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Trumpeter Shenyang J-31 Gyrfalcon

FSM reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft
The J-31 is, or at least will be, China’s fifth-generation fighter. It made its public debut at the Zhuhai Airshow in 2014 and, to date, only two have been built. 

Trumpeter’s medium gray parts show fine, recessed panel lines. A small photo-etch (PE) fret provides a harness, and decals supply markings for two aircraft.

The ejection-seat comprises six parts, including a separate seat cushion, two arms, an ejection handle, and rear rail as well as the basic seat. Detail is good, as is fit, although I sanded the sides of the cushion to make it easier to slip into place. The PE harness was too big, so I trimmed it.

Decals controls and dials settled over raised detail on the instrument panel and side consoles with help from Microscale Micro Sol. The tiny separate throttle and side-stick controller attached to the sprue right in the middle; I had trouble holding the parts to remove the nubs. The kit provides minimal detail color callouts, and photos of the cockpit are hard to come by.

The nose-gear leg is a single piece with separate wheels and two clear landing lights — easy. On the other hand, each main-gear leg builds from five parts and the main wheels are split in half. I used the main gear bays as jigs to align all of the struts. The instructions call for the gear legs to be silver and the wheels dark ghost gray, but photos show that the gear is gray and the wheels white.

You have the option of loading the weapons bay with either four PL-12 radar-guided air-to-air missiles or two PL-12s and two KAB-500L laser-guided bombs. Most of the decals are stencils for the ordnance, but they are difficult to see once the weapons are in the bay. Lacking definitive information about the color of the bays, I painted the gear and weapons compartments red. There were a few ejector-pin marks in the weapon bay that were nearly impossible to remove, but they are largely hidden by the missiles and bombs.

The main airframe splits horizontally, with a complete upper half and a lower section that separates just aft of the cockpit. It’s not essential, but I recommend adding a little weight to the nose to keep the tail off the ground. The nose bay, cockpit, and weapons bay fit perfectly, but I had to sand the main gear wells.

The major airframe went together without a problem. The control surfaces, including the slats and flaperons, are separate, but there’s no provision to pose them. I enlarged the openings for the engine nozzles to improve the fit.

The rest of the details, including bay doors and struts, went on easily. The canopy comes in two parts, but there’s no option to pose it open. These parts are exceptionally clear, but a large mounting tab at the front protrudes into the visible portion of the canopy.

Choosing to finish my Gyrfalcon as the aircraft seen at the Zhuhai airshow, I airbrushed an overall coat of Tamiya rubber black. The decals aren’t super-sharp, but they are colorful and went on flawlessly.

All my references gave approximate dimensions based on images. With that caveat, the model appears to scale out pretty well. Assembly was an absolute breeze.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2018 issue.
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