Academy 1/72 USMC F-35B
I'll start off by saying this is a great kit that led to a really fun project. I was initially intrigued by the the complex stealthy coloring and the complex VTOL architecture of this aircraft. I figured it would present some interesting modeling challenges and an great visual finished product. I wasn't disappointed. I wanted to show off all of the really unique features of this VTOL strike aircraft, so I built it in 'take off' configuration and in 'beast mode' (full weapons load).
The kit is very good. It needed an absolued minimum of filling and sanding. Nearly all parts fit like a glove. I added Eduard cockpit detail set and its masks set. I used the later to aid with the complex stealth paint scheme. The kit comes with decals for the lighter patches but I wanted contral over the shading and was worried that they were too fragile given the complex shapes involved.
To me this kit seemed like three distinct projects; the cockpit and canopy, the fuselage and engine, and the weapons load. The Eduard cockpit detail set enhanced the already well done cockpit tub. I added detail to the engine nozzle and positioned it in VTOL take off position. There are seven parts to the canopy counting the Eduard details and they required several separate painting applications. I tinted the clear part of the canopy with a mix of Tamiya Smoke and Clear Yellow. Putting the levered canopy in the open position was challenging because I used the fragile Eduard support arms rather than the beefy ones in the kit (I actually added some wire to the arms to improve their rigidity). That meant that essential all of the support comes from one contact point at the tip of the canopy.
I think the grey shades contrasting with the white internal areas makes this kit really visually interesting. With all of the ducting, fans and underside bays for weapons, landing gear and engine and fan, the fuselage and its numerous doors required a lot of separate painting projects. Using Eduard masks I think ultimately simplified the external painting. In the many pictures I found for reference, there appeared to be a great variety of schemes using subtly different shades of greys, which made the final design decisions challenging.
As I said, the weapons were a project unto themselves. Each weapon has multiple parts, unique coloring, and decals. They all went together beautifully. The only real complaint I have with this kit is that the mounting points on the internal bays for the big GBU-31s required modification and the instructions on this step were vague.
Overall this was a fun project.
31 additional images. Click to enlarge.