Meng 1/72 F-102A (Case XX)

KIT #: ?
PRICE: 100 yuan RMB (about $15) $40 retail in US
DECALS: Three options


It’s hard, in an era when the F-22 and B-2 are already well into their service lives, to think of a plane like the Delta Dagger as “modern”. But in its day, and despite its flaws, it was a remarkably modern project, a very ambitious effort that was probably beyond the analogue capabilities of its time. It was more than just America’s first supersonic all weather interceptor. It was the first really decent try at a sophisticated supersonic interceptor solution, with integrated ground control and automatic vectoring combined with a (then) powerful radar attack system and proper guided weapons.
Most modelers tend to focus on the exterior of planes, and in this case the wings (not unlike Sabres, there’s wings and there’s wings). The first lot of F-102s produced had upward turning wingtips; the second lot had downward turning wingtips. For whatever reason these were called “Case X” for the upward tips and “Case XX” for the downward. (Editor's note: These later wings were not retrofitted to earlier planes and most units had a mixture of the two.)Before I knew much about the F-102 I knew about the wings from modelers' comments. But the reason I find this plane interesting is its MG-10 fire control system (an upgrade from the original MG-2).
If you look at the video clip linked from youtube in the references section below, you get a fascinating insight into how it works. Persevere with the animation at the beginning because later it has real cockpit footage showing the way the radar scope displayed information to the pilot, and showing some of the switches and knobs he had to operate to fly a semi-automated intercept. While hardly a video game style interface – it looks more like a tweaked-up Pong screen – it must have been pretty advanced in the 1950s when as a general rule people still looked forward to the day when a computer could fit on a single table. Imagine having it in a plane flying Mach 1.2 at 56,000 feet before humans had even launched a satellite.
Yes, it didn’t always work that well, and yes the plane itself left a lot to be desired (it couldn’t even go supersonic in its prototype state until the fuselage was redesigned, and didn't really come into its own until redesigned as the F-106). Yes, those Falcon missiles were, shall we say, primitive.
But it had many of the elements of the most modern fighters – an integrated attack system that worked with data from outside sources, and even an internal weapons bay with fold-out launchers just like the F-22. For the 102, that was mainly to ensure the fuselage was clean enough to go supersonic, rather than for stealth like on the F-22. But despite being a half century apart, are they really so conceptually different? It came into service just 15 years after the Mustang, yet it is closer in DNA to the jets of today. And a thousand of them were built. 
This particular boxing of the Meng F-102 is the downturned “Case XX” wing variant. If you wanted, you could make a Turkish or Greek aircraft from this kit, assuming you had the decals. They flew these planes for a while in the 1970s (and that eternal source of accurate, unquestionable, objective fact, the internet, claims in some corners that the two air forces’ 102s dog-fought each other. I’ll leave it to the pimply, hormonal Turkish and Greek teenage boyz to fight that out in a youtube comments thread and tell us whose air force is best and whose dad could beat whose dad in a fight, bring it on man, f- yeah). The kit offers three American aircraft, just as the Case X boxing did. In this case, a SEA camo version used in Vietnam and two Air Defence Command grey ones, the first from California and the other from Minnesota. Typical of the F-102 they have nice colourful tails. Meng also did a boxing with one set of markings for the plane flown by former US President George W Bush, as he completed his ANG duties stateside during the Vietnam War.
Fundekals has quite a range of F-102 decals which you can peruse at their website, as does Draw Decals, and presumably others too, but to be honest unless you’re really into 102s or you want to make a specific unit’s plane, the kit decals are a nice set of colourful alternatives from which most people will be able to see something they like.

