by: Andy Brazier [ ]
The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program which is intended to produce an “affordable stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three variants: the F-35A conventional version, the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing, and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE) Lightning jet.
The box states that it is an F-35B but Panda got their variants mixed up, and this kit is the A version. There are four versions of this kit to be released and these are:
F-35B USAF Kit 48001- is actually a F-35A, Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL)
F-35B USMC Kit 48002 - correct for the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version
F-35C NATO Kit 48003 - Carrier-based (CV) version.
F-35K Royal Navy Kit 48004 - unknown variant.
So opening the large box you are treated to three sprues of light grey injected plastic and one sprue for the clear canopy.
There kit is broken down into 57 parts and construction seems simple enough. Flash isn't present at all and a few ejection pin marks can be found.
I believe Panda models based their kit on photos and drawings they could lay their hands on as some of the detail is vague to say the least.
The cockpit is pretty basic and their aren't any harness's for the ejection seat, so adding these should improve the look.
Adorning the surface of the main fuselage and wings are recessed panel lines, some of which are rather heavy.
Wheel bays have internal detail including lines and some shallow spars. The undercarriage legs are one piece affairs and are pretty basic detail wise.
The engine casing has some nice surface detail moulded onto it and the exhaust looks simple to say the least. The engine bulkhead has the engine fan moulded onto it with some raised detail around it, but how much of this you will see in this version is negligible.
The kit has upper and lower fuselage halves with the wings attached and a quick test fit has the parts fitting very well. if the rest of the kit goes together this well, building it should be a breeze.
The A version shared the same airframe as the B version, but the lift fan doors (just behind the cockpit) were deleted. A bit of filler will probably be required to smooth out this area.
The canopy is clear and blemish free, but can only be modelled in the closed position.
instructions and markings
The instructions are printed on a folded concertina style sheet and the build is broken down into six steps. Construction seems easy enough, with internal colours given along the way for Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby colour and MR Color range of paints.
The decals look to be in register but do look rather thick.
Markings are provided for the test aircraft (X-35A) as well as a fictional aircraft assigned to Misawa AB (I think).
Both aircraft wear the two tone grey paint scheme, which is similar to the F-16. As this aircraft hasn't yet entered service, you could put your choice of markings and paint scheme on it, as this aircraft is destined to replace a lot of aircraft in the current US inventory.