversely, the 3D printed parts are very delicate and fragile, so great care has to be taken not to stress the parts during removal from the base and support tress so as not to break them (I accidently broke on of the canopy locks during removal - good job there are duplicates printed!). 






When the kit transparency parts are compared to the replacement resin parts, the difference with the framing is immediately obvious (the kit supplied windscreen and canopy framing is too thin) and it can be seen that deeper framing (especially the bottom of the canopy, which has long been one of the main observed problems with the kit part) will improve the appearance of the model as a whole.



Trumpeter windscreen left, Aerocraft windscreen, right.



Trumpeter canopy left, Aerocraft canopy, right.



Trumpeter windscreen and canopy rear, Aerocraft windscreen and canopy front.


Parts fit


It should be noted that the test fit of the Aerocraft Models windscreen and canopy was conducted with the parts cleaned up and sanded to the edges moulded on the clear parts - no 'fine tuning' or 'fettling' of the clear parts was carried out in order to produce a perfect fit. It was found that the cast clear resin Aerocraft Models windscreen and canopy, when offered up to the kit fuselage fit extremely well. It was impressive that no apparent shrinkage was evident so the clear resin parts were found to fit almost as well as the kit provided parts!














The only fit issue with any of the Aerocraft replacement parts was with the 3D printed internal canopy roof section. As printed, it has, by design,+ an integral rear bulkhead feature. However, it is a little too deep and interferes with the cockpit spine bulkhead details of the kit, causing it to sit too high and protrude above the aircraft spine - thus preventing the clear resin canopy from sitting on the model correctly without modifying it. This only a very minor issue and was easy for me to fix by simply reducing the depth of the 3D printed bulkhead until clearance was obtained from the kit details; this then allowed the canopy to sit correctly (it should be noted that Ali at Aerocraft Models is aware of this and will amend/modify this part for production versions). Whilst I corrected this, I also took the opportunity to remove a moulded/printed 'step' on the roof part where it met the bulkhead in order to improve the internal fit between the bulkhead and internal canopy shape.



Canopy roof 3D printed - aft bulkhead too deep causing it to sit proud of the kit spine.



Removal/reduction of bulkhead depth.





After reduction of bulkhead.







Fit of roof section after bulkhead reduction.






This canopy will be used in my current build as the appearance it will provide to the finished model will be vastly superior to that supplied by the kit parts and will also partially correct one of the main known issues with the Trumpeter kit - the lack of correct depth of windscreen and canopy framing. The additional internal 3D printed canopy details are also a superb addition which will greatly enhances the clear resin canopy, or, should the modeller so wish, the kit transparencies. Although I have not used them (yet), the windscreen and canopy masks are also a very thoughtful and useful inclusion. as noted, the 3D internal canopy roof detail part too deep bulkhead problem will be addressed by Aerocraft Models, but was found to an easy fix. Overall, I am very impressed with this product and will certainly be using it on my own Lightning build in the future.


Highly recommended



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