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F-35A Lightning II

Hasegawa 1/72 F-35A Lightning II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2014 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F-35A Lightning II Scale 1/72
Kit Number 01572 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $37.99

First Look

F-35A Lightning II
F-35A Lightning II
F-35A Lightning II
F-35A Lightning II

The Joint Strike Fighter program started with a set of requirements for a tactical fighter that would meet the operational needs of the US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps using an airframe that maximized the number of common parts and thereby reduce development and maintenance costs. As with any ambitious program like this, the devil is in the details and as the program evolved, challenges arose. The first step in the program was to determine the best overall design and Boeing developed the X-32 that had, shall we say, a rather unique appearance. Lockheed Martin countered with the X-35 and this design would ultimately prevail. This victory made Lockheed Martin the only US company to produce the only two Generation Five fighters in US service - the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

I really wasn't surprised to hear Hasegawa's announcement of a 1/72 F-35A Lightning II kit. The race to be first was between Italeri and Academy, but Hasegawa held back to be the best kit of this subject so far. Let's take a look:

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees plus two trees of clear parts. I've built the Academy and Italeri 1/72 F-35A kits and one of the common questions from you was which kit is the closest in dimensions? While I haven't formally answered that, let me say that the Hasegawa kit is the first to be dimensionally correct (at least in length and wingspan). They nailed it!

Academy and Italeri took a page out of Hasegawa's 1/48 F-22A Raptor kit and molded the surface radar-absorbing material (RAM) shapes as raised details which was not accurate nor well-received. In this kit, Hasegawa learned its lessons and molded the outlines for the RAM details as scribed lines, but you can see in the images that they've provided the RAM as decals this time. Another first among F-35 kits!

Among the other features and options in this kit:

  • First F-35A in 1/72 with intake ducts to compressor face
  • First F-35A in 1/72 with no weapons bay open option
  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Choice of clear or tinted canopy
  • Positionable canopy
  • First F-35A in 1/72 with canopy interior details
  • First F-35A in 1/72 with detailed cockpit sill
  • Positionable landing gear
  • First F-35A in 1/72 with optional display stand (not shown)

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F-35A, 10-5009, 422 TES/53 WG, Nellis AFB, 2013
  • F-35A, 08-0747, 35 FW, Eglin AFB, 2011

So here we have what is arguably the nicest F-35A kit in 1/72 scale so far. The advantages over the other offerings are the lack of molded-on RAM details, tinted canopy option, and complete intake ducts. The only real disadvantage is the absense of the weapons bay. The best part is that this kit has a suggested retail price similar to the Academy and Italeri options, so you have choices.

Kudos to Hasegawa for waiting to do this kit right and I hope we'll see this scaled up to 1/48 in our near future.

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!