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Mike

Northrop YF-23 - 1:48 Hobby Boss

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Northrop YF-23
1:48 Hobby Boss


boxtop.jpg


The YF-23 lost out to the YF-22 in the competition for a replacement tactical fighter for the US Air Force, the latter becoming the F-22 Raptor, the former becoming museum exhibits after a brief revival when a plan to convert it to a bomber faded away. Concerned by the development of advanced fighter in the Soviet Union in the late 70s, the US Government ordered proposals from the major aviation companies and then evaluation prototypes from the two leading contenders. The YF-23 was the more unconventional of the two, having better stealth characteristics and higher top speed, but it was less manoeuvrable than the eventual winning Raptor. Dubbed the Black Widow II after Northrop's famous night fighter, the two aircraft went through exhaustive testing before the final decision was reached and the F-22 was crowned as winner, based (on the face of it) on superior agility.

The two prototypes went into storage until the mid 90s when they were both transferred to museums where they remain today.

The Kit
Personally, I didn't expect to ever see a mainstream injection moulded kit of this unusual looking aircraft in 1:48, so it was quite a surprise when it was announced. The kit arrives in a large flat top-opening box with a rather nice painting of the aircraft on the top, and inside comes the first surprise. The YF-23 is a BIG aircraft. There are two fuselage halves, three sprues of mid-grey styrene, one sprue of clear parts, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with coloured painting guide slipped inside. Packaging is good, protecting the large fuselage halves and clear parts from damage, with everything in separate bags, and some parts wrapped in expanded foam sheet. Take care when upwrapping the canopy parts, as I think I might have nicked mine with a sharp blade. Oops!

fuselage1.jpg

fuselage2.jpg

sprue1.jpg

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The part count isn't the highest, which is partly due to the fact that the weapons bays aren't included, with their opening doors moulded into the fuselage. As the aircraft was never used to fire test munitions that's not really an issue, and it would spoil the sleek lines of the aircraft if everything was hanging out anyway in my opinion. The cockpit is the main focus of detail, and is made up from a tub with a chunky seat with moulded in simplified seatbelts. I'd suggest a replacement for this, as it just doesn't quite look right somehow. The MFD equipped instrument panel is from an F-15E, and well detailed, including a decal for a switched on aircraft, and you get control column, separate rudder pedals and some black-boxes behind the seat to busy up the area. Flipping the cockpit tub over reveals the roof of the nose gear bay, which is completed by adding the sidewalls, plus front and rear bulkheads, with the gear leg dropped in to sit in a socket and cradle for the retractor leg. There are a couple of sink marks under the retractor jack, but if you think it will be seen, a small quantity of filler shouldn't be too tricky to apply. The main gear bays are built up from panels that fix to the stepped roof, and detail here is good. The main gear legs from an F-18 are well presented, and the wheels are moulded in halves with a very fine tread on the contact surface. The bays and cockpit/bay combination are then glued into the underside of the fuselage, and are joined by a pair of intake trunks that mate with the lips moulded into the fuselage. They split horizontally and have no engine detail on the closed rear, which is unusual for HB, but perhaps they feel they won't be seen due to their winding path. A pair of boxes build up to make blanking sections for the exhausts in the upper fuselage, and these do have a simplified rear engine face moulded onto the front face, but it's a bit weak.

At this point the fuselage can be joined top to bottom, and a nose weight of 20g is suggested, for which there is plenty of space. The bay doors are all added to the gear bays, with separate hinge parts for the main bays, and a pleasingly low bay door count of three you've got to love stealth technology for that! The diamond shaped wings consist of two halves for each side, and their tabs fit into long slots on the sides of the fuselage, with no movable flying surfaces. The distinctive V-tails also build up from two halves, and attach to holes in the rear fuselage on substantial pegs with the correct angle built in. The two exhaust flaps glue to the top of the exhaust openings, and this whole area is painted burned metal to depict the heat ablative tiles that were applied in the same manner as the B-2 Spirit to reduce the infrared signature of the engines. The final act involves attaching the windscreen and separate canopy, which doesn't seem to include an option to pose it open.

