Early praise, the windscreen is molded as a single piece of the canopy and fuselage, engineered to fit along a natural panel line eliminating the trouble of gaps between the clear part and the fuselage. Armored glass to fit inside the windscreen is easily mounted into the inside of this forward part.
The landing gear is provided in both styrene and in white metal. Photo-etched parts for the cockpit and jet engine starters. Vinyl tires. Way to go, Trumpeter!
STEP 1-3, The Cockpit
You will be starting with the seat, rudder petals, instrument panel and consoles, all that are set into the ME-262’s cockpit tub, which is affixed to detailed bulkheads fore and aft. Everything assembles without much fuss. The seat is provided with photo-etched seatbelts and you are immediately presented with some of the kit’s questionable painting references. Every color and b/w photo I’ve found of the seat shows the backrest a leather (dark) color, not tan as the shown; everything I have read about the -262 indicates that Luftwaffe directives on colors and markings in the cockpit seem to have been taken as suggestions. Overall, the crew area is RLM 66, a dark gray that seems similar to the Panzer Grau of the Heers. This includes the instrument panel, though I found a restored one in which the flight instruments bezels are black. As a struggling rivet counter I don’t want to say ‘do what looks good to you’, but the Schwalbe proves ‘there is a prototype for anything’. There are some mold holes on the seat frame and elsewhere, but none can be seen after assembly.
Six small levers and knobs are provided for throttles and other controls. The instrument panel is a clear plastic-film-styrene sandwich. I put it together and behold, the beautiful instrument dial film is hardly seen due to the thickness of the clear facing. I separated it, sanded it thin, and reassembled. There is no painting guide for what color the bezels should be, yet again color and b/w photos of real and museum planes show a variety of markings. Most show the engine gauges to have markings along the edge of the bezels.
The gun sight--if you put it on now, you run the risk of breaking it off later. It was the fifth-last item I attached--after the windscreen! It has two small reflector lenses to attach, very easy considering small clear parts. Photos show a power cord dangling out from it, routed under the main panel, the only extra detail I have added.
Finally, the cockpit tub’s exterior was unpainted. Makes a nice contrast inside the otherwise RLM 02 fuselage interior. Or not; please see step 22-24, Fuselage Interior and Assembly for another interior color idea! Speaking of the interior, the -262 was rather airy inside, and for those of you inclined, there is plenty of room for you to string bundles of straw-colored wiring throughout this machine.
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