Manufacturer: Italeri, distributed by Testor, 620 Buckbee St., Rockford, IL 61104, 815-962-6654.
Kit: No. 850
Comments: Injection molded, 137 parts, decals
Pros: First 1/48 scale Raptor, good weapons selection, moveable flaps, clear canopy, good decals
Cons: Spartan interior detail, generic weapon bay detail, poor fit in places, inaccurate color information
The fighter which the USAF wants for the 21st Century is Lockheed's F-22A Raptor. It combines third-generation stealth, agility, passive and active sensors, fire-and-forget air-to-air missiles, and "super cruise" - the ability to cruise at supersonic speed without using fuel-guzzling afterburners.
Italeri's new kit is the first in any scale to depict the production configuration of the F-22. Previously, Italeri, Airfix, Revell, and Dragon had kits of the YF-22 prototype (which differed considerably in shape and detail from the production F-22A) in 1/72 scale, and Italeri/Testor even offered a 1/32 scale YF-22.
As sophisticated as the F-22 Raptor is, Italeri's new kit is relatively simple. Recessed panel lines and landing gear are well represented, but the cockpit interior is basic. The instrument panel is flat and the only detail is provided by decals. Knobs and switches on consoles are generic, and the throttle is missing. The ejection seat is adequate, but detailers may want to replace it with an aftermarket Aces II seat.
Options in the kit are moveable flaps and positonable canopy, and you can open the weapon bays and a couple of small panels. The weapon bays have generic detail but look impressive when loaded with six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinders. Italeri even provides external racks and a pair of GBU-30 1,000-pound JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) bombs.
The fit of the large upper and lower wing/fuselage halves creates gaps near the engine exhaust area. Compounding the problem is the unique nozzle shape which makes filling and sanding difficult. The fit of the air intakes (part Nos. 52a and 53a) is especially poor. The trailing edges of the wings are thick and out of scale. The clear canopy is excellent and is bagged separately to prevent scratches. However, gluing it to the separate frame without marring the clear styrene is tricky. The clear HUD (Head-Up Display) has an ejector-pin mark right in its center.
The recommended Dark Gull Gray and Light Ghost Gray camouflage is not correct - but I didn't know that when I painted the model. The correct camouflage colors of the No. 1 F-22A are the "mod Eagle" colors - FS FS 36251 (light) and FS 36176 (dark). These colors are available from Testor.
Italeri's decals are well printed and went on fine with a little Micro Sol. Both No. 1 and No. 2 F-22s are on the sheet, and the rollout "Spirit of America" legend is included.
Despite its shortcomings, the finished model looks impressive. Most of the shapes are correct, but the nose looks a little too bulbous compared with photos in World Air Power Journal (Vol. 38). Also, the open muzzle bay shows the gun too low in the bay. Advanced modelers may want to make some corrections, but beginners and enthusiasts alike will be happy to see this initial Raptor in their collections. I spent about 20 hours on mine.