clear.jpg


Markings
There were two prototypes, but decals are only provided for the two-tone machine that became known as "Grey Ghost" with tail codes FF AF 12203, however a set of four colourful shields are also included, which seems to offer other markings options that aren't alluded to in the instructions. The majority of the sheet is covered with No Step markings, plus four loviz stars and bars, in-flight refuelling markings, and two tail codes, although four are shown on the instructions, leaving one to wonder if they were paying attention during the decal design process.


decals.jpg


The decals are in good register, sharpness and colour density, and apart from the above-mentioned codes that have a depressingly large square carrier film, they should go on well. The shields have scrolls beneath them, the text on which has been converted to gibberish resembling Hebrew, but while I've been writing this section I've been struggling to find the YF-23 wearing dark grey codes and national markings. I'm either not trying hard enough, or they were actually white. If that's the case, you might want to wait for some corrective aftermarket decals.

Conclusion
What an unusual kit! The fuselage parts are very impressive, both from a size point of view and from the rendering of the weird shapes on the upper surfaces. I've checked them by eye against photographs, and my initial impression is that they bear a good resemblance in terms of shape. The cockpit is a mixture of nice detail, an iffy seat and instrument decal for an aircraft ready to go, with no option for one switched off and parked. The decal sheet appears to be either a rush-job, or based upon pictures rarely seen on the 'net, but of course I am quite happy to be corrected by someone with more information.

It should be a quick build, and as Hobby Boss kits usually go together well, you shouldn't have much in the way of issues with construction. I would have liked to see more detail in the exhaust/intake fan areas, and maybe some moving flying surfaces, but those are relatively minor gripes. The sci-fi looks of the YF-23 with its low side profile, wide set exhausts and twin tail fins at a low angle go together to make an impressive looking model, which at 44cm long in 1:48 should get plenty of attention either in the cabinet or at shows. The What-if potential is also there, and despite what you may think, the grey colour scheme can be made to look rather grubby, as evidenced by some of the pictures of the machine in flight.

Recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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Nice one, I always liked the look of this one over the raptor.

Loads of room for the whiffers!

Julien

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Sure is - did I mention that it's BIG too? :shocked:

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It certainly is a nice kit and great to have one in this scale. It shouldn't take much to pose the canopy open with an actuator from the spares bin.

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Oh sure, and I think there might be some pics knocking about from the restoration of one of the airframes somewhere on the 'net. :)

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Great review Mike!

I have always prefered this one over the Raptor, it just looks right.

So, if two were built and both are now in museums, what crashed at Boscombe Down in (IIRC) 26/09/1994 on takeoff? :hmmm::wicked:

The truth is out there!

I do not do 'grey' jets as I find them too similar and dull, but this one I might just have to go and get! :whistle:

Happy modelling,

Christian the Married and exiled to africa

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Markings

There were two prototypes, but decals are only provided for the two-tone machine that became known as "Grey Ghost" with tail codes FF AF 12203, however a set of four colourful shields are also included, which seems to offer other markings options that aren't alluded to in the instructions. The majority of the sheet is covered with No Step markings, plus four loviz stars and bars, in-flight refuelling markings, and two tail codes, although four are shown on the instructions, leaving one to wonder if they were paying attention during the decal design process.

decals.jpg

The decals are in good register, sharpness and colour density, and apart from the above-mentioned codes that have a depressingly large square carrier film, they should go on well. The shields have scrolls beneath them, the text on which has been converted to gibberish resembling Hebrew, but while I've been writing this section I've been struggling to find the YF-23 wearing dark grey codes and national markings. I'm either not trying hard enough, or they were actually white. If that's the case, you might want to wait for some corrective aftermarket decals.

As far as reality goes the decals are pure nonsense. The two real YF-23's were 87-800 and 87-801. HB have created some fictional in service markings for a FY 2012 aircraft of the 1st FW at Langley VA....and slapped them on the original test scheme so that it's still carrying the full colour TAC badge and AF Systems Command Shield, rather than the 1st FW Wing and associated Squadron shields. The stars and bars are misproportioned as well.

