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Black Box Cockpits

 

By Michael Benolkin

 

For the last several years, there has been very few truly outstanding sources for resin cockpits. One of these was Kendall Model Company (aka KMC). Last year, KMC decided to terminate its aftermarket resin sets to concentrate on its new line of multimedia airliner kits. For those of you who have panicked with KMC's termination of aftermarket products, fear not. One of the other sources for cool resin details has bought all of KMC's molds - Squadron! We'll be seeing the former KMC detail sets reissued under the True Details banner in the coming months.

In the meantime, the artist who developed the molds for KMC's cockpit detail sets didn't simply disappear. He spun off his own company, Black Box, specializing in aftermarket resin cockpits. I had heard about Black Box in passing, and have seen some of the reviews posted on the internet, but like you, I take a lot of this with a grain of salt. Then I saw the Black Box booth at the RCHTA Hobby Show in Chicago. Wow!

Black Box currently has six cockpits on the market at present, though a few of initial ones are rumored to be out of production. Nonetheless here they are:

32001 – F4U Corsair Cockpit. This set contains 32 beautifully cast resin parts which completely replace the interior of the Revell 1/32 F4U Corsair. And when I say completely, I mean that this set provides new cockpit sidewalls, floor pan (complete with optional downward window), and fore/aft cockpit bulkheads. Even the kit's glare shield is replaced with a resin shield that sports accurate detailing, and protects the replacement instrument panel and gunsight. The side consoles are very nicely populated with throttles, trim wheels, etc. The resin floor pan accurately represents the fact that there was in fact no floor in the cockpit. Instead, what is visible on the 'floor' is the inside of the fuselage structure. The instructions are nicely illustrated and provide clear painting instructions for all of the details, and also include a list of research references that will help you in your Corsair quest.

48001 – A-6E Intruder Cockpit. This is Black Box's first of many 1/48 scale offerings, this one targeted for Revell's great 1/48 Grumman A-6E Intruder kit. As with the F4U cockpit, this set completely replaces the kit's cockpit and provides significantly more detail to boot. The set includes 15 detail parts that include a new cockpit tub, aft deck, aft canopy structure, instrument panel, glare shield, canopy overhead panel, ejection seats (with seatbelt/harness details) and more. The side and center consoles in the cockpit tub, as well as the instrument panel, provide some beautifully cast details which represent a late model A-6 nicely. And of course, the set does include a control stick and throttle handles.

48002 – FA-18A/C Hornet Cockpit – For the Hasegawa 1/48 FA-18A or FA-18C Hornet kits, this set includes 22 parts, including a new cockpit tub, cockpit sidewalls, instrument panel, ejection seat (with seatbelt/harness details), stick and throttle, and aft avionics bay details. What is first class about this set – it includes two different instrument panels, so you can take any of the A- or C-model Hasegawa Hornets and build whichever version you'd like. Externally, the distinctive difference between an FA-18A and FA-18C are the antenna bulges on the FA-18C. Black Box has included the antennas in this set. The instruction sheet includes thorough information on how to build an accurate A or C model 'Bug'.

48003 – F-14A/B Tomcat Cockpit – For the Hasegawa 1/48 F-14A or F-14 B kits. This set includes 26 nicely cast detail parts, including a new cockpit tub, cockpit sidewalls, ejection seats (with seatbelt/harness details), stick and throttle, and integral glare shields/instrument panels. The RIO's radar console and radar controller console are also cast as separate parts. A really nice touch in this set that is overlooked in stock kits is the fabric coverings that are represented on the fore and aft glare shields. Note: While the F-14B received a new engine (the GE F110, also used in some F-16C/D), the cockpit remained the same as the F-14A. The cockpit for the F-14D is a bit different, and this set would have to be modified/updated to be accurately installed in Hasegawa's F-14D releases.

48004 – F-15C Eagle Cockpit – For the Hasegawa F-15C kit. This set includes 16 parts, including a new cockpit tub, instrument panel, ejection seat (with seatbelt/harness details), stick and throttle, and aft avionics bay details. As with the previous cockpits, painting instructions are provided for the cockpit as well as sources for further reference.

48005 – F-16C Fighting Falcon Cockpit – For the Hasegawa F-16C kit. This set includes 21 parts, including a new cockpit tub, cockpit sidewalls, instrument panel, ejection seat (with seatbelt/harness details), stick and throttle, and glare shield. This is the ONLY source (kit or aftermarket) for the wide field-of-view heads-up display (HUD) needed for the Block 40/42/50/52 F-16C. Not mentioned in the instructions is that this set can easily be backdated to an earlier F-16C by using the 'narrow' HUD. This cockpit can also be easily adapted to the mid-life update (MLU) F-16As as well. When I saw this assembled in Chicago, I was amazed at the detail.

On the horizon from Black Box – the F-100D Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo (version unknown), F-102A Delta Dagger, and F-104 Starfighter (for the upcoming Hasegawa kit). The quality of these detail sets is quite stunning, and yet the prices are a fraction of what you might expect from other aftermarket resin sources from Europe.

Black Box cockpits are available from Squadron and ORION Model Accessories. My sincere thanks to Black Box for these review samples!

 




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