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In-Box Review
J-20 Stealth Fighter
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

If there's one thing that signals just how rapidly the old status quo in world airpower is changing, it's the development of China's prototype stealth fighter, the Chengdu J-20. The aircraft has divided opinions among commentators, some seeing the J-20 as a serious challenge to American dominance in the Pacific region, while others point to its resemblance to the abandoned MiG 1.42 of the 1990s. It has been stated that China is still currently some 10 to 15 years behind the USA in stealth technology, but how long that will remain the case is anyone's guess.

For detailed information on the Chengdu J-20, click HERE to read Wikipedia's article.

The kit
Dragon's J-20 arrives in an attractive end-opening carton. This may not usually be my favourite style of packaging, but it works well for a small and simple kit like this, doubling up to include assembly instructions on the back of the box and a painting guide on the side all saving on raw materials. Inside, all the parts are bagged for protection.
The kit comprises:
30 x grey styrene parts
1 x clear part
Decals for the prototype "2001"
The moulding is very crisp and precise, with no sign of flash or sink marks on the review sample. Surface detail consists of neatly engraved panel lines for the weapons bays, the control surfaces and along the leading edge of the wings. Strictly speaking, I'm sure these are a bit heavy for 1:144, but otherwise the airframe is completely smooth.

The separate undercarriage doors feature the characteristic saw-tooth "stealthy" edges, and one point I noticed compared with the photos available online is that the nose door should really have an extra "tooth". Another minor discrepancy is that the designers have missed the two small (sensor?) windows on either side of the nose. You could add these from clear plastic, but small diamond-shaped pieces of decal will probably suffice in this scale.

With so few parts, construction is simple, and the fit of parts pretty good. The lower nose is a separate section and slots in neatly to form the jet intakes, but I found a bit of a step running along the fuselage sides under the wings, so a little time filling and sanding is needed to smooth things.

The undercarriage is quite well detailed and the model sits on its wheels without the need of any nose weight. The cockpit lacks much detail (as you'd expect on a kit of a secret prototype). The shallow tub is moulded integrally and into this fits a separate ejector seat. I found this the weakest part of the kit; it looks more like a large arm chair, so I trimmed it down considerably, but to be honest I still don't think the result is particularly convincing.

The one-piece canopy is quite thick, but is crystal clear. Be careful it is a very tight plug-in fit and doesn't require cement, so make sure you've finished working on the cockpit before you try fitting it (I only just managed to prise it loose again after a test-fit and was afraid of damaging it or the cockpit sills).

Instructions & decals
The instructions are neatly drawn with just two stages. The only option is for raised or lowered landing gear but if you go for the former, there's no stand provided on which to display the model.

The small set of decals provides national markings, the prototype serial number and a few stencils. They are printed by Cartograf, so are pretty much guaranteed to go on without any problems. The instructions show the overall colour as black, but the aircraft looks a very dark grey in many photos (the tyres look darker than the airframe). Oddly, the painting guide shows a small yellow vane on the top of the fuselage, but this isn't actually included in the kit.

Dragon's J-20 is a neat little kit that's simple to construct. It'll make a very interesting companion sat alongside a 1:144 Raptor.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.

Highs: Neatly moulded and simple to construct.
Lows: A bit basic in places.
Verdict: A very attractive and topical subject, Dragon's J-20 makes an ideal weekend project straight from the box, and is a good basis for extra details - if you can find them...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:144
  Mfg. ID: 4625
  PUBLISHED: May 30, 2011
  NATIONALITY: China / 简体

Our Thanks to Dragon Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. 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.


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