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Kitty Hawk Super Étendard

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model aircraft kit
Kitty Hawk’s Super Étendard features crisp details and panel lines molded into the bluish-gray plastic. The box is packed with parts, including five trees of weapons, a photo-etched (PE) fret, a clear sheet with canopy, nav lights and beacons, and beautiful decals.

I like the instruction manual with colorful foldouts for all eight marking options. 

Construction starts at the cockpit. The ejection seat is well appointed with fantastic PE seat belts. There are 31 pieces for the cockpit, with separate throttle, rudder pedals, cockpit sides, and rear bulkhead.

The ejector seat handles look a bit cartoonish — big and thick. The instrument panel is well detailed, although some instrument decals would have been nice. Oops! They are provided! But there is no mention of them in the instructions. I suppose I should have looked more closely at the decal sheets before building.

Deviating from the instructions, I left the landing gear off until final assembly. The instructions suggest you build the full nose gear and attach it in the nose gear bay before cementing the forward fuselage together.

There are three fuselage sections, the forward area containing the cockpit and nose landing gear bay, a center section with engine, and an aft section that can be posed open/off or attached, revealing the aft engine parts. A full engine is provided, but with no intake tunnels so you see everything you don’t want to see.

There also is a separate lower piece of fuselage with part of the intakes and gun bezels. One might think putting in all these complicated parts would pose problems, but, no, the fit was near perfect!

However, throughout the build, most of the locating pins had to be removed to ensure a better fit, such as for the exhaust nozzle. There also are large ejector-pin marks that have to be removed, some located in hard-to-get-at areas.

Yet all the major construction proceeded without a hitch. It tended to be the smaller bits I had problems with. For instance, antenna (Part A51) has no locating mark on the forward spine; likewise, the little braces that hold the gear doors on. 

There are a few options, but good reference material is a must. For instance: open or closed refueling probe; open/closed canopy, but no actuator is provided; open/closed ground connection for external power; wingtips folded or not (no mention in the instructions, though); open/closed speed brakes (with beautiful PE inserts); and posable control surfaces all molded separately.

Additionally early- and late-version bits are provided. This is where references help, because the instructions do not mention what parts go with which version. One option has been decided for you, though, the large Fowler flaps come molded in the down position.

You’ll also need to do research on the weapons systems because the instructions don’t tell you what weapons go with which version.

My biggest challenge, though, was figuring out which marking option to use. All eight were tantalizing, but in the end I went with the cliché Argentine version, basically for historical reasons. The Orland Tiger Meet version from 2007 with gorgeous tiger decals was tempting.

The decals are of high quality; I had no problem getting them to lie down. However, the “Warning/No Step” flap markings were too long and had to be trimmed. The only decal that appeared inaccurate was the triband Argentine flag on the vertical stabilizer. It’s marked with an orange dot, but that is supposed to be a sun with rays and a face.

My research on the Argentine aircraft shows a centrally located appendage between the gun bezels, but it is not provided.
Every piece here is exceptionally detailed, from the cockpit to the full engine, control surfaces, wheel wells, and landing gear. Attaching the main landing gear is a bit iffy. There isn’t much holding them. Also, attaching the Exocet missile and fuel tank was a bit difficult. Neither fit well. In fact, I had to trim the fins considerably on the Exocet to keep it from hitting the wing and main landing gear.

The bigger downside is unclear instructions, mainly regarding such little bits as the actuators and brackets for the gear doors. Extra patience and research will help you be successful.

As mentioned before, all clear navigational lights are provided except Part GP12, which is the starboard side light. The part has a location on the sprue, but it isn’t there. I thought it may have broken off the sprue, but it was clearly never molded on the sprue.
Kitty Hawk’s Étendard is a good kit. With special attention to certain areas, it builds into a great piece. I’d build another. 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2017 issue.
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