Tamiya | TAM25414: F-35A Lightning II (with JASDF markings)
Reviewed by Andrew Birnie
Italeri have steadily been increasing their line of 1/32 jets, with the latest original release being the Fifth Generation Fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II - the name an obvious nod the the late great Lockheed designer of the original Lightning, the P-38, Kelly Johnson, who was also behind the Skunk Works program, which the F-35 with its advanced use of stealth technologies is the latest addition to the family tree.
Like the Italeri F-104G/S kit, which was released by Tamiya primarily for the Japanese domestic market, to which they added a seated pilot figure, Tamiya have also released the F-35A, with the addition of a small decal sheet for the initial Japanese Self Defence Force aircraft, and a set of un-weighted wheels, it also has a sticker on the box to signify this specific release.
The box size is a pleasant surprise, in that it fits the contents - an oxymoron I know - unlike the Starfighter box, which was so large it almost had room for two.
Supplementing the standard Italeri instruction booklet is a small one from Tamiya, specific to the additional decals and wheels.
Consisting of six sprues of grey plastic, two of which are the same, G, together with the two main fuselage parts, a sprue of smoke-coloured clear plastic, and rounded off with a small set of etch parts. Pouring over the parts is like looking at the contents of a sc-fi kit - it's a very tactile model - strange shapes abound, with a few familiar faces, such as engine fans, exhaust, undercarriage legs, wheels, seat, weapons, and it really is an education in modern aircraft design.
- Sprue A, though not on a sprue, is the upper fuselage
- Sprue B, likewise not on a sprue, the lower fuselage
- Sprue C, wings and tails
- Sprue D, interior parts, cockpit, weapons bays, undercarriage bays
- Sprue E, engine, supports, fans, intake trunking
- Sprue F, tailplanes, seat, ailerons, nose wheel
- Sprue G x 2, weapons (2 x AIM-9X, 2 x AIM-120 ARAM, 2 x GBU-31 JDAM), external pylons, main wheels, rudders
- Sprue H, clear parts - all smoke coloured
- Photo Etch sheet, cockpit ledge, seat straps
- Tamiya Sprue, round wheels
The parts are nicely moulded with great detail, the main issue I've seen from completed builds is the undersized exhaust, there are sink marks on the outside of the intakes - an easy fix with a bit of filler - but those aside the kit makes for an impressive model of the present and future of western military aviation.
The main Italeri decal sheet provides options for:
- Version A, USAF, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin, AB, 2015
- Version B, USAF, 422nd Test Evaluation Squadron, Nellis AB, 2016
- Version C, AMI, 32 Stormo, 13 Gruppo, Amendola AB, Italy 2017
- Version D, RAAF, 61st Fighter Test Squadron, Williamstown AB, Australia, 2016
- Version E, RNethAF, Leeuarden AB, Netherlands, 2016
- Version F, Israeli Air Force, 2016
Tamiya decal, JASDF, this is the initial US manufactured aircraft, though there are red hinomarus provided - which a mock up wore at a presentation ceremony - like all other service aircraft, the markings are in shades of grey.
One of the pity's of a kit release of an aircraft early into its service is the lack of squadron markings, which is the case of the Israeli and Japanese options, the Dutch option, like the Japanese, is for a US-based evaluation aircraft.
Both decal sheets are very nicely printed, especially the Italeri which includes a large number of stencils, not only for the aircraft, but the weapons.
There is also a small set of masks for the RAM panels, though only for a small number of them, a comprehensive set is available from DN Models, who also produce a wheel and canopy mask set.
The instructions are clear and concise, and it does look like a relatively simple build.
The paint instructions include the FS number together with the Italeri Acrylic Paint code. It should be noted that the main aircraft, and RAM panel colours can look quite different depending upon the conditions - I did think the Mitsubishi-produced JASDF aircraft were darker, but then found some of the same aircraft in a paler grey, the contrast between the two colours also changes, so I think it's a case of what suits the individual modeller, must say I prefer the look where the contrast between the main aircraft grey and that of the radome/RAM panels is not so pronounced.
This kit is a very welcome addition to the 1/32 aircraft kit roster, would look great next to, for example, a Wingnut Wings offering, the advance in combat aircraft in one hundred years.
The F-35 might well be the end of an era, not only with the costs involved, but the ever advance in drone aircraft technology, time will tell, it is a testament to it's qualities that the Israelis wasted no time at all using it operationally.
It might not be love at first sight, but the F-35A is certainly a grower, and would certainly bring a wow factor to your display cabinet.
Many thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review kit, which can be purchased via the following link:
© Andrew Birnie, 2018
This review was published on Wednesday, October 24 2018; Last modified on Wednesday, October 24 2018