IAI Kfir by AMK (Avantgarde Model Kits)

1/72 scale
Kit No. 86002
Cost: $26.99
Decals: Five versions – One each for the air forces of Colombia and Ecuador, two for Israel, and one for a private American defense contractor, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC)
Comments: Engraved panel lines and recessed rivet detail; highly detailed cockpit and landing gear; boxed in and well detailed wheel wells; options for C2 or C7 weapons configuration, including six 500 lb. Mk. 82 bombs, four air-to-air Python missiles, four GBU-12 bombs, and four Griffin laser guided bombs, with detailed triple ejector racks and other weapons pylons.

History

The Israeli Kfir is an all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft based on a modified French Dassault Mirage 5 airframe, with Israel Aircraft Industries avionics and an Israeli-built version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.  The C2 version entered service with the Heyl Ha’Avir in 1976.  The Kfir has its origins in a French arms embargo against Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War, which denied the Israelis delivery of 50 Dassault Mirage V jet fighters. In a remarkable military-industrial espionage operation, Israeli agents copied the engineering drawings for a Swiss license-built version of the Mirage III and reverse-engineered a version called the “Nesher” (Eagle), the immediate ancestor of the Kfir. The Nesher was basically a copy of the Mirage V, except for Martin-Baker ejection seats and the addition of Israeli avionics. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Nesher was the most lethal fighter in the Israeli Air Force, claiming 100 victories. About 16 of the 61 Neshers were lost due to all causes between 1971 and 1980. Neshers were sold to Argentina as the Dagger, and some were upgraded and dubbed Finger in time for the 1982 Falklands War.

In the early 1970’s, Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) created an all-new derivative of the Nesher, powered by the American General Electric J79 turbojet, the same engine that powered the superlative McDonnell F-4 Phantom, which was then in service with the Israeli Air Force. The Kfir (“Lion Cub”) took its first flight in June 1973. The J79 required a shorter rear fuselage, various small scoops on the airframe and a prominent scoop on the base of the fin, providing cooling air for the afterburner. The undercarriage was stronger and slightly longer than that of the Nesher, and the initial C1 model was built in limited numbers, equipping two IAF squadrons from 1974.

The Kfir C2 was in service by 1976. Its most distinctive feature, that which became a Kfir trademark, was a pair of swept canard foreplanes along the fuselage directly aft of the cockpit. The C2 had other aerodynamic improvements, inlcuding extended panels on the outer wing leading edges, giving a jagged appearance, and long strakes beneath the nose. All these features improved maneuverabilty at lower speeds and reduced the length of takeoff and landing runs.

The definitive version was the C7, with a larger-thrust J79 and improved avionics, including HOTAS (hands-on throttle and stick), a new Elta pulse-Doppler radar, a new weapons system, and the addition of an in-flight refueling capability. Two extra weapons hard points and laser-guided bomb and other “smart weapon” features were also new. The improved engine allowed greater take-off weights, a longer mission radius and a better thrust-to-weight ratio for air combat.

 

The Kfir came too late for the Yom Kippur War but has been employed successfully in the ground-attack role, and scored its only known victory in June 1979 when an IAF Kfir C2 shot down a Syrian MiG-21 with a Shafrir II missile. A second C2 was lost to a MiG-21 in June 1982 over Lebanon. The Kfir found itself in the U.S. inventory when the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leased 25 C1’s in the late 1980’s for use as adversary aircraft at the Fighter Weapons School at NAS Miramar. The C1’s were modified before delivery to have the C2’s canards and other improvements. Under the designation F-21A Lion, one USN and USMC squadron flew the Kfir from 1985 to 1989. In addition to Israel and the U.S., Kfirs have been sold to Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka, all of which have flown the type in combat. In 1995, an Ecuadoran Kfir shot down a Peruvian Cessa A-37 Dragonfly in a brief border conflict. Colombia has employed its Kfirs against guerillas, and Sri Lankan Kfirs saw extensive action in the civil war from 1995-2009.  Israel reportedly decommissioned its Kfir’s in 1996, but many air forces such as those listed above continue to operate the type.  In 2013, Israel announced an upgrade program for these export customers.

