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  1. Saab J/A-21R First Swedish Made Jet (SH72480) 1:72 Special Hobby Saab have always been innovative in their aircraft designs, and the J-21 certainly was ahead of its time when it began gestation in the early years of WWII. Although Sweden were neutral, they believed in having a strong defence force to dissuade potential attackers, and this aircraft was part of that policy. It evolved over several design iterations into a pusher prop with twin booms based upon a license-built Daimler Benz engine, and because of the rear-mounted prop it was able to carry its armament in the nose, with the pilot having an unobstructed view of his quarry. The large prop at the rear dictated a tricycle landing gear configuration, and to save the pilot from injury when exiting the 'plane in flight, a simple ejector seat was developed by Bofors to blast him clear of the airframe and the flailing blades of the propeller. After the initial production the A-2 variant was re-armed with a Swedish developed 20mm cannon replacing the French model, and these were later superseded by the A-3, which had a bomb sight for air-to-ground operations, and was able to carry bombs and missiles, as well as use RATO bottles to improve take-off capabilities under heavy load. As the jet age was dawning, the engineers at Saab were asked to re-design the aircraft to switch to jet propulsion, mounting a De Havilland Goblin in a re-designed fuselage, with its tail adapted to clear the hot jet exhaust, resulting in an aircraft that looked very similar to the prop-powered version, but shared only 50% of the parts. Many of the prop-engined aircraft were converted to jet engines on the production line to reach the required number for the contacts, which were cut back from around 150 to a disappointing 64 due to the performance already on display by the prototype Tunnans that were flying before the J-21 reached service. The R has a much shorter service life that consisted mainly of ground-attack roles to which it was better suited, and with the purchase of the de Havilland Vampire and the J29 Tunnan in its production guise, the remaining aircraft served with the Swedish Air Force until 1956. The Kit The original tooling of this model was released in 2011, and has been reissued with a prop and jet pipe a few times in the interim, with it being the turn of the jet-engined R variant in this boxing. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box with a painting of the subject flying high and carrying a huge rack of rockets under its belly. Inside are three sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small bag of resin parts, a resealable bag of decals, Photo-Etch (PE) and a slip of printed clear acetate sheet, plus the A5 instruction booklet, printed on glossy paper in colour. Detail is good, with raised and engraved surface features, cockpit sidewall detail moulded inside the fuselage, a set of resin wheels and a gigantic rack of rockets as per the cover art, which instantly increases its appeal. Construction begins with the cockpit floor, to which is added a rear bulkhead, seat frame and seat that is detailed with PE foot pegs, diagonal insert in the rear, and PE seatbelts. The rudder pedals are moulded into the floor, and a pair of straps are fitted over them after they are bent to shape, fitting a control column between the seat and pedals. The instrument panel is laminated from a styrene backing, an acetate part with dials printed on, and a PE panel that fixes over the dials. A resin gunsight and clear lens is added to the top of the panel, then it is fitted into the starboard fuselage half along with the cockpit, nose gear bay, and additional detail parts on the sidewalls, notably a throttle box and trim wheel in a housing on the port side, with PE levers and wheel. The fuselage is closed and the twin booms are both made from two halves in advance of mating these assemblies with the wing and elevator panel. The wing is made from a full-span lower and two upper halves with the fuselage placed in the space between them, adding gear bay shells in the boom roots before gluing the booms into position behind the wing, slipping the elevator panel in between the booms while doing so. Clear lenses are inserted into holes in the front of the boom fairings, with resin 12.5mm gun barrels outboard of each one. The main gear legs are built from the strut, adding a yoke to the bottom and PE scissor-link to the lower oleo for each one, while the nose wheel is a single part that has a PE scissor-link, two PE brackets, and two resin parts glued to the sides of the legs of the yoke. The resin wheels flex-fit between the yokes, the main wheels having a chunky tread cast into the contact surface, presumably to cope with snowy landing strips. The nose gear leg is fitted into the bay with a parallel strut and actuator below it, a feature that is replicated in the main gear bays too. All the bay doors have PE hinges and mount on the sides of the bay after cutting the single parts into three for the nose gear, and into two for the main gear bay doors. A pair of PE trim tab actuators are then fitted to the elevator panel top and bottom. You have an interesting choice of armaments to hang from the underside of your model, the most unusual of which is the ovoid gun pack that is built from top and bottom halves, with a pair of Z-supports between it and the fuselage. The real pack has eight 8mm Browning M1919 machine guns with 800 rounds per gun, giving it immense firepower that is concentrated along the line of flight that should result in good accuracy, and is ideal for ground-attack on softskin targets and personnel. The largest rack of rockets is made from a ladder frame with six V-supports, and has ten 15cm RP-3 rockets mounted on the completed frame. Smaller racks can be mounted on the outer wing panels, carrying four rockets each, and these also have 6 supports that are made into a complex framework. While the model is inverted, three actuators are glued onto the ailerons and flaps. There are scrap diagrams for each of the weapons