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Airfix 1/72 scale English Electric Lightning F.2A

Kit:A04054 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$18
Good fit, terrific instructions, nice options of posable parts including annular intake cover
Some decals are a little stubborn
Injection-molded, 91 parts, decals

Brawny, brutish, and British — a mainstay of the Cold War, English Electric’s Mach 2-plus Lightning exuded raw power and blistering acceleration, courtesy of more than 30,000 pounds of deafening Rolls-Royce Avon thrust. In the capable hands of Royal Air Force Fighter Command flight demonstration teams, it also exhibited grace in its unique way. The F.2A version was considered by its pilots to be the sweetest-handling of the Lightning line.

Airfix’s new tool of this iconic fighter features beautiful detail, options for posable flaps, canopy, and speed brakes, and the inclusion of closed gear doors (though no display stand is supplied). An optional intake cover and pilot figure are included, as well as weighted tires and other small-but-welcome touches.

Airfix has upgraded its kit instructions with what look like CAD schematics showing assemblies and parts in a contrasting color (in this case red). Excellent touch!  Sidebar illustrations showing correct angles for attaching the aerodynamic surfaces and gear struts are a real plus, too. 

The cockpit tub features decals for the side consoles and instrument panel, but none for the AIRPASS radar sight. The seat builds up into a basic but fairly nice representation of the real aircraft’s Martin-Baker unit, though purists will want to add some detail besides the masking-tape belts I used on mine. Two Firestreak missiles with separate seeker heads are provided. 

Airfix’s ingenious way of assembling the entire front end of the aircraft — cockpit, intake trunk, nose-wheel well, and engine-intake ring — works well, but all those parts coming together right at the nose, along with the separate gun-trough inserts, meant some moderate filling and sanding. Most parts just clicked together with minimal putty needed. I think I erred in positioning the exhausts on my sample — they protrude too much to suit me.

Markings are provided for two separate wing commanders’ aircraft from RAF Gütersloh, Germany, one in natural metal and one in the camouflaged scheme that followed a couple of years later. I opted for the earlier 92 Squadron scheme. The instructions’ color callouts (referencing Humbrol paints) call for a medium sea gray glare shield, but most reference photos I saw seemed to indicate it was black. So, that’s how I painted mine.

The extensive decal sheet has a plethora of stencils, and I had a little trouble getting a couple of them to conform to small-radius curves. The yellows and reds are overstrikes on top of white, and thus are a little thicker than the rest. Otherwise, the decals were excellent and adhered well. 

I spent 22 enjoyable hours building this honey-for-the-money model from Airfix. Apart from some very small parts and very small decals, such as individual chop marks for the canopy, it’s an easy build and highly recommended.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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