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Lightning Kit

Trumpeter 1/72 Lightning F.2A/F.6 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2008 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Lightning F.2A/F.6 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1654 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nicest Lightning kit in this scale Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $36.95

First Look

Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit

Fighter Command was responsible for the air defense of Britain and it employed an advanced array of early warning radars and fighter-interceptors to rise up and stop incoming bombers. From those days in World War Two with Spitfires and Hurricanes blunting the aerial assaults of the Luftwaffe, Fighter Command executed its mission with precision. During the Cold War, the threat had changed from massive air raids of German bombers delivering conventional bombs to the threat of Soviet subsonic and supersonic bombers wielding nuclear weapons. While Cold War radar technology allowed for earlier detection of oncoming threats, these Soviet bombers are flying significantly faster and higher than the Germans of World War Two. And with the threat of an accidental nuclear detonation should an approaching bomber be deemed a threat, it was essential to get eyes on the target as quickly and as far away from British population centers as possible.

English Electric developed the ultimate interceptor of the Cold War in the early 1960s with the Lightning F.1. The aircraft was an advanced twin-engined design that also featured significant wing area while minimizing frontal area - a highly swept wing. This aircraft would become the only all-British Mach 2+ design that could also climb at over 50,000 feet per minute. Armed with the Firestreak or Red Top air-to-air missiles, the Lightning could get onto its target in very short time and still had two 30mm cannons in reserve should the missiles not finish off the threat(s).

Despite its high performance, the Lightning was supposed to be an interim solution that ended up serving the Crown into the late 1980s when it finally was replaced by the Tornado air defense variant. Few aircraft could match Lightning's performance, with the F-15 Eagle being the closest to matching Lightning's ability to go from brake release to eyes on target in the least amount of time.

Here is Trumpeter's new Lighting kit, and one of the first times where we've seen the 1/72 version appear before its larger scale cousin. Many folks have been looking forward to this release as well as the upcoming 1/32 Lighting kit (which is going to be huge - literally).

The kit is molded in Trumpeter standard light gray styrene and is presented on four trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Detailing of this kit is quite nice with finely scribed details throughout.

With 88 parts in this kit, this model should be a straightforward build. The kit features an intake duct with the centerbody shock cone that leads back to the lower engine's compressor face. The ductwork for the upper engine wasn't provided since it wouldn't be visible after assembly and greatly reduces the complexity of the build.

The ailerons and stabilators are molded separately whilst the rudder is molded in place.

As indicated by the title, this kit has the parts to render the F.2A or the F.6. The F.2A carried the Firestreak missiles (which are molded in clear to help facilitate the faceted seeker head) and nose-mounted Aden cannons. The ventral fuel pack could also accommodate two additional Aden cannons to provide 4 x 30mm cannons on target. The F.6 had the cannons initially deleted, but the configurable ventral fuel tank allowed for two 30mm Aden cannons to be installed underneath. Missile armament for the F.6 was the Red Top. The F.6 also carried the unique overwing external tanks for additional range (since there wasn't any room under the wings with the main landing gear folding outboard into the wings!).

The canopy is molded in two parts so you have the option of posing the cockpit open or closed.

Markings are included for two examples:

  • Lightning F.2A, XN781, 19 Sqn, RAF
  • Lightning F.6, XR753, 23 Sqn, RAF

As I said earlier, many folks have been looking forward to a nicely tooled Lightning and this kit is well-rendered. I am looking forward to seeing this kit's big brother in the coming months as it has to be awesome after seeing this kit!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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