|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Dassault Rafale, literally meaning "gust of wind", and "burst of fire" in a more military sense) is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an "omnirole" aircraft by Dassault.
In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and French Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft. In order to reduce development costs and boost prospective sales, France entered into an arrangement with UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to produce an agile multi-purpose fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon. Subsequent disagreements over workshare and differing requirements led to France's pursuit of its own development programme. Dassault built a technology demonstrator which first flew in July 1986 as part of an eight-year flight-test programme, paving the way for the go-ahead of the project. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.
Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.
Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced by 2018.
This is another nice looking HobbyBoss kit. The kit provides a cockpit tub with fairly nice bang seats. It uses decals for the instrument panels as is pretty standard for 1/72 kits. This all fits into the upper fuselage section. This section has the wings molded in place which is a nice touch. Before attaching the lower section, one has to open holes for the various pylons. There is also a main gear well that needs to be glued to the lower section. The canards are joined together and are trapped between the fuselage halves.
Nose gear well is separate and at this time the instructions will have to attach main and nose gear assemblies. I'd dry fit them to see if this couldn't be done after painting. It looks like they could. One also attaches the intakes and exhaust at this time. I'm not sure if nose weight is required, but it would be wise to install it prior to attaching the nose cone. Canopy can be posed open or closed. There are weapons and fuel tank options for the pylons and a load-out diagram is provided.
Instructions are well done and it appears to be a pretty easy build for a modern jet. There are two Tiger Meet schemes included from the same squadron, which is a test unit. Both sets of markings fit over a standard overall grey and you are provided paints from a number of manufacturers. The decals are nicely printed and my past experience with HB decals has been positive.
This is not the only Rafale kit in this scale, but it is the most recent and is of a production airframe where earlier kits are probably prototype or pre-production versions. Looks like it will make into a very nice model and one that is colorful if you use kit markings.
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