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  1. Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (LS-011) 1:48 Meng Model via Creative Models Probably one of the most (if not the) most contentious and publically berated projects since the beginning of aviation over a hundred years ago, the F-35 in its three guises has been a marathon journey from proposal to production and testing, with the first few going into service in the 2010s. Initially named the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), there were three variants proposed, all of which shared the same overall configuration and look, as well as combining technology from the F-22. Utilising a stealthy surface with internal weapons bays, supersonic performance and an in-depth sensor-fusion that provides the pilot with excellent situational awareness and a broader "sense" of the whole battlesphere, the software alone has been a mammoth task. Coupled with the new technologies integrated into the airframe, and the number of contractors/countries involved, it has been late and over-budget on a number of occasions, with frequent threats and calls to cancel the project in favour of other options. Various customers have also opted in and out of the end-of-project purchase, and numbers of airframes have been chopped and changed by various customers as political wrangling and budget-balancing became involved. The Netherlands have stuck with the programme however, and has a few airframes in service with another thirty-odd yet to be delivered, all of which are scheduled to have the Norwegian-designed drag-chute pod to shorten their roll-out on landing. Irrespective of the political back and forth, the engineering side of things has progressed through the hurdles, and at the end of 2006 the maiden flight of an A variant was made, followed two years later by the STOVL B variant with its controversial lift fan. Fast-forward to 2015 and the US Marines were happy enough to call it suitable for initial operations. The navalised F-35C later joined the fray in 2018 after many issues are resolved around carrier operations. The A variant is the smallest of the three airframes and is aiming to replace the F-16 eventually, although it will have a monster of a job replacing the Falcon in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts, as well as the vast differences in cost. The Kit We've had a new tooling from Meng for a couple of years now, who have an excellent reputation for quality products and this is a reboxing of that original kit with new decals for the Netherlands version. The kit arrives in one of Meng's usual quality boxes with their trademark satin finish, and a handsome painting on the top. On the sides are profiles of the decal choice, as well as an announcement of their collaboration with AK Interactive on new paints specifically to depict the tricky colours of the Radar Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings applied to these and other modern jets. Inside the box are thirteen sprues and two fuselage halves in a dark blue/grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, a diminutive instruction booklet, and a colour painting and decaling guide in the same narrow portrait format. First things first, as this is simply a rebox with new decals it did occur to me to send you back to the original review to look at that, then come back for the decals. In order to save your clicky fingers however, I’ve just laid it all out afresh with a few adjustments so if you read the original, just skip to the paragraph above the markings header. First impressions are that unlike the companies that issued F-22 kits in this scale a few years back, Meng have got the balance of raised detail about right, with not too much or too little, all of which should look good under paint. Parts breakdown seems logical, detail is good, and a set of PE belts are included for the cockpit, which is always nice. Construction begins with this area, with a six-part ejection seat plus the aforementioned belts fitting into the cockpit tub, with only rudder, the two sticks making up the HOTAS control system, plus the instrument panel and coaming added inside. There is an instrument panel decal for the digital panel that takes up most of the front, which should look good once set within the coaming. The gear bays must be built up next, as they will be closed up within the fuselage once complete. The nose gear bay is a single part into which the completed single-wheeled nose gear leg fits, with the scissor-link and retraction jack being separate parts, as well as two more that complete the detail. This can be left off until after painting, happily. The main bays are two-part assemblies, and the main gear legs have separate retraction jacks and scissor-links, totalling 6 parts each. Whilst these bays should suffice for a great many, a little additional detail would have been appreciated, as they seem a bit simplified on close inspection. The weapons bays are both 6-part assemblies that depict the large tubing that runs their entire length, and while they too could be considered a little simplified, once you install the supplied GBU-53 small diameter bombs and their pylons in the bays, you'll probably see very little. The intake trunking is full depth, with the two intakes joining in front of the single fan of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which is a separate part with the fan face moulded in. The exhaust is relatively short, with a one-piece cylindrical trunk and the rear of the engine at the bottom, into which there are two PE mesh parts added, hiding most of what would otherwise be visible. The exhaust petals have excellent detail and finesse, and should be fine for all but the most detail-conscious, slipping over the end of the trunk and locking within the fuselage bottom on two lips. The port and starboard weapons bays, main bays, nose bay and intake trunking all attach to the lower fuselage half, with only the cockpit tub fitting into the upper half. Two pairs of small holes are drilled through the top in the aft section and then the two halves are brought together, with a few small panels added to recesses in front of the cockpit and on the spine, with the option of open or closed refuelling receptacle. Although the airframe has blended wings, they are separate parts, with a healthy overlap on the topside providing excellent strength of the finished article. Leading edge slats and flaps are added to the two-part wings, with holes drilled out for the pylons if you intend to fit them. Breaking the stealthy configuration allows the carriage of more munitions on the two underwing pylons, with a smaller outer pylon able to take addition air-to-air defensive armament of either AIM-9 or AIM-120 missiles. The elevators can be posed at a 10o droop, or in line with the airframe by using one of two inserts on the booms at either side of the exhaust, into which the completed two-part assemblies fix. The twin fins are also two parts each, with the stealthy lumps hiding all the machinery within. Under the fuselage the built-in laser-designator and various other lumps are added, after which you can choose to close up or leave open any combination of bays by adding or leaving off the hinges on some, or choosing the appropriate closed parts for the nose gear. There are a LOT of doors due to the internal weapons carried, but take your time and it'll all come together. In addition, a pair of AIM-120s can be fitted to the main weapons bays on a small pylon adapter, which deploys the weapon as the doors open. The F-35's canopy is quite heavily tinted with a golden hue, and that is sadly missing from the kit part. It isn't difficult to replicate however, simply by adding some clear acrylic yellow to the Klear/Future that you dip the canopy into. There are numerous tutorials online, so hunt one down if you’re unsure. Don't be tempted to sand off those fine canopy frame lines, as they're supposed to be there, and you'd have a devil of a job doing it, as they're on the inside of the part too! Clarity of the canopy is excellent, and Meng's inclusion of a piece of clear self-cling foil to the sprue certainly helps keep it that way until you are ready for it. There is an internal frame part that glues inside the clear part, and this should be painted in anticipation of installation, as should the fine framework mentioned earlier. Masking is the way to go here, and while you are working in the area, you might as well paint the inside of the canopy for further realism. Fitting the canopy in the closed position is simply a case of applying glue to the part and pressing it home, while an open canopy requires the installation of four parts in the coaming, as the whole canopy tilts forward for pilot egress. With that the model is ostensibly completed, apart from adding any exterior stores that you might wish to depict. If you don't use the two AIM-120s in the belly, these can be used on the outer wing pylons, as can the pair of AIM-9Xs that are also included. The main wing pylons are wired for bombs such as the GBU-13, -39, -53 or -54, all of which are detailed in the final diagram that shows their probable location even though these items aren't included in the kit. You may have noticed mention of the drag-chute pod in the preamble, which is being engineered by Norway to shorten landings in slippery winter conditions, with substantial funding coming from the RNAF to spread costs. At time of writing this pod is still in development, although has been failing to deploy too many times for their liking. That certainly explains why there are no new parts to depict it, as the size and shape hasn’t yet been finalised and Meng aren’t clairvoyant. When and if it comes into service you should be able to go back to your model, add a hump of styrene or balsa between the tail fins and bob’s your uncle. Someone will also doubtless create one in the aftermarket zone if needs be. Markings I can almost hear a chorus of "boring grey jet" from some readers, and you wouldn't be wrong, but as grey is thought to be the best colour for disguising your aircraft in the sky it's not likely to go away any time soon. The single decal option is painted “Stealth Camouflage Dark Grey”, with some of the raised panels a lighter grey, both of which weather out a little lighter with use, as can be seen on the F-22 that has now seen some active service. Masking those areas would be a chore, and could drive a modeller insane, so look out for the Galaxy Models mask set if you’re buying one. From the box you can build an airframe of 323 Squadron, Royal Netherlands Air Force, 2019. The colours are called out in Meng/AK Interactive colours, as well as Acrysion Water Based Color, which is a recent new line from the Mr Hobby range that dries faster than their existing colours. Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion If you've got this far, you're clearly in the market for a model of an F-35A in RNAF service, and the tail art does give it an edge over a boring grey jet. Casting my eyes over the parts in the box, this is a typical Meng product, so will please many. Of course they have competition in the 1:48 F-35 sphere, but Meng have built up a following by providing excellent kits of sometimes unusual subjects, and I for one am a fan. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. F-35A/B Lightning II Wheel Set (3231) 1:32 Halberd Models Halberd Models’ recent flexible resin tyre sets require a slightly different method of construction to standard resin wheels, so I’ll refer you back to my initial review in 2019 here, which explains the process and design ethos in more detail. It also has a link to a video that shows the process fully, so if you’re unsure about how to use flexible resin tyres it’s worth a read. The assemblies are a drop-in replacement for the kit parts, so they should glue straight onto the landing gear axles, but it's always wise to test and adjust as necessary, as you'll be using either epoxy or super-glue to attach them because resin doesn't adhere with styrene glue. The tyres will deform slightly under weight, just enough to give them a more realistic look, but not so much that they'll look in dire need of more air before the next mission. This set is designed for the Italeri kit, which has been about since 2017 in a couple of boxings. Arriving in the by now familiar box, there are eight resin hub parts on three casting blocks, plus three tyres – two main and one nose wheel. Construction involves liberating the resin from their undercut base either with a razor saw or motor tool, then cutting the spoked centres out of the tyres and smoothing the inner face with a burr chucked into a motor tool. Each main wheel has a thick rear part with brake-detail insert added inside the rim and a front hub face, while the nose wheel has two hub parts as you’d expect. They’re best glued with super glue (CA), and the wheels can be painted with latex based acrylic paints if necessary. Detail is excellent both on the hubs and tyres, and with sympathetic painting they should far outstrip that of the kit parts. Highly recommended. They’re currently being sold direct to customers via their Facebook page and through their distributors worldwide. Review sample courtesy of
  3. F-35B Lightning II 1:48 Kitty Hawk The F-35, otherwise known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is an American led multi-national effort to bring a fifth generation multi-role aircraft to a number of Allied nations, whilst spreading the cost of development between them. The Lockheed X-35 won the JSF contest over the Boeing X-32, and development went ahead, culminating in its first flight at the end of 2006. There are three variants of the F-35, the A, which is a conventional aircraft designed to take off and land on made-up airfields, the B, which is to be the successor to the Harrier, or AV-8B as it is known in the US, and finally the C model, which is the carrier based cat & trap variant. The F-35B is the most complex of the three variants, as it has an additional lift fan installed behind the pilot, which is powered from a shaft linked to the engine. There was, and continues to be a great deal of negative speculation about the validity of additional weight that is carried around after the take-off phase of flight, when the aircraft has transferred to horizontal flight and the fan is essentially redundant. This is likely informed partly by the love for the Harrier, and the lack of success of the Yak-38, which is the only other production aircraft to use such a technique to achieve hover, as well as the comparatively low fuel load that can be carried as a result. It can't have helped that the British AND Americans hold the name Lightning in high regard due to the success of the BAC Lightning of the 60s and the WWII P-38 Lightning, respectively. As well as all of the latest avionics and weapons systems, the JSF is also a low-observable airframe, more commonly known as stealth, and has two internal bays that can be used to carry munitions, as well as six external hard-points for when stealth is not the primary mission focus. It also exhibits the same style blended fuselage and wings as the F-22 Raptor, with semi-blended engine intakes and heavily canted twin-tails, although it sports only one engine compared to the Raptor's two. The engine has a flexible nozzle that is used in the Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) process, when it is directed downward to support the rear of the airframe while the lift fan supports the forward section. In horizontal flight, the flexible nozzle is used to enhance manoeuvrability in much the same way as the F-22. The first of the F-35Bs has arrived with the RAF in July of 2012 for evaluation, with a further three on the way, and this stealth capable aircraft is expected to be operational from land bases at least by 2018. These aircraft are significantly more expensive than originally planned, and successive changes to the order have come and gone, giving the builders of the two new aircraft carriers on which they will be carried sleepless nights. I'm sure that the same wringing of hands and negativity will be lavished on the successor to the Lightning II in due course, as these things seem to be cyclical. The Kit Kitty Hawk are a relatively new kit company to me, and I have only seen their F-94C Starfire so far, and was impressed with the attention to detail and finesse of the parts. This kit has arrived at just the right time from a British perspective because of our new delivery, and as the previously available kit in this scale was a rather poor rendition that bore only a passing resemblance to the more developed airframe we see today, it should sell well. What we will be saying in 2018 is another matter! The kit arrives in a glossy, predominantly white box, with a nice painting of an F-35B on finals with its lift-fan door extended and wheels down. Inside are six sprues of dark grey styrene, plus three individually moulded parts for the fuselage, a clear sprue, three small decal sheets, and a glossy instruction booklet that repeats the boxtop image on its front page. The sprues are bagged in pairs for the most part, with the flimsy bags remaining open for easy access to the sprues. The clear parts were in a closed bag to protect that beautiful goldfish bowl of a canopy, as were the decals, curiously further protected by a clear acetate film over each sheet, rather than the usual grease-proof paper type. The first thing that is evident from perusing the sprues is that there is a lot of detail moulded in. There is also a lot of mould release still evident on my review sample, so a good wash of the parts will be essential if you ever want to get the paint to stick well. There are some fabulous compound curved parts that must have taken some moulding, and a few parts have been improved by a little slide-moulding. Surface detail is good, and a little more restrained than Hasegawa's recent F-22 kit in 1:48, but more evident than the earlier Academy kit of the same aircraft. To my tired and untrained eyes, they seem to have got the balance just right between relief and accuracy in representing the oddly raised and curved panels. Opening the instruction booklet, it is obvious that the kit has been engineered to be displayed in the STOVL configuration, as the exhaust nozzle is moulded in the hover position, which would appear to take a lot of work to change to level-flight mode. There is however a pair of parts for the exhausts that allow the modeller to build it that way, although this isn't documented in the instructions. The build begins with the cockpit conventionally enough, which is well detailed, although the ejection seat will need seatbelts adding if you intend on omitting the supplied pilot. Given that the stick-jockey is supplied, that can be forgiven, especially as the figure is so well moulded, with separate arms and head, with the pilot's helmet being correct for the type - an insectoid looking VSI helmet with integrated screens and night-vision to aid the pilot in his tasks. The glass instrument panel sits inside a coaming, and a large decal is supplied to replicate this. The side-consoles are decorated with more traditional switches, and even the cockpit sills have some detail moulded into them. As with many modern jets, the nose gear bay, which is surprisingly shallow fits to the bottom of the cockpit tub, and the single nose-wheel mounts in a slot to the rear of the bay, while its retraction strut does the same at the front. The gear leg is nicely moulded, with a separate oleo scissor and ancillary parts, although the single-part nose