If anyone wants to do some realistic fiction then bin the HB sheet and get hold of some current F-22 markings. Personally I'm gonna wait, I might buy one but only if someone does decals for the actual prototypes.

Edited by Gary C

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Looks like I was right about the decals at least... thanks for the confirmation. I'll be on the list for "Gray Ghost" markings too :)

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Anyone fancy raspberry ripple?

Or, How about modern day Luftwaffe? But Ta152 style?

JASDF?

The list is endless.

I may have to succumb myself!

Pete

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Aftermarket decals are/will be available from Caracal models. This is a limited run! I thought that this was mentioned here on BM as well, but I could not find it.

http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=268862

Pete,

Thanks, eventually I will have to get two kits. The raspberry ripple, why didn't I think of that??

Edited by Av8fan

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Looks like Caracal Decals are going to be getting some more of my money.

If they do some What-Ifs on a second sheet 'Part 2' then they'll get even more....

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Reminds me an awful lot of the DML YF-23 which I was a very proud owner of when it first came out. Very disappointing to bring home a 27 dollar model and discover that the weapons bays were closed up.

Testors did better but only in the Diecast sense of near press to fit weapons bay details on an otherwise crude kit. On a model characterized by stealth concerns, you _cannot_ get the weapons bay wrong or ignore it altogether. Anymore than you can 'whoops!' leave off the GAU-8 from an A-10.

Unfortunately, if you've been keeping up with the release of EMD drawings over the years, it looks like this kit is going to be a long ways from an EMD F-23A at about the same level of jack-up-box-insert-new-kit level of rebuild as say the Testors 32nd YF-22 was from today's F-22A Raptor.

Someone in the AM field might be able to kludge it but only by essentially cutting off and replacing the front fuselage from well behind the wingroot LEs, substituting new inlets more like those on the B-2 (with a fixed centerbody shock cone like that of the F-35) and essentially ignoring the rather substantial but subtler changes in the back of the jet.

All of which is a terrible shame because there are now photos and drawings (at YF-23.net) which show both the frame sectionals for shape and the details of the three different weapons bay configurations proposed.

As a baseline:

1. There needs to be a recontoured chine with flattened sides, level with the fuselage as a function of a lengthened forebody (roughly 3ft) to allow a tandem bay ahead of the main one.

2. There needs to be a recontoured, lowered, spine with a much smoother curveature as slope.

3. There needs to be a much smoother transition from cockpit to nose radome.

4. There needs to be a rather large, chisel, IRST package under the nose, not altogether unlike the navflir fairing you would see on a GR.4 Tonka.

5. There needs to be either a complete, depressible, pallet with X3 AIM-120 and provisions for AIM-9M on one of two types of weapons doors (PAV-1 or 2). Or there needs to be an extended weapons bay to clear the AIM-9s out from under the AIM-120s (USAF does not like to stack ordnance in case one group/door fails). Or/and there needs to be a stacked'n'racked setup not unlike a chain drive garage door with the missiles riding in clamps chucked inbetween and tandem staggered to clear each other's fins.

As someone once said, looking up into PAV-2: "Crikey, it's a Lanc up in there!" if you can imagine the idea of nine stacked AIM-120C with two AIM-9M/X ahead of them, under the cockpit, you have an idea of the volume that lay behind those bay doors. And it's all for nothing because this 48th scale kit has closed them when, for instance, Collectair at least tried.

6. IMO, given the otherwise generalist lack of detail in the control surfaces or any other external/internal detail, there really needs to be either F119s for the Black Widow or F120s for the Grey Ghost on an engine cart.

Unfortunately, for a parts count that may actually be less than that of a Monogram F-15C (around 18-21 dollars), we have a jet which assembles with less detail than a 72nd scale Testors kit from almost 25 years ago. And costs nearly double that of a Hasegawa F-22A (33 dollars) without the convenience of a monolithic top and bottom fuselage pancake.