options, but sadly you can’t mount them all at once. With the model standing on its wheels, the canopy is glued in place, starting with the windscreen, then the starboard side and roof, the other side being a separate part. If you wanted to portray the canopy open, you would need to cut the roof and starboard side panes into separate parts, leaving the scalloped rear-view window in place, and hinging the side down along the cockpit sill, and the roof on the port side opened to near vertical. If you plan on carrying out that audacious adjustment to the kit parts, it would be a good idea to support the canopy during cutting by filling the inside with Blutak. There are a pair of wingtip drop-tanks that made from two halves glued around the wingtip, and it seems that if filled with napalm, they could be jettisoned and used as incendiary bombs. The final piece of offensive weaponry is a single 20mm cannon barrel that slips into a hole in the nose. Markings There are three options on the decal sheet, all of which are in olive green over light blue grey, differentiated by their individual markings and the colour of the nose cone. One option is further individualised by having white wing outer panels and drop-tanks. From the box you can build one of the following: J-21RA, S/N 21420, Yellow B, 3 Sqn., Wing F10, based at Ängelholm, 1950 J-21RA, Blue E, 2 Sqn., Wing F10, Ängelholm, 1950 J-21RB supposedly S/N 21440, Yellow B, Wing F17, Kallinge, 1955 The decals appear to be printed using the same digital processes as Eduard are now using, and have good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut loosely around the printed areas. I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain. Conclusion The J-21R is an unusual-looking early jet, and its Swedishness appeals, as do the huge rack of missiles or gun pack. It’s a well-detailed model and will look great in your display cabinet, making everything else look a little less interesting. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Saab SK.60/Saab 105 Crew Ladder (483D002 for Pilot Replicas) 1:48 Pilot Replicas We’ve just finished reviewing the new injection moulded 1:48 Saab SK.60 kit from Pilot Replicas, and have cleared away all the drool, but round two has already commenced. As is the modern fashion, several aftermarket sets have been produced to be available on launch to augment the detail of the base kit, for those amongst us that are detail obsessed. The sets are 3D printed, and offer incredible detail when compared to even the best injection-moulding techniques, whilst having the unexpected bonus of reducing the part count. The sets arrive in small but sturdy cardboard boxes with an adhesive label differentiating them, and the parts inside are protected by a folded Ziploc bag, while any Photo-Etch (PE) are taped inside the lid. This set allows your pilots easy ingress and egress from their ride, and arrives as a single part attached to its print base by the usual support tendrils. Once they are carefully cut from the part, it is a straight forward case of latching it against the side of the cockpit and allowing gravity to do the rest. It has been printed at a slight angle to the base to reduce the likelihood of printing lines showing up, but at this resolution they’ll disappear under a coat of primer anyway. Conclusion More superlative-worthy detail from the kit’s manufacturers that should fit like a glove to the side of the aircraft. It begs for a crew figure approaching it or something, doesn’t it? Watch this space. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Saab Sk.60 Swedish Trainer & Strike Aircraft (48-A005) 1:48 Pilot Replicas Following WWII, the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) had been using British early jets, including the de Havilland Vampire, Venom and the Hawker Hunter amongst their number to fulfil their needs. Saab had realised that the Vampires used in their trainer fleet were wearing out as well as becoming obsolete, and set about designing a low-cost jet trainer that could also carry out reconnaissance and light attack duties, gaining official support from the Swedish military early on. The type 105 was designed to be useful both to military and civilian operators initially, but when little interest was garnered from the civilian market they concentrated instead on military customers, first of which was the Swedish Air Force who ordered 150 as the Sk.60, split between trainers and strike aircraft that would be designated A and B respectively. It went into service in 1967, and also found favour with the Austrian Air Force, who took another 40 105Ӧ that ran more powerful GE J85 engines that were cheaper and easier to maintain than the original Turbomeca Aubisque turbofan engines that were license built as the RM9. Later in service with Sweden, more advanced, lighter and more powerful Williams FJ44 engines were retro-fitted to the remaining 115 Sk.60 fleet as part of an upgrade programme to extend their usefulness into the new millennium. They were license built by Volvo Flygmotor as the RM15, and coupled with further upgrades have given the Sk.60 the ability to remain in service until today (at time of writing), although their replacement, the Grob G 120TP turbo-prop trainer, is expected to start entering service very soon. The Kit This is a new tooling from Pilot Replicas, and the first boxing of several that we expect in due course. To say that we haven’t been well-served with model kits of the diminutive Sk.60 in 1:48 is an understatement, and 1:72 hasn’t fared much better either. That changes for 1:48 now, and arrives in a top-opening box with captive top lid that closes outside the lower, preventing the top from collapsing in on the contents. The box is printed on sturdy glossy card, with a custom sticker keeping the lid closed until you open it the first time, a professional finish that extends to the contents. Inside are five rectangular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue in separate Ziploc bag, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) covered in clear self-adhesive film on both