wheel itself looks a little bland, but does at least have some tread moulded into the contact surface. The upper half of the nose of the kit is moulded into the top fuselage half, but the bottom is a separate part, and it is into this piece that the nose bay and cockpit assembly fit. This is then put to one side while the intakes, engine and exhaust path is built up. A basic rendition of the P&W F-135 engine is supplied, and this is built up with its front and rear faces detailed with appropriate fans and the large drive shaft that leads forward to the lift fan. This is then cocooned inside the y-shaped intake trunking that is built up using six parts in total, with some neat curves. The insides of the intake trunking is a little rough, but as you will probably see very little of it on the finished model, 99% of the modelling public will probably not be unduly concerned. If you are the 1%, the main inlets can be fettled while still in their appropriate halves, and the seam then attacked with putty once joined. The vectoring exhaust nozzle sits behind the rear of the engine, and as mentioned earlier is angled downward for landing/take-off. If you wanted to change the configuration to horizontal flight, you need to replace the C11 & C12 C9 and C10 which are the two halves of the straight exhaust trunk. The controversial lift-fan sits between the bifurcated intake trunks, and attaches to the drive-shaft at the rear. The fan has blade and stator-blade detail top and bottom, and should look good once painted. The main landing gear bays are built up next, with plenty of detail moulded into each one. The instructions would have you add the gear legs here, but these can be left out until later, as they drop into slots in the roof of the bay. The two weapons bays build up from several parts each, with the shell made up from the main "tub", plus an end plate, after which five detail parts are added, including a rather long and chunky conduit that runs the full length of each bay. When these are added to the lower fuselage, it should become a lot more stable, as without the bays installed, it is a little prone to temporarily warping under pressure during handling. The lower louvers for the lift fan are added to the front lower fuselage, and then the nose plus the completed engine assembly are added, sitting on a couple of well-engineered pegs to ensure a snug fit, and hopefully leading to a good fit between the intakes and lips. Some detail painting of the interior will be needed where they are visible through the open bays during STOVL configuration. The aft section of the engine, the opening on the top of the trunking and the lift fans are all visible with the various doors and panels deployed, but check you have painted everything sufficiently before gluing it in, or you will be kicking yourself! With the lower fuselage now full of components, the upper fuselage is added, completing the main part of the fuselage build. Attention then turns to the wings, which are nicely detailed with some rivets and raised detail - I'll have to check my references a little closer to see whether the rivets are appropriate for an aircraft with a high composite materials count. The tails have thick lower parts, and this is shown well in the bulbous moulding, which also gives them a rather sturdy mating surface with the fuselage top. The main wings are built up from a central core of top and bottom, to which the flying surface and leading edge slats are added. A small Wing Exhaust Bypass Vent (so I'm told!) is attached to the underside of the upper wing, and is later visible through a corresponding hole in the lower wing that is part of the lower fuselage part. The offsetting of the lower and upper wing parts gives a good mating surface, and the elevators have a large peg to ensure they have a good grip on the rear of the fuselage, as they trail behind and would be easy prey to clumsy handling. Again, the kit has been engineered to be displayed with all of the doors open, so be prepared for some work if you elect to close the weapons bays, and even more to display it wheels up in horizontal flight. There are a profusion of doors under the aircraft, and each one has some rather nice detail moulded into both sides, although a few ejector pin marks will need removing. This will be easier because almost all of the hinges have been moulded as separate parts, so there is no risk of knocking them off during preparation. As well as the gear bay and weapons bay doors, there are also a pair under the fuselage for the lift-fan louvers and two more fuselage panels that hinge down and outboard so that the engine nozzle can transition to fully vertical, which after a little experimentation seems to be designed with closing of the doors in mind, which should just necessitate the removal of the moulded in door hinges. Add in the large barn-door that covers the lift fan upper and the ancillary intake behind it, and you have a lot of doors to prepare, paint and install. This will also increase the masking load due to the pre-painted bays all over the airframe. Once all of these parts are installed, it just remains for the forward hinging canopy to be installed, and here is another high-point of the model. The canopy is supplied as a single piece, and is crystal clear, with minimal thickness reducing distortion, and nicely engraved framing. The traditional windscreen "hoop" is moulded inside the canopy, so masking will have be done to both sides to get the correct look, but after a dip in Klear or Alclad Aqua Gloss, it should look stunning. The canopy side-rails are supplied as styrene parts, and the hinge at the very leading edge of the canopy is also glued to the clear part. Careful choice of glue will be needed to obtain maximum strength to support the weight of the part without clouding the canopy itself. The canopy then fits into a slot in the front of the coaming, which holds it at the correct angle, and with a little testing could allow the modeller to simply slot it in rather than gluing it, which would doubtless save it from danger during transport. The supplied armament consists of two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, plus a further pair of AIM-9X Sidewinders, the latest generation of the famous air-to-air missile. The AIM-120s are for installation within the weapons bays, and the Sidewinders on the outboard stations on the wings. A further four underwing pylons are provided in the box, but no munitions to populate them, sadly. A weapons diagram shows it loaded with four iron bombs on the inner wing stations, although it is noted they aren't in the kit, so you will need to source some 500lb GBU-38s or 1000lb GBU-32s if you feel like loading her up to the max. Decals are provided on three sheets, the smallest of which simply contains the cockpit instrument panel, so is only postage stamp sized. The largest sheet contains a full set of low-viz markings for American and other nations, while the smaller sheet carries hi-viz markings and some of the more garish multi-national markings associated with the test machines. From these sheets you can build one of the following: VMFAT-501 in dark grey with Marines writ large on the wings and fuselage in low-viz. BF-04 USS Wasp carrier trials in dark grey and low-viz markings. Test airframe B-01 with dark grey fuselage, black tail with a lightning bolt and STOVL in orange/yellow and multi-national flag banners running along the fuselage sides. The decals are well printed, although the more colourful sheet has a somewhat faded aspect to some areas that may or may not disappear once applied. You should note that as well as the instrument panel on the separate sheet, there is also one on the main colourful sheet, but this is significantly smaller, and would leave large borders around it if used. Conclusion This is a welcome new release from this new company, and detail is excellent for the most part, and very much up with the larger companies in terms of quality of moulding. Part breakdown is sensible, and although inclusion of a full motor might seem a little wasteful of tooling at first glance, the fact that sections of it will be visible once the model is complete makes more sense once you have studied the build. It would have been nice for the alternative parts for a bird configured for horizontal flight to be documented, but that is a minor gripe that can be corrected by reading this review anyway! If you'd asked me three years ago what I thought of the Lightning II, I would have been quite dismissive, but lately it's been growing on me and with the delivery of the UK's first airframe recently, this kit couldn't have come at a better time. I'm going to have a hard time resisting the temptation of building it straight away. Review sample courtesy of and available soon from major hobby shops
