Academy 1/48 Hunter F.6/FGA.9 Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Easy build, new decal subjects
The first Hunter prototype took to the air in 1951, with initial operational examples entering service by 1954. The early Hunters experienced a number of teething problems from engine surges to fuel capacity. By the time the Hunter F.6 became operational in 1957, most of the 'bugs' had been worked out and the Hunter became one of the principal fighters of the RAF. The Hunter was a solid machine and stable through all flight regimes, including supersonic. A good example of the Hunter's solidity was an incident where the engine had flamed-out on a long final approach to the runway. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and the unmanned Hunter continued to glide down final approach and slide to a stop on the runway on its belly. Damage to the aircraft was light enough to have the aircraft back in service within a few weeks. The pilot took a few weeks longer to mend from his ejection seat ride and subsequent parachute landing.
When the English Electric Lightning entered service as the RAF's supersonic fighter/interceptor, Hunter F.6s were being released for conversion into the FGA.9 (Fighter, Ground Attack Mark 9) configuration. Like all good fighters that have become 'second string', the Hunter was promoted to air-to-ground strike duties. The Hunter served in Air Forces around the world, some well into the 1990s! In addition to Great Britain, Hunter operators included the Sweden, Denmark, Peru, India, Switzerland, Jordan, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Rhodesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Singapore, Qatar, Kenya, and Oman.
Academy has re-released their Hunter kit once again with a limited edition decal sheet. The kit is about 19 years old now and for better or worse, remains the best Hunter kit in this scale. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. All panel lines and rivet details are nicely scribed. When this kit was first released, I was already building the best Hunter kit in any scale (less than 1:1) which remains any of the Revell AG 1/32 scale kits. I recall that there were a few issues with this kit which we'll discuss shortly.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Basic cockpit tub that is too shallow
- Resonable ejection seat that wants to grow up to 1/48 scale, but for now is more like 1/72
- Intake ducts lead to engine compressor face
- Choice of F.6 or FGA.9 rear fuselage
- Positionable flaps
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable speed brake
For whatever reason, Academy designed the cockpit to be too shallow and then shrank the ejection seat down to fit. The result is a cute ejection seat that is the wrong scale, but fortunately there are aftermarket cockpit sets which add nice details and the appropriate proportions back into the front office.
External stores include:
- 2 x external tanks (two sizes)
- 2 x rocket pods
- 24 x RP 3" rockets
- 2 x bombs
This release has seven markings options:
- Hunter F.6, XF526, 4 FTS, 78, RAF, 1979
- Hunter F.6, XF526, 56 Sqn, C, RAF, 1960
- Hunter F.56, BA360A, 20 Sqn, IAF, 1970s
- Hunter FGA.9, XJ642, 54 Sqn, L, RAF, 1967
- Hunter F.58, J-4026, 'Patrouille Suisse', Swiss AF, 1990s
- Hunter F.58, J-4032, 'Patrouille Suisse', Swiss AF, 1990s
- Hunter F.58, J34, 'Acro Hunters', G, Swedish AF, 2014
The instructions advise 10 grams in the nose to allow the aircraft to sit on its nosegear. I wouldn't add much more as the landing gear is somewhat thin and may not hold excess weight. If you're using an aftermarket resin cockpit, you may have sufficient weight and balance. I've seen some complaints about the wing/fuselage fit, you may have to add a shim inside the wing root to thicken the wing camber to close any gap. Test fit and experiment as needed.
On one hand, it is good to have this kit back on the market since the Hunter is an important, if somewhat overlooked, aircraft subject. It has been off and on the market enough to have a variety of aftermarket options available. As I've mentioned above, the best to date of the subject comes in 1/32 scale, but the Academy (which has also been seen in Italeri boxings) remains the best in 1/48. With all of the oddball subjects coming out in this scale, I am very surprised that nobody has stepped up with a proper Hunter kit in this scale!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!