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First Look Review
148
F-15I Ra'am (Thunder)
F-15I Ra'am (Thunder)
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Background
Boeing's (formerly McDonnell Douglas) F-15E Strike Eagle entered service with the IDF/Heyl Ha'Avir (Israeli Air Force) in January of 1998 and was designated the F-15I Ra'am (Thunder). The F-15E Strike Eagle is the ground attack variant of the F-15 air superiority fighter, capable of attacking targets day or night, and in all weather conditions. The F-15I serves alongside the F-15C, which has seen considerable combat since introduction into the Heyl Ha'Avir in 1976.

Though externally the Ra'am looks similar to its USAF counterpart, there are some differences, mainly in the electronic countermeasures gear and the exhaust nozzles.

The 25 F-15Is operational since 1999 were procured first and foremost to deal with the Iranian threat. In August 2003 the Israeli Air Force demonstrated the strategic capability to strike far-off targets such as Iran [which is 1,300 kilometers away], by flying three F-15 jets to Poland 1,600 nautical miles away. After they celebrated that country's air force's 85th birthday, on their return trip, the IAF warplanes staged a fly-past over the Auschwitz death camp.


Reproduced in truncated form from: Global Security.org

The Kit
Great Wall Hobby’s new F-15I is the latest kit in an extended series of highly impressive Eagles. It arrives in a large and attractive box, with the sprues individually wrapped and packed together very carefully. A very neat touch is that the canopy is protected against scratches in transit with adhesive film. The parts are packed so ingeniously, this is one of those kits where you stand little chance of getting everything back into the box once you’ve unpacked it (unless you have a photographic memory) - clever psychology, no doubt, as if it wasn’t just begging to be built enough as it is!

Talking of sprues, I don’t think I've ever seen so many in a 1:48 kit, and I soon began to lose count as I took the photos for this review. The high number is explained explained because a lot of the sprues are quite small - allowing GWH to use variations of the sprues in a modular way to produce different F-15 variants. Nevertheless, there still are inevitably a fair number of spare items - e.g. on Sprue J, just a single part is used.

The kit comprises:

296 x grey styrene parts ( 67 unused)
5 x clear styrene parts
13 x etched metal parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes

With the new kit sharing so much in common with the earlier versions, it's no surprised that, once again, the moulding is simply superb. Everything is beautifully crisp and free of any flash or sink marks. GWH consistently manage to produce needle-sharp details that would defeat many other producers.

The new kit incorporates the revised mouldings introduced after criticism of the original release, and this time GWH have also new mainwheels with revised hub/brake detail.

Rather, than laboriously repeat what I wrote in our previous coverage of the largely similar earlier versions, I'll refer you instead to the In-Box Review of the F-15C MSIP II and Michael Satin's excellent Full-Build Review of the F-15B/D. That way, I can aim to get this latest beauty straight onto the workbench for my first build of the New Year.

So, what else is new? Well, a new cockpit and conformal tanks for starters, plus a dramatically increased payload. This comprises:

2 x 610 gallon drop tanks
AXQ-14 data-link pod
AAQ-13 navigation pod
AAQ-14 targeting pod
4 x GBU-12 guided 500 lb bombs
3 x GBU-38 JDAMs
1 x GBU-31 JDAM
1 x AGM-130 stand-off missile
1 x AGM-142 stand-off missile
2 x Python-4 AAMs
2 x AIM-120 AAMs

Most of the ordnance is multi-part, but the AAMs are once again GWHs amazingly moulded one-piece items.

Instructions & Decal
The assembly guide is produced as a very slick 25-page A4 colour booklet. The 19-stage construction sequence is clearly illustrated, and a nice touch is the inclusion of a couple of reference photos.

Colour matches are provided for Gunze Sanyo, Vallejo and MIG paints, along with F.S. numbers.

Two large sheets of decals are included, with markings for two aircraft:

a. F-15I No. 201, Israeli Air Force Test & Evaluation Squadron, Tel-Nof AFB.
b. F-15I No. 241, Ra-am IAF 69 "Hammers" Squadron.

The decals are crisply printed in perfect register. Slightly unusual nowadays is the matt finish, but they'll be gloss-coated anyway to seal them ahead of light weathering, so that shouldn't be an issue.

There are comprehensive diagrams for the stencil decals - and you'll need them, because there are masses to apply!

Conclusion
GWH's latest Strike Eagle looks set to be another stunner! It cries out to be built so, on that note, I'll try to get it under way as a Blog without delay!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Exceptional moulding and detail. Well printed decals. A comprehensive range of stores.
Lows: It still seems odd not to provide seat harnesses when the kit includes etched details.
Verdict: In terms of sheer moulding quality and detail, this is amongst the most impressive 1:48 kits I've been lucky enough to see.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: L4816
  Suggested Retail: TBA
  PUBLISHED: Jan 01, 2016
  NATIONALITY: Israel
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.07%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.63%

Our Thanks to Great Wall Hobby!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

Rowan, I want one big time. Another of the ever growing list of gotta have and gotta build aircraft. Needless to say another one of your excellent reviews. Well done my friend. Joel
JAN 02, 2016 - 12:12 AM
Cheers Joel I actually made a start assembling the cockpit before I headed off to work this morning, so I hope to get a Blog going tomorrow. All the best Rowan
JAN 02, 2016 - 01:09 AM
Hi again Well, the New Year's got off to a flying start... in entirely the wrong way. A heavy little box of tools fell off the shelf onto my workbench where I was dry-assembling the cockpit. You've guessed it - parts were catapulted all over the room! I've found most of them, but after an hour's hunt for the rest, I think it's time to take a break and have lunch. All the best Rowan
JAN 02, 2016 - 07:29 PM
   

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