SEPECAT Jaguar A

Published: January 30th, 2013     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Michael Novosad, IPMS# 36721
Scale: 1/48
Company: Kitty Hawk
Price: $59.95
Product / Stock #: KH80104

History - The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French jet ground-attack aircraft, originally used by the British Royal Air Force and the French Armee de l'Air in the close air support and nuclear strike role, and remains in service with several export customers, notably the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman.

Originally conceived in the 1960s as jet trainer with a light ground attack capability, the requirement for the aircraft soon changed to include supersonic performance and reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike roles.  A carrier-based variant was also planned for French service, but this was cancelled in favor of the cheaper Dassault Super Etendard.  The airframes were manufactured by SEPECAT (Societe Europeenne de Production de l'avion Ecole de Combat et d'Appui Tactique), a joint venture between Breguet and the British Aircraft Corporation, one of the first major joint-Anglo-French military aircraft programs.

The Jaguar was successfully exported to India, Oman, Ecuador, and Nigeria.  With various air forces, the Jaguar was used in numerous conflicts and military operations in Mauritania, Chad, Iraq, Bosnia, and Pakistan, as well as providing a ready nuclear delivery platform for Britain, France, and India throughout the latter half of the Cold War and beyond.  In the Gulf War, the Jaguar was praised for its reliability and was a valuable coalition resource.  The aircraft served with the Armee de l'Air as the main strike/attack aircraft until 1 July 2005, and with the Royal Air Force until the end of April, 2007.  It was replaced by the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon in the RAF and the Dassault Rafale in the Armee de l'Air.  India plans in the long term to replace its Jaguar fleet with the developing Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Box Contents - The kit box is a bit smaller than those from most manufacturers; however, it is loaded with plastic.  There are seven sprues, two partial fuselage halves, a clear parts sprue, and a small photo etch fret.  A small decal sheet is also included.

The instructions are in book form with 20 pages showing the weapons' painting and markings, a sprue breakdown, plus numerous exploded views for the various construction steps.  Page 18 shows the underwing stores layout, while the last two pages address the two aircraft markings and camouflage schemes provided in the kit.  The color plates identify the Gunze Sangyo paint colors for each scheme.  There is no indication of which parts are surplus.

Cockpit - The cockpit, instrument panel, and ejection seat are built up from plastic and photo etch parts.  Everything fits fairly well, and when placed into the fuselage, the fit was found to be quite tight.

Fuselage - Rather than assemble the fuselage in subassemblies as shown on the instructions, I assembled the fuselage in the more traditional method of right half/left half.  One of the engine intakes did not fit very well and some sanding of flat surfaces was required to eliminate a step between the intake and fuselage.  I painted the interior of the fuselage flat black, as the line-of-sight through the intakes would reveal the interior cavity.

Much of the fuselage assembly is comprised of several panels which are akin to a picture puzzle.  Each panel required careful separation from the sprue, followed by more careful remove of the attachment spur.

Clear Parts - The two parts comprising the canopy are quite clear, but I still dipped them in Future for additional clarity.  I did find that the joint between the fuselage and front windscreen did result in a step that required filling for a smoother blending between the two parts.

Landing Gear - The assembled nose gear is shown trapped between the separate sidewall of the nose gear well.  This means the gear will be in place early in the construction and vulnerable to breakage as the work continues.  I left the gear off and modified it with a brass rod inserted in the top of the gear and super-glued to an opening drilled in the roof of the well.

The main gear on the Jaguar is a rather complicated assembly.  The kit's gear is equally complicated, but is further complicated by the rather vague instructions.  Steps 6 and 7 address the gear assembly, but some of the parts shown in the instructions only barely resemble the kit parts.  I spent well over an hour on the first gear before I got everything to fit properly.  It was very difficult to test-fit the small parts since so much of the assembly is interdependent on the individual parts fitting in place.  My primary concern was if I got anything wrong, the gear would not set correctly when fixed into the gear wells.  This was one of the most challenging parts of the build.

