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F-35B Lightning II

Academy 1/72 F-35B Lightning II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2020 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-35B Lightning II Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12569 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details and options Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.00

First Look

F-35B Lightning II
F-35B Lightning II
F-35B Lightning II
F-35B Lightning II
F-35B Lightning II

The F-35B Lightning II is the STOVL (Short Take-Off/Vertical Land) version of Lightning II family designed for the United States Marine Corps and the allied nations who operate (or previously operated) the Harrier aboard ships. The F-35B differs from the F-35A or F-35C by having a lift fan behind the cockpit and movable exhaust nozzle to facilitate STOVL operations while otherwise having most of the same capabilities as the other two variants. While the F-35 is heavier than the Harrier, it is equipped with an afterburning turbofan engine that allows the F-35 to fly supersonic. Unlike the Harrier, the F-35 is a network-centric aircraft that has the latest low-observable technologies and can carry its armament inside two weapons bays. For operations that don't require stealth, the F-35 can also carry additional external stores under the wings (like the Harrier).

If you remember the recently released 1/72 F-14A Tomcat kit from Academy, you'll have noted that kit is the nicest kit of the Tomcat in this scale. Academy has really stepped up their kit quality. Here's their latest release, the F-35B Lightning II, and it is even nicer that the Tomcat! This kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The molding is sharp with nicely scribed surface details. Among the features and options for this release:

  • Detailed ejection seat
  • Detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed weapons bays
  • Positionable weapons bay doors
  • Detailed F135 engine in areas that can be seen
  • Positionable lift fan doors
  • Detailed lift fan system
  • Positionable engine nozzle
  • Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps
  • Detailed wheel wells
  • Weighted wheels
  • Optional external pylons

External stores include:

  • 2 x AIM-9X
  • 2 x AIM-120
  • 4 x GBU-38
  • 2 x GBU-31
  • 1 x centerline gunpod

This release offers three markings options:

  1. F-35B, 169164, VMFA-121, VK/01, USS Wasp, 2019
  2. F-35B, 169415, VMFA-211, CF/00, USS Essex, 2109
  3. F-35B, 169024, VFMAT-501, VM/24, USS Wasp, 2019

Take a look at the decal sheet - they've provided the RAM details as decals, which will save lots of time from masking. Nice touch!

This is another nice kit from Academy that will also please more experienced modelers with the molded-in details waiting for the proper paint and washes. Nice job Academy!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!