Alpha Jet A/E
Kinetic has released an all new mold Alpha Jet in 48th scale, which is a welcome addition to the lineup of trainers/light attack airplane kits. Upon opening the box, you will find three sprues molded in light grey styrene, one clear part sprue, a small photo-etch fret, plus decals for three versions.
The overall surface detail is very nice, with fine and clearly defined recessed panel lines and rivets. Small parts suffer of a bit of flash, but nothing that 30 seconds with a sanding stick won’t fix. The clear parts are very transparent.
The overall kit breakdown indicates that several versions of the Alpha Jet are possible. The box lists A/E, but the instructions also list a B mark.
Sadly, the instructions are confusing at times, making it difficult to know with which parts are relevant for the version you are building. In particular you have two options for the tail cone, but no indication of which one corresponds to which version. I was not able to figure that out myself so I just picked one randomly.
Another shortcoming of the instructions is the color calls for internal parts. They list the Vallejo color by number, but the number listed is not in the color table in the instruction booklet. Easy to solve by doing an online search, but annoying nonetheless.
While in the instructions, the main error I’ve found is that step 3 makes you install parts C14/15 in the fuselage, but then in step 4 you are told parts C14/15 are optional for the deployed air brakes. If you want the air brakes in the closed position you should install parts A6/7 in step 3.
Moving on to the model construction itself, the cockpit presents no problem in its assembly. It would have been nice to have raised details for the instruments or a decal. They are just a collection of “flat disks”. I’m sure the aftermarket companies will offer alternatives soon.
While closing the fuselage make sure you have dry fitted and glued the landing gear bay before closing the fuselage itself. The bay provides structural integrity when in place. Otherwise the fuselage is very flimsy. Good engineering there.
Due to the abundance of optional parts for the different versions, I had to work with putty around the nose and tail, plus other inserts. The air intakes are probably the worst offender of the overall fit due to a gap between the lip of the intake and the fuselage. It is easy to fill and sand, but I was surprised by it. Other ill-fitting parts include the rudder and horizontal tail surfaces as you can see in the pictures.
There are a large number of inserts (depending on which version you are assembling) and most of them seem to be a bit too small for the location in the fuselage, leading to the use of more putty.
Be aware that the landing gear covers were modified to be in the “closed” position as that is how they are most of the time since they are open only during rotation of the landing gear. That meant more putty and sanding, but it was my own choice to modify the parts. Don’t judge the model by the putty and sanding around the landing gear covers in the pictures.
By the way: The instructions don’t call for any noise weight, but I added a small sinker just to be sure there would be no issues with a “tail sitter”.
Moving onto painting, I choose the “Top Aces” artic livery and the decals behaved great on top of a coat of Future. They responded well to a light application of MicroSet and snuggled down and around surface detail. Also the recessed panel lines took a wash very nicely making all the detail to “pop-out”.
In summary: The air intake lip gap, inserts for the different versions are the main fit issue. They are not difficult to solve, but some of the surface detail gets lost with all the filling and sanding. Decals were excellent and the model looks nice when completed. Instructions were confusing, at best. Spend ample time with the instructions to understand what part (and when) it should be glued.
I would recommend this kit to modelers that have experience with filling and sanding. They will be rewarded with a nice looking model.
I would like to thanks Kinetic, Stevens International and IPMS/USA for the review sample.