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Mike

Alpha Jet A/E - 1:48 Kinetic

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Alpha Jet A/E
1:48 Kinetic


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In association with
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At the end of the 60s, with the SEPECAT Jaguar transformed into an attack aircraft, leaving the advanced jet trainer replacement unfulfilled, France and Germany began a collaboration to design a new trainer that was to become the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet, the Breguet part in the collaboration being absorbed by Dassault when they bought the company. It flew late in 1973, and went into service with France in 1979 after extensive trials as the Alpha Jet E, fulfilling a similar role to the BAe Hawk in the RAF. The Germans used the jet as a Light Attack aircraft with the A suffix appended, and limited export success brought the Alpha Jet to Francophile countries in Europe and Africa, with a number of ex-Luftwaffe aircraft finding their way to Thailand and Portugal. Britian's defence company QinetiQ bought 6 ex-Luftwaffe aircraft, which occasionally make appearances at airshows.

Germany has retired the aircraft now, but many airframes are still in service, with the later MS2 with new avionics, engines, a glass cockpit and improved weapons carrying performance used to train pilots on modern types.

The Kit
For years people have been wishing for a new Alpha Jet in 1:48to replace the horrendous Heller kit, and this is the first time that wish has been fulfilled in injection styrene. Kinetic have done their research and produced this new tooling covering both the A and the E, with snub and pointed noses offering maximum appeal. The aircraft is compact, and arrives in a large flat end-opening box that has one of each type swooping toward the viewer with belly cannon blazing. Inside are three sprues in Kinetic's usual pale grey styrene, a large decal sheet, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, and the instructions with painting and decaling covered on the back pages.

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The two-seat cockpit is moulded as a single part with the side-consoles moulded in with instrument details present. The rudder pedals for each pilot are attached to a block in the foot well, with instrument panels as separate parts that have raised dials that lend themselves nicely to some Airscale instrument faces, as there are no instrument decals included. The ejection seats have nicely moulded side detailing, but the seat cushions are a little lacklustre by comparison, although they should suffice with the PE belts installed. The headbox has a separate drogue parachute part, and a pull handle between the pilot's knees is also present. The back of the seat is detailed with a representation of the ejection mechanism that should be partially visible only on the front seat. A bulkhead separates the front from the back of the cockpit, and instrument coaming for the rear-seater finishes the job.

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The Alpha Jet is a twin engine design, following the Luftwaffe's experiences with the single engine Starfighter, which claimed the lives of a significant number of inexperienced pilots, and the full intake trunk is included in the kit. Each intake is made up from two parts with an engine face part added to the inward end. These are slotted into the fuselage before it is closed up, and the inner lip extends to form the splitter plate on each side. There are also three types of tail fin with a sub variant with blade antennae on each side of the fin, and either the pointed or snub nose, so choose your variant early to ease your workload. With the intakes installed, the outer lips of intakes are added and can be faired in before the fuselage is closed. Various other panels attach to the rear of the fuselage depending on which variant you have chosen, and two fuselage tail cones are also present to further confuse you. You can then close the fuselage up around the cockpit, but some more detail obsessed modellers might want to add some sidewall detail before doing so. There are plenty of pictures out there, so the job shouldn't be too difficult. A small HUD assembly is made up from a PE frame with clear glazing and lens added. This is shown installed on the coaming of the front seater's instrument panel, which is moulded into the fuselage halves.

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The canopy is made up of four sections, including a well-blended windshield, two opening canopies and the fixed divider between the two, which has been moulded to have the blast shield integral by having it perpendicular to the rest of the sprue and creating the blast shield using slide-moulding. The parts are thin and clear with well-defined canopy framing on all the parts. The extension of the windscreen part further forward to a panel line break on the fuselage simplifies the fairing in of the part to the fuselage, to give a more realistic blended finish, and places the framing detail well away from any putty and sanding.

The main gear bays are added to the open underside of the fuselage, and you can pose the airbrakes open or closed by choosing different parts from the sprues. The nose gear bay is sparsely detailed, and comprises of the bottom of the cockpit tub and the hollow nosecone. The front bay doors are usually seen closed on the ground however, with only the rear doors open around the gear leg, so it will probably go unnoticed. The main gear is complex and comprises four parts plus a landing light on each leg, while the nose gear has a separate yoke, and all three wheels have separate hubs sandwiched between the two wheel halves, which can ease the painting if you're careful.

The shoulder mounted wings are made of top and bottom halves, with long attachment tabs moulded into the lower, which should make setting the anhedral easier. They have separate flaps that can be posed extended or retracted by using different parts for the actuators, clear parts for the wing tip lights, and two optional pylons per wing. The elevators are single parts, and slip into the rear of the fuselage with substantial tabs to hold them at the right angle. The fin slots into the top of the tail, merging with the spine, so check fit before you glue to ensure it is both upright and aligned well with the spine.

As with the old Heller kit, there is a large insert under the fuselage to reproduce the valley between the two engines, which also covers the main gear bays and includes a slot for the arrestor hook that was popular during that era. The gear bay doors all fit in place using tabs that can be cut off to pose them closed, but again, some careful fitting would be advisable here.

