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J-10A Kit

Trumpeter 1/48 J-10A Vigorous Dragon Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2009 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject PLAAF J-10A Vigorous Dragon Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2841 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-etch
Pros Nicely detailed kit of this hot new PLAAF fighter Cons Insufficient number decals for the airframe side numbers (see text)
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look

J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit
J-10A Kit

The Chinese aircraft industry has come a long way over the last several decades. They produced a number of aircraft types for the PLAAF under license from the former Soviet Union, and when relations chilled, they simply acquired examples of newer types and produced them. One distinction about Chinese built MiG fighters however - these copies were usually better built and more robust than the originals.

As the Chinese companies improved their skills and manufacturing technologies, newer designs and innovations became possible. One such design was the J-10 series which was an interesting adaptation of the IAI Lavi design. This aircraft isn't a copy of Lavi, but you can see the influence of the design and data that was allegedly provided by Israel. What's also there is some serous influence from the Russian aircraft industry that has been available to China after relations improved between the two countries a number of years ago.

While the canard and wing planform are distinctively Lavi-inspired as are the overall lines of the fuselage and ventral fins, the intake is more of Russian influence as it should be since the aircraft is powered by a Saturn-Lyulka AL-31FN engine. The vertical stabilizer has a much wider chord and the radome is rounder than the F-16-influenced Lavi design. In short, there almost appears to be some MiG 1.42 elements in this design which also flow from similar characteristics of the cancelled J-9 fighter design. The J-10 is currently in service with the PLAAF with 300 said to be ordered and another 36 ordered for the Pakistani Air Force.

Trumpeter has returned with the first-ever kit of the PLAAF's agile J-10A in 1/48th scale. This kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees plus two small clear trees and a fret of photo-etched details. According to the specs, this kit has 268 parts to make up the J-10A. Detailing of this kit is quite nice with finely scribed details throughout.

You won't be lacking for details and options. Among the highlights of this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit with MFDs provided as decals
  • Nicely detailed ejection seat w/photo-etched belts
  • Positionable canopy
  • Full length air intake duct with AL-31 compressor face at the end
  • Photo-etched boundary layer vent at the intake
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable canards
  • Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps
  • Choice of open or closed afterburner nozzle

As for external stores, you have the first good selection of modern PLAAF weapons for this kit including:

  • 3 x external fuel tanks
  • 4 x 250-3 250kg bombs
  • 2 x PL-5 AAM
  • 2 x PL-7 AAM
  • 2 x PL-8 AAM
  • 2 x PL-9 AAM
  • 2 x PL-11 AAM
  • 2 x PL-12 AAM

The photo-etched fret provides the seatbelt/shoulder harness for the ejection seat and two are provided here indicating that the two-seat J-10 is also coming in our future. The fret also provides a HUD frame, canopy bow mirrors, intake splitter plate detail, and a few other small details.

Profiles are provided for two examples:

  • J-10A, 50655
  • J-10A, 60185

Two sheets of decals are included in this release, one for the airframe and one for the stencils and markings for all of the external stores. The airframe decals don't provide markings for a specific aircraft, generic numbers are given to allow you to replicate any aircraft. You'll have to be careful which aircraft you replicate however - there aren't enough numbers provided. If you use the first example above - 50655, you'd need six 5s to replicate the tail number on both sides of the tail. Only three 5s of that size are included.

As mentioned above, this is the first kit of a truly modern Chinese fighter and Trumpeter has done a great job of this kit. This will definitely look great on your modern scale fighter flightline.

If you want an IAI Lavi, you might be able to convert this model with the help of a spare 1/48 Pratt-powered F-16 kit to get the radome (and part of the forward nose perhaps), intake and other details.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!