The kit contains seven sprues of exquisitely moulded plastic. The surface details are suitably restrained, but deep enough to stand up to several coats of primer and paint. No sign of flash anywhere, and everything seems nice and crisp and begs to be built.
The instructions have you building the seat first, but I left this for now as I like to drop such things in at the end. The cockpit tub builds faultlessly. There are plenty of after market options out there to dress this up but I would argue that unless you are completely neurotic, it is really not necessary. The details supplied in the kit are superb and with a little careful painting they came up beautifully. The tub then fits into the two halves of the forward fuselage section perfectly and only a minimal amount of sanding was needed to get everything neatly finished. It is also necessary to install the nose undercarriage leg at this stage as once the wheel bay is put in place it is not possible to add it later (without some structural problems, anyhow). This is a shame, as normally I like to leave such things out until the end as they complicate masking and painting, but it was clear I had to comply in this case.
Speaking of the wings, they are made up of several sections which does demand a little care in getting everything flush. Once they are done, they need to be carefully positioned over the intake section taking care to get them lined up into their recesses on the fuselage sides. I have had problems with this kind of approach in the past; and at first dry fit, it seemed like these may be troublesome too. However the play in the intake sections proved itself and with a little persuasion the wings clicked precisely into place. And what is more, they lined up almost perfectly with the intakes leaving virtually no visible seam. Well done kit designers!
A single moulding goes on to the top of the fuselage for the spine, which is very welcome as it saves a lot of seam smoothing. Also the forward canopy section fitted perfectly with just a dribble of filler to ensure no seams. I added the tail sections, and then was able to judge the nose weight requirement. It was a bit less than the 40 grams suggested, but better safe than sorry and I filled the nose section with packets of lead shot before attaching the nose cone.After masking up the canopy and wheel bay sections, she was ready for painting. All the undercarriage and other detail would go on afterwards.
Moving on, the underside was masked off and the topside painted Dark Sea Grey. This was then "Blu Tack and tape" masked to the camouflage pattern and RAF dark green applied on top. I then used a weak "deck tan" mixture to add some subtle bleaching to the panels.
And she was finished. Did I keep to my "out of the box" approach? Just about. I did, as mentioned, replace the seat belts with Eduard ones, and I also replaced the shell ejector pipes by the gun bulges with brass tubing, and unless you count some decals being replaced due to the register problem, everything you see is from the kit.
In summary, decal issues aside, this is one of the most pleasurable builds I have done in some time. The kit is not that complex, but builds into a superb and large, imposing model of this most beautiful of aircraft. I am seriously tempted to buy another one very soon....