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Trumpeter 1/72 scale BAC Lightning F.6/F.2A

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Kit: No. 01654
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Price: $37
Comments: Injection-molded, 88 parts, decals
Pros: Beautiful detail; nice cockpit; good fit; excellent decals
Cons: Minor fit issues; small glitches in the instructions
Issue Published: March 2009
Trumpeter's new Lightning has gorgeous detail, recessed panel lines, and, maybe best of all, the parts breakdown indicates future variants of the Lightning will be forthcoming.

The cockpit's great - raised panel and console detail, or a decal for the instrument panel if you prefer that option instead. Alternate parts for the F.6 or the F.2A are provided, along with blanking plates for the spots "reserved" for earlier Lightning variants' guns. The instructions don't show it, but weight is needed upfront.

An ingenious assembly of radome, intake, engine face, nose wheel well, and cockpit tub is mounted in the nose; I recommend installing it all in one sitting. I glued my cockpit in, let it dry, then found I had to sand down the intake trunk so it'd fit. Putting in all the components at the same time will allow some wiggle room before the glue sets. Filler putty was needed around the blanking plates and in the nose where the gun ports and intake came together, but everything else fit with virtually no problem.

Detail on the wings and in the main wheel wells is excellent; I dropped the separate flaps a bit.

Landing gear parts are beautiful, but marred a bit by ejector pin marks on the struts. Instructions for mounting the main gear doors to the struts aren't clear - assembled as shown, the doors would be at an angle to the airstream; but, in my reference photos, they look to be parallel to it. The final assembly illustration is missing a phantom view, showing the inflight refueling probe glued to the belly instead of the underside of the left wing.

Armament comprises two Firestreak missiles and two Red Top missiles - one each in clear plastic and gray plastic as well.

The clear parts are nice and thin. The separate canopy can be posed open, though there's not much bearing surface to attach it to the fuselage. I added a piece of wire to support it, and also added masking tape belts to the ejection seat for visual interest in the front office.

Two markings options are provided - an overall gray No. 23 Squadron aircraft, and a camouflaged No. 19 Squadron aircraft based at Gütersloh. The excellent decals are complete with all stenciling - lots of stenciling - and though the trestle marks on the ventral fuel tank needed some prodding, everything settled in nicely. Overwing fuel tanks are supplied in the kit, but I elected to omit those because RAF Germany Lightnings rarely carried them.

Everyone I know who's seen a Lightning fly says one of two things: "You should see that thing climb!" or "The noise was incredible!" Both comments speak to the brute power of the aircraft. Trumpeter's offering captures the Lightning's pugnacious look and does its reputation proud.

I spent 18 hours constructing this well-engineered kit - an enjoyable build for anyone with even a little modeling experience.

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