The pylons can be filled with up to four drop tanks, and two choices of gun pack under the belly, all of which are supplied with the kit. It is also capable of carrying rocket pods, Sidewinders, Matra Magic IIs or even two Mavericks, or iron bombs of up to 2,500lbs, although you'll have to source those yourself.

Markings
Three options are included with the kit, but as the Alpha Jet has seen some colourful schemes over the years, I'm sure the decal manufacturers will be gearing up as we speak. From the box you can depict one of the following:

  • Discovery Air Defence Services - Top Aces, coded C-GITA Quebec - all over dark blue-grey.
  • QinetiQ UK, coded ZJ645 - all over gloss black with white wingtips.
  • French Air Force Ecole De L'Aviation De Chasse, coded E169 - all-over three-tone Light Blue/Medium Grey/White camo.

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The decals are designed by Canuckmodels, and printed by Cartograf, so have excellent sharpness, register and colour density, with a thin and manageable amount of carrier film around the printing. The QinetiQ option should appeal to the British audience, and the same can be said of the other options, but another operator's scheme in addition would have been nice, although that's just my opinion.

Conclusion
Another old clunker of a kit consigned to the deep stash or eBay if you're quick! This is a thoroughly modern tooling of this attractive aircraft, and I have a hankering to get some Luftwaffe decals for it and replicate that old Matchbox scheme. Detail is good throughout, although the gear bays are slightly light for my tastes, but should be just fine for more well-adjusted modellers. Great decal quality, PE seatbelts and HUD rounds out a nice package. Nice one Kinetic!

Highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of

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So, that's this one, the Tarangus Viggen and the Airfix Javelin on my Xmas wish list!

Nice review Mike and the QinetiQ one is tempting, but then so is a nice French one, especially with this e rocket propelled bullets on the artwork!

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Thanks for the review Mike!

Can't await Wingman Models version of the Kinetic kit with the typical German seats and other stuff in resin and some decals for a Luftwaffe jet.

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That box art is cool, even with the Hollywood bullets!

Now we need French Aerobatic team decals!

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Great review, Mike, many thanks.

And many thanks to kinetic, too.

Same regret as yours, sad that there's no other air forces option than the AdA.

And we'll have to look at KH mirage and jaguar boxes to find a variation in underwing stores.

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Have these arrived in stockists in the UK yet? The only places I can seem to find them for sale online are far east stockists (as in China and HK, not Lowestoft...!).

Regards

Simon

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Breguet, Mike. Breguet.

I'd like to claim it was a typo, but it's just ignorance generated from the way I've pronounced it since I was little. I've amended it :)

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So what one are you going to build first Mike?

Javelin *cough.........*

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I'd like to claim it was a typo, but it's just ignorance generated from the way I've pronounced it since I was little. I've amended it :)

You'll be punished anyway!

:clown:

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Perfect timing, Mike - my kit arrived Thursday, courtesy of a good fellow-Britmodeller in the Netherlands. What you said matches my thoughts 100%.

I've ordered a set of Patrouille de France decals and am busy researching the (few, I think) mods to the kit to make a readonably accurate model. I was priviledged to see the P de F perform at Waddington & Duxford this year and think they realy are fantastic!

Mind you, I'm at Duxford tomorrow (with heavy weather gear and amongst other things will collect my Javelin. My stash grows ever larger (to SWMBO's dismay and ill-concealed annoyance!!!!) but one day ...!

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Dear Root Admin,

When you state that following the Luftwaffe's experiences with the single engine Starfighter, which claimed the lives of a significant number of inexperienced pilots I guess you're wrong in stating that the Luftwaffe only wanted dual engined aircraft in the future. The problem with the F-104 is an entirely different question which has nothing to do with the number of engines but with the total lack of experience within the Luftwaffe when the 104 came into service. Proportionally, in Belgium we lost more F-104's than the Germans!

I've been flying the Alpha Jet for about 5 years and I'm planning to make a thorough comparison between this kit and the PJ-production one.

I'll keep Britmodeller informed of the results as the tail of the Kinetic kit definitely seems to narrow...wait and see!

regards,

Bill

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Hi Billter

Welcome to BM IMHO the best model site on the web. Mike is stating what is regarded as fact by many/most in the UK. I wasn't aware of the Belgium loss rate being so high either :yikes: Fortunately we have wiser souls such as yourself to enlighten us...and your English is going to be a lot better than my Belgium-speak :fool:

Once Daco's correction upgrade set is available you've settled me on a Belgium TF-104G scheme. I have the Alpha jet on the way so will await more information....looking at Caracal Decals offerings I may need to build a couple!! :thumbsup:

Looking at the pages linked to below those BLu/FAéB pilots were incredibly brave to fly the things. Definitely making a Belgium Bird now.

Edited by SleeperService

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Hi Billter

Welcome to BM but please don't give Mike a hard time he is stating what is regarded as fact by many/most in the UK. I wasn't aware of the Belgium loss rate being so high either :yikes:

About the BLu/FAéB Lockheed (T)F-104G Stafighter:

http://belmilac.wikifoundry.com/page/Lockheed+F-104G+-+TF-104G+Starfighter

V.P.

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