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F-15A

Hasegawa 1/48 F-15A Eagle 'ADTAC' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2009 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F-15A Eagle 'ADTAC' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09850 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice F-15A out of the box, lots of aftermarket available for this kit Cons Molds getting old - flash
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $76.00

First Look

F-15A
F-15A
F-15A
F-15A
F-15A
F-15A
F-15A

The F-86 Sabre was the Air Force's lead dogfighter during the Korean War and achieved air superiority once its pilots gained experience with jet vs jet aerial engagements. After Korea, the Air Force turned to guided missiles and supersonic fighters, leaving the dogfighting role a relic of the past.

As the Air Force found itself once again in a similar situation over Vietnam, this time they didn't have a suitable aircraft to achieve the same level of air superiority. The F-4 Phantom came the closest, even with guns and missiles, the Phantom lacked the agility of the MiGs and its kill ratios reflected that fact.

In the late 1960s, the Air Force released a requirement for a new air superiority machine to resume and surpass the capabilities of the F-86 in the modern air combat arena. McDonnell Douglas won the competition with the F-15 Eagle. The Eagle entered service to late for Vietnam, and it wouldn't get its first combat experience in USAF service for several decades. The Israeli Air Force had also adopted the F-15 Eagle and these fighters achieved a significanlty high kill ratio in combat with the Syrian Air Force. When the Eagle did enter combat with the USAF, it achieved air superiority over the skies that it patrolled.

Hasegawa has reissued their F-15 Eagle kit, this time as the F-15A with a twist. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees, plus five small trees with the alternate engine nozzles, plus one tree of clear parts, and one fret of photo-etched details. While I haven't looked inside some of their other recent reissues, this one appears to have come full circle with some previous special editions.

The kit is entitled ADTAC, or what Air Defense Command became after being absorbed into the Tactical Air Command (before becoming Air Combat Command).

The Hasegawa tooling of the 1/48 F-15 is still my favorite, though we've seen rival kits from Academy, Monogram, Italeri, Tamiya, and others. For whatever reason, Hasegawa got this kit 'right'. Where they lost ground was with their F-15E variation of this tooling that was surpassed by Revell-Monogram's top-notch F-15E kit. Why Revell-Monogram never circled around and backdated that tooling to render the earlier Eagles, I just don't know.

When Hasegawa first released this kit, it was representative of the Eagle early in its service where the F100 engine nozzles were covered like the nozzles on the F-16. At some point early in the Eagle's career however, it was discovered that the 'turkey feather' exteriors of the afterburner nozzles didn't contribute significantly to aircraft performance and could simply be removed. For the longest time, the only option to render a featherless Eagle was using a photo-etch set from I don't remember who that you had to origami into shape and was a royal pain to use.

At some point in the Hasegawa Eagle kit's history, and I believe it coincided with their F-15A ASAT special edition, Hasegawa created new tooling to render the featherless nozzles. At last, we could do feathered and unfeathered Eagles. Remember that even though the USAF deleted the turkey feathers, Israel, Japan, and I believe Saudi Arabia all retained the feathers on their nozzles.

In this release, we have the same F-15A Eagle that we've seen in previous releases, but we also get the featherless nozzles and the photo-etched nozzle actuators that are visible when the feathers are removed. In addition, the ASAT (anti-satellite) missile and its centerline pylon are also included in this release.

The cockpit is nicely done out of the box and includes a pilot figure with one of the hard-shell bone-dome helmets we wore in the 1970s and 1980s. There are numerous aftermarket cockpits available for this kit should you want to have even more detail or to update the cockpit to reflect one of the updated aircraft.

Among the features of this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Boarding ladder
  • Full-length intake ducts
  • Positionable speed brake
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Choice of feathered or unfeathered afterburner nozzles
  • 4 x AIM-7E/F Sparrow
  • 4 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
  • 2 x external tanks
  • 1 x ASAT missile and launch pylon

A few limitations as well:

  • Only 2 600 gallon tanks included - you can carry one centerline, two under the inboards, or three on the combination of centerline and inboards - I wish they'd include the third tank
  • The aircraft can only be posed with the engines shut down. When the engines start, the intakes pivot down at idle power, a feature only captured in the Academy kit
  • The molds are showing their age - the sprue trees are showing more flash that will have to be cleaned up. Not bad when this kit cost $25 USD, but not good now that it has more than tripled in price

The major feature that changes with each of Hasegawa's special edition releases is the decal sheet, and here we have three nice examples to choose from:

  • F-15A, 76-008, 318 FIS, ADTAC
  • F-15A, 76-015, 5 FIS, ADTAC
  • F-15A, 76-103, 48 FIS, ADTAC

What is 'interesting' about this release is that the decals are included for the ASAT's stenciling, but none of the markings are included for the ASAT test aircraft used for the one and only live launch. The two ASAT-configured Eagles wore the markings of the Edwards AFFTC.

This is still one of the nicest Eagle kits on the market, with the nicest in 1/48 scale going to Revell-Monogram's F-15E and the best in any scale going to Tamiya's 1/32 masterpieces. The markings in this kit provide a nice cross-section of the air defender Eagles that still guard our skies. Out of the box, the kit is nice, thanks to the world of aftermarket decals and details that are still available for this kit, the sky is the limit.

Still recommended!

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!

References:

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