It’s strange that considering how popular the Rafale is (200 or so units in active service) that only Hobbyboss has kitted the subject. My experience with Hobbyboss has been hit or miss though so let’s see how this one goes.
As we shall see, this build will heavily reference this Rafale on the Prime Portal website. Also by comparing with pictures online, I realized that this kit builds into an F2 standard Rafale C which is an older configuration.
The build begins as usual with the cockpit which is nicely detailed for the scale.
The instruments are decals and I added the seat harness with 0.7mm masking tape. Hobbyboss called for Dark Gull Gray for the rear deck but it’s actually black in photos. I gave the deck a light drybrush to pop the details.
The cockpit fits snugly into the upper fuselage without any problems.
The canopy has a two internal frames that need to be pre-painted and attached.
The winglets has a spar connecting them together and when attached, they can swivel together but they will make painting more difficult as they block access to parts of the fuselage. I decided to just separate them and attach using brass pins instead.
Like a lot of aircraft kits, the intakes don’t quite fit perfectly which will require some attention. Hobbyboss made the mistake of keeping a detail of the Rafale M for the C: the M has this odd protruding attachment (fuel dump?) on the starboard side of the tail which is absent on the C.
The kit doesn’t have many parts and thankfully the main wings and the fuselage are one piece so there’s no alignment problems.
There is what looks to be a slime light molded onto each side of the nose but a join line cuts across it because the nose is made up of an upper and lower halves. Luckily for me, the decals I planned to use includes the slime light as a decal so I went ahead and just sanded them off instead.
The main gear fit very solidly. Unfortunately they need to be installed right from the beginning. Luckily they have proven to be pretty robust in spite of all the handling.
The kit is missing a few details on the nose that I decided to add back. They are hard to ignore after seeing them on the reference photos. There are a pair of raised lines (static dischargers?) and four triangular vanes on the bottom of the nose. These were replicated with styrene. I also noted that the panel lines around the nose were wrong but I decided to leave them as they were.
The Rafale looks like it’s sporting some sort of goatee now. Note the refueling probe which didn’t attach positively and I had to guess the angle for ( I don’t think I got it right).
The engine section came as one piece with the engine trunking being an insert. The whole assembly was prepainted, attached then masked off.
There’s a small plate on the extension on the tail that is the same color as the exhausts which needs to be masked off. At this point I noted one of the bigger omissions on the kit which are the RWR sensors on each side of the exhausts. I tried to figure out a way to scratchbuild them but decided that the shape was just too complex. Moving on.
With the corrections done I went ahead and prepped the rest of the kit: landing gear, gear doors, drop tanks and the full complement of 2x MICA RF, 2x MICA IR and 2x SCALP EG (Note: Hobbyboss labels these as APACHE anti-runway missiles but they look the same as the SCALP). The missiles were all included in the kit. I also painted the APU exhaust and what looks like a grilled section on the base of the tailfin. These will be masked off before primary painting begins.
It took a few rounds of puttying and sanding before I was happy with the result but eventually I was ready to sling paint.