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Lightning F2A/F6 Kit

Airfix 1/48 English Electric Lightning F2A/F6 Kit First Look

By Sundiata Cowels

Date of Review April 2015 Manufacturer Airfix
Subject English Electric Lightning F2A/F6 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 9178 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Well designed Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $24.99

First Look

Lightning F2A/F6 Kit
Lightning F2A/F6 Kit
Lightning F2A/F6 Kit
Lightning F2A/F6 Kit
Lightning F2A/F6 Kit
Lightning F2A/F6 Kit

The BAC (English Electric) Lightning interceptor, strike and reconnaissance fighter was a successful if somewhat limited design. By situating the dual engines in an over/ under arrangement as opposed to the standard side by side configuration for most twin engine fighters, the English Electric engineers were able to avoid any of the penalties of off-center thrust, should one engine fail. This made the aircraft much more streamlined for its primary role as an interceptor. With such a design specific approach, the Lightning's suffered from short range due to small fuel tanks and a diminished weapons load out. In due time, these problems were addressed by installing over-wing pylons to carry extra fuel tanks and additional under wing pylons near the wing tips to carry rocket pods in a ground attack role.

Although the F2A was the numerical predecessor to the F6 variants it was actually the final version to enter service. Both aircraft were fitted with Avon 211 engines (and 301 engines for the F6 version) and were modified with larger wings, tail fins, ventral fuel tanks and in-flight refueling capability. Only the F6 versions utilized Red Top AAMs and the ventral 30mm cannons.

Airfix's 1/48 scale kits of the Lightning variants have long been lauded as being some of the best models that Airfix have made and when I happened to see one at a recent IPMS New Jersey meet, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. With 160 parts, attached to 5 parts trees (four light-grayish/blue styrene, one clear) it is evident from the start that Airfix took their time in developing this reproduction.

Highlights include:

  • Engraved panel lines
  • Intake trunking with turbine/impeller faces
  • Engine exhaust faces
  • Pilot figure
  • Boxed in wheel wells
  • Great decal selection and stencils (for 7 aircraft)
  • Humbrol color call outs

I was surprised to note that this kit was released back over 17 years ago and it still looks acceptable today in this age of super-detailing. With a well laid out 23 page instruction  guide, the build looks to be straight forward and fun. Recommended.