The cockpit is not really greatly visible once the kit is assembled but some aspects can be seen through the windows, so I didn’t want to leave this bare, but to make it as detailed as possible, without spending a huge amount of time on it. Unfortunately this second part didn’t work out as I ended up spending a disproportionate amount of time on it, without an end result which justified the time invested.
The first thing I did was to assemble according to the instructions. But one obvious part that is lacking are vertical partitions which are clearly visible just behind the windows. These parts are visible in this reference picture as the broad panels which I have marked.
This was replicated with two small pieces of plastic between the front and real cockpit parts. there was a gap between these parts anyway, so this acted as a filler as well.
In addition there was a large gap between the cockpit and the main body when I test fitted it, so I extended the cockpit’s front edge out slightly with some plastic and some car body filler (which is the pink parts).
I also opened up the hatch which goes down to the mid deck which can just be seen on the left in this particular picture (although I don’t think it will be seen once it’s assembled).
At this point I ran into a number of problems, some of my own making. Firstly I had a reaction between two different paint types. I had originally painted the entire cockpit with a Tamiya acrylic. I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour, which is shown on the right, and decided to go for a ghost grey. The only ghost grey I had was a Testors Modelmaster Acryl so I used that. The two reacted against each other a resulted in a lovely crinkly effect, so it was back to the drawing board for that. The cockpit was stripped with Mr Muscle oven cleaner and rubbed down with some fine sandpaper.
Secondly because I am now using the Real Space cargo section, which is far more detailed and accurate, I can’t use the back piece for the cockpit from the kit. This has resulted in a lot of fiddling around trying to work out the best way to fit the cockpit. It is finally shown in place in the picture, reprimed in white.
The control panels on Columbia had just been upgraded to the MEDS (Multifunction Electronic Display System) and the panels are reasonably visible from the outside. I decided to try and replicate them by printing them out and sticking them into place within the cockpit. The graphic to the right shows these panels. There are two main display panels. The one at the top is the original type and the one at the very bottom is the new MEDS display. Also scattered around are some flight manuals and as you can see from the picture at the top the cockpit is covered in blue squares. I believe these are velcro so things can be put down without floating away.
And here are the console graphics in place. The do an adequate job of showing the detail, although of course they aren’t 3-dimensional.
You can just about make out the MEDS display in this picture, and if you squint through the rear windows you can just see it.
The seats have also been reworked. The headrests were cut off and reattached on two plastic rods. A Milliput headrest was built up as was the back cushion (the orange part). The seatbelts are made from paper strip, but they don’t lay properly so I will probably redo them with the top off a wine bottle.