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  1. Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter (LS-002) 1:48 MENG via Creative Models Ltd The J-20 is China’s first fifth generation fighter, making heavy use of stealth technologies to give it an advantage during operation in a contested air-space, starting the project in the 2000s as a successor to a previous project earlier in the decade. Chengdu aviation developed the J-20 in response to the requirement, and it has been a work in progress, even after the initial ground-handling and flight testing that occurred in 2010, using Russian built engines that were fitted as a temporary measure whilst they worked out the issues with their own indigenous engines. The new high-tech Chinese engines were expected to provide a significant boost in performance, adding stealth characteristics to the exhausts, and the possibility of vectored thrust to improve manoeuvrability. A home-grown engine designated WS-10 was chosen initially to remove their reliance on Russian engines, with the more advanced WS-15 expected to be fitted to new-build airframes when development was complete, then retro-fitted to earlier airframes as the opportunity arose. Several prototypes were seen performing flight tests throughout the next decade, with limited numbers of the type entering service toward the end of the decade, with improvements still coming on stream throughout this period. After the initial low-rate production batch, full production started, and it soon gained momentum, leading to the replacement of many older 4th generation fighters in service, particularly around China’s borders, where they would expect to intercept intruders. Some airframes have been used as adversary trainers, where they take the part of F-22s or F-35s in combat, to allow both “sides” to learn how to cope with adversaries flying different generations of fighters. The design of the jet, known by NATO code Fagin was established and fixed for full production, adding two other variants to the development roster, one of which represents the first two-seat stealth fighter in service in the world, with a prototype built and observed in 2022 under the designation J-20S. The two-seater isn’t simply a trainer, but will also be used as a combat airframe where the workload is shared between the two crew, using sensor fusion, carrying out electronic warfare duties, or controlling UAVs or drones as part of their weapon systems as a force-multiplier. The J-20B is an improved variant of the single-seat type that has improved stealth characteristics, and is thought to use the final WS-15 engine, which increases the power available for super cruise substantially, and this too was also first spotted in 2022, demonstrating the rapidity at which the type is developing. The ongoing improvements to the J-20 are rapidly bringing it up to a similar capability to the American F-22, despite concerns that a canard-equipped fighter would have compromised stealth capabilities, which seems not to have been an issue as far as the Chinese engineers and designers were concerned. The main weapons bay is found in the belly, where the larger weapons are carried, with serrated doors and margins of the bay to scatter radar returns. The smaller weapons bays in the sides of the fuselage behind the intakes are similarly stealthy, but the weapons can be deployed and the bays closed again to maintain stealth, allowing the missiles to be launched fractionally faster without having to open doors and bring out the missiles before launch. It is thought that these bays are in the process of being redesigned to accommodate 6 missiles using a new ejection rack, and research is underway to reduce the diameter of future missiles to assist with packing as many as possible into the bays without having to use the four underwing hard-points that will spoil its stealthy profile. The Kit This is a new tooling from MENG that was released in the last days of 2023, taking some time to reach Europe, and it is the most recent of only a few kits of this type in 1:48, so should more closely represent an in-service airframe. It does appear to have the Diverterless Supersonic Inlet (DSI) bulges that were more recently added to the design, one of the engineering innovations that both improves the aircraft’s stealth, and reduces its weight by offloading additional complexity of the intakes, hiding the rotating engine faces by using a serpentine trunk within the fuselage. The kit arrives in a substantial top-opening box with a painting of a J-20 launching missiles from its open main bay, and inside the box there are seven sprues and three fuselage parts in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a clear red sprue, a strip of four polycaps, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, decal sheet, and the instruction booklet, printed in colour on glossy paper, and stapled into a portrait sub-A4 format. For a change, construction begins with detailing the upper fuselage part, adding two polycaps in sockets for the canards on the fuselage sides, fitting two clear sensor windows forward and aft of the cockpit opening, and applying the shallow refuelling probe bay on the starboard edge of the nose chine. Modern cockpits are relatively simple by comparison to earlier fighter jets, with many of the knobs and switches moved to a large Multi-Function Display (MFD) that takes up most of the instrument panel. The cockpit tub is fitted with rudder pedals, plus side console mounted throttle and stick, using the ‘Hands on Throttle and Stick’ (HOTAS) schema that is common to modern fighters. Once painted, the tub is inserted into