Academy 1/48 F-15E Strike Eagle Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2009||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||F-15E Strike Eagle OIF||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||1687/12215||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Lots of updates to the kit; nice details and weapons; super decal sheet||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$49.00|
Designers saw further potential in the F-15's design to adapt to the air-to-surface strike mission. With the F-111's service life rapidly coming to an end, McDonnell Douglas adapted a two-seat version of the aircraft to employ new night-attack sensors called LANTIRN, (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night), increased fuel capacity using conformal fuel tanks (FAST (fuel and sensor tactical) packs), an increased gross weight for the additional fuel and a significant payload, and more powerful Pratt & Whitney F100 engines to push the lot aloft. The result was the F-15E Strike Eagle, nicknamed Beagle (Bomber Eagle) or simply Mud Hen. This aircraft remains at the forefront of the USAF's strike capability, while versions of the F-15E have been exported to various Air Forces around the world.
When the USAF started operations in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the F-15s swept the skies of Iraqi fighters while the F-15E used its precision strike capabilities to pick apart the Iraqi war machine. Even more than ten years later, new generations of aircrews took these very same aircraft into Afghanistan in OEF and back to Iraq in OIF, and once again the Eagle reigns supreme.
For a look at the first edition of Academy's F-15E Strike Eagle kit, look here. When that kit first came out, I was impressed with a number of its design innovations, but it did have a few shortfalls in key details that distinguish the F-15E. Earlier this year, Academy released the F-15K SLAM Eagle in honor of the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) bionic Strike Eagles. Unlike the USAF Strike Eagle, these F-15Ks are powered by the General Electric F110 engine producing lots more thrust over the 'stock' mudhens. Interesting that the batch of 20 F-15Ks that were recently ordered to supplement the initial batch are once again Pratt-powered.
When Academy released this kit, they had payed attention to the comments from a variety of sources that pointed out some of the detail inaccuracies in their initial release and there are a number of new sprues in this kit with nice updates.
The kit is molded in dark gray styrene and presented on ten parts trees plus a single styrene tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched details. As with the first release, this kit is nicely molded, features finely scribed details, and is free of flash.
Among the features of this release:
- Early or late rear cockpit CRT layout
- Updated ACES II ejection seats
- Positionable open or closed canopy
- Choice of up or down intakes (shut down or running engine configuration)
- Two crew figures with optional helmet options - lightweight or missile cueing
- Intake ducts
- Engine faces for Pratt or GE engines
- Featherless Pratt or standard GE nozzles
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable speed board
- Bulged main gear doors
- Updated antenna options
- Corrected FAST packs with cooling scoops
- Corrected bomb suspensions on the FAST packs
- Updated missile rails for AIM-120 and AIM-9
- Updated LANTIRN pods
- Choice of LANTIRN targeting pod or Sniper XR pod
- PE cooling screens for the rear of the LANTIRN pods
- PE ALE-45 Chaff/Flare launchers
Unlike the first releases of their F-15E, this kit is nicely armed:
- 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
- 4 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 6 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
- 6 x GBU-38 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 2 x Paveway LGB
- 2 x AGM-84 SLAM-ER
- 2 x 600 gallon drop tanks
- F-15E-45-MC, 88-1687, 336 FS/4 FW, SJ, 'Back for More IV Mad Duck'
- F-15E, 89-0494, 336 FS/4 FW, SJ, 'Dirty Bird - Do Not Paint'
- F-15E, 90-0231, 336 FS/4 FW, SJ, 'Captain America'
- F-15E, 88-0503, 333 FS/4 FW, SJ
- F-15E-46-MC, 88-1700, 336 FS/4 FW, SJ, 'Dragon Betty II'
The decals in this kit are a VAST improvement over the earlier released. First, they're printed by Cartograf and second, they were laid out by someone who knows the aircraft. Four of the five subjects here are very nice and usable as-is. Even the data blocks have the right tail numbers which is something only one aftermarket decal maker produces. Nice!
The fifth choice should be used at your own peril as F-15E 88-0503 doesn't exist. It looks like the decal artist was starting on this subject and got distracted before completing the layout. the nose gear number was for 89-0503 which does exist, but the serial number in the data block was for a third tail number.
No biggie, there are four good subjects on this sheet plus an extensive set of maintenance stencils for the airframe and a nice set of stencils for the armament as well.
This kit is definitely a step up over the previous releases and is definitely the most up-to-date mudhen available in this scale. The Revell kit was the best mudhen in 1/48th scale, but I think we may need a rematch. I like this kit and you have the parts in the box to render one of the export GE-powered Strike Eagles as well.
This kit is definitely recommended!