I did not fit the wheel wells because the standard wells are really quite good. Out of interest I will fit them to a razorback I have planned to see if they are ok and let you know how I got on at a latter date.
Once again you need to follow the cutting diagram on the instructions to remove the front of the fuselage. Do this before joining the two halves. Again the panel lines are a good guide as to where to cut. Cut inside the lines using a razor saw or scalpel and then trim to fit the engine bulkhead. Make sure you have the bulkhead aligned in a vertical position or your engine is going to stick out at a jaunty angle!!
This is where the fun starts! Be warned this is probably always going to be a compromise unless you are a very experienced resin modeller (which I am not).
The parts are beautifully moulded and detailed. The engine assembly is a little model in its own right. Its difficult to see where I can help you here because it would be better for you to work out your own order of assembly. I would say that a key part to this is getting the cylinder barrels cut off their pouring blocks dead square. If they don’t stick out from the crankcase perfectly spaced and at right angles to their mounting points then fitting the exhaust to the rear cylinders is impossible. That said, if you plan to fit the ring of cowling flaps as I did then you will never see those exhausts any way ;-). That cowling flap arrangement is a standard kit part. You will need to cut the middle out of it so it’s just a ring and not a ring with a solid disc centre.
I can’t emphasise enough the necessity of dry fitting, trimming, checking, aligning and most of all, planning at least 4-5-6 stages ahead so you don’t end up down a blind alley. The instructions show you how to assemble the sub assemblies but are not very clear about mounting these to the model. Some people I know would sail through this assembly, others would have an instant nervous break down. Only you know your capabilities but all I can say is I regard myself as an “average” modeller with no real expertise and I think I made a job of it although I am sure I could do better if I had another go!
The detail kit comes with all external engine/fuselage panels to cover your work but again these will probably be a sod to fit. I did try once on a Spitfire model I built and the panels were too small. They do however look good if painted up and left on the ground next to your model. I used the Hasagawa engine cover, which is one piece and scraped it out and gave it a “cutaway” look for display purposes.
If this is an aspect of modelling that you think might interest you ie: taking a standard kit a little further, then Aires do other detail kits. The in-line engine like the Merlin in their P-51 is an easier job than this and would probably be a better place to start. Build up to these big radials slowly maybe?
PAINTIING AND DECALS
I chose to base my model on “Hairless Joe” because I liked the camouflage pattern over and above the usual natural metal finish! I sprayed the pattern using Tamiya sprays AS-9 AS-10 AS-11 all standard RAF colours ie: Ocean Grey, light Grey and dark Green with the old Blue-Tak snakes method. The actual colours and pattern are open to debate I think but Nige kindly supplied some excellent colour photo’s and Colin Shipton-Knight who runs a brilliant service called “Decal bank” supplied the registration and “Hairless Joe” decals.
You can contact Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org for those decals you might need for your next project.