Written by 3:38 pm My Builds

Build : Hobbyboss 1/72 Dassault Rafale C

Kit Info
Brand: Hobbyboss 87246
Scale:  1/72
Media:  Styrene
Markings: DXM Decals 11-7144 ‘Rafale’

The Subject
The Dassault Rafale (meaning ‘squall’) is a French twin-engine, delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft. Intended to perform air supremacy, interception, reconnaisance and various strike missions, it is referred to as an ‘omnirole aircraft’ by Dassault. Unlike other contemporary European fighters, the Rafale is built entirely by one country with many of its avionics and features domestically developed and produced.

The first technology demonstrator (Rafale A) took to the air in July 1986 with production starting in December 1992. After some stops and starts, full production began in January 1997 with first deliveries starting in 2001. The Rafale C is the single-seat version for the Armée de l’air (French Air and Space Force). Typical of Dassault, export variants are given their own individual designations.

The Rafale has been marketed for export and was selected by the Egyptian Air Force, the Indian Air Force, the Qatar Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Croatian Air Force, the Indonesian Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The Rafale has also been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria mostly as a strike platform.

The subject of this build is ‘113-GE’, a Rafale C in Armée de l’air markings. France currently operates 149 Rafales of all variants out of a planned 286 units with the last due to be delivered by 2030.

Wikipedia – Dassault Rafale

The Kit
Released in 2009, this kit is still the only one in the market for modeling a production version of the Rafale. Some observations:

  • consoles are decals only
  • photo comparisons show the kit being an F2 configuration Rafale
  • parts breakdown is easy with whole upper and lower halves
  • single and twin seat uses an insert part over the same basic molds
  • main gear needs to be installed at the beginning of the build
  • canopy open or close
  • winglets are connected with a spar for no real reason and can swivel together
  • landing gear down option only
  • some details are missing like the RWR sensors on each side of the exhausts and the four triangular blades on the underside of the nose
  • details that are only applicable to the M variant are included (like what looks to be a fuel dump pipe)
  • stores include: 4x fuel tanks, 2x Matra Magic , 4x MICA (option for IR or RF seeker heads), 2x APACHE anti-runway missiles
  • instructions lack painting guides for the details like the APU outlet on the base of the tailfin. Color call outs are also inaccurate
  • decals are nice but inaccurate and lacking decals to replicate the formation lights and reflective sensor windows. The two options are:
    • French Air Force, 7-HH
    • French Air Force, 330-EC

So this seems like the usual Hobbyboss effort: nicely done details when they are there with some rather obvious omissions. Let’s see how it builds up.

The Build
Overall, fitting is quite good. Some observations:

  • the ejection seat lacks any belt details which I added with masking tape
  • even though the consoles are decals, the cockpit looks good after painting
  • the canopy doesn’t quite sit flush
  • to make painting easier, I modified the winglets to be fitted later
  • the intakes require elbow grease to fit properly
  • the wings and fuselage are one piece so there’s no alignment problems
  • details on the front fuselage have a seamline cutting through them including the pill-shaped formation lights.
  • the main gear is required to be installed at the beginning but they are robust and have handled my rough handling well
  • the refueling probe doesn’t fit all that well and requires a check with reference photos (for which I still got the angle wrong)
  • I added pair of raised lines (static dischargers?) and four triangular vanes on the bottom of the nose with plastic rod and plates
  • I also decided to leave out the RWR blisters on the side of the exhausts: too difficult
  • loadout-wise, I went with 2x MICA IR, 2x MICA RF, 2x SCALP EG (which looks the same as the APACHE) and 2x wing tanks

Colors & Markings
Painting is straightforward as the Armée de l’air Rafales are a single color but there’s some difference in opinion on what the equivalent FS number is. I first used FS36270 but found that FS36231 was the closer match. I painted this over a mottled base of white over black to give some variation to the finish.

When it comes to the stores I also had to do some research as the Hobbyboss callouts were all wrong. I found the correct colors for the missile bands online.

For the markings, I’m using the aftermarket sheet from DXM Decals. These were very easy to use and is up there with the the likes of Cartograph. A pleasant surprise is the inclusion of decals for the pill-shaped formation lights, the RWR and the intake sensor windows. The stencil count was also low compared to US aircraft.

And then my mojo for the kit went away and I left it at this stage for close to ten months. I did not pick up this kit again until February 2024.

Picking up where I left off, the panel wash was kept light so the panel lines are not stark and I did some spot staining around the back half, cockpit area and the bottom of the drop tanks. During final assembly, I realized that the two doors for the nose gear bay were missing (ten months of neglect tends to do that). Not wanting to leave them off or buy another kit just for them, I decided to scratchbuild the pair of doors using plastic card. The challenge was to make them take on a slight curve which I did by well… simply bending them when they were together as one piece.

Due to overspray I had to pop off the canopy to clean the inside and with the canopy off I decided to add Aurora sticker to the HUD after I realized that the prismatic effect of the HUD is a very prominent feature in photos. The stores went on without a hitch but I had to carefully paint the areas that Ii left unpainted on the SCALPs while they were attached.

So all in all the fit of the canopy and the missing details are annoying but I believe it’s still a more accurate than the offering from Italeri. I can’t deny that Hobbyboss got the beautiful shape correct though.

Build Log
Pt. 1 – Construction
Pt. 2 – Painting & Finishing
Pt. 3 – Painting & Finishing

Build 1 of 2024

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Tags: , , , , , , , , , Last modified: 30 May, 2024