Trumpeter 1/72 Chinese J-20 Mighty Dragon
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
In late 1990s, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force launched the stealth fighter program, Western intelligence applied the codename J-XX. The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group was selected to be the main contractor for the development. In 2009, the China Air Force commander confirmed that the development of the stealth fighter prototype that designated J-20 was ongoing. No any imagery's of the J-20 prototype came out until it underwent high speed taxing tests in late 2010, considering that the program was kept in high secrecy. The J-20 made its first flight on 11 January 2011. The PLA have not disclosed the engine type. There are claims that the Russians supplied super-cruise capable 117S series engines. As the engine nozzles were clearly non-stealthy, this may be due to the fact that the final "fifth generation" engines had not been completed. The J-20 is expected to use a AESA radar, which should have Low Probability of Intercept modes. The U.S. Department of Defense expects China to have the production fighters in service between 2020 and 2025.
This all reminds me of the 1970s when model companies were all rushing to get out a kit of the latest and greatest, whether it be an F-18, F-15 or a MiG-25. Suddenly, seemingly within weeks of the announcement of the existence of this aircraft, we have companies working on models. The first was Anigrand with its nice 1/72 resin kit followed not that long after by Dragon's 1/144 version. Now Trumpeter enters into the fray with their 1/72 injected kit.
Molded in black, white and grey plastic, the detailing is very good and this one seems to have had a bit more time for development from the others. I am not at all sure about the accuracy of the cockpit, but suffice it to say that this kit has a nice tub into which fits a proper sized bang seat that has photo etched belts. I found it interesting that you are provided two identical sprues that contain the cockpit and other bits; one in black and one in dark grey. Though you have raised detail on the instruments, you have the option of putting on decals as well. All of the landing gear and wheel well parts are made in white plastic, undoubtedly to help with painting as black can be difficult to paint white, especially if one does not use a primer.
The lower nose section is a separate piece into which the six piece nose gear well fits. The main gear well is also in white plastic and comprises eight pieces. This has the long intakes attached to it and fits into the lower fuselage. The kit also sports a parabrake door which can be molded open and shows the parabrake tube housing. The landing gear doors all have actuators, something missing from the other kits. This kit's canopy can be posed open if one wishes. The glass and frame are separate, something I'm not particularly fond of as it makes it impossible to really hide the seam.
Instructions are well done and I found it interesting that the decal sheet includes decals for the outside of the burner cans, outside of the gear doors and the inside of the upper main gear bay. It is almost as if Trumpeter had designed this kit so that no paint would be needed. A nice option for the youngsters, but most of us will be filling seams so will be painting anyway. Markings are for the lone prototype.
It seems this one is the best of the lot so far. It will make into a very large model, even in 1/72 scale so leave room for it on the shelf. It will be interesting to see if Trumpeter decides to make this really big and go for 1/48.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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