position, locating on four turrets within the upper fuselage, applying plenty of glue for a strong bond. At the rear of the upper fuselage, the serrated cowlings of the twin engines are fitted on a pair of turrets with a healthy overlap for strength, and two more polycaps are inserted in cups that are glued under the pivot-points of the twin tail fins, one each side of the engines. The intakes are made up from two halves each, adding a circular insert depicting the engine front to the aft end, and joining them together on two pins and sockets that hold them both at the correct angle. After painting the trunk interiors a pale greyish-blue, the completed assembly is mated to the lower nose part, fitting the nose gear bay, a detailed insert for the forward sensor, which is glazed over with a faceted clear part, and has a clear red window fitted on either side. To be able to close the fuselage, the three weapons bays must be prepared, starting with the main bay, the largest of the three. This is made from a large roof with moulded-in end walls, adding the side walls and a central divider, painting it white before building the missiles, which are almost complete save for two fins at the rear and a conduit down one side of the missile body, after which they are mounted on a slender pylon and four of them can be installed within the bay. The completed main bay is then clipped into the lower fuselage, locating on three turrets, then turning to the intake-mounted weapons bays. The main parts of these are moulded in a C-profile, fitting end walls to each of them, and installing those in the sides of the intakes, along with the main gear bays that are made from three parts each, and all bays painted white. A clear red window is inserted in a cut-out in the port intake side, reducing the number of sub-assemblies before fuselage closure to two. Those two are identically built exhausts, which can be made with the petals constricted or opened, by using different sets of petal parts around the central circular former. Each petal section has a detail insert on the interior face, then six sections are arranged into a cylinder around each former, the aft section differing in shape to depict your chosen exhaust shape. The exhaust trunk is made from two half cylinders that are closed around the afterburner ring, and has a representation of the rear of the engine closing the forward end, joining the petal assembly to the opposite end of the trunk, and painting it accordingly with shades of burnt metal. The lower fuselage receives the two exhausts in the rear nacelles, while the nose and intake trunking assembly is installed in the front of the part, extending the lower fuselage to full-length. The upper fuselage is then glued over the lower, and it’s worth noting that the two fuselage halves have stiffening ribs criss-crossing them to add strength to the assembly, and much of the blended wing structure is moulded into the fuselage halves, as is often the case with modern stealthy aircraft models. You have a choice of portraying the weapons bays open or closed, showing off the unique talents of these short-range weapons bays that allows them to close the doors with the weapons extended for use. The simplest option is to nip the overflow pips from the doors and fit them in the closed position, ready to move on to the next step. To extend the missiles first requires the building of one or two missiles, which have two separate fins, a nose part, and long pylon, painting and stencilling them before installing them. The bay has a flat-faced insert glued into the bay, which has three curved supports for the missile so that it is suspended outside the bay and slightly below so that the door can still close. The closed doors are each one part with three small slots in the bottom of the doors to cater for the supports, while leaving the doors open adds another part with internal ribbing structure, plus hinges that suspend it from the upper edge of the bay. This is repeated on the opposite side, with a choice of three options per side, which you can mix and match at your whim. The main bay doors must be open to deploy missiles, so there are two choices, the simplest being the closed doors, which is depicted by a single part with serrated edges and hinge lines engraved to give the bay a realistic look. To pose the doors open, three door sections are fitted together with an actuator ram at either end, mounting on the outer edges of the bay, with a scrap diagram showing how they should look from ahead. The landing gear is safely tucked away inside the jet during flight, so only their doors need to give low-observability a thought, and as such their structure is very familiar. The tyres are moulded as two halves, as are the hubs, joining together to make each main gear wheel, which fits to the lower end of the sturdy struts, adding separate oleo-scissor links and a lightened retraction jack that is formed from three parts, with another small strut near to the top of the leg. The two legs are handed, and are fitted inside each bay, locating firmly in the bay for strength. The nose gear leg has two tyre halves that close around a single hub part, flexed into position between the two yoke legs. The strut is adorned with separate scissor-links, twin landing lights with clear lenses, and the retraction jack plus a captive bay door, for which there is a separate scrap diagram to assist with detail painting the part. This too is mounted securely in the bay, with a side-opening bay door with three hinges attaching it to the starboard side. While the model is upside-down, the two canards are push-fitted on the intake sides, two strakes are