Meng 1/72 F-102A (Case XX)
100 yuan RMB (about $15) $40
retail in US
It’s hard, in an era when the F-22 and B-2 are already
well into their service lives, to think of a plane like the
Delta Dagger as “modern”. But in its day, and despite its flaws,
it was a remarkably modern project, a very ambitious effort that
was probably beyond the analogue capabilities of its time. It
was more than just America’s first supersonic all weather
interceptor. It was the first really decent try at a
sophisticated supersonic interceptor solution, with integrated
ground control and automatic vectoring combined with a (then)
powerful radar attack system and proper guided weapons.
Most modelers tend to focus on the exterior of planes,
and in this case the wings (not unlike Sabres, there’s wings and
there’s wings). The first lot of F-102s produced had upward
turning wingtips; the
second lot had downward turning wingtips.
For whatever reason these were called “Case X” for the upward
tips and “Case XX” for the downward. (Editor's note: These later
wings were not retrofitted to earlier planes and most units had
a mixture of the two.)Before I knew much about
the F-102 I knew about the wings from modelers' comments. But
the reason I find this plane interesting is its MG-10 fire
control system (an upgrade from the original MG-2).
If you look at the video clip linked from youtube in the
references section below, you get a fascinating insight into how
it works. Persevere with the animation at the beginning because
later it has real cockpit footage showing the way the radar
scope displayed information to the pilot, and showing some of
the switches and knobs he had to operate to fly a semi-automated
intercept. While hardly a video game style interface – it looks
more like a tweaked-up Pong screen – it must have been pretty
advanced in the 1950s when as a general rule people still looked
forward to the day when a computer could fit on a single table.
Imagine having it in a plane flying Mach 1.2 at 56,000 feet
before humans had even launched a satellite.
Yes, it didn’t always work that well, and yes the plane
itself left a lot to be desired (it couldn’t even go supersonic
in its prototype state until the fuselage was redesigned, and
didn't really come into its own until redesigned as the F-106).
Yes, those Falcon missiles were, shall we say, primitive.
But it had many of the elements of the most modern
fighters – an integrated attack system that worked with data
from outside sources, and even an internal weapons bay with
fold-out launchers just like the F-22. For the 102, that was
mainly to ensure the fuselage was clean enough to go supersonic,
for stealth like on the F-22. But despite being a
half century apart, are they really so conceptually different?
It came into service just 15 years after the Mustang, yet it is
closer in DNA to the jets of today. And a thousand of them were
This particular boxing of the Meng F-102 is the
downturned “Case XX” wing variant. If you wanted, you could make
a Turkish or Greek aircraft from this kit, assuming you had the
decals. They flew these planes for a while in the 1970s (and
that eternal source of accurate, unquestionable, objective fact,
the internet, claims in some corners that the two air forces’
102s dog-fought each other. I’ll leave it to the pimply,
hormonal Turkish and Greek teenage boyz to fight that out in a
youtube comments thread and tell us whose air force is best and
whose dad could beat whose dad in a fight, bring it on man, f-
yeah). The kit offers three American aircraft, just as the Case
X boxing did. In this case, a SEA camo version used in Vietnam
and two Air Defence Command grey ones, the first from California
and the other from Minnesota. Typical of the F-102 they have
nice colourful tails. Meng also did a boxing with one set of
markings for the plane flown by former US President George W
Bush, as he completed his ANG duties stateside during the
Fundekals has quite a range of F-102 decals which you
can peruse at their website, as does Draw Decals, and presumably
others too, but to be honest unless you’re really into 102s or
you want to make a specific unit’s plane, the kit decals are a
nice set of colourful alternatives from which most people will
be able to see something they like.
Meng is pronounced "mung", by the way. It does not sound like the
English word "men" with a "g" on the end.
The earlier boxing was previewed
right here on
The only apparent difference with this boxing is the different wingtips.
Otherwise it has the same lovely moulding, with fairly subtle engraved
lines, and beautifully clear windows as the earlier release (really, these
are phenomenally clear). You get six each of two kinds of Falcon missiles (ie
12 in total) – heatseekers and radar homing. There are a pair of underwing
fuel tanks. The cockpit is pretty simple, but typical of what you can
normally expect in a modern 1/72 kit – three piece ejection seat, control
stick, instrument panel and a tub to put it all in, which (like the panel)
has surface detail on the side panels. Everything is crisply moulded. You
can pose the weapons bay open or closed, you can have missile launch rails
in or out, and you can do the tail-end air brakes open or shut. As noted
above you get three decal options: a SEA camo version from the 509th Fighter
Interceptor Squadron flown out of Thailand in the Vietnam War (1969), and
two ADC grey planes from US-based units. The Californian one (196th FIS) has
a great tail with a blue and white star design (built here) and the
Minnesota one (179th FIS) has the bright orange-red tail and wing tips.
Please have a look at the preview of the Case X boxing for more
detail on what’s in the box.
