Airfix 1/48 SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1A Kit First Look
|Date of Review||May 2007||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Subject||SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1A||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||7104||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interior and exterior fuselage are separate parts, excellent detailing||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The cost of developing a combat aircraft started to escalate after World War II with the advent of increasingly sophisticated radars, sensors, avionics, engines, and so forth. While many nations strived to be self-sufficient and support their own strategic defense industries, others started to collaborate to 'share the load'. Great Britain and France jointly developed Concorde and Jaguar.
France was looking for an inexpensive trainer and attack aircraft that had the ability to operate off of short runways. Great Britain was seeking an advanced supersonic trainer. With the melding of these requirements, a family of single seat strike aircraft would be developed to replace the British Hunter and the French F-100 Super Sabre, as well as a family of two-seat supersonic trainer aircraft.
The joint venture between Great Britain and France was called SEPECAT, and the first Jaguars entered service with France and the RAF in the early 1970s. Over the years, these aircraft have been upgraded with improved engines, avionics and sensors to provide greater day and night strike capabilities.
The Jaguar has seen combat with both air forces in Desert Storm, and over Kosovo with the French Air Force. The Jaguar has also been exported to India, Ecuador, Oman, and Nigeria.
Years ago, ESCI produced the first kits of the Jaguar - both the GR.1 (RAF) and Jaguar A (French) in 1/48 scale. Heller also produced the Jaguar A which reflected the French Air Force configuration of the aircraft (the main visible difference between the two being the nose). Heller also released the two-seat Jaguar which could be tweaked for the French and RAF versions. The ESCI and Heller kits were okay for their time but were a challenge to build.
A little over a decade ago, Airfix released a new-tool of the Jaguar. It wasn't a modification of the ESCI kit as the fuselage halves don't exactly line up. The Airfix kit is molded in brownish-gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. Two of the trees are the fuselage halves.
The cockpit is not bad though the instrument panel and side console details are rendered with decals. The ejection seat is three parts and could use some aftermarket seat belts/harnesses as well as actuation handles.
The landing gear is very nicely done with all of the mechanical linkage details nicely captured. The wheels wells are also nicely done and will look great with a nice wash to bring out the details.
The stabilators can be posed as you'd like, but the flaps, ailerons and rudder are molded in place. There are lots of details rendered as separate parts as these molds appear capable of rendereing the French Air Force version with some parts swaps. I don't remember Heller releasing such a version from these molds.
The kit provides a nice selection of externals and an even nicer set of decal stencils for these externals! The instructions show the decal differences between the two Jaguars depicted on the decal sheet and more specifically the differences in the weapons stenciling.
Markings are provided for two examples:
- Jaguar GR.1A, XZ363, 41 Sqn, RAF, RAF Coltishall, 1989, Commanding Officer's aircraft
- Jaguar GR.1A, XX733, RAF JAGDET, Bahrain, ODS, 1991, 'Biggles/Pink Spitfire' as flown by Sqn Ldr D.R. Bagshaw, DFC
The decals are very nicely done and even after sitting on my shelf for more than a decade, there is no hint of yellowing. As I mentioned above, the externals are treated to an extensive set of stenciling, but so is the 41 Sqn aircraft. The JAGDET aircraft was hastily painted desert pink and sent on its way sans the usual stenciling. These were reapplied when the aircraft returned home and resumed their normal colors.
I think the Jaguar is a very nice looking aircraft that has been largely overlooked as a kit subject. Thankfully, Airfix tackled the job and has developed the nicest Jaguar GR.1 kit available in any scale. Heller released a revised Jaguar A (kit 80428) based upon the Airfix tooling and it is just as nice. My thanks to Tony Hodun for clarifying the Jaguar kit release details
While Airfix/Humbrol did go into receivership (bankruptcy), they have been reportedly acquired by Hornby (UK HO train hobby manufacturer) and will likely be re-releasing kits soon. In the meantime, the Jaguar is still readily available at kit swaps and other online resources.