The IRIS-T (infra-red imaging system - tail / thrust vector controlled) is a heat seeking missile developed by a consortium of European countries as a replacement for the AIM-9 Sidewinder. The program was led by Germany, but included other NATO countries such as Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Spain and the IRIS-T has been exported to several countries such as Austria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. The IRIS-T became operational in 2005 and is carried on the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, Tornado and the Gripen
The set includes two complete IRIS-T missiles, 2 seeker covers and 2 sets of different launch rails – 2 LAU-129’s for the F-16 (and presumably the F-18, Eurofighter and Tornado) and 2 Lavett RB99’s for the Gripen. Each missile consists of 7 parts, the seeker/seeker cover, the main body, the tail section and 4 guidance fins. The seeker heads are beautifully cast in clear resin and a quick dip in Future shows just how good the clear resin is. The seeker cover, main body, tail section and the guidance fins are all cast in dark grey resin. Take care removing the main body and the tail section from the pour stubs as the stub attachment point is also where these two sections are joined together, so you will need to take care to ensure that your cut is straight on both parts or you will have a gap that you will need to fill. As the tail fins are in line with the wings on the main body, take your time and using slower setting super glue when you assemble the missile sections and attach the guidance fins to the tail section to make sure everything lines up correctly.
The breakdown between the seeker/seeker cover and the main body of the missile follows the breakdown of the actual missile, so once the main body, tail section and guidance fins are all attached, the missiles can be painted. Each type of launch rail has a small brass piece to be installed at the aft end of the rail, so make sure the ends are flat once you have removed the rails from their pour stubs.
Eduard’s instructions call for the missiles to be painted Gunze H308 or Mr. Color C308 which is FS 36375 light ghost gray, so I used Modelmaster 36375 to paint the missiles and the missile rails. The actual color for the missile rails may differ depending on which country’s aircraft you are modeling, so check your resources first.
As there are no decals on either the seeker or the seeker cover, at this point I glossed the missiles and my choice of launch rails and proceeded to the decal stage. There are 15 decals for each missile (included two for each guidance fin!), but they go on quickly and nestle right down with Micro Sol and Micro Set. There are different decals for each of the two types of launch rail and they add good detail to the rails. Once everything was dry I painted everything with clear flat.
The seeker heads are very straightforward to paint as the tip is clear and right behind this is a stainless steel band. I used an old bottle of Testors’ steel to paint this band. The other option is to not install the seeker head, but instead to install the provided seeker cover. The instructions say the cover is to be painted yellow, but I found a photo of a missile with a red cover that looked really good, so I opted for red for the covers.
Now it is time to decide if you want to install the seeker-heads or the seeker covers as the covers are fitted instead of, not over, the seekers. Usually, live missiles have the covers installed on the ground to protect the seeker heads, so a static aircraft would normally have the covers installed. I opted for one of each to show the options.
Eduard has done an outstanding job of duplicating to mounting hardware on both the missiles and the rails as they slot together like the real ones do and provide a nice solid mount.
I enjoyed this set and I am again impressed by how well Eduard does its homework on their weapons sets. This is a great set and now I have to dig out a 1/48 F-16 or F-18 to put them on.
Thank you to Eduard for the review sample and to IMPS-USA for letting me review it.