|KIT:||Anigrand 1/72 IAI Lavi|
|PRICE:||$53.00 from Anigrand USA - Free US shipping|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin with vacuformed canopies|
The project began in February 1980, when the Israeli government authorized the IAF to present it with a list of technical specifications for the development of the IAF's future fighter. The development stage began in October 1982, with the choice of a Pratt & Whitney engine already having been made.
One of the Lavi's most distinct advantages is its functional features, especially its cockpit, custom-built entirely using input from active IAF fighter pilots. Drawing on their operational experience, the design was geared to let the pilot handle the tactical aspects of the battle, without having to worry about monitoring and controlling the various subsystems. The avionics of the Lavi were considered to be innovative and groundbreaking, and included self-analysis equipment to make maintenance easier.
On December 31, 1986, the first prototype of the plane took off on its maiden flight. The test pilot, Menachem Shimol, head of IAI's Air Operations section, took off at 13:21 and stayed in the air for 26 minutes, during which he checked the engine and controls.
About three months later, a second prototype took to the air. In its maiden flight, the engine systems, flight control, electrical system, hydraulics and air conditioning were evaluated. The second prototype had some improvements over the first, with a belly-mounted fuel tank, a special midair refueling probe and several avionic systems that were not employed in the first prototype.
The IAI had produced three prototypes out of the originally-planned five when the Israeli government decided to cancel the project because of budget problems and bickering among various economic and political pressure groups. The total cost for the development and production of the Lavi was $6.4 billion U.S. in 1983, around 40 percent of which was paid by the U.S. government. The project was canceled in part because the U.S. was not prepared to finance an aircraft that would compete in the export market with the F-16C/D and the F/A-18C/D, and also because a dispute arose as to the final cost. The Israeli government was unable to finance the project alone and canceled it on August 30, 1987. The decision to cancel was approved with a majority of only one vote.
Throughout the project's lifetime, Likud minister Moshe Arens, himself an IAI veteran, was the Lavi's main advocate. Some community welfare organizations in Israel blasted the spending associated with the Lavi as a bottomless pit, and contrasted it with dwindling expenditure on health and education.
When the IAI Lavi was cancelled on August 30, 1987, a total of 5 airframes had been built. #1 and #2 were completed prototypes, while #3, #4, and #5 were incomplete. Parts from unit #1 and #2 were pulled to complete unit #3 for a private-venture tecnology demonstrator (TD) aircraft. The gutted unit #2 was put in museum static display, and the rest (#1, #4, & #5) were melted down for scrap. Some analysts speculated that unit #3 was shown to representatives from the People's Republic of China, which eventually influenced their design on the Chengdu J-10. Rabbi Yerachmiel Cohen of the Ohr Yerushalayim Yeshiva, who was part of the deisgn team of the Lavi, takes his students every year to the air force museum to see the jet and to explain the necessity of a strong Israeli defense establishment.
If you have built an Anigrand kit then this one will be little different. Molded in their tan resin with well defined engraved panel lines, the kit provides an option to do either a single seat or two seat aircraft. From what I understand, the single seat aircraft were not completed so to do a Lavi as it flew, you'll need to concentrate on the two seat options. Of course, having the single seat choice is very nice to have and will make this kit the darling of the 'what if' crowd.
As you may expect, I found some of the usual molding flaws in terms of air pockets on the wing tips, afterburner and fuselage, but these are all easily fixed as will be the chunk on the inner portion of one of the canards, produced when the pour stub broke away. The interior consists of two seats and one control stick for the front seat. Wing tip missiles are molded on with the rails and mine managed to arrive completely intact with no broken fins. This is undoubtedly due to the packaging and the use of a stronger plastic for the compartmentalized bag.
Those thinking that they might be able to scrounge parts from an F-16 kit for this one will be rather disappointed as there is really very little commonality. Even the canopy is different on the Lavi as it has a separate windscreen. About the only part I saw that could be the same was the nose gear and perhaps the wheels.
Instructions are the usual with a short history, photo, parts list and exploded view on one side. The other has a two view for painting and decals. Basically this is a white aircraft with blue parts provided as decals. There are two identical decal sheets given for the insignia and the stripes. These are for the first two prototypes, which seem to not be differentiated in terms of markings. The box art photo shows the Technology Demonstrator which does away with the canard leading edge bits. You may also note that the wingtip missiles are angled down in the photo and may well consider modifying your kit to match. Decals are very nicely done and in perfect register.
Yet another interesting prototype from the folks at Anigrand. Purists will notice that Anigrand tends to simplify things a bit and not have correctly detailed wheel wells or perhaps not all the lumps and bumps and antennas. However, that means little to most of us who will fix what we deem necessary and will be quite happy to have another interesting aircraft to add to our display shelves.
My thanks toAnigrand USA for providing the review kit. Get yours today at the link and pay no shipping in the US. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by asite that has over 325,000 visitors a month, please contactme or see other details in the
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