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F-117A Nighthawk ‘Farewell’ - 1:72 Hasegawa


Paul A H
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F-117A Nighthawk Farewell

1:72 Hasegawa

f117boxtop.jpg

In 1964, the Soviet mathematician Pyotr Ufimtsev published a paper via the Moscow Institute for Radio Engineering which demonstrated that the strength of a radar return was related to the shape of an object rather than its size. The principle was simple; the radar cross section of a wing could be calculated across its surface and leading edge. This meant that an aircraft could be designed with a low radar signature. However, such an aircraft would be inherently unstable without sophisticated computer control, a feature that was not available at that time.

Fast forward ten years and Lockheed analyst Denys Overholser uncovered Ufimtsevs paper, sparking an idea that would emerge in 1977 as the Have Blue experimental aircraft. This, in turn, led to the F-117 proper, which entered service in 1983. The US Air Force officially denied the existence of this unique asset until 1988. Only 64 were built, but most of them saw active service in a number of conflicts in the Gulf and Former Yugoslavia. To reduce costs, it was designed using a number of components from the F-15, F16 and F-18 airframes and was powered by two non-afterburning GE F404 engines. It was finally withdrawn from service in 2008, due to airframe wear and the introduction of the F-22 Raptor.

Hasegawas F-117 is fairly well established on the modelling scene as it has been around for a few years now. In that time it has carved out a reputation as one of the best F-117 kits available, with a good blend of accuracy, detail and fit. The kit arrives packed into a top-opening box adorned with artwork showing the colourful underside of 88-0843 as it was at the time of its final flight in 2008. The kit is made up of 74 parts moulded in black, white and clear plastic. The plastic parts are nicely moulded, without any significant trace of flash. The surface of the aircraft has a glossy sheen to it and the panel lines, few that there are, are finely engraved.

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The cockpit is made up of nine parts, including a tub, control column, instrument panel, head-up display and five part ACES II ejection seat. As is often the case with Hasegawa kits from this period, there is relatively little moulded detail in the cockpit. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and side consoles as, with the exception of three multi-function displays on the instrument panel, these parts are devoid of detail. The ejection seat is pretty nice, although if you want to pose the canopy in the open position, then you may want to swap it for a resin alternative.

f117sprue3.jpg

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The nose gear bay and main landing gear bays are moulded in place with the lower half of the fuselage. They contain a reasonable amount of structural detail and should pass muster in this scale. The capacious internal weapons bay is moulded as a separate part and in brilliant white plastic. Rather than being a gimmick, this is actually quite helpful as the fine detail shows up better than if it had been moulded in the same black plastic as the rest of the kit. The details for the bomb bay, including the internal structures, bomb ejector racks and even the GBU-27 Paveway III bombs are also moulded in white plastic. Two sets of bomb bay doors are included. The first is moulded as a single piece of black plastic which is obviously designed for use if you wish to build the model with the doors closed. The other set is moulded in white plastic in two halves, and is designed to be posed in the open position. The only other internal component is a large clear part that must be fixed in the nose area which apparently acts as ballast.

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Once the internal detail has been installed, the fuselage halves can be joined. Given the relatively clean and uncluttered shape of the F-117, the remaining stages of the construction process should be straightforward. Each wing is moulded with separate upper and lower halves whereas the angled tail planes are solid parts. In both cases the control surfaces are moulded in place. The undercarriage is nicely detailed and should look the part once assembled and painted. The only fly in the ointment is the presence of ejector pin parts on the tyres a curious Hasegawa trait.

f117sprue7.jpg

The clear parts are thin and translucent, as they should be. The canopy frames are clearly marked but no overly prominent. As mentioned above, the canopy can be posed in either the open or closed position.

f117decals.jpg

Four marking options are provided:

  • 88-0843 of the 49th Fighter Wing, April 2008. This is the aircraft in the special farewell scheme depicted on the box artwork;
  • 84-0824, 49th OG Commanders Aircraft;
  • 82-0800, 8th FS Commanders Aircraft; and
  • 84-0809, 9th FS Commanders Aircraft.

The decals look pretty good. Colours are nice and bold and the details are sharp. For the farewell scheme, the red stripes are included on the decal sheet, as are the white stars. This leaves you to sort out the blue and white areas.

Conclusion

Hasegawas F-117 is a very good kit indeed and probably still the best 1:72 scale Nighthawk that money can buy. Detail, fit and accuracy are all pretty good, making this an attractive proposition. If you just want the kit and arent too bothered about the (admittedly rather nice) decals in this version, you can save money by seeking out the original non-limited edition kit.

Review sample courtesy of logo.jpg UK distributors for logo.jpg

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