KIT:

Heller 1/48 Jaguar A

KIT #

428

PRICE:

@$25.00

DECALS:

Two aircraft

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

 

HISTORY

Produced to meet a 1965 joint Anglo-French specification for an advanced trainer/tactical support aircraft, the SEPECAT Jaguar was transformed into a potent fighter-bomber with sophisticated nav/attack systems for the low-level all-weather attack role. The first of eight Jaguar prototypes made its maiden flight on 8 September 1968. India's sizeable Jaguar fleet includes 15 two-seat Jaguar IT operational trainers. Ten have been assembled under license.

The RAF received 200 Jaguars, comprising 165 single-seat GR.Mk Is (with chisel laser noses) and 35 T.Mk 2 trainers. The latter have the full nav/attack avionics suite but no lasers. Delivered in 1973-78, GR.Mk ls were tasked with nuclear strike, reconnaissance and conventional strike. Recce aircraft carry a centerline pod containing five cam-eras and an IR linescan. Only the Coltishall Wing remains, its GR.Mk ls gaining Adour Mk 104 engines from 1978-84. The GR.Mk 1A upgrade added a FIN1064 INS, AN/AILE-40 flare dispensers, Phimat flare pods and jamming pods to 75 single-seaters. Fourteen trainers were similarly upgraded as T.Mk 2As. For Operation Granby in 1991 Jaguars also used CRV-7 rockets and CBU-87 cluster bombs.

The Armee de I'Air's 160 single-seat Jaguar As have generally less capable avionics than RAF Jaguars, but remain effective strike aircraft. Various systems have been added including TAV-38 or ATILIS laser designators and the OMERA 40 camera. The 40 cannon-armed Jaguar E trainers lack a full nav/attack avionics fit. Initial deliveries were made from January 1972, and some Jaguar As were tasked with pre-strategic nuclear-strike with AN 52 weapons (withdrawn in 1991). The surviving 85 Jaguar As now undertake tactical support/ground-attack missions. AA Jaguars have seen action in Mauritania, Chad and the Gulf.

THE KIT

 

The Jaguar has been kitted before by Heller, but in a very old 1/50 scale. Most of those I've know who have built this kit are currently under professional care. This was followed by a nearly as bad ESCI kit. Finally, about a decade back, Airfix and Heller did a joint build. Airfix did the Jaguar GR.1 and Heller did this Jaguar A. A bit more than half the kit is the same for both variants, with a large sprue carrying the specific different parts for the version being kitted. At least, that's the way it looks to me.

The kit itself is quite similar to the Buccaneer, Tornado and Lightning kits in that it is engraved panel lines, but the engraving is not only a bit deep, but also a bit 'soft'. By that, I mean that the edges of the panel lines are more rounded than a square corner as you see on Hasegawa or Tamiya kits. The plastic is a bit softer as well. This bothers some builders, but personally, it isn't that big a deal.

The kit has a full cockpit with decals for instruments. The canopy can be displayed open or closed as can the speed brakes. In fact, if you look at the photos I've included of the two aircraft on the decal sheet, you'll see that these are generally open on the ground. That is not always the case for the gear doors, but it is a bit unusual for most of them to be open. In fact, the kit is molded with most of the gear doors closed. The parts themselves have varying levels of ejector pin marks including the gear legs and the wheels so clean-up is a necessity. There are sink marks on the lower fuselage opposite the alignment pins and on a couple of other thick bits. No flash was found as this isn't exactly an old mold.

There are plenty of 'things under wings' with this one as is typical for Jaguars. You'll have to forgive me my lack of French munitions and systems, but here's what you can stick on: A large  fuel tank or FLIR pod on the centerline. On the inner stations can be what looks like an anti-ship missile and a fuel tank or a pair of dual bomb racks. For the outer stations are either a Magic missile and ECM pod or a flare/chaff dispenser and some other ECM pod of some sort. There is also some sort of system close into the fuselage under the wings that can be installed. Confusing? Sorry, but that's all I know as none of this stuff is named.

Thanks to Kurt Plummer, here is what all that weapons stuff is (perhaps more than you wanted to know, but better more than nothing):

RP-36 1200 litre (265 imp gallon) tank.  Standard French and British tanks with the French also basing upon it a couple of recce pods.

ATLIS II (Autopointeur, tÚlÚvision, laser, illumination au sol: Automatic Tracking Television Laser Illumination, Air to Surface). TV=day only pod with laser designation and ranging capabilities for
integration with smart weapons.  Originally a Martin Marietta project, 'internationalized' after the USAF selection of ASQ-153 Pave Spike. Though an older system, the 'eyelid' doors are preferred for their ability to protect the optics while allowing fast-activation (no ball-roll articulation problems or lag) and during daylight the resolution range is actually better than most first and some second generation FLIR based systems.

