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Italeri 1/72 scale Boeing X-32 JSF

Manufacturer:Italeri, distributed by Testor Corp., 620 Buckbee St., Rockford, IL, 61104-4891, 815-962-6654
Kit: No. 1208
Scale: 1/72
Price: $15
Comments: Injection-molded, 51 parts
Pros: Quick assembly, open weapons bay
Cons: Fit problems in the intake, some shapes wrong (but design is still changing), speculative colors
Definitely one of the more unusual (ugly?) shapes in the sky, Boeing's bid for the Joint Strike Fighter may become a familiar sight if the design is chosen for production. The massive "sugar scoop" intake and portly shape may belie its abilities to carry guided weapons deep into enemy territory and take off and land on carriers and short runways.

Italeri's kit attempts to capture the wacky shape of this ship, and comes pretty close. The problem with making a kit of a prototype is that manufacturing changes on the real aircraft may be translated improperly (or not at all) onto the model. While Italeri's kit reflects some of the late design features, some of its shapes clearly miss those seen in photos of the rollout and first flight. The most noticeable differences include "vertical" (actually canted outward) fins that are much narrower than the prototype's, and a forward fuselage that is not broad enough at the cockpit. The fairing behind the canopy is not as long as that on the prototype, and the location of some of the doors and antenna appear to differ as well.

That said, Italeri's kit is fun to build - except for the intake. The "floor" of the intake fits inside the bottom of the fuselage, but the seam is inset from the leading edge about 3/16" inside the intake lip. It's a bear to clean up. The rest of the kit fit together pretty well, however.

The weapons bay and landing gear bays have detail, but it is speculative. You are provided with AIM-120s and a JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) bomb, and you can position the internal pylons retracted or extended. The JDAM is misshapen.

Italeri's color suggestion reflects the understandable uncertainty; they recommend either overall white or Light Ghost Gray. Following photos in the Sept. 25, 2000 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, I went with overall Light Gray FS 36495 with a trim line (leading edges of fuselage, wing, and fins) painted with FS 36314 (Flint Gray), both Model Master enamels. The decals include the JSF badge, aircraft and engine manufacturer logos, and national insignias. No national insignias were on the prototype at first flight.

I spent only 16 hours on this kit. The finished model is funky, but looks like a caricature of an already strange-looking airplane. Perhaps time will tell if manufacturing changes will bring the Boeing JSF closer to the model.
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