sides, two decal sheets, a folded A3 instruction sheet that is glossy printed on both sides in colour, and a painting guide of the same shape and size that is printed in the same style. Each sprue is separately bagged, and on opening the two intake parts fell from one bag, as they are deep parts in the frames, so were prone to pressure from the other sprues in the box. Detail is excellent, and includes rivets and engraved panel lines, plus recessed and raised details where appropriate throughout, although there have been some very slight sink-marks where the styrene is necessarily thick, such as the supports and detailed sidewalls of the cockpit. The use of PE as standard equipment for the kit is to be lauded, rather than selling them as extras, as it offers more realistic scaled thickness for the smallest parts. The decals have been designed by Moose Republic Decals, and printed by Cartograf, the gold standard of our hobby. The instruction booklet is printed in colour using 3D isometric drawings that have likely been made using the same data that was used to design the kit itself, giving the modeller a better insight into the shape and arrangement of the build process than line drawings can. It also cuts down on instruction steps, with only 21 over three A4 pages. Around every diagram are additional helpful instructions in English, plus paint call-outs using Gunze Mr Hobby codes in a black box that is linked to the part number in an outlined box, cutting down on lines into the process. Construction begins with the main gear bays in the lower middle fuselage, using seven individual components to create each landing gear leg inside the detailed bays, adding extra information in a small circular scrap diagram off to the side, and giving left and right part numbers in doubled boxes. They are then shown being installed in the respective fuselage side along with the air-brakes that rotate out into the airstream further back down the fuselage, and the rear clear ‘quarter-light’ behind the main canopy, plus painting instructions for the cockpit sidewalls, as that’s next. The cockpit floor is a flat rectangle with upstands at the forward end that forms the footwells for the crew, which has the instrument panel and control columns fixed to it, and a rear bulkhead behind the crew. The main decal sheet provides dials for the panel, offering one for three of the decal options that were fitted with rolling map displays, and another for the option without it. This assembly is then trapped between the fuselage halves, before adding the two nose halves around the nose gear bay and at least 15g of nose-weight, then adding a small insert under the belly. At the rear the tail cone halves are closed around a separate tip, aligning the parts with the rest of the fuselage to minimise clean-up. The appearance of two Aubisque turbofan engines are created by inserting the engine rear face into a two-part cylindrical trunk, then inserting them into position behind the moulded-in centre section of the engine nacelles, then boxing them in with two cowling halves and aft fairings that hold them to the correct angle from the airframe. The rudder fin is made from two halves and inserted into a slot in the tail, with a choice of clear or opaque bullet fairing for the T-tail depending on your decal choice, and adding small insert between the elevators and rudder, then putting the aft thrust diverters either side of the tail behind the exhausts in either the open or closed position, as shown from above in a scrap diagram. The forward face of the engine is mated to a two-part trunking that then joins the intake lip, splitter-plate between it and the fuselage, and the forward cowling lower, the top later covered by the wings. The cockpit is filled with a pair of ejection seats that are made from four parts each and fit side-by-side in the cockpit with a brace between them leading from the coaming to the top of the windscreen, plus the optional gunsight in case you are going to build a B. An additional part is also fixed to the upper side of the starboard wing if you are going down the B route, drilling two holes in the surface to locate it, using the recessed dots on the inside of the part to guide you. The upper wing is mated to the fuselage before adding the lowers, and a choice of insert behind the cockpit is given for open or closed canopy options. The same clear parts are used for either option, gluing the windscreen into position and adding the canopy either closed or opened , pivoting up from the rear. The lower wings along with two fences per side, separate wingtip and clear lights that have hollow interiors for you to paint clear red or green to give the correct look. A shallow intake is applied to the top centre of the fuselage level with the exhausts, although its location is made clear by reference to the painting guide, where the overhead views show it well. The main gear bays are fitted with a single bay door that hinges up from the top, and a two-part wheel with moulded-in weighting is slotted over the end of the leg on a square peg to obtain the correct position. When complete, the two wheels should be 45mm apart from outer edge to outer edge. That should ensure you get the right angle and avoid sag, which could be assisted by making a small jig to stand them on while the glue sets. The nose wheel and strut are moulded as one, with the wheel having extra thickness from a separate layer, the finished assembly slotting into a socket in the roof of the bay, and having a door attached to each side. The nose wheel has a close-fitting mudguard, and a scrap diagram shows the correct painting of the various elements. To complete the model, you need to break out the PE and refer closely to the following two steps and your references for precise location. There are a large number of tiny parts, aerials, static wicks and blade antennae that will improve the realism of your model immensely, and the finer parts are best applied as the last task to avoid damaging them during handling. Markings With only two operators worldwide, you’d think there wouldn’t be