by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Background"The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French jet ground attack aircraft, originally used by the British Royal Air Force and the French Armée de l'Air in the close air support and nuclear strike role, and still in service with several export customers, notably the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman.
Originally conceived in the 1960s as jet trainer with a light ground attack capability, the requirement for the aircraft soon changed to include supersonic performance, reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike roles. A carrier-based variant was also planned for French service, but this was cancelled in favour of the cheaper Dassault Super Étendard. The airframes were manufactured by SEPECAT (Société Européenne de Production de l'avion Ecole de Combat et d'Appui Tactique), a joint venture between Breguet and the British Aircraft Corporation, one of the first major joint-Anglo-French military aircraft programs.
The Jaguar was successfully exported to India, Oman, Ecuador and Nigeria. With various airforces, the Jaguar was used in numerous conflicts and military operations in Mauritania, Chad, Iraq, Bosnia, and Pakistan, as well as providing a ready nuclear delivery platform for Britain, France, and India throughout the latter half of the Cold War and beyond. In the Gulf War, the Jaguar was praised for its reliability and was a valuable coalition resource. The aircraft served with the Armée de l'Air as the main strike/attack aircraft until 1 July 2005, and with the Royal Air Force until the end of April 2007. It was replaced by the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon in the RAF and the Dassault Rafale in the Armée de l'Air. India plans in the long term to replace its Jaguar fleet with the developing Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)."
The kitKitty Hawk's Jaguar A arrives in a surprisingly compact and very attractive box. It's quite deep and bulging slightly - an exciting sign that it's totally stuffed with sprues! The kit comprises:
258 x pale grey styrene parts
18 x clear parts
25 x etched brass parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The overall moulding is generally very good, but I found a slight short-shot on the edge of one wing - nothing major, and no real problem to deal with. Elsewhere, there's a touch of wispy flash here and there, and the only faint sink marks I noticed are on the wings leading edges where the slots attach. Ejector pin marks have been kept as unobtrusive as possible. The surface finish looks very nice, with delicate engraved panel lines and embossed rivets and fasteners. Purists may say the rivets are a bit overdone for a modern flush-finished airframe, but I like them as they lend an air of "muscle" that seems appropriate for a ground attack fighter.
Test fitA dry assembly is a little tricky due to the rather unusual parts breakdown. The entire nose section is separate (to allow for further versions), while the rear fuselage features a large ventral cutaway around the engines. The latter leaves the bottom of the fuselage unsupported with a tendency to bow in on itself until the main-wheel and engine bays are added. The nose section itself goes together neatly enough, but joining it to the fuselage without a noticeable seam will involve a little work - particularly on the spine aft of the cockpit, where the two cross-sections don't quite match.
The wings are a good tight fit, but again there's a seam to take care of at each root where it crosses the panel details - a little tricky but, to be fair, it's hard to see how Kitty Hawk could have designed it to avoid the problem.
The tailplanes are one-piece each, with good sharp trailing edges and solid locating pivots, but the fin is split into upper and lower halves, resulting in another irritating seam to fill across the panel detail. It's in just about the most awkward place imaginable and, unlike the wings, I can't help thinking this seam could have been avoided.
A few detailsThe 15-part cockpit is quite simple, but it should do the job nicely with an etched instrument panel and side consoles. No instrument decals are included, but the faces of the instruments are etched on the panel and should look good painted carefully (but, of course, I think it's a fair bet that a certain Czech company will release a colour-etched replacement panel before long...) The 4-part seat is fitted with an etched shoulder harness, but strangely no lap belts.
The nose-gear and bay are built up from 8 parts. The gear leg is split into two sections, so you may want to reinforce the joint to preclude future mishaps. The same is true for the main undercarriage. This time each gear is built up from 6 parts, with a split again on the leg itself. The wheels have nicely defined hubs and are moulded with "unweighted" tyres. The undercarriage doors are neatly detailed on the inside. The undercarriage is shown as fitted in its wells before these are attached to the fuselage halves, which will make filling seams awkward and, of course, leave the undercarriage prone to damage during later assembly, so I expect most experienced modellers will ignore the instructions' sequence and seek a more logical work-around.
The nose section features a very nicely detailed avionics bay. It's only a one-piece moulding, but the details should really pop out with careful painting and highlighting. There are also a number of clear inserts to add to the nose, so you may want to paint the reverse of these to avoid a see-through look from certain angles.. With everything in place, there looks to be plenty of room for nose weight - although the instructions don't mention if any is needed.
The cannon bays are designed to be modelled open, while the rear fuselage is totally exposed with an open engine bay and separate covers ready for a pair of 7-part aft sections of the engines to slot in. These look simple but effective, and a nice touch is the inclusion of etched petals for the afterburners.
The kit features an impressive selection of stores for the five pylons:
- Barracuda ECM pod
- BGL 400 and BGL 1000 laser guided bombs
- 250kg "dumb" bombs
- AS.37 Martel anti-radar missile
- AS.30 air-to-surface missile
- ATLIS targeting pod
- BLG-66 Bélouga cluster bombs
- PHIMAT chaff-dispenser
- Matra Magic 2 air-to-air missiles
- Aim-9L air-to-air missiles
The stores and their pylons are nicely detailed, and the fins on the missiles look good and thin. A useful load-out chart shows where each item can be carried.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is clearly illustrated and simple to follow, however I really think the suggested sequence is a recipe for disaster - well, certainly a lot of frustration. As noted above, the undercarriage is shown installed before fitting the bays, but even more worrying is that the entire front and rear airframe sections (complete with landing gear, open panels, canopy et al) are only joined at the very end. This would be just asking for trouble if even they fitted seamlessly - but unfortunately, they most certainly don't on the sample kit... With its fairly complex breakdown of sub-assemblies, this really is one kit where you'll want to make sure the basic airframe is assembled correctly, and all seams dealt with, before moving on to adding easily damaged details.
Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are keyed to most stages of the assembly.
Decals are provided for a pair of attractive colour schemes:
A. Jaguar A, No. 124, EC01/007, Provence Saint-Dizer, 1994
B. Jaguar A, No. 62 - "Boar's Head" markings.
To be honest, I found the decals are something of a disappointment. At first glance they look fine, but then something "odd" about them catches your eye, and closer inspection reveals that most of the colours are printed as a series of small dots. The decals provided with the F-94 and F-35 aren't like this (in fact, they're very good), so it's a bit of a mystery why Kitty Hawk should change how they've printed the Jaguar's. On the plus side, the registration is fine, and the carrier film is kept nice and tight. Apart from the national and unit markings, there are a number of crisply printed servicing stencils included for the airframe and external stores.
ConclusionKitty Hawk's Jaguar has a lot going for it - very good moulding and plenty of detail - but it's slightly tricky construction could catch out beginners, and the suggested assembly sequence doesn't help in that respect. But, in experienced hands it should build into a very fine model.
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