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woody37

Saab RF-35 'Recon Draken' - Hasegawa 1:72

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Saab RF-35 ‘Recon Draken’

1:72 Hasegawa

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The need to replace the Sabb J29 Tunnan goes back as far as 1949 when the Swedish Air Force required a high performance all weather interceptor that could operate from public road ways. It was key that the aircraft had a good rate of climb to altitude due to the intercept capability. With the basic concept of fitting the biggest engine into the smallest airframe, the challenge with such designs is always how to cram all the equipment into such a small space. Lockheed achieved performance with their Starfighter by having an incredibly small wing to reduce drag, but that brought with it obvious operational handling challenges. Led by Erik Bratt, the design team at Saab were drawn towards the double delta shape which created a high internal airframe capacity but low thickness to chord ratio, critical for high performance. The less swept outer wing sections were much thinner but gave the necessary characteristics to enable good low speed handling without too much sacrifice in top end. After scale trials in an aircraft called LillDraken (Little Dragon), the first Draken took to the air in 1955 with the J-35A being ordered into production in 1956. Initial deliveries of the J-35 were received by the Swedish Air Force in 1960 using a license built RR Avon as the power plant. Evolution of the Draken introduced more powerful engines with better avionics and weapon capabilities. In all 640 J-35’s were produced between 1955 and 1974 with the last retiring from military service in 2005. It served operationally with 4 nations; Austria, Denmark, Finland and of course Sweden and the US also took delivery of 6 aircraft for use with the National Test Pilot School. A capability that I found really amazing was that the Draken was able to perform the Cobra manoeuvre, testament to its design.

The RF-35 was a highly modified export aircraft produced for Denmark as part of the Saab 35XD programme. Key improvements were greater internal fuel load, cameras in the nose, new avionics & cockpit, arrestor hook, modified outer wings to carry weapons and stronger undercarriage. 20 of these aircraft were produced.


The kit
This is the kit that’s been around for many years but has some extra parts to convert it into the RF-35. Supplied in Hasegawa’s usual boxing format, you get a mere 65 pieces of light grey plastic on 4 standard sprues with an addition one containing the conversion parts. The quality in summary is very typical of Hasegawa approach. Beautifully detailed exterior surfaces but bland cockpit interior that leaves a great opportunity to improve. There is some small amounts of flash present in places and a few minor sink marks such as on the wing leading edge near the intakes but these will be quite easy to deal with.

With 65 parts, assembly isn’t going to take too long. It starts with the cockpit. A basic seat and panel goes into the tub. There’s no switch detail in here, only the decals to add detail. The assembled tub fits to the lower fuselage with the upper half fitting over the top. There’s no intake trunking unfortunately, however the intakes are rather small so provided you paint the interior in a dark colour, it shouldn’t be too noticeable. As mentioned, the detail on the exterior is very nicely done. Fine recessed panel lines supplemented by an array of panel openings make for an interesting finish which after a wash should look rather splendid.

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With the basic fuselage now done, the outer wings, exhaust section and rear cockpit fairing are added as well as the intakes. The plastic thickness on the intake openings is very thin giving good scale accuracy. The instructions do included a reminder to fit a 5g nose weight before fitting the camera equipped nose cone. The wing tips of the RF-35 are different than the standard wings, so you need to carefully cut the existing wing tips off and replace them with the new ones supplied. The detail in the extra conversion parts is consistent with the kit parts

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Unfortunately, the only provisions included are two drop tanks; although there are four additional hard points that you can make use of if you have something suitable in the spares box.

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The canopy is provided as a separate part from the windscreen giving you the opportunity to have it open. The parts are quite thin with minimal distortion.

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The decals

The aircraft modelled in this kit are AR-117 and AR-109 which served with the Danish Air Force. AR-117 now resides in the USA with a civilian registration whilst AR-109 has also survived the scrap heap being in storage.

The AR-117 livery included in this kit has quite a funny story behind it. Call sign ‘Dynamite 6-1’ has an unofficial paint scheme that was painted by the pilots of 729 Sqn over night in a shelter in celebration of Denmark’s win over Uruguay in the 1986 football world cup. The second is AR-109 as it was in 1987 wearing a more typical overall green scheme but with a red ribbon across it. I haven’t been able to get any more information as to why this scheme was applied.

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Conclusion

This is a pleasant little kit. The exterior is very nicely detailed and looks to be a straight forward build for any ability. It's generally believed to be quite an accurate kit in terms of shape. Having looked at the price on the kit, I suspect this will hurt sales somewhat, particularly as the detail in the cockpit is sparse and you may need to spend more money to bring this up to your standard. I believe that Revell did a release of the Hasegawa J-35E several years ago and Pavla do an RF-35 conversion including a resin cockpit, so if you can get hold of these along with some suitable decals, you may be able to save some money if you really need to have an RF-35 in your collection.

Amerang Hasegawa Review sample courtesy of
logo.gif UK distributors for logo.jpg

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I've always liked the Draken and built a couple of the Revell issue, so this is a nice little update. But having looked at the big H's website and the price :hypnotised: I think you are right Neil, a Revell kit & Pavla conversion might be more attractive!

John

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I think it's a nice try but not good enough from Hasegawa when thinking on their 1/48 kit which is far more acceptable OOB!

The drop tanks in this new 1/72 kit are NOT for the Danish version; they are too small (the Danish tanks contained 1200 litres of fuel while the Swedish ones contained only 650 litres (or was it 550?)).

Anyway the AR-109 special paint scheme depicted was a photo shoot to make a christmas card for ESK 729 in 1987. The giftwrapping ribbon was originately intended to go all the way from the pitot probe to the tail, but fear of the ribbon coming off and sucked into the engine it was altered to begin immediately behind the intakes. The pilots in both the AR-109 and the photografic aircraft were dressed as Santa Claus! Hence they were later reprimanted not wearing authorized flight gear (suit, mask etc..)!

A little comment on the decals:

the '0' in 'AR-109' is wrongly shaped; needs to be more 'strechted'.

Nicolai

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The aft fuselage chaff/flare dispensers (3, 5, 7 and 9 o'clock positions) are also missing, as is the tailhook. :)

Jens

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They could at least offer us a clear plastic part (2 actually) for the nose section. You can't ask for somebody to pay 38 pounds for buying a kit that has been offered from Revell for only 18 pounds! - and which is by the way, the same mould!!!

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