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Revell Germany Saab JAS-39C Gripen


I find the JAS-39 Gripen an interesting contrast to its predecessor, the AJ/JA-37 Viggen. The latter is a heavyweight — a powerful brute of a fighter — while the former is a lightweight, agile aircraft employing the latest technology. Advances in electronics and engine design allowed Saab to produce a relatively small aircraft packed with multimission capabilities.

Revell Germany's newest release represents the latest version of the Gripen and offers two marking choices: a colorful Czech aircraft decorated for the 2014 Tiger Meet, and a Swedish fighter that flew in a 2013 Air Force Red Flag exercise.

Molded in light gray plastic, the kit has nicely engraved panel lines, and adequate detail in the cockpit, wheel wells, and speed-brake wells. A nice touch is the variety of external stores and the option to pose several parts in open/closed or extended/retracted positions. The company's familiar booklet-style instructions have exploded-view diagrams that show how to transform the 116 pieces into a great-looking model in 33 steps. 

Construction begins with the cockpit, which looks good and busy with the kit decals and some dry-brushing. I made belts and harnesses from masking tape and added them to the ejection seat. Watch the decal placement numbers here; I missed some initially. Although it's not mentioned in the instructions, I added ballast to the nose cone to make sure the nose gear would stay on the ground.

Even with the kit's modular construction (for a possible two-seater), overall fit is very good. The leading edges of the wing and the inboard lower-flap inserts will require careful filling and sanding for a smooth fit. The landing-gear pieces are delicate, so use care when removing them from the sprues.

The canopy of my kit had a short seam line perpendicular to the sides of the canopy which I could not remove. A couple of coats of clear gloss minimized the problem. Note: The real canopy has a seam running down the middle, so don't remove the one on the model.

The painting guide references Revell Germany's own paint line, but FS numbers are also provided for the main camouflage colors. I used Gunze Sangyo paints for the upper and lower surfaces. To break up the monochromatic look of the model, I sprayed random areas with lighter and darker grays. Pictures from the Internet provided good references. After a couple of clear-gloss coats, I applied the decals and they behaved well. Once the Tiger Meet decals were in place and dry, I trimmed the excess with a sharp hobby knife. The decals have flat carrier film, and I had some silvering beneath the clear areas. I applied white glue to the colored bands on the missiles to help them conform to the tight curves. A final pass with Vallejo's satin finish blended everything nicely.

The model's dimensions are almost spot-on, and the kit exudes the sleekness of the actual aircraft, even with a full weapons load. I spent just more than 30 hours on the build, and I'm very pleased with the result. I would definitely recommend this kit to any modeler who's interested in modern jet fighters, regardless of skill level.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2015 FineScale Modeler

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