Specifications

Length: 51 ft. 4.25 in.
Wingspan: 26 ft. 11 2/3 in.
Canard foreplan span: 12 ft. 3 in.
Height: 14 ft. 11.25 in.
Powerplant: One IAI Bedek (license-built General Electric J79-J 1E turbojet) rated at 11, 890 lbs. dry and 18,750 lbs. afterburning
Weights:
Empty: 16,060 lbs.
Normal takeoff: 22,961 lbs.
Maximum takesoff: 36,376
Fuel: Internal capacity:5,670 lbs.; External capacity: Up to 8,216 lbs. in various configurations of drop tanks

The kit’s Martin Baker JM6 ejection seat is highly detailed.

Performance

Maximum level speed at sea level: 863 mph
Maximum speed at 36,000 ft (clean configuration): 1,516 mph
Maximum rate of climb at sea level: 45,930 ft per minute
Ferry range: 2000 nautical miles with drop tanks
Combat radius: 482 to 737 miles, depending on mission profile and ordnance
Armament: Two internal 30mm DEFA cannon with 140 rounds per gun, plus a range of stores including bombs, cluster bombs, rocket pods, and air-to-air missiles

The Kit

The C2/C7 Kfir is a 2017 release from Avantgarde Model Kits of Macau, and the kit lives up to the company name. The heart of the kit is on eight sprues contained in three clear plastic resealable bags, plus four individual smaller bags for the under wing ordnance, which are presented on stackable sprues, one weapon apiece. Overall, the sheer number of parts speak to the level of detail — the Kfir is injection molded in dark grey and consists of 190 parts, some of which will reside in your spares box, for AMK provides more Python missiles, GBU-12’s and Griffin laser guided bombs that you can use all at once. Each weapon features engraved panel lines, and recessed and raised rivet detail where appropriate.

The airframe is replete with both engraved panel line and recessed rivet detail. The cockpit features sidewall details complemented by a detailed instrument hood and a multi-part Martin Baker ejection seat, with an option for the JM6 seat in the C2 with overhead loop handles for pulling down the ejection shroud, or the MK. IN10LH version in the C7 without the loops. In addition, the control yoke features engraved detail, and the diminutive instrument panel contains recessed details which many manufacturer’s would have skipped on a part this small. AMK did not stop there — the instrument panel has a decal as well, one each for the C2 and C7 versions.

There is a separate assembly for the main wheel well, offering a combination of raised relief, rivet detail and ample duct work. Each of the landing gear doors have internal detail also. The external details do not stop with the engraved panel lines and rivet detail; there are a number of small detail parts for a series of strakes, intake ducts, sensors and blade antennas on various parts of the airframe, and a detailed, five-part engine exhaust nozzle. Finally there are a series of highly detailed pylons for the underwing stores, which include not only the above-mentioned weaponry but also one centerline and two under wing fuel tanks.

A head-on schematic is provided for the two main weapons configurations: The first is for the C2, a mix of a pair of Python missiles and a full load of Mk. 82 bombs on a centerline pylon with two empty TER’s at hard points beneath the wings. The second is for a long-range C7 configuration employing centerline and under wing tanks with two Python missiles, and either two GBU-12’s or two Griffin laser guided bombs.

There is a detailed color paint guide for both the ordnance and the various versions of the Kfir for which markings are provided, calling out Federal Standard and what are likely Gunze Sangyo or Mr. Color numbers. The kit markings come in their own resealable bag and are in-house by AMK. They appear to be high quality with a glossy sheen, and include Kfir logos and stencil details in Hebrew, Spanish, and English.

Conclusion

This kit is abundantly detailed and looks like a fun build; a careful review of the instructions do not highlight any construction pitfalls. The AMK Kfir is the product of a new, high quality mold and is the most detailed “Lion Cub” ever released in 1/72 scale. A quantum leap above the Italeri Kfir or F-21 Lion kits of the 1980’s and 1990’s, it points up the increasing competitiveness of the kits emerging from China.

References

  • Jet Fighters Inside Out, by Jim Winchester; Amber Books Limited, London, 2010.
  • www.theaviationist.com
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