Meng is pronounced "mung", by the way. It does not sound like the English word "men" with a "g" on the end.
The earlier boxing was previewed right here on MM. The only apparent difference with this boxing is the different wingtips. Otherwise it has the same lovely moulding, with fairly subtle engraved lines, and beautifully clear windows as the earlier release (really, these are phenomenally clear). You get six each of two kinds of Falcon missiles (ie 12 in total) – heatseekers and radar homing. There are a pair of underwing fuel tanks. The cockpit is pretty simple, but typical of what you can normally expect in a modern 1/72 kit – three piece ejection seat, control stick, instrument panel and a tub to put it all in, which (like the panel) has surface detail on the side panels. Everything is crisply moulded. You can pose the weapons bay open or closed, you can have missile launch rails in or out, and you can do the tail-end air brakes open or shut. As noted above you get three decal options: a SEA camo version from the 509th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flown out of Thailand in the Vietnam War (1969), and two ADC grey planes from US-based units. The Californian one (196th FIS) has a great tail with a blue and white star design (built here) and the Minnesota one (179th FIS) has the bright orange-red tail and wing tips.
Please have a look at the preview of the Case X boxing for more detail on what’s in the box.
With this kit, construction starts with admiring the beautiful parts. This is certainly an upgrade in quality from some of the stuff I've been building lately! But once you're over that, the cockpit makes sense as a beginning. While doing that - a simple seat-in-tub and panel plus decal operation - I also cut off the missiles and painted them up.  These are a little tricky to get off the sprues actually so rather than cut off all 12 I just got six - three of each kind. I think a typically loadout was a mix of heatseeker and radar homing missiles anyway.
Getting the whole fuselage together is not quite as straightforward as you'd think on first look. You need to add some noseweight, which I did in the main part of the nose forward of the cockpit. There is stacks of room. The intakes have no interior blanking so you need to make some, because otherwise you can see all the way back inside the plane. There is a joinline on the top of the intakes after you assemble it, but luckily the paint scheme has black on one side, grey on the other, so you can disguise the join somewhat because it is also the demarcation line between the two colours.
You also need to assemble the tailpipe (insert the little ring piece before you put it together. Before!). Remember to install the completed tailpipe component, along with the cockpit and nosewheel bay, before you seal up the fuselage. You must then put in the main wheel bay before assembling the wings (with missile bay attached, but you can leave the launchers and missiles to the end) and installing them last of all. Put glue on the inside of the wing where it joins the fuselage, rather than just on the fuselage where it joins the wing piece (they are two different areas). If you don't you'll struggle, as I did, to get a good join between the fuselage and the top of each wing. You need to slide the wings in from behind so that the missile bay can slot into place correctly. After that stick on the nose cone and you are already looking at an F-102. The fit was very good, though not totally perfect. I needed to use a little filler on the wing join, partly my fault for messing up the construction there in the first place but also partly because of the gap that would have been there anyway. As noted, there is also a bit to do around the intakes.
Next job, sadly, was to sand away the mess I made on the wing join. That took a little while, as well as a bit of light sanding on some of the other seams, but eventually the plane was ready for paint. See below for that.
After I'd done the painting, and the decals, there were still a lot of details to add. These include the pitot tube, the tail hook, the undercarriage and its doors, and of course the complex weapons bay. The doors have additional clear parts to represent the landing lights, so I painted the sides and back of those silver first, and then one of the interior greens, to make sure that when you looked at it from front on, it looked like a spotlight (ie you can see the underlying coat of silver through the lens). I snapped one of the little arms that connect the main gear legs to the main gear doors. The weapons bay instructions aren't super clear so I had to look at online pictures to understand how the bay doors should appear. One tip is to note that they had tubes for unguided rockets in them, so make sure you point those tubes toward the front of the plane, when you're attaching the bay doors. The missiles attach cleanly to their launchers and you can, as I did, build one or more of the missile launcher rails in the deployed position. I freehanded the red stripes on the pitot and the black ones on the tail hook, as well as the yellow line around the windows.
Air Defence Grey, FS16473. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially if you only have access to Tamiya and Mr Color paints. I did some research and tried to work out what the nearest equivalent was. The task isn't helped by the fact that, as always, historical photos all look slightly different. To my eye the plane could be almost a blue grey or almost a pale, gull grey. In the end I decided on Mr Color 73. It matches at least some photos, including of others' models here on MM, and people "out there" on the internet suggested it too. The instructions, by the way, don't help much. They just tell you to use an 80:20 mix of white and black.
Unfortunately I don't have an airbrush and I'm not getting one any time soon. My domestic circumstances simply don't permit it. I couldn't find a suitable spray can so for this plane it was back to childhood and brush painting. Two coats later I had a paint job that looks great from a distance of a foot but close up revealed lots of brush marks. Another coat after a bit of sanding and a thinner spread made it look a bit better, but to be honest it is not my best work with a paint brush. But hey, we aren't all artisans. Some of us - most of us - are just hobbyists who enjoy building planes. And one of the reasons I only post my work to MM is because I like the way this site embraces modellers of the full range of ability. Even if you don't have an airbrush, you can enjoy this kit. Don't be scared off!
So, moving on! The insides are in two different shades of interior colour - wheel bays are in the brighter yellow one and the missile bay in a kind of green. For that I improvised as well. Mr Color 27 is the yellow and Tamiya XF-21 the "cockpit green". That's a pretty good match for the missile bay, at least, as you'll see from the picture link in references below.
The decals are nice but go easy on the Mr Mark Softer if you use that. One brushing is enough - I overcooked it on the underside decals and, sadly, on the left side tail markings with those cool stars (I touched up the damage with paint). 
The canopy attaches fairly neatly but it is tricky to paint that fairly prominent yellow line around the side windows. There's no decal for that.


I was never that into the F-102 but Meng's release piqued my interest. I saw this at a good price and bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did because it was an interesting and enjoyable build and all boxings come with nice colourful markings options. Recommended!
Missile bay picture:
MG-10 Fire control system video:

Richard F

Thanks t

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