I do not look forward to blending those rootjoins across panel lines and leveling the wing panels.

Not good. Not good at all.

The YF-23 is my favorite jet. I was truly hoping for more here.

Add http:

EMD Side Elevation, YF-23.net

//www.yf-23.net/Pics/F-23A/F-23A%20EMD%20Internal%201023.jpg

Weapons Bay Photo, PAV-2, YF-23.net

//www.yf-23.net/Pics/Walkaround/Weapons%20Bay/PAV2%20weapons%20bay%20fwd%201%20623.jpg

AIM-120C Stack, YF-23.net

//www.yf-23.net/Pics/F-23A/F-23A%20AIM-120C%20config.jpg

Here's hoping one or more of you will build this thing and tell me how wonderful it is. After the 111s, I hesitate to trust HB.

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My poor suffering wallet! Javelin, MiG-25, F-101A/C Voodoo, and now the YF-23. Then there is the announced Banshee, the Tarangus Viggen--OUCH! Gotta find a place where I can sell my blood.

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Reminds me an awful lot of the DML YF-23 which I was a very proud owner of when it first came out. Very disappointing to bring home a 27 dollar model and discover that the weapons bays were closed up.

Testors did better but only in the Diecast sense of near press to fit weapons bay details on an otherwise crude kit. On a model characterized by stealth concerns, you _cannot_ get the weapons bay wrong or ignore it altogether. Anymore than you can 'whoops!' leave off the GAU-8 from an A-10.

Unfortunately, if you've been keeping up with the release of EMD drawings over the years, it looks like this kit is going to be a long ways from an EMD F-23A at about the same level of jack-up-box-insert-new-kit level of rebuild as say the Testors 32nd YF-22 was from today's F-22A Raptor.

Someone in the AM field might be able to kludge it but only by essentially cutting off and replacing the front fuselage from well behind the wingroot LEs, substituting new inlets more like those on the B-2 (with a fixed centerbody shock cone like that of the F-35) and essentially ignoring the rather substantial but subtler changes in the back of the jet.

All of which is a terrible shame because there are now photos and drawings (at YF-23.net) which show both the frame sectionals for shape and the details of the three different weapons bay configurations proposed.

As a baseline:

1. There needs to be a recontoured chine with flattened sides, level with the fuselage as a function of a lengthened forebody (roughly 3ft) to allow a tandem bay ahead of the main one.

2. There needs to be a recontoured, lowered, spine with a much smoother curveature as slope.

3. There needs to be a much smoother transition from cockpit to nose radome.

4. There needs to be a rather large, chisel, IRST package under the nose, not altogether unlike the navflir fairing you would see on a GR.4 Tonka.

5. There needs to be either a complete, depressible, pallet with X3 AIM-120 and provisions for AIM-9M on one of two types of weapons doors (PAV-1 or 2). Or there needs to be an extended weapons bay to clear the AIM-9s out from under the AIM-120s (USAF does not like to stack ordnance in case one group/door fails). Or/and there needs to be a stacked'n'racked setup not unlike a chain drive garage door with the missiles riding in clamps chucked inbetween and tandem staggered to clear each other's fins.

As someone once said, looking up into PAV-2: "Crikey, it's a Lanc up in there!" if you can imagine the idea of nine stacked AIM-120C with two AIM-9M/X ahead of them, under the cockpit, you have an idea of the volume that lay behind those bay doors. And it's all for nothing because this 48th scale kit has closed them when, for instance, Collectair at least tried.

6. IMO, given the otherwise generalist lack of detail in the control surfaces or any other external/internal detail, there really needs to be either F119s for the Black Widow or F120s for the Grey Ghost on an engine cart.

Unfortunately, for a parts count that may actually be less than that of a Monogram F-15C (around 18-21 dollars), we have a jet which assembles with less detail than a 72nd scale Testors kit from almost 25 years ago. And costs nearly double that of a Hasegawa F-22A (33 dollars) without the convenience of a monolithic top and bottom fuselage pancake.

