Wingman Models 1/48 Alpha Jet A (Portuguese)

KIT #: 48006
PRICE: 65.00
DECALS: Four main and multiple other options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch and resin parts. Limited to 750 kits.

HISTORY

The Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet is a light attack jet and advanced trainer aircraft co-manufactured by Dornier of Germany and Dassault-Breguet of France. Adopted by many air forces worldwide, the Alpha Jet continues to be widely used even after its useful service life was over in France and Germany, its primary operators.

The Luftwaffe decided to use the Alpha Jet mainly in the light strike role, preferring to continue flight training in the southwestern United States on American trainer types instead of performing training in Germany, although Germany also used Alpha Jets based at Beja, Portugal for weapons training. The first production German Alpha Jet performed its maiden flight on 12 April 1978, with deliveries beginning in March 1979. It was designated the Alpha Jet A (the "A" standing for Appui Tactique or "Tactical Strike") or Alpha Jet Close Support variant. The Luftwaffe obtained 175 machines up to 1983, with the type replacing the Fiat G91R/3. Manufacture of Alpha Jet sub-assemblies was divided between France and Germany, with plants in each country performing final assembly and checkout. The four prototypes remained in service as testbeds, for example evaluating a composite graphite-epoxy wing and improved Larzac engine variants.

The different avionics fit makes French and German Alpha Jets easy to tell apart, with French planes featuring a rounded-off nose and German ones featuring a sharp, pointed nose. Once phased out by the Luftwaffe, the Alpha Jet A was used by Portugal, Thailand, the UK and Canadian operators.

THE KIT

It was great to see this kit arrive in the post the other day. I'm a real fan of trainers, which probably puts me in a bit of a minority, and one thing that jet trainer fans have been awaiting is a decent Alpha Jet. The only other time this aircraft was kitted in this scale was with ESCI some 30 or so years back. It wasn't a bad kit, just an example of its times and not all that detailed.

Wingman is a compilation of AirDoc and IsraDecal/Isracast and with this kit, they have used, I believe, the Kinetic kit as their basis. Feel free to correct me if this is not true. To the kit they have added a superb selection of resin parts, a bit of photo etch, and one of the most comprehensive decal sheets I have seen. In addition, you get a set of Master brass pitot and AOA bits and a set of canopy and wheel masks. This means that there is nothing left to buy as you get all the goodies in one box.

Thanks to what is basically an all resin cockpit, you get all the detail you will need. The resin seats are also superbly done and include belt detail. A bit of modification is required to get all the pieces to fit, but this is actually quite minor. The intakes include full trunking back to the first stage compressor faces and the exhaust is also quite nicely done.

Landing gear is properly complex as it should be for the Alpha Jet and there is nice detail in the whells. The kit can be built with the speed brakes deployed as well as the flaps, though in practice these were usually raised. The separate canopy pieces can be posed open and canopy struts are included for the latter stage.

It is difficult to design a kit with two engines in the layout of the Alpha Jet, A-6 and others without having a separate lower fuselage section. To attach the gun pod, holes need to be opened in this piece. Wings include the two weapons pylons under each side and to fit on them, fuel tanks are included. Aftermarket bombs and rocket pods are also around if you wish to go that route. Included on the photo etch fret are various antennas and the kit instructions provide information on where these are to be attached.

The instructions are first rate as is the painting guide. Not only does Wingman includes several pages of detail photos of the real plane, but the markings guide is a booklet in and of itself. There are two major special schemes, two minor ones and enough serials to do any Portuguese Alpha Jet. The the major special schemes are the 50th Anniversary plane shown on the box art, and any of the Asas do Portugal aerobatic team markings. These two schemes come with a full set of masks so that you will be able to properly paint the aircraft. Full color instructions are provided showing all angles of the aircraft so you can get these right. The other two minor schemes are a small tail marking for 20,000 hours and a much larger one for 50,000 hours. Again, photos are provided as well as a four view camo application scheme. The markings are in three smaller strip sheets, one for each of the major markings options plus one for the smaller options and standard markings. The decals are superbly done and will result in an outstanding model.

CONCLUSIONS

I have to say that I'm quite impressed by this offering from Wingman Models. If you want to have all the best bits in one place, then this is a kit for you. This is especially true if you like fancy special schemes. For those who might want something a bit more unusual, here is a photo of some of the planes in their old German camouflage before they were repainted. The main plane shown is especially natty looking and perfect for those who like the 'Spanish school' of panel line accentuation. 

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Jet

January 2014 

Thanks to www.wingmanmodels.com for the preview kit.  Available from Squadron, Hannants, Lucky Model and Shop of Phantoms. 

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

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