Academy 1/72 F-15C Eagle MSIP II Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|F-15C Eagle MSIP II
|New parts added
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.
The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus a single styrene tree of clear parts. 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 (decals)
- Positionable open or closed canopy
- Positionable boarding ladder
- Choice of up or down intakes (shut down or running engine configuration)
- Intake ducts down to engine faces
- Choice of feathered or featherless engine nozzles
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable speed board
- Bulged main gear doors
- Updated antenna options
- Updated missile rails for AIM-120 and AIM-9
This kit is nicely armed:
- 4 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 4 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
- 1 x 600 gallon drop tank
Markings are provided for five examples:
- F-15C-37-MC, 84-0014, 144 FW/CA ANG, Fresno ANGB, 2013
- F-15C-42-MC, 86-0167, 144 FW/CA ANG, Fresno ANGB, 2014
- F-15C-39-MC, 85-0100, 142 FW/OR ANG, Portland ANGB, 2014
- F-15C-21-MC, 78-0473, 142 FW/OR ANG, Portland ANGB, 2013
The decals in this kit are printed by Cartograf and 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. 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.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!