Tamiya 1/32 McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle Kit First Look
by Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2012||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Subject||McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||60304||Primary Media||Styrene, White Metal|
|Pros||Still the best F-15C kit in any scale||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$164.00|
In 1969, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a contract to develop the Air Force's next generation fighter. The Vietnam air war had caught the service without a suitable all-weather fighter and as an interim measure, the Air Force purchased their own variants of the Navy's F-4 Phantom II.
Given the rapidly declining kill ratios from World War II through Korea and into Vietnam, what was needed was a true air superiority machine. The resulting design was very large, but the F-15 Eagle was the first production aircraft that produced more thrust than it weighed. While the US Air Force didn't have the opportunity to fly the Eagle in combat during its first 20 years of service, the Israeli Air Force literally decimated anyone that opposed the F-15 in the sky. During operations against Syria in the Bekaa Valley, the F-15 destroyed around 80 Syrian Air Force MiGs with no losses, becoming the widest distributor of MiG parts in the world.
During Operation Desert Storm, the F-15 swept the skies of Iraqi fighters. On one night, Captain Richard 'Kluso' Tollini was leading a four-ship sweep of F-15Cs from the 33rd TFW. As they dropped off their tanker, AWACS called out numerous MiG-25s heading for them. The Iraqi MiGs employed effective tactics against the Eagles' radar and missiles, but not effective enough to keep Capt. Tollini from shooting down one Foxbat and getting part of a second Foxbat that Capt. Larry Pitts had also hit.
The F-15 Eagle will continue to maintain air superiority into the future as the aircraft receives upgrades to its avionics and weapons that will keep the Eagle's talons sharp for another decade. Two of the key weapons that will enhance the Eagle are the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the AIM-9X Sidewinder.
Tamiya's 1/32 F-15C Eagle has been around for over 18 years and yet it remains the best Eagle kit in any scale. In 1/32 scale, there was only one other contender and that was Revell's two-seat Eagle kit that was based upon the prototype F-15B airframe with the short speedbrake. Revell recently reissued this kit as an F-15D or F-15E, but if you want a really good two-seater to work with, Tamiya has their F-15E kit in 1/32 scale as well.
This Tamiya kit naturally going to build into a large scale model and Tamiya designed the model to be rugged enough to withstand being moved about between display shelf to contest table and back. Let's take a look at the features and options of this kit:
- Detailed cockpit
- Nice ACES II ejection seat
- Optional pilot figure
- Detailed Avionics Bay 5
- Postionable canopy
- Positionable speed brake
- Choice of extended or stowed boarding steps
- Optional boarding ladder (instead of the steps)
- Positionable port side avionics bay door with details inside
- Full-length intake ducts with F100 engine compressor faces
- Movable engine intakes
- Nice afterburner chambers
- F100 nozzles are without turkey feathers (correct configuration)
- Highly detailed wheel wells
- White metal gear struts
- Rubber tires on styrene wheels
- Detailed gun bay with M61 Vulcan
- Positionable gun bay door
- Detailed APG-70 radar
- Radome can be posed open or closed
- Stabilators are positionable
- Optional wheel chocks
- 4 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinders
- 4 x AIM-7F Sparrows
- 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
Out of the box, the kit represents the one of the Block 40+ F-15Cs built having the APG-70 radar. The majority of F-15Cs were produced with the APG-63. This isn't a big deal if you keep the radome closed.
The kit does not have the MSIP upgrades in the kit, so the cockpit will need upgrading and you'll need the upgraded shoulder missile rails that are rated for AIM-120 as well as AIM-9. There are aftermarket sets available to make these relatively minor changes to bring the aircraft up to date.
If you're going to represent a current F-15C, you'll want to get an upgraded pilot's head with the Helmet Mounted Cueing System (a unique-shaped 'bone dome') that is used to cue the AIM-9X (and you'll want some of those as well).
Construction of this kit not only uses the usual cement, but key structures are reinforced with screws to get a good mechanical hold which makes this assembled model far more durable later in life.
There are two decal sheets in the kit that carry the three marking options and all of the stencils. These include:
- F-15C, Block 23, 78-0538, 18th Wing commander's aircraft, Kadena AB, Japan
- F-15C, Block 23, 78-0544, 44 FS/18 Wing, squadron commander's aircraft, Kadena AB, Japan
- F-15C, Block 29, 80-0053, 3rd Wing commander's aircraft, Elmendorf AFB, AK
In addition to the stencils and markings, Tamiya also provides an ample supply of 'Remove Before Flight' streamers that are attached to safety pins in and around the aircraft when it is parked. Only the weapons pins remain in place after engine start and these are removed in the 'arming pit' located near the runway prior to takeoff.
The color schemes presented in this kit also represent the earlier Compass Ghost scheme applied to the F-15 fleet through the 1970s and 1980s before the current Mod Eagle scheme was applied to the air superiority fleet (not F-15Es). We have the color charts for the Compass Ghost and Mod Eagle charts in our F-15 Reference Section.
This kit is a beauty straight out of the box, and while it represents a pre-1983 (pre-MSIP) configuration, updating the aircraft won't take much effort to bring it into current configuration. If you don't know the aircraft that well, you probably wouldn't even notice these minor points. With all of the aftermarket details and very colorful decal options that are on the market for this kit, you can really have a contest contender without much effort.
My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!