Manufacturer: Revell AG (Germany), distributed by Revell-Monogram, 8601 Waukegan Rd., Morton Grove, IL 60053-2295, 847-966-3500.
Kit: No. 04517
Comments: Injection molded, 123 parts, decals.
Pros: High level of detail, excellent molding quality, excellent clear parts.
Cons: Soft plastic easily damaged, confusing color guide in instructions.
The Rafale M is the latest in a long line of Dassault fighters, and the first in three decades designed for the French Navy - the Rafale will be the principal fighter on board the new carrier Charles de Gaulle.
Revell Germany's Rafale is a state of the art plastic kit. The recessed panel lines and rivets are beautiful. Many components, such as the ejection seat and afterburner, rival aftermarket resin items in detail and scale thickness. Even the clear parts have recessed lines and rivets. The intricate landing gear has "weighted" wheels. Underwing stores include a pair of Magic 2 missiles (with clear noses), four Mica missiles, and three drop tanks. You can pose the landing gear up or down, and you can pose the canopy open or closed.
Revell provides markings for two Rafales, a prototype and one from Flotille 12F. The instructions provide parts maps and 42 clear assembly drawings, but the color suggestions are coded to Revell paints, unavailable in the U.S. While the codes are named, some like "mouse gray," "anthracite gray," and "sea green" are not much help. Since the Rafale is so new, there is little reference on it that would explain colors. The September 1999 Air Forces Monthly had good color photos, and I used it as my guide while painting.
Construction was straightforward, and the fit was good. However, the soft plastic complicated cleanup of the sprue stubs. The decals went on fine with a little Micro-Sol, but they took their time snuggling into the detail. Some of the markings are hi-vis which contradicts the color photos in my reference. Decal No. 60 is labeled No. 27 on the instructions.
Final assembly is adding the landing gear, stores, and tiny bits. I like the clear formation lights for the wing tips; just paint them clear red (left) and clear blue-green.
The finished model is a beauty! It measures 12-3/4" long and has enough interesting curves and angles to offset the drab gray paint scheme of modern warplanes. (Look for a Revell-Monogram reboxing of the Rafale sometime in 2000.)
I spent just 20 hours on my Rafale, and enjoyed it all the way. I'll bet you won't be needing aftermarket parts for this model!