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Lightning Kit

Trumpeter 1/72 Lightning F.1A/F.2 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2009 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Lightning F.1A/F.2 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1634 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nicest Lightning kit in this scale Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $36.95

First Look

Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit
Lightning Kit

Fighter Command was responsible for the air defense of Britain and it employed an advanced array of early warning radars and fighter-interceptors to rise up and stop incoming bombers. From those days in World War Two with Spitfires and Hurricanes blunting the aerial assaults of the Luftwaffe, Fighter Command executed its mission with precision. During the Cold War, the threat had changed from massive air raids of German bombers delivering conventional bombs to the threat of Soviet subsonic and supersonic bombers wielding nuclear weapons. While Cold War radar technology allowed for earlier detection of oncoming threats, these Soviet bombers are flying significantly faster and higher than the Germans of World War Two. And with the threat of an accidental nuclear detonation should an approaching bomber be deemed a threat, it was essential to get eyes on the target as quickly and as far away from British population centers as possible.

English Electric developed the ultimate interceptor of the Cold War in the early 1960s with the Lightning F.1. The aircraft was an advanced twin-engined design that also featured significant wing area while minimizing frontal area - a highly swept wing. This aircraft would become the only all-British Mach 2+ design that could also climb at over 50,000 feet per minute. Armed with the Firestreak or Red Top air-to-air missiles, the Lightning could get onto its target in very short time and still had two 30mm cannons in reserve should the missiles not finish off the threat(s).

Despite its high performance, the Lightning was supposed to be an interim solution that ended up serving the Crown into the late 1980s when it finally was replaced by the Tornado air defense variant. Few aircraft could match Lightning's performance, with the F-15 Eagle being the closest to matching Lightning's ability to go from brake release to eyes on target in the least amount of time.

Here is Trumpeter's next installment in the 1/72 Lighting series, the F.1A/F.2. This kit was preceded by the Lightning F.2A/F.6 released about five months ago.

The kit is molded in Trumpeter standard light gray styrene and is presented on four trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Detailing of this kit is quite nice with finely scribed details throughout.

With 72 parts in this kit, this model should be a straightforward build. The kit features an intake duct with the centerbody shock cone that leads back to the lower engine's compressor face. The ductwork for the upper engine wasn't provided since it wouldn't be visible after assembly and greatly reduces the complexity of the build.

The ailerons and stabilators are molded separately whilst the rudder is molded in place.

As indicated by the title, this kit has the parts to render the F.1A or the F.2. The aircraft were virtually identical and both armed with the Firestreak missile. The instructions indicate that the Red Top missiles are interchangeable but I believe that Red Top wasn't adopted until Lightning F.3.

The canopy is molded in two parts so you have the option of posing the cockpit open or closed.

Markings are included for three examples:

  • Lightning F.1A, XM181, 19 Sqn, RAF, 1971
  • Lightning F.1A, XM182, 56 Sqn, RAF, 1962
  • Lightning F.2, XN779, 19 Sqn, RAF, 1973

As I said earlier, many folks have been looking forward to a nicely tooled Lightning and this kit is well-rendered.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!