Monday, September 3

Review: Barracuda Studios 48th scale Detail Sets for the Airfix Sea Fury

Always on the lookout for improvements to his 48th scale kits, we sent the latest Barracuda Resin bits to him so he can contrast and compare the latest 48th scale Sea Fury enhancements for you in an interesting review...

Review: Detail Sets for the Airfix Sea Fury
Barracuda Cast (48343, 48344, 48345, 48347)
Scale: 1:48th

Barracuda Studios is a small company dedicated to producing the "very highest quality aftermarket products" for plastic model kits. Now we all know that everyone says that, but Barracuda have demonstrated themselves as a manufacturer with "a dysfunctional commitment to accuracy" who is obsessed (in a good way) with high-quality standards and a to cap it all off, a pretty cool logo :) 

Barracuda Studios consists of three sub-brands: BarracudaCALS - decals in popular scales, BarracudaCAST - resin detail sets and BarracudaGraphs - books and monographs.
The focus of this quick review is a cluster of four detail sets that BarracudaCast has released recently to suit the newly tooled 1:48 Airfix Sea Fury FB.II kit (A06105).
The resin used is a blemish/bubble free cream colour with carefully thought out casting blocks and attachment points. The cockpit set includes a small decal sheet which contains instrument dials and the replacement metal landing gear is cast from Brass (by G-Factor) which will result in a much stronger part than softer white metal. 

A colour printout of the assembly instructions is provided with each set but I would recommend you make your way to the Barracuda website and download the hi-resolution PDF versions instead. A download link can be found on the page for each set (via the links I have provided above). 

To make photography a little easier I sprayed a coat of Alclad grey primer on the parts. It's worth noting that Barracuda specifically advise they use no mould release agents so washing the resin parts before paint is not necessary.

BarracudaCast 1:48 Hawker Sea Fury Complete Cockpit Set (BR48347)
This complete resin cockpit set replaces the Airfix kit interior. It corrects the much too narrow side consoles in the kit cockpit, and supplies you with the missing gunsight and compass, as well as their mounting brackets. The cockpit features a resin instrument panel complete with dial decals and stencils, as well as console decals, consisting of small dials and stencils.
The cockpit set also includes 2 seats (one with moulded in harness and one with moulded in lap belts only), canopy rails, flare pistol, detailed stick and throttle quadrant, head armor with two styles of headrest and accurate upper side walls. [source:]
The assembly instructions are provided in full colour with many photos which are welcome as they help to clarify what needs to go where. 
 Aside from a very small amount of shaving to the kit cockpit sill, the resin set is literally a drop in replacement for the kit parts.
I'm a firm believer that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so with that in mind I'll step back and let you take a close look at the parts in the cockpit set. 
The cockpit side walls, in particular, are a noticeable upgrade over the Airfix kit parts, which pretty much only consist of the ribbing. With some careful hand painting, this detail will make the cockpit "pop".
A quick side by side comparison with the corresponding kit parts (on the left-hand side of the pictures below) really shows where your money is going. Each and every part is a substantial upgrade over the plastic parts in both accuracy and detail.
Of course, detail is one thing but how does it fit? A quick assembly and test fit to the Airfix fuselage revealed a perfect drop-in, as advertised. I particularly liked that there was no need to sand or trim the plastic sidewalls to get the resin to fit. This will make using this cockpit set so much more enjoyable and ultimately satisfying.
When it came time to close up the fuselage the resin parts nestled into place with a reassuring click. The Barracuda parts fitted correctly into the Airfix provided locating guides on the fuselage interior, almost as if they'd been made to measure :)

BarracudaCast 1:48 Sea Fury Brass Landing Gear - Early Style (BR48345)
This set is manufactured from high quality, investment cast brass, consisting of main gear legs, retraction struts and tailwheel leg and fork. A small resin sprue contains a tailwheel and separate uplock stirrups too small and fine to cast in brass. 
The brass gear is highly detailed and accurate and represent a real upgrade in detail, as well as being super strong. Unlike white metal gear, you would need pliers to bend these castings, so they won't be deforming slowly over time. [source:]
The Barracuda brass parts are designed to provide direct drop-in replacements for the kit plastic parts. Be sure to use suitable cutters to remove the casting stubs (ie don't use your delicate Tamiya sprue cutters on these parts). 
The resin tail wheel and retract stirrups will need to be removed from the pour block as normal. Here are the parts as they come from Barracuda.
I applied a coat of primer to the brass parts to be able to better compare them to the Airfix kit parts. It becomes apparent that considerable detailing was added to the master before brass casting commenced.

The light grey parts are from the kit, the sprayed dark grey parts are the Barracuda parts

BarracudaCast 1:48 Sea Fury Mainwheels - Diamond Tread (BR48343)
BarracudaCast 1:48 Sea Fury Mainwheels - Block Tread (BR48344)
Each set consists of a pair of Sea Fury mainwheels with either diamond (48343) or staggered block (48344) tread. The diamond tread was a very common tread pattern for earlier Sea Furies, and could be found on Sea Furies throughout its service life. The staggered block style was seen very commonly on Sea Furies during the Korean conflict and serving with foreign air forces. 
The hubs on both sets are beautifully detailed and the tires are complete with fine beading and readable tire data. Separate centre hub nuts are supplied in 2 types, with and without uplocks. The tires are the correct smaller diameter. These wheels are for Sea Furies only. Tempest and Firefly wheels are larger, and also available from Barracuda. A real detail upgrade for the Airfix kit but can also be fitted to the 1/48th Sea Furies from Falcon, AMG, Hobbycraft and Trumpeter. [source:]
Unlike Airfix, Barracuda has not forgotten the outer side of the hub. Sadly, most of this detail will be hidden by the gear door but it certainly speaks to the designer's attention to detail.
A final comparison of the resin and kit plastic parts. Of note are the more details hubs, the clearly readable tire data (Dunlop) and the much sharper tread pattern. As an added bonus you won't even need to deal with the join seam on those plastic parts.

FINAL THOUGHTS BarracudaCast 1:48 Airfix Sea Fury Detail Sets (48343, 48344, 48345, 48347)
I think it's obvious from the photos that the detail of the Barracuda parts are superior in every way to the kit plastic parts. The use of smart design of the resin parts makes removing and working with them super simple and to top it all off when you finally offer them up the kit they fit like a glove. I think that no-one would argue these sets are top shelf and offer great value for money. Highly recommended. 

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Barracuda Studios for supplying the review parts