Kitty Hawk 1/48 F-35C Lighting II

KIT #: KH80132
PRICE: @$70.00 SRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: This is the naval version


Compared to the F-35A, the F-35C carrier variant features larger wings with foldable wingtip sections, larger wing and tail control surfaces for improved low-speed control, stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier arrested landings, a twin-wheel nose gear, and a stronger tailhook for use with carrier arrestor cables. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed while increasing both range and payload.

The United States Navy intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets and complement the Super Hornet fleet. On 27 June 2007, the F-35C completed its Air System Critical Design Review (CDR), allowing the production of the first two functional prototypes. The C variant was expected to be available beginning in 2014. The first F-35C was rolled out on 29 July 2009. The United States Marine Corps will also purchase 80 F-35Cs, enough for five squadrons, for use with navy carrier air wings in a joint service agreement signed on 14 March 2011.

On 22 June 2013, Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-101 received the Navy's first F-35C at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The USN is dealing with the following issues in adapting their carriers to operate the F-35C.


This is Kitty Hawk's third F-35 kit having previously done an F-35A and F-35B. Now we get the version many have awaited, the Navy's F-35C. If one has seen the other kits then you know what to expect in this one. This is typical of other Kitty Hawk releases in that there are a lot of parts in the kit. This one is molded in a lighter grey plastic than the others I have seen and built. The surface detail is superb and very much up to modern standards with the usual nicely engraved panel lines and rivet detail on the flight surfaces.

There are also quite a large number of raised areas all over the fuselage. Apparently these are to be a guide for painting as this aircraft is not an overall solid color. Also present are the now common ejector towers on many of the larger and thicker parts. The sprue gates are also still rather large and quite close to the part, making clean removal a bit of a challenge in some cases. But if you've built a Kitty Hawk kit, you know this. I should also mention I had some broken parts, including the upper fuselage next to what would be an air refueling door on the USAF version, but is filled with a blanking plate on this kit. None will be difficult to repair, but I wish they weren't broken in the first place.

The kit comes with a nice photo etch fret that is used in various places around the airframe, including things like a burner ring for the exhaust, seat harness and a bunch of little bits for the inside of the canopy frame. If building the kit with the canopy lowered, you can probably eliminate a good third of the p.e. parts count.

There is a full engine shape and you have full intake trunking as well. This will add weight to the back of the kit so you'll probably need to compensate with weight in the nose. There is a good deal of room for that if needed. Wing tips are designed to be built either raised or lowered. Like with the Cougar, it appears that the wings lowered option is a butt join. The doors to the lower weapons bay are separate and no 'closed' option seems to be offered. There are three pylons on each wing, which I would think might sort of reduce the stealthiest of the aircraft.

Fortunately, Kitty Hawk provides a full sprue of weapons including a pair of AIM-120s, a pair of AIM-9X, GBU-38s, GBU-31 and 31B as well as GBU-12s. That should be enough to fill all those pylons and the bays.

Instructions are very well done and Kitty Hawk's usual book style. There are markings for four aircraft, all in rather complex base painting schemes. There are three test aircraft of which CF-01 is offered in the roll out sceme of mostly primer and also in the Photo Op scheme with lots of flags and the big yellow and blue lightning bolts on the fin. CF-03 is in a standard, though rather featureless scheme, and then there is the box art plane, which is production aircraft #1 with the markings of VFA-101, which is apparently going to be the RAG outfit and based at Eglin AFB along with the Air Force's F-35A. This plane has full color insignia and other markings. The two decal sheets are nicely printed and offer all the data markings as well as ordnance markings. There are no ready mix paints for these planes so all your external camo paints will need to be mixed. A formula is provided.


If you have been waiting for a 1/48 F-35C, your wait is now over. Kitty Hawk has done a lot of research into these planes and while I'm sure others will eventually hop on the bandwagon, this one is here first and with a bit of careful building and patience, will make into a very nice model.


August 2014

Thanks to Glen Coleman and Kitty Hawk Models for the review kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer in the very near future.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contactthe editor or see other details in the Note toContributors.

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