many decal options overall, but you’d be wrong, as there have been many special schemes over the years if you’d care to Google them. This boxing includes four Swedish Flygvapnet airframes, three A and one B model in two main schemes. From the box you can build one of the following: SK60A 60043, Swedish Air Force Flying School, F5 Wing, Ljungbyhed, 1967 SK60A 60072, Swedish Air Force Flying School, F5 Wing, Ljungbyhed, 1984 SK60A 60127, Swedish Air Force Flying School, F5 Wing, Ljungbyhed, 1970 SK60B 60038, 3rd Sqn. Urban Gul F21 Wing in Lulea, June 1976 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The carrier film on the main sheet is glossy, and includes many silver-backed stencils as well as the two instrument panel decals that have clear backing with outlines to assist you in locating them. The smaller sheet covers the fluorescent orange panels that were sometimes applied to aircraft for identification purposes, and these have a matt carrier film, while the few regular decals have glossy carrier. The scanner washed the orange out, so I have adjusted the colour to resemble the original as closely as possible. Conclusion Whenever I think about the Sk.60, I immediately recall that photograph of one pulled into a petrol station to illustrate its rough field capabilities, being refuelled and serviced by various pilots and crew who probably thought it was very funny. They were right. This is a well-detailed model of this little aircraft that has a personality bigger than its physical size, and is still in service with the Flygvapnet despite being older than this reviewer. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Hello Everyone, Just completed the second aircraft of my Swedish duo build project - SAAB J32B Lansen this time: Here is the WIP link: The Lansen was a great achievement of Swedish aircraft industry. Project started in late 40s and the first production aircraft started to join Flygvapnet in late 50s. The project pioneered in many aspects: the first aircraft designed with heavy use of computer supported mathematical computations, the first Swedish supersonic aircraft. Lansen was designed to carry advanced radar which was making it an all-weather machine. Attack version was capable to carry one of the world's first cruise missiles. The kit that I used is the Tarangus kit which is a short-run kit and has been released fairly recently. I guess the molds were actually produced by Sword as could be judged from the bluish plastic and very familiar quality of molds (nicely detailed surfaces with delicately recessed panel lines but at the same time quite softish smaller bits). Fit was reasonable although with short run you should expect a lot of dry-fitting. Main surprise in this case was the canopy which literally jumped at its place - not always happening with Sword products! The list of improvements to the kit included: - improved cockpit interior with Maestro Models p/e set, some scratched parts, added brake handles to chairs from wire, reshaped operator's windscreen to make curved angles - improved some other areas with Maestro p/e - exhaust, wing fences - made airbrakes from Maestro p/e - these cannot be modelled opened from the kit - cut the airbrake openings and scratchbuilt interior for airbrake bays - decorated main wheel bays with pipes and wires - reassembled front wheel - this is a single part in Tarangus kit but its shape was very poor - not straight at all, a bit simplistic. - drilled openings here and there - guns, intake on fuselage side - made transparent navigation lights - replaced kit's pitot with the one from Master - replaced Sidewinders with those from Hasegawa set - added resin missile pods from Maestro Models Painted in Green wraparound scheme. H309 Hobby Color green is used. Leading edges and gear bays interior are vallejo dull aluminum. Bottom rear fuselage is dull aluminum with some gun metal added, black radar covers, undercarriages struts are from green-black mix to match dark emerald green colour on actual aircraft. Decals are from the kit. No problems with their quality at all. Some technical stencils are present but just a handful of those. I chose a colourful scheme with Ö68 red squares from the late sixties. The aircraft is from F12 wing which was based in Kalmar. Some dirt and stain added on flaps, fuselage underside, exhaust pipe etc. Finished with Micro Satin acrylic lacquer. Transparent parts are covered with Future. Weapons installed are not green dummy training options traditionally seen on Swedish aircraft but are warheads which seemed to be natural metal for missile launchers and standard AIM-9B scheme for Swedish made Rb24 missiles. Now some tasty pictures "with something else". Firstly my full Swedish collection: Next are some photoes with Lansen's peers. Hunter with same Avon engine: F-101B which was an American version of an all-weather aircraft (and Lansen could have carried nukes too!!! - it's just Sweden never progressed with its nuclear program): Sizeable aircraft Lansen was! Not lost next to a huge Voodoo And lastly with the Hun which is very close dimensionally to the Lansen: Hope you enjoyed All the best! Dennis
  5. Hi everyone, Next WIP I'm going to post here would be for a fighters duo from Flygvapnet. J21R - a Special Hobby kit and J32B - Tarangus kit. Two boxes have been in my stash for about 4 years and now seems it's time to open'em!!!
  6. Hi guys. I want to sho you some pics of my recent project, the EE Canberra T.Mk.11 from AMP. The kit is based on the S&M Models Canberra, AMP added some etched parts and two different noses for this version. I will build one of the two possible swedish aircrafts. Like most aircraft builds it starts with the cockpit. It´s niceley detailed and the seat from the box are okay too. The clear part fitts not very well, I think it´s my fault, dry fitting was not so bad. First nose test, I think i will build 8-02 with the round one and the dayglow markings at its fin. Cheers Daniel
