The first thing: Thanks once again to AIRES for providing IPMS/USA with these remarkable detail items! Your support is most welcome… we truly appreciate it!
I first saw a Lightning at RAF Mildenhall’s Air Fete 1984. I had been on station for less than a month, and was in modelers’s heaven, Canon AE-1 in hand. USAFE was a true force with fighters everywhere, and the RAF was present in a big way at this, the show of shows. The Hurricane, “Last of the Many”, F-4’s with the new wraparound Euro 2 Paint scheme,… And there, on the display line, was a Lightning. The original “Scalded cat out of the woods” fighter, which could outclimb an F-15 for at least a while after a brakes-on takeoff. Words fail how cool it was… and today I don’t think I truly appreciated how good I had it to be in the middle of aviation’s legends. Ah, for the bad old cold war… hardware everywhere. Fast forward, and we are truly blessed in modeling nirvana; in the form of Trumpeter’s 1/32 Lighting series to build. The kit is relatively simple, but as usual cries out for extra detail. I decided on an F6 with Xtracal markings… The kit is already scarce! And this is where Aires/Quickboost comes to the dance…
Aires continue to make some of the finest resin upgrades available. Unsurpassed detail, combined with strong resin, make for a relatively simple swap from the basic kit items to the new, improved Aires/QB sets.
First: The exhaust. The burner cans are vast improvements over the kit items. Whereas the kit provides a basic flameholder grid over a round area to simulate the turbine area, Aires goes the next step further; full depth afterburners in once piece tubes with photoetch flameholder grids and resin exhaust turbine faces; and absolutely stunning exhaust nozzles. This upgrade is simplicity itself; paint everything, then assemble. I prefer to paint the turbines flat white, run a black wash into the blades, and heavily weather with pastels to achieve the desired effect. Drybrushing works well too, but I like artist oil pastels for their ease of use. Next, the flameholders are lightly painted with steel, removed from the fret, and glued to the cone of the turbine face. Run a black or dark gray wash into the recessed areas, and they look fabulous. The afterburner tube interiors are painted titanium, then weathered with chalk much like the turbine face. These are then offered up to the turbines, which slip nicely with the flameholders into place. At the other end of the tubes, glue the painted exhaust nozzles in place, then install in the tail fairing. DONE!
One area which I found out about after the fact; the flanges at the end of the afterburner tubes need to be cut off; do not install the exhaust nozzles on the flange at the end of the tubes, or your will not be able to properly install the aerodynamic fairing over the tail of the jet. I did not do this, which required a bit of Dremel sanding drum resin removal (Tech tip: I do this while using a shop vacuum hose held next to the sanding drum to suck away the resin dust while moving the part. I still wear a respirator dust mask, just in case… double insurance to keep my lungs safe. And if you use this technique, make sure you hold on to the resin part, or you will be sifting through the shop vac dust bag, looking for resin bits among cat food, hair, and resin dust. You will be VERY unhappy if this happens… learn from the master idiot here)
The main wheel wells: Although the kit parts are really well done, the Aires resin items have superlative details, including actuator rams and other details already cast in place. Using your favorite sanding method (In my case a delta tabletop belt sander with vacuum attachment), remove the backing until it is thin enough to see light through, and don’t go any further. They fit quite nicely in the wing recesses; make sure you remove the plastic locating tabs on the upper wing. Use the lower wing to fit the wells in, and superglue in place. As to the nose well, it is integral to the bullet fairing for the radome. The detail is, once again, far better than the kit item. Cement the radome to the resin part, paint (Aluminum interior, green or tan-green radome) and install in the ducting. The intake only contains the lower fan blades; paint aluminum or similar, wait for them to dry, then run a black wash in to pick out detail. It is very convincing! And the nose gear well has far better detail than the kit item.
Last bit: The ejection seat. Paint it black, seat and back pads khaki, olive drab, whatever, with brown, and gray/green and blue belts. The seat is a drybrusher’s paradise; or you can spend hours painting each belt and rivet. Your choice. I am a “Get it close, use a wash and drybrush afterward” guy with touchup on the belt buckles. The Quickboost seat is MUCH better than the kit item.
All in all a worthwhile endeavor. If you are gonna spend hard earned cash on a Trumpeter Lightning, you might as well take the plunge and buy the rest of the items. The cost is reasonable for what you get, and makes a great model fantastic!Again, thanks to the team at AIRES/QUICKBOOST for some of the best upgrades out there!