Saab Viggen in 1/72 scale: modelling report
The Swedish manufacturer Saab designed in the 1960s a combat aircraft of a revolutionary design. It was to replace the Saab Lansen and Draken. It had just like their Draken a delta shaped wing but in addition got a canard fore plane. An important requirement was that it could operate from short runways. Designated the J-37 Viggen ("Thunderbolt"), it would get different roles. The first Viggen prototype flew February 1967. The single engine was a Volvo RM8 which was a licensed made Pratt and Whitney JT8D and got a special thrust reverser in the tail pipe. The avionics were quite advanced for the time and the aircraft had a very good performance.
Version developed were: AJ-37 as strike aircraft, JA-37 as fighter with secondary strike capability, SF-37 and SH-37 for the reconnaissance role. The AJSH-37 variant is a photo reconnaissance version, which makes use a a photo pod and not the photo nose, used in other photo variants. The SK-37 was a trainer with dual cockpit.
The Viggen only flew with the Swedish Air Force and the AJ-37 entered service from 1971 and could carry RB-05 anti-surface missiles. The SK-37 trainer came in 1972 and the JA-37 dedicated fighter fitted with a Ericsson PS-46 radar entered service in 1979. The JA-37 could fire the Skyflash air-to-air missile and advanced Sidewinders.
The Viggens were updated many times during its over 40 year service career and was the most important Swedish military aircraft. Some 329 Viggens were manufactured until 1990 and the last one in Swedish military service with drawn in 2005 and the Viggen was replaced by the Saab Gripen.
This camouflaged AJSH-37 Viggen was photographed by me as preserved at Aviodome museum at lelystad airport. The AJSH variant is a photo reconnaissance version, which makes use a a photo pod and not the photo nose, used in other photo Viggen variants. (see walk around).
In 1/72 scale Viggen kits were released by several manufacturers. It appears that Hasegawa came with a "prototype like" kit #JS-026 in 1968 while the Viggen was still in development. The same kit was released by Frog in 1969.
In 1971 Airfix came with a kit #395 that also looked like the prototype, it was the same year that the first Viggen entered service with the "Svenska Flygvapnet". It had also RB-05 "robot" missiles. I made a kit decades ago but it "has been lost".
In 1977 the French Heller came with a kit that could also be made as a two SK-37 seater and reconnaissance Viggen. (discussed on page 2).
In 1978 Matchbox came with a Viggen kit #PK-119 in multiple coloured plastic with in 1987 also some parts included to make a SK-37 two seater #PK-131. Revell came later with this same kit #4365.
So all these kits re-appeared in various boxes ever since with new decals and sometimes a sprue with a few new parts. But they remained rather basic with often thick engraved or raised panel lines and not that many detail. The shape accuracy was not always good.
Luckily Special Hobby came with some brand new state-of-the-art 1/72 Viggen kits in 2019. The first of these was first released by Tarangus #TA7203 in 2018 but it is the same mould as these brands cooperated.
Special Hobby came a year later under their own brand with several kits:
AJ-37 kit #SH72378
SK-37 kit #SH72381 for the two seater
JA-37 kit #SH72384 and will be discussed here further.
The kits have very fine parts with engraved panellines and nice detail.
This JA-37 kit has about 120 nice parts in grey plastic.
The detailling of the cockpit is good with a spare seat (as the two seater kit has the same common sprue).
The impressive wing sprue
The transparant parts look very fine as well.
There are fuel tanks provided in the kit and a canon fairing but NO missiles, which is a real pitty. You will have to source RM-71 "Skyflash" and/or RB-24 "Sidewinders" from other kits. (the Skyflash can be found in a Hasegawa F-104S kit or RAF Tornado F3 kit).
Some parts are not used as these are for the other released kits.
Instructions are fine with colour info for the details.
Kit #SH72384 has fine decals for 3 Flygvapnet aircraft:
(1) Wing F16 at Uppsala in a grey camouflage with red tail as of 2003;
(2) Wing F4 at Östersund-Frösön in a grey camo, 1986;
(3) Wing F16 at Uppsala, 1992 in the notorious splitter camouflage scheme which is a real challenge to airbrush (after market paint masks are available nowadays, see page 2).
