Trumpeter 1/72 Chengdu J-10S

KIT #: 1655
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Richard F.
NOTES: Decals badly off register


The Chinese military is modernizing rapidly. In the air, it's bought modern Sukhois as well as designing and fielding its own high performance aircraft. The so-called Chinese stealth fighter recently hit the news, but about half of the People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF) is still older types like the J-7 (essentially a Mig-21) and the J-8 (a massive jet of limited capability). Those two types account for about 700 of the PLAAF's roughly 1,300 fighters (not counting 200-odd ground attack planes). The other half is made up of over 300 Sukhoi 27/35 and Shenyang J-11 (essentially the same); and about 260 Chengdu J-10s.

The J-10 is a multirole fighter that first flew in 1998 and became fully operational in 2003. It is a modern aircraft, featuring all the same general equipment in modern western jets. Apparently capable of Mach 1.2 at sea level, it has a combat radius of 550km (unrefueled) and radar comparable to western sets of the 1990s.

Apart from China, Pakistan has ordered up to 150 of the J-10.

It would be easy to be snarky and say it's just a copy of the Lavi, and indeed the Chinese may (or may not) have benefited from some Israeli advice. But designers the world over have come up with the general configuration used here - the Eurofighter, Gripen and Rafale are three other contemporary examples.

The J-10S is the training version.

Chinese aircraft factories are named after the cities they are in. Chengdu Aircraft Corporation, which makes the J-10, is in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province (better known for pandas and extremely spicy food).


There are three big disappointments in this kit, or mine at least. First is that the decals are hopelessly out of register. Everything but the national insignia are usable, but the insignia are totally beyond hope. Second disappointment is that the bold scheme on the cover must be totally painted. There are no blue and red decals to help the modeler deliver that really attractive scheme. A bit of patience and skill with masking tape is all you need, but plenty of modelers won't have the patience or nerve to try it out. Third, the canopy: though nice and clear, incredibly it has a seam running right down the middle. I can't tell if this is meant to be there, but it seems pretty unlikely.

Apart from that it is a nice kit - well moulded with finely engraved panel lines. No rivets. It comes with the single seat cockpit but not canopy and anyway, the 2 seat version is stretched so you couldn't build a single seater. Instead, you get a spare ejection seat for a future project.

The two seat cockpit isn't quite as nicely rendered as the single seat one, with flat front and side panels. The decals, especially those for the front panels, are quite nice, and will look good. The canopy can be done open or closed.

The kit includes some nicely done missiles, carefully packed in foam padding to protect their fins. Nice touch. There are two each of the PL-8 short range and PL-11 and PL-12 medium range AAMs, two underwing tanks and one centreline tank.

Instructions are clear and there is a nice glossy colour painting guide with references for Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol.


A mixed bag. Lovely modern moulding. A prominent seam right down the centre of the canopy, and decals both out of register and inadequate to do the cover art scheme without lots of time consuming masking.

I will give it a go, seeing as I got it for a reasonable price, but it's a shame Trumpeter didn't pay as much attention to the two most visible features of the finished kit as they did to its excellent packaging and moulding.

Richard F.

June 2012

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page