Academy 1/48 F-15C Eagle MSIP II Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2010||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||F-15C Eagle MSIP II||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||12221||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Lots of new parts added from other Eagle releases to provide this kit with nice details and lots of spares for other projects||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$72.00|
Much has been written about the F-15 Eagle over the years, but suffice it to say that after combat experience over Vietnam revealed the weaknesses of multi-role fighters in aerial combat, the USAF went back to basics with the requirements for a dedicated air-to-air fighter. First flown in 1972, the Eagle entered service in 1976, too late for aerial combat for at least another decade. Even so, the F-15 proved to be a very capable fighter in test and training exercises like Red Flag and the Eagle Drivers knew it. You could always tell an Eagle Driver, you just couldn't tell him very much.
The real proof the F-15's capabilities came in the hands of the Israeli Air Force. In their skirmishes over Lebanon and western Syria, the Israeli Eagles became known as the widest distributor of MiG parts in the world. Not to be outdone, two Saudi F-15s intercepted and shot down two Iranian F-4 Phantom IIs that flew into Saudi airspace in 1984.
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, USAF Eagles finally had their first combat, engaging a wide range of Iraqi Air Force MiGs and shot down 36, four less than the Israelis over Lebanon. This imbalance was made up in subsequent aerial combat as the F-15 proved more than a match for the MiG-29 and its older brothers.
While the F-15 remains in USAF service today, over 30 years after its first flight, it has been subjected to a series of service-life extensions to keep it combat capable. The original Multi-Stage Improvement Program (MSIP) introduced capabilities that were being incorporated into production F-15C/D Eagles and added them to Eagles already in the field. This was followed by the MSIP II which updated the APG-63 radar and added the AIM-120 AMRAAM to the Eagles arsenal. For many decades the F-15 Eagle's only weakness was kryptonite (and the occasional aggressor pilot), but as newer fighters and missiles have been fielded by other nations, the Eagle is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor as the USAF's tip of the spear.
When Academy first released their F-15 Eagle kits, they provided some nice details and one feature not seen from other manufacturers. They were the only kits to provide two intake ramp options - the standard 'flat' intakes for Eagles at rest or in flight, and the sloped-down intakes for engines running on the ground (and at specific Mach thresholds). This is still a nice innovation for modelers wishing to portray an aircraft crewed up and running on the ground.
Their F-15C/D Eagle kits were nicely done and rendered the standard Eagles nicely. Their first F-15E Bomber Eagle (Beagle) kit suffered from the same external stores configuration problems that the Hasegawa F-15E had done, but added insult to injury by providing an ASAT missile to that kit which had only been carried by an F-15A. Over the years, Academy made improvements to these Eagle kits and have released THE most modern Eagle variants in any scale with the F-15K and the follow-on F-15E which have really pushed up the bar. On the heels of those releases, Academy has reissued their F-15C kit with many of the extras that have been provided in their F-15E and F-15K Beagle kits and now render the most up-to-date air superiority Eagles in any scale.
When Academy updated these kits, 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 nine parts trees plus a single styrene tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched details. As with the previous releases, this kit is nicely molded, features finely scribed details, and is free of flash.
Among the features of this release:
- Updated 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)
- Crew figure with optional helmet options - lightweight or missile cueing
- Intake ducts
- Engine faces for Pratt engines
- Featherless Pratt nozzles
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable speed board
- Bulged main gear doors
- Updated antenna options
- Updated missile rails for AIM-120 and AIM-9
- PE ALE-45 Chaff/Flare launchers
This kit is nicely armed:
- 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
- 4 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 6 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
- 3 x 600 gallon drop tanks
There are lots of spares in here too left over from the F-15E/K releases:
- 6 x GBU-38 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 2 x Paveway LGB
- 2 x AGM-84 SLAM-ER
- Updated LANTIRN pods
- Choice of LANTIRN targeting pod or Sniper XR pod
- PE cooling screens for the rear of the LANTIRN pods
- Engine faces for GE engines
- GE nozzles
Markings are provided for five examples:
- F-15C-37-MC, 84-0014, 493 FS/48 FW, RAF Lakenheath, UK
- F-15C-33-MC, 82-0019, 71 FS/1 FW, Langley AFB, VA
- F-15C-31-MC, 81-0040, 67 FS/18 OG, Kadena AB, Okinawa
- F-15C-30-MC, 81-0026, 110 FS/131 FW, MO ANG, Lambert Field, MO
- F-15C-21-MC, 78-0488, 173 FW, OR ANG, Kingsley Field, OR
The decals in this kit are a VAST improvement over the earlier F-15C kits. First, they're printed by Cartograf and second, they were laid out by someone who knows the aircraft. The decal artwork is spot-on with everything in register and even the crew names provided. If I didn't know better, I'd swear these decals were produced by Afterburner Decals.
The sheet provides all of the distinctive markings as well as a thorough set of airframe stencils and even stenciling for the weapons and pods.
This kit is definitely a step up over the previous releases and is definitely the most up-to-date air superiority Eagle available in this scale. I like this kit and you have the parts in the box to update your Hasegawa or Revell Strike Eagles too.
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!