Thursday, May 16

Review: 3D Printed Aircraft Exhaust Nozzles from FAB Scale in 1/48th...

"Fab Scale" has launched with a bunch of new 3-D printed accessories & items for your 48th scale jets. Their new 3D printed aircraft exhaust nozzles are up for review today...

Review: 3D Printed Aircraft Exhaust Nozzles
From FAB Scale
1/48th scale

FAB Scale are another small after-market player based in China, focusing on 3D printed weapons and detail parts in 1/48.
In this review I'll look in more detail at three of their modern aircraft exhaust nozzle sets:
- FA48041 - F/A-18E/F F414 Exhaust Nozzles (for MENG)
- FA48059 - J-20 WS-10C Exhaust Nozzles (for MENG)
- FA48067 - F-104A/C/J J-79 Exhaust Nozzles (for HASEGAWA)

F/A-18E/F F414 Exhaust Nozzles (for MENG)
From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No: FA48041
First up is set FA48041 containing a pair of engine exhaust parts suited for use with the MENG Super Hornet kits. All the 3D printed parts come sealed in their own plastic bag, shipped inside a sturdy cardboard box. As with most "exhaust" sets you get the afterburner ring, blast tube and of course nozzles. No assembly instructions are provided, because its assumed that the modeller can figure out which parts go where.
The F/A-18E/F/G Super Hornet is powered by 2 x General Electric F414-400 turbofans, generating 13,000 lbf (58 kN) thrust each dry, 22,000 lbf (98 kN) with afterburner. The F414 originated from GE's widely used F404 turbofan, enlarged and improved for use in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The engine was developed from the F412 non-afterburning turbofan planned for the A-12 Avenger II, before it was cancelled.

The parts are beautifully sharp and as is typical these days with 3D printing pretty much ready to go out-of-box.
This set contains two identical nozzles, both in the closed position. I wondered if they might also do a set with the nozzles open but a quick search revealed nothing. The detailing on the petals is subtle and quite well done. Under some careful painting and weathering these will look excellent.
The afterburner ring is very nicely detailed but will be buried so deep inside the airframe that it will be invisible for the most part.
The blast tubes are printed as single pieces, eliminating the need to deal with painful seams common with most plastic kit parts.
A quick dry fit of the three parts showed a near perfect fit. I did not compare these to the Meng kit parts but I assume they will be a direct drop-in replacement.

J-20 WS-10C Exhaust Nozzles (for MENG)
From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No: FA48059
Set FA48059 contains a set of two full exhausts for the new Meng 1:48th scale J-20 Mighty Dragon (LS002) kit. Two complete sections are included including the afterburner ring, blast tube and a detailed external nozzle, in the open position.

The Shenyang WS-10, codename Taihang, is a turbofan engine designed and built by the People's Republic of China. The Chengdu J-20A Mighty Dragon is powered by the WS-10C, an "updated" variant with stealthier serrated exhaust feathers and improved thrust of 142 kilonewtons (32,000 lbf).
As with all the other FAB Scale sets I have seen the printing and curing of these parts is superb. Minimal clean-up is needed and they are literally ready for paint out of the box. I have the Trumpeter J-20 kit so will be interested to see if these parts fit as they are designed for the Meng kit.
Like other 5th Gen fighters with low radar observability features (aka stealth), the J-20 nozzles feature serrated edges for enhanced rear-aspect stealth. From my reading the J-20A does not include TVC (Thrust Vector Control) nozzles, however this is planned for the later J-20B.
The blast tubes are once again printed as a single piece. Getting paint inside will be your biggest challenge here.
The afterburner detail is impressive although it's doubtful how accurate it would be given photos of these engines coming out of China are limited. Either way these parts are rarely seen anyway being deep inside the fuselage.

F-104A/C/J J-79 Exhaust Nozzles (for HASEGAWA)
From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No: FA48067
Set FA48067 contains J-79 exhaust parts designed to fit the Hasegawa 1:48 F-104A/C/J kits. The nozzle is provided in the open position. It's likely this nozzle will fit the Kinetic kits as well.

The F-104 was designed to use the General Electric J79 turbojet engine, fed by side-mounted intakes with fixed inlet cones optimized for performance at supersonic speeds. The engine consisted of a 17-stage compressor, an accessory drive section, an annular combustion chamber, a three-stage turbine, and an afterburner. Like most modern after-burning engines, the J79 employed a variable thrust nozzle, actuated using engine oil as hydraulic fluid. This allowed the nozzle to change its position (open or closed) based on engine thrust needs
Like all of FAB Scale's exhaust sets, we have the now familiar afterburner, blast tube and nozzle parts. Protective cage and printing supports need to be removed using a knife or razor saw first before assembly.
Both the exterior and interior detail on the nozzle is superb and matches closely to photos of the real thing. Alignment of the nozzle and blast tube is keyed to ensure no mistakes are made.
The afterburning unit is included but will unfortunately be most unseen after assembly of the engine and fuselage. Still it is a testament to FAB Scale's 3D design skills.

CONCLUSION - FAB Scale 1:48 3D Printed Aircraft Exhaust Nozzles
Much like their 1:48 Aircraft Weapons, FAB Scale have released a set of excellent exhausts for your jet model projects.

FAB Scale will be new to most of you (as it was to me) but I'm happy to say their products do not disappoint. Detailed exhausts are always a favourite addon for aircraft modellers as they are super easy to use and often cheap upgrades.

These parts (plus many more in the FAB Scale range) can be found at the usual online shops, such as and

I certainly have no hesitation is recommended these detail sets for your next modelling project.

Gary Wickham

Thanks very much to the people at Fab Scale for sending these to Gary to review...