|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||A real beauty|
The Hunter was originally designed as a standard fighter jet, whose goal was to go and shoot down enemy aircraft. However, during the time it was in service, it moved into being a ground attack aircraft (the 'GA' in the designation), and was often used as a recce aircraft as well with the addition of a camera nose.
The FGA.9 was the last of the Hunter series, and it included the ability to carry a variety of weapons as well as having a braking parachute added just above the jet exhaust. This is the basic airframe feature that one looks for when looking at Hunters. Many FGA.9s were rebuilt from previous airframes, the F.6 version being the more often airframes that were modified as the engines in the two were basically identical.
For a look at what comes in the box, please visit the preview. I'll add that since that kit was purchased a few years back, the MSRP has more than doubled to over $10 in the US. While not exactly the great deal it once was, it is still one of the finest small scale military jet kits out on the market. The level of detail is outstanding in a kit of this size and is most complete.
Even though this is 1/144, it doesn't mean that it is a quick build. Though small, it has quite a few parts to it and construction needs to be done in a logical manner. I first painted the cockpit tub and seat with flat black. No instrument decals are provided and the panels are decidedly simplified, but they are effective. There is also a control stick which, because of all that black, will disappear once things are together.
In common with the Hunters of other scales, this one has a separate nose and lower gun section. I glued the fuselage halves together and then installed the gun section. At this time, I stuffed as much weight into it as I could as I didn't want to have a tail sitter. Then the nose was glued on.
Moving to the wings, these were assembled with no real problem, but there is a large seam on the underside that overpowers the panel lines. This was made less prominent by use of filler. The wings simply fit into slots in the side of the fuselage. Unlike the larger Hunters, there is no additional intake detail such as ramps and fences. I found the fit to be quite good, though one of the seams was a little large and required a small application of filler. I also used a bit of filler on some of the nose sections. Rescribing the lost detail was quite easy.
The tail planes were glued in place and then I turned the kit over and worked on the underside. Since the entire lower surface will be aluminum (including the wheel wells), I glued on the four nicely done wing pylons. Then the nose gear and main gear were attached. The main gear rake forward, which somewhat surprised me as I thought they be straight. I also attached the small inner gear doors at this time. Back on the top, the canopy was masked with Bare Metal Foil. This was done as it is quite small and seeing the frame lines is near impossible. The foil can be pressed down to find these lines. The back of the canopy on the Hunter is clear plexiglas with no framework, so don't be fooled. I had to sand down the top of the seat in order to get the canopy to fit as the clear is rather thick.
I assembled the drop tanks (the kit provides two of the larger tanks) and the rocket pods. I also glued on the wing pylons and gear struts as they were to be painted the same color. I was glad to see that it sat on its nose gear, so the weight must have been enough. Then the kit was taken to the paint shop for the first paint application.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
First color was Alclad II Aluminum. I sprayed this right on to the bare plastic. Also painted the wheels, gear doors and struts. It did show up some scratches that I'd not completely polished out and some seam work that could have been done again, but I left it as was. When dry, I masked off the underside and then sprayed on some Dark Sea Grey from the Testors Enamel line. This had been lightened somewhat as the color quickly faded.
Now for a rather big decision. Should I mask or hand paint the Dark Green? I tested two edges with the dark green and found that it reacted with the Dark Sea Grey under it, providing some streaks. At this juncture, I decided it needed a gloss coat over it to seal in the Dark Sea Grey. Once that was done, I returned to the work bench to continue with the brush painting. I'd thinned the Dark Green in hopes of it being easier to apply. I also used a relatively wide, flat brush. In the dimness of the past, I'd forgotten that Dark Green can be a real $*%! to apply, regardless of the method. The results were not very much to my liking and so I cursed to myself and swore that next time, I'd do all that masking instead.
That done, the kit was again sprayed with clear gloss in preparation for the decals. I chose the Swiss ones as it had that neat white area on the upper rear fuselage. This is supplied as a decals though some may want to paint it. The decal for this worked quite well, though it did fold somewhat on the top. I used Solvaset setting solution on all the decals as they are not the really great ones now being used but ones a bit inferior from earlier on. The decal suite is really quite extensive, though I did leave off some of the smaller ones.
With the decals nice and dry, I started putting on all the rest of the bits. This is mainly gear bits and things under wings. First the main wheels were glued in place after being painted. I recommend that you glue these on before gluing on the main struts as my struts were not on perfectly aligned fore and aft. The wheels will help in that regard. Then the gear doors were cut and glued on. These were rather difficult due to their size, especially the aft nose gear door which has no tab and is basically butt joined to the fuselage. I also think that the shape of the lower main gear door is not correct. Of course these items are way over scale in thickness and some of you may want to consider replacing them with plastic card.
I next glued on the pitot tube, which is also way over scale and is a butt join on the leading edge of a very thin wing. Tanks fit in place rather well as did the rocket pods, but the quarters are tight and I blew off the tank braces after several fumbling attempts to get them attached. Final bit was the installation of the exhaust and that was easily accomplished. It looks too thick and replacing it with thin wall tubing would be a smart thing to do.
The last steps involved correcting the myriad of paint glitches, spraying it with a clear matte, and removing the foil from the canopy. This wasn't as horrible as past experiences with BMF, but even this allowed paint to seep under in a few places and was less than easy to remove from the windscreen part.
That was it.
Even though I started this at the exact same time as the Revell AG 1/72 Hunter F.6, this one took two weeks longer to finish. One reason was that I constantly had to reattach small bits, having knocked them off during the final stages of construction. The other was that it was taken off the fast lane while I worked on a few other projects. I should also add that I find it sits a bit tail high. You can cut the main gear a bit to level things out, but then you'll have to trim the gear doors. Doesn't seem to be a way to lengthen the nose gear without grafting something onto it.
Small does not equate to simple or to a fast build, as those who will tackle this kit will find. As such, I can hardly recommend it to beginners unless they are going to build it gear up and not put on all the fiddly bits. Though no longer under $5, it is still a fair value for the money. It is pretty accurate, and unlike some 1/144 kits, does look exactly like what it is supposed to be.
Review kit thanks to me.
#1375 in a series
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