Italeri 1/72 X-32 JSF






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Well, the services are at it again. Trying to develop oneaircraft that will meet the needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The lasttime that was attempted was with the F-111 aka TFX. We know what a mess thatwas. Interestingly, there has already been a successful JSF of sorts and thatwas the F-4 Phantom II. Though designed for the Navy, it was so superior toanything else around that it was eagerly put into use by the USAF, whoeventually purchased a lot more of them. So maybe they will get it right thistime and come up with a design that all will be pleased with. I wasrecently reminded that the A-7 Corsair II also fits into this category andperhaps more so as it was initially designed as a strike aircraft and not aninterceptor like the Phantom II.

The X-32 is only Boeing's entry into the competition, withLockheed offering its own aircraft, the X-35. These are being done as X planessince the two are only supposed to be technology demonstrators. However, it isfully understood that which ever one proves to be the best will be developedinto a full-scale production type aircraft. This contract will mean a lot to thewinning design as military contracts are few and far between in this post ColdWar environment. It also doesn't help that one plane costs more than a wing ofWWII fighters!

Anyway, the X-32 is built largely of composite materials andwill carry its ordnance within the fuselage as it the stealthy way to go. If theaircraft maintains its small size, it will be very maneuverable and make for adifficult target. It will be interesting to see how this plane will be able tocarry any really useful ordnance in the strike (what we used to callfighter-bomber) role if everything is carried internally. From what the modelshows, there are only four 'hardpoints' each capable of carrying but a singleweapon, and the kit only shows missiles. One other thing that I haven't touchedon is that this plane is 'butt ugly'. I know it is subjective but only from thetop does it have pleasing lines. Once you see that intake and rounded belly, allthe 'coolness' disappears! This, of course, is just my opinion and I willconfess to you that I felt the same way when I first saw the F-16 (yes, I amthat old!!)


Enough theorizing, what's in thebox. To say 'plastic' I don't think will suffice, so lets take a nice look atthe sprues. It is done it the usual Italeri way with light grey plastic whichhas finely etched panel lines where necessary. There is a nice, clear two piececanopy so you can pose it open should you wish. Optional feature is the choiceof having the right weapons bay open. In this bay you can stick two weapons.Your choice is a single AAMRAM and a single JDAM (which is a guided bomb of somesort), or two AAMRAMs. One of the AAMRAMs can be posed sticking out of theweapons bay on its launcher if so desired. The detailing on the weapons is fair.

Backwith the rest of the kit. Your cockpit is relatively basic with a tub (detailson the consoles and built in throttles), seat (rather plain with obligatory sinkmark in seat and head rest), control stick and instrument panel (again, fairdetailing). All perfectly adequate for 1/72 and leaves room for the aftermarketfolks. The kit has a two piece intake with the engine compressor face at therear of it. Taking care of the seams on the intake will be interesting to saythe least. There is also a nicely detailed exhaust on the kit, again, with anengine section in the back. 

The weapons bay is nicelydetailed with all sorts of pipes and tubing running around on it and the missilelaunch rails are convincing enough. Landing gear are sturdy and totally lackingany ejector pin marks (hooray!). That cannot be said for the gear doors whichhave them on the insides. They will be not be impossible to fill. Wheelsthemselves are two piece for the main gear and look a bit like those on an F-15.The wells are nicely detailed with rib and conduit detailing. Overall, the kitappears to be well engineered and flash free.

If you have built any Italeri kitsrecently, then you will recognize the logical construction sequence. All colorcallouts are in Testors Modelmaster and FS 595 colors where applicable. Thedecal sheet is really quite tiny, but adequate for the model. Being an X plane,there isn't much to it. There are two alternative paint schemes, one in overallwhite and the other in  overall FS36375, light ghost grey. Easy to paint,but not very inspiring.

Overall, it appears to be a very nicekit. If you are like me, then you have a fondness for the X planes and this onewill look great on your shelf of experimental types. Then there are those of youout there who cannot wait to do one up in what you think would be a neat paintscheme. If it had a tailhook, I'd be tempted to do it in an ex-A-6 unit'smarkings. On the other hand, it would look equally cool in white withinternational orange wing and tail tips with a nice ED on the tail!

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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