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Italeri 1/48 scale F-35B Lightning II plastic model kit review

An all-new tooling of a pivotal and often criticized aircraft
Kit:2810 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$129.99
Italeri (Sample courtesy of Model Rectifier)
Nice detail; good instructions; build options
Minor fit issues; unclear paint and decal instructions
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 317 parts (4 photo-etched metal); decals
Italeri’s all-new 1/48 scale F-35B Lightning II has optional STOVL (Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing) mode and “beast mode” bristling with weapons. It comes with a small fret of photo-etched metal details, including seat belts and decals to mark five fighters: two U.S. Marine fighters, two British navy fighters, and one Italian navy.

A decal decorates the instrument panel in the front office. After painting the antiglare panel, I installed the cockpit assembly in the upper fuselage half. You can model the canopy open or closed; the open position requires you to install supports.

Decide early if you want to build your Lightning II in beast mode because you’ll have to drill the holes for the beast-mode pylons on the underside wing panels. After painting the lower fuselage half and the doors for the main gear bays, I painted the wheel wells and weapons bays and installed them.

Before closing the fuselage, you’ll need to complete the engine and interior trunking. You can assemble the swivel nozzle in either the vertical or horizontal position. When it’s dry, install the assembly in the lower fuselage and then attach the upper fuselage half.

After installing the tail and control surfaces, I finished painting the fuselage and added the landing gear and weapons bay doors. I cleaned up and painted the weapons before installing them on the pylons under the wings.

The kit’s canopy comes in six pieces for the frame, and all of them are butt joins. This is more than a bit of a challenge. I used Testors Clear Parts Cement and put parts 40G and 2PE together with parts 1H and 4H first. Then I added Part 51E. After attaching the canopy glass, I glued on the back piece (Part 39G). After all of that, I still couldn’t get the canopy and frame to conform to the cockpit opening. There may have been a better way to do it, but I couldn’t think of one at the time.

I chose to finish my Italeri 1/48 scale F-35B Lightning II in U.S. Marines VMFA-225 markings. Most went down okay with Microscale Micro Set. However, the stripes on the missiles were stiff and didn’t want to lay down.

It took me 35 hours to build Italeri’s kit. The instructions make sense, and the assembly order leaves little to the imagination. Aside from the challenging canopy assembly and some resistant decals, I now have a nice example of the F-35B to add to my 1/48 scale aircraft collection. It isn’t a beginner’s kit, but a modeler with a couple of aircraft kits under their belt should be ready to ride the Lightning.
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