Trumpeter 1/72 JL-8/K-8 Karakorum Kit First Look
By Sundiata Cowels
|Date of Review||December 2012||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Kit Number||1636||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting subject||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$17.99|
By the mid 1980's Pakistan and China were looking for successors to their respective ageing fleets of Cessna T-37 and JJ-5 jet trainers. Having similar requirements, the two countries decided to share the cost of development and manufacture for a joint basic jet trainer/light attack craft that became known as the K-8 Karakorum. With multiple options for power plants, four hard points and sophisticated avionics packages, the JL-8/K-8 has been a moderate success with over 500 examples built for over thirteen operators since 1993.
Comprised of fifty-four separate parts, divided among three sprue trees, the JL-8/K-8 is a diminutive craft even in 1/72 scale. As usual, the molding is top notch with fine scribe detail.
As per the instructions the build looks straight forward, beginning the with the obligatory cockpit sub assembly first and ended with adding the main gear and nose wheel to the underside of the completed airframe. I'm curious as to why Trumpeter elected to create the air intakes as three part assemblies; they appear to be over-engineered for the size of the kit.
There is no option to have the canopy modeled in the open position and no pilots are offered. The cockpit instrument main panels are finely detailed with enough relief so that painting in screens and buttons should not be a chore.
Unfortunately the same attention to detail was not carried over to the side console panels which appear to be a series of glutinous bumps rather than intricate instrumentation.
Along with two external fuel tanks the kit also includes a 23mm canon ventral gun pod. The engine exhaust is represented by a relief molded burner-can but there is no intake-trunking.
Kudos to Trumpeter for actually sealing the decals in their own separate plastic bag along with a wax paper cover; something I hope becomes an industry standard rather than just slipping the decal sheet in with the instructions.
Markings appear to be for an early production model PLAAF/Pakistani Air Force aircraft and for the "Sherdils" (Lion Hearts) Pakistani Air Force aerobatics team.
Trumpeter continues to push the product envelope by offering modelers new and unique subjects. The JL-8/K-8 Karakorum may not be at the top of the list for most model aircraft builders but I'd be willing to guess that after a glimpse of this kit, you'll be hankering to see this craft molded in 1/48 scale with a larger selection of decals for the various Air Forces worldwide that have adopted it.