Italeri 2688 1/48 Kfir C1/C2 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||March 2010||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||2688||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build||Cons||At little expensive for an old ESCI mold, airframe accuracy, ID triangles wrong color|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$39.00|
Necessity is the mother of invention. The Israeli Aircraft Industry (IAI) took a major step forward when the reliable flow of combat aircraft that Israel was buying from overseas manufacturers came to an abrupt halt in 1967. Prior to this, Israel's front line fighter was the Dassault Mirage III and the Israelis had been working with the Dassault engineers to improve the capabilities of the Mirage III and to develop a simpler fighter-bomber variant that would become the Mirage V.
When Israel learned that an Arab attack was imminent, it conducted a pre-emptive strike to blunt the effectiveness of the Egyptian Air Force. This resulted in an embargo that saw the Mirage 5Js that were needed for combat duty held up in France.
The first major project for the new IAI was the Nesher (Vulture) - a copy of the very Mirage 5Js they'd paid for built using Mirage III patterns and intelligence. The Nesher entered service in 1971 and saw combat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Wanting to develop an improved attack aircraft, IAI took the Nesher design and modified it to accommodate the General Electric J79 engine, the same used in their F-4 Phantom IIs and far superior to the Atar engines in the Mirages and Nesher. The resulting aircraft became the Kfir (Lion Cub) and the Kfir C1 entered service in 1975. The Kfir C1 was followed by the C2 which featured canards on the intakes, dogtoothed leading edgess on the wings. The US Navy and Marine Corps operated a squadron of Kfirs, designated F-21, to support adversary training alongside the F-5 and A-4. Kfirs were also exported also to Columbia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka. The Israeli Air Force retired its Kfirs in the 1990s after 20 years of service.
Italeri has released its 1/48 Kfir C1/C2 kit and it is actually a reboxing of the old ESCI kit. While the ESCI kit wasn't bad in its day, it was (and still is) a simple model with very simplified details. Surface detailing is raised and a bit crude, typical of the time, and it suffers the same accuracy issues that have affected other kits in their series like the MiG-23, A-7, etc.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.
Some modelers will be happy with building the model straight out of the box and having the distinctive Kfir on their shelf. Others will want to remove the raised panel lines and scribe some accurate lines into the surfaces of the airframe. You'll need to find some good plans of the aircraft to alter the airframe profile back into shape.
They'll also want to toss out the three-piece cockpit and get one of the aftermarket resin cockpits for the Mirage III or V and make the changes unique to the Kfir. The cockpit set will also have a good replacement for the awful kit ejection seat. While you're at it, get an aftermarket J79 afterburner nozzle and chamber to replace the simplistic kit part as well.
The box cites a 'Super Decal Sheet' in the box, and while it isn't bad, I don't know about 'Super'. What it does provide is markings for four examples, a set of nicely done maintenance stencils, and a set of the 'don't shoot me' ID triangles. You should probably cut the yellow out of these triangles and paint the surfaces of the wings and tail a light orange using these triangles as templates, then apply the black triangles when done. The aircraft portrayed here are:
- Kfir C2, 882, 113 'Hornet' Squadron, Hatzor AB, 1979
- Kfir C1, 732, 109 'Valley' Squadron, Ramat-David AB, 1976
- Kfir C2, 840, 101 Squadron, Hatzor AB, 1979
- Kfir C2, 512, 144 'Arava Guardians' Squadron, Hatzerim AB, 1987
The instructions provide four view profiles to illustrate the camouflage patterns applied to each of these aircraft.
If you're looking for a starting point to build a 1/48 Kfir, this kit will work if you can't find an ESCI boxing at the kit swap for a few dollars. There is plenty of opportunity for the AMS modeler to have some fun with this kit, but it seems a little expensive for what's in the box. You would have less of a hassle starting with the ESCI Mirage IIIE/Mirage V kit and using an IsraCast Kfir C2 conversion to get to a relatively smooth build of the Kfir.