Kit: Airfix 1/48 EE Lightning F.1/F.1A/F.2/F.3
Kit Number: 9179
Price: $33.00 retail
Media: Injected Plastic
Decals: for six versions, all natural metal; F.1 - 74 Sq, F.1A - 56 Sq,F.2 - 92 Sq, F.3 - 23 Sq, 29 Sq, 111 Sq (most versions have full color tailsand spines)
Date of Review: 5 July 1998
Review and Photos by: Scott VanAken
If you like aircraft with excessive amounts of power and noise, then theEE (later Bae) Lightning is the one for you. Britain's last twin-engined,single seat interceptor, it was built in small numbers, but the number ofpeople who loved to see and hear the brute ran in the millions. Finally retiredin 1988, a number of them still exist and are kept in flyable condition.Despite the inability to get a licence to fly them in the UK, they are oftenfired up for blasts down the runway to the appreciation of thousands ofenthusiasts. Now why one is not brought here to the US where the lawsare not so oppressive regarding flying these types of aircraft is beyondme as they would be a huge hit at the airshow circuits.
Airfix has done it again with the Lightning. If you liked their recentSpitfires in this scale, you will like this kit. There is minimal flashand just a few sink marks, notably on the outside of the gear doors and theupper wing tips. Both are easily filled with putty and sanded off.Representations of several versions are given in the kits so one does nothave to buy several different kits as is the practice with Japanese models. There are two common sprues with wing leading edges and tails and armamentcommon to all Lightning models and two that are specific to the F.1 to F.3and F.2A /F.6 which have different wing leading edges and larger fuselagefuel tanks. The decal sheets are huge and fill the bottom of the boxand my copy was in perfect register, however, I wanted to build somethinga bit different so chose an Aeromaster sheet for my Lightning of choice.If you want to see a selection of Lightning photos, I invite you to visitthe photo archivesof my website.
First step for me is to start building small subassemblies such as weapons,wheels, wings and such. The intake on this kit is very well done andallows one to not only have a full intake trunk, but leaves plenty of roomfor weight, which this kit really needs. I also decided to discardthe kit cockpit and replace it with a very well done resin one from CuttingEdge. It was a very tight fit to get the resin cockpit to fit above the intaketrunk, but careful filing finally got it to fit. The new interior isa real improvement over the kit one! It was painted dark grey, then washedwith black and then drybrushed with a light grey. Really made the detailspop out. Spend some time doing detail painting on the cockpit as itis well worth the effort, even if you cannot see it all when done!
Once that is installed, then the afterburner section can be painted, assembledand installed. One of the drawbacks of multiple version kits are the variousinserts and combination parts required to do one specific version. Sincethis kit is for four different versions, you need to make sure the properholes are opened up in the fuselage prior to joining it. Any real Lightningexpert will tell you about the different lengths of cable ducting on thefuselage side. Airfix allows for this with different sections of ductfor which holes need to be opened. Oddly, Airfix already opens up theholes for ducting used by F.1A and F.2 versions. That means if youdo an F.1, you need to fill holes! (In this same light, the holes in thewing for the refueling probe are already opened for you, meaning you mustfill them if you wish to kit an F.1.) If doing an F.3 (as this one is)additional holes near the front of the fuselage must be opened. Finally thefuselage sections can be joined. I did mine in sections as I am proneto getting mismatches any other way.
Once joined, the cable duct sections were added and the plugs for the upperand lower guns were installed as the F.3 was missiles only. The gunrepresentations are just small troughs that would need drilling out and deepeninganyway. The plugs fit fairly well, but needed a touch of sanding fora perfect fit. The cable ducts were a bit of a pain especially as the longerones were not perfectly molded and had small indentations along the side.This prevented the attachment points from being perfectly straight and requiredsome judicious filling to get a smooth appearance. Next was the installationof the nose ring. On my example, the fuselage was more oval fromtop to bottom than the intake ring. Since the ring is rather rigid,and the fuselage did not respond to squeezing, filing and putty were usedto get a smooth transition.
The tail and wings were next attached with no real problems as was a sectionjust aft of the cockpit that needs cut as the Cutting Edge cockpit providesa small section. No real problems encountered there. A note on theseparate flaps. It is great that Airfix provided them, however unlesslanding or taking off, the flaps were in the neutral position. I lookedat over a hundred images of Lightnings and other than a maintenance photo,the flaps were all up. Same for the speedbrakes, although I did find onephoto of a taxiing aircraft with speedbrakes deployed. The next stepwas attaching all the various fuselage antenna, scoops and other protuberancesthat would be painted in fuselage color. For some strange reason, fewof these items had the holes predrilled, although all versions had many ofthe same items. There was a diagram showing where to drill the holes,but how many new modelers are going to have a set of drill twists? For thescoops, the attachment pins were cut off and they were glued straight tothe fuselage. Another interesting note. The airframe is fullof NACA intake/exhaust ducts. Those on the lower fuselage were properlyindented, while on the upper section, there were just engraved lines theshape of the ducts. Very odd indeed.
