Over the years I've had a fair bit of criticism about using non-Lego plastic for the cockpit canopies on many of my aircraft. I was never completely happy with that solution myself, but for a long time it seemed to be the least bad of the various alternatives.
Many of the helicopters I've built in the last two or three years had brick-built cockpit windows or canopies as do all of the WW-II aircraft that I've built. A few months ago I decided that it was time for me to try it on a modern fighter, and I rebuilt the canopy on my Su-27 Flanker
Su-27 Flanker revamped (1) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
The new canopy was built using trans clear bricks, plates and cheese slopes, as well as a worryingly large number of rarer parts such as trans clear tiles and jumper plates. It was a fairly extensive rebuild, because I couldn't just limit myself to replacing the existing canopy; I also had to make changes to the cockpit interior and the construction of the canopy frame. It was worth the effort though, because all in all I was very happy with the end result. Even though the new canopy is a bit clunkier than the original, the overall look is much more attractive IMO.
After this it was clear to me that I was going to have to do something similar to my other aircraft too. The next two on my list were my F-14A Tomcat and my F/A-18C Hornet.
I rebuilt their canopies last weekend.
Fighters of CVW-8 (1) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
Fighters of CVW-8 (2) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
The fourth aircraft to get the treatment is the pride of my fleet: my B-1B Lancer. I;ve had that for almost four years and its canopy was begiining to look a bit tatty, with bits of tape peeling off. I couldn't have that.
34th BS 'Thunderbirds' B-1B Lancer by Mad physicist, on Flickr
Here is a close-up of the cockpit section.
B-1B cockpit details (1) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
Liking the result, I've gone on to rebuild the canopies on my F-16 and F-15 as well. Replacing the canopy on the F-16 was tricky. One thing I didn't want to give up on with the rebuild was the canopy being able to open. Unfortunately, on the F-16 as it opens, the aft end of the canopy hinges over the top of the aft bit. Getting this to work meant rebuilding much of the structure of the cockpit. While I was at it, I also rebuilt the wings -giving them a more accurate sweepback angle- and because they didn't look right with the new wings, I also rebuilt the leading edge root extensions and made a few other changes. All in all I think I rebuilt about 40% of the model.
389th FS 'Thunderbolts' F-16C (3) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
Compared to the surgery done on the F-16, changes made to the F-15 for its new canopy were slight.
390th FS 'Wild Boars' F-15C Eagle (2) by Mad physicist, on Flickr
It's expensive, because of the rare parts involved, and can be difficult, but I am happy with the results so far. I'm pretty sure I'll give some more of my planes this treatment, posting them here when they're done.
Edited by Rufus, 02 January 2012 - 10:16 PM.