  4. F-35C Lightning II 1:48 Kitty Hawk We reviewed the F-35A (reviewed here, and F-35B (reviewed here) when they were released, and you can pick up some information on the real thing from there if you have a read. The F-35C is the traditional carrier-borne variant, which has a number of differences to make it resilient enough to work from a carrier at sea, including strengthened landing gear for those hard landings, larger folding wings and tail planes for greater control at landing speeds, and of course a big hook at the rear for trapping-on, which was subject to a little controversy when it had to be hastily re-designed. The Kit This is the third variant of the Lightning II from Kitty Hawk, and you can read our reviews of the previous two by following the links above. The C is likely to be the last for a short while until the various other operators settle on their configurations. In line with commonality of the real variants, the A and the C models share a great many parts on the sprues, with a subtly different fuselage that omits the refuelling port and adds a bulge under the tail for the arrestor hook. The guts of the beast are familiar, with new sprues containing the larger wings, a new cockpit tub and some weapons, plus the gear legs and wheels for this ruggedized variant. The box is standard Kitty Hawk fare, with a painting of an F-35C on the blocks ready to be catapulted into the air – a scene that lends itself to Kinetic's diorama base that I have half-completed behind me. Inside the box are eight sprues in light grey styrene, one of clear, a reduced Photo-Etch (PE) sheet, and two sheets of decals. A detail & Scale flyer hides the instruction booklet at the bottom of the box, which has a fold-out full colour painting and decaling guide that is much improved over their early efforts. Thanks for listening guys! The kit is typical Kitty Hawk, and if you have any of their kits, especially the other F-35s, you'll know exactly what to expect. The sprue ejector guy still has his machine turned up to eleven though, and there are some visible stress marks on the surfaces of the wings, and the instrument panel looks like it was almost punched in half by the severity of the ejection. The clear sprue is marked up differently than the A, but a brief visual inspection doesn't show any obvious differences, but it does show how lovely and clear the part is, although my canopy had broken off the sprue (cleanly) by the time I had opened the bag. The PE sheet is much smaller than the earlier A, eschewing the option of having the crisp metal exhaust petals that could easily drive the novice PE user to despair. Construction begins with the cockpit, and don't be tempted to choose the wrong tub as your basis for this. Appropriately it is number B13, and the instructions call for E25 instead, which has a sort-of missing edge to the tub to accommodate the refuelling probe bay on the starboard side. The pilot's seat is a little lacklustre, but does have a set of PE belts to hide the bland cushions, and of course a pilot figure that isn't mentioned in the instructions if you want to hide it properly. The instrument panel had received a punch in the back from the ejector pin, but remains intact on my review sample, so take care when you remove it from the sprue. The central portion is blank and has a decal to depict the large expanse of glass that is the modern instrument panel. It's like sitting in front of an ultra-wide LED screen, mainly because that's what it is. The rudder pedals are nicely moulded integrally to the tub, with a short control column and HOTAS stick on the port side console. A few black boxes affix behind the seat, and a large coaming shrouds the instrument panel, with the assembly to be added to the lower fuselage in due course. The nose gear bay is shallow and made up from separate sides with a separate angled forward section, so detail here is good. The chunky gear leg with a massive retraction strut can be placed in at this stage, or left 'til later, and the additional parts add extra life to it, with separate bracing struts, and of course the twin nose wheels, which are made up from halves, which suits the circumferential tread engraved into the contact surface. The big weapons bays in the belly are next, with a long snaking conduit running their full length, and a couple of equipment boxes added to busy the area up. You'll need to do a little more work with wiring (did I say a little?) to add extra visual interest and make the whole area as faithful as possible, or you can chicken out and close them up! The two weapons bays and nose gear bay are then installed in the lower fuselage, which should give it the structural rigidity that it lacks out of the box. A little tail-hook bay is placed in the rear, and then it is time to build up the engines, which comprise full-depth intake trunking, plus a basic representation of the engines themselves, which will ultimately disappear within the fuselage forever. The F135 engines that are currently too large to carry by the US Fleet replenishment systems have their rear face surprisingly close to the rear of the aircraft, so exhaust trunking isn't required, but you'll have enough sanding and filling already with the intake trunks, so breathe a sigh of relief here. These slot in on top and between the weapons bays, and are joined by the main gear bays, which will also need some additional wiring to super-detail them. The big gear legs have separate retraction jacks and oleo-scissors, with the wheels themselves made up from two halves and a separate inner brake calliper part, which look like they can also be installed later if you wish. Once in place outboard of the weapons bays, the cockpit is then attached to the roof of the nose gear bay, and attention turns to the upper fuselage. The gun blanking plate is attached above the starboard intake lip, and the refuelling probe is added, which doesn't seem to have a closed option, although the cover is added later in the build. Some test-fitting and fettling would be needed if you wanted to pose this closed. Ten PE shackles are added to around the cockpit lip, as well as a rear bulkhead behind the pilot's head, and the sharp tip is added to the nose, before the wings are started. The wing sprues of the C are totally different from the other variants, both in terms of sprue layout, configuration as well as size. The inner wing panels are built from a two-part core with separate leading edges and posable flaperons, both of which are also made up from top and bottom skins. The outer wing panels are similarly constructed, and can be posed down for flight, or by the use of a small hinge part, they can be posed up for storage below decks. A hinge strip is placed horizontally or vertically, respectively. The horizontal tails are two parts each and plug into the rear booms either side of the engine, so you won't be able to pose them without some adjustments. The enlarged vertical tails are also two parts, and these fit into some large sockets on the top of the fuselage. Again, they're fixed, so posing them offset to one side or other will involve work on your part. The exhaust petals are a single very finely moulded part, and quite nicely done. Mine had received a light blow during transit, so a couple of the petals were very slightly less sharp than the others, but this shouldn't notice under a few coats of paint. Once installed, a pair of serrated fairings are fitted to blend the exhaust in with the fuselage. A crew step is included in the kit, and that normally resides behind a fuselage panel á la the A-10. Another small door is present at the front of the tail-hook bay, and that opens up to permit the hook to deploy fully. If you are depicting your F-35C in flight, you'll need to address all these bays to fettle and fit them closed, and this will be best done before you close up the fuselage. The underside of the Lightning II is as forest of doors in order to maintain its low-observability as much and as long as possible. The weapons bays have two doors running their whole length, and the main gear bays have two that open toward the wing tips. The nose gear bay has a pair of clamshell doors at the front of the bay, and a single door captive to the retraction jack at the rear. All of these doors are well detailed inside, and have separate hinges that should result in a good strong joint with the fuselage. At the nose a clear part represents the faceted Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) that is integrated with all of the F-35's systems. The real thing has an oily holographic sheen, but good luck with representing that one! Kitty hawk aren't usually stingy with their weapons, and with the C, we have a number that can be added to the pylons that are included with the kit, but none are able to be installed in the weapons bays out of the box, which seems a shame, and misses the whole point of providing the opening bays. There is however the new semi-stealthy pod that contains a GAU-22 25mm four barrelled gatling gun to give the new uber-aircraft old school dog-fighting capabilities at the expense of some of the stealth. This sits between the weapons bays on the belly, and is made up from three parts. The external pylons are fabricated from two halves plus an insert for the location points, with the slim outer pylon having faceted stabilising base attached to the upper edge of the pylon. To these you can add a combination of the following, but check your references if you want to make the load-out more accurate. 2 x AIM120 AMRAAMs 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinders 2 x GBU-38 Iron bombs 2 x GBU-31 Iron Bombs 2 x GUB-31B Iron Bombs 2 x GBU-12 Smart Bombs Markings We are treated to four markings options, which is good considering the short lifespan of the "final form" F-35C so far. From the box you can build one of the following: US Navy No.01 VFA-101 – all over RAM grey with hi-viz markings and Grim Reapers badge on the tails. US Navy CF-01 – all over RAM grey with lo-viz markings and blue/yellow lightning strikes on the tails with F-35 in yellow. US Navy CF-03 - all over RAM grey with lo-viz markings. US Navy CF-01 prototype – patchwork blue/grey primer, RAM grey and blue tail fins. Depicted before the final finish was applied. Colour call-outs are Gunze throughout, as you'd expect from a Far Eastern company, and the decals have been printed anonymously, as per their previous kits. The quality does seem to have improved somewhat, and registration is good on this issue, but there are still the occasional bleed of some of the more intense dark colours, especially on the stars and bars, although it's barely noticeable without magnification. One of the greys has been composited by mixing grey and black printing, so on close inspection some of the logos on nose appear a little grainy, but again, you really have to be paying close attention. The yellow flashes on the tail of option 2 are printed, and may not show up too well over a blue tail, so perhaps give some consideration to masking them, using the decals as a template. Conclusion The final part of the F-35 trilogy will fit nicely on the shelf with the A and B, and as usual with Kitty Hawk, should build up into an impressive looking replica with the application of some modelling skill. Test-fitting and care in preparing the parts will pay dividends, and that patchwork primer option is really rather tempting. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of and available soon from major hobby shops
