Lockheed F-35A Lightning II (JSF)
ACADEMY
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F35A joint strike fighter  in 1/72 scale: : kit review & building report of the ACADEMY kit
 

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The horizontal stabilizers were fitted to the model. The total model length is now 215 mm which x72 scales up to a length of 15,50 meters. The real J-35A is 15,70 meters long so the model is about 3 mm too short. The span is 14,4 mm which is about 4 millimeters too short (should scale up to 10,70 meters ). Nothing to worry about.


[6] An extra grey FS 36118 layer was airbrushed, this completed the overall grey colours of the model.
When dried, now all masking tape was removed, showing the zig-zag and other panels with the lighter FS 36231 grey. 

UPDATE MARCH 2016: not about FS36118 but...
the standard colour of the F-35 appears to be FS36170 "camouflage grey". Colourcoats (former WEM) has enamel paint #ACUS41 and AKAN has acrylic paint #72071 and VALLEJO acrylic #71.280. When not available, looking at the colour a good alternative looks to be RAL 7012 for when Xtracolor X207 may be used.  


[7] Now came the question on the bit metallic stealth look for the J-35A.

It was decided to make a mix of ALCLAD II Clear Coat ALC-310 with 10% mixed in ALCLAD II polished aluminium ALC-105 metal coat. This results in very tiny metallic particles in the clear mix to get a bit metallic sheen on the model. 
This metallic mix was airbrushed on the model, the effect is very subtle. It takes a lot of time to dry though, over 5 days! 

The gloss coat will also prevent tiny air bubbles to settle below the decals that look bad on a model ("silvering"). Here the subtle zig-zag panelling is seen: 

When the covering coat was dry, the model assembly was proceeded with. 

The nice undercarriage was set in place and painted an extra white coat with black details. Bay doors were set in place in the open position. I missed a couple of smaller inside doors to the main bay. These were cut loose from parts #9 + 10 and set in place.

The horizontal tailplanes were fitted as well as the weaponbay doors. The vertical tails were NOT yet fitted.

The cockpit bits were installed and the seat.


The model is now ready to receive the decals with airforce markings and stencils. Although not yet in operational Royal Netherlands Air Force service, it would be nice to have a Dutch AF F-35A model in the collection. So it was decided to make a RNLAF (KLu) F-35A test aircraft with code "F-001": 

It has low vis grey roundels as well and these are NOT in the Academy kit. I was lucky to have a spare set of 4 low vis RNLAF (KLu) roundels from an 1/72 Italeri F-35 kit. The KLu roundels on this sheet are a little too small, but in grey and the only ones I had. (UPDATE: years later decals sheets were released with KLu roundels like from Caracal models CD72029).

F-35A airframe stencilling was applied from the Academy decals, also for the weaponry stencil decals are provided. On the decalsheet also various small NO STEP decals are found. The location of these is very vaguely indicated on the decal placement drawing, but are on the flaps, stabilizer, leading edges and some fuselage panels.

The vertical tails were also decalled. The code "F-001" was made by cutting from the G decal from the Academy kit a "0" and the E became the "F". 
The tails were now set onto the model, a very good fit is there fortunately.

The model is a bit clean, so two external pylons were added and some stores inside the weapons bay from the kit such as 2 AMRAAMs. A small aircraft test tracking pod was made from sprue and metal rod and added as well. Also the four small parts A4 were seen on the KLu aircraft, so fitted.

The model was not really weathered, the aircraft is still new! To achieve an even sheen and to protect the decals for years to come, the model got a gloss coat of Johnson Future thinned with 40% "ketonatus" alkohol and with some 20% Tamiya matting acrylic X21 "Flat base" mixed in. This mix gives a very fine clear result and this was airbrushed.

The canopy of the Academy is crystal clear. To get a gold/orange sheen on the canopy, first a mix of Tamiya Clear Orange X-26 thinned with 50% Tamiya Clear X-20A  was made. Pour the thinned Tamiya paint in a cup and dip in the canopy carefully, remove and let dry. 

When dried, the canopy frames were painted FS 36231 but not the wide central frame. It looks very subtle on the real F-35A and a very tiny black tape strip was used instead made from printboard tape. In the center of the rear canopy section I also added a very thin metal wire as seen on a real F-35A. Set in place with tiny drops of white glue.
What is peculiar is that this F-35A canopy completely goes open up on the forward edge. So this is not an error and Academy provides two holding arms. The canopy was set open and the nice cockpit interior is well visible.

And that completed this model!
 



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The Netherlands ordered 37 Lockheed F-35A aircraft for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (KLu). Testing started of their F-35 aircraft with training the first pilots at Eglin AFB Florida.  First test aircraft arrived end May 2016 at Leeuwarden for a first evaluation like noise measurements. Operational F-35A aircraft of the KLu will arrive not earlier than 2019 in The Netherlands.

and set in a scenery....


 


 note the "low vis" grey roundel on the intake

At Leeuwarden AFB, May 2016 below...
First the real photo of me... (here you can see my used roundels at the time are a bit too small and that later on "OT" code was added to the tail)

and the model (with external pylons and doors open)...

A nice test  F-35A "F-001" of the Royal Netherlands Air Force ( KONINKLIJKE LUCHTMACHT) as of beginning 2014 is now in the model collection.
 


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Created April 4, 2014
Update May 2016 and Dec 2016