Tuesday, July 30

Pretty coloured Lightning - Kittyhawk 1/48th F-35A Lightning Build & Review: Pt.II

So we have got our lightning altogether – what to paint here in? More grey perhaps? Well I don’t think so! Ethelian has had an idea – a three tone camo of the Israeli defence force – we know they will be getting this kite as an “I” version -  so Eth thought why not give it a try in their colours.. Let’s see what he came up with..

Kittyhawk 1/48th F-35A Lightning Build & Review: Pt.II
 Just when you think that Eth has gone mad with his lightning in three tone colour scheme, I will urge you to have a look at this – a excerpt from the latest “Airforces monthly” magazine from the July 2013 edition, about the nations buying the F-35I illustrated by Pete West.
This is the scheme most likely to be adopted so it’s fortuitous and nice work from Eth to do the Lightning in something different – now over to Eth to show you the paint went on and his final impressions of the kit…
Kitty Hawk Models
Kit Number 80103
F-35A Lightning II   
1/48th scale
Part I of this build is here

The Painting Stage
So far the only colour we have seen on an F-35 is grey, grey and more grey. However I wanted to do something other than a grey F-35, so looking through the decal options it was decided to do an Israeli Air Force F-35A. The usual three tone IAF colour scheme was chosen and the decals were sourced from an IsraDecal sheet I had in my stash.
As always the paint used was LifeColor sprayed through an Iwata Eclipse CS with a .35mm needle and nozzle set up. The camouflage scheme is based on that seen on IAF F-16’s, obviously adapted to the different shape of the F-35.
At first I was going to mask out the scheme but instead decided to spray it freehand. The paint went on without any issues and once it had dried the RAM panels were masked and then painted using Xtracrylics Gunship Grey. On reflection I think this would have been more accurate if a lighter version of grey had been used. Although seeing as we are yet to see an F-35A in IAF colours this is all speculation.
The underneath was painted in Light Compass ghost Grey with the weapons bays and under carriage bays in white.
When all the painting was complete the model was set aside to dry for 24 hours and then several coats of Alclad II Klear Gloss were sprayed and when dry the decals were added. These performed well and went on easily with the help of Micro Set and Micro Sol.
The model was then set aside to dry for the next stages, the weathering and the final construction.
The weathering was kept to a minimum seeing as this is a new aircraft that has not seen service yet.
However, it was during this stage that something went wrong with the decals on the tails. This happened as the wash was being removed, something that I have done on many occasions in the past without any problems or issues. This meant that the two tails had to be stripped of paint and then the whole process of painting, decalling and weathering had to be done again. So the more eagle eyed among you will notice the different decals on the tails, this is because I only had the one set of decals for the “Knights of the Orange Tail”. However I think the new decals look even better than the original ones.

With the problem of the decals sorted out and the weathering complete, it was time to add all the doors, weapons, canopy and various small parts. The only issue here concerns the doors, the actuators for the doors need careful alignment with the locating holes and this is a little on the tricky side, so care must be taken here. To make this stage easier it is best to attach the weapons bay doors first then the under carriage doors otherwise the under carriage doors can cause issues if fitted first.
Here she is in all her beauty - the F-35"I"

The attachment point for the canopy is an area of weakness, not only in this kit but in the F35B as well. Superglue was used to attach the canopy with some superglue accelerator used to make sure the canopy stayed in the correct position.


Choosing a “what if” scheme is always fraught with difficulties as there is no template to work from Photos of IAF F-16i Sufa’s were studied and their paint scheme adapted to suit the F35A which worked quite well, however with hindsight, and isn’t that a wonderful thing, the RAM panels should be painted a much lighter grey, possibly Light Compass Ghost Grey. With that change I think the scheme would be much more pleasing and possibly accurate to what the IAF might do with their F35’s.
As mentioned earlier in this blog, the F35A is much easier to assemble than the F35B. The lack of the VTOL engine and fan makes the assembly of the fuselage halves a lot easier and provides more rigidity.
Although there are numerous errors in the instructions these should not detract from the quality of this kit and the addition of the photo etch parts makes this an excellent kit. The only real drawback is the decal for the instrument panel. This is a shame as it detracts from the quality of the cockpit and is something that Kittyhawk could address if they decide to do an F35C version.
Overall the quality of the kit is very good as is the fit of the parts, apart from the issue with the cockpit tub/front under carriage bay. Small niggles such as this and the instructions take some of the shine of this kit, but can be overcome quite easily.

I would like to express my thanks to Glen from Kittyhawk for the opportunity to build this kit and his continuing support.

Ethelian Middleton.

Thanks to Kittyhawk for sending this kit to make.