  5. F-35A Lightning II Update Sets (for Meng) 1:48 Eduard Meng were a little late to the F-35A party, but a late appearance is better than none at all, with a nice kit being the result, as you can see here. Eduard's new range of sets are here to improve on the kit detail in the usual modular manner. Get what you want for the areas you want to be more of a focal point. As usual with Eduard's Photo-Etch (PE) and Mask sets, they arrive in a flat resealable package, with a white backing card protecting the contents and the instructions that are sandwiched between. Update Set (49864) Two frets are included, one nickel plated and pre-painted, the other in bare brass. A complete set of new layered instrument panels and side consoles are the primary parts on the painted set; ejection seat details; coaming instrumentation; rear deck and substantial canopy internal structure also supplied. On the airframe side, tie-downs and hubs are added to the wheels; details are added in the bays; a complex afterburner ring is inserted into the exhaust trunking, and a small number of panels are added to the area on the top of the fuselage where the wings blend with the intake trunking. Zoom! Set (FE865) This set contains a reduced subset of the interior, namely the pre-painted parts that are used to improve on the main aspects of the cockpit, as seen above. Whatever your motivations for wanting this set, it provides a welcome boost to detail, without being concerned with the structural elements. Seatbelts STEEL (FE865) In case you don't already know, these belts are Photo-Etch (PE) steel, and because of their strength they can be etched from thinner material, which improves realism and flexibility in one sitting. Coupled with the new painting method that adds perceived extra depth to the buckles and other furniture by shading, they are more realistic looking and will drape better than regular brass PE. As well as the two sets of crew belts, you also get a set of the unusually placed pull-handles either side of the pilot's knees that gets him out of there in case of an emergency, plus the leg restraints that pull tight to prevent flail injuries. Masks (EX567) Supplied on a sheet of yellow kabuki tape, these pre-cut masks supply you with a full set of masks for the canopy, with compound curved handled by using frame hugging masks, while the highly curved gaps are in-filled with either liquid mask or offcuts from the background tape. In addition you get a set of hub/tyre masks for all the wheels (including the out-riggers), allowing you to cut the demarcation perfectly with little effort, plus the faceted lenses of the sensor under the nose. Review sample courtesy of
  6. F-35A Lightning II 1:48 Meng Model Probably one of the (if not the) most contentious and publically berated projects since the beginning of aviation over a hundred years ago, the F-35 in its three guises has been a marathon journey from proposal to production and testing, with the first few going into service this decade. Initially named the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), there were three variants proposed, all of which shared the same overall configuration and look, as well as borrowing technology from the now in-service F-22. Combining a stealthy surface with internal weapons bays, supersonic performance and an in-depth sensor-fusion that provides the pilot with excellent situational awareness and a broader "sense" of the whole battlesphere, the software alone has been a mammoth task. Coupled with the new technologies utilised, and the number of contractors/countries involved, it has gone over time and budget on a number of occasions, with frequent threats and calls to cancel the project in favour of other options. Various customers have also opted in and out of the end-of-project purchase, and numbers of airframes have been chopped and changed by various customers as political wrangling and budget-balancing became involved. Irrespective of the political back and forth, the engineering side of things has progressed through the hurdles, and at the end of 2006 the maiden flight of an A variant was made, followed two years later by the STOVL B variant with its controversial lift fan. Fast-forward to 2015 and the US Marines were happy enough to call it suitable for initial operations. The navalised F-35C will join the fray in 2018 after many issues are resolved around carrier operations. The A variant is the smallest of the three airframes and is aiming to replace the F-16 eventually, although it will have a monster of a job replacing the Falcon in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts, as well as the differences in cost. Great Britain will be taking a number of A and B variants amongst its purchase for "synergy" between forces. Don't you just love management speak? No, me neither. The Kit We've had a couple of kits in this scale of the F-35, with a fairly recent release from another company that I suspect is about to be eclipsed by this brand new tooling from Meng, who have an excellent reputation for quality products. The kit arrives in one of Meng's usual high class boxes with their trademark satin finish, and a handsome painting on the top. On the sides are profiles of the decal choices, as well as an announcement of their collaboration with AK Interactive on new paints specifically to depict the tricky colours of the Radar Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings applied to these and other modern jets. Inside the box are thirteen sprues and two fuselage halves in a dark blue/grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, a diminutive instruction booklet, and a colour painting and decaling guide in the same narrow portrait format. First impressions are that unlike the companies that issued F-22 kits in this scale a few years back, Meng have got the balance of raised detail about right, with neither too much nor too little, all of which should look good under paint. Speaking of paint, we'll be reviewing a new set of masks for this kit's complex RAM coatings from Galaxy Model soon, so watch this space. I'll put a link to it when it's live. Parts breakdown seems logical, detail is good, and a set of PE belts are included for the cockpit, which is always nice. Construction begins with this area, with a six-part ejection seat plus the aforementioned belts fitting into the cockpit tub, with only rudder, the two sticks making up the HOTAS control system, plus the instrument panel and coaming added last of all. There is an instrument panel decal for the digital panel that takes up most of the room, which should look good once set within the deep coaming. The gear bays must be built up next, as they will be closed up within the fuselage once complete. The nose gear bay is a single part into which the completed single-wheeled nose gear leg fits, with the scissor-link and retraction jack being separate parts, as well as two more that complete the detail. This can be left off until after painting, happily. The main bays are two-part assemblies, and the main gear legs have separate retraction jacks, links and scissor-links, totalling 6 parts each. Whilst these bays should suffice for a great many, a little additional detail would have been appreciated, as they seem a bit simplified on closer nspection. The weapons bays are both 6-part assemblies that depict the large tubing that runs their entire length, and while they too could be considered a little simplified, once you install the supplied GBU-53 small diameter bombs and their pylons in the bays, you'll probably see very little. The intake trunking is full depth, with the two intakes joining in front of the single fan of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which is a separate part with the fan face moulded in. The exhaust is relatively short, with a one-piece cylindrical trunk with the rear of the engine at the bottom, into which there are two PE mesh parts added, hiding most of what would otherwise be visible. The exhaust petals have excellent detail and finesse, and should be fine for all but the most detail-conscious, slipping over the end of the trunk and locking within the fuselage bottom on two lips. The port and starboard weapons bays, main bays, nose bay and intake trunking all attach to the lower fuselage half, with only the cockpit tub fitting into the upper half. Two pairs of small holes are drilled through the top in the aft section and then the two halves are brought together, with a few small panels added to recesses in front of the cockpit and on the spine, with the option of open or closed refuelling receptacle. Although the airframe has blended wings, they are separate parts, with a healthy overlap on the topside providing excellent strength of the finished article. Leading edge slats and flaps are added to the two-part wings, with holes drilled out for the pylons if you intend to fit them. Breaking the stealthy configuration allows the carriage of more munitions on the two underwing pylons, with a smaller outer pylon able to take addition air-to-air defensive armament of either AIM-9 or AIM-120 missiles. The elevators can be posed at a 10o droop, or