Sunday, March 19

Gary gets his instruments in order in his review of Airscale's Modern Jet Cockpit Detail Sets

Recently we got some aircraft decals and photo-etch cockpit decal sets from Airscale in the UK. We really don't like decal reviews that do not show you the decals in use, and prefer to use them, but that opportunity doesn't always come straight away. Luckilly, Gary got to using som on his latest kit.See how the details look and how they went on the kits in his "on the bench" review...

On the Bench: Modern Jet Cockpit Detail Sets
Manufacturer: Airscale

1:48 Decals and Photo Etch Detail Sets
Reviewed: March 201
between £7-£11 for 1:48 scale
Available in 48th, 32nd and 24th scale
Available from:

A very quick look today, at 3 new cockpit detail sets from Airscale in the UK. Each of these sets is designed for Modern Aircraft in 1:48 scale. I plan to and have used these decals and photo etch in my current and upcoming builds.

Airscale is a small after-market company who specialise in aircraft enhancements and have now branched out into several areas:
Cockpit Instrument Decals
Cockpit Placard Decals
Etched Brass Cockpit Components
Complete Instrument Panels

Airscale fills a niche market which was unserved for quite some time after Reheat closed down. To begin Airscale focused on decals in 3 major aircraft scales (1:48, 1:32 and 1:24). They have expanded over time to include PE detailing frets for WWII and Modern cockpits. I have recently used their 1:32 instrument decals in my HK Mosquito build and can confirm they do the job superbly. This is to be expected as each decal sheet is well researched and then printed by Fantasy Print Shop.

First up, lets look at set AS48 HAC - Modern Cockpit Instruments. This is a small sheet of individual instrument faces designed for modern glass cockpits in aircraft such as the US F-14, F-15, F-16 and Rafale, Tornado and Typhoon. You can use these decals in just about any modern cockpit from trainers to bombers.

The instrument faces provided range from MFD's (Multi Function Display) in assorted colours (including powered on with symbology) to backup analogue instruments such as Altimeter, HSI, Fuel etc. Typically these decals are a superior alternative to kit provided one-piece instrument decals due to their sharper register and improved accuracy.

Airscale conveniently provides a full guide in each pack with which you can identify the specific instrument you need. These are normal water slide decals (just like any other kit decal) so no special tools or techniques are needed to use them. You simply cut them (carefully) from the sheet and immerse in water. In my experience, they respond well to setting solution from Microscale (Set and Sol).

The decals are printed by Fantasy Printshop, a well known and respected manufacturer of custom decals. As you can see everything is in register, and the detail sharp enough to make out with the naked eye. As expected these are quite small in 1:48 so you will need a steady hand and some tweezers to handle them onto the model surface (which should be glossed prior to use).

As I had just started work on my Tamiya 1:48 F-14A I decided to take the decals out for a spin. Most modern aircraft today have virtually all glass cockpits but back in the 1970's the F-14A had a mixture of the classic analogue dials and newer MFDs. Here I have pre-painted the instrument panel (its actually a Black Box resin set) and then applied some clear gloss to the instruments that will have decals applied from the Airscale sheet. You should treat these decals just like any other by preparing the surface properly and using setting solution etc

The decals were applied using Microscale Set and Sol solutions which allowed them to settle down snuggly in the instrument bezel. I then sealed them under another coat of gloss clear and finally sprayed both parts with flat clear. More hand painting will be needed before this goes into the model but for now you can see the instruments from the Airscale sheet I used. Each IP (front and back) had 3 decals applied.

The perfect companion to your Instrument Decals is AS48 DAN - Modern Cockpit Dataplate & Warning Decals. Aircraft cockpits are usually plastered with warning placards, advisory labels and data plates. Take a close look sometime at an ejection seat to see how many hazard warning placards it has.

The included Pilot's Notes once again provide valuable explanations of when are where these labels are used. Obviously, the best reference for your specific model project are photos of the real thing.

The decal sheet is once again laid out logically in rows. One thing I appreciated was the inclusion of generic striped blocks from which I can cut sections for use on those pesky ejection side pull handles found on most modern Martin-Baker seats. I always hate painting those things.

To round out the trio of modern detail sets Airscale comes to the rescue when you need to add details in the cockpit that can not be handled simply by decals. For things like mirrors, pull handles, MFD frames etc you will be reaching for PE48 MOD - Jet Cockpit Upgrade Etch Brass Details Parts

As this set focuses on modern cockpits we see a lot MFD and glass screen frames. These are very welcome as these items are quite difficult to scratch-built in 1:48. A smaller quantity of analogue bezels are provided in a range of sizes. Modern aircraft have a limited range analogue backup instruments so you should need less of these. Finally, the invaluable rear view mirrors and ejection seat pull handles are also included.

The brass appears to be cleanly etched and provided you have proper cutters for working with PE should present no challenges in getting the smaller parts off the fret. As with all PE it's probably best to use thin CA to attach to the model. For very delicate parts (like the pull handles) I prefer to use a new rounded blade on a hard surface (like a ceramic tile) to cut the parts out. I find there is less chance of twisting or damaging such delicate parts.

Returning to my 48th scale F-14A build I needed to fashion some pull handles for the GRU-7A seats and realised that these were provided on the Airscale fret. These were very easy to apply with some super glue. My only comment is that the PE looks a bit flat because on the real thing is actually a circular chord. This is obvious in extreme closeup photo like this one but I'm betting not so noticeable to the naked eye once the seat is painted and installed in the cockpit.

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Airscale has picked up perfectly where Reheat left off and is doing a nice job of expanding their range. These sort of generic sets are great to have on hand in the spares drawer for use on any aircraft modelling project. You never know when the kit decals or plastic parts will leave you underwhelmed, begging to be replaced with something superior. Many thanks to Airscale for sending me these sets to review and as I said at the start you will certainly see them appearing in my future builds.

Gary Wickham

Thanks to airscale for sending Gary these Decals and PE details to use on his kits, expect to see more of them in future builds. You can get yours from Aircscale Distributors Worldwide.