Fujimi released a 1/72 of the F-22 Raptor recently and most modellers were taken aback with the price. Fujimi have long had a reputation for producing excellent kits. How does their reproduction of the F-22, , arguably the best fighter in the skies at the moment, measure up?
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth generation fighter that is considered a fourth-generation stealth aircraft by the USAF. Its dual after burning Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofans incorporate pitch axis thrust vectoring with a range of ±20 degrees. The maximum thrust is classified. though most sources place it at about 35,000 lbf (156kN) per engine. Maximum speed, without external weapons, is estimated to be Mach 1.82 in super cruise mode, as demonstrated by General John P. Jumper, former US Air Force Chief of Staff, when his Raptor exceeded Mach 1.7 without afterburners on 13 January 2005. With afterburners, it is "greater than Mach 2.0" (1,317 mph, 2,120 km/h), according to Lockheed Martin; however, the Raptor can exceed its design speed limits, particularly at low altitudes, with max-speed alerts to help prevent the pilot from exceeding them. Chief test pilot Paul Metz has also stated that the F-22 has a greater climb rate than the F-15 due to advances in engine technology, despite the F-15's thrust-to-weight ratio of about 1.2:1, with the F-22 having a ratio closer to 1:1. The US Air Force claims that the Raptor cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter types, and Lockheed Martin claims that, "the F-22 is the only aircraft that blends super cruise speed, super-agility, stealth and sensor fusion into a single air dominance platform."
The true top speed of the F-22 is unknown to the general public. The ability of the airframe to withstand the stress and heat is a further key factor, especially in an aircraft using as many polymers as the F-22. However, while some aircraft are faster on paper, the internal carriage of its standard combat load allows the aircraft to reach comparatively higher performance with a heavy load over other modern aircraft due to its lack of drag from external stores. It is one of only a handful of aircraft that can sustain supersonic flight without the use of afterburner augmented thrust (and its associated high fuel usage). This ability is now termed super cruise. This allows the aircraft to hit time-critical, fleeting or mobile targets that a subsonic aircraft would not have the speed to reach and an afterburner dependent aircraft would not have the fuel to reach.
The F-22 is highly maneuverable, at both supersonic and subsonic speeds. The Raptor's thrust vectoring nozzles allow the aircraft to turn tightly, and perform extremely high alpha maneuvers such as the Herbst maneuver (or J-turn), Pugachev's Cobra, and the Kulbit, though the J-Turn is more useful in combat. The F-22 is also capable of maintaining a constant angle of attack of over 60°, yet still having some control of roll. During June 2006 exercises in Alaska, F-22 pilots demonstrated that cruise altitude has a significant effect on combat performance, and routinely attributed their altitude advantage as a major factor in achieving an unblemished kill ratio against other US fighters and 4th/4.5th generation fighters.
Comes in a top opening box with a very uninspiring box illustration. The illustrations on the side of the box lid provide a view of the aircraft from above and the side, and the decals provided as well as the ordinance supplied. On opening the box there is quite a wow factor on seeing how the fuselage and wings are moulded:
Fuselage and Wings.
- Upper fuselage.
- Lower fuselage.
- 6 x plastic sprues of dark grey plastic.
- 2 x transparent sprues. One is clear, the other one is smoked.
- 1 x extended folded instruction sheet.
- 1 x decal sheet.
