- Published on Monday, 29 March 2010 14:22 James Hatch
ACADEMY 1/48 F-117A Nighthawk ‘Last Flight’ Special Edition
Kit # 12219
I think the first thing that struck me when I saw this kit was ‘is the Stealth Fighter really retired?’ My, where do the years go? Anyway, I digress. Academy’s kit consists of around 85 parts moulded in black plastic and grey plastic, and the transparencies are moulded in a smoked orange-brown colour. I can’t vouch for the actual authenticity of that colour, but I can see the angle than Academy have taken and the effect they are hoping to achieve.
When you open the box lid, you are faced with the entire upper fuselage and wing moulded as a single piece component, and securely mounted on a card backing sheet. Moulding is flawless and nothing looks like it requires any remedial attention. Detail is crisp and well defined. Underneath this, 3 black sprues, 2 grey sprues (weaponry) and the transparent sprue are hidden.
Ejector pin marks are very feint and have no discernable depth. On my example, these can simply be eradicated with a few passes of a sanding sponge and no filler would be needed. As the interior of the bomb bay doors hold the ejector pin marks, then this is the only real area where you need to ensure a good cleanup. The cockpit, which is moulded as a tub, is nicely portrayed and the console and instrument panels are quite detailed, although I can’t vouch for authenticity. I suspect that if you wanted to go detail the interior further, then unless you modelled the kit with the canopy open, then you are wasting your time. Ten parts comprise the cockpit, including a 5 piece ejector seat.
The undercarriage is quite detailed, but there are some large seam marks on my example, and these would need removal. As I hinted earlier, there is indeed a detailed bomb bay, and the actual bay detail cast into the fuselage under surface is very good, with delicately rendered ports etc. The one area which I am a little disappointed with is the framework which holds the Paveway III laser guided bombs. This structure seems a little crude in my opinion and could do with a little scratch work or perhaps some photo-etch. This is the only real disappointment with this kit, if I’m honest.
Decals are by Cartograf and as the cliché goes, 'in perfect register'. I have heard gripes about regular Academy decals being a little thick and difficult to manipulate and use with setting solutions, but these are very nicely printed, and thin too. There are decals for 4 versions here, including the machine which has all the signatures of the Lockheed staff. The undersides, for some of the versions here, are adorned with the striking Stars & Stripes emblem. The colour call outs for the various machines are given on a glossy colour sheet, rolled up to prevent creasing. This is a nice little touch in itself as it is quite easily poster ‘fodder’.
So what do we think?
Academy have produced a superb kit of this iconic American ‘fighter’ aircraft, with intelligent design with regards to ejector pin placements. The model won’t take too long to make, but should build into a stunning representation of the F-117 in its retirement colours. For me, it’s only the Paveway mounts which could perhaps have been better.
Many thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the kit used in this review. This item currently retails at HLJ for ¥3,400, or approx £25 Sterling.