by: Wiggus [ ]
If you thought, like me, that the F-15J was just a McDonnell Douglas F-15 re-branded for the Japanese Air Force, well…you’d be sort of right. In 1975 the JASDF was looking to replace their aging fleet of F-104s and F-4 Phantoms. The F-15 was chosen from about a dozen candidates. McDonnell Douglas built a few of its initial run, but a majority of the F15-J’s were licensed by Mitsubishi and built mostly in Japan from parts made in the United States, except for the tactical electronics and engines which the U.S. Congress had decided not to include in the licensing contract…around which time I began to nod off because it’s just soooooo dull and I really don’t care very much.
This F-15 has DRAGON SCALES on it!
Honestly, they look more like flowers to me, but what do I know about Japanese dragons? This Eagle wears the livery of the 2018 air show in Komamtsu Japan. This is Platz’s 7th release of the F-15J which was a new tool in 2015. Each release has primarily changed only the decals except for some electronic doo-dads here and there.
IN THE BOX
5 large sprues in gray styrene (187 parts)
1 clear sprue
1 tri-fold instruction sheet
B&W color markings and decal guide
The instruction sheet is a wide, black-and-white, trifold. Four of the panels depict the build in nine steps with beautifully clear drawings, one has the sprue map, and the first page is all Japanese text. Platz has amongst the best instruction sheets in the business; not the flashiest, not the fanciest, but amongst the clearest. This time they are printed on bright white matte paper. Glossy paper is usually the default paper for most graphic designers because it exhibits a false sense of opulence or class, but it also transmits annoying glare that makes reading difficult. When I’m building a kit, my instructions are usually laying all over the place at odd angles with multiple lamps shining on them. This matte paper allows them to be read clearly from any angle. Bravo.
The Color/Decal guide is sadly not as clear. This B&W two-sided sheet is printed on semi-gloss paper. It attempts to double as a paint guide and decal placement guide, but there is a lot of information crammed onto it, with many tiny numbers depicting many tiny decals over variable grays depicting different paint colors. Some of the paint call outs are hard to find. Color illustrations would have gone a long way in making this sheet clearer. Fortunately the do supply beautiful illustrations of the port, starboard, top and bottom on the bottom of the box. Paints are called out for Mr. Color and Model Master.
The decals are printed in Italy by fan favorite Cartograph. The detail is as fine as the carrier film they are printed on. They include Yokohama lettering for the tires and numerous stencils for your indulgence. I have a little bit of concern about the fancy dragon markings that adorn the cockpit sides, verticals stabilizers, and drop tanks. The dragon markings are printed with the dark gray backgrounds. That is nice since those areas will not need to be masked and those backgrounds painted separately. This works great for the markings on the sides of the cockpit, but both sides of the vertical stabilizers and one half of each drop tank get the same kind of markings. Placement will have to be precise on the stabilizers so that they wrap around the edges and cover them completely. And applying them perfectly on the drop tank’s tapered cylinders might also be tricky. I don’t like those guessing games. I’d like the option to paint the dark grey background color myself and have a second set of dragon markings without the background to apply on top. As it is, there is no back door if decal disaster strikes.
Over the last several reviews I’ve come to expect that, if it’s a new kit and not a re-boxing of another manufacturer’s kit, Platz will deliver stunning crisp molds of intricate parts in nice, hard styrene. This F-15J is no exception. You couldn’t ask for much better. Take a look at the photos; there is some Tamiya-level quality in this kit.
Platz does make a photo-etch fret for this kit which is available as a separate purchase. It includes cockpit enhancements like seat belts and a two-layer instrument panel, missile cradles, and air intake and airbrake details.
But wait! There’s more! Platz also includes a small circular magnet printed with the dragon logo of 303rd Komatsu Air Base. I really love extras like these. You can slap this on the mini fridge in your basement that you keep all your beer and model kits in. THIS dragon is so cool! I wish the JASDF had painted that giant dragon head on both tail fins rather than using those flowers…errrr…dragon scales.
Again I am really impressed with Platz’s dedication to quality, detail and detail. I’m really surprised that you don’t hear them praised more often. Perhaps it’s because they are somewhat difficult to find in the United Sates, but I think they are more common in Europe. I’m not sure about South America, Russia and India. if you have interest in an F-15 don’t hesitate to track these kits down.
Thanks to Platz and Fred Boucher for supplying this kit for review.