Academy 1/72 F-117A Nighthawk

KIT #: 2107
PRICE: $12.99 on discount
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1991 tooling


The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a retired American single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft developed by Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). It was the first operational aircraft to be designed with stealth technology.

The F-117 was based on the Have Blue technology demonstrator. The Nighthawk's maiden flight took place in 1981 at Groom Lake, Nevada, and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in 1983. The aircraft was shrouded in secrecy until it was revealed to the public in 1988. Of the 64 F-117s built, 59 were production versions, with the other five being prototypes.

The F-117 was widely publicized for its role in the Gulf War of 1991. Although it was commonly referred to as the "Stealth Fighter", it was strictly an attack aircraft. F-117s took part in the conflict in Yugoslavia, where one was shot down by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) in 1999. The U.S. Air Force retired the F-117 in April 2008, primarily due to the fielding of the F-22 Raptor. Despite the type's official retirement, a portion of the fleet has been kept in airworthy condition, and Nighthawks have been observed flying since 2009.


Academy released this kit shortly after the end of Desert Storm (Gulf War I) in 1991. By then, the type had already been visible to the public at various air shows and was no longer the secret type that it had been in years previous. Academy was smart to delay tooling this kit as other model makers (such as Hasegawa) had gotten several shapes wrong based on the less than crystal clear in flight photos used for tooling.

The kit is not a difficult one at all. Academy provides the complete upper fuselage/wings as a single piece. Same goes for the lower fuselage/wings (neither of which are shown on the parts layout). One only needs to build up the cockpit, which uses decals for instruments) and install it along with the upper FLIR window. Then it can be glued to the lower fuselage once 20 grams of weight are installed in the nose. The gear wells and bomb bay are molded in with the lower fuselage. Along with this the canopy is installed along with the tailplanes

One then builds up the bomb bay with its cradles and chooses what weapons to install. At this time, the gear doors and bomb bay doors are also installed. This is followed by gluing together the flaps and ailerons. Then the landing gear and other doors are installed. The last steps are the attaching of the flaps and ailerons. The bomb bay doors can be modeled closed. The instructions don't show the canopy open, but it seems that could be done if one wishes.

Instructions are well drawn with generic color information. Basically, all you need is black and white paint along with dark grey for the cockpit. Markings are provided for two planes, both of when the aircraft were based at Tonopah. One is the 37 TFS boss bird, while the other is the 415 TFS boss bird. Decals are well done and I'm sure there are aftermarket if one wants to model the plane when based at Holloman with the 49th FW.


I built this kit when it was first released and recall it was a pretty simple and fairly quick build. Fit was good and the finished model looked quite nice. As with a lot of my older builds, it succumbed to a move so is no longer. 


May 2023

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