in line with the airframe by using one of two inserts on the booms at either side of the exhaust, into which the completed two-part assemblies fix. The twin fins are also two parts each, with the stealthy lumps hiding all the machinery within. Under the fuselage the built-in laser-designator and various other lumps are added, after which you can choose to close up or leave open any combination of bays by adding or leaving off the hinges on some, or choosing the appropriate closed parts for the nose gear. There are a LOT of doors due to the internal weapons carried, but take your time and it'll all come together. In addition, a pair of AIM-120s can be fitted to the main weapons bays on a small pylon adapter, which deploys the weapon as the doors open. The F-35's canopy is quite heavily tinted with a golden hue, and that tint is sadly missing from the kit part. It isn't difficult to replicate however, simply by adding some clear acrylic yellow (or food colouring) to the Klear/Future that you dip the canopy into. There are numerous tutorials online, and I did just this with my Mig-31 Foxhound build a while back. Don't be tempted to sand off those fine canopy frame lines, as they're supposed to be there, and you'd have a devil of a job doing it because they're on the inside of the part! Clarity of the canopy is excellent, and Meng's inclusion of a piece of self-cling foil to the sprue certainly helps keep it that way until you are ready for it. There is an internal plastic frame part that glues inside the clear part, and this should be painted in anticipation of installation, as should the fine framework mentioned earlier. Masking is the way to go here, and while you are working in the area, you might as well paint the inside of the canopy for further realism. Fitting the canopy in the closed position is simply a case of applying glue to the part and pressing it home, while an open canopy requires the installation of four parts in the coaming, as the whole canopy tilts forward for pilot egress. With that the model is ostensibly completed, apart from adding any exterior stores that you might wish to depict. If you don't use the two AIM-120s in the belly, these can be used on the outer wing pylons, as can a pair of AIM-9Xs that sadly aren't included. The main wing pylons are wired for bombs such as the GBU-13, -39, -53 or -54, all of which are detailed in the final diagram that shows their probable location even though these items aren't included in the kit. There is however a new range of aftermarket styrene weapons sets coming from Meng, which may go at least some way toward explaining the dearth in the box. Markings I can almost hear a chorus of "boring grey jet" from some readers (if they haven't tuned out already), and you wouldn't be wrong about the grey part, to an extent at least. Both decal options are painted a dark grey, with some of the raised panels a lighter grey, both of which weather out a little lighter with use, as can be seen on the F-22 that has now seen some active service. Masking those areas would be a chore, and could drive a modeller insane, so look out for my upcoming review of the Galaxy Models mask set in due course. From the box you can build one of the following: F-35A 13-5071 34th FS, 388th FW, USAF piloted by Lt. Col. George Watkins, Hill AFB, 2016 F-35A 11-5033 33rd FW, USAF, piloted by Lance Pilch, Eglin AFB, 2015 The colours are called out in AK Interactive codes, as well as Acrysion Water Based Color, which is a new issue from the Mr Hobby range that dries faster than their existing colours. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion If you've got this far, you're clearly in the market for a model of an F-35A, and in my humble opinion this is now the one to get if fit and finish is key to your modelling enjoyment. Casting my eyes over the parts in the box, this is a typical Meng product, so will please many. Of course they have gone into competition with another previously released modern tooling of the subject, but Meng have built up a following by providing excellent kits of sometimes unusual subjects, and I for one am a fan. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. So since I got the Boeing X-32 finished, I thought I might try and build the other Joint Strike Fighter competitor, Lockheed's X-35. This is Italeri's take on the VTOL variant, the X-35B. I think there was more than a fair amount of 'what-iffery' in the Italeri design studio when they came up with this one... Not much to it, will see if I can make the GB closing date! Cheers, Dermot
  8. Hi everyone and looking forward to this GB! Such a great idea to celebrate the winners, record-setters, weird and wonderful. I was going to try the forward swept-wing Grumman X-29 but in the end settled for this one, Boeing's losing entry in the Joint Strike Fighter competition, the X-32. (Or Jetty Mac JetFace as I might call her ) Will be built OOB. Good luck with your builds! Dermot
  9. Hi all, This is my latest finish, Italeri's issue of the Boeing X-32A Demonstrator which was their entry in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) competition and my entry in the Experimentals/Prototypes/Record Breakers GB here. While certainly a distinctive design, the Boeing entry would have looked substantially different in production, with a non-delta wing and four post tail. In the end, it lost out to Lockheed Martin's X-35 which is now entering service as the F-35. You can read more about the Boeing design here. If you want to watch a documentary about this competition, i'd highly recommend Battle of the X-Planes which you'll also sometimes catch on repeat on Discovery or PBS America if you live in the UK. Just to recap on the build.. Kit: Italeri 1208 Boeing X-32A Scale: 1/72 Build: Out of Box with Tamiya Tape for cockpit belts. Paints: Halfords Plastic primer (can); Revell Acrylics (brush); Klear; Flory Models Wash; HB Pencil; W&N Matt Coat (also brush) Decals: Kit with some extra spare stencils Italeri_1_72_Boeing_X-32_A_Done_ (1)_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Italeri_1_72_Boeing_X-32_A_Done_ (3)_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Italeri_1_72_Boeing_X-32_A_Done_ (2)_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Italeri_1_72_Boeing_X-32_A_Done_ (9)_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Italeri_1_72_Boeing_X-32_A_Done_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr And posed with an Italeri Sea Harrier for comparison... Italero_Boeing_X32A_Sea_Harrier_FRS1_1_s by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr And that's it! I have the Italeri X-35 in the stash too so might built that to display alongside it. Thanks for looking and enjoy your modelling. Dermot.
  10. Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II OrangeHobby 1:72 - Orange Model Series The F-35, otherwise known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is an American led multi-national effort to bring a fifth generation multi-role aircraft to a number of Allied nations, whilst spreading the cost of development between them. The Lockheed X-35 won the JSF contest over the Boeing X-32, and development went ahead, culminating in its first flight at the end of 2006. There are three variants of the F-35, the A, which is a conventional aircraft designed to take off and land on made-up airfields, the B, which is to be the successor to the Harrier, or AV-8B as it is known in the US, and finally the C model, which is the carrier based cat & trap variant. The F-35C is the traditional carrier-borne variant, which has a number of differences to make it resilient enough to work from a carrier at sea, including strengthened landing gear for those hard landings, larger wings and tail planes for greater control at landing speeds, folding wings; and of course a big hook at the rear for trapping-on, which was subject to a little controversy when it had to be hastily re-designed. Twin nose wheels are also a feature not seen on the other models. As well as all of the latest avionics and weapons systems, the JSF is also a low-observable airframe, more commonly known as stealth, and has two internal bays that can be used to carry munitions, as well as six external hard-points for when stealth is not the primary mission focus. It also exhibits the same style blended fuselage and wings as the F-22 Raptor, with semi-blended engine intakes and heavily canted twin-tails, although it sports only one engine compared to the Raptor's two. As with a lot of new aircraft projects the F-35C has suffered its fair share of problems, the only difference is they seem to have been "made available" to the press more easily by its detractors. These have included software issues, the fact that the engine s too heavy to be carried to the carrier by the traditional replenishment systems, and the engine generates more heat than any other one currently in use. Destitute these setbacks VF-101 received its first F-35C back in 2013, and VX-23 completed a 2 week sea deployment in November 2014. The Kit The kit arrives on five sprues of dark grey plastic, one sprue for the aircraft tow tractor, a small clear sprue, a small PE Fret and two small decal sheets. The main fuselage is split top/bottom. The detail consists of raised detail in the most part with some fine engraved lines, and heavier ones for the control surfaces. Some of the sprue gates for the larger parts are quite heavy and they will need careful removal. The immediate noticeable point for the kit is the Radar Absorbent Material (or RAM) is moulded in relief on the kit. There has been some criticism of this, however it is one way of doing this, and it is how Orange Hobby have chosen to mould this. Construction shockingly enough starts with the cockpit area. The main instrument panel is placed into the top fuselage half, the instrument panel itself is supplied as a decal. Once this is in place the side controller and throttle are added to the cockpit tub. The seat is made up from 3 parts with the addition of a set of PE seat belts, it looks to be a fair representation of the F-35 seat in this scale. Once made up the seat can be added to the cockpit tub, and this placed in the upper fuselage half. Construction then moves to the lower fuselage half which looks short on structure due to all the openings its has. The one piece front wheel well is the first part to be put in place, this is then followed by the two main weapons bays which are again one piece each. The main wheel wells are two part affairs, and once they are constructed they are also added to the lower fuselage. Each side intake is also constructed and added to the lower fuselage at this time. The intakes curve in and have no ends. Now in reality you should not be able to see the engine from the front of the intake so you will not here, though it might be an idea to blank them off to stop any light issues. The exhaust is also constructed and added at this time. Once all the parts are in, the two half's of the fuselage and be closed up. Once the fuselage is closed up the next are of construction to be tackled is the landing gear. The front gear consists of a two part leg, to which two single part wheels are attached. This slots into two good mounting points in the front gear bay. The rear legs are again two mart, each with a single wheel to attach. These again have good locating pins in the main gear wells. The next major construction step is to attach all of the gear doors, and weapons bay doors to the underside. All of the doors have separate and prominent retraction mechanisms which first must be attached to the doors. It is suspected most modellers will leave the doors and undercarriage off until after the model is painted. The tail planes and vertical tails are added next. All are one part mouldings so you just have to clean the parts up and then attach them with no additional construction. The outer main wings are also added at this stage. As befits a carrier aircraft these fold. The modeller can place them in either the folded or open position. There is a cover for the wing fold hinge which had tabs moulded for the folded position. These will need to be removed for open wings. The last items to be used which will finish the model are to attach the wing pylons and weapons to be used. Two AMMRAMs and two Sidewinder AIM-9X are provided along with a centreline 25mm Gun Pod. The canopy can be attached in the closed or open position. If leaving it open then a separate hinge part is provided for this. The last sprue in the box is not for the aircraft at all. It provides the deck tractor used to move the F-35 around. This hooks onto the nose wheel and has a small seat for the operator. The cart is constructed with a mixture of plastic and PE parts and will provide a good diorama accessory if you want to pose the aircraft on a flight deck. A final item provided in PE is a set of 4 tie down chains if the modeller wishes to use them. Canopy The canopy on the real aircraft is Tinted (in all likely hood with some coating to preserve the low Radar observability aspects of the aircraft) and this has been represented by a tinting of the model canopy. This is not too dark and should not interfere with seeing the cockpit if the modeller closes the canopy. The canopy is clear and features the moulded in canopy det cord as seen on the real aircraft. Decals Decals are provided for three aircraft. CF-03 Test Aircraft CF-05 Test Aircraft 168733 Which was the First Production Aircraft in the markings of VF-101, the Red Sqn markings and Full colour National Insignia add a little bit of colour to an otherwise grey aircraft. The decals are glossy, in register and have very minimal carrier film. It is noticeable that the slime lights are not on the decal sheet. Instructions Overall the instructions are in the range of what I would call "OK". The diagrams are hard to follow in some parts. The decal diagrams are missing some decals, and the painting instructions are next to useless. There are no colour call outs except "dark gray" and there is no differentiation on the painting instructions to show which areas are the light grey and which the dark. I suspect this is because they would like the modeller to buy the separately available laser cut masks for the model. Either way I would have thought a correct painting guide would be a must. Conclusion This is another unexpected release from Orangehobby. It is great to see aircraft like the F-35C like this one becoming available in 1/72. The issue of the raised RAM areas is pretty much like Marmite, some will like it and others will hate it. Either way that's how the kit is moulded and there is no changing it now. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Orange Hobby.com
  11. I need some help please. I have found very few references to what colours to use for the F-35 cockpit. Kitty Hawk are not at all helpful with no references in their instructions. Has anyone who has made either the F-35A or B got any colour reference please? Thanks Peter
  12. F-35B photo etch detail sets for Fujimi kit 1:72 Eduard Owners of Fujimi's F-35B will no doubt be happy to see the release of these upgrade sets from Eduard. This is because while the Japanese manufacturer's curious kit is exquisitely detailed in some areas (engine, surface details, bomb bay) it is quite spartan in others (cockpit, landing gear). I'm actually halfway through building my kit, so where possible I'm going to comment on the fit of the parts as well as the usual comments on content and quality. F-35B Interior Set The first set is comprised of two frets. The first is a self-adhesive, pre-painted set that includes parts, while the second contains plain brass parts. Both sets are dedicated solely to the cockpit, which probably gives you a good idea of how plain the kit parts are. On the pre-painted fret are parts for the F-=352s large Multi-Functional Display instrument panel, side consoles, side walls and the ejector seat. The printing looks pretty good, but I'm not convinced that any amount of etch will really help the kit's ejector seat! The other glitch is that the parts for the side consoles are far too wide for the plastic parts, meaning you have to fold them first. This is tricky with pre-painted self-adhesive parts as they stick to the folding tool. Also, the paint has a tendency to flake off, leaving you to touch things up with a fine brush afterwards. The overall effect is pretty pleasing once complete though. On the unpainted set are parts for the floor of the cockpit, including new rudder pedals, and the structure behind the pilot's head, which has to be cut away in order that the replacement parts can be fitted. Parts for the inside of the canopy framing are also included, including the strip which runs cross the span of the canopy on the inside. It will take a modeller with nerves of steel to fit the latter part, as it runs the risk of completely stuffing up the excellent kit canopy. F-35B Interior Set (Zoom) This set contains the first fret from the full interior set reviewed above. Given the risks associated with much of the second fret, this would seem to be a sensible purchase for many modellers. F-35B Exterior Set This set contains a host of parts for the rest of the airframe. Various extra details are provided for the landing gear and landing gear bays, including some rather nice-looking hydraulic lines, scissor links and wheel hubs. Details for the inside faces of the landing gear bays are also included. Some of the larger parts on this fret include the flame holder for the engine afterburner and parts for the lift fan intake, exhaust and the lift fan itself. Conclusion These are both excellent sets from Eduard and they will make a real difference to the basic kit. A little cutting and folding will be required, but the end result should be worth it. If your budget won't stretch to the full sets, then the interior zoom set will make a more than adequate compromise. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. F-35A Lightning II 1:48 Kitty Hawk The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as the F-35 was originally known was a multi-national project to create a multi-role fighter for the new millennium and beyond, led by the US, with the UK and other nations taking a greater or lesser part, with a view to taking delivery of airframes once the project reaches fruition. The A model is the traditional forward flight only conventional take-off aircraft that is destined to operate from its operator's airbases, so has none of the trappings of the STOVL capable B model, leaving extra space within the airframe for fuel and weapons load. It is designed to replace much of the F-16's functionality whilst adding stealth, more correctly termed low-observability into the mix, although it will also replace some of the A-10's capacity whilst being much faster over the ground, so theoretically harder to shoot down. How much of the A-10's work-load will be taken up with cheaper, almost disposable drones by the time the F-35A comes into service is as yet unknown. The first flight of the F-35A was in early 2006, and continued test flying with various hold-ups putting it further behind schedule, which coupled with increasing costs has caused constant griping about its viability in the press. Following its flight testing at speeds of up to Mac 16, and subsequent grounding of the whole fleet due to the failure of a power unit, weapons testing began in October this year (2012) with the test firing of an AIM-120 BVR Air-to-Air missile, the replacement of the old Sparrow missile. The Kit This release follows hot on the heels of Kitty Hawk's recent F-35B, which was reviewed here in