Trumpeter | 03219: F-117A Nighthawk
Reviewed by Milan Mitev
This F-117A kit by Trumpeter is without a doubt the Nighthawk’s best scale model among others. It’s in 1/32 scale and is light years ahead of the vintage Testors kit, not to mention the several 1/48 scale kits that are just from another dimension. The F-117’s vast faceted shapes remind me of something like Zumwalt but only in the air. There are no real F-117s flying from a little over a decade, so, what better option to enjoy this plane other than making it as a large scale plane? Here is what’s inside the box of this 1/32 Trumpeter’s F-117A kit.
It is from thick cardboard with a glossy cover depicting F-117 flying over a desert terrain which more likely looks like out of this world. You can see the dimensions of the finished kit in one of the corners of the cover, which say 536mm by 412mm. The amount of parts is also mentioned – around 300, which is not that many for a 1/32 kit at first glance. The sides of the box include basic information of the plane, some profiles of a finished model, and the basic components of the kit. Once you open the top cover – there is the entire plane appearing in one whole piece with nicely concealed portions under two huge cardboard pieces. Just about the entire model consists of two parts – the top and bottom halves of the fuselage, which are packed basically testfitted and secured to a giant mid-section of cardboard inside the box. Right under that mid-section we have all other nearly 300 parts to build the model.
The Plastic Parts
They are spread over 11 sprues (the engines and the loadouts are on doubled sprues), nicely wrapped in plastic bags. They look very fine, thin and delicate in the first place. The two giant halves of the fuselage seem to me a little bit on the thin side. The wings can bent easily and they somehow miss that feeling of rigidity or solid chunks of plastic. Anyway, the plastic is grey and very beautifully molded. The kit was released in 2012 when the tooling was advanced enough to re-create so fine surface elements. The raised RAM elements and the recessed panel lines are very subtle, there are almost no rivets as expected, the four pitot tubes on the nose are cleverly protected, and there is no flash or major issues whatsoever.
The Clear Parts
The giant faceted canopy is perhaps one of the most characteristic parts of the plane and of this kit. The Trumpeter’s reproduction is, simply put, legit! It is a one-piece canopy with giant flat sides and sharp edges. My first impression was of a very fragile canopy because it is very thin, but that’s a good thing. The visibility through the canopy is impeccable. Just make sure to be very careful while handling it by the longest sides of the frame. Also, make sure to pay special attention while cutting/sanding the excessive plastic pins – they are very tricky and can easily compromise the straight edges of the frame. All other clear parts are spread on their own separately packed sprue. We have clear parts for the FLIR and the DLIR sensors and their provisions, for the HUD, for the landing gear lights, and a few others.
Metal/Rubber Landing Gear
As in most kits of large scale planes, we have optional metal landing gear which, according to me, are in some ways, excessive. Well, you can always use them because they are worth it, but let’s face it – the thin plastic of the fuselage does not add a lot of weight to the model. It is quite light indeed. The kit weights like a bigger 1/48 scale kit, let’s say. On the other hand, there are huge 1/32 scale plastic pylons within the sprues and they are very thick and solid, and they are absolutely enough to sustain the weight of the finished kit. Anyway, there you have it – a complete set for the landing gear out of white metal. The metal pylons are flawlessly detailed, heavy and shiny. Just beautiful. The rubber tires are another nice touch – they have recessed lines along the diameters but don’t have any lettering. The rubber tires are the only option for tires as well.
Instructions, Color Guide and Decals
The instructions manual is very simple, in black and white, and quite small. I recently built a model in 1/72 scale and its manual was twice thicker. This instructions manual has a horizontal layout and the construction schemes are very easy for orientation. It shows you everything from the key steps for gluing to the optional/moveable elements. The last page is all about the gluing of the pieces on the lower fuselage and there are no more pages. That’s because the color guide is on a separate, colored, sheet. It includes the profiles of the plane, a simple callout scheme, and where to place the decals. About the decals – well, the F-117A has a very small amount of markings, so this is not exactly the focal point in the model. The decals look very good at first glance though. They are in a small separate plastic bag and are protected with paper sheet. They allow for building three different airframes with serial numbers 788, 795 and 798.
Overall for the kit, I could say that is a very beautiful piece of history that is righteously represented by Trumpeter in 1/32 scale. The F-117A is an iconic plane and there is nothing like it. I can find in this kit only a couple of little cons and a bunch of pros.
- Very thin trailing edges of all the control surfaces;
- Whole piece moveable rudders;
- Impeccably clear canopy because it has thin flat facets. You can basically read tiny letters without any distortion, through both sides of the clear canopy:
- Provided a PE grill for the intake screens. It is a much better replacement of the plastic screens featuring fine rhomboid holes and details:
- Just about everything can be displayed in either close or open position. The control surfaces can be glued up or down, the landing gear and the canopy too, etc.;
- Whole length engines and ducts. The engines are filled with details that you can take advantage of if cut open the engine bays or put an engine for an outside display;
- Very subtle recessed panels and raised RAM sheets. Even the lower fuselage is filled with panel lines, zig-zag patterns, grills, etc.:
- Several loadouts available. There are 2 sets of bombs and 2 sets of missiles, which is quite a great choice for a plane that can carry just two bombs.
- Provided inside framing for the canopy which adds volume and sturdiness to the yet fragile crystal-clear canopy.
- No pilot figure so you have to outsource one if you plan to display your model in flight;
- No PE screens for the FLIR and DLIR provisions. There are pieces of clear plastic like glass, but the real plane has just screens.
© Milan Mitev 2019
This review was published on Friday, February 15 2019; Last modified on Friday, February 15 2019