Italeri model in 1/72 scale: kit review & modelling report
The F-117 was developed by the Lockheed Skunk Works in utmost secrecy in the 1970s. It was a black program with hidden budgets. The new aircraft role was to penetrate deep into enemy territory at night to attack with a few smart missiles or bombs a high value target without being detected. It had radar absorbing "stealth" materials and faceted areas to disperse radar returns. Testing was done at the secret Area 51 at Groom Lake Nevada and Tonopah where a pair of Have Blue aircraft were tested.
These first flew in 1977 and further developed into the F-117. The first YF-117 flew June 18, 1981. The Pentagon released a vague drawing in 1986 and a small photo appeared in the Aviation Week magazine of a secret aircraft around 1987 as well. In 1988 the F-117 was finally revealed by the USAF and called by the public the Stealth Fighter though it was not a fighter. The official name was F-117 Night Hawk and the type played an important role in the first Gulf War. Some 5 YF-117 and 59 F-117's were manufactured.
Jets were seen flying high sometimes in the USA West and "eye withness" comments and written articles appeared in newspapers and aviation magazines like Aviation Week.
Testors USA came in 1986 with a kit dubbed F-19. It was phantasy.
Italeri came with a 1/72 F-117 kit #189 in 1990, rather soon after the Pentagon and USAF revealed the real F-117.
The Italeri kit has about 35 parts in black plastic and a few transparancies.
There is a cockpit and landing gear and even an armament bay with a few fantasy bombs.
But a nice kit and it was made straight out of the box more than 25 years ago. I painted the gear bays and legs white.
A basic check of F-117A dimensions:
length = 20,09 m or 279 mm in 1/72; Italeri 270 mm
span = 13,21 m or 183 mm in 1/72; Italeri 182 mm
So the kit size accuracy is not bad at all.
After the small b&w photo appeared in the U.S. Aviation Week magazine of a secret aircraft around 1987. I thought it would be nice to make a model from scratch. It was an in flight photo and I estimated with the cockpit size and windscreen the dimensions. From plastic card a simple model was made and airbrushed black.
A few years later when the F-117 was revealed by the USAF and the Italeri kit released, my model had wrong proportions as seen below...
It seemed that the vague photo had been manipulated to confuse the public and opponents and was shown from a front angle. Well, interesting times...
Check out the USA X-planes page here...
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Lockheed Skunk Works, first 50 years, Jay Miller, Aerofax 1993 edition, ISBN 0-942548-56-6
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Created this page November 1, 2003