  7. Saab AJ-37 Viggen (SH48148) 1:48 Special Hobby The Viggen was Sweden's later Cold War fighter that took over from the equally unusual Saab Draken, as part of their long-standing preference for ploughing their own way through modernising their Flygvapnet, the Swedish Air Force. It began service in the early 1970s with the AJ variant, which was primarily a ground attack aircraft that could also perform the fighter role if necessary. It was slightly shorter than the later JA, with a slightly different cockpit arrangement and a less powerful engine. Over a hundred were built, with roughly half of them converted to AJS standard at the end of the 90s with improved avionics and software. The last of these upgraded AJs were taken out of service in 2005, with the similarly home-grown Gripen taking over its roles. The Kit We reviewed the original issue of this model in 2015 here, but Special Hobby haven't rested on their laurels and are back with an updated version for those that are still in the market. An additional sprue has been included, which is coincidentally to be found in the recent two-seater Electronic Warfare version we reviewed here, recently. The kit arrives in a similar box with the same painting on the front, but the words "Updated Edition" and "contains new sprue" added to quickly differentiate between boxings. The new sprue is numbered differently from the main run of sprues, which are simply sequentially numbered from beginning to end of the build on the instructions, and while the sprue is labelled M, this isn't carried through to the instructions, but when you see numbers that are vastly different from those around them you should be tipped-off to pull the parts from the new sprue. There are seven sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) nickel-plated brass, decal sheet and revised instruction booklet in the box, with the colour profiles and decal guides printed in colour on the inner back pages. New Sprue Construction is almost identical to the previous edition, with detailed cockpit, full-depth intakes and exhaust openings, and with additional small supports added to the intake parts on the underside of the fuselage, which were missing in the original edition. There is a choice of two new tail fins, re-designed canards with their control flaps, and behind the nose gear bay, a set of intakes or a single central intake that merges with the centreline pylon are added, depending on which decal option you are modelling. A new longer centreline pylon is used for two of the decal options too, which extends all the way back to the belly strake, which was in the original kit, but has an optional part now with a higher rear end for one decal option. Finally, the Ram Air Turbine that drops out of the lower fuselage whenever the Viggen is on the ground has been tooled, although here the part numbers have been swapped about. Part 17 should read 20, 20 should read 17, and 15 should be 17. All clear?!?! Overall, you'll be able to create a more accurate replica of the Viggen, with the smaller parts that make a model that's that bit closer to the real thing, and you'll also have some additional spares for other projects if many Viggens are on your horizon. Markings There are three decal options in this boxing, with the sheet being a straight-forward reprint of the original with no changes that I can discern. It is in good register, sharp, and as far as I can tell the yellow borders have been underprinted with white to retain their colour over dark paint. From the box you can build one of the following: 37062 "Gustav 62", F7 Wing, Satyenas, 1990s. Splinter scheme with red 62 on the tail. 37022 "Gustav 22", F7 Wing, Satenas 1973 – bare metal with squadron on fuselage and tail for an airshow in Germany. 37051 F15 Wing, Soderhamn 1978 – Splinter scheme with unpainted starboard intake in bare metal. Conclusion It's good to see Special Hobby continuing to work on their kits after initial release, and the end result is well worth the effort. They are listening, and long may it continue to be the case. The best Viggen in 1:48 available by miles. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. JAS-39A/C Gripen 1:48 Kitty Hawk The Gripen was a name chosen by the people of Sweden for the replacement for the much loved Viggen and Draken from the deep Cold War era. It was decided that the aircraft should be capable of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions, which in Swedish gave rise to the JAS acronym. It took 9 years from initialisation of the development studies in 1979 to the first flight of the Gripen, but after a couple of crashes early on, the programme was slowed down significantly while kinks in the fly-by-wire system were ironed out, resulting in an in-service date of 1997. Operating costs were a very important factor in the project, and Saab and their partners worked hard to keep this low, using a system health monitor that reports back to a continuous improvement programme to continue to work on any problems that cause additional costs. The longevity of parts and simplicity of maintenance were also considered from the outset, and the Volvo built General Electric derived motor has been trimmed of excess weight, given better bird-ingestion protection and a reduced part count to assist in this, as well as reducing the weight of the unit in a highly weight conscious project. Despite its small size, the Gripen can carry a significant quantity of munitions on its pylons, and has the capability of accommodating the defensive or offensive components from a number of countries, which helps to recommend it to potential export purchasers. The Next Generation Gripens are in development offering increased fuel or munitions load, more powerful engines, enhanced avionics, and due to their long projected service life, we'll be seeing them in the skies for a long time to come in some shape or form. The Kit Although there are a couple of Gripen kits in this scale already, Kitty Hawk have tooled this completely new kit using modern technology and looking over the sprues and their delicate surface detail, we should be in for a treat if the buildability is of the same quality. Continuing their tradition of diminutive boxes, the Gripen arrives in their