Once all the fuselagebits and pieces were added, it was time to put on the paint. Firstoff, the wheel wells and intake were painted aluminum. Then all theopenings (intakes, wheel wells, cockpit) were filled with tissue in preparationfor painting. Now I doubt if there is an easy way to do the 3-greyscheme without much masking and repainting, not that it does me much goodas I always end up repainting areas anyway. I used Xtracolor paintsfor all fuselage colors. The first color was Light Aircraft Grey forunder the wing and horizontal stabilizers. Once dry, they were maskedand the leading edge trimmed back in anticipation of the wrap around upperwing color. Next the lower fuselage was painted Barley Grey. Normally the fin would be this color, but I'm doing a special schemethat has a dark blue fin and dorsal spine. When the Barley Grey wasdry, that area was masked and the spine and fin were painted in Roundel Blue. While that was drying, the landing gear were assembled in anticipationof installation. No real problems, however you will find the main gearstrut links to be much wider than the attachment points on the strut. BareMetal Foil was also attached to the strut oleos and to the band around theas-yet-to-be-installed exhaust.
Once the multiple resprayings were finished and the paint well and dry, itwas time to add on the additional parts. First was the landing gear. The wheels are designed for a specific landing gear so be sure to markwhich wheel goes with which gear (I scribe a tiny L or R on them). I thenglued them to the wheel wells using superglue. It is a nice, snug fit. Similarly snug was the nose gear, again using superglue. Nextwere the gear doors and retraction struts. The instructions are uselessas far as placing the retraction struts were concerned, so I delved intothe Aeroguide for help. Airfix provides no definite attachment points forthese and so I felt it was better to put the gear doors on first and thenworry about the struts later. Main doors fit very well with no problem. The small auxiliary doors atop the main doors are a real poser to fit. They should angle down slightly and not touch the wing. The long rodon these small doors will help get them to properly fit, but it takes a bitof fussing around to get them positioned for tack gluing. Once in position,they can then be glued more firmly. Now on to the retraction struts. Once the doors were in place, it was obvious that the larger strutwas way too big for the hole it was supposed to fit into. The smallerone ended up basically laying in the gear well with its ends attached tothe gear and the wheel well. The larger one was shaved down at its attachingarea to the gear and sort of crammed into place and well glued. Really,Airfix has not done a very good job on this part of construction. The othergear doors fit without any real fuss.
Now that all the basic bits are on the aircraft, this is the time I add thedecals. Xtracolor's paints are a great starting point as they are quiteglossy. I used the LTF scheme from Aeromaster's sheet 48-371 LightningsPart III; Late Colors. The LTF Lion on the fin is printed in several sectionsto prevent mis-register problems and while a bit time consuming (as I leteach part dry a full day), the results are superb. As with many decal sheets,all the common markings come from the kit decals. And here is whereI had some momentary panic. I chose a three-grey paint scheme and thekit decals are for bare metal Lightnings! That meant all their markingsare in black where the grey Lightnings had white markings! Fortunately,I also have the F.6 kit so robbed the white markings from that kit. Not allthe F.6 markings are for the F.3 so with both instruction sheets sided byside, I was able to piece together which ones I needed. WHEW!! Looking atthis in hindsight, Aeromaster should have realized this problem and providedwhite markings; even if it meant an additional sheet and a price increase.A note on the kit decals. The ones for the F.3 are quite good, whereas theF.6 sheet is not very crisply done. Most of the white markings are blurredand illegible, while the black ones for the F.3 are easy to read. All thedecals responded very well to Champ decal setting solution.
After decaling, it is time to add the other parts. The interior hadthe clear bit added on the sight and then the windscreen was painted MediumSea Grey and attached to the fuselage with epoxy. The canopy sectionwas painted flat black, the decals added and then set aside for final assembly. Next the radome was painted green using Aeromaster Mitsubishi Interior Green and attached to the nose. Bare Metal foil was then applied tothe intake ring, various antennas were added and painted, and the refueling probe was painted Light Aircraft Grey and attached to the underside of thewing; epoxy used for all these bits as normal glues and superglue reallyattack the Xtracolor paint!
Final assembly consisted of the Red Top missiles (also painted MitsubishiInterior Green) and the nose probe. The kit was then sprayed with clearmatte and when dry the bang seat, canopy and canopy strut were added. Iused alcohol to remove the acrylic matte from the nose ring , removed themasking from the windscreen and then used pastels to dirty the aircraft upa bit.
Final result is well worth the efforts put into it. Highly recommendedfor all but the neophyte due to the number of small parts and the plethoraof decals.
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