August. Although it may look very similar to the uninformed on quick glance, the two airframes are significantly different, and consequentially so are these two kits. The box is an overall white top-opening one with another nice painting of an F-35A airborne over broken cloud. Inside are six sprues of light grey styrene, the two large fuselage halves, a small clear sprue, a small but busy Photo-Etch (PE) sheet, two sheets of colourful decals, the instruction booklet with full colour cover, and an additional photo-instruction sheet for the PE parts. First impressions are good, and the fuselage parts are covered in fine detail of the same style as the B-model, although the styrene is a paler grey of the same type as that of the new Jaguar A kit, which should be good news for those that weren't keen on the darker more brittle plastic of the F-35B. The build begins conventionally with the cockpit, which is reasonably simple due to the fact that it's depicting a modern "glass" cockpit with Multi-Function Displays (MFDs). The ejector seat is made up of six parts, including a pull-handle at the front of the seat cushion and a control box attached to the left side. A set of PE seatbelt harnesses are included, plus a cover for the top of the head-box to hide the joint between two main parts. The instrument panel is a single piece with two side sections and one middle section having raised details, while the main section is flat, ready to receive the instrument panel decal that is included on the decal sheet. Some boxes affix to the rear deck, and throttle and control levers to the recessed side consoles. Unsurprisingly, the nose gear bay is attached to the underside of the cockpit, and this is made up from individual sides to maximise the detail. As seems to be the way with all recent Kitty Hawk kits, the gear leg is shown installed before the bay is placed in the fuselage, but with this kit, that's entirely optional, because all three legs fit into sockets in the roof of the bay, so can be installed at any time. The gear leg is nicely detailed however, and has a separate oleo-scissor and retraction jack that is made up from two parts. The main gear bays are built up from two parts each, with the larger side a separate part, and a similarly detailed gear leg. The main wheels are made from two halves, with the outer hub moulded into the tyre, while the rear hub is a separate part that installs into a recess. The nose-gear wheel is a single part, and none of the tyres have any weighting, although that's easy to remedy with a sanding stick if you feel the need. The twin intakes are next up, with the two trunks joining within the fuselage to feed the single engine with much-needed air. Each trunk is made from two halves, split diagonally at the corners, and there are a few shallow ejector pin marks that will need cleaning up near the open mouth. These mate at the conjoined end with a basic rendition of the engine, which makes up from two halves, and has fan faces front and rear, with additional stator vanes on the front face, and a PE burner ring at the rear. The exhaust trunk is a separate section, again made from two halves, with an internal ring added at the exhaust end. The exhaust petals themselves are supplied either as a one-piece styrene ring, which has some nice detail moulded in, or as a series of PE parts that are formed into a circle, and then joined together. The inner sleeve is formed into a simple cylinder, while the outer petals have a cylindrical base, but have an etched fold so that they can be bend inward to give the familiar conical shape to the outside. A narrow ring with serrated detail is formed into a cylinder, with the trailing serrations bent in slightly, and then placed at the base of the exhaust to conform to the shape. This is clearly the more complex option, and while it offers better and more in-scale detail, it also gives you the chance of disaster. The back-up styrene part will provide a very useful safety net if you're either phobic of PE, or are unlucky enough to make a mess of it. One of the key components of the F-35's low-observability is that it is capable of carrying some weapons in internal bays, reducing external clutter and the radar signature that the weapons would return. The main bays are on the underside of the aircraft, and these are portrayed in the kit as two "bathtubs" that have separate end-caps and plenty of moulded in detail. There is a minor mistake in the instructions of the initial batch at this point (stages 7 &8), which seems to revolve around the incorrect installation of a couple of boxes in the bays that aren't included in the kit. There are however a pair of thick cable trunks that run down each side of the bay, and these are supplied as separate parts to give them a proper 3D look. Each bay is supplied with a JDAM inertially guided smart bombs to give the bay some purpose, and to busy them up. The intake mounted Air-to-Air weapons bays are moulded closed on this kit, but their openings can be seen on the sides of the fuselage due to the raised detail around them. When all the bays are complete and painted, they are dropped into the lower fuselage, starting with the nose gear bay and the weapons bays, then the engine and its intake trunking, which also includes an additional part of the intake lip, and then the cockpit, which fits atop the nose gear bay, and the main gear bays outboard of the weapons bays. In the top fuselage half two parts are added to complete the bay for the cannon on the starboard side, and the refuelling receptacle on the spine of the aircraft. Once installed, the two fuselage halves are joined together, and the model will then start to look more like an aircraft. Three PE mesh grilles are added to the upper fuselage, two on the cannon fairing, and one on the prominent fairing on the port side. The F-35's blended wings are relatively small, and are made up from two halves, plus a two piece leading edge slat, and two piece flaperon, with a wingtip recognition light in clear (not numbered in the instructions) finishing off the job. The joint with the fuselage is stepped to add strength to the arrangement, and three sockets on the underside of the fuselage help hold it in place. The twin elevators build from two parts each and plug into the rear of the fuselage either side of the exhaust. A separate tip to the nose is added at this stage, presumably to remove the need to hide any seam going through the nose, which is a thoughtful touch. The raised sensor blister with two flat glazed panes is added to the underside, although this part isn't all that clear in places, suffering from a little distortion. An absolute profusion of bay doors are installed next, and this makes the two steps (15 & 16) look rather cluttered, because every door has a significant hinging system added to it within the diagram, so care is the order of the day here. The larger weapon bay doors and the outer main gear bay doors have two individual hinges each, which locate within their respective bays, and the inner weapons bay doors have four each, again adding to the detail. Inside each weapons bay is a flip-out pylon for the AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, which have to be placed clear of the bays for firing. These sit close to the inner bay doors close to the ground, and each missile is made up from a pair of body halves with four winglets moulded into the seamline plane, and four additional winglets as separate parts perpendicular to those. The vertical(ish) stabilisers are added in the final stage, along with the refuelling bay doors, which can be posed open or close, and the beautifully clear canopy part. The canopy of the F-35 opens forwards as a single part, and this is possible by leaving the tab in place that fits into a slot in the front of the instrument coaming. There are a large number of PE parts to detail the latch mechanism for this area, including a lower-lip for the canopy itself, and a row of engagement teeth on its underside. The corresponding slots are already moulded into the cockpit sills, and additional X-shaped PE parts are added to detail this are further. A pair of canopy rams are also included to support the open canopy. All-in-all, quite an impressive feature. The decals are supplied on two sheets, and are split between the AF-01 Prototype with black stabilisers that have a large red lightning strike running diagonally across them, and AF-06 the first production airframe that made its maiden flight at Fort Worth before being transferred to Edwards Air Force Base. AF-06 has a full set of lo-viz decals, while AF-01 has a mixture of multi-national flags, full colour badges and lo-viz decals. In addition to the decals that are detailed in colour on the rear cover of the instruction booklet, there are also a host of national roundels in hi-viz and lo-viz for the modeller that wants to try their hand at building a speculative in-service machine from their chosen nation. Conclusion Another impressive release from Kitty Hawk that deserves to do well. It represents the most up-to-date F-35A model we have to hand at present, and although the in-service machines will change as time goes by, their main features should still be captured by this kit. The detail is good throughout, and although a decal for the main instrument panel might seem a little simplistic, the panel is fully glazed, and would be difficult to represent any other way in truth. Inclusion of a pilot figure is also a nice touch, and detail on this is also good, although he will need a little filler to deal with a sink mark in his lower abdomen, but this shouldn't ruin any detail due to where it is. Highly recommended. Available soon from Hannants Review sample courtesy of and available soon from major hobby shops
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