Both upper and lower surfaces are split horizontally and they are not attached to any sprues. The panel lines are very fine indeed and consist of two different types: the linear and the distinctive zig zag. The latter are designed to lessen the radar signature. The plastic around some of the panel lines has a slightly matt look to them. Vents and intakes are finely done with the guards or grills depicted with a etched surface. There are quite a few flow marks in the plastic, which adds a disruptive look to the surface. I spent a while turning the parts in my hand allowing the light to pick up the flow lines and felt to see if there was any tangible evidence of them, but there is not. It does look odd though. The upper surface has a sprue between the rear cockpit sill that obviously needs removing. There are some odd marks, where it appears that a sharp object has almost pierced the outer surface of the plastic. There are also signs of stressed plastic around these points, but no tangible evidence of them. These marks appear on the upper and lower wings, just in front of the aileron. On the upper surface just in front of the two tails and under the nose. Odd but not a big deal to remove. There are sprues within the main weapons bay that need removing carefully, particularly as the part dividing the main and outer weapons bay could easily be removed by mistake. Holes are cut in the lower wing for the fitting of the inner pylons for the drop tanks. A bit unfortunate if you do not want to clutter up the wing with pylons, as the holes are amongst some very fine detail. Looking at the lower surface and comparing them to photos of the real thing, it would seem the bulge by the wing root and flap line does not extend into the wing far enough. There are some very fine locating points on both parts and just pressing the upper and lower parts together results in an excellent fit. Other than that the shape and position of panel lines, vents, intakes, bulges and depressions look accurate. On the subject of looking at photographs of this aircraft, it's worth doing it yourself. Depending on the light and angle of the aircraft, it is very difficult to determine the surface of this beautiful aircraft.
The three weapon bays are detailed with ribs, fuse boxes and cables. The inside of the weapon bays does not look as busy as the real thing, but they look very good and will look the part with some careful painting and highlighting. There are four obvious locating pillars in the main weapon bay, but they will probably disappear when you place the weapons in the bay. The holes for the other weapons in the main bay look overdone, again they will hopefully disappear behind the weapons. In contrast the locating holes in the side weapon bays are much more finely executed. There is the option to use the one piece weapon bay doors if you don't want them open. There is also a set of doors if you want to display the weapon bays. The inside of the doors are nicely detailed. There are one piece undercarriage doors moulded specifically if you want to display your F-22 wheels up and there are separate doors if you want to display wheels down. The inside of the doors are nicely detailed.
Each air intake for the engines is made up from two pieces. There are three locating points with each intake. Some light ejection marks are visible on the inside of the intakes, but the one nearest the intake lip is the only one that will need some sanding to remove. The others will be hidden from view because of the shape of the ducting. The joints will be in the corners of the ducting, which have squarish cross sections, so they won't be too difficult to disguise. Because of the form of the intakes no blanking plate is required, to prevent the undesirable view into the interior of the kit. The cockpit tub has the appearance of a resin after market product, because of the level of detail. Some careful painting and highlighting will be required to get the best out of this part. The instrument panel on the real thing is all glass. As a result the instrument panel itself has some low relief details and there are decals to use for the screens. The Aces II seat is made up from 8 components. Fujimi have done an excellent job replicating this. All that is missing is the seat harnesses, none are provided. Another part of the cockpit on this sprue is the two piece canopy hinge, which lifts the whole of the one piece canopy/windscreen. The canopy is movable so you can display it open or closed. Each main wheel bay wall is made up from two pieces. Each part is detailed with pipes, bottles, pistons, etc. The roof of the undercarriage bay is the inside of the upper wing. There are some low relief cables detailing in the roof. The main undercarriage legs will need great care in removing from the sprue as there are very delicate looking parts attached to the upper oleos. The main wheels come in two parts with restrained spoke and brake details on the hubs. The tyres themselves have a hint of a tyre under load as they are slightly weighted, with a slight bulge. The nose gear is made up of 5 parts. The tyre is weighted and one piece.
Tail planes are one piece and movable. As on the real thing, there is not a panel line to be seen. The two tail fins are made up from two pieces. Be aware though that the instructions miss number one of the components of the fin. It should read E-11 and not D-11. The one piece rudders are separate. There is some sort of vent portrayed in the outer sides of the fins. It is actually a slot in the plastic, but a similar feature in the wing is depicted as a slightly engraved area. The four wing control surfaces are all made up from two pieces each. The flaperons are movable.
A bonus item is the inclusion of the four wheeled engine hoist made up from 35 parts. Wheels are two piece and appear to be movable, which is handy if you feel the need to take out one of the Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines for a service. Amazingly despite the cost of the aircraft, the hoist appears to be operated by hand. There are four [steering] wheels to operate the hoist. The model hoist does not operate though.
