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Eduard 1/48 scale Z-526AFS Akrobat Weekend Edition plastic model kit review

This plastic model aircraft comes with Eduard’s new decal system
Kit:84185 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$34.95
Good fit; four marking options; sharp detail
Decals difficult to apply
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 124 parts; decals
The Z-526AFS Akrobat is a single-seat sport aircraft derived from the C5/Z-26 trainer introduced in 1949. The Z-526AFS came along in 1972 featuring shorter wings. The Eduard 1/48 scale plastic model kit is a Weekend Edition without photo-etched metal parts or masks. However, by no means is this to be considered a basic aircraft kit. There are 124 gray and clear plastic parts (15 unused) and decals for four different airplanes. The instruction booklet devotes the first of its 12 pages to the aircraft’s evolution. The instructions are clear and accurate, with the last four colored pages showing decal placement.

As usual with plastic model airplanes, construction starts with a well-detailed cockpit. The parts click into place for a straightforward assembly. Watch for the clear-sight windows (parts K4) that mount on the floor. Don’t paint them! They allow the pilot to see through a clear panel in the lower fuselage. The kit supplies decal seat belts that look good in the cramped cockpit. The fuselage buttoned up with no issues.

Turning to the wings, install the wheel boxes first. The two-piece wings have a positive locating system to establish the correct alignment, top to bottom. The flaps are posable, but I recommend only test-fitting them at this point to check clearance. They basically snap into place and can be installed last.

Mounting the wings to the fuselage is a little tricky. Even though there is a spar to set the dihedral, the contact area of the root and the fuselage is minimal, making a neat glue seam difficult.

Test-fit the multipart cowl to the fuselage as the glue dries to get the right shape and fit. I left off the posable rudder and horizontal stabilizer until the end of the build. The landing gear snapped into place with perfect alignment. And because the tailwheel mounts from outside, it can also be installed at the end of the build to avoid accidentally snapping it off.

The windscreen fit and alignment to the canopy is the only fit issue I ran into. The windscreen has tabs that secure it to the outside of the fuselage, but they shouldn’t be there. You might consider filing them off and filling the offending slots in the fuselage. I tried to build mine with the canopy closed, but it wouldn’t sit flush with the windscreen. I went with the open position, but the canopy was a little too narrow at the fuselage spine. A little judicious sanding on the fuselage before painting would cure this. You’ve been warned.

This kit has Eduard’s new decal system, digitally printed with the carrier on top. The plus side is that, since the colors are not layered, everything is in register. On the downside, they are thin and highly prone to folding. Also, no matter how much water I used, the decals grabbed the model and didn’t want to move. I’ll try a little dish soap in the water to release the surface tension next time. Some builders peel the carrier off the prints after they dry. I tried this and lifted the print, so this build has the carrier on. Under the final clear coat, the carrier disappeared.

I spent 70 hours on this build, mainly due to the paint layout and decal work. The Eduard 1/48 scale Z-526AFS Akrobat Weekend Edition is an excellent kit, but it requires an experienced builder, primarily due to the decals.
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