by: Andy Brazier [ ]
The Lightning is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft of the Cold War era, remembered for its great speed and unpainted natural metal exterior finish. It is the only all-British Mach 2 fighter aircraft. Renowned for its capabilities as an interceptor, RAF pilots described it as "being saddled to a skyrocket".
The BAC Lightning started out being built and produced by English Electric, only 19 F.1s were built, not counting a single static-test aircraft, before production moved on to the "F.1A" by which time on (12 January 1960) English Electric had been absorbed into the BAC organization.
The F.2 was externally all but identical to the F.1A, except for a small intake right on the center of the spine to provide cooling air for the DC generator. Initial service deliveries of the F.2 were in 1962. The F.2 would generally be regarded as the most pleasant Lightning variant to fly, since the match between the engines and the inlet was optimum and "weight creep" hadn't set in.
This limited edition kit is based upon the Airfix Lightning (which is a pretty good kit to start with), which Eduard have added two frets of P.E, a set of masks and their own produced resin ejection seat. Interestingly the Airfix kit has 1997 moulded onto the inside of the fuselage, which just goes to show that after 12 years its still one of the best kits in 1/48th of this famous aircraft.
Starting with the plastic parts, the seven sprues holding the light grey parts are pretty much free from flash, although there is a little flash on some of the sprue arms. There are a few raised pin marks abounding throughout the kit, some of which will have to be taken care off, as they look to be on a few mating surfaces and a couple are in the tail pipe itself. Some of the parts do seem to have some moulding indiscretions in the form of surface blemishes, but they don't look to affect the parts.
Unfortunately Eduard have packed the clear sprue with the other sprues and the canopy has broken away. The canopy doesn't look to be scratched, but a little more care in packaging the clear parts would be nice. The clear parts are nice and clear, but a little on the thick side. The canopy has raised framework. The canopy is shown modelled in the closed position on the instructions, but as its in two parts modelling it open should be easy.
External detail is in the form of recessed panel lines and embossed rivets, which seem to be just right, which is unusual for Airfix as I find they make them a tad heavy on most kits. The DC generator intake pipe midway along the spine is used no matter what version you are building, which unfortunatly is not the case, as all the aircraft profiles I could find only the Lightning F. Mk. 2, XN 786/D, No. 92 Squadron has it installed.
Most of the internal detail on the plastic parts are replaced with the etched sets, especially in the office which looks to be a miniature kit itself. The kit parts for the cockpit tub and seat are pretty good to start with but with the inclusion of the resin seat, pre-coloured instrument panels, numerous levers and switches really will add to the finished article.
The resin seat is cast by Eduard themselves, and is a first for them (not sure about the doggies in the Bf-110 kits) and is crisply cast with some nice detailed moulded onto it. On my first quick look I thought the detail looked a little ""blurry" in places, but reading the instructions I found these are attachment points for a myriad of P.E parts they go on (26 parts at a quick count).
The wheel bays also have additional detail in the from of new P.E parts for the walls and completely new floors. The undercarriage legs have some good detail on them to start with and with the addition of P.E brake lines and new oleos added look to nicely detail the sets up.
The exhaust has a couple of P.E after burner rings added but other then that the inlet and outlet pipes are standard Airfix parts. The fans are moulded onto the end plates (which will stop the "see through" look) and are nicely cast and with painting should look pretty good (how much you will actually see is debatable).
Weapons for the kit come in the form of two Redtop, two Firestreak heat-seeking AAMs mounted on stub pylons on the lower fuselage below the cockpit. Also two twin Aden Mark 4 30 millimeter revolver-type cannon, firing from the top and bottom of the nose can be modelled but the Aden cannon at the top of the nose were actually not often fired since they blinded the pilot. In fact, the gun ports were usually faired over in the field to reduce drag, except for Lightnings serving with RAF Germany, where the type was assigned a secondary ground-attack role. The faired over parts are in the kit, but are stated as not used, so checking your references for the particular aircraft you are modelling is the way to go. Drilling out the kit supplied parts for the top nose gun is really a must as the kit parts are a little on the poor side. Only the two Mk.2 versions have the bottom guns installed.
Photo.Etch and masks
The P.E is on two steel frets, with one set pre-coloured on one side. The coloured set is for the cockpit and bang seat and comprises of 69 parts. The harness is split into ten parts and looks to be easy enough to attach, with only a little bending needed. Some of the levers and switches are tiny and Eduard have possibly doubled up a few of these in-case of losses. One omission is the lack of clear separate "glass" for the instrument panels, which Eduard have put in their earlier kits. Some gloss varnish will take care of that though.
The other fret concerns mostly the wheel bays and undercarriage legs, with very little in the way of external detail parts.
Both etched sets will add a significant amount of detail to the standard kit.
The masks are the standard Eduard type pre-cut kabuki tape paintings masks for the canopy and wheels (even though the instructions don't show the wheel ones to be used).
Instructions and decals
The instruction book is printed in the standard black and white line drawing style on an A4 size paper, which has 8 sides. The first main page covers the parts trees, and highlights any parts that are not used. The rest of the sheets cover the build sequence which is quite easy to follow (even if attaching some of the smaller parts won't be lol) with the different resin and P.E parts made clear during the build. Any parts that must be cut or sanded away are highlighted in grey.
Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby colour and MR Color range of paints for external and internal colours are given along the build sequence..The last page shows a diagram showing a placement guide for the decal stencilling.
A separate A4 sheet printed on glossy paper in full colour for the 4 aircraft that can be modelled and has all four profiles of the aircraft included. Three of the aircraft are in the natural metal finish, with the fourth with a single-tone dark green on top and natural metal finish on the bottom
The decals are printed by Cartograf and are perfectly in register with a little carrier film around the edges. One A4 size decal sheet and one smaller sheet come with the kit and have quite a few stencils to be added to the base model (whichever marking option you build will need these), national and unit insignia for each aircraft.
Four aircraft can be modelled, all of which are British, and are as follows,
A - Lightning F. Mk. 1A, XM 184/A, No. 111 Squadron, 1962
B - Lightning F. Mk. 1A, XM 172/B, No. 56 Squadron, 1963, Firebirds Aerobatic team
C - Lightning F. Mk. 2, XN 786/D, No. 92 Squadron, GŁtersloh
D - Lightning F. Mk. 2, XN 794/WW, No. 19 Squadron, GŁtersloh
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale.