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  1. Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master (K48063) 1:48 Kinetic Model The M346 is an advanced trainer / light attack aircraft from Alenoa Aermacchi. If the aircraft looks remarkably similar to the new YAK-130 its because the aircraft was originally developed in partnership with Yakolev. Both companies originally agreed to work with each other in 1991 to compete against Mikoyan. Aermacchi gained the rights to modify and market the design for western market. Even though Aermacchi owned 50% of the venture (with Yakolev 25% & Sokol 25%) they were increasingly putting money in due to lack of Russian support. The companies parted ways in 2000 with Yakolev being paid $77 million for technical documents. The agreement between the companies allows Yakolev to market the Aircraft in former USSR countries, India, Slovakia and Algeria leaving Aermacchi everywhere else. The M346 is a highly modified version of the original aircraft with engines from Honeywell and flight controls from BAe systems. As well as Italian Air Force the aircraft has been bought by Israel, Poland, Singapore, and Turkmenistan. The Kit This is a new tool from Kinetic. The Box top is branded as Kinetic Gold, with no explanation anywhere to what makes it a "Gold" kit. As well as the separate fuselage halves there are three spures of plastic for the kit, 2 armament sprues, a clear spure and a small sheet of PE in the box. Construction begins with the ejection seats, these are a multi part affair with plastic and PE parts being used. The cockpit tub is then built up. At the front the instrument panels, front & rear coaming, and HUDs are added, the side consoles and rear bulkhead follow. The seats are then fitted it. Next up the front wheel bay and leg are built up and out to one side, followed by the main wheel bays. The full length intakes and exhaust cans are then built up. Next attention is turned to the wings. The upper wings are moulded to the upper fuselage and the lower wings must then be added. If you are fitting the pylons then the holes for these need to be opened up. The reason for all the sub assemblies now becomes apparent. The nose gear front in the front section of the lower fuselage and some side parts are added. The intakes and fan fronts are then added in along with the exhausts. The cockpit section has the nose front sides added and the this is attached to the lower fuselage. The upper fuselage can then be added it. The main gears can then be made up and added along with the leading edges to the intakes. All the control surfaces and now made up and including the tail. These are now added along with the tail planes. The kit provides separate flaps, slats and rudder. The nose cone is then added. The prototypes having an instrumented probe, but a simple cone for the production models. A variety of PE parts and aerial are added to the airframe. The large ventral airbrake can be posed open or closed. Two canopies are provided a clear one, and on with det cord moulded in. No mention is made o which to use so again the modeller will have to check their references. Pylons and then weapons may be added as needed. Armament Kinetic have included a generic weapons sprue as used in some of their other kits. The modeller will need to use their references to see which if any can be used. Markings There are 6 options on the decal sheet. This has been designed by Israldecal and printed by Cartograf so there should be no issues with it. There is also a supplementary sheet with weapons markings on it these are also printed by Cartograf. The six options are; Prototype 001 (Blue Aircraft) Initial Production Aircraft (Red Aircraft) Lavi 102 - Israeli Air Force 325 - Republic Of Singapore Air Force 7701 - Polish Air Force 61-10 - Italian Air Force You can find a colour copy of the instructions and profiles here, although the product hasn't yet been added to the product listing on the Kinetic website. Conclusion This is a great new tool from Kinetic of one of the latest trainers / light attack aircraft to hit the market. The moulding are clean and crisp with fine panel lines and good detail throughout. Highly Recommended. In association with
  2. M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (K61014) 1:35 Kinetic Model The CFV variant of the Bradley is a scout vehicle that carries a crew of five, including two scouts that are able to dismount whilst leaving the vehicle fully crewed and ready to depart if necessary. It also carries additional communications gear, but is externally very similar to the M2 Bradley, with the same Bushmaster cannon and the ability to carry a TOW missile pack on the side of the two-man turret. It was designed in the 1990s as an update to the ageing M113, but ended up supplanting it in US service, and it has been a success in every theatre it has served in, although during the Gulf War a number were destroyed in blue-on-blue incidents that resulted in better recognition systems being employed from there on in. It is well-liked amongst crews, and the upgraded armour packages have improved survivability in a changing battlefield that includes substantial amounts of urban patrols. The A3 is a combination of new-build and converted A2s, and brings a major improvement in the on-board systems that affect the crew's situational awareness, allowing them to work better in concert with other Allied forces, including both the Apache helicopter and Abrams tank, two of the main weapons systems they are likely to be deployed with. In an age where anti-tank missiles have become a major danger to any AFV due to their ability to pitch-up and plunge accurately downward through the thinner top armour, the roof of the Bradley has been upgraded with titanium, and also includes all the previous upgrades to the A1 and A2 variants. The Kit This is an enhanced reboxing of the 2014 Orichi (no, I'd never heard of them either!) kit from Kinetic, and arrives in their usual top-opener box, with a painting of a NATO Euro camouflaged example on the front, with a small badge acknowledging CrossDelta's assistance with the included decals. Inside are seven sprues and two hull parts in grey styrene, plus a single dust-jacket for the top of the gun mantlet in a little ziplok bag. A sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a tree of poly-caps, decal sheet and the instruction booklet are also in the box, along with a separate painting and markings guide, which is in colour and printed on both sides of a glossy sheet, with profiles provided by AMMO. Detail is good throughout, with lots of surface detail such as anti-slip coatings, vents and fasteners for the appliqué armour, which is followed through with the optional ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) package parts that are included, and is used on both decal options, but can be left off if you are going off-piste for your markings. Some slide-moulding has been used to improve the detail and simplify construction, especially on the main hull parts, which have the side-skirts and armour upstands moulded-in along with other detail that would once have been impossible to include. It still needs an additional number of rivets applying however, which can be found on the sides of sprue A. Cut these off with a sharp blade, and glue them on where indicated, which is probably best done early in the build process to avoid either forgetting, or knocking off any delicate parts. Construction begins with the lower hull tub, which is festooned with the suspension swing-arms and dampers, final drive, return rollers and finally the road wheels, which have a poly-cap at their heart and have separate tyres that will please anyone that doesn't like painting these in-situ. The idlers and drive sprockets also have poly-cap centres, and once fitted the remains of the final drive housing are added to the lower front along with towing shackles and a pair of small plates. Tracks are fitted early on, and these are of the link-and-length type, supplying all the straight links as a single part, which are joined with a few individual links, a short length on the diagonals, a few more links, and then another length to go over the top. There are a few ejector pins on the inside face of the tracks, but these are raised, so should be pretty easy to deal with in short order. The upper hull fits over the top of the lower hull at this stage, and ledges on small upstands inside the upper that will need careful alignment before the glue sets up, as there is a little "slop" at the rear on my example. The hull is closed up by adding the thick rear door, which has an ovalised smaller entrance in one side, tow shackles and towing cable attached to the outside. The frame fits into the rear and the door glued into that, as there's no interior, and the rear light clusters fit on the stowage boxes either side of the door. The decal options both have the ERA blocks on the sides, glacis and turret, but there is an option to leave these off, which exposes the appliqué armour that is moulded into the upper hull. If you elect to do this, you will need to add a little putty to the shallow sink marks that have occurred where the hull roof and sides meet, and to do this you will need to take care not to remove the detail of the panels. There are some alternative parts for the non-ERA Bradley, which you can use. The ERA blocks for the sides are moulded as a large single part, with front and rear angled sections finishing off the runs, while a mesh cover for the two engine grilles, another behind the turret, pioneer tools, an exhaust director, mudguards, and the mounting brackets for the glacis ERA blocks are all installed. The front blocks are fitted in three sections, and a couple of shot-trap eliminators are added around the turret rim and rear deck, and then the rest of the upper surfaces are detailed with the large crew hatch, more pioneer tools, lights, sensors and so on before the turret is constructed. As this is a no-interior kit, the interior breech is present in a limited form just to enable the barrel to elevate, with poly-caps added to permit the gun to stay put, coaxial machine gun, and barrel sleeve being added before it is sandwiched between the turret halves. The clear commander's vision blocks are inserted from inside the top section, and the turret ring is fitted to the underside, along with the smoke dischargers on the lower cheeks. The ERA blocks are attached to the appliqué armour panels, the various turret-mounted sensors are added, and the commander's protective glass shroud is fitted to keep him safe when he's got his hatch open. The barrel for the Bushmaster 25mm cannon is fluted for cooling, and is nicely slide-moulded on the edge of one of the sprues, with a hollow muzzle and flash-hider slots into the bargain. The bustle stowage has a number of extra ammo boxes for the coax MG arranged around the back, and the big optical sensor box on the top, loader's hatch and the TOW installation (handily attached with a poly-cap) all go on to make the small turret rather busy. The driver's hatch is last to be made up, with a large hinge part with PE vent, clear vision blocks and armoured covers included. The model is completed by installing the turret and driver's hatch on the model. Then it's time for the paint and decals. Markings There are two decal options available in the box, with colour profiles provided by AMMO, and decals printed by 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. Apart from the stencils, there are a selection of numbers and letters from A to G to enable the modeller to customise their model. The two options are the NATO three colour green/black/brown scheme, and the more familiar desert scheme, with no information forthcoming regarding their units, location of era of operation. There is also no placement guide for the exterior decals, which is going to need a little research on your part, although some of the decals for the front and port side are visible on the boxart. You can find a copy of the instructions and profiles here, although the product hasn't yet been added to the product listing on the Kinetic website. Conclusion Apart from the slightly rushed feeling for the painting and markings section, this is a nicely detailed kit of the Bradley that should do well for Kinetic. In association with
  3. ROCAF S-2A/E/G Tracker (K48074) 1:48 Kinetic Model via Lucky Model Designed from the start as an Anti-Submarine warfare aircraft, the Tracker was powered by a pair of Wright Cyclone engines, the same type that powered the B-29. It entered service in 1954, and quickly acquired the nickname Stoof, from the S-2F variant. It was eventually replaced by the S-3 Viking in 1976 after a long service career with the US Navy, but continued to serve with other navies long after, with Taiwan being amongst them, using their airframes until the 90s, when Grumman upgraded the engines on most of their fleet to turbo-props, removing the big cylindrical cowlings and replacing them with a streamlined prop that looks really out of place when you first see it. The Kit The original Tracker kits from Kinetic have been with us now since 2011, and this is the first reissue in a while, portraying the Taiwanese Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) airframes that were used until they were turbo-propped. It is also the first boxing to encompass the A, E & G models by adding additional fuselage, elevator, nacelle and outer wing panels that were originally included in the S-2A boxing into the E/G boxing to give a wider range of options. The A fuselage is shorter than the others, and as such a small portion of the weapons bay is removed to accommodate this lack of length. The A wings were more squared off, and have wingtip lights included, while the engine nacelles are broken down differently and have a completely different panel line arrangement for the A, with much shorter elevators. A simple cockpit is included, with the two crew seats as single parts, but with a nice instrument panel, that has a large central screen and plenty of raised detail. The seats are a little basic, but little will be seen once the fuselage is closed up, although the open access door on the rear bulkhead might need a cover, or perhaps a curtain making, to avoid a view into the empty rear fuselage. A few holes will need opening up before your choice of fuselage is closed, with the ventral radome and bomb bay shell trapped between the two halves, the latter needing shortening if you elect to build an A. Curiously, there is an open crew hatch on the starboard side, although there is no interior within - some scratch building will be required if you want to leave this open. The cockpit windows are part of a larger insert that encompasses the top section of the fuselage above the compartment, avoiding the trap of installing fiddly individual glazing parts. This assembly is split into two halves, with the seam running down the middle along a frame-line. An overhead console piece gives the joint strength, although the part is oddly still devoid of any switch detail all these years later. The inner wings have two large tabs that give it a strong attachment to the fuselage, ensuring that the correct angle is obtained. Onto these parts, the correct engine nacelles for your version are built up and attached to the wings once completed. It might be wise to assemble them in-situ instead, to avoid any complications with incorrect angles of the parts, and to ensure a good seam with as little sanding/filling results. Only the front row of pistons are depicted inside the cowling, with a spacer taking up the slack behind. The purists would probably obtain some aftermarket Cyclones here, but with a little careful painting and some ignition harness detail added, it should be adequate for most modellers. The long outer wing panels can be depicted open or folded, and have separate leading edge slat parts, with the aforementioned shorter wingtips of the A. To build the wings open, a pair of short plugs fill the gap, but I'd again be inclined to attach the parts earlier in the build than the instructions suggest, to ensure that the mating surfaces are joined accurately, and the wings end up straight. The folded option requires a detail insert installing, and the outer panels are then held in place by two pre-formed hinges that hold each wing at the correct angle to the airframe. The tail is fixed, and there is no option for posing the flying surfaces at an angle, other than getting out your razor saw. The large bomb bay can only be modelled as open from the box, and an alternative closed bay isn't shown in the instructions. That's a shame, but as a pair of torpedoes are included to busy up the otherwise blank bay, it's not the end of the world. The gear bays are nicely detailed, and have a good level of detail in them, although the super-detailer could of course go mad with the scratch-building materials here. Landing gear struts are made up from a number of parts, and should prove sturdy enough for most of us, while the wheels have separate hubs to please those that don't like painting wheels. There is no weighting to the tyres, but that is easily remedied with a few strokes of a sanding stick. A trio of rocket launcher tubes is included for under each wing, and a slipper-style radome affixes to the starboard wing to add a little visual interest. The large paddle like props with their square cut tips are well depicted, with a light panel line where the protecting strip appears on each blade's leading edge. Markings There are four ROCAF decal options on the large sheet, with a nice split between camouflaged and grey aircraft, although not much information regarding the individual aircraft is given. From the box you can build one of the following: S-2E Sea Blue/Light Grey/Mid Grey Camouflage (new Roundel) Tail No. 2128 S-2E Sea Blue/Light Grey/Mid Grey Camouflage (old Roundel) Tail No. 2150 S-2E FS36622 Grey (old Roundel) Tail No. 2123 S-2E FS36622 Grey (old Roundel) Tail No. 2127 S-2A FS36622 Grey (old Roundel) Tail No. 2102 The paint call-outs are given as AMMO codes on the black and white profiles, but there's a helpful chart on the rear that gives conversion details for Vallejo, Gunze, some Tamiya and a few Humbrol codes, which should make it easier to convert to your preferred paint system should that be required. Oddly, there aren't any decal options for the G, but hey-ho, as they say. The decals are designed and printed by Bestfong from Taiwan, who specialise in Taiwanese subjects, and they are very nicely printed with good registration, sharpness and colour density, plus a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. As well as the decal options from the box, there are also strips of digits that could enable you to portray other options, but be aware that these numbers are all over-printed with a single layer of carrier film, so must be cut out individually. The stencils are shown on separate pages, using separate diagrams for the different camouflage variants. The A model's stencil layout seems to have been omitted from the instructions however, but I'm sure it's not too difficult to work it out. Conclusion A welcome re-release of this kit, and as it adds the A variant to the roster, it should appeal both to anyone wanting to model an early ROCAF S-2 (pre-turboprop era), and folks that might have missed out on the older boxings and wanted to play catch-up with their own aftermarket decals from another provider. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Two-Seat T-Harrier (T.2/T.2A/T.4/T.4N/T.8) 1:48 Kinetic Model The Harrier is an iconic (in the truest sense) example of what was possible when British Aviation was at its prime. It was a revolutionary design back in the 60s, and has seen many improvements and even a complete re-vamp in the shape of the Harrier II, which saw McDonnell Douglas get more heavily involved, giving the US Marines their much beloved AV-8B, and the British the Gr.5/7/9, all of which had new wings, massively upgraded avionics and improved versions of the doughty Pegasus engine, which was always at the heart of this legendary design. The Harrier is a difficult aircraft to fly due to the high pilot workload, and requires the best pilots to do it justice, which means that trainer variants are essential, as simulators can only offer so much realism, even now. The first trainers rolled out in the 1970s, and have been upgraded along similar lines to their operational brethren to provide as close to real-world training conditions as practical. The fuselage was extended at the nose, with a huge blister canopy encompassing both seats, with the instructor sitting substantially higher than their pupil to afford them a good view ahead, and a long, weighted "stinger" tail extention to equalise the centre of gravity with the single seater. Although it disrupts the sleek lines of the single-seat variant, the Trainers have a strange charm of their own, and there have been some interesting schemes, including the Raspberry Ripple and Qinetiq liveries over the years. The Harrier II trainers have the new composite wing, and are designated T.10/12. The Kit For many years modellers of the Harrier have been crying out for a good quality kit in this scale, and also the two-seat variants, with only a partial answer being forthcoming until now. Kinetic have put a lot of effort and research into creating models of the two Sea Harriers already the FRS.1 and FA.2, both of which we have reviewed in the past, and have been well-received for their overall level of accuracy. Now we have this new tooling, which has a substantial cross-over with the original, and sold out so quickly that we have only now received our sample for review from the second batch that have been commissioned. Something tells me this won't be the last re-pop of the moulds. This kit deals with the earlier "tin wing" Harriers before the introduction of composites, so the most recent variant is the T.8, and anything earlier, all from the same box. There are nine sprues in grey styrene, three of which are new, plus one that has been slightly tweaked for this edition. There are two sprues of clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), a large decal sheet and the instruction manual. The big changes are forward of the engine intake "ears", but the rear boom is also extended for balance purposes, which helps achieve the ungainly look of the finished model, and that of course is exactly how it should look! The cockpit has two ejection seats with separate cushions and headbox details, plus slightly simplified PE crew belts and the pull handle between the pilot's knees. These are fitted into the stepped cockpit tub with rudder pedals, dual control columns, instrument panels that have separate painting guides, coamings, HUD and the big windscreen-within-a-windscreen that shields the pilots from ejection backwash in the event a quick exit is required. Detail in the cockpit is good, and will come up well once painted with a fine brush and some patience. In order to close up the fuselage the main gear bay boxes are built and painted, as is the bell-shaped intake trunking, having the front section on the nose gear bay attached to the underside of the cockpit tub, and the aft section to the fuselage sides. The rear bay is attached to the mechanism that allows the exhaust nozzles to rotate, which must be positioned opposite their exits before you can close up the fuselage. A choice of open or closed auxiliary vents are provided, which slot inside the intake lips, and the closed ones depict the characteristic gravity droop of the upper doors, which is as it should be. The wing is top mounted, with the anhedral moulded into the full width top panel, and the lower panels separate parts that bracket the fuselage sides. Separate flaps and their actuator fairings are provided, and although undocumented in the instruction booklet, these can be replaced by parts E1 to pose them dropped. Clear wingtip lights are supplied, which makes adding them a breeze, as their location would be a pain to fabricate your own. More good things! There is a choice of three tail fins, each with a separate rudder, and the elevators have a separate swash-plate and pivot lug for attachment to the fuselage, and the wing panel can be fitted nose-first, using a small lug at the front to find the correct location and alignment. There are no LERX to worry about on the older tin wings, and just a tiny PE mesh insert covers a vent at the rear of the cockpit spine behind the air conditioning. At this point the airframe is ostensibly complete, so spare a little time here to whoosh it around the room making suitable jet noises and ensuring you don't get caught doing it. The smaller assemblies are then built up, including the bicycle wheels, the canopy parts with some additional PE and plastic parts, plus a set of plastic rear-view mirrors to finish them off. You have a choice of laser or a pointy nose cone, which varied between airframes, as detailed in the accompanying chart, with another chart showing which tail stinger was fitted to which airframe to ensure you get both ends just right. Another choice of undernose inserts is made between T.8s and the rest, and the main gear can be fitted along with their respective gear bay doors, and a choice of small or large air-brake, which has its own chart of which one was fitted to which airframe. It makes a lot of sense to choose your decal option at the outset. Lumps, bumps, aerials and antennae are fitted on almost every spare inch of the airframe, plus an optional shoulder-mounted refuelling probe, PE stays for the side-opening canopies, after which you just need to decide what to hang under the wings and fuselage of this ungainly but beautiful aircraft. You have a choice of gun pods or strakes under the fuselage, which was always fitted with one or the other to keep the airflow from the engines diving under the fuselage too soon, and when the outer pylon is not used, a small cover is fitted instead. Kinetic are usually generous with their weapons, and here you a decent array too, most of which are on two identical sprues, with a few others knocking about on the others. The parts most fitted are as follows: 2 x 190 gallon fuel tank 2 x 100 gallon fuel tank 2 x Aden gun pod There are various other weapons on the sprues that would usually end up in the spares bin, as most training sorties would be flown with either a clean airframe, or with extra tankage as required. The trainer is technically combat capable however, so can carry other munitions should the need arise. Typically, this seems to consist mainly of Sidewinders of rocket pods depending on training requirements. Markings The decal sheet is A4 sized, and printed by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Design was carried out by CrossDelta, and includes a host of stencils that are covered on a separate page, plus ten options for different airframes and operators. From the box you can build one of the following: Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm T.8, ZD990/721, 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, 2004-2005, RN Fixed Wing Standards Flight to April 2006 – gloss black overall, with black or grey tanks and winged fist on the tail. Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, T.8 ZD605/720, 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, 1996 – gloss black overall with outlined winged fist. Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm T.8, ZD604/722, 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, 1996 – Gloss black overall, with outlined winged fist. Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm T.8, ZD605/718, 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton,1985 – Dark sea grey overall, with outlined winged fist. Royal Air Force T.4A, XW265/W 233 OCU RAF Wittering, 1992 – Grey green camo overall. Royal Air Force T.4A, XW266/51 233 OCU RAF Wittering, 1975 – Grey green camo over light grey undersides. Royal Air Force T.4A, XW272/Z IV(AC) Squadron, RAF Güttersloh, 1980 – Grey green camo over light grey undersides. US Marine Corps TAV-8A VMAT-203, MCAS Cherry Point, Late 1970s - Grey green camo over light grey undersides. Armada Española (Spanish Navy) TAV-8S 8a Esquadrilla (8th Squadron), 1988 – gull grey over white. Royal Thai Navy TAV-8S, 301 Squadron late 1990s – Gull grey over white. The intake roundels are sensibly broken into sections with separate parts for each of the blow-in doors to ensure good settlement into the shapes found there. I would have liked to have seen some decals for the instruments, but with a detailed painting guide for that area it's not a major problem, and even if it is, Eduard are bound to be along any moment now with a PE set that will give you all the detail you need. Conclusion We now have a rather nice Trainer Harrier in 1:48, and I for one couldn't be happier. Two of them is better of course, but a modern, detailed model was much needed. How long will tranche two of the mouldings last? Not long, at a guess, so if you're planning on getting one, I wouldn't hang around. I'm also getting the prayer mat out to wish for the composite wing 2-seaters. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Super Étendard (SuE/SEM) 1:48 Kinetic The Super Étendard was a development from the original Dassault Étendard, after the Jaguar M was killed off due to its poor handling on one engine, which led to its replacement by a single engined design. Typical Politics. The SuE had a new more powerful engine, modernised and more capable avionics, plus a new wing design. Later upgrades saw the integration of newer technologies to improve its lethality, plus a vastly improved radar for threat detection. Although the original French buy was scaled back due to budgetary restraints, there were some export successes with sales to Argentina and a small loan of aircraft to the Iraqi airforce, which still led to a total of less than one hundred airframes. The Argentinian SuEs are perhaps the most famous, after one of their aircraft unleashed an Exocet missile that hit the Atlantic Conveyor during the Falklands War, which brought the name of the Super Étendard to the fore, but didn't lead to any further sales. The later Super Étendard Modernisé extended the service life of the ageing airframes, although their eventual drawdown in favour of the newer Rafale M is due very soon. The Kit This is a new tooling from the Kinetic stable, and will no doubt be welcome due to the age of the only other SuE kit in this scale. It arrives in a large box with a painting of the aircraft trapping on with flaps and arrestor hook deployed. Inside are five sprues in mid grey styrene, one in clear, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a large decal sheet and the combined instruction booklet/painting guide. Two of the sprues are taken up by weapons, which is fairly standard with Kinetic, as they tend to be on the generous side. The kit is well detailed throughout, although some of the panel lines and rivets on the airframe may be a little pronounced for some, but this is easily reduced by a few coats of primer and some buffing if it bothers you. Shockingly, construction starts with the cockpit (It's not really shocking, is it?), and there is plenty of detail moulded in, although no instrument panel decals are included. This is easily fixed by adding some of those lovely Airscale decals after checking your references. The tub has side console detail moulded in, and you add rudder pedals, control column, and a two part aft bulkhead, after which you can add a choice of SuE or SeM control panel and Martin Baker Mk.6 ejection seat. This is a nice rendition of the seat, but doesn't include the forest of seat belts that typify the type. The nose gear bay sits directly behind the cockpit, so that is built up at the same time, from a three part assembly, which requires you to insert the nose gear leg into holes in the sides before you install it in the fuselage. This should survive the build, as it is pretty sturdy due to the navalisation of the real thing. For completeness the main gear bays are built up as a single unit with a bulkhead between them. Before the fuselage can be closed up you have to decide whether you will be having your pretend engine in operation or not, as this affects which inserts you use for the blow-in doors of the auxiliary intakes. The air-brake bays are also added from the inside, just under the wing-roots. The last item for construction before closure are the intakes themselves, which go full-depth, and use some sensible seam-lines to ensure that there is nothing to sand inside. Each intake has a C-shaped part, with a single flat piece making the inner face, with one intake being the mirror image of the other, joining toward the rear to make a single trunk that feed the engine. The main gear bay attaches to the underside of the intake pair and the engine front blocks the view into the fuselage for those that actually peer down these tortuous tubes. The cockpit, nose gear bay, intake/main bay assembly and a single piece exhaust tube are all then slapped into the starboard side of the fuselage on their various ledges, after which you can close the fuselage. Do check your intake apertures on the fuselage before you do though, as there may be a little flash in there like there was on my review sample. A small scrap-diagram shows how everything should look when assembled, so check that and make any necessary adjustments during the dry-fit phase to make sure of a good overall fit. After closure, the instructions invite you to detail the fuselage with canopy, refuelling probe, lots of aerials and blade antennae, plus air-brakes and their struts, but much of this is probably best left for later once you have the wings on and any seams dealt with. The intake lips, tail-bullet and windscreen are probably all you will fit before adding the wings, but that's entirely up to you. The wings can be depicted folded for under-deck stowage, or deployed for flight, and can also be shown with the flaps up or down, just by swapping out the straight actuator fairings for cranked versions. The leading edges of the wings are separate, and fit onto tabs at the front of the main wing area. The spoilers are PE parts and can be posed open or closed, although you may have to add a little detail within the bay if you do. With your chosen wing position complete, they are fitted to the fuselage root via a pair of shirt dumpy tabs, which means that you might need to keep an eye on the joint as it sets up to get the right anhedral as it is in this case. The elevators have PE swash-plates, and separate rear sections, with tabs that project through the PE and into the base of the tail. The main gear legs are single struts with moulded-in oleo-scissors, plus an additional strut that further damps the main oleo. These fit into sockets in the drop-in outer bay sections moulded into the wings. The inner bay doors are captive to the centreline under the fuselage, and the outers hinge at the outboard edge of the bay. As usual with Kinetic there a boatload of weapons and pylons included in the kit, and with these being French specific, the spares could well be handy down the line. In the box you get: 4 x R550 Magic 2 2 x In-Flight "Buddy" refuelling pod 2 x Damocles Pod 2 x Barracuda ECM pod 2 x PHIMAT pod 2 x underwing fuel tanks 2 x under fuselage fuel tanks 2 x 625 litre fuel tanks 2 x AM39 Exocet anti-shipping missiles A full page shows what goes where, and shows the appropriate pylon or adapter is used, but as always – check your references to see which constitutes a realistic load if you are going for accuracy. Markings The box includes a large decal sheet, which will allow you to model one of five options from the box, with sufficient variety over and above the standard grey/white. From the box you can build one of the following: SuE Aéronavale 1980s – grey over white. SEM Aéronavale Afghanistan Missions, 2008 – all over grey. SEM Aéronavale Libyan Missions 2001 All over light grey with dark grey camo on upper surface. 6 airframes of 17F aboard Charles de Gaulle. SuE Argentine Navy, 1980s – Grey over white. SuE Iraqi Air Force 1983-85 – Grey over white. In total there are ten airframes on that listing, but with the addition of a substantial number of serials, more could be depicted if the urge takes you. The decals are printed by Cartograf with the usual good register, sharpness and colour density, plus a closely-cropped glossy carrier film. Conclusion A welcome modern tooling of this intriguing aircraft, which should be simple enough to build into a good model, resulting in a lot more seen on the forums and tables. A set of seatbelts and instrument decals would have been appreciated, but a modern, well-detailed tooling of a SuE is the main thrust of the review! Review sample courtesy of
  6. Mike

    Sea Harrier FRS.1 1:48

    Sea Harrier FRS.1 1:48 Kinetic With the Royal Nay Navy getting out of the carrier business in the late 1970s the Royal Navy was left to operate three Light Aircraft Carriers, or “Through Deck Cruisers” as they were called at the time for a variety of reasons (mostly to save face). While these new vessels were primarily intended to operate Anti-Submarine Helicopters and act as Command & Control ships, it was recognised that they would be able to operate a Vertical Take Off and Landing aircraft. Also there would be a need for them to defend against long range Soviet Air Assets. As early as 1963 the then Hawker P.1127 had shown it could operate from HMS Ark Royal (R09), and then later the Kestrel underwent trials from HMS Bulwark. Hawker Siddeley as they were then began work on navalising the then Harrier GR1. This aircraft became The Sea Harrier in 1975 when the Royal Navy ordered 24. The new aircraft would be designated FRS.1 (Fighter. Reconnaissance, Strike). The first Sea Harrier would enter service in 1979 with the “carriers” gaining Ski ramp structures to aid in launching the aircraft in a near normal fight mode. Like the Harrier, the new aircraft was designed around the Rolls Royce Pegasus engine. With a large frontal intake feeding four exhaust nozzles. The front pair were cold, using just compressed air from the engine; while the rear two were hot like a conventional engine exhausting burned fuel. All four nozzles were able to rotate to the give the jet its unique ability for vectored flight. The main visual difference from the RAF Harrier was that the SHAR was designed with an air intercept radar in the nose in the shape of the Ferranti Blue Fox. This would perform as both an air interception and air to surface search and strike unit, and was surprisingly good in the hands of an experienced user. The canopy of the Sea Harrier was also raised to give greater visibility, gaining that familiar bubble front profile. Primary air-to-air armament of the Sea Harrier was to be the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and two belly mounted 30mm ADEN cannons as fitted to the GR1 for close attack. Squadron operations began in 1980 with the formation of 800 Naval Air Squadron, closely followed by 801 Sqn the following year. This proved to be very timely as the Sea Harrier was very soon to have its moment in the spotlight, where it would prove its worth time and again. Following the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 the Royal Navy was to assemble a Task Force to retake the Islands, with he only air cover for this force operating so far from home (and indeed any land other than South America) was to be the new Sea Harrier. Without endeavouring to explain the whole air war in the Falklands, the Sea Harrier would go on to provide a good account of itself, shooting down 20 enemy aircraft (28% of the total) as well as bombing missions, harassing raids; and providing support to the Army. No Sea Harriers were lost to enemy aircraft, however six were lost to ground fire and accident, unfortunately with the loss of four Pilots killed. All surviving RN Sea Harrier FRS.1s would undergo re-manufacturing in the early 1990s to become Sea Harrier FA.2s. These would feature a new pulse Doppler radar and the ability to fire The AMRAM missile. They only other nation to use the FRS.1 was to be India, where they are still in service at time of writing. The Kit We've been waiting for new toolings of the sorely missed SHARs now for some time, having to make do with some fairly ancient toolings in the meantime. Kinetic have been listening, and almost exactly a year after their very well received FA.2 that we reviewed here, we now have a completely new tooling of the FRS.1 to go with it. Navalised Harrier builders in 1:48 have now officially never had it so good, particularly with the addition of a Royal Navy deck tractor to go with these new kits. How long before we get a kit of some RN carrier deck I the same vein as the US deck released some years ago? I do hope soon. The kit arrives in a familiarly styled top-opening box with a SHAR hovering front and centre, and a carrier in the background. Inside you have eight sprues of mid-grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts and a tiny fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts that aren't listed on the sprue diagrams. There's a large decal sheet covering almost all the bottom of the tray, and the instruction booklet with a portrait cover, and landscape inner pages. At the back of this are the painting & markings pages in black and white. A brief scour of the sprues shows some very nice detail, such as the slide-moulded exhaust nozzles with their integral louvers and exterior texture. Panel lines are finely engraved with an accompaniment of similarly restrained rivets here and there, and if you're worried about having something to hang off the pylons, don’t; there are plenty! Parts breakdown follows a familiar vein, as it's the most sensible method, so why change it? Construction begins with the cockpit, which is nicely appointed with raised dials, knobs and so forth on the main panel and side consoles, a clear HUD, separate rudder pedals and control column. The Martin Baker seat is made up of a two-part frame, cushion, head-box topper and rear ejection tube, plus the actuating loop between the pilot's knees. This fits into the tub with the addition of a rear bulkhead, which in turn mates to the nose gear bay, with built-in intake section that leads to the face of the engine fan in a bell-shaped intake housing. The rear gear bay and air brake bay are build up as one unit, with the brake shown being installed as a flex-fit part, which you'll perhaps want to see if you can fit later if you're planning on showing it open. Harking back to the old toy-like kits of the 70s, the nozzles are all joined internally by connecting axles between the sides and linkages that echo the movement of one pair of nozzles on the other. This is simply clipped together and the only glue needed is to secure the nozzle bases to the axles. With these built, you're now able to close up the fuselage. The cockpit sidewalls in the fuselage halves are bereft of details, so if you fancy it, you can make free with the styrene strip and detail it up, or just paint it and any of the intake area that remains visible after assembly. At this point the fuselage is wide open where the wings should be, but it gives you the opportunity to flood the fuselage seams with a little extra glue to firm up the joint. Kinetic's engineers have spent a lot of time with the intakes, creating a three-part assembly that comprises an outer skin, a set of interchangeable blow-in doors (one set of open and closed doors are provided), and an inner skin that tidies up the intake area. Once built up you could paint the trunk white, and handle the intake lip colour change before attaching them to the fuselage sides. The hot and cold exhaust pairs are glued (carefully) into their bases, and a nicely detailed heat-deflecting plate is added behind the hot nozzles. The wings are hovering over the fuselage in the construction step, which is full-width on top and in two halves for the undersides. These drop into the large gap in the fuselage top, and are joined by the turtle-deck behind the pilot. You should now have a block of styrene that looks like a Harrier with the addition of the nosecone part. The flying surfaces are all separate, and you have the option of showing the flaps extended or retracted by choosing one or other set of actuator fairing parts. The elevators have separate swash-plates and simply fit into sockets in the rear of the fuselage, so make sure you get your alignment just right. The rudder is separate too, and poseable to whatever sensible angle you choose, but don't forget to offset the control column, or the accuracy police will be knocking on your door (kidding!). The bicycle style landing gear parts are provided for wheels-down models, and for those of you wanting to put your SHAR in the sky, the same bay doors will fit in the closed position too, with the removal of the hinges. The nose gear leg is split vertically, and fits around the three-part wheel that Kinetic seem quite fond of. The rear leg is one part, and has a three-part wheel added to the stub-axles on each side. Happily, these can be left off until main painting has completed, which is nice. There are a lot of antennae, sensors and blade aerials to add throughout the build, plus a very pointy pitot on the nose and refuelling probe on the port intake, which you might want to leave until later in the build. There are also four small (tiny) leading-edge splitters in PE that are best added before painting with a dot of super-glue. Clear parts are provided for the wingtip lights and other formation lights, as well as the canopy, which has been moulded very thin and clear, with the prominent det-cords moulded into the inside, although there are a pair of det-cord decals at the very bottom of the decal sheet. These delicate parts have been protected on the sprue by large upstands around them, to prevent scratching or worse during transit and storage. We have been informed by one of our members (thanks Pappy!) that the location of the camera window lens (F6) is mentioned in the instructions but is not drawn. There is the potential for it to be installed the wrong way around with the relief side facing outwards if the builder is not careful. This may have been corrected in later editions, but please be wary. A SHAR without gas-bags and storage would look a little naked, and in their usual generous style, Kinetic have provided plenty for you to play with. In the box you get the following: 2 x External Fuel tanks (large) 2 x External Fuel tanks (small) 2 x AIM-120 with a choice of adapter rail or pylon - never used on FRS-1 2 x Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile 4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder plus adapter rail - twin rails only ever fitted to display aircraft 2 x 30mm Aden cannon pack 4 x 18 round Matra rocket pods – Carried in early years, but unused after 1986 2 x 36 round rocket pods (unused) 1 x BL755 Cluster Bomb (unused by the RAF & RN since 2007/8, and not seen in inventory since 1986) There is a three-dimensional diagram showing which munitions go where, but take careful note of real-life weapons loads before you go ahead if you want to keep it realistic. Please note that the Sea Eagle missiles have been moulded as if in-flight, with the engine intake exposed, whereas it should actually have an aerodynamic cover fitted, which is jettisoned during the launch sequence so that the engine can breathe. Markings The last twelve pages of the instructions give you a clue as to the sheer number of decal options, which is backed up by the large sheet of decals that is covered in hundreds of aircraft codes, and squadron markings. From the box you can build one of the following: Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 800 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton and deployed on HMS Hermes, 1981 to March 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 801 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton and deployed on HMS Invincible, 1981 to March 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 899 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton, 1981 to March 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1s of HMS Hermes' Air Group, "Operation Corporate" - The Falklands/Malvinas War, Apr-Jun 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1s of HMS Invincible's Air Group, "Operation Corporate" - The Falklands/Malvinas War, Apr-Jun 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 809 NAS on establishment / en route to the South Atlantic for "Operation Corporate", late Apr/mid May 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of ex-809 NAS as part of HMS Hermes' Air Group, "Operation Corporate", late May/mid Jun 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of ex-809 NAS as part of HMS Invincible's Air Group, "Operation Corporate", late May/mid Jun 1982. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 800 Naval Air Squadron, "Exercise Arctic Express", HMS Hermes, 1983. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 801 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Invincible, 1983. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, 1988. Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 809 NAS deployed to the South Atlantic with 809 NAS on board HMS Illustrious, 1982 Sea Harrier FRS.51s of 300 Indian Naval Air Squadron, 1983 Sea Harrier FRS.51s of 300 Indian Naval Air Squadron, 2005 While that seems already rather generous, there are further decal options noted in diagrams and tables within those pages, which will give you in the region of fifty (I know!) airframes to choose from. The decals have been designed by CrossDelta, and printed by Cartograf, with good register, colour density and sharpness, with a thin glossy carrier film closely cropped around each decal. The decal designer has also helpfully added sizes in inches to each row of the serials, which will be helpful when you're choosing decals for one of the less detailed options. If only all decal sheets were that descriptive! Conclusion After the buzz, and some initial concerns about the depth of the nose (which I shared), the actual kit is happily looks fine in that area, especially when painted. The detail is good, the decal sheet superb and colourful, which if you add in the fact that this is a new tool FRS.1 makes for one compelling package. Kinetic Publicity Photo Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Kinetic 1:24 The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is one of the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine. It was built from 1941–1945, and was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack roles could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds; it could carry more than half the payload of the B-17 bomber on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range). The P-47 was designed around the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine—the same engine used by two very successful U.S. Navy fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair, the latter of which was the first to fly with Double Wasp power in late May 1940—and was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat. When deployed as a fighter-bomber with its usual "double quartet" of heavy-calibre M2 Browning machine guns, it proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theatres. The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters of World War II, and served with other Allied air forces, notably those of France, Britain, and Russia. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons fighting alongside the U.S. were equipped with the P-47. The armoured cockpit was roomy inside, comfortable for the pilot, and offered good visibility. A modern-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47. Throughout its career the Thunderbolt was almost continually updated and refined, leading to the P-47D, (the subject of this review), which was the most produced version with 12,602 built. The "D" model actually consisted of a series of evolving production blocks, the last of which were visibly different from the first. The first P-47Ds were actually the same as P-47Cs. Republic could not produce Thunderbolts fast enough at its Farmingdale plant on Long Island, so a new plant was built at Evansville, Indiana. The Evansville plant built a total of 110 P-47Ds, which were completely identical to P-47C-2s. Farmingdale aircraft were identified by the "-RE" suffix after the block number, while Evansville aircraft were given the "-RA" suffix. The P-47D-1 through P-47D-6, the P-47D-10, and the P-47D-11 successively incorporated changes such as the addition of more engine cooling flaps around the back of the cowl to reduce the engine overheating problems that had been seen in the field. Engines and engine subsystems saw refinement, as did the fuel, oil and hydraulic systems. Additional armour protection was also added for the pilot. The P-47D-15 was produced in response to requests by combat units for increased range. Underwing "wet" (equipped with fuel plumbing) bomb racks were introduced to allow a jettisonable drop tank pressurized by vented exhaust air to be carried under each wing, in addition to the belly tank. Seven different auxiliary tanks were fitted to the Thunderbolt during its career. The tanks made of plastic-impregnated (laminated) paper could not store fuel for an extended period of time, but they worked quite well for the time it took to fly a single mission. These tanks were cheaper, lighter, and were useless to the enemy if recovered after being dropped—not only did they break apart, but they did not provide the enemy with any reusable materials that could be scavenged for their own war effort. With the increased fuel capacity, the P-47 was now able to perform escort missions deep into enemy territory. A drawback to their use was that fighters could not land with the tanks in place because of the hazard of rupture and explosion. Fighters recalled from a mission or that did not jettison their paper tanks for some reason were required to drop them into a designated "dump" area at their respective fields, resulting in substantial losses of aviation fuel. The P-47D-16, D-20, D-22 and D-23 were similar to the P-47D-15 with minor improvements in the fuel system, engine subsystems, a jettisonable canopy, and a bulletproof windshield. Beginning with the block 22 aircraft, the original narrow-chorded Curtiss propeller was replaced by propellers with larger blades, the Evansville plant switching to a new Curtiss propeller with a diameter of 13 ft. (3.96 m) and the Long Island plant using a Hamilton Standard propeller with a diameter of 13 ft. 2 in (4.01 m). With the bigger propellers having barely 6 in (152 mm) of ground clearance, Thunderbolt pilots had to learn to be careful on take-offs to keep the tail down until they obtained adequate ground clearance, and on landings to flare the aircraft properly. Failure to do so damaged both the propeller and the runway. A modification to the main gear legs was installed to extend the legs via an electric motor (un-extending before retraction) to accommodate the larger propeller diameter. The Model Kinetics new kit of the P-47D is an update of their 2014 release, with the razorback fuselage replacing the cut down, bubble canopied example, which in turn was originally released by Vintage Fighter Series. The kit comes in a pretty standard sized box, only, very, very deep. The boxart shows a P-47 just leaving the runway on a mission, inside the box is pretty much packed full to the gunwhales with styrene. In total there are twenty four sprues of mid grey styrene, with the wings and fuselage halves separate, there are two sprues of clear styrene, two rubber tyres and a large decal sheet. The parts are beautifully moulded, with no sign of flash or other major imperfections, although there are some flow marks on the wings, which will easily be covered by primer and paint. Whilst the main parts are large, the detail is well reproduced with recessed and raised detail where appropriate. The kit doesn’t look particularly complicated, although the instructions parts placement indications could be better, and whilst it is well detailed it does appear to have some scope for the modeller to add even more, particularly on the engine and in the cockpit. Talking of the cockpit, that’s exactly where the build begins, nothing out of the ordinary there I here you say. The cockpit consists of the floor, front bulkhead, rear bulkhead, three piece seat, joystick, beautifully detailed sidewalls, with separate throttle quadrant, and instrument panel, which is fitted with separate rudder pedals and gunsight. The engine is built up form two banks of cylinders, each moulded as one piece. Each bank is fitted with their respective push rods, whilst the front bank is fitted with the cowl mounting ring. The exhaust manifold is assembled, with each of the exhaust pipes being separate parts and fitted to the engine bulkhead. The gearbox cover comes in three parts and is detailed with separate magnetos before being fitted to the front cylinder bank. The firewall is then detailed with the five piece oil cooler section to the front and the two piece channel to the rear. The engine is then fitted to the bulkhead along with the two oil cooler ducts. The area between the engine bulkhead and the firewall is filled with pipework, oil tanks the turbo-supercharger, and engine mounting stays to which the engine assembly is attached. The cockpit assembly, wing spars and turbo-supercharger outlet are glued to one half of the fuselage before it can be closed up. The engine assembly, with cowling front now attached is then fitted to the front of the fuselage. The rest of the cowling can then be attached, of left off as per the modellers wishes. If attached, the clear cowling sides can be left unpainted if desired. The horizontal tailplanes are now glued into place, followed by the two gills on the mid fuselage sides, either in the open or closed positions. The tail wheel is made up from eight parts and fitted to the rear fuselage, along with the tail wheel bay doors. The fuselage mounted, five piece flattened drop tank is fitted into position, as are the inner main wheel bay doors and supercharger outlet duct. Each wing consist of upper and lower halves, with separate ailerons, flaps and navigation lights. Before gluing the wing halves together, the quad 50 cal gun bays are assembled from seventeen and fitted to the lower wing and any holes required, to be opened up. Each gun bay comes with a separate cover which can be left off if required. Only the port side gun bays is further enhanced with the ammunition belt bay, also with separate, poseable covers. Each of the completed wings are then glued to the fuselage. The underwing stores options include:- • 108 U.S. gallon (409 l) drop tank • 110 U.S. gallon drop tank • 500lb GP Bomb • Triple Bazooka tube launchers Each with their respective pylons and fittings. Each of the main undercarriage assemblies are built up from seven parts, with separate scissor link, inner hub, and outer bay doors. The relevant stores and undercarriage are glued to their respective positions. The flaps can be posed retracted or extended, with the relevant parts required to show off the fully extended flaps. The kit is finished off with the fitting of the two leading edge gun panels, pitot probe and a choice of four different propellers depending on the type you are building. Decals The decal sheet is suitably large, as it should be given the scale, yet there are only two schemes provided, both in olive drab over neutral grey, although one has an off white tailplane. The decals are well printed and really quite vibrant, given the subjects provided. The carrier fill is quite thin, so care should be taken when manoeuvring the decals into position. Conclusion Another one of my favourite aircraft, mainly as it’s one heck of a brute and goes against grain of the dainty fighters of the period. This kit will build into one large model, yet, whilst the size will be quite impressive the parts count isn’t that great. This means that even a fairly novice modeller could have a huge P-47 in their collection. That said, it is quite expensive for what you get, (yes, I know the moulds will be large and the company will need to get their money back on the investment), but it just seems to lack that je ne sais quoi detail one would expect. It’s still a great looking kit and I can quite happily recommend it, as it will give hours of fun, especially with the detail painting, although, if you don’t own an airbrush, you may need a large brush for the exterior paint job. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Mike

