AMK models has re-released an improved version of their 1/48 Kfir model. Based on what I read online the overall shape of the fuselage was improved, plus the weapons are now produced by slide molds technology. The rest of the sprues, I think, are the same as the original boxing.
In the box are 12 sprues for the airplane, plus multiple sprues for the individually molded weaponry. These sprues are packed in smaller boxes within the main box, ensuring all the sprues fit nice and firmly inside the box. No sprues will get damaged or rattled around in this box.
You also get an excellent decal sheet for 5 different markings: Israel, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Colombia, and the civilian contractor ATAC, which provides air combat training for different Air Forces. You can finish the model as a C2 or C7 version and the instructions are absolutely clear regarding which parts to use with each version.
Like always with an airplane; construction starts with the cockpit. The cockpit tub has decent detail out of the box, with raised details that take dry brushing nicely. A note should be made that you can leave the instrument panel, coaming and ejection seat out of the build and install them at the end. That makes handling of the model -and painting- much simpler. Together with the cockpit tub you assemble the nose well wheel. After that you are already closing the fuselage. That is how fast construction proceeds with this model!
The next step relates to assembling the main landing gear wheel wells and sandwiching them between the single lower wing part and the two top wing parts. Assembly again is straightforward and the assembled wing fit to the fuselage is outstanding along the wing roots. After that you can add the air intakes and the canards.
However, I did need a bit of filler in the lower wing to lower nose section, mainly around where the lower wing part join the air intakes. Not a big deal at all. Perhaps with more care in the alignment of the air intakes it would have been unnecessary to use filler. At any rate it was just a minor amount of filler that was needed.
Main assembly of the model was completed within a few hours and it was looking great. The overall fit and engineering of this kit is amazing. There are no visible ejection pins marks anywhere.
Then is when the assembly gets into all the pesky details, mainly with lots of air intakes, the landing gear cover, wing pylons and such. All those parts are a bit small, make sure you don’t drop any (I did). All the air intakes are hollow and they add good detail and definition of the model. Before all those details, it looked like a scale model. Now it was starting to look like a miniature.
Another heads-up: the wheels and tires. The tires are assembled as two halves, sandwiching the wheel hub, which means you can paint the hub and tires independently (nice) and then you might have a minimal seam along the tire itself. For some reason I ended up with a gap between the two tire helves. And it happened on both wheels. I’m not sure if the two tire halves were too short to reach each other or what the problem was. I added thin pieces of plastic -along the tire circumference and sanded them flat. A second coat of paint blended in the sandwiched styrene between the tire halves.
Next up was the jet engine tail, which can be completely assembled and painted independently of the main assembly steps, and it can be installed as one of the final steps just before the final clear coat. A word of caution: Alignment of the tabs to slide the engine into final position is very tight. I had to file the tabs a bit to get the engine to slide into position. No glue was needed to keep it in place.
The civilian-registered (but camouflaged) ATAC airframe got my eye and decided to give it a go. Painting was accomplished with enamels, and it tested my masking skills with the wraparound camouflage. After a gloss coat I applied the decals -which were only a handful for this airframe- and they behaved well to standard setting solutions (MicroSet/Sol). Decals have good color density as well. Notice how clear the registration number (in black) stands out against the dark grey of the back fuselage. I then applied an acrylic wash to highlight all the great surface detail and a final semi-gloss coat finished the model.
In summary, I ran into a couple of minor issues during assembly: lower wing to fuselage section needed some filing (maybe my fault) and tires that seemed to be too “short” (maybe the molds fault). Please note that those are -at least in my mind- very minor issues.
On the positive side this model has many things to offer. Fit is superb, engineering is outstanding, surface detail is amazing and it is very consistent all around. Decals are very good and marking choices are interesting and varied.
Let me summarize my experience this way: this has been my first AMK model and I have truly enjoyed putting it together. I am sure there will be others AMK models in my display case in the future.
Highly recommended to every modeler, except perhaps the most novice due to some small parts.
I would like to thank AMK Models and IPMS/USA for the review sample.