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F-22A Kit

Academy 1/72 F-22A Raptor Air Dominance Fighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2010 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-22A Raptor Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12423 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.00

F-22A Kit
F-22A Kit
F-22A Kit
F-22A Kit
F-22A Kit

When the F-15 Eagle entered service in the mid-1970s, it was billed as the air superiority fighter for the US Air Force. When the F-22 Raptor entered service, it was billed as the air dominance fighter. What's the difference? Trying to fight against the Raptor is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The F-22 took an extraordinary period of time to develop prior to entering service, but the aircraft represents the integration of major advances in avionics, aerodynamics, flight control laws, stealth, and propulsion. Its gestation may have been long, but it has developed a significant leap in manned fighter capabilities.

Despite the aircraft's capabilities, the F-22 took a lot of flak from the press and others for becoming the most expensive fighter ever produced. What gets overlooked all-too-often is that it costs X dollars to develop an aircraft. The cost of that development is spread across the number of aircraft built. As the Air Force and Congress tried to 'save money' by cutting the number of aircraft built, the cost of development is spread across fewer airframes and the cost per airframe skyrockets. This vicious cycle of 'saving money' resulted in the Raptor setting new records for cost, not because the aircraft is expensive, but because of the politics of 'saving money'. It shouldn't be any surprise that the F-35 Lightning II has already surpassed the cost of the F-22 and the F-35 was supposed to be the 'budget' model.

While the Raptor has not seen combat to date, the aircraft have deployed around the world to practice the Air Force version of the Navy's old 'gunboat diplomacy', putting potential trouble makers on notice that their air and air defenses will become smoking holes in the ground should they wish to test their knives in the next gun fight.

Academy has scaled down their beautiful 1/48 F-22A kit to 1/72 scale and it doesn't look like they left out any of the details or features from it's larger cousin. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees plus two trees of clear parts. One clear tree is crystal clear, the other is smoke/gold tinted.

The kit cockpit reveals a nice 'pit in this scale - stick and throttle, ACES II ejection seat, and instrument panel are all here and the multi-function displays (MFDs) are all rendered as decals.

The main weapons bays are beautifully rendered with all of the structural ribbing, plumbing and wiring. Ditto on the lateral bays. One difference between this kit and its larger cousin is that even though both scaled kits provide you with the option of open or closed bay doors, this kit provides those closed doors as clear parts so you can paint them with the rest of the model or leave them clear to show off the insides.

The intake ducts run from the inlet to the compressor faces. The afterburner chambers also have turbine faces visible.

Back outside the airframe, the trailing edge flaps and horizontal stabs are positionable. The ailerons and rudders are molded in neutral position.

Actually to sum up the options and features of the kit:

  • Detailed weapons bays
  • Positionable weapons bay doors
  • Choice of retracted or extended weapons trapezes
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Full length intake ducts
  • Positionable thrust vector pedals
  • Choice of stowed or extended tail hook
  • Choice of clear or tinted canopy
  • Positionable canopy

As for internal/external stores:

  • 2 x wing pylons
  • 2 x 600 gallon external tanks
  • 2 x AIM-9M
  • 2 x AIM-9X
  • 6 x AIM-120C
  • 2 x GBU-32

Markings are provided for four examples:

  • F-22A-20, 03-4045, 199 FS/154 W/HI ANG, HH, Hickam AFB, HI
  • F-22A-20, 03-4046, 19 FS/15 W, HH, Hickam AFB, HI
  • F-22A-30, 06-4126, 525 FS/3 W, AK, Elmendorf AFB, AK
  • F-22A-20, 04-4078, 94 FS/1 FW, FF, Langley AFB, VA

The sheet is beautifully printed by Cartograf and also includes a complete set of airframe stencils as well as stenciling for the weapons.

If you're wondering if Academy provides any hints to recreate the metallic effects of the upper surfaces of the airframe, no such luck. The paint guide does provide good four-view diagrams with paint call-outs using Gunze, Life Color, Humbrol, and Testor ModelMaster paint equivalents.

This is a beautiful kit at a nice price which will finally get 1/72 modelers a Raptor kit with the same detail and features as the 1/48th scale offering.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!