glued to the sponsons on either side of the exhausts, adding leading-edge slats that can be deployed or retracted by using different parts. A four-lensed sensor is fitted on the belly with a clear lens inserted from behind, and a tubular assembly is located next to it, which appears to be a Luneberg Lens, which is the mechanism by which any stealthed aircraft can be tracked during peacetime. It is understood that the latest airframes have a retractable version of this lens, so they can transition to a war footing without landing. At the trailing edge of the wings, two flap sections with stealthy actuator fairings moulded separately are fitted, selecting different parts for the flaps down option. The final flying surfaces are the all-moving fins, which have a fixed portion glued to the fuselage, through which the pin on the fin projects, securing it in the polycap fitted at the beginning of the build. This should allow them to be removed for easy painting and decaling, and later offset if you feel the urge. Whilst most of the cockpit was built very early in the build, it is missing some key components, one of which is the ejection seat. This is made from two halves of the chassis, adding three seat cushions and a flip-up pair of arm rests, with a detail insert under the base cushion to depict the pull handle. A flat cover is applied to the back of the seat, with scrap diagrams and colour call-outs helping with accurate painting of the assembly. You then have a choice of using the included pilot to crew your model, or fit the supplied PE seatbelts to the empty seat, using the scrap diagrams to assist you with shaping them before installation. The pilot figure has separate arms, a two-part helmeted head, and an oxygen hose, with another detailed painting guide with two views to the side, colour call-outs given in MENG colour and Gunze Acrysion codes. The pilot’s instrument panel is next, applying decals to the panel’s large screens and detail-painting the various buttons moulded into the part. The coaming is glued to the top of the panel, adding the HUD from two clear parts, one inserted into a styrene frame, painting the front pane a transparent green before installing the completed assembly in the front of the cockpit, remembering to detail paint the instrument cluster in the coaming edge. A pair of angle-of-attack probes are fitted to the sides of the nose at the same time, then you have another choice to make. Create the canopy from a simplified set of parts, or go for more detail that includes PE parts. The simple canopy has the det-cord to shatter the canopy before ejection moulded-in along with a couple of interior frames, which are recessed within the part, and can be painted with white or grey acrylic or other water-based paint, wiping the excess away before it has chance to dry, leaving the paint in the recesses to represent the cords. Both options use the same lower frame, which is prepared by fitting two side frames, a small triangular support at the rear, and demisting tubing at the windscreen end. If you are using the PE parts, there is a separate blank canopy, and it is suggested that you bend the PE det-cord and heater hoses before gluing them to the lower frame, fitting the canopy in place over it once they are painted. The simplified canopy with the cord moulded-in is similarly glued in place over the lower frame without the PE parts if you don’t fancy your chances wrangling them. Either completed canopy can be fitted to the cockpit in the open or closed position by selecting the appropriate opener strut, adding a two-pronged hinge part to the rear of the open option that slots into the front of the spine. The choices aren’t quite finished yet, as you can close the refuelling probe bay by fitting the door over the area, but if you wish to deploy the probe, it has a tapering ladder support and a different door part, inserting the rear of the probe into the bay and setting the correct angle courtesy of the support. It has a bright red section near the business end of the probe, which is best painted before installation. Speaking of ladders, which we kind-of were, there is a crew ladder included on the sprues, made from just two parts, one of which is well protected by a deep extension to the runner next to it, protecting the rungs moulded into that half of the assembly. This is latched over the lip of the cockpit on the port side, and you can leave it loose or glue it in place as you see fit. Markings There is just one scheme given on the rear pages of the instruction booklet, but a full set of tail-codes are included, so you can build any airframe in the low-viz grey cloud camouflage shown below: Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. It includes many stripes around the weapon and gear bays, which are supplied as sensibly designed sections that should remove as much frustration as possible whilst applying them. Slime lights and various sensor dielectric panels are also included on the sheet, and on an addendum sheet (not pictured) that is barely the size of a postage stamp, a single “bunny-ears” decal numbered 25 is included, so be careful not to lose it. Conclusion This is a large aircraft, around the same size as the immense Mig-31, and MENG have done a good job of representing the detail. Most modellers could build it straight from the box thanks to what’s included, although some aftermarket is bound to come out soon. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Meng Model is to release in October 2023 a 1/48th Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon kit - ref. LS002 Source: https://weibo.com/ttarticle/p/show?id=2309404894844073148826 V.P.
