Developed jointly by the US Air Force and US Navy starting in 1971, the AIM-9L was a vastly improved Sidewinder that was based on the H-model. The missile used All-Aspect Capability against maneuvering targets, as well as high-speed targets. The forward canards were longer in span, and of a double-delta design. Production began in 1978 with over 16,000 missiles being built by Philco-Ford, Raytheon, BGT (Germany), and Mitsubishi.
The AIM-9M replaced the L-model and featured a motor that produced less smoke, an improved guidance section that worked better against countermeasures, and improved reliability. Production began in 1982, and over 7000 of these missiles were built by Raytheon, and during Operation Desert Storm 13 aerial victories are credited to the AIM-9M. Dimensions for the L and M are identical with the missile being 9 feet, 4.5 inches long; 24.8 inches across the rear fins, and a diameter of 5 inches. Weighing in at 191 pounds (20.8 pounds belonging to the warhead), the missile can travel at over Mach 2.5 with a range of 9.7 nautical miles.
The Eduard set consists of four missiles and optional nose covers that are cast in resin, a single photoetch fret that holds the forward fins and rings to represent the exhaust of the rocket motor, as well as a tab for the L-model, and a small decal sheet. The photoetched parts include extra fins, just in case, and there are two sets of exhaust rings (with no explanation provided). The decals for the M include four stencil markings, one yellow band, and one brown band for each missile according to the directions, but it may be appropriate to add decal 6 to each of the missile rear fins. The L would get three stencil markings along with the yellow and brown bands.
As I mentioned in my review of the AIM-9B missiles from Eduard, in over forty years of modeling, these are the absolute best representation of the AIM-9 that I have yet to work with in 1/72 scale. Eduard did a great job capturing the detail of the Sidewinder, and all of the fins are appropriately thin for the scale. My one assembly tip is that I did find it easier to attach the forward missile fins if I first touched their attachment point with a small drill bit. I used a mix of medium and thin CA to attach the PE parts to my missiles, which I then painted a coat of Alclad Primer White followed by Model Master Acryl Light Ghost Gray and Model Master Metalizer Stainless Steel. The decals settled without issue using Micro Set and Micro Sol.
My hits for this set would have to start with the fine level of detail cast in to the resin missiles. The use of photoetched parts for the forward fins and motor exhaust ring are also positives for this release. The availability of the nose covers is a great touch, and although I did not use them on my AIM-9M’s, they may eventually make their way onto other Sidewinders on a future build, as the covers have remained unchanged.
My miss is not difficult to remedy, but on my example, the yellow and brown band decals did not quite meet when wrapped around the body of the missile (this can easily be rectified by touch-up painting or ensuring that the gap will align with where the missile mounts to the aircraft launch rail).
In conclusion, I would highly recommend these Eduard AIM-9L/M missiles to modelers who are looking to add a Sidewinder to their 1/72 scale late Cold War era jet up to the advent of the AIM-9X in recent years. There should be no fit up issues when installing the missiles onto a plane, and modelers with some experience in working with resin and photoetched parts should find it easy to utilize this set.
I would like to thank the folks at Eduard for graciously providing these missiles to the IPMS-USA for review and to Dave Morrissette for allowing me to receive this set. I would also send kudos out to the assistants in the Review Corps for the great job they do in keeping the Corps running strong and as always, my appreciation to anyone who takes the time to read my comments.