by: Mike Wood [ ]
IntroductionThe F-2 is a multi-role single engine fighter aircraft principally designed for the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF), the result of a joint Japan and USA development programme. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is the prime contractor and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company serves as the principal US subcontractor. In 1987, the JASDF selected a variant of the F-16C as the aircraft to replace the Mitsubishi F-1 aircraft, and in 1988 Mitsubishi was selected as prime contractor for the aircraft, which became known as the F-2. It is essentially an execution of the F-16 Agile Falcon proposal: a late-1980s plan for an enlarged F-16 which was passed over by the U.S. in favor of an all-new fighter program. The F-2 used the wing design of the F-16 Agile Falcon, but much of the electronics were further updated to 1990s standards.
ReviewThis edition of Hasegawa’s F-2 is sub-titled the ‘detail up version’. This refers to the inclusion of a fret of un-painted photo etched brass which contains many small parts designed to add finesse and detail to the base kit, more of which later. The box is marked as ‘limited edition’.
The plastic parts are spread out over 12 sprues and molding is very good with just the tiniest amount of flash on some parts. They are molded in a hard, brittle looking plastic but sprue gates are generally fine, so removal should be trouble free. The clear sprues are molded with an integral protective fence designed to lessen the chance of the parts getting crushed. The opening and rear sections of the canopy has a prominent seam along the centre which will have to be polished away. The airframe surface is represented by raised and engraved detail. This consists of fine panel lines and rivets, alongside sharply defined raised detail.
There is a pilot figure included but in contrast to the rest of the model, detail is rather soft here. The interior is basic but adequate for the scale. The raised instrument detail is well defined though and should paint up nicely, there are seat belts provided on the photo etched fret to dress up the ejector seat. The fuselage halves are sensibly split horizontally, this will make seam clean up easier as there is a lot of detail on the spine of the airframe which would otherwise be damaged and require reinstating. The tailfin is molded separately and attaches via 2 quite tight fitting tabs which should ensure correct alignment. I couldn’t see any problematic ejector pin marks and mold seams are minimal and should clean up well. There is however, some scuffing evident on some parts but nothing which couldn’t be swiftly polished away. I also noticed that a small tab had broken off one of the undercarriage legs.
The photo etched fret adds 40 extra parts. These include the hydraulic lines for the undercarriage, which are extremely fine and fragile looking. The instructions for this area are comprised of both drawings and photographs of the parts in situ and this should help immensely with the correct placing of them. Other parts on the fret are designed to replace the missile and fuel tank fins and to add detail to the stores attachment points. There are also replacement static dischargers. There are a few parts included for the cockpit but personally, I would like to have seen a bit more attention paid in this area.
The decal sheet provides markings for 3 subjects all in overall blue with special ACM meet 2013 markings. The decals are finely printed, in register with good colour saturation, and include a number of airframe stencils. They appear a little thick but, in my experience, Hasegawa decals respond well to micro set / sol and should settle down nicely
The instructions are typical Hasegawa, being clearly drawn out with photographs to supplement the undercarriage areas requiring photo etch. On first glance they do appear quite busy but on closer inspection, contain comprehensive paint callouts throughout as well as the part and decal information. A careful perusal should ensure that there is no confusion. Colours are called out for Gunze acrylics and lacquers.
I snipped the main airframe parts off and taped them together. These went together with no apparent gaps or fit problems. Locating points are by means of small rectangular tabs and slots as opposed to the usual round pegs and holes. I am by no means an expert on this type, but the general shape looked pretty accurate to me, reflecting the beefed up ’ F-16 ness’ of the real thing.
ConclusionThis is the latest of many iterations of Hasegawa’s F-2 and for those interested in modern Japanese aircraft, should prove to be a welcome release. While the photo etch does add to the package, I feel it does fall short in certain areas i.e. the cockpit, which could have done with a little further enhancement.
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