Mike Posted October 17, 2013 Share Posted October 17, 2013 Northrop YF-231:48 Hobby Boss The YF-23 lost out to the YF-22 in the competition for a replacement tactical fighter for the US Air Force, the latter becoming the F-22 Raptor, the former becoming museum exhibits after a brief revival when a plan to convert it to a bomber faded away. Concerned by the development of advanced fighter in the Soviet Union in the late 70s, the US Government ordered proposals from the major aviation companies and then evaluation prototypes from the two leading contenders. The YF-23 was the more unconventional of the two, having better stealth characteristics and higher top speed, but it was less manoeuvrable than the eventual winning Raptor. Dubbed the Black Widow II after Northrop's famous night fighter, the two aircraft went through exhaustive testing before the final decision was reached and the F-22 was crowned as winner, based (on the face of it) on superior agility. The two prototypes went into storage until the mid 90s when they were both transferred to museums where they remain today.The Kit Personally, I didn't expect to ever see a mainstream injection moulded kit of this unusual looking aircraft in 1:48, so it was quite a surprise when it was announced. The kit arrives in a large flat top-opening box with a rather nice painting of the aircraft on the top, and inside comes the first surprise. The YF-23 is a BIG aircraft. There are two fuselage halves, three sprues of mid-grey styrene, one sprue of clear parts, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with coloured painting guide slipped inside. Packaging is good, protecting the large fuselage halves and clear parts from damage, with everything in separate bags, and some parts wrapped in expanded foam sheet. Take care when upwrapping the canopy parts, as I think I might have nicked mine with a sharp blade. Oops! The part count isn't the highest, which is partly due to the fact that the weapons bays aren't included, with their opening doors moulded into the fuselage. As the aircraft was never used to fire test munitions that's not really an issue, and it would spoil the sleek lines of the aircraft if everything was hanging out anyway in my opinion. The cockpit is the main focus of detail, and is made up from a tub with a chunky seat with moulded in simplified seatbelts. I'd suggest a replacement for this, as it just doesn't quite look right somehow. The MFD equipped instrument panel is from an F-15E, and well detailed, including a decal for a switched on aircraft, and you get control column, separate rudder pedals and some black-boxes behind the seat to busy up the area. Flipping the cockpit tub over reveals the roof of the nose gear bay, which is completed by adding the sidewalls, plus front and rear bulkheads, with the gear leg dropped in to sit in a socket and cradle for the retractor leg. There are a couple of sink marks under the retractor jack, but if you think it will be seen, a small quantity of filler shouldn't be too tricky to apply. The main gear bays are built up from panels that fix to the stepped roof, and detail here is good. The main gear legs from an F-18 are well presented, and the wheels are moulded in halves with a very fine tread on the contact surface. The bays and cockpit/bay combination are then glued into the underside of the fuselage, and are joined by a pair of intake trunks that mate with the lips moulded into the fuselage. They split horizontally and have no engine detail on the closed rear, which is unusual for HB, but perhaps they feel they won't be seen due to their winding path. A pair of boxes build up to make blanking sections for the exhausts in the upper fuselage, and these do have a simplified rear engine face moulded onto the front face, but it's a bit weak. At this point the fuselage can be joined top to bottom, and a nose weight of 20g is suggested, for which there is plenty of space. The bay doors are all added to the gear bays, with separate hinge parts for the main bays, and a pleasingly low bay door count of three you've got to love stealth technology for that! The diamond shaped wings consist of two halves for each side, and their tabs fit into long slots on the sides of the fuselage, with no movable flying surfaces. The distinctive V-tails also build up from two halves, and attach to holes in the rear fuselage on substantial pegs with the correct angle built in. The two exhaust flaps glue to the top of the exhaust openings, and this whole area is painted burned metal to depict the heat ablative tiles that were applied in the same manner as the B-2 Spirit to reduce the infrared signature of the engines. The final act involves attaching the windscreen and separate canopy, which doesn't seem to include an option to pose it open. Markings There were two prototypes, but decals are only provided for the two-tone machine that became known as "Grey Ghost" with tail codes FF AF 12203, however a set of four colourful shields are also included, which seems to offer other markings options that aren't alluded to in the instructions. The majority of the sheet is covered with No Step markings, plus four loviz stars and bars, in-flight refuelling markings, and two tail codes, although four are shown on the instructions, leaving one to wonder if they were paying attention during the decal design process. The decals are in good register, sharpness and colour density, and apart from the above-mentioned codes that have a depressingly large square carrier film, they should go on well. The shields have scrolls beneath them, the text on which has been converted to gibberish resembling Hebrew, but while I've been writing this section I've been struggling to find the YF-23 wearing dark grey codes and national markings. I'm either not trying hard enough, or they were actually white. If that's the case, you might want to wait for some corrective aftermarket decals.Conclusion What an unusual kit! The fuselage parts are very impressive, both from a size point of view and from the rendering of the weird shapes on the upper surfaces. I've checked them by eye against photographs, and my initial impression is that they bear a good resemblance in terms of shape. The cockpit is a mixture of nice detail, an iffy seat and instrument decal for an aircraft ready to go, with no option for one switched off and parked. The decal sheet appears to be either a rush-job, or based upon pictures rarely seen on the 'net, but of course I am quite happy to be corrected by someone with more information. It should be a quick build, and as Hobby Boss kits usually go together well, you shouldn't have much in the way of issues with construction. I would have liked to see more detail in the exhaust/intake fan areas, and maybe some moving flying surfaces, but those are relatively minor gripes. The sci-fi looks of the YF-23 with its low side profile, wide set exhausts and twin tail fins at a low angle go together to make an impressive looking model, which at 44cm long in 1:48 should get plenty of attention either in the cabinet or at shows. The What-if potential is also there, and despite what you may think, the grey colour scheme can be made to look rather grubby, as evidenced by some of the pictures of the machine in flight. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of 4 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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