New jets are often met with political controversy and for the F-35 this is no different. Development time and costs where vastly larger then budgeted but the aircraft was declared ready in 2014. Last year (2016/2017) most countries started test flying with the F-35 and in the summer of 2017 a Dutch machine was the first F-35 to fly over Europe. One of the most prominent features of the craft is it's stealthy design but other innovations include sensors and communication equipment. Plenty has been written about the F-35 so let's take a look at some video's and photo's:
Arrival at Leeuwarden Airbase 2017:
Photo's of the first two Dutch F-35's (F-001 and F-002). These machines are for practical tests for the airforce to familiarize with the new aircraft. At the moment of writing this tests with a full bomb load have and dogfights have begun:
The Italeri model
This year Italeri released their F-35A model a second time (Kit. No. 1409), now with authentic decals of machines from various airforces. At the time of there previous no actual F-35A's where delivered yet to airforces other then the American so Italeri had to guess the markings. With this the same model has a larger decal sheet including even several dozen 'no step' decals.
Stealth means smooth surfaces so there are, completely authentic, no panel lines. There is, once again completely authentic, a lot of raised detail. The bomb bay doors can be placed open. The bomb bay it self has some detail but not very prominent, there is a very characteristic tube in the real machine which is molded under scale here. Two JDAMS and two AIM-120's are provided to fill up the bomb bays and they take quite some space so exquisite details of the bays them self wouldn't be seen or could even be in the way so it was logical for Italeri to keep that modest. The JDAM's and AIM-120 are very fine however. One of the few non-white parts in the bomb and wheel bays of the real machine are (what seem to be) cable fasteners and these have been molded in the wheel bays but not the bomb bays. The model also features a complete engine and tinted canopy glass. The cockpit detail appears to be sparse but this is actually correct, the F-35A has very few control panels and buttons compared to older aircraft. The flaps of the main wings are provided separately and can be glued in a downward position but I'm not sure how they fit precisely. The only real weak point of the kit is the top of the ejection seat. You really need filler here to hide the seat is made form two halves. A minor inaccuracy are the undersides of the wings, the outline for the pylon fasteners are not represented here.
The fit of the parts is good and I required almost no filler. I had some difficulty assembling the halves of the tail wings and tail rudders but these are molded correctly. Decals are good but on one model they came lose when applying a mat coat. I build two models, also one for a friend and these decals stayed in place so it must have been my mistake.
There is an error in the instructions, one of the bomb bay door arms has a number 46 in the instructions which should be number 48. I'm not sure anymore if I glued the other arms in the right order. I had some problems installing the AIM-120s so I think I swaped some arms around. An other tip is to paint the inside of the jet intakes before gluing them together which I forgot to do. Glue for parts 42B and 43B (inner sides of the intakes) must be dried well before gluing fuselage halves together because the tend to move inward when the fuselage halves are mated together. Finally the control sticks (there are two, accurately) in the cockpit can best be installed when the aircraft is complete. They are on a spot where you tend to hold the aircraft when painting it and the break easily. 35B and 36B are optional parts. These are reflectors making the aircraft visible to radar when not on combat flights.
Painting all that raised detail in a slightly lighter gray then the rest of the aircraft felt like a bit more work then expected but I made two so I think it is quite doable. The effect is subtle in reality so you light just want to go for a uniform dark grey finish.
A good and not to complicated kit of F-35. You can make painting challenging by opening the bomb doors and paint all the raised detail in a lighter shade or keep it simple and close the bomb bays (this should work but it is not an option in the instructions) and keep it with one color. Decals are provided for an American, Australian, Dutch, Israeli or Italian machine.