Italeri 1/48 F-35B Lightning II Kit First Look
|Date of Review||October 2022||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||F-35B Lightning II||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||2810||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$129.99|
The F-35B Lightning II is one of three designs put forward under the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) program. The F-35A is the USAF's advanced Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform as well as fighter and fighter-bomber platform that operates from standard runways. The F-35B is similar to the F-35A except that it possesses a vertical lift fan for Short Take-Off and Vertical Land capabilities in limited ground environments and aboard ship. The F-35C is also similar to its two siblings except that it has longer/larger wings and a tail hook for catapult launch and arresting gear landing (CATOBAR) operations aboard aircraft carriers. While the F-35A was the first to fly and looked like it would also be the first into service, it was the F-35B that achieved its initial operational capability and went to sea. Even so, the Marines gradually rolled out the F-35B's capabilities while observing how the aircraft performed in squadron service. All three variants of the F-35 are now operational and variations of the F-35A and F-35B are reaching allied airpowers as well. Even so, only the Israeli Air Force has sent their F-35s into limited combat operations.
Italeri decided to produce the F-35B as their first JSF kit. Molded in gray styrene, the kit is presented on five parts trees plus upper and lower fuselage (duplicate trees not shown) as well as two trees of transparent parts (one clear and one tinted) plus one tree of photo-etched parts. The kit's layout is similar to the first F-35B kit released in 1/48 scale, the one produced by Kitty Hawk models. The notable similarity is the separately produced wings which need mounting to the fuselage using a pair of mounting holes/pins. Other F-35 kits produce the wings molded to the fuselage halves to remove the resulting seam line and search for the correct wing/fuselage mounting angle.
Among the features and options of this kit:
- Decent cockpit and ejection seat
- No pilot figure
- Positionable canopy
- Intake ducts around lift fan and down to engine compressor face
- Nice detailing in the wheel wells
- Nice detailed landing gear
- Nice detailing in the weapons bays
- Weapons bay doors are positionable
- Like the Kitty Hawk kit, this provides parts 9K radar reflectors for training aircraft on the dorsal side but no reflectors for the ventral side
- Exhaust nozzle can be posed in the standard or landing positions (no take-off position provided)
- Lift fan can be posed in the open or closed position
- Leading and trailing flaps are positionable
External stores include:
- 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM--120C AMRAAM
- 1 x GAU-22/A gunpod
- 6 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 4 x GBU-12 LGB
This kit comes with markings for five aircraft:
- F-35B, ZM151, 207 OCU, RAF Marham, UK, 2019
- F-35B. ZN145, 617 Sqn, RAF Marham, UK, 2019
- F-35B, 168060, VMFAT-501, VM/51, MCAS Beaufort, 2018
- F-35B, 169165, VMFA-225, CE/225. MCAS Yuma, 2021
- F-35B, MM7451, 4th Group, 4-01, Italian Navy, 2019
This is a typical F-35 kit given that many different companies are producing all three variants of the F-35 in all three major scales. On the plus side, this kit provides the right mix of weapons for both the stealth version and for the 'beast mode' version of the aircraft. The kit isn't overengineered, so construction should be straightforward. On the minus side of the scale, the separate wings and lack of pilot may be a concern for some modelers. Also, the choice of markings provided are for the training and early adopters of the F-35B and none of the markings reflect the F-35B at sea.
For an F-35B, this kit (at present) is one of the better options available.
Thanks to MRC for the review sample.