KIT: Tamiya 1/48 F-15A Eagle
KIT #: 5445
PRICE: $Out of Production
DECALS: SIx options
REVIEWER: Steve Eggers
NOTES: One of the nicer 1/48 F-15 kits procuded.

HISTORY

What can I say about the F-15 Eagle that hasn’t already been said? It has been the United States Air Force’s Air Superiority Fighter since 1974. In that time it has broken time-to-climb records, been exported to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Japan and Korea, fought in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and has progressed with the variants F-15A, B, F-15C, D, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15DJ, F-15J, F-15S Saudi Eagle, F-15K Korean Strike Eagle, F-15I Israeli Eagle, and various test birds.

Without a doubt, the F-15 will go down in aviation history as one of the most important fighter planes of the 20th Century.

THE KIT

Tamiya's offering of the F-15 depicts a 1/48th scale of an “A” model aircraft.  Although this kit was produced quite some time back, it is still an excellent example of injection molding at it finest. One of the more interesting things about this kit is the landing gear. The nose and main gear struts are strengthened with piano wire running down the middle of the strut. The decal sheet provides markings for six aircraft from Luke AFB, Holloman AFB, Nellis AFB, Bitburg AB, Langley AFB, and the Streak Eagle.

Though Steve was a bit light on this section, I have to assume that the kit has raised panel lines, came with a full weapons load and probably three drop tanks. I also assume that the decals were the usual Japanese type which are thick, well printed, and should never be used with setting solutions unless you are quite brave. Ed

CONSTRUCTION

I decided to update this kit from it original F-15A offering to an F-15C Eagle.  I had a few items at my disposal to accomplish this task.  When I was in the Air Force, I had a 1/48th  Hasagawa F-15C. Well, needless to say, after a move from Georgia to Texas, the Hasagawa F-15 didn’t fair so well. So, I salvaged the entire cockpit, the landing gear, and the ladder, hoping someday I might be able to use them.

When I picked up the Tamiya kit from a good friend in our model club, I knew exactly what I was going to do with those salvaged pieces.

Squeezing a Hasagawa cockpit in to this kit wasn’t too hard, although my right arm is bigger than the left from all the sanding I had to do to get it to fit! I didn’t like the Hasagawa ACES II ejection seat that came with the cockpit. I had gotten a True Details seat from another club member and painted it up and put it the cockpit. WOW, what a difference that made! It was the first time I had used one of these seats and I was very impressed with the detail in the seat.

The rest of the model is built right out of the box., with some changes here and there. Construction, overall, on this model is absolutely fantastic. It’s not like today’s “wonderkits” that are pretty much shake and bake, but it’s not far off. Not too bad from a kit molded in the 1970’s.

As I progressed on the kit, I particularly didn’t care for the “throttle-to-the-wall”, wide open exhaust nozzles that came in the kit. These nozzles look like the F-15 is getting ready for a launch to the Moon. I was digging through my other F-15 kits and I realized that the Academy kit included both nozzles with and without “turkey feathers”.  As luck would have it, the ones with feathers were an exact fit to the Tamiya kit, as well as, the insert for the nozzle. This made a vast improvement in the looks of the finished model.

The AIM-7 Sparrow missiles are Monogram missiles from various kits, for some reason and old F-18A comes to mind.  These missiles looked much better than the Tamiya offering. The AIM-9 Sidewinders are the kit missiles.

Once upon a time (back in 1988), I recall looking at a picture of an F-15C that had AGM-88 HARM missiles on the furthest outboard wing station. That, to me, looked pretty cool! I knew from the get go, I was going to put  HARMs on this bird. Now, did the F-15C that I depict carry HARM missiles on it? I don’t know, nor do I care. I just wanted them on the bird. There was only one problem with putting to put HARM missiles on it. I didn’t have any HARM missiles to put on this plane! So, instead of ordering a Hasagawa Weapons Kit and only using two missiles out of it,  I put out a request in a message board and got lots of replies. I would like to say here, “Thank You, to everyone that replied and sent me AGM-88s for my kit.”

I used the salvaged Hasagawa wheels for the landing gear, which are very nice
“C” model wheels.  F-15A main landing gear wheels are different from the “C” wheels. The wheels fit the Tamiya struts without any modification.

After construction was complete, it was time for paint………..

COLORS & MARKINGS

I painted this kit the standard two-tone Compass Gray scheme, Light Ghost Gray (FS36375) overall and Dark Ghost Gray (FS36320).  I painted the dark ghost gray using a stencil.  I did this by tracing the model outline of the wing, the tail, the stabilator, etc..., then from that I made my stencil for the dark ghost gray pattern. To hold the stencil in place, I used artist’s tacky “gum”. It worked very well.

 The natural metal area on the aft part of the fuselage was painted Model Master Steel and the exhaust nozzles are painted with Model Master Metalizer Gunmetal.

 The missiles are painted overall gloss white, with the tips of the Sidewinders painted flat black. The missiles are decaled with the usual stripes that accompany missiles of the type.

 The decals are from many different sources. Most of the decals came from Microscale sheet  #48-152 -  48 FIS, 21CW/43TFS & 1 TFW that I had purchased many years ago. Other sources include the Tamiya kit decals, the Hasagawa F-15C kit decals and the Monogram F-15A kit decals.

 I had always planned on doing this kit as a 1st Tactical Fighter Wing bird. The biggest reason was that I had a brother-in-law that was stationed at Langley AFB in the early/mid 1980’s in the 1st CRS in the avionics shop. These decals fit the bill, but what I really liked was that the Hasagawa kit had the Eagle for the inside tail. To me, that is what set the F-15 apart from the others.

 The decals really didn’t come out like I had expected. I glossed the kit and most of them still silvered. I was disappointed with that aspect of the kit. Oh well…….nothing I can do about it now. Life goes on. 

After the decals were done, I post shaded the model using charcoals to accent panel lines, moving surfaces and to give it a little bit of a weathered look.  Since this model was to depict the 1st TFW Commanders Bird, I didn’t want to take it too far, because typically, a Wing Commander’s aircraft is kept pretty clean.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, I am pleased with the result, minus the decals, but I can live with it. This was the long way around to get the result I wanted. I guess I could have bought the Tamiya F-15C, or built my Academy F-15C/D kit and done it that way, but what is the challenge in that! Although, I hear there are some inaccuracies with the Academy kit. It looks like an F-15 to me.

March 2006

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