As the after-market accessory industry has progressed from strength-to-strength over the last few years, the quality of the products has dramatically improved. The demand from modellers for high-detail items, especially in 1/48 scale, has seen this part of the hobby explode with choice. Whilst most manufacturers provide excellent results, the future benchmark for highest standard possible in this area, however, has finally been achieved by the Australian company Cavalier Model Productions in their recent series of 1/48th scale World War II aircraft engine details sets, the latest example of which is the Bf109 DB601 engine detail kit.
The kit comes in 62 finely sculpted pieces, all of which are injection-moulded resin, and is specifically designed to use on Hasegawa 1/48th Me109 F2, F4, F4 Tropical and G2 kits only (so it does cater for a small audience). It is a kit unto itself, covering every component inside the engine case you require, and then some! If your a scratch-building super-detailer by nature, you will not enjoy this product as your skills will be rendered near-useless, the kit is complete, accurate and the detail exquisite (right down to raised serial numbers on the engine block!).
The instructions (which are simple, yet precise and easy to follow) do warn, however, that you will have to sand the front of the engine down by 2mm to get the engine down to correct size and snugly into your Bf109's engine bay, as test fits using my spare Bf109-F2 1/48th kit confirm. Apart from this, the fit of parts is nice. Unfortunately, there is some surrounding flash (although not nearly as much as other brands I have seen), and some careful clean-up of this and the odd seam-line is still required.
All components come in secured zip-lock bags, wrapped in a protective layer of bubble-wrap packing. Everything you need from engine block, cowlings, ammo box/gun deck, gun cover, engine barers, glycol tanks, ignition magneto, firewall, supercharger, MG 17's and even engine wiring (all you could ever need in flexible circular resin strips - throw away that brass wire!) are included in painfully accurate precision, as well as some extra interior detail (specifically a resin instrument panel). The exhausts come as individual pieces, which is a lovely touch, and the engine wires come on a backing strip of soft flexible resin from which the more delicate components can be gently lifted off with a scalpel when ready to use, with no clean-up required AT ALL for these bits as a result. This particular aspect is, in my experience, unique to Cavalier Productions, and makes it easier to store the more fragile parts until required without fear of damage. All of the above compared well to my photo-references of DB 601's, and appears to be very well researched.
The most surprising factor I found is that for the superior quality you get, it only cost me $27 Australian (that's around $16 US on the current conversion rate as of this writing), which is fantastic value for money considering what you get. Unfortunately, Cavalier is still a small company and (to my knowledge) has limited production runs and range of markets, so interested readers outside Australia may not be able to benefit from this brilliance and innovation.
This factor is most fortunate for other super-detailed after-market part manufacturers, as whilst their goods are of mid to high quality, these engine kits from Cavalier are superb, whilst at the same time being very cost-effective, and quite frankly have to be seen to be believed. For someone like me who loves mega-detailed plane models, but hates the work and money involved, that is a situation almost too good to be true.
In an environment where the cost of other companies after-market detail sets are only going up and up (almost to the point of pricing themselves out of business), Cavalier could be the sleeping giant, ready to awaken in this genre if it's field of trade expands in the future. If they eventually do so, their opposition might get a very rude shock. These particular engine sets (which, in the series, includes other popular Luffwaffe 1/48th scale power plants) are, in this writers humble opinion, second to none, and, if you happen to find them, come with the highest possible recommendation.
If you want to contact Cavalier about their range of products, you can write to the below address: Cavalier Model Productions PO BOX 273 Ingleburn NSW Australia 2565