1/144 Jet Prototypes

Fancy color schemes, dazzling performance, unique designs and often a lot of media coverage, that's what jet prototypes are all about. Especially during the 60ies and 70ies US aircraft were the real show stoppers. Here are a few of my favorites.

LS F-15, 6th FSD test aircraft

F-15 FSD #6 birds eye view (34.9kB)

The F-15A is one of those aircraft for which no prototypes were made. Production started with a batch of Full Scale Development airframes, consisting of ten single seaters (71-0280 to 71-0289) and two more fitted with dual controls (71-0290 and 71-0291).
The LS F-15 kits depict an early production airframe. The external differences between an FSD airframe and an early production F-15 are:

  • smaller dorsal speedbrake without external stringer
  • the pods on the tail fin tips are of equal size
  • tailplane leading edges without dog tooth
  • straight wing tips
  • no gun fitted
  • main wheel bay doors remain open on the ground

Production style wing tips and tailplanes were retrofitted to the FSD airframes to cure buffeting and wing load problems, so doing a conversion to FSD is quite easy.

F-15 FSD #6 port side view (29.8kB) Being LS's first ever 1/144 jet model, this kit is not flawless but is still miles ahead wrt shape and accuracy over the Otaki, Crown/Revell and Dragon kits (note that ARII reissued both the Otaki kit and the LS kit, the latter being labeled as 'F-15C' cat.nr.23005).
Some things that have to be modified are:

F-15 FSD #6 birds eye view (49.4kB)
  • the exhaust nozzles, these being over 1mm too long, making the nozzles stick out beyond the tailhook housing instead of lining up.
  • the nose wheel leg is a bit short, this can be fixed by fitting a piece of plasticcard in the wheel well on which the leg is mounted.
    While you're at it, add those two round landing lights to the nose leg too!
  • Whilst the nose leg is too short, the main gear legs are too tall, giving the model a funny nose-down attitude. The main legs can be shortened by cutting them flush off their attachment tabs, drilling a hole in each tab and inserting the leg into this hole.
  • There is no cockpit interior whatsoever, so I added dash, coaming, floor, stick and seat from scratch.
  • I added some of the ducting inside the main intakes, to get rid of the see-through effect.

The model was finished in Polly-S 'Air Superiority Blue' FS.35450 with dayglow patches (Revell 25 with a touch of red over a flat white base coat). Decals came from a Revell/Crown F-15 kit, which happened to have the serials for the 6th FSD airframe added to a corner of the sheet. Borders around the wing insignia were painted by hand.

Date finished: August 26, 1983.

Crown YF-16, 2nd Prototype

YF-16 birds eye view (24kB)

The Crown F-16A kit, which was also reboxed by Revell Germany (cat.nr.4006) and later released by Minicraft (cat.nr.4424), is in fact based on the YF-16 design, but was retooled to match F-16A dimensions. The way this was done, makes it easy to convert the kit back into a YF-16 prototype.

The model depicts the 2nd prototype in experimental "Sky & Clouds" camouflage. For the blue (Air Superiority Blue FS.35450) I used Polly-S PCA800. For the 'clouds' color I mixed Humbrol paint to match Ford Motor Cy. 'Wimbledon White', which was allegedly used on the real airframe.
The tiny insignia decals came from the USMC section of a Crown Harrier sheet, the tail registration numbers and service markings were either taken from my spares box or hand painted, the aerial refueling aiming mark on the spine was also hand painted.

YF-16 based on Crown kit, port side view (18.8kB) Modifications to the basic shape (front to rear):

Date finished: February 12, 1984.

LS Northrop F-20 Tigershark, 2nd pre-production aircraft

F-20 port side view (33.2kB)

LS made a beautiful little kit of the F-20 (cat.nr.1053), this kit was later released by ARII/MicroAce (cat.nr.23008).
There are also some pirated chinese copies of this kit around, one of these even ended up in the Airfix catalog (1998, cat.nr.00103). The Airfix kit comes with a really poor canopy, but offers decals for the 3rd airframe in its gloss metallic gray scheme.

The LS kit features the shark-nose design and the late style canopy with enlarged clear area, so a 2nd or 3rd pre-production F-20 can be made straight out of the box (the 1st F-20 was built as an F-5G using the nose section of an F-5E: narrower forward nose section, different canopy).
LS got every detail right apart from the position of the vertical tail fin: the initial F-5G design had its fin further forward than the F-20, the LS kit has the fin at the same location as the F-5G design had.
The LS decal sheet offers two options, both in the same two-tone light gray scheme: the first is for 1st PP F-20 serial 20062 with USAF insignia on the wings and intakes, the second is for 2nd PP F-20 with civilian registration N3986B and no USAF insignia, both schemes include the 'F-20' and 'F-20 Tigershark' legends for tail fin and nose.
Note that only the second decal option can be used on the kit without modifying the nose section and canopy.

F-20 birds eye view (37.3kB) For an accurate 2nd/3rd F-20, the following corrections should be made:

The model was painted with Tamiya Acrylics mixed to match FS.36375 with FS.36495 underside (both mixes based on XF-19 Sky Gray) and FS.35237 anti-glare panel on the nose (basically the same color scheme as an early F/A-18).
Decals came from the LS kit, I painted the anti-glare panel by hand instead of using the decal supplied.

Date finished: August 18, 1985.

Crown Mirage F1, 1st prototype

Mirage F1 prototype birds eye view (22.4kB) Okay, this one isn't as flashy as the previous ones on this page, but it is an interesting kit of an interesting aircraft (it was afterall the F-16's main rival in NATO's F-104G Starfighter replacement contest).
This is the Crown kit (also available from Revell Germany and Minicraft).
Turning an early model Mirage F1 like this kit into a prototype is mostly a matter of changing the paint scheme, but turning the kit into a proper Mirage F1 is quite a bit more work:

  • replace the thick wings with new ones cut from 1.5mm plasticard.
  • sand the tail surfaces down to credible thickness.
  • reshape the nose, making the cross sections circular from the tip of the radome to the base of the windshield.
  • add splitter plates between the fuselage and the main air intakes.
  • add antennae to tail fin.
  • add cockpit interior details.

The colors were mixed, a mix of flat gray and aluminum for the lower sides, a mix of blue and gray for the top color.
Apart from the roundels, all markings were painted by hand.

Date finished: January 22, 1984.

Mirage F1 prototype port side view (17.3kB)

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