|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The F-15I is operated by the Israeli Defence Force/Air Force No 69 Squadron, which had previously operated the F-4 Phantom II. After the Gulf War in 1991, in which Israeli towns were attacked by SCUD missiles based in Iraq, the Israeli government decided that it needed a long range strike aircraft and issued a Request for Information (RFI). In response, Lockheed Martin offered a version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, while McDonnell Douglas offered both the F/A-18 Hornet and the F-15E. On 27 January 1994, the Israeli government announced that the intention to purchase 21 modified F-15Es, designated F-15I. On 12 May 1994, the US Government authorized the purchase of up to 25 F-15Is by Israel. In November 1995, Israel ordered four extra F-15Is, thus 25 were built from 1996 to 1998.
The first F-15I combat mission was flown in Lebanon on 11 January 1999. The aircraft can carry: the AIM-9L, Rafael Python 4 and the Rafael Python 5 infrared-homing missiles; and the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missiles. The Python 4 can be launched at up to 90 degrees off boresight, with the pilot aiming using the helmet-mounted sight. In 1999, Israel announced its intention to procure more fighter aircraft, and the F-15I was a possible contender. However, it was announced that the contract would go to the F-16I.
With the release of this kit, GWH enters the Strike Eagle Market. There were some complaints about various shapes of their earlier F-15 kits, and apparently GWH has listened to that commentary and has made the appropriate adjustments. I'll leave it to the F-15 fanboys to determine if this is true, but it certainly looks impressive in the box. Of course, it is not the only Strike Eagle to be produced, the Revell kit holding the pinnacle in terms of accuracy, but they never produced the specific F-15I and that aircraft has a number differences that one can clearly see.
If you are familiar with any of the other GWH 1/48 kits, you know that they provide a great deal of detail. This kit is no exception. Let me start with the easy stuff. First off, when you finally get the box open (they have changed their box design as a sleeve with a tray inside it, much like the much despised Testors boxes of the 1980s), you will notice a new sprue that contains a two seat cockpit, new aft section behind the cockpit, the conformal tanks, bulged main gear doors, new wheels, a plethora of antennas and otherbits as well as a host of bomb racks. The weapons are also new to this one and there are a number of small sprues in their own bag. This includes GBU-12 laser guided bombs and well as GBU-31, GBU-38, AGM-142 and AGM-130 wepons. There is a small photo etch fret included. This fret contains two pieces to go to the rear of the engine, a pair of slime light panels for the rear fuselage, a pair of flare/chaff dispensers, some bits for the side of the intake and a gun sight. There is also an acetate sheet for the clear part of the sight.
As is the norm with Eagles, the front cockpit and nose section is separate from the rear fuselage. The cockpit section is split vertically and the rear fuselage horizontally. As you'll have to clean up a seam, it is why the slime lights on the rear fuselage are not molded on. The cockpit is well detailed with raised detail on the instrument panels and side consoles. There are decals for each of the instruments. The bang seat is an Aces II seat that has nice detail, but a resin replacement will probably have more. There are interior sides that will fit onto the sides of the cockpit tub. A separate nose cone is provided so you can show off the radar, though it leaves little room for any weight you may want to add. The avionics panels on either side of the nose are separate and there is black box detail molded into the forward fuselage sections for those who like to have things opened up.
Moving to the rear fuselage, there are two piece full intakes that lead to complete engines. You can position the air intakes either raised or lowered. Normally these are lowered with the engine is running on the ground. You are provided with a pair of F-100-PW-220 engines to fit into the rear fuselage and these, along with their burner cans, can be inserted once the fuselage is together. There are separate flaps and slats though they seem to be something one has to glue in the neutral position.
As expected, the speed brake is separate and can be posed raised, though it rarely is when on the ground except to show off to crowds at shows. The canopy can also be posed raised or lowered. At the rear are single piece stabilizers and tail fins with separate rudders. The small counterbalances/RWR antennas atop the fin are separate pieces as well. Landing gear and wheels are nicely done. The gear doors can be installed up or down and most of you who have seen F-15s on the ground realize that many of these doors are normally up unless maintenance is being done in the wells.
The kit comes with a great selection of dangly things as mentioned earlier and that includes a centerline and fuselage drop tanks. The weapons load includes a pair of Python and AIM-120 missiles. These missiles are individually packaged in a nice blister pack to prevent damage. Load-out information is provided.
Instructions are just superb. It is GWH's usual book style and includes clearly drawn illustrations that provide all the markings and painting information. There is a huge sheet for stencil markings and this info for the weapons is also included in the instruction booklet. A huge full color painting diagram is provided and you get markings for two units. One is for the first F-15I that was delivered to the test and evaluation squadron and the other for the lone operational squadron. They are both painted the same as shown on the box art. A full upper and lower painting view is provided on the bottom of the box sleeve. My kit came with a Victor painting diagram, but an e-mail to the company should provide the proper guide.
Considering how packed the box is, this is not a kit to be built quickly. GWH provides a considerable amount of detail in its kits and you'll find many of the sprues to be familiar if you have built any of their earlier Eagles. To my knowldge, this is the first really accurate F-15I to have been kitted in any scale. It very much seems to have eclipsed what went before and will certainly make into a superb model when finished.
Thanks to Great Wall Hobby (GWH) for the review kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contactthe editor or see other details in the Back to the Main Page Back to the Previews Index Page
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contactthe editor or see other details in the
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page