Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
Guideline Publications Guideline Publications is the UK's leading publisher of modelling and hobby-related magazines. With a world-class portfolio of titles and an international Social Media presence, Guideline Publications has a dedicated readership that is constantly expanding into new areas.
Andy Evans was the Group Editor for the SAM magazines Scale Military Modeller International and Model Aircraft Monthly. Andy has authored at least 12 books, including Crowood’s Bae/McDonnell Douglas Harrier (1998), Crowood’s Panavia Tornado (1999), Cassell’s Combat Search & Rescue (1999)Warpaint Books’ Sepecat Jaguar (2006), SAM’s The British Aerospace Sea Harrier (2007), SAM’s The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Part 1 (2007), Dalrymple & Verdun’s The Nimrod (2007), SAM’s The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Part 2 (2008), SAM’s The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Part 3 (2008), SAM’s The Grumman F-14 Tomcat (2008), SAM’s The Bae (Hawker Siddeley) RAF Harrier (2010); SAM’s The Vought F-8 Crusader (2018). Andy Evans is also a Senior Partner and Managing Editor with Phoenix Scale Publications and authored the recent Real to Replica Blue Series books on The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (2022) and Modellers Airguide 5 on the North American A-5/RA-5 Vigilante (2023).
Warpaint's latest is their standard A4 format softbound publication that is 48 pages, not including the covers. Sam Pearson contributes eight pages of illustrations that includes 36 color side-profiles, fifteen scrap color illustrations focused on badges, along with six upper and six lower plan views. Sam Pearson also provides two pages of 1/96 line drawings showing left, right, top, bottom, and front views. I counted 94 clear photographs. There are no black and white photographs.
The front cover features a Sam Pearson color side profile of F-117A, 85-0813 of the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 37thTactical Fighter Wing at King Khalid Air Base in February 1991. This aircraft was assigned to the Commanding Officer of the 37th TFW and flew 35 combat sorties during Desert Storm. The lower color photograph is a F-117A Nighthawk over Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada. This picture was taken during the joint service experimentation process called Millenium Challenge 2002 (MC2002). The rear cover features two color photographs. The upper picture depicts F-117A 85-0819 dropping a 500lb GBU-12. She is carrying Holloman AFB’s HO tail code and an 8th Air Force ‘Black Sheep’ flash at the top of the vertical fin. The bottom picture shows a F-117A taxiing during the 1991 Gulf War. Notable is the blow-in doors above the intakes are open.
Andy Evans opens with an overview of the history of stealth, going back to World War I, with the Fokker E. III Eindecker. The battle of proposals between Lockheed and Northrop begins with DARPA’s Project Harvey in 1975. Both company proposals were similar with the Lockheed proposal having a bit “more angular and flat surfaces”. However, both companies ended up with a DARPA contract. Lockheed’s contribution was the two Have Blue aircraft, one of which can be seen on the top of Page 7. The bottom of the page shows F-177A 835 in a Lockheed F-22A daylight paint scheme in December 2003. Both Have Blue aircraft ended up being destroyed in crashes, but the Air Force was pleased enough to order five airframes (YF-117) of an operational strike aircraft under the name of “Senior Trend”. Page 17 depicts production F-117A aircraft with both color photographs taken at Al-Jabar Air Base, Kuwait, in March 1998.
Operational service of the 59 full production airframes is described through Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some nice bottom views of the F-117A are shown on Page 30, including the American Flag scheme that was painted on the underside of the aircraft. The advancement of technology brought the F-117A to early retirement due partly to their high maintenance cost of the RAM coating and the availability of the F-22 Raptor. The USAF “officially retired” the Nighthawk in late 2006 with the first four YF-117 aircraft were “sent” to museums in March 2007 although other sources differ when this really happened. One F-117A was shot down over Serbia [and its remains are on display at the Museum of Aviation in Belgrade] and one F-117A was destroyed at Palmdale to determine most optimum method of scrapping the Nighthawk. Another ten F-117A Nighthawks have supposedly been delivered to museums, but most are in restoration (maybe) and not viewable (of course). The term “officially retired” is interesting since F-117A have never stopped flying and are regularly spotted with the latest viewing on April 23, 2023, at the R-2508 Airspace complex.
A standard feature for Guideline’s Warpaint series is the In Detail section as seen on Page 39. Photographs 10 and 11 are of the second YF-117 [79-10781, FSD-2 or Scorpion 2] cockpit at the USAF Museum in Dayton. She was placed on display in 1991 and had been specially modified for systems testing. She bears the markings worn during the test program between 1981 and 1991. Page 45 provides six examples of the beautiful color profiles by Sam Pearson. Notable is the third color illustration from the top which is F-117A 82-0806, the only Nighthawk that was lost to enemy action. A bonus is the inclusion of two pages on the Northrop YF-117D Tacit Blue that is on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, even though it really is not related to the Nighthawk. The Chapters include:
- Designing Stealth – The Lockheed Have Blue Program
- The Hopeless Diamond
- Have Blue [Page 07]
- Senior Trend
- The A-7 Interlude
- Tonopah Test Range
- Grey Ghosts and Dragons
- The F-117A
- The F-117 Described [Page 17]
- F-117 Operational
- Units Operating the F-117 [Table]
- Operation Just Cause
- Operation Desert Storm
- We Own the Night
- After the ‘Storm’
- F-117s in Operation Desert Storm [Table]
- Operation Allied Force
- F-117s in Operation Allied Force [Table]
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Upgraded Stealth
- Retirement… [Page 30]
- …Or Is It?
- Proposed Variants
- F-117B / YF-117B
- General Characteristics [Table]
- F-117N (II)
- The Name Game
- Aircraft on Display
- The Northrop YF-117D Tacit Blue
- Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk In Detail [Page 39]
- Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk by Sam Pearson [1/72]
- Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk Color Profiles by Sam Pearson [Page 45]
The Lockheed Have Blue has been issued in vacuform in 1/48 amd 1/72 from Maintrack Models. Anigrand Craftswork and Pegasus have also issued 1/72 kits although no kit of the Have Blue is currently available except on the secondhand market and they are few and far between. The Nighthawk has been released in 1/32 by Testors in 1990 (and later re-released by Revell and Italeri) and can provide hours of enjoyment if you wish to correct it to look like a F-117. [I’ve also got a Revell 1/32 Saab Gripen that was released before any model company actually measured a Gripen]. Trumpeter released a 1/32 F-117A new tool kit in 2012 to good reviews. Nighthawks were released in 1/48 scale by Monogram (1991 new tool, re-released by Revell and Hasegawa); Academy (1999 new tool); and Tamiya [1998 new tool]. The Nighthawk in 1/72 scale has many companies issuing their version with possibly the best kits being the second new tool releases from Hasegawa  and Revell . However, with all the options in 1/72 you may want to study some of the kit reviews.
I was able to read Andy Evans’ monograph over three days. The text is well supplemented with very clear photographs with good captions. Sam Pearson provides well executed color side profiles and the 1/96-line drawings. This is a nice reference on the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk and would be a handy addition to your reference library. If you are building any of the standard scale model kits, I would consider this edition essential as an aide to your build. If you own any of the previous releases in the Warpaint series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.
My thanks to Guideline Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great monograph.