There are two transparent sprues containing the one piece canopies, HUD and lenses for the navigation lights. One sprue contains clear plastic parts, while the other has smoked plastic parts. From images I have seen of the F-22, the canopy tends to have a yellowish look to them. It certainly does not have the smoked grey look of the canopy in this kit.
Fujimi provide the following ordinance:
2 x AIM-9L
2 x AIM-9X compressed missiles for the main weapons bay.
2 x AIM-120D compressed missiles for the main weapons bay.
2 x GBU-32 compressed bombs.
2 x 600 gallon wing fuel tanks.
The inclusion of the compressed weapons carried by the F-22 is a nice touch by Fujimi. The weapons are compressed [the fins of the missiles are clipped] to allow them to fit into the weapons bay. The missiles are one piece, the AIM-7's are nicely detailed and all the missiles have thin fins. The AIM-7X differs slightly from the other two AIM-7's in that the motor is a different shape and the fins are clipped. The GBU's are built from four parts, with a two part body with the cradle moulded on them and the fins come in two parts. The two external 600 gallon fuel tanks for the inner wing station come in two parts. The pylons are moulded in one piece and attached to one of the halves of the fuel tank, a welcome feature, which creates one less headache trying to align components. Each missile is attached to an ejector arm. In the main weapons bay the arms are moulded in the retracted position. In the side weapon bays the ejector arms are moulded in the extended position. On the real thing, when the pilot is ready to shoot, the weapon bay doors open , missiles are ejected out of the bays and the doors close in less than a second.
Each engine is made up from ten parts. When I say the engine, I mean the whole thing, not just representations of the tail pipe and perhaps the primary compressors. The quality of the detail is fantastic, although no way as busy as the real thing, but still impressive. The quilted insulation, cables, pipes and various rings around the engine are beautifully depicted. There are four pitch axis thrust vectoring nozzles each made up from two pieces. These are movable. There are a few minor ejector marks on the nozzles that may need cleaning up. The first two compressor fans are moulded separately.
Are printed on a two sided extended piece of paper. Exploded diagrams are in black and white. Instructions are in Japanese, but there are symbols employed to aid construction. All parts have colour references for Gunze Sangyo paints. Construction looks pretty straightforward. Most of the internal components fit into the upper fuselage/wing before the two two halves are joined. The two engines just slide into the back, no glue necessary. A fair amount of weight will be needed in the nose to counter the weight of the engines to prevent the whole model becoming a tail sitter. Fit is also very good and the whole thing should be a relatively quick build.
There are four options all in a variation of the Mod Eagle camouflage schemes formerly seen on F-15's. Upper surfaces are grey FS36231 over grey FS16440. The outer areas of the wings, tail planes and tails as well as the nose and engine air intakes are painted grey FS35622. The lower surfaces are painted grey FS16440. There are four aircraft depicted:
AF05101 FF, 1st FW.
AF05088 Ho, 49th FW.
Look very good with minimum amount of carrier film. The only exceptions are the numbers on the tails. All markings are low visibility greys. The only bit of colour comes from the formation lights and the 40 “remove before flight” tags. It's the first time I have seen these tags on a kit decal sheet. Should be interesting to see if they hang or just curl up as decals are prone to do. Each tag needs to be folded in half. The numerous grills that cover intakes and vents on the F-22 are provided as decals. Various panels on the aircraft such as the re-fueling trap doors have decals to depict them. There are a few stencils on the sheet, but the real thing does not carry a huge number of them anyway.
This is a excellent kit of the F-22. Overall shape and the look of the panel lines is very good. With a number of interesting features such as the removable engines with trolley, the choice of open weapon bays and an interesting choice of loads as well to fit onto to this superb looking aircraft. As already mentioned the fit is also very good and the whole thing should be a relatively quick build, which will appeal to many. Fujimi have done a great job adding detail to the kit within the constraints of injected plastic technology. Most modellers will be very satisfied with the results and they are impressive. The only downside to the kit is the price. At £40 / $66 it is very expensive for a 1/72 kit and probably not one for the casual builder. This is a very welcome return for Fujimi, who do not seem to have released anything new for some time. Welcome back.