YF-23 Black Widow

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Company: Hobby Boss
Provided by: Squadron - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Northrop's YF-22 was the direct competitor to the F-22 Raptor that the Air Force elected to purchase. Two prototypes were built- one in gray and the other in black. Hobbyboss has released the first quarter scale kit and it is a beauty. The kit is 94 parts with the upper and lower fuselage being one large piece each. Engraving is good. Most of the parts go toward the landing gear bays and landing gear. There is a clear canopy and windscreen. No option for opening it is available. There is a small decal sheet and full color paint guide in the kit representing the gray prototype only.

Construction starts in a nicely detailed cockpit and includes a separate throttle, rudder pedals and stick. The seat is decent- the belts are molded in and acceptable for injection molded. The area behind the seat is also well represented. The front landing gear bay is added tot eh bottom of the cockpit. I bypassed building and adding the landing gear to the bay at this point as it fits well and can be added later.

Construction of the main gear bays is next, and they are right and left handed and the parts are specific, so follow the instructions. There are a lot of parts and the detail is very good. The exhaust boxes were built and painted and are pretty basic but are nice and deep. Lastly, construct the intake trunks which end in the engine faces. These will need filled and sanded and painted white. The one problem here is the lack of engine faces in the kit- I borrowed a couple from the spares pile and they are barely visible.

To close the fuselage, you glue in the cockpit/front wheel well assembly, the main gear wells, the intake trunks and the exhaust boxes. They glue in place and fit perfectly. The fuselage is then glued together. Fit is very good with a little filler needed along the front chines and sides. The wings and tails were built. The wings took a little filler to smooth out, but not bad.

One thing to mention here is that there is no way to open the canopy. There is no strut or mechanism provided, and the instructions clearly showed it glued into place closed. Unfortunate, and definitely an opportunity for the aftermarket people. I masked the clear parts with Tamiya tape and added the HUD and the canopy and windscreen. The fit was great with minimal sanding. I left of the landing gear doors and covered the landing gear bays after a couple coats of white.

So we were ready for paint, just that fast. There is one scheme included and it’s the gray camouflage colors of light ghost gray with dark ghost gray blotches on top- like an F-15! The colors are called out in five different paint brands on a large sheet. I used Xtracolor here, and while I love the paints, their light and dark were a little close in my estimation. Once dry, I masked off the engine exhaust areas which are very prominent. The color for this is listed as burnt iron. Looking at the plane on the Internet, it looked more titanium or dark aluminum so I painted the steel and highlighted tiles with a couple of shades, as the real planes seems to have variety.

Everything dry, we were ready for decals. The sheet is small but goes on well. There are some extra insignia that seem to have no place. They apply well but seem a little dark. This aircraft never went beyond the prototype stage, so it very well could be accurate.

The plane was flat coated and the panel lines lightly done with pastels. I added the landing gear with no issues and then the gear doors, and the plane was done. Looking at it, it kind of reminds me of the plane in Clint Eastwood's Firefox movie. The second thing I noted is how large it is, being just short of 70 feet long and 45 feet wide. I think it looks the part very much. I also know for those waiting that Caracal has an excellent decal sheet being released for the kit- including the black scheme. I may have to build a second one just for that scheme.

This is a great kit and would be suitable for any age. It is large, well engineered and looks the part of a modern fighter and importantly, it fits well. People wanting to add more detail could add to the canopy, exhausts and wheel wells too. Recommended!

My thanks to Squadron for the review sample and to Hobbyboss for producing the kit.


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