Brand: Platz AC-9
The Mitsubishi F-1 is a Japanese single-seat, twin-engine supersonic strike aircraft that was in service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) from 1978 to 2006. Jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries, it is Japan’s first domestically designed and built supersonic combat aircraft.
The F-1 is the attack variant of the Mitsubishi T-2, a supersonic twin-seat trainer aircraft with the rear cockpit replaced with an avionics bay. Improvements include strengthening the airframe, two additional hardpoints under the wings to allow carriage of a heavier weapon load, a new J/AWG-12 radar and an internally mounted 20mm JM61A1 Vulcan cannon. The F-1 is able to carry the ASM-1 and ASM-2 anti-ship missile, AAM-1 missile, AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, rocket pods and both ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ iron bombs.
Having reached the 4,000 hour limit to the airframes, the last six F-1s retired on 9 March 2006 and were replaced by the F-2 and upgraded F-4EJ Kai Phantom IIs in its roles.
The subject depicted here is 00-8427, an F-1 from 3rd Tactical Fighter Squadron based in Hyakuri Air Base, in Ibaraki Prefecture. 3 TFS is currently the longest serving JASDF squadron and flew the F-1 from 1978 to 2002.
Wikipedia – Mitsubishi F-1
Released in 2013, this is one of only two options available in the market for this subject. The contents of the box really impressed me with options including:
- a very detailed exterior rivaling some 1/48 kits
- molding is very nice and crisp
- recessed panel lines are very delicately done
- raised details for the cockpit although decals are provided
- very nice ejection seat that lacks belts
- two types of windscreens are provided (original and post 1989 upgrade)
- canopy can be posed open
- parts of the T-2 variant are provided, indicating a future release
- various parts are provided as inserts to take variants into account
- wings are provided as one piece with flaps molded in the up position
- exhausts are nicely done in three parts
- airbrakes can be posed open
- stores include: 3x 220 gallon tanks, 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder, 2x ASM-1 anti-shipping missile, 1x CBLS-200 practice bomb dispenser, 4x practice bombs, 4x triple ejector racks, 1x multiple ejector rack
- (very) complete stencils for one aircraft and markings for five F-1s
I can safely say that compared to Hasegawa’s offering, this is the better rendition of the F-1 by a fair bit.
A dryfit showed a somewhat good fit but as usual with the sheer number of parts involved, construction turned out to be finicky. Some notes and issues:
- I added belts to the ejection seat and chose to use the decals for the cockpit
the coaming didn’t sit right when fitted together with the two-piece instrument panel. Trimming the larger panel helped but resulted in the smaller panel not fitting quite right with the HUD piece
- the cockpit problem resulted in fit issues with the windscreen which required some finessing (ie a rubber band) to sit right
- there was a mis-mold on the port intake trunking that required fixing with epoxy putty
- added a spreader inside the access hatch that replaced the rear canopy for a better fit
- lengthened the main gear doors with 0.25mm plastic plate on two sides
- gaps that required filling include the base of the tailfin, the bottom of the wingroot, rear cockpit insert, the area above the nozzle outlet housing, the joins between the slats and wings and the joins where the intakes attach
- the landing gear needs to be installed upfront so careful handling is needed
All in all, it’s nothing some careful fitting and construction can’t fix although the mismolded intake is annoying and the bigger than usual gaps in some areas is unbecoming of a modern kit.
Colors & Markings
The F-1 comes in a very attractive 3-tone woodland camouflage where the medium green is a lighter version of the traditional SEA camouflage. I noted that Platz’s instructions called for FS36230 for the bottom but it looked too dark. I checked Hasegawa’s F-1 instruction sheet and it called for FS16440 which I thought was a closer match to photos. I used paints from the Mr Hobby Aqueous line for all four colors with blutack worms and spraying very close to them for more solid demarcations.
The biggest challenge during painting was the multiple masking sessions required for the stabilizers. I gotta give props to the JASDF paint barn for making it so complicated! The rest of the painting went on quite smoothly. I have found painting to be much easier now since switching to Tamiya and Mr Hobby acrylics and using 90% IPA as thinner. There’s no start stop and clogged nozzles like traditional acrylics. IPA has a smell but it’s alcohol so the family is used to the smell ever since the pandemic began in 2020 so it was time for decals in no time.
Taking a closer look at the stencils, I realized that Platz grouped the ones that were close together so you have one decal covering multiple stencils. This makes it easier on the modeler but the chances of silvering is higher. Platz even included decals to add details to the side of the rails that attach to the missiles. To reduce the chances of silvering, I sprayed a gloss coat first (which I seldom do nowadays) with AK Interactive Intermediate Gauzy. Thankfully, the decals were very thin but strong and went down well with Mark Softer. This many stencils though, it took me four sessions before I was done. And even so, I only did perhaps 90% of them. The result however, is very busy but striking.
The JASDF maintains their aircraft very well and you’ll seldom see any sort of weathering on them so I’ve also kept it light on this one with just a simple panel wash using Flory Models Dark Dirt Wash. The wash also helps to give an overall filter over the kit which tones down and ties the camouflage colors together. Then it was handpainting the details like lights and sensor bumps. Installing the stores was thankfully straightforward and I was done in no time.
After quite some time, I’m finally done. Construction took a while because of the fiddly fit but to be fair, most of the delay was due to my lack of urgency to finish this kit. The result is decent, but it’s definitely not a competition-worthy build.
Number 5 of 2021