AS-30L.  The original AS-30 was indeed a command guided Air To Surface weapon (sorta like Bullpup) intended for coastal antishipping work but this version works in concert with the ATLIS pod like a powered LGB (or AGM-65E Laser) for attacks on hard targets largely overland.  Hence
30-'Laser' and the birdie on the nose.  Used with some notoriety in French attacks on hardened weapons igloos with potential chem fallout from MASSIVE secondary explosions during Desert Warm 1.  Powerful (Mach 1.3+) boost to penetration and warhead effects but exceptionally
shortranged at around 7-8nm in comparison with most (EO or I2R) standoff PGM of a similar weight class (1,200lbs) which are usually up around 15-20nm at least.

ALKAN L1010 Vertical Ejector Racks.  Even as our own services are only now coming to more fully realize, the French have long known that 2 weapons load easier, clear the ground better, come off cleaner and have lower tunnel drag than 3 on a TER.  For them it was more a matter of
accomodating the 2,500lb weight limits on the Jaguar inner pylons however.

ALKAN 5020 EXCM scab launchers.  Originally intended to dispense grenades from a fixed carriage, low altitude, pass condition (as indeed were some of our own early 'SUU-CBUs'); this is now primarily a decoy launcher of 7X18 launcher groups or what we would call 'buckets' for
expendable countermeasures.  In theory, it allows the Jaguar to be operated as a point defense interceptor with full Magic loads under the outer pylons without losing all defensive countermeasures but more commonly it is the flare other half of the Phimat podded chaff system.

THOMSON CSF EXTERNAL EW PODS:
Large Chisel Nose without Shark Fins= DB-3141 or 3163 Remora.  Narrow band I/J band pods with single or dual transmitter/receiver chains and shop level reprogramming of database/techniques.  Approximately 220lbs.

Bugeye= TVM-015 Barem.  Standard French 'home pod'.  Much smaller 'all digital' pod using superhet receiver to drive multiple TWT in a modular format for on the fly (hands off) response to a dense signal spectrum. Roughly 160lbs.

Small Chisel Nose with Shark Fins= (ESD) Barex export jammer pod. Incorporates much of the government driven Barem technology but uses flightline reprogrammable 'top ten' threat list rather than active power management and technique response control.  Adds independent threat warning to effectively provide RWR to non-equipped aircraft and secondary (pilot manageable) techniques control through one of six strategy options.  Lightest of all pods.

Barracuda=  Newer, multiband support jammer pod, and export version of the French (developmental) Basilisk.  With as many as 20 simultaneous threats and automatic or manual techniques control.

The Magic is the R550-2, and the bombs themselves are SAMP-250's.  250 kilograms = 550lbs, more or less like our Mk.82 although without the more advanced Aero-1 ogival aerodynamics.  I forget what SAMP 'speaks like' in French but it comes out 'Society of Aeronautical Military Production' or close.  Their semi-privatized equivalent to our China Lake combined with say Raytheon or Lockheed Missiles and Space on a joint-venture but government owned basis.
 

Instructions are the typical Airfix booklet format with lots of large images for the construction steps, colors in Humbrol paint numbers with no generic name (curse them!!), and warnings in a zillion languages. Markings are for two planes, both of which I have photographs of in my slide collection. First is the box art plane from EC 3/11 'Vosges'. This particular plane is shown in a rather unusual mixture of the two desert schemes applied to French planes. Now would be a good time to mention that there are three general paint schemes for French Jaguars. One is the standard Green/Grey over Silver 'European' scheme. Then there is the two lighter brown colors called 'Arabie' for Arabian. Then there is the light tan with a darker brown called 'Tchad' for those planes used in Chad during their war with Libya. This kit shows an option that has a mixture of all three desert colors in a non-standard pattern, though my slides  of A149 (11-RK) only show the lighter 'Arabie' colors. This color was also used on planes partaking in Desert Storm.  The other plane is from EC 3/3 'Ardennes' and is in the 'European' scheme. My slide shows it heavily 'zapped' during an exercise, as you can see by the partially obscured fuselage roundel. Generally both schemes are painted in the same pattern so if you want to do the EC 3/11 aircraft, then you can use the 'European' scheme guide and the photos I've so kindly provided for you! The decals are typical for current Airfix/Heller kits. They are a bit thick and not terribly crisp but should work rather well and should succumb to decal solvents without too much fuss. I'm sure there are aftermarket decals for this kit, but I don't know who does any for French planes. I do understand that there are a few aftermarket bits such as a cockpit for the French version.

 

CONCLUSIONS

This is the best 1/48 Jaguar you will find. It does not appear to be a difficult build and with the usual care and filler should make an excellent model for your modern day jet collection.

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