F-35A Lightning II

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Company: Hasegawa - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Hobbico
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This is the first kit of what I expect will be a number of F-35 kits from Hasagawa and represents the U.S. Air Force version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Marine F-35B and Navy F-35C are sure to follow.

As a new Hasegawa kit, the fit of the parts is excellent, however, a couple of the engineering decisions in the parts breakdown can cause some issues if you are not careful, but even those are not hard to rectify. The kit includes the option to build the jet either with the gear down or with the gear up and includes a nice clear plastic stand (and an actual seated pilot figure) for the inflight mode. The landing gear bays for the kit are not integrally molded with the fuselage, so you will need to decide early if you are building the kit gear up or down, because if you don’t install the gear bays before you join the fuselage halves, you will be stuck with building the kit with the gear up. Fortunately the kit provides different doors for gear up and gear down, and the fit of the gear up doors is excellent. Of note is that unlike some of the other F-35 kits, the Hasegawa kit does not provide any weapons bays or weapons in the kit. I am sure that Aires or Eduard will address this issue at some point.

The kit includes a nice representation of the complex intake ducting characteristics of the F-35 as well as a nice replica of the turbine face of the engine. However, since the ducting is so well done, just as it is on the real aircraft, once the ducts are in place you can’t see the engine face.

The kit is split horizontally at the level of the wing and is designed to minimize the seams on the wings, but for some reason there is seam down the middle of the horizontal stabilizers on the bottom when top and bottom are joined, and this will require some putty and sanding to eliminate the seam along with some re-scribing of the panel lines. The intake assembly is sandwiched in between the upper and lower kit halves when you bring everything together. I recommend attaching the intake assembly to the lower half first and then adding some styrene or superglue to the backside of the joint just in front of the intakes as it is a butt joint and I had mine split a couple of times while I was smoothing out seams. Once I remedied the splitting issue, the only other fit issue I had was on the vertical tails as these are each made up of two parts, one for the majority of each tail and a second smaller part that is attached to the inside of each tail to make the fattened lower part of the tail. I made the mistake of attaching the verticals to the rest of the kit before I checked these seams and it would have been much easier to fill and sand these seams with the tails not yet installed.

Once everything was put together and the seams cleaned up, it was onto painting the aircraft. The instructions reference Mr. Color/Gunze Sanyo colors and include FS numbers for the light greys seen on the aircraft, but lists the primary grey as H53 neutral grey. I was not able to find H53 in my Gunze Sanyo paint stash and none of the hobby shops I hit in the past 2 months had it, so I used Testors grey 36081 as this was the color recommended in a recent article I read about building the 1/48 F-35A. In hindsight, I think this color is too dark as the contrast between the dark and light greys on my model are much more pronounced that the photos of the real aircraft show. However, it still looks neat. As anyone who has seen photographs of the F-35 knows, there are quite a number of panels, panel lines or joins and structural parts of the F-35 that are light grey 36375, and Hasegawa’s instructions include a separate section showing which panels and panel lines must be painted 36375 before applying decals. I enlarged the diagrams to make them easier to see, but as the kit has excellent engraved panel lines I found it relatively easy to tape off these areas once they were painted. In hindsight, for the reasons discussed below, next time I will probably tape off and paint more of these panels rather than use the decals.

The decals of the kit are a highlight of and a curse for the kit. Most of the lighter colored panel lines/trim are included as decals and greatly simplify the painting process, however, many of them are actually very large with big areas of clear decal film in between the panel line or tape decal. I used Micro Set and Micro Sol to apply the decals and they reacted just as expected crinkling and wrinkling up when applied and then settling down in place, or so I thought. I only had to cut a couple of decals on the spine behind the cockpit and the ventral area near the tailhook housing to get them to lay down over the complex shapes in these areas. I recommend spending some time planning out your decal session particularly the bottom of the aircraft as several of the larger decals overlay each other and if you wait too long, you may not be able to adjust everything to match up. One mistake I made was not installing the national insignias on the aft fuselage before the panel lines (decals 51 and 52) as I noted afterwards that on the real aircraft the panel line tape is on top of the national insignia, whereas mine is reversed.

Once the decals were applied, everything looked good and I set the kit aside to dry overnight. When I looked at it the next morning, I discovered that in many areas, the clear parts of the decal had not settled down like I thought and as a result, I have a lot of silvering on the larger decals. Next time I will use a gloss paint for the main color and put a couple of extra coats of future on the model before I decal. I will also probably trim out as much of the clear decal between the panel lines as I can to minimize the silvering risk.

My review kit included two separate canopy sprues, one in clear plastic and the other smoked. I used the main canopy from the smoked sprue and the wingtip lights and heads-up glass from the clear sprue.

Despite my decaling mishap, I enjoyed the build and I think the completed model shows off the lines of the F-35 very well. I plan on building a couple more F-35s, especially when the Navy version is released, but I keep hoping the Navy will pick a more interesting paint scheme or at least figure out how to make everything the same color as this would really simplify things for us modelers!

Highly recommended. Thank you to Hobbico/Hasegawa USA for the review sample and IPMS-USA for letting me review it.


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