|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Full weapons suite|
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" is a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also fills the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s and first entering service in 1967, the United States Air Force (USAF) variants were officially retired by 1998. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is the sole remaining operator of the F-111.
The F-111 pioneered several technologies for production military aircraft including variable-sweep wings, afterburning turbofan engines, and automated terrain following radar for low-level, high-speed flight. Its design was influential, being reflected in later Soviet aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-24, and some of its advanced features have since become commonplace. During its inception, however, the F-111 suffered a variety of development problems, and several of its intended roles, such as naval interception, failed to materialize.
In USAF service the F-111 has been effectively replaced by the F-15E Strike Eagle for medium-range precision strike missions, while the supersonic bomber role has been assumed by the B-1B Lancer. In 2007, the RAAF decided to replace its 21 F-111s in 2010 with 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets.
This new release by Hobby Boss should be well received by those who are looking for a better 1/48 F-111. Having produced the A model, it is now time to move on to the more frequently seen D and E versions. The look of the kit reminds me quite a bit of the Hasegawa 1/72 F-111 series, but there are probably only so many ways to mold a kit like this. Like the Hasegawa kit, it is designed to be built with the wings fully forward, so you need to keep that in mind when it comes to shelf space. I didn't see any swept back option.
Once one is able to get the box open, a virtual plethora of sprues awaits one's eyes. This is not a bare bones kit by any means and among its features are complete engines, a separate escape pod, a full radar set, deployed flaps and slats for the wings, and the ability to show the canopy sections open or closed. The kit also includes rubber tires and removable panels on the nose section to show off the equipment bay. A most complete set of weapons and stores are also provided that include BRU's, JDAMs, various laser guided bombs like the GBU-10/24/28, Harpoon missiles, GBU-15s, Mk 82 slick 500 lb bombs, AGM-142, a pair of jamming pods, AIM-9B Sidewinders and a guidance pod. The bomb racks include separate hold downs. A nice touch is that the upper and lower fuselage halves, clear bits and rubber bits are all contained within a separate box to keep them from damage. You'll also find the proper VAQ-26 targeting pod for the weapons bay or you can install the standard bay doors. There are also two large fuel tanks, something frequently seen being carried by the 111.
Instructions are typical of Hobby Boss in that all twelve construction steps are well drawn. They also cover both sides of two large folded sheets. A load out diagram is also included, something that is quite helpful in determining what goes where. Markings are provided for two aircraft. One is 68-0055, and F-111E of the 55 TFS and wearing the 55th AMU tail markings. It has 'Heart Breaker' nose art. The other is 68-0049 a specially painted plane with large tiger stripes on the fin and a tiger's head nose art. The decals are very nicely done and include all the various data markings needed. A separate sheet contains markings for the pods and weapons. Even though the instrument panel and consoles are nicely detailed, you are given a decal to add to things. A full color painting and markings instruction sheet is provided and the decals are very nicely printed. I've had good luck with Hobby Boss decals so they should prove no issue.
TI have heard only good things about the F-111A kit so this one should be just as nice a build. For sure you will have enough options and enough detailing to keep just about any modeler happy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-111Thanks to Squadron Products for the review kit. You can find Hobby Boss kits at your favorite hobby shop
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