Great Wall Hobbies 1:48 F 15E Strike Eagle…
Great Wall Hobbies 1:48 F-15E Strike Eagle The D Score
In The Box
The box has attractive and colorful boxart, and portrays the aircraft in a dynamic setting. The box is a standard, top opening box of good construction. The instruction sheet is laid out in standard, isometric drawings and exploded views, which are mostly accurate, except for the few details I’ll explain later. However there is a mix of 3D artwork for the ordnance, that isn’t present in the rest of the sheet. Perhaps because earlier releases just needed tweaking of the instruction sheet for this aircraft. The puzzling thing about the main instruction sheet is that it wasn’t stapled together in booklet format. It was just folded over and kept loose leaf. This was a nuisance throughout the build. It also included separate decal placemnt and color guides which were of good quality, color and register.
The decals only come with one aircraft from RAF Lakenheath and is the only option you can choose. Aftermarket is well stocked for Strike Eagles, and except for the tail flashes and refueling door, should have little issues getting those to fit this kit. The quality of the kit decals falls well short of current state of the art, and brings the overall score down. They are of the matt finish type and had trouble laying down and not silvering without a lot of setting solution.
The sprues are laid out mostly logically, with each subassembly on an according sprue. Some parts you do have to dig for, and are on another sprue you may not have opened the bag to yet, which is kind of annoying, but common in most kits nowadays. A couple of very annoying issues were that while the instructions show a center belly pylon, and a Sniper pod pylon, neither are included in this release. So if you want to add a JDAM on the belly, or the standard fitted Sniper pod, like I did, you have to source it from another kit or a weapons set. I had to pilfer a centerline pylon from the Revell kit, and the Sniper pylon from a Hasegawa weapons set.
Speaking of weapons, you get the standard sprue for GWH kits which includes one AIM-120B, and AIM-9L and AIM-9X, with a couple GBU-12s and GBU-38s. They focused on the GBU-39 SDB JDAM and if you want to outfit it with a full complement of them, you can. You get the rails and SDBs. As I was using the TwoBobs sheet, it called for six GBU-38s, which I sourced from Eduard Brassin sets. I also added a GBU-31 JDAM, AIM-120C, and AIM-9X from a Tamiya Viper kit, because they have crisper detail. Since the GWH kit uses previous iterations, their detail is a bit softer.
The shape, as far as I can tell is pretty much dead on. I take a point away for the softness of some of the detail, such as aerials and RWR bits and bobs, It just doesn’t haver that extra sharpness that other manufacturers have. GWH fixed their oblong nose shape issue a few years ago, and finally have it correct, and this release includes that new nose. The canopy, however still has the flat spot on top. It doesn’t match the distinctive bubble cross section of basically every fourth generation fighter. Subject/Cool Factor: 10
The subject is a favorite among modelers, and enthusiasts, and I don’t think anyone grumbled that were getting “another” F-15E kit. While the Revell kit is still readily available and still holds up well with time, there are still some shortcomings to that kit. However, I will mention this kit again later. Many called for this version when the B was released several years ago, and GWH answered. As for the subject, it’s been an important asset in recent conflicts and was a popular subject just after its combat debut in Operation Desert Storm. It’s been a favorite ever since, and with all the new versions out there (I,K,SG, X), it’s still going strong in the 1:1 world with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Important, common, popular, and cool!
The kit contains many large pieces to eliminate panel lines, which shows a lot of forethought. However, some of the panel lines show inconsistent depth. This may be to show more prominent panel lines, and subdue others, so you don’t get the much maligned “too much rivet detail” complaint. The large pieces do make sense, with the top wing piece as one large piece, the bottoms another. The fuselage sides, control surfaces, and CFTs all one piece items. Where it does disappoint, as I’m sure it has been pointed out before, is the thickness of the control surfaces. They are simply as thick as a brick! The trailing edges can be sanded down, if you wish, but I see that as a waste of time. It’s just inexcusable, given the effort made to correct other issues, how was this missed, again? Add it all up, and the Box score is: 42.
Because most of the major parts are large parts, fit wasn’t an issue. You weren’t adding parts to parts to parts to build a subassembly. The major airframe was really only six parts, not including the CFTs. It goes back to the engineering of this kit that those all came together nicely. The CFTs, as a mater of fact, had no issues. Just place, and add some Tamiya Quick-Dry Super thin cement, and you’re golden. Some of the seams were a bit wide in places like the rear RWRs, the vertical and horizontal tails, and the control surfaces. So that drops it down a notch.
The ACES II seats were a disappointment. I ended up using the Quickboost seats, as they had better harness and overall detail. Where the detail shines is in the engine exhausts. The fit was excellent, and the one-piece actuator bloom was a stroke of genius. I had originally planned on using a resin aftermarket piece for each, but decided to go with the kit exhausts. But because the ordnance was used from earlier kit, where the detail was soft, the score gets dropped another place.
The kit went together quickly, but the sheer amount of parts, other than the large main airframe did get a little tedious, especially with the eleven items of ordnance and pods. It’s not the fault of the manufacturer, however as the Strike Eagle is a complex subject.
At an MSRP of over $90, this is not a cheap kit. Is it worth it? Yes and no. The amount of engineering that went into this kit sure warrants such a high price, but the Revell kit, is almost up to par with this kit, at a third of the price. While you do get a lot of SDBs, you don’t get much else for ordnance in this kit, and the little else you do get, is a rehashed sprue. I ended up using all external options for the ordnance. You only get one option for decals, and the decals themselves aren’t of great quality. Partnering with an aftermarket for decals may be the way to go in the future, if they don’t make the effort o fix their decals now. Not to tomorrow, not today…now. The missing pylons are inexcusable. These are staple parts of the jet, and not many fly without them.
Fun Factor: 8
Despite its few shortcomings, this was a fun and enjoyable build. The subject is popular, and provided you use aftermarket decal and ordnance options, you can build just about any F-15E in the fleet. I had no real frustrations in the build, and never once had the urge to bin the whole lot. But the fact that I had to go aftermarket for a few things does bring this score down a bit.
Add it all up and the Build score is: 38 for a grand total of: 80 out of 100
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.