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In-Box Review
  • F-35A

by: Andy Brazier [ BETHEYN ]


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 Kit

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.
Highs: Cheap, simple to build.
Lows: Detail is simple. Box states wrong version.
Verdict: Most kits come out in 1/72nd scale first but Panda models have gone straight to 1/48th. I believe this is still the only kit available of the Lightning II in injected plastic.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48001
  Suggested Retail: £14.99
  PUBLISHED: Aug 10, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Andy Brazier (betheyn)

I started modelling in the 70's with my Dad building Airfix aircraft kits. The memory of my Dad and I building and painting a Avro Lancaster on the kitchen table will always be with me. I then found a friend who enjoyed building models, and between us I think we built the entire range of 1/72 Airfi...

Copyright ©2021 text by Andy Brazier [ BETHEYN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I'm afraid you're a little confused - the Lightning II was the YF-23, which was completely unrelated and is, sadly, not available in 1/48th outside specialist resin companies. Beautiful plane, deserves to be the subject of a decent kit even if it did lose to the F-22. It's also not really accurate to refer to the EE Lightning as now being the BAe Lightning - almost every British aircraft company got absorbed into BAe, and now BAe is BAE and is multi-national rather than British, but we don't refer to the BAe Spitfire, or the BAe Camel. The Lightning was only ever the English Electric or BAC Lightning, as far as I know. As for the F-35, Panda's 1/48th kits are quite nice, but you have to bear in mind that they're guesses based on pics of prototypes rather than accurate models. Doesn't mean you can't make a nice kit from them though. Their F-35K (fictitious designation, I think) Royal Navy FAA version's going to build up nicely - right now I'm unsure whether to go with the suggested kit scheme or the one they're putting on Harrier GR.Mk 9s. Al
AUG 15, 2008 - 01:44 PM
Just my two cents. I believe the YF-23 was built by Northrop-Grumman, it was called the Black Widow II because of its heritage. The aircraft even at one point had a red hourglass shape painted on the underside of the aircraft. The YF-22 was at one point I think designated Lightning II because Lockheed-Martin built the aircraft. The name Raptor is the official designation. I hope this is right, memory being what it is. The F-35 may in fact be designated Lightning II because it also is produced by Lockheed-Martin. Hope this helps. If I am wrong please correct me. Thanks. Russell
AUG 15, 2008 - 02:01 PM
Nope "The stealthy, supersonic multi-role fighter was designated the F-35 Lightning II in July 2006. " airforce-technology.com northropgrumman.com lockheedmartin.com The YF-22 was originally given the unofficial name "Lightning II", after the WWII fighter P-38, by Lockheed, which persisted until the mid-1990s when the USAF officially named the aircraft "Raptor". For a short while, the aircraft was also dubbed "SuperStar" and "Rapier". The F-35 later received the Lightning II name on 7 July 2006. The YF-23 was called the Black Widow II. The YF-23 was entered in Advanced Tactical Fighter competition but lost out to the Lockheed YF-22, which entered production as the F-22 Raptor. YF-23 Black Widow II Northrop YF-23 Did I call it a BAE Lightning, err nope I didn't. I just thought I would point out that BAC was taken over by BAE. Andy
AUG 16, 2008 - 03:19 AM
"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." I did point that out . As for the F-35K version, it is fictious as the Royal Navy are (I believe) buying the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version, which would be the B. As for the colour schemes, you can pretty much paint them anyhow as they will be in service for the next 40 odd years, and who knows what colourful patterns will see them decked out in. The Harrier GR.Mk 9 camo looks to be pretty cool though. Andy
AUG 16, 2008 - 03:31 AM

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