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FC-1 Kit

Trumpeter 1/72 FC-1/JF-17 Fierce Dragon Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2011 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject FC-1/JF-17 Fierce Dragon Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1657 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First Growler in this scale; nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look

FC-1 Kit
FC-1 Kit
FC-1 Kit
FC-1 Kit
FC-1 Kit

The Pakistani Air Force has introduced a new combat aircraft to its flightline, the JF-17 Thunder. This new design was the result of some false-starts involving Chengdu Aircraft Industries, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, and Grumman Aerospace Corporation back in the late 1980s. The original project was a technology update to Pakistan's existing fleet of Chinese-built F-7 (MiG-21) fighters, but this project quickly became too expensive. The next approach was to design the 'Super Seven' a new airframe incorporating improvements being sought by Pakistan. When Tianamen Square protests broke out in 1989, Grumman was forced to leave the program.

A new project was started, this time to not only address the needs of Pakistan's Air Force, but to deal with China's aging fleet of A-5 Fantans. This new design was also targeted for other allied nations that operate the elderly Mirage III/V airframes. The basic airframe bears a strong resemblance to the layout of the F-16 Fighting Falcon with its intake relocated to the wing roots. There are also interesting design elements similar to the Mirage F.1 and F-20 Tigershark as well. The combination is an interesting aircraft design that incorporates the best of all worlds including the MIL-STD 1553 data bus and MIL-STD 1760 weapons bus to allow the aircraft to accept a wide range of avionics and external stores options.

While the aircraft has only been in service less than a year, it has already seen some combat operations inside Pakistan and is set for many years of operational service.

Trumpeter has released the first kit of this subject in 1/72 scale and it is clear there is some nice engineering in this kit. Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one photo-etched fret with the engine nozzle and other details. According to the specs, this kit has over 120 parts in the box.

This kit has some nice features and details including:

  • Nice Martin Baker Mk.16LE ejection seat w/photo-etched details
  • Nicely detailed cockpit w/all-glass instrument panel and detailed HUD
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable horizontal stabs
  • Photo-etched afterburner nozzle
  • GSh-23 gun
  • All seven weapons stations
  • 4 x external tanks
  • 2 x PL-5 missiles
  • 2 x PL-9 missiles
  • 2 x PL-12 missiles

Assembly looks straightforward though some patience and experience will help you through the photo-etched afterburner nozzle though it will look awesome when completed!

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • FC-1/JF-17 Flight Test Article Number 4
  • JF-17, 101, Pakistani AF Airshow Scheme, 2010
  • JF-17, 102, Pakistani AF, 2010

The decals are provided on two sheets and includes airframe and weapons stenciling, new low-visibility national markings, and the distinctive markings for the test, line, and airshow aircraft examples.

Overall this looks like a really nice job by Trumpeter and kudos to their design team for not over-engineering this model. There is lots of detail here, but nothing wasted inside areas that won't be seen.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!