F-35A Lightning II
Thanks very much to Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC) for providing IPMS USA this kit. Up front, I determined to send this item as part of an effort to provide some of the “New kits” to our deployed personnel in harms way, through our POC at IPMS USA, and full credit definitely goes to our long-time supporters at MRC. That means this will be an “In-box” review of this kit.
I was at Edwards AFB, CA about two months ago and observed (mostly heard) firsthand the test birds flying. Extremely interesting to watch and noisy, as they are claimed to be louder than the F-22 if that is possible! Nonetheless, a great opportunity and I was pleased to actually see them fly.
This newest of the stable from Italeri consists of two separate sprues of standard gray Italeri plastic, slightly softer than some, but still appropriate for this kit. As you can see by the photographs, this is a well-thought out model. I estimate, based on years of building, that this would be a relatively simple construction effort with few surprises, but will provide a great opportunity for someone willing to challenge their building skills. That will come most in masking and painting the Low-Observable Radar Absorbing panels. Of course, a quick and dirty “Spray it 36118 Gray, let dry for a week, and drybrush Dark Gull Gray on the rest” might work. I leave it to those out there to experiment.
The intakes are not full-depth, but that is acceptable in this scale, as what is there provides the appropriate level of detail. Notable in this kit is the full-length F-101 engine, the outer ducting hides the old tubes, wires, and all that. Instead you have a structural engine duct, with a compressor face and an afterburner section. The exhaust petals in particular are well-detailed and provide visual interest. One thing: I don’t think there is provision for showing the engine off. It’s just there.
The weapons bays are designed to be shown open. Included are appropriate structure, hydraulic rams, and two types of internal carry weapons - the AIM-120 medium range missile, and two JDAM GPS-guided bombs.
Landing gear bays are similarly catered to, with detailed struts and wheel/tire assemblies. There are no external weapon carry provisions.
The cockpit has a very-well done version of the Martin-Baker ejection seat chosen for the F-35. This is a “lightweight”, high performance zero-zero seat, to save overall airframe weight. The canopy is very clear, and exhibits the forward-hinged opening arms of the actual aircraft. Looks strange open, but it’s what it is. I would hazard a guess many will apply their favorite method to tint the canopy with the smoky yellow-tinge of the real thing.
Decals cover the nations supporting the current project. US, UK, Belgian, Italy, Nederland. (Canada and others are still undecided…) They are well printed and most certainly will adhere well.
Nose weight is probably needed and needs to be considered. Details are a bit soft, but not obtrusively so. There are no external stores, so I expect this will be one of the Operational Test birds for most people. One of three new F-35 models to grace the shelves of the hobby shops. Give this one high marks for subject, detail, and timeliness!
Thanks again to Italeri for producing this kit, and MRC for providing it for review!