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Hasegawa F-35B

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft kit with terrific detail
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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There’s something ironic about assembling a kit of an aircraft that appears to disassemble itself when taking off or landing. 

The F-35B Lightning II is the short/vertical take-off and landing (S/VTOL) version of Lockheed Martin’s ultimate stealth attack jet. With its wacky, rotating-aspect jet nozzle and barn-door lift-fan hatch in operation, it looks like midair disintegration in action.

Hasegawa’s new kit is the first F-35B in 1/72 scale since Fujimi’s 2010 effort. Highlights of this kit include good cockpit (although the seat has no harness) and wheel-well detail, great fit overall, and decals for the zigzag pattern of the tape they use around panel lines. Good thing; masking and painting the tape would be tedious and time consuming. 

The kit also comes with a generic stand molded in 17 parts, three of which you would use to hold the F-35. There’s a pilot figure with an alternate head, but like Hasegawa’s F-35A kit, there are neither weapons nor weapons bays.

Landing gear, canopy, and lift devices can be posed opened or closed using alternate parts, which come in handy when painting. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Everything fits perfectly. I like that the entire cockpit tub can be dropped into the nose after the fuselage is assembled and painted. Not clearly explained in the instructions, but an alternate pair of trailing-edge flaps (D1 and D2) represent the dropped position.

Hasegawa’s representation of the mid-ship lift fan looks great when finished. Before closing the fuselage, you add multitab alignment supports inside (two A7 and two B1). There’s a vinyl grommet added to the fuselage’s rear to facilitate installation of the engine nozzle. If you’re careful with glue, you can assemble the nozzle’s pieces so they can be rotated to the vertical takeoff position.

It really didn’t take long to build this kit, so the real effort went to painting and decaling. If you choose to have the gear bays and lift devices opened, you should first paint all the interior surfaces gloss white. Top tip: use sticky putty to temporarily place the closed-position gear doors and lift hatches to mask interior areas as you paint the jet’s exterior.

While I appreciate Hasegawa’s decals for the zigzag panel tape, they appear to be too light in color. The instructions recommend Mr. Color 306 gray (FS36270) for the nose cone and other panels and doors of the exterior, and that color seems correct. 

But photos of F-35Bs in service show the tape color to be similar to the nose/panel color.

Hasegawa’s recommendation for the overall exterior is Mr. Color WWII U.S. neutral gray (13), but photos show a more metallic gray. I found an online recommendation for the “Have Glass” paint, mixing equal portions of Mr. Color engine gray (339) and Super Metallic stainless steel (SM04). Looks good.

I love decaling, so I didn’t mind the six hours I spent applying the zigzag tape patterns and markings. All the tape patterns fit perfectly. I chose the more colorful markings of the commander’s jet from 

VMFA-211, but low-viz markings for an F-35B from VMFA-121 are included.

I simply had to finish the model with all the doors and canopy opened ­— it just looks so funky! Maybe someday I’ll do another build all buttoned up and sleek. In total, I spent only 19 hours on the model. Since Hasegawa now has 1/72 scale F-35A and F-35B, can an F-35C be on the horizon? 


Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2019 issue.

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