Kit No. 1650
Decals: Two versions
Comments: Engraved panel lines, very detailed cockpit, landing gear and missiles; choice of Red Top or Firestreak missiles.
For a history of the “Silver Beast” please check out the preview of this kit here.
Trumpeter offers high quality and is on par with Hasegawa in terms of ease of construction, and comparable to Tamiya in level of detail. The cockpit, engine intake trunking, fuselage and wings (Steps 1 through 9) assembled without incident. The wing flaps fit into the wings like a glove. In Step 10, you select the parts for either the F.2A (a cleanly configured forward section of the Lightning’s bulbous belly) or the F .6 (a forward section of the belly featuring openings for the 30mm Aden gun ports, with corresponding bulges farther aft for ammunition drums).
Step 12 of the instructions is where you must select between versions again, this time by opting for 30mm gun ports in the nose, or plugs to cover their openings. This is also the stage at which you can cement the over-the-wing gravity feed tanks onto the wings. I left them off because to my eye they damage the Lightning’s aesthetic appeal.
The only real difficulty with this kit crops up when assembling the landing gear. These steps of the instructions (13 and 14, for the right and left landing gear, respectively) are poorly illustrated, as they do not show the main gear doors in profile and it is difficult to see the angle at which they should attach to the legs of the undercarriage. The same is true for the secondary, smaller doors (parts B8 and B9) which attach to the main gear doors at a right angle. The modeler is left with guesswork and whatever photos can be dug up for help in positioning these doors properly. Also in Step 16, where the landing gear, missiles and other small bits are cemented on, there is a very misleading image concerning the attachment of the refueling probe, which looks as if it should be cemented onto the belly, just to the left of the centerline. Luckily anyone remotely familiar with the Lightning knows that this probe attaches underneath the port wing, and the kit has pre-machined holes on the underside of that wing for that purpose. The missiles are the most detailed I have ever seen in 1/72 scale, but some of their decals do not cover their entire circumference. I resorted to painting and copping other decals from a Hasegawa aircraft weapons set to remedy this.
The biggest challenge with this kit was the painting. I brought out details in the Alclad Polished Aluminmum finish by going over the engraved panel lines with a combination of a thinned out wash of Gunze Sangyo acrylic Oil, and India ink. Additional light coats of Alclad concealed most of the excess Oil and ink. Alclad Dark Aluminum provided contrast on a few panels around the dive brake on the port side of the fuselage. For panels nearest the jet nozzles, I used Alclad’s Pale Burnt Metal to add a little realism. The gun ports are painted Model Master Gunmetal, a glossy enamel that – once it was dry – I treated with Testors Dullcote.
The spine and tail of the Lightning are Model Master acrylic Insignia Blue. This color is flat and looked fine after airbrushing with clear gloss in preparation for decals, but did not respond well to the clear flat coat that went on afterwards to seal the decals in. The result is that I had to re-paint the tail by hand – I used a short, thick brush for this and sparing amounts of paint to minimize the tell-tale brush strokes. I masked the canopy with Tamiya tape and airbrushed it in Tamiya Gloss Black; the anti-glare panel forward of the canopy is Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black.
I replaced the kit decals with an Xtradecal set, No. X72088, which has markings for nine aircraft. Xtradecal decals are of excellent quality, a bit like Aeromaster, not as thick but just as rugged. The Lightning’s exterior is absolutely covered with engraved panel lines, which made decal solvent necessary. The Xtradecals responded well to Micro Sol, crinkling initially but settling into the grooves of the panel lines beautifully, otherwise becoming flat and smooth. I chose the markings of an F.2A, serial number XN793 of the Royal Air Force’s No. 92 Squadron, stationed at RAF Gutersloh, Germany in 1970. This aircraft had a mostly natural metal finish, except the tail and spine were painted a dark blue (Xtradecal’s color plate of this bird refers to “Roundel Blue,” but after searching for this color unsuccessfully, I used Model Master’s Insignia Blue as a close substitute).
This is a beautiful kit of the Lighting, highly detailed and very finely balanced — it was a tail-sitter until the final stages of construction, when the combined weight of the missiles and the canopy finally made it come down to rest on its nose wheel — just barely.