The mounting of the two front gear doors was not clear in the instructions.

Wings - The wing construction starts with the bottom side being inserted into a recess in the top wing.  Careful attention to alignment is necessary to avoid noticeable gaps between the parts, and even so a seam does result and should be filled. The trailing edge of one wing in this kit was not fully formed and was quite rough. The high wing fit to the fuselage took some care to avoid a step between the top of the wing and the fuselage top.

The vertical stabilizer comprises parts from three separate sprues.  Each part is fitted to the adjacent parts by means of an edge butt-joint.  Care was required to get the parts to fit correctly, and still a joint needed filling. This detail is not a strong point for this kit.  When fitted in place on the fuselage, a small gap was apparent and that needed to be filled.

Weapons - So many to choose from!  The instructions include a weapons load layout that depicts which weapon goes on each pylon.  For fun, I decided to assemble all the weapons before selecting the final choice for the finished model.  Several of the separate fins would not fit into the slots on the weapons' bodies, and the opening required careful trimming before the fin's tab would fit in place.  On a few occasions, the body of the missile or bomb split open (not a construction joint) when the fin tab was inserted in place.

Miscellaneous - A small photo etch fret is provided that includes parts for the seat harness, instrument panel, and wing fences. The PE is quite thin and prone to bending if not handled with care.

Painting - The last two pages of the instructions address the two aircraft that may be built, with color images being provided.  It would have been nice to see full undersides view of each aircraft, as the single profile appears to allude to possible wrap-around camouflage on the nose portions.  Gunze Sangyo Mr. Color paint numbers are provided as painting guides.

Decals - Markings are included for two French aircraft.  The decals released from the backing paper after a short dunking in warm water.  Care was required during placement, as the decals are fragile and tend to fray about the edges.  One decal rolled over onto itself and no amount of gentle coaxing would get it to straighten out.

Conclusion - The SEPECAT Jaguar A is unique to the French Armee de l'Air.  Based on the breakdown of the kit parts, additional versions may be in the offing. The Jaguar GR 1 was flown by the RAF and features a different nose, vertical stabilizer, and over-the-wing rails for Sidewinder self-defense missiles.  Two-seaters might also be on the way?  Some parts included in this kit, but not used, appear destined for a possible future RAF GR 1 version.

The builder will need to study the instructions carefully and decide for him/herself on the actual build sequence.  As shown, several sub-assemblies are depicted built up before the main fuselage components are assembled.  I believe that, following this method, the opportunity for misalignment and poor fit of components may be a result.  Many of the sub-assemblies are comprised of parts that fit together using a tongue and groove method.  Often, the tongue was wider than the groove and required some trimming.  The fit of some parts was poor, resulting in noticeable gaps or steps that required filling or trimming.  Kitty Hawk appears to be infatuated with open bays and access doors.  For those of us wishing not to expose the Jaguar's most intimate parts, a better fit of the doors for a closed door assembly would be appreciated.

Some of the parts shown in the instructions do not resemble the actual part, and the final orientation required a good deal of study to get the final placement right.  In some instances, a level of controlled brute strength was required to finesse the fit of parts.  I found that more filling of joints and seams was required than I normally experience with mainstream kits.  Care must be exercised when using filler and sanding to avoid losing any raised details.  Most parts fit okay, but there was some effort expended to achieve the end result.  I was required to clamp several parts to hold them in place while allowing the solvent to cure.  Each part is numbered on the sprues using raised figures; actually, they are just a hint of raised figures, and even in the best lighting conditions were hard to read.

Based on the above comments and observations, this kit is definitely recommended for experienced builders.  This was not an easy build and some real work was required to have everything fit properly.  The end result is a reasonable replica of the Jaguar A, but the builder will need to work to achieve that end.

I wish to thank Kitty Hawk Models and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build and review this product.
 

  • Right front
    Right front
  • Left front
    Left front
  • Left rear
    Left rear
  • Overhead
    Overhead

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