now-usual white box with a painting of a well-loaded Gripen coming at us on the front. Inside there isn't much room for air as there are nine sprues of mid-grey styrene, one of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two decal sheets and of course the glossy combined instruction booklet and painting guide. The cover of the booklet is of the new fold-out type, so that the decaling and painting guides can be more complete, covering all sides of the aircraft, rather than leaving us guessing at times as was the case in earlier issues. Thanks for listening guys! The kit is broken down with vertical seams on the fuselage, and it has a separate nose section to allow for a later two-seat variant, which I'm sure won't lag too far behind. The two-seater is a good 66cm longer than the single-seater, but as they share the same radar, it makes sense that the nose-cone is separate. The lower wing is full-width with a section of the lower fuselage moulded in, and the tail fin is moulded into the fuselage, which also holds a full engine representation, although there are no intake trunks supplied. Personally, while I think it's a shame that they aren't fully trunked, most people won't even notice due to the small intakes either side of the cockpit. If it bothers you however, the simple answer is to make or buy some intake blanks, or to build your own trunks… I'd choose the former any day rather than the thankless task that is building your own intake trunks. Been there, incinerated the t-shirt. Construction starts with the cockpit, and a decent representation of the Martin Baker Mk.10 is provided, although there are a couple of small sink-marks on the front of the seat cushion on my sample due to the thickness of the styrene there. Nothing that a tiny smear of filler can't sort out though, so not really worth getting upset about. A couple of decals are supplied for the headbox sides, which is always good for improving the realism of a cockpit in my estimation. The cockpit tub is a single part, into which drop the seat, and a pair of odd-looking (but essentially correct) rudder pedals, complete with a PE skin to the textured pedal face. The short HOTAS stick sits on a raised base between the pilot's knees, and the instrument panel fixes in a slot just in front, having a pair of decals applied over the raised details to depict the mostly glass cockpit of this modern fighter jet. The rear deck has a couple of avionics boxes on top, which just need their connecting cables adding, which can be seen in any reference pictures of the cockpit. The sidewalls attach to the side consoles, and a small bulkhead fits into a slot in the back of the tub to complete the job. It's noteworthy that Kitty Hawk have chosen not to provide PE instrument panels or side consoles in this kit, but have included a set of PE seat harnesses, which are more crisp and detailed than previous efforts. To close up the nose section you need to build the nose gear bay, which is a central tub with add-on sides, and at the front of the wheel well, you might well find another small sink-mark, again due to the thickness of the styrene here, with the same simple fix. The landing gear is made up from a two-part leg, with separate oleo-scissor and perpendicular bar to the rear, with two wheels made up from halves with nicely moulded in hub detail. You should be able to add the gear leg later if you are concerned about knocking it off, but check that the base will fit through the bay opening before leaving it off. Having built a Jaguar with the same pre-installation of the gear legs however, apart from a bit of extra masking, I've not found it to be much of a problem. Once installed along with the cockpit, the nose section can be closed up, the coaming and clear HUD are added, and you can then choose to install the nose cone and pitot, or leave it off and show off the radar installation that is provided in the kit. Either way, you're going to need 9g of weight according to Kitty Hawk, so plan ahead, as too much is better than too little. I've often wondered whether this "build the nose and fuselage, then attach them together" process was the best idea, electing to attach the nose halves to the fuselage with my Jaguar build, but the Gripen is broken down in such a way that apart from a small section under the nose/fuselage there is very little in the way of seam. Do some test fitting before you start the build, and make up your own mind here, as apart from maybe getting a better joint with the cockpit/spine interface, there's not too much that could go wrong. I'll have a quick test fit myself once I've taken the sprue pictures, and if there are any concerns I'll report back. As mentioned earlier, a full rendition of the Volvo built GE engine is supplied, from the initial compressor face through the afterburner to the exhaust trunking. There aren't many parts, but as most of the motor will be hidden away, that’s not exactly bad news anyway. The casing is in two halves, into which you glue the two-part compressor blade/stator vane assembly, the afterburner ring, and a PE trunking inner face. You'll need to roll the trunking part to fit snugly with the tube of the engine, but it will be worth the effort, as it is covered with nicely done fine surface detail. On the fuselage halves, a pair of inserts are added either side of the jet exhaust in readiness for the air-brakes, a bay detail part for the in-flight refuelling probe is added to the upper port intake area, and a pair of small recessed bays on the rear of the port wing root for the APU, both of which have PE sidewalls which project out of the fuselage to portray the outward opening doors. A bit of masking will be needed to keep things tidy, and alternative closed bay parts would have been welcomed, rather than having to resort to making plugs from styrene sheet. At this point the fuselage can be closed up around the engine, as the main gear bays are attached to the lower wing, which is good news for anyone that can't wait to close up the fuselage during a build. The main gear bays are next, and these have some good detail moulded