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In-Box Review
148
Saab SK-37E Viggen
Saab SK-37E Viggen
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Special Hobby have released their 1:48 Saab Viggen as the SK 37E electronic warfare trainer which was developed from the standard two-seat trainer in 1998. Ten conversions were built over the next two years, and the type remained in limited service after the rest of the Viggen fleet had been decommissioned, flying with the new Gripen until retiring in 2007.

Special Hobby's Viggen was produced in partnership with Tarangus, so bulk of the styrene parts are identical with the single-seater reviewed and built beautifully HERE by Tim Hatton.

Special Hobby have now released a two-seater and added a very nice fret of colour photo-etched parts, so I was excited to take a look at it as I always missed the chance to examine the earlier kits.

The Kit
The Viggen arrives in a classy conventional box with the main sprues bagged together and the clear parts and other accessories in their own bags. The first impression is that there are a awful lot of sprues for an aircraft with no underwing stores! They just seem to keep coming as you unpack the box, and I presume this is down to moulding logistics at Special Hobby. Obviously, as the kit is based on the single-seater, there are a few redundant parts. The kit comprises:

145 x grey styrene parts ( 23 unused)
13 x clear styrene parts ( 1 spare)
74 x photoetched parts
Decals for 4 x colour schemes

It’s probably fair to describe Special Hobby as “semi-mainstream” these days. The company’s roots were in short-run kits with the moulding limitations that goes along with that technology, but they have made enormous strides in recent years. The result still can’t rival the likes of Tamiya for precision, but their latest kits are really very good and perfectly suitable for modellers of average experience and ability.

The Viggen is a case in point. The moulding is very clean, with no flash or sink marks, and ejection pin marks are kept out of sight.

The exterior finish comprises neatly engraved panel lines with some embossed fasteners. The overall finish varies slightly from very smooth to faintly textured, so I will polish the exterior when I build the kit.

Test Fit
When I saw how many parts the fuselage is constructed from, I must admit it rang alarm bells. We’ve all probably got our share of horror stories to tell of even modern mainstream kits where fitting sections together is a nightmare, so Special Hobby’s approach did strike me as ambitious, to say the least.

Happily, I needn’t have worried. A test fit showed the main sections fit together remarkably well. As you can see in the photo at right, everything held together with a few small tabs of kabuki tape (I was expecting the result to look like an ancient Egyptian mummy!).

With the main parts of the airframe dry-assembled, you really start to get an impression of the sheer size of the Viggen. The finished model will be very impressive.

A Few Details
The photo-etched parts are almost all destined for the twin cockpits, and they will make a very worthwhile difference over the standard styrene parts. The ejection seats look a bit bland on the sprues, but each is fitted with a further 18 etched parts, including quite a complex harness. This is built up in layers, and my only slight criticism of the instructions at this point is that it would have been helpful to have a diagram showing the completed harness.

As you can see in the photos, the moulded detail on the instrument panels is fair, if a little soft, but this is all replaced by excellent pre-coloured multi-layer etched fascias for a much better look. The side consoles get the same treatment, as do small consoles on the cockpit walls.

The rudder pedals are replaced with folded etched pieces, and there’s a delicate HUD frame and mirrors to fit when you install the canopies.

There’s one slightly awkward bit of surgery required before you can assemble the fuselage, and this is to install the ram air turbine that is deployed when the landing gear is down. You’ll need to open up a panel in the fuselage, and also carve away part of the internal former that sits in front of the engine fan at the back of the intake ducts. There’s a diagram given (it’s a shame it isn’t full-sized), but there’s no marking on the part itself, so measure things carefully.

At the rear the jet exhaust is very impressive, with some crisply moulded internal detail that should paint up nicely.

The undercarriage legs are nicely moulded and look suitably sturdy for this big model. The instructions state that it will balance on its wheels without any nose weight, but there’s plenty of room in the nose cone to add some to be on the safe side. The hub detail on the mainwheels looks a bit soft in the photo at right, but this is greatly enlarged and on the sprue they don’t look bad. The wheel wells have some detail to get you started, but looking at walkaround photos shows there’s a lot more pipework and cabling you can add.

In terms of external stores, there’s just a big centreline fuel tank, whereas the boxtop artwork shows more and www.military-today.com states: “Electronic warfare equipment comprises various systems installed in the airframe, as well as advanced U95 active jammer pods, U22/A jammer pods and KB chaff and flare dispenser pods.”, so there’s plenty of scope for aftermarket additions.

The canopy parts are well produced, with crisp frames and no distortion, and it’s nice to see clear wingtip lamp covers.

Instructions & Decals
The instructions are printed as a glossy, full-colour 20-page A4 booklet. Construction is broken down into no less than 41 stages, which doesn’t mean the kit is particularly complex - it’s just that each stage is kept very quite straightforward. The sequence is mostly logical, but experienced modellers will probably alter it to make painting simpler. Colour matches are given for Gunze Sangyo paints.

Decals are provided for four aircraft, two of which sport the classic Swedish splinter camouflage, while the others are in simple grey schemes:

1. SK 37E Viggen, 21-73, s/n 37811, 1. div./Wing F21.
2. SK 37E Viggen, FC-09, s/n 37809, Försökscentralen, Malmen.
3. SK 37E Viggen, 4-70, s/n 37807, TIS/TK Grupp, Wing F4, Östersund
4. SK 37E Viggen, 4-74 (s/n 37811), TIS/TK Grupp, Wing F4, Östersund

The decals are printed by Cartograf, so the quality is excellent as you’d expect with pin-sharp registration and minimal excess carrier film on the thin and glossy items.

Conclusion
I’m very impressed by Special Hobby’s 2-seat Viggen. The overall fit is better than I dared hope and it looks set to build really well. The inclusion of etched details is very welcome and gives a major boost to the interior. Modellers with a bit of experience should have no trouble with the kit, but beginners may be wiser to get a few builds under their belts before tackling it.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE
SUMMARY
Highs: Plenty of detail and very good overall fit. Pre-coloured photoetched cockpit details. Cartograf decals.
Lows: The boxtop shows underwing stores which aren't included in the kit.
Verdict: Special Hobby's 2-seat Viggen looks very good indeed. It might be a bit of a handful for inexperienced modellers, but I'm very impressed just how well the fairly complex multi-part fuselage goes together.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: SH 48150
  Suggested Retail: 54.36 Euros
  PUBLISHED: Sep 02, 2018
  NATIONALITY: Sweden
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.86%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.58%

Our Thanks to Special 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 ©2018 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

Thanks for the review, Rowan! Being a Saab nut one of the few Saab planes still missing in my collection is the Viggen. One reason is also that "horrible" splinter camo. But as I can see from your review Special Hobby also offers an easier camo than this. So I might jump over my shadow and spend more than 50 Euros (which is usally my limit) and get this kit. Torsten
SEP 02, 2018 - 08:14 AM
Rowan Great review, thanks. I have always been drawn to the Swedish aircraft designs, they are very interesting. Kevin
SEP 02, 2018 - 12:44 PM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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