The cockpit tub now fits easily inside the two forward fuselage hlaves, and I also attached the radome at this stage. More out of habit than anything, I filled the radome with a good slug of lead shot, because even though this plane was to be without its undercarriage, it still helps to keep things nicely balanced. The radome needed a little bracing to match the shape of the fuselage section perfectly.
The wings fit well onto the fuselage via strong pinions into the swing cogs, and the wing gloves the cover the mechanism go on in two halves, top and bottom. Engineering wise, this works very well but getting a flush fit does take a bit of doing. Once done, I took the opportunity to lock the wings in forward position by placing them correctly then squirting cement into the mechanism via a precision glue pot. Once left to dry, the wings were rock solid, as required. The tail fin goes on very nicely with no problems, just a smidgen of filler down the seams which was probably not necessary, but I played safe. The tail planes are a little trickier. They are attached by a single, relatively flimsy, rod and they do not line up with the fuselage side particularly well. References showed that this is the case in real life as well, so I carefully glued them fore and aft where they touched the fuselage.
This model has a really nice, delicate, panel and rivet pattern on the body which is very accurate both in terms of the actual panels but also in their depth. However this can be a problem for modellers who, like me, like to use a wash to bring them out after painting in the sense that the various layers of primer, paint and varnish required can rapidly block these out. However, after all my seam work the surface was multi textured and definitely needed priming to give a consistent surface. So I carefully sprayed the whole plane with Tamiya Fine Grey Primer, but only lightly, just enough to hide the sanding and filling efforts.
Whilst this was curing, I constructed and painted the ordnance. The customer had provided me with the Eduard Brassin set for the rocket pods, predominantly because Trumpeter have failed to provide more than two of the sub pylons that are pretty much always used on this plane. So I made up the pods and also four KAB bombs, painting the former with Alclad aluminium and steel.
Once decaling was finished, and after a further coat of Klear to seal them in, I smothered the whole plane in dirty black thinned oil paint, and proceeded to clean it off. End result, as with any wash, is that all the panel detail and other nooks and crannies get black paint left in them which brings out the detail and generally makes the plane look like it has actually been used! This was a far more painful process than usual due to the size of the plane and also the amount of surface detail involved. However it was worth it, she came up looking a stunner!
So in summary, this is a fantastic kit from Trumpeter (if a little pricey), it has a few awkward areas but it is generally accurate (with one or two exceptions but nothing to fret over) and is seriously impressive once built. I would love to do a full "everything hanging out" version at some time in the future but it is a lot of work, so that may have to wait for another day....