Having reviewed Academy’s and Hasegawa’s 1/48 scale F-22A Raptors, I was curious how Academy’s newly tooled 1/72 scale F-22 would compare. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Academy’s Raptor consists of only five injection-molded sprues comprising 181 parts molded in light gray/green plastic. Each sprue is individually bagged; two hold clear parts, one plain and the other smoke-tinted. One thing I found slightly weird was Academy molded the missile and landing gear doors in clear. (To show off the bays?) Surface detail is a mix of raised detail and finely engraved lines; the detail is restrained in view of the scale.
The cockpit has raised detail for the side consoles and instrument panel, and a seven-piece ejection seat that looks pretty good when painted and dry-brushed. Main wheel bay detail is OK, though not much of it can be seen. The main gear is finely molded and has very delicate attachments; handle the finished model with care.
The nose gear bay has little detail. The intake ducts extend only partially into the fuselage; they should go all the way back to the rear landing gear bay. However, the vectored exhaust nozzles are about the right depth.
Academy’s kit provides several options: open or closed canopy, exhaust nozzles, gear and missile bays, and a tail hook that can be posed extended. In addition, armament includes two GBU-32 LGB bombs, six AIM-120C AM RAAMs, two AIM-9Ms, and two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. Also included are two 600-gallon external fuel tanks.
In the cockpit, I found the tiny throttle quadrant and control stick difficult to handle. My tweezers launched both parts into the great unknown and they were never seen again. Six decals represent the multifunction displays on the panel; very tiny and very nice.
With the cockpit complete, I added the missile bays, main landing gear bay, intake ducts, and exhaust ducts. None of those subassemblies presented problems. I then glued the upper and lower fuselage halves together and the fit was perfect! I needed only a tiny bit of filler to close a small gap on the bottom of the intake inlets (parts A17 and A18).
About painting the Raptor: There is a lot of controversy in the modeling world about exactly how to replicate the Raptor’s elusive metallic sheen. I painted mine using Xtracolor paints for the three primary colors, and Alclad II for the metallic colors on the exhaust nozzles.
The Xtracolor glosses eliminated the need for a clear coat, so after a few days of drying it was time to apply the Cartograph decals. My compliments to Academy for its decals: Markings for four different aircraft are provided, all perfectly printed. They performed flawlessly, settling with just a touch of Micro Sol and no silvering whatsoever. A clear coat of Model Master flat lacquer dulled the shiny decals. Since the F-22A is relatively new, I modeled a factory-fresh aircraft with no weathering.
I spent about 20 hours on my Raptor, largely on masking all the leading edges of the wings and control surfaces to replicate the Raptor’s distinctive paint scheme. Aside from the complex painting, builders with a modest amount of experience should be able to produce a very satisfying F-22A model.