Revell 1/144th X-35B JSF
I sincerely hope that modern aircraft aren't going the same way the family car has the last twenty years or so. That is, completely lacking in character and all looking pretty much the same. Used to be you could instantly tell a Ford from a Chevy at 100 paces. Today the only discernable difference between one vehicle and the next seems to be the shiny nametag on the back. Similarly, the X-35 just looks like a smaller clone of the F-22 to me, VSTOL properties notwithstanding. I suppose it could be argued that as military aircraft design evolves we will eventually reach the "ultimate" in aerodynamics, stealth and functionality and manufacturers will be forced to adhere to that standard in order to remain competitive. Perhaps, then, the X-35/F-22 shape is that standard and if that's the case then I suppose we haven't much to look forward to in new and exciting designs for the future. How sad.
So you may well be wondering why I bothered to build this if I'm less than thrilled with its banal appearance, and I have to admit I'm rather curious about that myself. I think the answers are pretty superficial, but then I don't need much of an excuse to choose a subject. That's part of what I enjoy about the hobby - I can do what I damn well please. I decided to build it because I liked the spiffy artwork on the tail, because Revell kits are almost always a joy to build, and because I read recently that Canada has now joined the JSF program and will eventually phase out its CF-18s in favour of the F-35. A somewhat puzzling decision when you consider the fact that the F-16 lost out to the F-18 when Canada was searching for a new fighter in the 'eighties because it was felt the twin engined Hornet offered an extra margin of safety over the single engine Fighting Falcon. I have to wonder why the Canadian government has now decided it needs a single engined VSTOL (or STOVL as it says on the tail) aircraft. Since I have an interest in Canadian aviation however, it's enough of a reason, tenuous though it is, to get me to build an X-35. Don't expect another in spurious Canuck markings anytime soon though - I don't do "what if" aircraft!
The Joint Strike Fighter will eventually replace the Harrier in British service though at present the JSF is rather overweight and not performing to expectations. It's a tribute to the design of the Harrier and its engine that even after more than 40 years it has not been superseded, and I might add that the X-35 needs the added bulk of an engine driven lift fan to do what the Harrier can do with one engine and no lift fan. Progress? Hmmm....
As for the kit it is to Revell's usual excellent standard. Fit was superb, so good in fact that the closed lift fan doors look more like scribed panel lines than seperate parts and the landing gear doors clicked into place in the closed position enabling me to easily paint the model without masking the gear wells. Revell give you the option of modelling the aircraft in vertical flight mode with everything hanging out and the exhaust nozzle in the full down position, or all cleaned up in conventional flight mode - a choice Italeri's 1/72 version doesn't offer I might add. I chose the clean look as I just liked it better.
Decals were excellent as well and I was particularly impressed with the decal for the canopy breaking MDC which fit the lines moulded on the inside of the canopy exactly. Of course I only discovered said decal after two abortive attempts at painting the damn thing on. Better late than never. I gave the canopy my normal treatment of a lovely bath in Johnson's Klear, let that dry overnight, then applied the decal to the inside of the canopy, followed by another dip in Klear once the decal had dried to seal it in place.
Paint is Humbrol enamel with Testors Metalizer used on the exhaust, Tamiya gloss white on the landing gear bits and Polyscale clear flat as a final finish.
And as I was adding the final finishing touches I dropped the *$%£^*&!! thing and broke the nose probe off. I'm amazed it lasted that long to be honest.
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