  3. The next in my MIG-21 airplane edition edition, in the colors of all the countries that used them, continues. I present to you the MIG-21 (Chengdu F-7A) of the Albanian Air Force. Here's the picture.
  4. Hi, all! Maybe somebody saw a photo not retouched number on a fin of the front line (not a prototype) of Chengdu J-10B with Woshan WS-10A «Taihang» ? Chengdu J-10B with Lulka AL-31F at which I saw not retouched numbers on a fin, Chengdu J-10B with Woshan WS-10A «Taihang» didn't meet.... And still question of a camouflage of J-10. Instructions recommend to paint Chengdu J-10 in GS Aqueous Hobby Colour 61 tops and bottom GS Aqueous Hobby Colour 308 + white . GS Aqueous Hobby Colour 61 is gray with a yellowish shade, but on a photo of Chengdu J-10 from above is painted in gray with a bluish shade... maybe someone saw Chengdu J-10B in live can also clear what at it actually a shade of gray - yellowish or bluish? Maybe take place to be both options of a gray shade by the real airplanes? Then what pattern? B.R. Serge
  5. Not in the new Trumpeter's catalogue but in the IPMS Philippines homepage. Trumpeter is to release in 2016 2020 a 1/48th Chengdu J-20 kit - ref 05811 To put alongside the Hobby Boss 1/48th YF-23 kit, I suppose? http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234934034-148-northrop-yf-23-black-widow-by-hobby-boss-released Source: http://ipmsphilippines.com/test-shots/testshot-trumpeter-148th-chinese-stealth-jet-j-20/ V.P.
  6. Trumpeter is to release in late January 2016 a 1/72nd Chengdu J-10B kit - Ref.01651 Source: http://www.trumpeter-china.com/index.php?g=home&m=product&a=show&id=2749&l=en Box art V.P.
  7. Anigrand has just released a 1/48th resin kit from the Chengdu J-20, the chinese fifth-generation stealth fighter prototype - ref.AA-8001. Source: http://www.anigrand.com/AA8001_J-20.htm Model featuresk 95 resin parts Span 267 mm xLength 440 mm V.P.
  8. Trumpeter is to re-issue its 1/72nd Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon (ref.01663 - J-20 Mighty Dragon http://www.hyperscale.com/2012/reviews/kits/trumpeter01663reviewpp_1.htm) as J-20 Mighty Dragon Prototype N°2011 - ref.01665 Source: http://www.modelforum.cz/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=68170&start=5475 V.P.
  9. In January, February & March 2014 R.V. Aircraft (http://www.rvresin.com/plastic_kits.html) is to expand its 1/72nd "Fishbed" plastic kits family with four new boxings. Sources: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RVAircraft/412179818902422 http://modelweb.modelforum.cz/2014/01/23/novinky-firmy-r-v-aircraft-na-leden-2014/?lang=CS 1/72 Chengdu J-7 III News coming in late January 2014 ! Limited edition - 500psc. only ! Source: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.489056307881439.1073741854.412179818902422&type=1 1/72 MiG-21 LanceR A + MiG-21 LanceR C New plastic kits in February 2014. Source: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.500380473415689.1073741855.412179818902422&type=1 MiG-21RF Egyptian Air Force new plastic kit ! + dedicated RF resin parts Source: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.502800393173697.1073741856.412179818902422&type=1 MiG-21M is in preparation ...decals and camouflage....on sale during March. Source: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.503822436404826.1073741857.412179818902422&type=1 V.P.
  10. Trumpeter is to release 1/48th Chengdu J-7G & J-7GB kits - ref. 02861 et 02862 Source: http://tieba.baidu.com/p/2804557302 V.P.
  11. Trumpeter next 1/48th "MiG" will be the Chengdu J-7B - ref.02860 Release: September 2013 Source: http://www.trumpeter.cn/index.php?m=Search&module=Product&keyword=02860&id=0 V.P.
  12. At Nürnberg Toy fair 2013. 1/48th MiG-21MF "Fishbed-J" by Trumpeter - ref.02863 Source: http://www.primeportal.net/models/thomas_voigt7/trumpeter/ The test shot For my part I don't see the interest of this future kit as the Eduard MiG-21MF is not only top but readily available and at good price. V.P.
  13. Pics from the Beijing Military Museum, thanks to Mike (bootneck)
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