AMT 1/72 F-117A

KIT #: 8814
PRICE: $
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Shawn Payne
NOTES:  First attempt at the stealth since the Testors F-19

HISTORY

The history of the F-117A has been well covered, but the reason for this kits shape will be the focus of this part.  When it was rumored that the USAF had a Stealth fighter model company’s took liberty at what such a jet would look like.  Testors and Monogram both released interesting concepts but both proved to be way off when the Air Force finally released a single head-on slightly out of focus photo of the F-117A.  From that photo AMT was the first to release a 1:72 scale kit of the Stealth Fighter.  DML also released a version of the F-117A in 1:200 scale that was part of their 1:200 B-2 Stealth Bomber.   Being that photo was purposefully chosen for release was because it would be next to impossible to correctly see the true out lines and dimensions of the still mostly secret fighter.  AMT went with what they thought the fighter would look like in 3D.   The sweep angle of the wings is off by 13 degrees and they appear to have shortened the length and the size is closer to 1:48 scale than to 1:72.  But they had the first basic kit of the F-117A with the flat panel facets look of the Stealth fighter.

THE KIT

Molded in black styrene the kit was free of any flash and mold defects.  Decals were a little thick and were for one aircraft minus any squadron markings.  The instructions were basic and gave color suggestions as the build goes on.   The clear part was the canopy insert.  As for the weapons the kit included 2 maverick TV guided missiles and 2 GBU-10 Laser guided bombs.  The two major parts were the top and lower fuselages halves.  The bottom half was completely flat and had the gear and weapons bays molded in to it.  

CONSTRUCTION

 Starting with the cockpit which was made up of the tub; instrument panel and ejection seat were painted Testors Grey and the kit decals used for the instruments.  Olive Green for the seats cushions and the cockpit tub was complete and glues to the upper fuselage half.   Next went the inserts for the engine inlets as were the inserts for the engine outlets.  I painted the engine outlet face with Testors steel and glued them into place before attaching the rear inserts to the upper fuselage.

Next part was to glue the upper and lower fuselage halves together.  The parts assembled in such a way that the bottom part lay inside the upper part making the seam on the bottom of the model.  Just a little filling and sanding takes care of the seam.   Now feeling adventurous I decided to scratch build the landing gear from brass tubing and plastic rod.  Using the kit parts as guides I re-constructed the gear struts.  One reason I was able to get away with this was because the kits landing gear was very simplistic in design making scratch building rather straight forward.  

The other modification that I did that strayed away from the kits design was the way the weapons bay doors opened.  The kit had the doors opening out towards the wing tips which would have hidden the weapons extending on the sling pylons.  I just reversed the doors making them open to the inside and now you can see the weapons. 

Ok a little background here.  From 1984 to 1988 I was a part of the 4450th TG.  My AFSC was that of a 46150, Munitions specialist.   So yes I had a little inside knowledge and wanted to show off the small part I played with this aircraft.  This also is why I chose the weapons load for this kit.  One GBU-10 LGB and one SUU-20 which carried 6 BDU-33 practice bombs.  Both weapons came from the Hasegawa weapons sets. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

 The F-117A is an all black jet.  Flat Black “special paint” was used to paint this jet as it helped absorb radar waves lessening its return signature.  So I painted the model Testors Gloss Black.  Why paint it Flat Black when you have to turn around and spray on a Gloss coat for the decals to adhere to without silvering.   After the Gloss Black was dry I masked off and painted the weapons bay and gear wells Gloss White.  At this point I used a thinned down mixture of Payne’s Grey Oil paint as a wash in these areas.  

Now came the decals, they were a little thick but went on without any problems, what few there were.  An overcoat of Testors Dull Coat from the can and the painting and markings are completed.   

I built this model some 20 years ago and cannot remember at all as to why I painted the edges of the gear and weapons doors red.  I have no idea what I was thinking. 

CONCLUSIONS

  A very simple model to construct.  And one can assemble this one without any problems.  Now I have seen this model done up and a German 1946 concept idea and really liked it.  Someday I hope to find this kit at a swap meet and build my own version like that. 

Shawn Payne

January 2010

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