|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Hawker Hunter is a transonic British jet-powered fighter aircraft that was developed by Hawker Aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was designed to take advantage of the newly developed Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engine and the swept wing, and was the first jet-powered aircraft produced by Hawker to be procured by the RAF. On 7 September 1953, the modified first prototype broke the world air speed record for aircraft, achieving a speed of 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h; 632.29 kn).
The single-seat Hunter was introduced to service in 1954 as a manoeuvrable day interceptor aircraft, quickly succeeding first-generation jet fighters in RAF service such as the Gloster Meteor and the de Havilland Venom. The all-weather/night fighter role was filled by the Gloster Javelin. Successively improved variants of the type were produced, adopting increasingly more capable engine models and expanding its fuel capacity amongst other modifications being implemented. Hunters were also used by two RAF display teams: the "Black Arrows", who on one occasion looped a record-breaking 22 Hunters in formation, and later the "Blue Diamonds", who flew 16 aircraft. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with a total of 21 overseas air forces.
During the 1960s, following the introduction of the supersonic English Electric Lightning in the interceptor role, the Hunter transitioned to being operated as a fighter-bomber and for aerial reconnaissance missions, using dedicated variants for these purposes. Two-seat variants remained in use for training and secondary roles with the RAF and the Royal Navy until the early 1990s. Sixty years after its original introduction it was still in active service, being operated by the Lebanese Air Force until 2014.
The Hunter saw combat service in a range of conflicts with several operators, including the Suez Crisis, the Aden Emergency, the Sino-Indian War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Rhodesian Bush War, the Second Congo War, the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. Overall, 1,972 Hunters were manufactured by Hawker Aircraft and its successor, Hawker Siddeley, as well as being produced under licence overseas. In British service, the Hunter was replaced in its principal roles by the Lightning, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
As a point of interest, all Hunter FGA.9s were rebuilds of earlier F.6 airframes.
Previous kits in this scale by Frog, Matchbox and Airfix were fine for their times, but had been overtaken by technology. Today's modelers really want more detail and fidelity to form than what we wanted in the past. All the previous kits were deficient in some way or another in the fidelity to form part of things and this one seems to have corrected all of those. The earlier release of the Mk.6 sold very well indeed, so it was not surprising that a year or so later, the FGA.9 was released. After a very long absence, this variant is now back on the market.
You get pretty much the same kit as the F.6, which was released in 2005, however, there is are additional parts compared to the F.6 and some that were included in the initial boxing of the FGA.9 that are not in this kit. One thing the F.6 kit had that this does not are Sidewinders and their rails. I guess the RAF FGA.9s did not have this system installed. Everything else is about the same.
Some parts have flash, but not as bad as the initial boxing. There are no sink areas and no issues with ejector pin marks. The kit is quite modular with separate exhaust and outer forward wings to handle the FGA.9 bits. The nose and gun area are also modular as if they were thinking of the recon version, though one has not been released. On the outer upper wings are some antennas with questions beside them. I guess you will need to find a photo to see if these were used or not.
Cockpit is fairly well done and decals are supplied for instruments. Canopy can be posed open or closed, same with the speed brake and the flaps. Thanks to this variant's ability to carry larger fuel tanks, the builder will need to cut sections from them for clearance. For things under wings you have 230 gallon tanks inboard and outboard either 100 gallon tanks or rocket pods. Landing gear is well done and you can build this gear up though a stand will need to be obtained from some other source.
Instructions are well done and provide only Revell paint references. One option is as shown on the box art in green and dark grey with light grey undersides. This light grey will need to be mixed if using Revell paints. The plane is from 54 squadron in 1968. The other is from 1963 and 8 Squadron. This has a silver underside as that was standard for years so be sure to check your references regarding underside colors. Decals are typical of Revell and are fairly matte. Revell also did not bother cutting the underwing serials for the gear down option so that will be a pain to get right. They also supply all the stencils you will need. If you don't like the options, you can use one of the myriad aftermarket sheets to take care of this.
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