Hasegawa 1/72 Mitsubishi F-2A/B

KIT #: 00545
PRICE: $28.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Base kit from 2003

HISTORY

The Mitsubishi F-2 is a multirole fighter manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) 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.  In FY2005, Ministry of Defense changed the category from Support Fighter to Fighter.

The F-2's maiden flight was on 7 October 1995. Later that year, the Japanese government approved an order for 141 (but that was soon cut to 130), to enter service by 1999; structural problems resulted in service entry being delayed until 2000. Because of issues with cost-efficiency, orders for the aircraft were curtailed to 98 in 2004.

On 31 October 2007, an F-2B crashed during takeoff and subsequently caught fire at Nagoya Airfield in central Japan. The jet was being taken up on a test flight by Mitsubishi employees, after major maintenance and before being delivered to the JSDF. Both test pilots survived the incident with only minor injuries. It was eventually determined that improper wiring caused the crash.

On 12 March 2011, 18 F-2s based at the Matsushima Airbase in Miyagi Prefecture were swamped by the tsunami caused by an 9.0 scale earthquake. Of these 18, 12 were deemed beyond repair and will be scrapped. The remaining 6 F-2s will be repaired at the estimated cost of 80 billion yen.

The last of 94 aircraft ordered under contract was delivered to the Defense Ministry on 27 September 2011. During the roll-out ceremony of the last production F-2 fighter jet, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed that production of the F-2 would end and no more F-2 fighters will be produced by the manufacturer.

THE KIT

It was no surprise when Hasegawa released this kit in 2003. They were smart enough to wait until the production aircraft had been finalized before cutting tooling, something they did not do with earlier prototype jets. It is surprising to many of us that there are not two separate boxings; one for the F-2A and the other for the F-2B. Either type can be built from this kit by using different upper nose sections and cockpits.

There are detail differences between and A and B model, but those are clearly shown in the instructions. If you have built a Hasegawa F-16 in this scale, then you will see a great deal of similarity. Parts are not interchangeable between the F-16 and F-2 as the latter is an overall larger airframe.

The cockpits are fairly well appointed, though are somewhat Spartan in terms of high detail. The bang seats are acceptable and there are decals for the instruments, something that is rather common in Hasegawa 1/72 kits. Both have canopy sections that can be posed open if one wishes. I should mention that though not shown in the parts layout, the clear sprues are well designed to keep the parts from being scratched. As you would expect, the kit comes with three fuel tanks. Probably because there is no weapons set for Japanese weapons, the AAM-3 and ASM-2 missiles are included in the kit. Those choosing not to install all the pylons will have to fill holes as all but the outboard pylon are pre-drilled. 

Instructions are typical Hasegawa with Gunze paint references. The differences between the F-2A and F-2B are clearly shown in terms of holes to open up for each version. The decal sheet is well printed and while there are officially markings for three planes, the sheet has spare serials so you can do any F-2 from 21 and 3 Squadron for which you have a photo. There are more units flying this plane than the two, but at the time the kit was produced, that was it. The dark blue disruptive scheme is quite striking and quite appropriate for an aircraft designed for maritime strike. Those not wanting to use the kit markings have a number of special scheme sheets on the market from which to choose.

CONCLUSIONS

Any modeler who likes to model modern jet aircraft will want to have one of these in their collections. It will definitely be different from the usual shades of grey.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_F-2

March 2012 

Thanks to me for picking this one up from the LHS.

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