I do not look forward to blending those rootjoins across panel lines and leveling the wing panels.

Not good. Not good at all.

The YF-23 is my favorite jet. I was truly hoping for more here

I agree with your disappointment regarding the lack of detail and a weapons bay but I don't understand why you were expecting something closer to the proposed F-23A - the kit represents YF-23 PAV-2. To build an F-23A from a YF-23 would require as much alteration as would be required in building an F-22A from a YF-22.

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Blacktjet,

What it comes down to is value for money.

The Hobby Boss longspan F-111 has 541 parts. I can find it for anywhere from 55-80 bucks online.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/230763726927?lpid=82

http://www.scalehobbyist.com/catagories/Model_Aircraft/HBB00080351/product.php?gclid=CMSeu_iCsboCFaZcMgodvGIAvA

Never mind that they totally torqued up the Vark windscreen and the weapons loads are largely imaginary for the early variants especially. Never mind that the coolest variant and the most controversial one which has _never been released in scale before_ was a decent F-111B and they didn't release it.

If double the parts counts are there _in the same size as price range_, as the YF-23 (which I doubt has 200 parts overall), they are defrauding you for the difference in plastic in the latter kit, not least because it should prove twice as popular in sales simply because it's stealthy, sleek and popular as a 'real fighter'.

One or the other. Inexpensive. Or pricey but with decent features. The necessary photo references to at least make an adequate /guess/ as to what parts need to be included for engines and weapons bays have been online for the better part of 5 years.

It is simply not acceptable to me to charge equally for half as much detail. This before the unwise splitting of the wings and tails into upper/lower outer panels.

As for using the YF-23 EMD drawings to make a production variant and the desirability of doing so, let me ask some obverse questions:

1. How many people would know outside of skilled modelers? It would still look like a YF-23.

2. If you have only decals that are explicitly _not_ for either of the PAVs in terms of tail codes and airframe serials, how 'prototypish' can the jet be?

3. How many of the posters here have already whiffed themselves into a JASDF, IDFAF or similar?

4. Which jet is prettier looking?

5. If you were Trumpeter, tooling up for a 32nd scale Raptor, would you begin by offering an update of the Testors prototype kit, or would you

go straight to the in-service F-22A model?

At a minimum, you could get away with a superior buildup kit and much wider appeal by:

A. Copying Academy with all the equivalent Raptor beddowns: Hawaii. Alaska, Langley, Tyndall, Holloman and Nellis as basic decals and ACC not TAC

shields.

B. Including the IRST chisel as a clear piece with a suitable optics head gubbin inside.

C. Putting in just the basic weapons bay.

D. Providing options for the later inlets.

Whiffers don't care if the fuselage is too short or too tall for the production model but they are _thrilled_ when something to wart up their jet with a different 'look' like a sensor fairing or extended weapons pallet from an open bay furthers the illusion of a jet that is operational.

Something which Hobby Boss seems to have been trying for.

I want to see how this kit builds up on someone else' dime.

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So, if two were built and both are now in museums, what crashed at Boscombe Down in (IIRC) 26/09/1994 on takeoff? :hmmm::wicked:

The truth is out there!

Christian the Married and exiled to africa

Hey Christian,

It was a Raspberry Ripple (albeit in grey scale) AV-6 stealth recon plane derived from the YF-23 flown by British pilots from QinetiQ who had trained on the RAF F-117B at Groom Lake. IIRC, this incident occurred on take-off when the front landing gear collapsed after collision with a Gannet (of the feathered variety). Or was it a Skua? I can never remember...

Call sign was "Black Muck 11" which, ironically, was what the Gannet was stuck in that prevented its quick egress from the airstrip.

Anyway, that's what it says in UFO Daily. :)

Cheers,

Bill

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I just opened my model and it looks great. I am impressed with the kit and cannot wait to bring it together and paint it into pav-2 aircraft. Awesome airplane, and quiet good model. Only letdown is the decals for me. It should have had PAV-1 and -2 decals....

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