The Belcher Bits conversion set contains rather more parts than I needed since the CH-146 is adorned with various military paraphernalia. However the important parts for me were the enclosed transmission fairing, and of course the four bladed rotor.
The fuselage closed up without protest, although there is a lot of glazing to install and mask which took some time. That said, the fit of the glazing (and the kit in general) is excellent and very little filling and clean up was required.
At this stage a couple of other significant scratch modifications were required. Firstly, the tail fin had to be re-shaped to represent the "fast fin" on the 412 UPI demonstrator. This is an option on the 412 but I wanted to replicate the photo I was working to as best as possible. This modification was fortunately easy to do as it involves simply cutting out the shape from the existing fin followed by a fair amount of sanding and polishing. The next issue was that the EPI has the prominent (and slightly comedic) nose radar bump seen on many 412 models. This was achieved by cutting the nose section off a 500lb bomb I had in the spares draw, and fairing it in carefully with filler and a lot of sanding. Finally I built up the engine housing from the kit parts and installed it along with the resin transmission fairing from the conversion set. This needed a little shaving to fit squarely as there was a slight warp in it. The skids were added, and in order to replicate the 412EPI, I added some styrene sheet platforms to them.
I decided to paint and finish the fuselage before even starting the rotor assembly. After a coat of primer, the whole model got a coat of flat black. Next was a very time consuming masking process using thin strips of Tamiya tape to allow spraying the red banding. This banding has a white border, but this I decided, would be better done afterwards using decals strips. I mixed flat red with a little chrome silver to give it a bit of sparkle as in the real thing, and I was quite pleased with how this turned out.
The Italeri kit is excellent, and I recommend it to anyone. The conversion set it also very good, but not for the beginner or the faint hearted as it still demands a fair bit of scratch work. By the time I had finished, there were a large number of parts left in the kit and the conversion set which are simply not needed, since both kit and conversion are military focussed. But I am very pleased with the overall result. There is something very satisfying about scratch work in order to replicate a specific aircraft that no-one has done before (at least to my knowledge) and to my mind, this is what real modelling is all about.