    SU-33 Flanker D 1:48

    SU-33 Flanker D 1:48 Kinetic Models The SU-33 is a carrier based development of the SU-27 that has suffered from the dearth of finances following the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of the last millennium. Soon after it was taken into service by the Soviet Navy, funding was reduced to the military as a whole, and as a result only 24 airframes were ever built. Overseas sales were attempted, but none came to fruition for various reasons, and further sales to the Russian Navy weren't an option, as in 2009 they decided on the navalised Mig-29K going forward. Beginning with the basic SU-27 airframe, the internal structure and landing gear were beefed up to cope with the additional stresses of hard carrier landings, the wings were enlarged to provide additional lift, and both the wings and stabs were fitted with folding mechanisms for storage below decks. The first aircraft embarked on the Admiral Kuznetsov in 1995 after substantial testing, but the cancellation of other carriers led to the projected buy of 72 airframes being cut back to the aforementioned 24. They are being drawn down in favour of the Mig-29K, and will be refurbished to replace their outdated avionics for future use elsewhere. Below are a couple of videos of why carrier landing practice is a good thing. The latter airframe was lost when an arrestor wire snapped, resulting in a trip to Davy Jones's locked for the aircraft. The Kit This is a complete new tooling of this large twin-engined fighter, and it received much praise when the test shots were on view at Telford in late 2015, filling a hole in the Soviet/Russian fast jet line-up in this scale. It would appear that Kinetic have really pushed the boat out for this release, as not only is the part count high, but the detail is also exceptional, with lots of slide-moulding used to create complex detail on multiple facets of parts that would have been impossible using non sliding moulds. The box is fairly standard for Kinetic, in their familiar blue scheme with a painting of an airborne D on the front, but inside there are some rather nice packaging touches, including separate boxes for the delicate exhaust parts and the missiles. Each box has a custom tray inside that holds the parts safe from harm until needed. There are sixteen sprues of various sizes and ten spruelets in mid grey styrene, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, and an instruction booklet. The instructions are in A4 portrait format and follow a new greyscale 3D drawing style, rather than the traditional line drawing seen on older kits. First impressions are excellent, with lots of detail, parts and clever moulding, as well as the size of the aircraft, as evidenced by the large upper and lower fuselage parts on the top of the box. Construction starts predictably enough with the cockpit, which has separate rear bulkhead and four side console panels added to improve the detail, plus the control column and a separate set of rudder pedals made up of PE and styrene parts. The K-36DM zero-zero ejection seat built up from a substantial number of parts, with PE used for the leg restraints, although sadly there aren't any seatbelts included in the kit, which is a bit of a shame. The instrument panel fits to the front of the cockpit with plenty of raised and engraved details, but no decals for the dials, which is again a bit of a shame, leaving it up to the modeller to furnish them. Attention then shifts to the nose gear bay, which sits under the cockpit in the finished article. It is a deep bay, and has additional height added in the shape of detailed sidewalls, with a pair of bulkheads at the ends, and a rib/support around the halfway point. The main bays are relatively shallow, and are built up from individual panels into a rough square shape, to be added to the lower fuselage. The bay roof is moulded into the upper fuselage, and has hoses and wiring moulded-in to improve the detail. The cockpit and wheel bays can then be added to the lower portion, while the instructions tell you to add some of the bay doors at this stage, along with the recess that projects into the engine nacelle. The trunking is built up in pairs for obvious reasons, with the upper half attached to the fuselage bottom along with a pair of fan-faces, before being covered over by the big lower parts after adding some additional PE parts including the built-in FOD guards, and either open or closed auxiliary inlet louvers underneath. These complex slide-moulded cowlings have the upper half of the trunking moulded in, and it is unlikely that any resulting seam will be visible once the assembly is completed, although whether you fill them is entirely up to you. A number of small detail parts are then added to the now completed main gear bays, which couldn't be added earlier. The nose gear is shown next, which is an odd choice considering the fuselage halves aren't even joined yet, but the reinforced unit is built up around a thick central strut, with twin wheels, landing lights, four PE slats for the mudguard, and lots of bracing/retraction struts for good measure. This could easily be left of until later, as could the main legs, which are similar in construction, but with only one wheel each, which has a little weighting moulded-in. The Arrestor hook and inner wing pylons are then added, and here you will notice how much effort has been put into detailing the pylons, both on the visible sides, as well as the mating surfaces, in case you want to show them off without weapons installed. Bay doors and their retraction jacks are also added, and again these could be left off until later, while the large ventral strakes are installed under the exhaust area. The exhaust trunking is then built up from some highly detailed and delicate parts that are amongst the best styrene exhausts I have seen. A rear engine face and a very detailed afterburner ring in PE is also included for those minded to look into the tail pipes, but this area should look very good with some sympathetic paintwork. A pair of cockpit sidewalls are added to the upper fuselage as well as a bay for the refuelling probe, and at last the top and bottom halves are mated, leaving you with a lot less room on your desk suddenly. The nose is detailed with a suite of sensors, probes, the large IRST fairing with clear lens, plus a PE HUD frame with clear glass and projector lens. The refuelling probe and some of the more prominent and delicate sensors are probably safer left off until later. The windscreen is fitted to the large mating point around the coaming, but the canopy has a separate frame and additional details such as the demisting hoses and PE rear-view mirrors added, before adding the glazing. This and the windscreen have a bulbous front profile, which requires a three-part mould to de-mould them, so they have a very fine seam on the outer surface. This can be sanded away and then polished back to clarity, but if that thought turns you to jelly, it is very fine so might go unnoticed if you're lucky. The large air-brake is mounted behind the cockpit, and is double-skinned for extra detail, with a large ram to push it up into the airflow when needed. The outer wing panels are able to be posed folded if you want to save space or like the way they look, so a pair of joint pieces are included to blank off the hollow space at the roots. There are also leading-edge slats and trailing edge flaps to add, but check them for sink-marks as you go, because the review sample had a few easily remedied sink-marks particularly in the slats. A smear of Tamiya Basic Putty and a little bit of sanding will soon see them gone, as they aren't near any major details. Just as you think you're going to fit the wings, the instructions divert you sneakily to putting on the twin tail fins, with poseable rudders and sensor suite that are made up from separate parts, so that they can be left off to save damage. The parapack fairing can also be posed open with a couple of small detail parts and a strut included, but as there is no parachute in there, it's of limited value. At the other end, the big nose cone is a one-piece moulding, and has ample space for nose weight, although none is specified. A number of small antennae are added underneath, and a choice of two pitot probes for wings folded and unfolded are also in the box. Back to the wings. If you are folding the wings the outer wing panels will need a bulkhead installing at the break, and don't forget to drill out the mounting points for the wing pylons before you close up the halves. There are full-width slats at the front, and a choice of closed up or deployed two-section flaperons at the trailing edge. Again, check these for sink-marks well before you need them. The canards are single parts that slide into holes in the leading edge of the fuselage/wing blend, and the elevators have small pins that fit to corresponding slots in the stub, with PE covers. If you are folding the wings, an L-shaped brace fits in the root along with a pair of smaller supports, while the assembly process for the elevators seems to have been missed entirely. From looking at pictures on the web however, the pins fit vertically in the slot, with the covers retained on the pin, spacing the raised section from the stub. The last task is to choose and install the weapons, which are all slide-moulded as one main part, the two R-73s (incorrectly labelled as R-27s in the instructions) having additional vanes at the front added from PE for a more realistic look. They also have separate exhausts on their spruelet. The wingtip fairings have an optional pod on the port wing, while all the weapons use their own specific adaptor rail. The R-27s are provided with two of each of the Alamo D and C variants, all of which are slide-moulded as one part each. Here is where I'm a little torn about the weapons using slide-moulding, as yes they give great detail, but if there is the smallest element of mould slip, you have four seams to clean up, all of which run over highly detailed areas. A little mould-slip is almost inevitable with five-part moulds like these (four sides, and one part for the hollow exhaust), so a lot of careful scraping of the seams will be needed before you can paint them. This isn't a criticism of Kinetic, as I have seen this on other kits from different manufacturers. That said, they will look great if you put the effort in with the seams. The load-out diagram shows the R-27s on the centre wing pylon and the R-72s on the outer pylons, but as always check your references and find a real-world warload that suits your needs. Markings The decal sheet allows you to portray any of the aircraft of the 279th Fighter Aviation Regiment aboard Admiral Kuznetsov, because it covers all the code numbers, plus the tail art of 1st Eagle Squadron and 2nd Tiger squadron. Variations are noted in scrap diagrams, and the stencils are called out on the main drawings. The dielectric panels are painted white, and decals are included for the majority, but you will have to paint the radome, tail tips and inboard panels on the fins yourself. The camouflage scheme is the same throughout, consisting of pale blue/blue/blue grey, all called out in Gunze colours, although there is a conversion chart at the beginning of the booklet for Vallejo, AMMO, Italeri, Humbrol, Tamiya and AKAN. AKAN do a paint set specifically for the SU-33, which contains the correct blue shades in a set of six under the code 47326. Having recently used AKAN for the first time on my Mig-31 Foxhound, I'll be seeking these out when it comes time for the build. Martin @ Coastal Craft will be getting a call. Conclusion This has to be Kinetic's best model to date, both in terms of detail and the technology used in creating it. There are a few mistakes in the instructions, and the PE sheet is unprotected in the box despite being very thin and flimsy, so could really do with a card protector. Other than that, there's not much to gripe about, and an awful lot to like. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. F-16XL Experimental Fighter 1:48 Skunkmodels Workshop The F-16XL was an almost project from General Dynamics that began as a technology demonstrator using the F-16 as a base, but giving it a large cranked delta wing for increased lift and fuel stowage. The fuselage was stretched by a metre, which improved both range as well as weapons carrying capability due to the increase in size and available lift. Three years after the project started, it was submitted for the Enhanced Tactical Fighter competition against the F-15E Eagle, which it lost, partly due to the major changes to the airframe of the XL compared to the F-15E, but also because the single-engined design could do little in the event of an engine failure. After this setback the XL went into storage, but emerged again in the late 80s as NASA research aircraft where they were used in testing of new technologies for improving airflow over their wings at supersonic speeds. It was during these tests that the two-seat airframe went supersonic "dry" with no afterburner, thus accidentally achieving super-cruise. After a decade with NASA they were again sent back to storage until 2007, when one airframe was tested with a view to return to flight. After some work and a taxi test they were both returned to storage where they remain. The Kit The announcement of this new tooling from Kinetic/Skunkworks was greeted with polar opposite cries of "oh good!", and "they should have done a…", as you'd probably expect. This is an aircraft with only two extant airframes, one of which is a two-seater, the other single, so if you stay in the real world, you only have a very few colour schemes to work with, and little in the way of actual war-loads that you could model. That will bother a few, but a lot of folks won't mind one bit, and either be happy to build the schemes out there, or make up their own. The markings provided and stores will help you with going fictional, as a few options have thoughtfully been included. Remember that model companies are primarily in the business of making money, with filling gaps in the actual range of kits being a secondary goal that is generally only loosely linked with the primary goal, so Raymond Chung and friends have decided that this is a kit that will sell, and I'm pretty sure they're right. The box is standard Kinetic/Skunkmodel, and if you have seen or owned one of their other F-16 kits, you'll be familiar with the layout of the sprues and even some of the parts in the box. I built one of their F-16s some years back, and I recognise more than a few, and I have a terrible memory! Inside the box are sixteen sprues in mid grey styrene, two in clear, two decal sheets, one of which quite large, and an oversized A4 instruction booklet printed in black and white. The top sprues are the upper and lower fuselage/wings, which are impressive, as they are full-span with only the leading edges of the outer wing panels and the control surfaces missing. Long streamlined sponsons project back from the wing between the inner and outer panels, with moulded-in slots for the other parts to give the additional sections a good mating surface. The cockpit should be familiar to any F-16 modeller, and comprises of a single-seat tub to which throttle and stick are added to the side consoles, a two-part instrument panel, rear bulkhead and of course the ejection seat. This is made up from five parts and gives an adequate representation of the ACES II seat fitted to F-16s, although no belts are included. This is attached to the underside of the large upper fuselage half, which has some sidewall detail moulded in, plus the instrument coaming, which mates with the panel and has a HUD added. The engine and main wheelbay are built as one section, with the intake trunking forming the roof of the main bay. The forward section also houses the nose gear bay, which is moulded into the lower half of the intake. There is a joint between the forward and aft sections of this trunk, but you can't really see it on completion, so paint it white and get it lined up nicely, and no-one will know you didn't fill the seam. The main bay is then detailed with bulkheads and extra parts, which gives a fair representation of the original, and with some wiring should look good under a coat of paint. The very lip of the intake is separate, and aft of that there is pair of outer skin parts that enclose the inner, with a splitter angled down from a hole in the top of the intake. Take care fitting this part so that you get it right, and do some test fits with the outer skin installed to make sure it isn't going to push the intake out of shape. The rear section drops into the lower fuselage from within, while the intake is added from below, which is where your test fitting earlier will come in very handy. There is an insert that runs between the main gear bays to the rear of the nose bay, and this will also need to be test fitted as you install the intakes, so that this is again nice and snug without being too tight in its recess. The exhaust is the last component to be built up before closing the fuselage, and it is made up from two halves, with rear engine face and afterburner ring held in the front, and exhaust petals at the rear. This slots in the rear, and after that you'll be needing the glue and clamps to close the two large fuselage/wing halves up. At this point the instructions would have your XL stood on its own legs, which are added at various points during the building of the intakes, with separate two-part hubs and two-part wheels, which are a tad fiddly, but have been tooled in this way to maximise re-use for different variants. The main gear bay doors are single parts with very slight sink marks in the outer skin that will need sanding and possibly a smear of putty to smooth them out. With main construction out of the way, it's time to finish off the wings, with the leading edge slats, and the rear feathers. The designers have been a bit clever here and moulded each part with tabs that allow you to pose your flaps/slats either stowed or deployed, just by cutting off half the tabs. A little sanding to remove any sign they were there, and you can be sure you're putting the parts in the correct position. Very clever! The tail is also separate, with a fairing made up from two/three parts plus three more tiny parts, two parts for the main fin, and a cap to finish it off. The rudder is also separate, giving you the option of offsetting it if you wish. An optional gun-trough of blanking panel is installed on the port wing shoulder just aft of the canopy, the main section of which is added to a styrene sled before being fitted to the opening along with the fixed rear portion. You can pose it open using the multi-pose lug at the rear of the frame. At this stage the nose cone is built up from two halves, filled with an undisclosed amount of nose-weight and glued to the bulkhead. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a single part, but it's not the end of the world. The pitot probe fits in a small hole in the pointy end. With the addition of a few small intake scoops and the nav lights on the intake barrel, main construction is complete. Weapons Kinetic/Skunkworks are generous with the munitions and pods they include with their kits, and given the XL's load hauling ability it's good to have a lot on hand. Including the wingtip rails and centreline pylons, there are a total of twenty five pylons and weapons stations, which include two semi-recessed and flush points for a quartet of AIM-120s. IN the box you will find the following: 2 x 370gal wing tanks 1 x 300 gal centre tank 2 x AIM-9M Sidewinders 2 x AGM-65 Mavericks 2 x GBU-31 JDAMs 2 x GBU-24 Paveway IIIs 2 x GBU-12 Paveway IIs 12 x MK.82 iron bombs 4 x AIM-120B AMRAAMs 2 x CBU-87 Cluster bombs 1 x AN/AAQ-13 LANTIRN navigation pod 1 x AAN/AAQ-14 LANTIRN navigation pod The construction of some of these items will need a little care due to the number of parts, and the orientation of the fins, but overall they're a well detailed package, with the AIM-120s and Sidewinders getting slide-moulded exhausts. With all these goodies, you'll be needing a lot of pylons and adapter rails, which are included in spades, and all have separate sway-braces where appropriate. If you are installing the AMRAAMs, you will need to remove one pair of fins for the forward flush station, as they will prevent you from fitting them properly. A page shows the possible weapons options with the stations numbered and handed due to the sheer volume of them. Most pictures show a pair of Sidewinders and additional tankage for real-life scenarios, as the XL never saw service. For the What-if inclined, there's almost everything you could want, apart from an ALQ-131 ECM pod that is mentioned, but not included in the kit. Markings You'd think that with there only being one extant airframe with a single-seat, you'd be a bit limited, but you are provided with two real-world schemes, and a further three schemes that are described as "fictional", for which read what-if. From the box you can build one of the following: Prototype scheme, 1982 – medium grey/medium gunship grey over dark ghost grey with blue spine, white tail band with F-16XL and red upper tail. NASA, 1993 – Flat black upper with medium grey nose and dark ghost grey undersides. NASA logo on the tail and yellow stripes around the wing leading edges and spine. 75th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Wing "Flying Tigers", USAF 1995 - medium grey/medium gunship grey over dark ghost grey with shark mouth under nose. 16th Weapons Squadron, 57th Wing USAF – diagonal five tone grey stripes over the whole airframe. Tayeset (Squadron) 101, Israeli Defence Force – Tan/sand/green upper with light ghost grey underside. Red/white striped rudder. In case you hadn't twigged the first two are the real schemes, and the rest are made up. Quite inventive they are too! The decals have been designed in conjunction with Cross Delta, and printed by Cartograf, and the print quality is excellent, with good register, density and sharpness. The smaller sheet contains the stencils for the weapons and fuel tanks, as well as for a few that aren't included in this kit, so don't be surprised if you have a few left. Because of the differing uses and fictional schemes, the stencils have had to be shown on each scheme, which looks a little intimidating, but as long as you take your time and do one at a time, you'll soon finish it. Conclusion We already know that this won't please everyone for whatever reasons, but it should please enough people to sell well. It is well stocked with munitions, and detail is up to the standard of their standard F-16s, so you know what to expect. Looking at the sprues there doesn't seem to be any obvious allusion to a 2-seat variant, with nothing inside the forward area of the upper fuselage to suggest it. Even if the single seat option is the only one that is released, it's still one more than most people thought would be done! Highly recommended if you're intrigued by the potential of this evolutionary dead-end of the F-16. Review sample courtesy of
