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Paul A H

F-35A "7 Nations Air Force" - 1:72 Academy

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F-35A "7 Nations Air Force"

1:72 Academy

 

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The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, sometimes also known by the name of the American led multi-national Joint Strike Fighter program to which it owes its existence, is a fifth generation multi-role aircraft. The Lockheed X-35 prototype first flew in 2000 and went on to win a competitive process ahead of the rival Boeing X-32 design. There are three variants of the F-35, the A, which is the conventional land-based strike fighter, the B, which is the navalised VSTOL model equipped with a lift fan, and the C, which is the navalised cat & trap variant fitted with arrestor gear and a larger wing. Although the programme has its critics, there is no doubt that the F-35 is potent aircraft, packed with cutting edge technology, the latest avionics and weapons systems and low-observable design. It has two internal bays that can be used to carry munitions, as well as six external hard-points for when stealth is a lesser consideration. 

 

Despite being a relatively new design, the F-35 has been well served by kit manufacturers. Italeri produced the X-35 and then the F-35A, while Fujimi, Hasegawa and Kitty Hawk have also produced kits. This kit from Academy was first released in 2013 and was moulded in multiple colours. The box top of this version suggests it is still moulded in multiple colours, but unless there's something wrong with my eyes, the contents suggests otherwise. The other difference between this version of the kit and the original version is the inclusion of markings for no fewer than seven different users of the F-35A. Regardless of their colour, the parts are all nicely moulded and surface detail is fine and dandy.

 

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In common with most kits of modern, blended wing aircraft, the fuselage is split horizontally with the wings moulded in place. The cockpit is composed of a tub, control stick (side mounted, like the F-16), and eight (yes eight) part Martin Baker Mk.16 ejection seat and instrument panel. As well as fitting the cockpit inside the fuselage, the large ordnance bay and landing gear bays must also be fitted in place, as well as the engine air intakes. These parts are nicely detailed and moulded, but parts are provided to build the aircraft with these bays closed up if you can't be bothered to paint all the fiddly bits. If you do finish the model with the bay open, it has plenty of structural detail and pylons are included for the supplied ordnance. The external pylons are also present and correct, which is a nice touch. The landing gear is nicely detailed, with the main gear legs made up of four parts each. The wheel hubs are moulded separatelt from the tyres and are nicely detailed. The tyres have flat spots moulded in place. The horizontal tails are one-piece affairs, as are the vertical tails. The engine exhaust is a two-part jobby which just slides in through the opening in the rear of the fuselage. A full range of ordnance is provided, including:

  • 2 x AIM-9X air-to-air missiles;
  • 2 x AIM-120C air-to-ai missles;
  • 2 x GBU-31 2000lb JDAM; and
  • 4 x GBU-38 500lb JDAM.

All are really very nice indeed and will easily old their own against aftermarket resin items. The canopy is nicely moulded but it would have been nice to have a tinted version, like the odd but appealing Fujimi kit.

 

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As you may have guessed by now, seven options are provided on the original decal sheet:

  • Republic of Korea Air Force 18-001, 17th Wing, Luke AFN, Arizona, USA, July 2018
  • United States Air Force 14-5106, 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah, USA, October 2017;
  • Israeli Air Force 901, 140 Squadron, Nevatim Air Base, Israel, December 2016;
  • Italian Air Force 32-01, 32 Stormo, 13 Gruppo, Cameli Air Base, Italy, February 2016;
  • Royal Australian Air Force A35-001, 75th Squadron, Williamstown Airbase, Australia, March 2018;
  • Royal Netherlands Air Force F-001, Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, May 2016; and
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force 13-5087, 331 Squadron, Orland Air Force Station, Norway, November 2017.

All of the aircraft are finished in overall dark grey. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and full markings for the RAM are included.

 

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Conclusion

 

Kits of modern aircraft such as the F-22, F-35 and PAK-FA tend to be relatively simple affairs due to the relatively simple design of these aircraft. This can make them - dare I say it - a little bit boring to build. This is a nicely detailed kit however, and with the internal weapons bay and the full range of ordnance, it provides pretty much everything you could want to built a really nice replica of an Lightning II. The inclusion of decals for the RAM is also pretty helpful. Recommend. 

 

Review sample courtesy of 


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And you know that the earlier release from 2013 does not have all of those RAM decals on its sheet. You are expected to paint them on for yourself.

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8 minutes ago, Mick4350 said:

And you know that the earlier release from 2013 does not have all of those RAM decals on its sheet. You are expected to paint them on for yourself.

Ironically, newer F-35s have RAM tape that matches the colour of the rest of the aircraft.

 

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Nice review though I wish these manufacturers could get Aussie units and locations sorted

 

Quote

 


Royal Australian Air Force A35-001, 75th Squadron, Williamstown Airbase, Australia, March 2018;
 

 

 

This should be:

 

Royal Australian Air Force A35-001, 2 Operational Conversion Unit, RAAF Williamtown, though in March 2018 no Aussie F-35s were based in Australia. This airframe is still in the USA attached to 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB.

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Thanks for the review.  I've had my eye on this kit and its good to hear some interdependent feedback on the model.

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