Italeri 1/72 F-15E Strike Eagle
In 1974 the F-15 went into service as the U.S. Air Forces most modern fighter aircraft. It is built by McDonnell-Douglas. During the 1980's and 1990s it was the backbone of the Air Forces fighter fleet till the advent of the F-16.
The F-15E Strike Eagle entered service in 1978 as a dedicated fighter bomber. It is employed in a Close Air Support ground attack role as well as an air superiority fighter. It is capable of carrying a wide array of bombs, rockets, and missiles. A number of countries use the F-15 including Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia. The plane has a 2.5 Mach maximum speed. The wing span is 13.05 meters. It is 19.43 meters long and 5.63 meters high.
Upon removing the wrapping and opening the box, it opened on the end. I found the kit composed of four sprues molded in a light grey plastic sealed in a polypropylene bag. Two sprues held the plane and two smaller sprues held the ordnance. A fifth sprue held a two piece canopy. The instructions and a decal sheet, big decal sheet, were loose underneath the bag of sprues. The decal sheet appeared to be in register and had a number of the small stencils that go on various locations of the F-15. The decals were a satin finish and the carrier film seemed adequate. Italeri normally has great sheets for their products. I did a quick read of the instructions and they seemed to be straight forward and clear.
This looked like it was going to be a easy and quick build considering my current military obligations. Anyway upon closer assessment, once the sprue trees came out of the bags, the parts had lightly engraved panel lines. A few parts had a little flash or small mold seams that were easy to clean up. Mold release points would all be hidden after construction.
I often work up a kit sometimes out of sequence so as to facilitate the build. As in most aircraft models, Step 1 is to assemble and finish the cockpit. I usually try to paint smaller parts on the sprue so I don't wind up with multi hued fingers and nails. The cockpit area and seats were painted in the appropriate colors and shades. The seats came with seat belts molded on. They were picked out in light tan and detail painted. The handle of the Joystick was painted black. The Instrument panel was painted black with the gages picked out in white. Little levers and toggle switches were picked out in black or silver paint.
Step 2 entailed adding the cockpit tub to the bottom of the fuselage. Two small holes are bored where indicated on the bottom of the fuselage. Then the top and bottom halves of the fuselage are joined. I figured at that point the build was going to easy. At some point the flying monkeys, aka gremlins would launch.
Step 3 consisted of attaching the nose cone, intakes, wings, horizontal stabilizers and tail fins. Several holes needed to be drilled where indicated in the bottom wing for weapons rack placement. As I was moving onto the intakes I noticed that the right did not look like the left. Some a pie shaped wedge was broken out of the top part of the right duct. Rummaging through the box turned up the broken piece. The right intake duct was then repaired and the right and left hand pieces were joined. The intakes on both the right and left side did not meet totally square on. As a result the water based wood filler came out and some filling and filing was performed to get the intakes as the should be. The wings and tail area went together without difficulty. The nose cone went on fine and just needed a smidgen of filling and filing to smooth out. Sweet, moving onto Step 4.
In this part I added the tail cones and the speed brake. I opted to leave it down. You have the choice of having it up or down. I added the canopy frame as per instructions but chose to leave off the canopy. You have the option of having the canopy in the raised or lowered position. I usually tape off the cockpit area for painting and then add the canopy later. About this time it dawned on me that if I continued in accordance with the instructions, this plane would be a dedicated tail sitter. After contemplating a few black and thunderous thoughts, I proceeded to carefully crack open the front part of the bird. Several ounces of clay and fishing lure was packed into the nose cone. Once it set up the nose cone was carefully super glued to the fuselage. Seams were then refilled and smoothed out.
Here I deviated from the instructions in a big way. In the last step you add the sponsons parts 45 and 46 after drilling appropriate holes. I decided to add them and then paint the F-15. The instructions and box art specified Dark Gunship Grey as the main color for this particular aircraft and Squadron. Earlier, I stumbled across an awesome photo of a single seat F-15 in a Neutral Grey and Sky Blue paint scheme.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Do I keep with historical accuracy and go with the Gunship Grey or succumb to the coolness factor? Coolness won out. I picked up a bottle of Light Blue Acrylic Craft Paint and went to work. I airbrushed the model with the Neutral Grey first, both top and bottom. Once that dried I painted the Light Blue areas a day or two later. I added Light Blue areas to the undersides as was found on some current jet fighters. Once I was satisfied with the finish, I moved on.
I then went back and did Step 5 which entailed assembling the landing gear. Wheels were painted on the sprue's and then gear bays and struts were painted. The rest of this step was pretty straight forward. Once the landing gear had dried and cured, then came the functional test. The model sat solidly on all its wheels and the nose stayed down. At this time I went back and finished the canopy and that area of the model.
The balance of Step 6 was to assemble and attach the ordnance. I painted all the bombs, rockets and missiles on the sprue. Once they had dried, then I assembled them as required. At this point, all that was left was to glue them to the racks. After the first couple of frustrated attempts with getting the recalcitrant beasties to stay on the rack, a different tack was called for. It turned out that after gluing a bomb to its rack, as I worked on another the former would gently and quietly fall off. Plan B called for starting with the centerline of the plane and working out towards the wing tips. It also meant attaching the ordnance to the appropriate rack. When cured, attach the rack to the fuselage. It still took awhile, however Plan B came together and worked.
I am not a big fan of decalling and looking at the sheet provided, made me cringe. I just looked to the heavens and whimpered. I coated the whole model with a coat of Future to bring up a surface for the decal to adhere to. Adding the decals was actually kind of pleasant as I just took my time and did it in stages working them a couple of hours in the evenings. Three days later all the decals were in place to my satisfaction. I then gave the whole model sans canopy a thing coat of Testors Dull Coat Acryl Clear flat finish.
Once that cured, I assessed the fruit of my effort. I figured, after several weeks of model work that the F-15 turned out not half bad.
I normally don't build a lot of modern aircraft, but the F-15 had always intrigued me ever since I had seen one up close. I've always believed that it was somewhat out of place as a CAS aircraft. I'll take and A-10 or a heavy pounder who can deliver massive payloads and above all loiter in a battle area for long periods of time. The one thing that can not be argued about is the F-15's long endurance rate and it has the highest number of enemy air kills of all the current modern aircraft. That is rather hard to argue.
There are newer and better quality 1/72nd Scale F-15's on the market today. I bought this kit second hand years ago and it stayed home in the closet till I had it sent out to me. Italeri makes good kits for a decent price. As far as this Strike Eagle goes, it is a keeper, and will proudly sit in my display when I finally come home. It exudes speed and lethal precision just sitting there. Stand at the edge of the tarmac someday when some sky jock lights that bird up and slings into the sky. That is a truly loud and impressive experience.
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