  10. I am delighted to say that my Great Wall Hobby Victor B2 arrived today. Great service from Lucky Model once I had got over the ordering issues. The kit itself is a delight - restrained panel lines, some cockpit detail and ability to model the kit with either open or closed airbrakes. The markings are all for a camo machine - I wonder if Fundekal can do some decals for assorted Victor B2 in white/camo schemes for the Victor as they did for the Vulcan. That would be very nice indeed! John
  11. AMX Fighter – Single Seater 1:48 The AMX was designed as a replacement to the Fiat G.91 and derivatives, and was the product of a newly create company called AMX International, which was a cooperation between Aeritalia, Aeromacchi and the Brazilian company Embraer. Each partner builds a portion of the aircraft, with the first assembled in Italy for flight testing in the mid 80s. After successful completion of testing, it started to enter into service toward the end of the 80s, as the A-11 Ghibli with the Italian Air Force and the A-1 with Brazil. The aircraft uses a license built Spey engine, which was chosen for reliability and ease of integration with the design, although later other engines were considered. It has been used substantially by both operators and has undergone a number of upgrades of the avionics over time. The two-seat trainer was completed in the 1990s, and many of the approximately 200 airframes are still in service, barring accidents and total loss incidents, of which there have been a few over the years, ironically one of which was due to engine failure. The Kit We have been poorly served for kits of this aircraft in 1:48, having only a few offerings that could hardly be called mainstream. This is the first mainstream injection moulded kit in this scale, although I believe another manufacturer is in final stages of preparing their own moulding. The kit arrives in a substantial top opening box that is full of parts, and the first thing I realised on examining the sprues was that this is not a particularly small aircraft. There are seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, two small clear sprues, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a sheet of decals and of course the instruction booklet. The mouldings are consistent with Kinetic style and standards, with plenty of engraved panel lines and rivets. There are a plethora of domed rivets on the rear "hot end" and a curved elevator guide as per the real thing, although these are perhaps a little overdone due to the constraints of injection moulding. The fuselage has been moulded in front and rear sections to accommodate a future 2-seat variant as well as the different cannon fit between the AMX and A-1, which are on opposite sides to each other. This results in two nose cones being supplied with the kit. Construction starts with the cockpit, and there are options available to the builder depending on which of the three variants is to be depicted. The main cockpit tub is a single part with moulded in side consoles to which a control stick, rudder pedals and rear bulkhead are added. The license-built Martin-Baker MK.10L seat is quite well depicted, although a few of the restraints are absent, however the main shoulder belts are included as part of the PE sheet. An optional instrument panel and coaming is fitted, and the seat is inserted in the completed cockpit. As is often the case with a modern jet, the nose gear bay is closely coupled to the cockpit tub, and this is supplied as a simple box that has a couple of prominent ejector-pin marks, and no sidewall detail. This shouldn't be much of an issue unless you wish to leave the main bay door open (as is an option), which only seems to happen during rotation and maintenance. The gear leg is dropped into a slot in the sidewalls, and has a separate yoke holding a three-part wheel in between. It will need to be installed before putting the bay in the fuselage, which is a bit of an inconvenience, but probably won't stop the world from spinning. On completion of the bay you can close up the forward fuselage around it and the cockpit, being careful to add some nose-weight, the amount of which isn't disclosed in the instructions. Pack as much as you can in without bending the nose gear leg, just to be on the safe side. At this stage the instructions would have you add all the small intakes and antennae, but you will probably use your best judgement on a case-by-case basis based on the probability of breaking them off during the rest of the build. The windscreen is also added at this point, and it is probably as good a time as any, as it will provide protection for your hard work on the coaming and HUD parts. The antennae fit differs between the AMX and A-1A/M, so take care in choosing the page you refer to. The rear fuselage needs filling with assemblies before it can be closed and joined up with the nose, and this process begins with the main gear bays, which are side-by-side taking up the full fuselage width, and separated by a bulkhead to which a number of ribbing parts are added, giving a nice focal point to the bay. The gear legs are added to the front bulkhead with another butt-fit on a section of the forward-most rib, with their retraction jacks added separately along with some trunking within the bay. Now for the tricky part! The intake trunking is supplied as full-depth in two parts, and there are a couple of ejector pin marks you'll need to remove if you think they'll be seen. The outer half is attached to the inside of the fuselage and the more rounded inner section is then installed, and hangs cleverly from a recessed location pin in the fuselage spine to ensure they mount at the correct angle. The fuselage halves are then brought together around the main gear bay, with a front engine face being added to the intakes, and a single-piece exhaust at the rear. The sides of the exhaust are featureless, but you can dimly see the rear of the engine if you look down the end of the tube. The exhaust lip is quite significantly over-thick, so a little sanding will be order to get a more scale representation. You get two in the box, so you can always start again if you make a mess! Once the fuselage has been closed up, more detail is added to the main gear legs which presumably would have interfered with installation beforehand, and a pair of three-part wheels are added for it to stand on. The intake outer trunking and lips are then added to finish off, and these seem to be on the money in terms of shape. The nose section is brought in, and should fit nicely, as there are some neat overlaps on the port side to follow panel lines and avoid awkward seams across inspection panels. Of course you'll be fitting the correct nose for the version you plan to model, but they are very similar apart from the cannon installation and some panel lines. Another round of small antennae, lumps & bumps ensues, and there are a LOT of these parts. There are also a bunch of little PE vents that fit into recesses on the fuselage, giving a nice bit of extra detail in the process, but as usual through this build, just make sure you are following the correct procedure for the version you are modelling, perhaps scribbling on the one you're not modelling, just to make sure. No aircraft is complete without wings, and the AMX has two, which are shoulder mounted and hang on a pair of lugs that fit into vertical slots in the fuselage sides, and have separate front slats and flaps, the latter able to be posed retracted or deployed by the addition of extra parts between the flaps and their bay. The wing-mounted spoilers are moulded flush with the surface, and would require significant work to depict in action. The tail fin is moulded into the fuselage halves with separate two-part rudder, while the elevators are both three-part assemblies including a separate tab on each trailing edge. The canopy is nicely moulded in crystal clear styrene, and fits aft of the windscreen, which can be posed open or closed at your whim, or depending on how proud of the work on the cockpit you are! It has a set of rear-view mirrors, plus a frame that sits behind the ejection seat when closed, and if you are posing it open, a retention jack that holds the canopy at the correct angle to the side of the fuselage (it's a side opening canopy in case you weren't aware). The AMX is a fighting aircraft, so its wings and underside are often decked out with pylon mounted weapons, which Kinetic have supplied in their usual generous fashion on the two identical smaller sprues. There are also a pair of 1,100L fuel tanks and an Orpheus Recce Pod that is used on the AMX. The two sprues contain the following: 4 x AIM-120 (unused) 2 x AIM-9L 2 x AIM-9X (unused) 2 x GBU-12 Paveway II (unused) 2 x Mk.82 bombs (unused) 2 x CBU-97 cluster bomb dispenser (unused) The two AIM-9 variants have slide-moulded hollow exhausts, as does one of the unused pylon adapters, all of which is nice to see. There are a number of adapter rails on the sprue, only some of which are used in this kit for the AMX and A-1 fit of the Sidewinders. The underwing pylons are on the main sprues and are supplied in halves, with two separate sway-braces per pylon. The Orpheus pod attaches directly to the centre-line of the aircraft without a separate pylon or adapter. Markings There are three schemes included on the kit's decal sheet, one each of the A-1A, A-1M and the Brazilian AMX. The sheet tells us that the design work was done by FCM Decals from Brazil, and the printing was done in Italy by Cartograf. The quality of registration, colour density and sharpness are superb, as you would expect from Cartograf, with carrier film cropped nice and close to the decals for minimal impact. Some of the stencils on the pylons have been amalgamated under one piece of carrier film, so be prepared to use some softening solution to get those to settle down nicely. From the box you can build one of the following: A-1A 1/16 Grupo de aviacao, Esq. Adelfi Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 2008 – green/grey camo over grey lowers. AMX International Security Assistance Force Task Group "Black Cats", 51 Stormo Afghanistan, 2009 – Sky grey overall. AMX 51 Stormo, 132 Gruppo Caccia Bombardieri Ricognitori Treviso, Istrana 2007 – Sky grey with grey/black tail art. There appears to be an "Easter egg" of additional decals, including a triangular white decal with holes for another colour to show through, plus a black spotted 101 with a red lightning bolt through, and 100 years of Brazilian aviation badge. I'm not sure what this is for, as I'm not an expert on Brazilian aviation, and couldn't turn anything up on Google at short notice. Two separate pages of stencil placement are found at the rear of the instruction booklet, differing between Italian and Brazilian usage. Conclusion A very welcome release for anyone that's interested in a so far elusive kit in this scale. It appears to have been quite well done, although I'm sure some minor issues will come out in due course from those that know the airframe inside out. It will certainly be an easier build than anything that has gone before in this scale, but as always with Kinetic kits (which could also apply to almost any kit), the process will go more smoothly if you test fit and fettle before final assembly. Highly recommended. On backorder at time of writing Review sample courtesy of