SAAB RF-35 Recon Draken, Danish AF
SAAB of Sweden built the Draken as an interceptor in the early 60s, with a recon version soon following. The Draken was used by Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Austria. All operational Drakens were retired between 1993 and 1999. There are a few flyable Drakens at the Test Pilot School at Mojave Spaceport in California.
The aircraft in this kit is a pair of Danish RF-35s, the reconnaissance version. The major differences are the nose, which contains the camera suite, and the wingtips and tail top, which are different.
You get the basic Hasegawa Draken fighter kit, which has been out for over 10 years. The additions are a resin camera nose, resin wingtips, and a new top for the vertical stabilizer.
I started with the cockpit, which went together well. The decals for the panel and consoles were very good, and I had no trouble with them. The seat is OK. The basic kit was designed also to be a 2-seat version, but this one has a part for the top of the fuselage which blanks off the second cockpit. Fit is good here, too.
Step 3, where the upper and lower fuselage halves are mated, was a start of a problem. There is a solid wall between the front of the cockpit and the place where the nose attaches. In step 4, the instructions tell you to put 5 grams of nose weight inside this area, which has just been closed up. Normally this could be fixed by putting weight inside the hollow fighter nose, but there’s no place to put it in the solid resin recce nose. I fixed this by putting lead strips inside the intakes and behind the cockpit in the fuselage. For reference, I learned in high school that a US 5-cent coin weighs 5 grams. Handy to know sometimes.
The rest of the assembly was pretty much trouble-free. I had to use some filler on the wing roots at the front, some filler at the base of the tail, and the resin wingtips weren’t as thick as the wing, and this required filler too.
There was mention of problems with the intakes not fitting right in some other reviews I found on the web. I found the fit to be passable, with only a little work with a sanding stick to make them fit right on. Maybe Hasegawa fixed this in the last decade or so.
I masked the canopy and put it on, both to allow better looking paint in this area and also to protect the interior.
This was the easiest part of the whole project. The Danes painted their Drakens overall 34079 green. Set the airbrush on high, and proceed.
I went back and painted the interior of the wheel wells aluminum, did some touch up where I got a little sloppy, and put Future on the plane. I was ready for markings.
I didn’t use the “Christmas Present” markings. I have a soft spot in my heart for recon aircraft, having worked with photo intel, and I wanted to do an operational scheme. The decals were excellent. The markings came off the sheet cleanly, went where I wanted them to go, and once I wicked away the excess water and solvent, they stayed. It was a little difficult seeing exactly where the wing and tail markings went, as the panel lines were black on a dark grey background.
Once I got a second coat of Future on to protect the decals, and added a flat coat to make them look painted on, I was ready to put on those parts I’m afraid to add until last. I’ve broken a lot of small parts while trying to handle the model while putting on decals.
The landing gear went together nicely, and the gear doors were pretty easy. I got the extra wheels under the tail with no problem. One thing I’ve noticed is that Japanese and Chinese kit plastic responds very well to Tamiya Extra Thin cement, while kits from Eastern Europe and Russia work better with Testors liquid.
Once I had the fuel tanks and pitot tube installed, I pulled the mask off the canopy, and the project was complete.
Recommended. I give Hasegawa credit for coming up with a recon Draken. The resin nose fits very nicely, and it’s a nice addition to my shelf of photo aircraft.
Thanks to Hobbico for providing an addition to my modern reconnaissance collection, and to IPMS/USA and Steve Collins for the chance to build this interesting model.