Lockheed Martin F-117A Nighthawk by Hasegawa

1/72 scale
Kit NO. 00531
Cost: $15.00
Decals: Two versions – both USAF
Comments: Great kit for a quick build of the Stealth Fighter

History

The F-117 Nighthawk was developed under great secrecy for the U.S. Air Force by Lockheed Martin Corporation. Designed as an air superiority fighter that would be invisible or nearly invisible to both radar and infra-red detection systems, the prototype, dubbed “Have Blue,” took its maiden flight in 1977. Two more development aircraft were ordered by the Air Force the following year, and after an extensive flight test program, the first production F-117A was delivered in 1982. The type is thought to have made its operational debut during the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.  The F-117 is not a fighter in a true sense, since its very shape is so aerodynamically unstable that it reportedly cannot be flown without the aid of computer-assisted fly-by-wire technology.  It is not thought to be capable of the kind of air combat maneuvers seen in a typical dogfight; however, because it is so stealthy, ACM should never be necessary.  The F-117 is more a pure attack aircraft, able to penetrate enemy airspace undetected and deliver laser-guided ordnance with precision, and indeed it was employed in this fashion during the Gulf War.

The unique structural surface of the F-117 is designed to dissipate or absorb radio waves to evade radar detection. The Nighthawk avoids infra-red detection by using long, sideways facing exhaust pipes which dissipate the engines’ heat signature. Although originally intended as an air-to-air fighter, the flight performance of the F-117 was not conducive to dogfighting, but its stealthy quality made it ideal for ground attack missions and deep-penetration air strikes — roles in which it was successfully employed in the 1991 Gulf War. It was not common knowledge at the time, but the Gulf War was not the Stealth Fighter’s debut — rather it was the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Specifications:
Crew: One
Wingspan: 13.21 meters (43.33 feet)
Length: 20.09 meters (65.91 feet)
Height: 3.78 meters (12.40 feet)
Weight, Empty: 15,875 kg (34,998 lbs.)
Weight, Loaded: 23,810 kg (52,492 lbs.)
Engine: F404-F1D2 rated at 4,800 kg (10,582 lbs.) of thrust x 2
Maximum Speed: Classified
Service Ceiling: Classified

The Kit

There is not much to say about this kit, as there are so few parts.  Little information has been divulged about its inner workings, so there are few parts for the cockpit and none whatsoever representing its power plant.  Hasegawa’s F-117 is molded in black and consists of 41 injection molded parts. It has engraved panel lines, detailed landing gear, and the cockpit is fairly detailed, consisting of nine parts, five of which are devoted to the seat.

Decals

There are two versions, both in low-visibility grey: one for the commander’s aircraft of the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base; the second is for the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing. Although the cockpit is detailed, there are decals for the instrument panels rather than detail molding.

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