You also get very fine smaller stencil decals.
Special Hobby suggests that resin extra parts can be bought separately but I don't think these are really needed.
Kit assembly has actually no big issues and begins as usual with the cockpit. The "raketstol FPL 37" seat looks good but I had sand a bit from the lower bottom in order to have it fit.
I painted most of the cockpit interior medium grey Gunze Sangyo H308 ~FS36375. Seat cushions green H319 and the rest of the seat also grey. I added a harness from painted tape.
The fuselage has an extra part G2 to make it longer as appropriate for the JA-37 fighter that was a longer version.
Inside the fuselage are intake tunnels. The thrust reverser can also be posed open or closed as well as a small RAM turbine panel.
Make a good fuselage assembly and complete this one first.
Fitting the intakes needs a bit removal op plastic. And also some putty/ filler was needed.
Nice are the tiny braces between intake and fuselage.
Next, turn to the wing. Do not forget to drill open as indicated the holes from inside the wing for the flap fairings.
The wing installment is fine, any tiny root gaps can be filled with White Glue.
The forward canards are nicely done: you even get a new pair of canards as the JA-37 has additional strengthened hinges on its canards.
NOTE: I opted to make paint scheme (1) so the vertical tail will be fitted later as it was to airbrushed "red".
For the JA-37 the lower canon fairing #G1 should be fitted as well as the small fin #G6. All goes well.
The overall model and some parts still sitting in their sprues got a base coat of grey with my usual Revell 75 steingrau Aqua to check for any issues and get a fine base for the paint scheme. And everything turned out to be fine.
The smaller details are best installed after main painting and airbrushing.
The various colours with the greys are stated in the Special Hobby instructions. But I checked them at internet and particulary IPMS Stockholm. It was still not very clear so I settled for these:
For scheme (1): the darker grey 033M is about FS36320 for which Gunze Sangyo H307 acrylic was used. The lighter and lower grey 032M is about FS36495 for which Gunze Sangyo H338 can be used.
For the scheme (1) "red" tail Gunze H3 can be used. Some masking is needed between colours but is quite easy.
After airbrushing, next are the decals as per kit. The surfaces are glossy so no gloss undercoat needed. Note the large red bright squares and codes on top of the wing.
After decalling, the small details were installed like landing gears.
I painted the bays dull aluminium. The landing gear legs and parts in the kit are very good, the large doors #A9 and A10 can be seen drooped down or (half)closed on a real Viggen when the gear is down. I set them open to show some hydraulic lines added made from metal wire.
The various small lights are also nicely provided in the kit. The upper spine anti-collision light is not seen on all versions. Transparant red and blue Tamiya paints were used to colour the lights with a fine brush.
The overall model got now a protecting varnish of semi-dull by airbrushing Johnson Future / Pledge "floor care" acrylic with some 5% mixed in Tamiya X-21 Flat Base or use your own preferred method.
The canopy frames were painted also on their insides and 3 rear view mirrors added from scrap.
With the wind screen and pitot made from a metal needle, all was set in place.
That completed this nice JA-37 Viggen but I still need to seek a few missiles in the spares box. That is the only disappointment of this otherwise excellent Special Hobby kit.
SWEDEN / Svenska
[area: 450,000 sq.km | capital: Stockholm | population: 10,3 million | GDP per capita USD 51,000 nominal ]
For more info about the Swedish Air Force look at the Draken page....
JA-37 Viggen, "Flygvapnet" Wing F16 at Uppsala in a grey camouflage with red tail as of 2003
On to next Viggen [ Page 2.... ]
- Air International magazine, Volume 19, pages 7-15; Volume 56, pages 90-98 ;
- World Air Power journal, Volume 17, pages 115-135
- International Air Power Review, Volume 14, pages 44-75
- Saab Viggen, AirDoc no.15, Jörgessen
- Saab Viggen Walk around at the IPMS NL website (with my photos as well)
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Created this page August 25, 2020