Hasegawa 1/72 Mitsubishi F-2B '4th Air Wing'
|PRICE:||$15.10 from GreatModels|
|DECALS:||Enough markings to do any 4 Air Wing aircraft.|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2002 limited edition boxing|
The F-2 is a fighter aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60/40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the USA. Production started in 1996 and the first aircraft entered service in 2000. By 2008, the first 76 aircraft are expected to be in service, with a total of 94 airframes under contract.
The F-2 program was controversial, because the unit cost (roughly 110 million US Dollars each in 2004 dollars), which includes development costs, is about four times that of a Block 50/52 F-16, which does not include development costs. Inclusion of development costs distorts the incremental unit cost (this happens with most modern military aircraft), though even at the planned procurement levels, the price per aircraft was somewhat high. The initial plan of 141 F-2s would have reduced the unit cost by up to 10 million dollars per unit, not including reduced cost from mass production. As of 2008, 94 aircraft were planned. Also controversial is the amount claimed to be paid to American side as various licensing fees, although making use of the pre-existing technology was much cheaper than trying to develop it from scratch. Much of the F-16 technology used in the F-2 was the subject of some political debate in the U.S. and Japan in the early 1990s. The technology transfers were authorized however, and the project proceeded.
This one is just like a myriad of Hasegawa jet kits in this scale. It looks so very much like their F-16 kit when you open the box that you wonder if you got the right kit! However all the sprues are marked F-2 so you can rest assured that nothing was gleaned from that earlier mold. The biggest difference between this and the F-16 kits is that the upper forward fuselage section is separate to accommodate the since and twin seat versions. Also very different from most modern jet kits from Hasegawa is that you get a full range of weapons, so no need to go out and buy a separate weapons set, though I understand that Hasegawa does have one for JASDF aircraft. While on the subject, the kit has two AAM-3 missiles and four ASM-2s as befits its anti-shipping role. The outer wing pylon is empty while the inner one and a center fuselage one have fuel tanks. Hasegawa has already opened the holes for all but the outer wing pylons so those wishing to model a clean plane will have to fill them.
The cockpit is up to standards with two generic looking bang seats and the use of decals for instrument panels and consoles. I'm not sure what seats this plane uses, but am betting on perhaps a NACES seat as in the F-16. Those wishing for a redesigned intake from the F-16 kit will be disappointed to notice that this one is pretty much the same. Windscreen and canopy are separate so that you can position the canopy open. An extension strut is provided for this latter position.
Markings are enough to do any plane for which you have a photo. Ready to go codes and serials are provided for four aircraft along with the usual myriad of data markings. These decals look like 'old school' so one needs to treat appropriately. The two main camouflage colors are Navy and Medium Blue. All the antennas and radome are in Dark Gull Grey. Painting some of these will require a steady hand.
This will be an interesting addition to any modern aircraft line-up and particularly popular with those who like F-16s and derivatives. I do wish, however, that Hasegawa would not package all the parts in one bag. I had quite a few pieces come adrift, including the canopy which is now soundly scratched. Actually, it would have been sanded anyway to remove the mold seam running down the center of it so I guess I shouldn't fuss too much.
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