F-111C RAAF "Special Edition"

Published: July 14th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Tom Pope, IPMS# 47261
Scale: 1/48
Company: Academy
Price: $69.00
Product / Stock #: 12220

Introduction

My thanks go out to MRC-Academy for providing this up-dated kit for review and to IPMS USA for letting me do the review. My apologies to Academy & IPMS for this review taking so long - I hate it when my job gets in the way of my hobbies but I had some issues at work for a while there.

In the Box

The box contains 7 gray and 1 clear sprues (including the new sprue "S" with many new detail parts), a nicely scaled, turned brass air data tube, instructions, a full-color (11.75" x 16.5") poster depicting painting and marking placement and a superb new decal sheet by Cartograf. There are about 287 parts but you won't use 70 of them so you'll have a good set of extra bits when you're done.

The instructions are very clear and well organized. There are still a couple typos along the way so pay attention (the lever arms that rotate the pylons when the wings sweep in the right wing in step 6 should be labeled #37 vs. # 36 as indicated.

The decal sheet (obviously put together by someone that knows the airplane) is very detailed and complete, containing colorful markings for several occasions on 2 different tails:

  • Tail number (t/n) A8-131, marked for it's participation in 'Red Flag' in either 2002, 2006 or 2009,
  • t/n A8-131, commemorating 30 years of F-111 service in the RAAF in 2003,
  • t/n A8-125, commemorating 25 years of F-111 service in the RAAF in 1998, and
  • t/n A8-125, commemorating No. 6 Squadron's 90th anniversary in 2007

Included decal sheetDecal color poster guide frontDecal color poster guide backRemove before flight decals

The Kit

Academy has produced several variants of the F-111 in 1/48th scale over the years and most of the tooling is designed to support all of them but in this 2010 'Special Edition' re-release of the kit, there is a turned brass pitot probe and additional sprues from a couple of the other F-111 variants that bring a Pave Tack pod, a 'Bunker Buster' GBU-28, GBU-130 rocket-boosted bomb with Data Link pod, the AGM-142 'Popeye' missile with Data Link pod and more. A new sprue "S" for this re-release has also been added that includes a much improved and nicely detailed instrument panel, a nose gear well and parts, antennas/sensors, ejector rack foot pads and newer wheel hubs. 

New sprue added to kitComparison of new vs. old nose landing gear assembliesComparison of new vs. old instrument panels

New antenna sensors detailNew countermeasure ejectorsNew nose gear wheel hubs

Cockpit detailsInstrument panel detail

The thing that caches your eye right away is the excellent detail of the molding, the finely scribed panel lines and the updated cockpit instruments and additional weaponry. The detailing, even as fine as the panel lines are, is crisp and clean even on the comm antennas. You'll have to be careful finishing though since it won't take much paint to bury some of these details. Some of these detail parts a particularly small so you'll have to be careful removing them from the sprues.

All the extra detail inside the cockpit is great but the canopy is still one piece so the new detail will still be obscured.

Construction

This F-111C kit is not too difficult to assemble or finish and construction was fairly straight-forward. This kit includes linkage inside the wing so the pylons stay parallel to the body as the wings sweep forward and aft. You have to be pretty careful applying the cement to make sure the hinge and/or pivot points in the linkage are kept clean and free to move.

Fuselage alignment

There is quite a bit of re-shaping work to do on the joint/seam between the cockpit and the wing box.

The tires are molded styrene halves, there are no leading-edge slats or flaps or other positionable control surfaces. Lack of these parts leads to a quicker build and a kit that is well suited for less experienced modellers.

Once you're done with the cockpit, the bulk of the remaining fine-detail parts are air data probes, antennas, sensors and weaponry.

With all the different F-111C variants you can produce out of this kit, there are going to be many extra parts.

Additional new detail parts addedInstalled sensor antenna detailsSpare bits

Finishing

The F-111's finally retired from RAAF service in 2010, being replaced by the F/A-18 Hornets and Super-Hornets. In their last years of service they had abandoned the various camouflage schemes and were painted gunship gray with black nose cones. The lack of control surface detail and open canopies makes this kit pretty easy to mask and paint the final assembly. There are decals included for the wing leading edges including the wing root fairings. It was pretty easy to mask and paint the assembled jet, paint the engine exhaust parts and surrounds and install them and then paint and apply the air data tube, antennas and surface detail features. A semi-gloss coat finish was applied, decals applied and a dull coat was applied after decals were completely dry. I applied the decals to the vertical stabilizer before putting it on but it's not necessary to do it that way. The Cartograf decals are well designed and fit nicely in their designated locations. There are decals for the top wing vents that, when applied with decal setting solution, snuggle right down into the vent spaces.

Upper vent detailCanopy detailCompleted kit

The last part to install was the brass air data tube in the nose. Very well done and accurate (I thought the original plastic one was good).

Turned brass nose probe compared to kits probe

Installed turned brass probe

Conclusions

This 'Special Edition' RAAF F-111C, with the re-tooled and updated parts, is the latest installment from Academy in a long line of accurate and detailed, 1/48th scale, F-111 kits. You are presented with several options for external carriage, any of which give you a nice looking display model. This kit yields an accurate representation of the 'Pig' at the end of its many years of superb service. It was a reliable, easy to maintain airplane and was highly functional because it "...had it where it counts".

I highly recommend this 'Special Edition' RAAF F-111C for modellers of all experience levels due to its ease of construction and finishing and the quality and detail of the finished product. The lack of control surfaces and positionable canopies makes this a great kit for a less experienced modeler and provides most of the aircraft detail for an accurate display. (You'll need a big spot to display it though). The detailed parts provided in new sprue "S" and the excellent decal sheet really sets this 'updated' kit apart.

Thanks again to MRC-Academy and IPMS/USA for the chance to review it.