by: Sean Langley [ ]
backgroundThe Mitsubishi F-1 was developed in the early 1970s from the T-2, which had been Japan’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft. The F-1 took the T-2’s basic airframe, replaced the rear seat with avionics, and tucked a modified radar in the nose, to suit it for a mixed anti-shipping and ground attack mission. It entered service in 1978 with the locally-designed ASM-1 missile, replaced later by the ASM-2.
The T-2 and F-1 will look very familiar if you’ve seen a Jaguar. The configuration is nearly identical: two engines under a long tail boom, fixed rectangular intakes on the fuselage flanks, a high-set swept wing and anhedral tailplane - and a pair of Adour engines, licence-built by Ishikawajima-Harima. They are, nevertheless, not Jaguar copies. Big give-aways are the wing plan and section, optimised for higher-speed flight at higher level; the use of radar; and the lighter-built undercarriage, intended for use only on paved runways. The F-1 is appreciably larger than a Jaguar, although it’s lighter and has a smaller wing. I’ve included a picture of two fuselage halves together to illustrate the difference (and the similarity). One odd coincidence is that the radars fitted to the two variants are basically the same as those fitted to the two versions of the UK Phantom. Only 90 T-2s and 77 F-1s were built and all but a handful have now been retired, replaced by the T-4 and the F-2 respectively. Like many Japanese-operated types they carried a number of special paint schemes over the years, including of course Blue Impulse markings on the T-2, but even “standard” squadron aircraft could be fairly colourful.
the kitHasegawa had long had 1/72 versions of these aircraft in their catalogue when they did the decent thing and scaled them up about eight years ago. They brought the latest moulding standards to bear and gave us a pair of very decent kits. Although this review covers the F-1 in one of its standard marking schemes, much of it applies to the T-2 as well. This is because Hasegawa have followed the original in using basically the same plastic to build both variants, with each having a small group of parts to cover the differences.
Parts count in this boxing is 168, less two that you don’t use. The airframe breakdown is mostly pretty conventional. The fuselage is split lengthwise, with separate halves for the radome and brake chute cover. I suspect these are to allow the sprues to fit a standard box, as there’s no difference in outline between T-2 and F-1. The upper half of the wing is full-span, apart from the wingtip missile rails, which sorts out the anhedral for you. Inserts for the lower halves allow the leading and trailing edges to be pleasingly thin and sharp. The same applies to the one-piece tailplanes. These, being all-moving, attach by single pins and so will be a bit fragile, even though they use polythene grommets. There are separate panels for the underside of the rear fuselage and another area that includes the nosewheel well. The former is needed because of the slight valley between the engines; the reason for the latter seems to be a vent panel that would be split if included on the fuselage halves. The two are connected by a small panel that allows the F-1’s centreline pylon to be attached.
Unlike the Jaguar, the F-1 has splitter plates on its intakes, and for these you get long panels that extend far enough into the intake sections to give a decent representation of the intake duct. Unfortunately they end in blanks, rather than the engine compressors, but this is probably fair enough given the geometry of the high intake / low engine set-up. The intake mouths include finely-moulded separate panels for the bleed air slots. Each engine has four parts that slot into the fuselage from the rear. The turbines are a bit crude but, within the jetpipes and hidden behind the much better inner nozzles, they should be OK. Being one-piece, those pipes are completely smooth.
All F-1 and T-2 kits provide a full two-place cockpit tub, with the appropriate number of separate instrument panels and side consoles. These have very fine raised detail, which you can paint or augment with decals. Given that, the seat is a bit of a let-down, with only a basic shape and no ejection handles (the canopy jacks are nice, though). Hasegawa’s intention is that you use the pilot figure, which is well-moulded and comes with a choice of helmets. One is unused but you may be able to find references that suggest otherwise. The fuselage has two openings. F-1 kits provide a solid section to cover the rear cockpit and replicate the way it’s simply plated over on the real thing. This means that, slightly oddly, you get the outline of the rear canopy. T-2 kits instead get a different fuselage section and rear canopy.
The undercarriage is much simpler than the Jaguar’s and is nicely depicted with four parts to each maingear set and two to the nose. The mainwheels have very decent brakes. The wells are a little plain, but as the greater part is covered by closed doors when the undercarriage is extended, this may not be too great a problem.
A full set of pylons is provided - one on the centreline, two under each wing, and a rail at each wingtip. The pylons are one-piece with separate sway braces. The tip rails come in two parts, so you get a proper little launch channel instead of the traditional solid lump and can leave off the missiles without embarrassment. Armament isn’t bad by Hasegawa standards: two AIM-9L (the F-1 has a secondary fighter role), two tanks, and a practice bomb dispenser with separate bombs. The various fins are well profiled with thin edges. But the most important things, the anti-shipping missiles, are missing; and for these, as usual, you’re expected to buy the weapons set.
Surface detail is finely engraved pretty much everywhere, there being few lumps to represent. There are even a few game depictions of inlet ducts. The engraving on the fuselage halves is a little coarser than the rest, especially near the cockpit, but painting and weathering should disguise any lingering differences. By contrast, the inner faces of the airbrakes have very nice lines of raised rivets. Sink marks are hard to find. Ejector pin marks are few, and in some cases they’re on separate pips, which makes clean-up a lot easier. But there’s a few silly ones around the nosegear and wheel, which is odd considering the very nice leg has three pips on it as well.
Decals are typical Hasegawa fare: well printed, a little thick, and ivory where they should be white. You get three basic options: the 3rd and 8th Squadrons of the 3rd Air Wing at Misawa, and the 6th Squadron of the 8th Air Wing at Tsuiki. All wear the standard “woodland” camouflage of light tan and two shades of green with light gull gray undersides. The 8th Squadron option is actually five airframes attending an air combat competition in 1995. All wear striking black and yellow markings on the tail and around the cockpit, and there are individual badges for the starboard splitter plate. The instructions let you know which serial number each uses, and to allow this the decals have an extensive number jungle that could come in handy elsewhere.
This boxing is currently out of production (October 2012). The price quoted is for the nearest equivalent on the market at the moment in the UK. Other variants (including T-2s) are also available and range down to a little under £30.
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