in, with five extra parts added to further improve them, plus a bulkhead at the front. Again, the main gear is added at this stage, made up from three parts plus a clear landing light, and the tyre in two halves that again has some nice detail moulded into the hub. They are offered up to the lower wing, locating on two pegs each that pass through corresponding holes in the bay. The mating surface is large, so some liquid cement flooded into the area and then firm pressure should result in a good strong joint. The upper wings can then be added, and have spacers to keep them at the correct separation so they meet up with the wing root on the upper surface. The leading-edge dog-tooth is added once the wings are together, and the flying surfaces are added to the rear edge, and can be offset to give a more candid appearance to the aircraft's pose. The fuselage is dropped into the gap between the upper wing halves, and if all has gone well, should fit neatly into the slot with minimal clean-up. The missing portion of the lower fuselage between the nose and wing section is added from a single flat part, and the gear bay doors are shown added at this point too, although it's a wiser modeller that will leave them off until later. With careful alignment and test-fitting, the join-lines should require little clean-up, and I've never had problems with KH kits before, so fingers crossed. The tail has some sensors built into the leading edge, one of which is rather fragile and likely to get knocked off during construction. The rudder is separate and can be posed offset if you wish, and there are a couple of PE antennas on either side of the tail bullet, as well as some more on the aircraft's spine. The air-brakes have been engineered to fit only in the open position, although they should fit flush if you'd like a cleaner look to your model. At this stage you fit the four underwing pylons, of which two types are included, one having a more organic shape and more detail. The two wing-tip mounted rails, centreline pylon starboard rail under the intake are then added, at which time the nose is installed between the as-yet uninstalled intakes. The rear cockpit fairing slides over the fuselage around 5cm, and has a very large mating surface, resulting in a good join, and very little chance of your nose falling off in the future. The intakes are C-chaped profile parts that mate to the flat splitter-plates, and inside them you will find a few ejector pin marks that should be removed if you're not adding FOD guards. These fit against the fuselage on a long slot, and if you test-fit them should need little work, as the join falls on a panel line. The three doors on the nose gear bay are added, the front one having a pair of retraction arms, and a clear part for the landing light. The canards fit into a small hole in the sides of the intake trunk, and can be angled to suit your references, as they are often angled downwards to act as an airbrake, particularly during short-field landings. At the rear, a nicely detailed single part exhaust is fitted, with individual petals engraved on inner and outer faces. There is evidence of a slight sink-mark on the inner face, but this is right inside the exhaust tube, unlikely to be seen and painting will disguise it well. The canopy of the Gripen is side-opening with a fixed windscreen, and this is how it is supplied in the kit. The winscreen fixes to the space around the coaming, and the canopy is shown either closed, or posed open by the use of a small PE hinge that is bent to shape. It's nice that they have included this, as quite often kit manufacturers give no thought how to pose a side-opening canopy. The opening canopy has a moulded in frame on the top, which is a little too prominent, and would benefit from sanding back. I suspect that is should be inside the canopy anyway, so it could be removed completely, re-polished and a length of rod used to more accurately depict it. It won't bother too many people however, but the detail hounds may want to consider it. A set of PE rear-view mirrors are included, as is the prominent cross-brace that joins the two canopy rails together. A long PE part is placed around the inside of the canopy's front lip, just behind the rear-view mirrors, the reason for which I can't quite make out on my reference photos. The canopy interior is black anyway, so paint it a very dark grey, and hope no-one asks if you don't know what it is either. There are three sprues of weapons, two of which are from the Mirage F.1 kit, the other is specific to the Gripen, and of these three sprues, you can use the following: DWS 39 Mjölner sub-munitions dispenser (no longer carried) AGM-65 Maverick x 2 Python IV air-to-air missile x 2 RV-15S anti-ship missile AIM-120 AMRAAM x 2 AIM-9L Sidewinder x 2 IRIS-T air-to-air missile x 2 GBU-12 Paveway II 500 bomb x 2 The Mjölner sub-munitions dispenser was prohibited from use by the Swedish Flygvapnet in 2010 after they signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in May 2008, and the Python IV is named "Phyton" in the instructions due to a typo that made it through. You should have plenty of weapons for the parts bin after completion of your model, and to help you along, KH have included a diagram showing which weapons are carried on which stations on the last page of the instructions. Nothing is shown on the port shoulder station however, which is where you will sometimes find a targeting pod such as the LITENING pod with some operators. Stencils are included on the decal sheet, and the front inner cover has a full page devoted to their painting and markings, which is good to see. Markings Four options are included with the kit, and although a little light on Swedish subjects, represents the other operators well, as follows: Swedish Flygvapnet Meteor test aircraft 101 Medium Sea Grey over FS36622 with low-viz markings and a griffon (gripen) on the tail in grey. Czech Air Force aircraft 9237 Medium Sea Grey over FS36622 with low-viz markings and sepia tint tiger motif on the tail and the digits 211. Hungarian Air Force 59th TFW ident 30 Medium Sea Grey over FS36622 with hi-viz markings. South African Air Force ident. 