|PRICE:||$39.00 SRP $29.20 from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New Mold kit|
The last supersonic single seat fighter developed by the British and put into unit service was the BAC/E.E. Lightning. Though not built in large numbers, the type has etched itself into the consciousness of aviation fans all throughout the UK. A maintenance nightmare according to those who worked on it, the aircraft was, nevertheless, quite capable and extremely fast. In fact, its speed was a major plus for an interceptor in the UK when the warning time was minimal. It was also quite fuel thirsty and was often seen with its somewhat unique over-wing fuel tanks. This odd arrangement has been used on a few other aircraft for weapons, but to my knowledge, no other aircraft has routinely carried them in this fashion. Though the type was withdrawn from service in the late 1980s, several still operate in the UK doing fast taxy demonstrations and I believe at least one is airworthy in South Africa. The British aviation authorities will not allow private flying of the Lightning due to the ease at which the control surface hydraulic lines could easily be switched by accident and the lack of manual back-up. Then there is the problem with general maintenance, but the flight control deal that has kept them grounded.
The F.2A and F.6 are upgrades of the standard F.1A/F2 variant. The major differences are the enlarged belly tank that with the F.6 variant, includes the cannon armament, removing that from the nose where it was in earlier versions, and a larger, square-tipped fin. The F.2A still kept the upper nose guns and did not normally have them in the belly pack. Also added to this version were the ability to carry over-wing fuel tanks. These aircraft operated the Firestreak missiles, but could replace that option with additional guns in the forward tank section as was installed on the F.6, making it a four gun, no missile interceptor. The F.6 only had the guns in the forward tank and carried Red Top missiles. The F.2As basically served in RAF Germany with #19 and #92 squadrons.
To date, the Matchbox, and Hasegawa kits catered to the F.6 crowd in 1/72 scale along with the inevitable reboxing. Frog reboxed the Hasegawa kit for their line before going belly up in 1976. This is an all new tooling from Trumpeter I have to say that it looks like they did things right. Now Lightning advocates will undoubtedly be scrutinizing things for glitches (like perhaps the wrong external ducting length, but it looks fine to me.
The kit has a convincing tub with a fair bang seat. I know that Pavla make replacements for these if you want greater detail. The intake assembly reminds me much of the Airfix 1/48 kit and that is good. It means that one can wait until the end of assembly to install the nose cone so that one is sure of the ability to install nose weight. None is indicated in the instructions, but I'd rather have the option to install it. Other similarities to the Airfix 1/48 kit are the inserts for the gun muzzles or blanking plates, separate flaps as well as separate speed brakes and canopy sections.
The kit offers both Firestreak and Redtop missiles (the Firestreaks being molded in clear).Trumpeter's instructions also show the correct optional bits for the F.2A and F.6 aside from the missiles. As on every small scale Lightning kit I've built, the nose wheel and leg are a single construct. The main gear appear good and sturdy, but the Lightning is a 'spindly geared' aircraft. I did find that most of the inside of the gear doors and the speed brakes had ejector pin marks that you'll have to remove if you want this to be a contest plane. There is one new sprue included with this kit and that is shown to the left. It replaces the small 'fin sprue' shown in the main parts layout, otherwise both kits are the same.
Instructions are quite well done, but as I mentioned, they provide options without indicating which is for the F.2A and which for the F.6. As usual, a variety of paint references. There are markings for two aircraft supplied. The full color placement guide provides no unit or variant information at all. The box side does identify #19 Squadron for the Dark Green over aluminum F.2A and #23 Squadron for the unpainted F.6. There are tons of aftermarket decals for these aircraft, including some new ones from Model Alliance so you don't have to use the kit ones if you don't want to. Decals are well printed with complete data markings for one plane. The colors are actually more vibrant, but I didn't want to remove the protective covering from the front of them.
So there you have it. Not to sound trite, but this does make your other kits obsolete in terms of detailing and probably ease of assembly. If you still have your Hasegawa and Matchbox Lightning F.6 kits you can trade them in on this one.
My thanks to GreatModels and store credit for the preview kit. You can find this and other neat stuff at the hyperlink so visit them today.
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