Planet Models 1/48 SF.260M Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||September 2007||Manufacturer||Planet Models|
|Kit Number||194||Primary Media||Resin/White Metal/Photo-Etch/Vacuformed Canopy|
|Pros||Beautiful kit of a sexy airplane!||Cons|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$38.18|
The SF.260 was based on a design by Stelio Frati (the SF in the designator) for an airframe that would suit the sport aircraft and military trainer markets. Initially produced by Aviamilano in the mid-1960s, Frati moved production to SIAI Marchetti. In 1997, Aermacchi purchased SIAI Marchetti and still produces the type today.
The aircraft was a two-place military trainer (or a three-place civil aircraft) that looks every bit of high-performance as flies. Powered by a 260 horsepower Lycoming engine, the SF.260 could fly over 200 mph and had a range of over 1100 miles. The aircraft can climb at 1800 feet per minute and has a service ceiling of 19,000 feet, yet it stalls at a mere 68 mph. Not bad for a high performance trainer.
Imagine a Beech T-34 cross-bread to a Ferrari and you'd have the SF.260. The airframe is designed for aerobatics at +6/-3 g and the pilot is definitely being given the feel of a fighter - the pilot sits in the right seat so that the stick is in the right hand and the throttle quadrant is in the left. Aermacchi even flirted with a turboprop version of the aircraft, though that feature didn't seem to draw much interest.
Planet Models has released the SF.260 in 1/48 scale, and may I say that this kit is as beautiful as its full-scale subject. Cast primarily in resin, the fuselage is hollow cast to facilitate the cockpit that goes under that huge canopy.
The cockpit is cast almost as a single part though it is configured as a civil sport aircraft with the third seat in the rear. If you're set on a military trainer, it wouldn't be too difficult to modify the interior into a two-place military configuration. All you need to do to complete the cockpit (aside from painting) is install the control sticks, instrument panel, and photo-etched seatbelts and harnesses.
Though you can't see much through the cooling intakes at the front of the cowling, the kit provides the front pair of cylinders for the Lycoming engine to see. The propeller blades and spinner are cast separately but appear to be simple to assemble.
The wing is cast as one piece and mounts to the underside of the fuselage. The resin tip tanks mount to the wingtips. The retractable landing gear is rendered in while metal struts, resin wheels, and photo-etch details, so strength will not be an issue.
Two vacuformed canopies are supplied and while the instructions don't show it, I'm sure you can position your canopy open with careful cutting and some framing.
The kit comes with a nice sheet of decals representing two aircraft:
- SF.260M, ST-15, Belgian Air Force, Sharkmouth
- SF.260M, 70-46, Italian Air Force
The SF.260 is one of those aircraft that looks like it is flying at the speed of heat while parked. If you can't afford one of your own, you can at least have one on your desk. If sex sells, then this aircraft is all about twisted steel and sex appeal. The fact that the aircraft remains in production more 40 years after its first flight is testament to its ruggedness, low cost of operation, docile flight characteristics, and pure beauty on the flightline. As I've said above, this kit looks as nice as its full-scale version.
My sincere thanks to Hobbyshop.cz for this review sample!