With this kit, construction starts with admiring the beautiful
parts. This is certainly an upgrade in quality from some of the stuff I've
been building lately! But once you're over that, the cockpit makes sense as
a beginning. While doing that - a simple seat-in-tub and panel plus decal
operation - I also cut off the missiles and painted them up. These are a
little tricky to get
off the sprues actually so rather than cut off all 12 I
just got six - three of each kind. I think a typically loadout was a mix of
heatseeker and radar homing missiles anyway.
Getting the whole fuselage together is not quite as straightforward
as you'd think on first look. You need to add some noseweight, which I did
in the main part of the nose forward of the cockpit. There is stacks of
room. The intakes have no interior blanking so you need to make some,
because otherwise you can see all the way back inside the plane. There is a
joinline on the top of the intakes after you assemble it, but luckily the
paint scheme has black on one side, grey on the other, so you can disguise
the join somewhat because it is also the demarcation line between the two colours.
You also need to assemble the tailpipe (insert the little ring piece
before you put it together. Before!). Remember to install the completed
tailpipe component, along with the cockpit and nosewheel bay, before you
seal up the fuselage. You must then put in the main wheel bay before
assembling the wings (with missile bay attached, but you can leave the
launchers and missiles to the end) and installing them last of all. Put glue
on the inside of the wing where it joins the fuselage, rather than just on
the fuselage where it joins the wing piece (they are two different areas).
If you don't you'll struggle, as I did, to get a good join between the
fuselage and the top of each wing. You need to slide the wings in from
behind so that the missile bay can slot into place correctly. After that
stick on the nose cone and you are already looking at an F-102. The fit was
very good, though not totally perfect. I needed to use a little filler on
the wing join, partly my fault for messing up the construction there in the
first place but also partly because of the gap that would have been there
anyway. As noted, there is also a bit to do around the intakes.
Next job, sadly, was to sand away the mess I made on the wing join.
That took a little while, as well as a
bit of light sanding on some of the
other seams, but eventually the plane was ready for paint. See below for
After I'd done the painting, and the decals, there were still a lot
of details to add. These include the pitot tube, the tail hook, the
undercarriage and its doors, and of course the complex weapons bay. The
doors have additional clear parts to represent the landing lights, so I
painted the sides and back of those silver first, and then one of the
interior greens, to make sure that when you looked at it from front on, it
looked like a spotlight (ie you can see the underlying coat of silver
through the lens). I snapped one of the little arms that connect the main
gear legs to the main gear doors. The weapons bay instructions aren't super
clear so I had to look at online pictures to understand how the bay doors
should appear. One tip is to note that they had tubes for unguided rockets
in them, so make sure you point those tubes toward the front of the plane,
when you're attaching the bay doors. The missiles attach cleanly to their
launchers and you can, as I did, build one or more of the missile launcher
rails in the deployed position. I freehanded the red stripes on the pitot
and the black ones on the tail hook, as well as the yellow line around the
Air Defence Grey, FS16473. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially
if you only have access to Tamiya and Mr Color paints. I did some research
and tried to work out what the nearest equivalent was. The task isn't helped
by the fact that, as always, historical photos all look slightly different.
To my eye the
plane could be almost a blue grey or almost a pale, gull grey.
In the end I decided on Mr Color 73. It matches at least some photos,
including of others' models here on MM, and people "out there" on the
internet suggested it too. The instructions, by the way, don't help much.
They just tell you to use an 80:20 mix of white and black.
Unfortunately I don't have an airbrush and I'm not getting one any
time soon. My domestic circumstances simply don't permit it. I couldn't find
a suitable spray can so for this plane it was back to childhood and brush
painting. Two coats later I had a paint job that looks great from a distance
of a foot but close up revealed lots of brush marks. Another coat after a
bit of sanding and a thinner spread made it look a bit better, but to be
honest it is not my best work with a paint brush. But hey, we aren't all
artisans. Some of us - most of us - are just hobbyists who enjoy building
planes. And one of the reasons I only post my work to MM is because I like
the way this site embraces modellers of the full range of ability. Even if
you don't have an airbrush, you can enjoy this kit. Don't be scared off!
So, moving on! The insides are in two different shades of interior
colour - wheel bays are in the brighter yellow one and the missile bay in a
kind of green. For that I improvised as well. Mr Color 27 is the yellow and
Tamiya XF-21 the "cockpit green". That's a pretty good match for the missile
bay, at least, as you'll
see from the picture link in references below.
The decals are nice but go easy on the Mr Mark Softer if you use
that. One brushing is enough - I overcooked it on the underside decals and,
sadly, on the left side tail markings with those cool stars (I touched up
the damage with paint).
The canopy attaches fairly neatly but it is tricky to paint that
fairly prominent yellow line around the side windows. There's no decal for
I was never that into the F-102 but Meng's release piqued my
interest. I saw this at a good price and bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did
because it was an interesting and enjoyable build and all boxings come with
nice colourful markings options. Recommended!
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