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Italeri 1/72 scale Lockheed X-35 JSF

Manufacturer: Italeri, distributed by Testor Corp., 620 Buckbee St., Rockford, IL, 61104-4891, 815-962-6654
Kit: No. 1209
Scale: 1/72
Price: $15
Comments: Injection-molded, 57 parts
Pros: Easy to build, good fit
Cons: No weapons bay, exhaust cone given in vertical mode only, canopy should be two parts, nose gear doors incorrect, color recommendations and decals are incorrect
Certainly the more aesthetically pleasing of the two Joint Strike Fighter prototypes, Lockheed's entry features a more conventional design. The engine intake is split into a pair of shrouded units on the sides of the fuselage. Photos of the real flying prototype don't reveal the weapons bay layout, and that may be the reason Italeri has left it out of this kit.

Overall, the kit is basic with simplified landing-gear bays. The cockpit looks okay, but the ejection seat looks much like a Russian design, not the new seat developed for the prototype. No weapons are included. What Italeri does give you, though, is the design's vectoring engine nozzle, posed in the vertical take-off position, along with the intake and exhaust of the vertical lift fan behind the cockpit. You can choose to close these off (as I did), but there is no option on the rear exhaust.

I had no problems with fit, but watch out for the intake bulges alongside the nose; these are "handed" and won't fit right if you get them mixed up.

I'm sure the design of the kit was finished before the prototype's first flight (October 24, 2000), so there are several inaccuracies. When viewed from above, the intakes should have a sharp kink on the outside corner rather than the curved kit representation. The wing chord is a bit narrow, and there is no evidence of the refueling receptacle on the central spine. Photos show a two-piece canopy (or at least a canopy brace) which is not on the kit part. From the side, the kit misses the prominent thruster exhausts along the sides of the intakes. Also, the nose gear door layout should be a forward door hinged on the right, and a door aft of the strut hinged at the rear.

Italeri suggests painting the model overall Light Ghost Gray, but the prototype flew in a scheme similar to that applied to the F-16. I painted mine with Dark Ghost Gray sides and bottom, then Gunship Gray on the top and fins. Much of Italeri's decals are printed in dark gray and disappear against the Gunship Gray paint; I left off nearly all the decals.

The model was easy to build and paint, and I couldn't have spent more than seven hours on it. My reference was the October 30, 2000 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology


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