FMS V7.5 P-51 BBD: The Cockpit!
My detailing, modifications, and pilot up-grade for the FMS P-51D "Big Beautiful Doll" Cockpit!
I like the concept FMS has devoted to the sliding canopy/cockpit design. The front of the cockpit itself is wide open therefor allowing a lot of air to enter. With the canopy no longer glued down, there should be enough clearance in the rear for adequate air ventilation thru out the cockpit. The dash panel is adequately detailed.
The pilot is the same guy used in the 1/7 scale 1700mm P-51 and just looks out of scale for the 1/8 scale 1400mm P-51, although he does have a better appearance compared to 'ole "Goofie"! Because the new cockpit requires a full figured pilot, and I had my 1/8 scale AOI WWII US pilot, I decided I would combine the two. The fit between the AOI pilot bust and the lower torso of the FMS oem pilot was almost a perfect fit. Glued together with some paint touch-up, it's hard to tell the dissemblance between the two. When he's seated in the cockpit, you can't even tell.
The canopy locks closed with a couple of ball & sockets located on both sides of the sliders. They making opening the canopy a bit difficult, so I am thinking of adding some sort of pull tabs to help aid in that task? I haven't come up with anything that might work, yet retain a scale appearance yet?
UP-DATE 3/19/2013: After repeatedly installing the cockpit on & off the fuse I started to notice a weakness in the forward section!
Because all previous FMS cockpits had the 1-piece canopy glued on, it worked as an additional support for the foam cockpit, with the new "slider" canopy that support is no longer there. I didn't notice it at first, but as time went by I started to notice the forward section of the cockpit was bowing in the area where the canopy met the windshield.
To remedy the situation before it got any worse, I decided to make a couple of 1/16" ply supports for each side. Glued on with GG it solved the problem and is much stronger now, no more bowing! I'm sure a couple of skewers embedded in each side would also work as well.
I came up with an idea for a pull tab to help in opening and closing the canopy. I cut a section off one of those hatch hinges to create a nice little pull tab. It works great!
The first thing required to do any modifications to the cockpit is figuring out how to remove the sliding canopy? Hopefully my trial & error method will help others determine which will work best for them!
There are stop tabs on both sides preventing the canopy from sliding off the back when open. Because of a severe case of "brain-fartism" I decided to cut the rails out of the cockpit, thus giving me the ability to simply slide the canopy off the front of the rails! That worked, but then I had to figure out how I was going to put everything back together? Now that I had all the parts spread out in front of me, that's when this great epiphany came over me....just cut one or the other set of tabs off! DUH!! I chose to remove the canopy tabs.
My original idea was to replace the cut-offs with some L shaped tabs glued to the remaining tab stub left from my initial dissection once everything was ready to be put back together. Then a second epiphany hit me (in the same day!) After inventorying my parts supply, I came up with the idea of making a tab that could be removable in the future if need be. What I came up with is some CF .156 box tubing with a 10mm hole in the middle. That in conjunction with some 10mm CF rod would make the perfect tab for what I had in mind. This configuration can work in either the cockpit slider, or the canopy slider, I chose the canopy side. Now if I should ever need to remove the canopy all I have to do is remove the two pins. With that snafu behind me, I sat out to re-glue the cockpit sliders back in place, and get started on the rest of the cockpit.
The first thing was to remove the pilot. He's not only glued in place, but he also has a couple of screws in his legs. Once I was able to dislodge him I found that the seat came out with him as well (there is also a screw thru the headrest and into the back of his head).
Once everything was removed from the cockpit, the next step was removing the black paint. To do so, I simply fired up the air compressor, and using my needle point air gun, I was able to blow all the paint off the cockpit and seat. Because I didn't want to go thru the effort of removing the dash paint (including the decal and the windshield), I made a template to cover the front half to prevent overspray. After a thorough rub down with acetone I was ready to paint the cockpit. I like to use the MM Interior green enamel on all of my WWII warbirds, so that's what I applied via my Paasche air brush regulated at 40psi.
My next step was to remove those foam batteries. I decided on this project that I would make my own out of some 1/2" balsa. Once I had all the rib detailing cut out with my table saw, I made 3 caps out of some 1/8" dowel rod. Once everything was sanded smooth, and then sealed, I applied a couple of coats of Krylon flat black, a few dabs of silver on the caps and they were done. I also made a floor pan out of 1/8" balsa, and then stained it with red mahogany.
Once everything was dried and ready to re-assemble, I slid the canopy back on, glued my new tab assembly in place, slid the pins in, and was ready for the new pilot to take the controls.
Once again I am using the AOI WWII 1/8 scale pilot with a lower torso I devised myself. For those seeking info on him, I have all my pilots and relative info posted on my "Squadron of Pilots" pg. To add a little ambiance to the cockpit environment, I've added a little dash panel reflective lighting to simulate night time sorties via red LEDs.
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