11 Medium Sea Grey over FS36622 with low-viz markings. SA flag in colour on the tail. Each set of markings is given either a separate page (options 3 & 4) or a double-page spread (1 & 2), with both sides, top and bottom views sized so that they can be viewed easily. This has clearly increased the cost of printing the booklet, but it is most definitely worth the effort from the modeller's point of view, so to be applauded. It's a shame however that for the Meteor test marking option, that the pylon and missile weren't included. Dr Pepper resin offer a pair for a reasonable sum, but it would have been nice if KH could have included one in each kit, which probably wouldn't have broken the bank if tooling one in styrene was out of the question. The decals are printed by an unknown printer, but appear to be of good quality. There is a slight off-set of the white printing however, as seems to be a case with a lot of KH decals, but the impact should be minimal, as there are only a few decals carrying white backgrounds. The printing of the sepia-tinted tiger is excellent, as are the full-colour tail flags, which are all on the smaller sheet. Also on the smaller sheet is the decal for the instrument panel, which as well as being very nicely printed depicts the panel fully active, with instruments and maps visible on each of the three MFD screens. If you're going into full pedant mode, these should be switched off and a dark shade of green if the aircraft is parked up, but if you dial back the pedantry a little, they will add valuable extra life to the cockpit when complete. Don't forget to use plenty of setting solution to enable the decals to settle down over the raised bezels of the MFDs and the instruments moulded into the area under the HUD. Conclusion A very nicely tooled kit of the Gripen. There are a few ejector pin marks here and there that will need removing, including a few on missiles, but they have generally been well hidden. The large ejector-towers within the fuselage and engine halves are a momentary distraction, and are easily nipped off and made good, but without those few seconds of work, you'll wonder why the halves won't go together. Apart from the omission of the Meteor missile from the kit, the weapons provided are many, with plenty of the spares collection, which will be very useful if you have some French aircraft in the stash. As usual with Kitty Hawk's design ethos, the emphasis is on surface detail and opened panels, so if you want to portray your Gripen clean, or with wheels up, you'll need to put a little work in. It'd be a shame to hide away most of the detail though, although I'd seriously consider closing up the APU vents and possibly also the air-brake to accentuate the comparatively slim rump of this single-engined power-house. Highly recommended. My completed build can be found here. Available from all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Messerschmitt Bf.109G-2 & G-6 in Finnish Service (D48013 & D48014) 1:48 SBS Models Finland had a strange WWII, firstly fighting off the advances of Uncle Joe's Soviet Union, for which they received military assistance from the Nazi regime, which was still in the ascendant at that time. They fought alongside the Axis forces against the Soviets for a great portion of WWII, but in 1944 they made peace with the Allies and broke all ties with the Nazis. The Finnish Air Force was provided with a substantial number of aircraft from German production lines, most notably the Bf.109, which with their Swastika-like roundel can confuse the unaware. This came about due to the personal good-luck symbol of a Swedish count, who gave the Finns some of their early aircraft adorned with blue Swastikas, which originally were a symbol of good luck before being subverted and corrupted by the Nazi regime. These new decal sets from our friends at SBS Models in Hungary have decals for four aircraft each, including national markings for ALL options, serials and aircraft codes. That's a refreshing change from the norm, where you might only be able to make one or two of the subjects on a sheet without getting more national markings. Print quality is good, although there is a slight fuzziness to some parts of the blue under magnification, but with good register and colour density this shouldn't notice. The carrier film is very thin and glossy, cut closely around the printed areas, so should settle down nicely on a glossy surface. D48013 Bf.109G-6 in Finnish Service MT416 of 3/HLeLv 34 based at Kymi in summer 1944. Standard German mid-war RLM74/75/76 camouflage. Tactical number yellow 6 of SSgt Aaro Nuorala on fin. MT487 of 2/HLeLv 30 based at Kymi in summer 1944. Standard German mid-war RLM74/75/76 camouflage. Tactical number yellow 7 of WO Mauno Fräntilä on fuselage. MT459 of 1/HLeLv 34 based at Taipalsaari in summer 1944. Standard German mid-war RLM74/75/76 camouflage. Tactical number white 9 of 2Lt Kullervo Joutseno on fuselage. MT505 of PLeLv 41 based at Luonetjärvi in summer 1950. Upper side olive green and lower side DN colour (RLM65) white tactical war game markings. D48014 Bf.109G-2 in Finnish Service MT-207 of 1/LeLv 34 based at Suulajärvi in summer of 1943. Standard German mid-war RLM74/75/76 camouflage. Tactical number white 7 of 1Lt Kalevi Tervo on nose. MT-217 of 1/LeLv 34 based at Utti in summer 1943. Standard German mid-war RLM74/75/76 camouflage. Tactical number red 7 of 1Lt Väinö Pokela on nose. MT-28 of 3/HLeLv 28 based at Värtsilä in summer 1944. Standard warpaint with DN-colour (RLM65) underside. Tactical number yellow 8 of MSgt Erkki Alkio on fuselage. MT-225 of 1/HLeLv 24 based at Suulajärvi in spring 1944. Modified German camouflage of RLM74 and 76. Tactical number yellow 5 of 1Lt Lauri Nissinen on nose. Both decal sheets are provided with full 4-way views of the intended subjects in full colour, with notes where applicable to help you with the details such as the spinner painting. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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